Sangharakshita was born Dennis Lingwood in South London, 1925, and established the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (now known as the Triratna Buddhist Community) in 1967.
He developed an interest in the cultures and philosophies of the East early in life and realised he was a Buddhist at the age of sixteen, after reading The Diamond Sutra. He became involved in London’s germinal Buddhist world in wartime Britain, and started to explore the faith through study and practice. Conscription in the Second World War took him to Sri Lanka, and after the war he stayed on in India. For a while he lived as a wandering mendicant, and later he was ordained as the Theravadin Buddhist monk Sangharakshita (‘protected by the spiritual community’).
Sangharakshita lived for many years in Kalimpong where he encountered many leading teachers from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, so he had the opportunity to study for some years under leading teachers from the major Buddhist traditions. He went on to teach and write extensively, and he is now the author of over sixty books. Most of these are expositions of the Buddhist tradition, but he has also published a large amount of poetry and several volumes of memoirs, as well as works on aspects of western culture and the arts from a Buddhist perspective.
Sangharakshita played a key part in the revival of Buddhism in India, particularly through his work among the ex-Untouchables, and he has also been concerned throughout his life with issues of social reform. After twenty years in India, he returned to England to establish the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order in 1967 (then called Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayak Gana, or TBMSG, in India) and the Western Buddhist Order in 1968. In 2010 these became, respectively, the Triratna Buddhist Community and the Triratna Buddhist Order.
A translator between East and West, between the traditional world and the modern, between principles and practices, Sangharakshita’s depth of experience and clear thinking have been appreciated throughout the world. He has always particularly emphasised the decisive significance of commitment in the spiritual life, the paramount value of spiritual friendship and community, the link between religion and art, and the need for a ‘new society’ supportive of spiritual aspirations and ideals.
Now that the Triratna Buddhist Community is an international Buddhist movement, Sangharakshita has handed over most of his responsibilities to his senior disciples in the Order.