Glory of the Literary World
We live, perhaps, amidst the very tentative beginnings of a second renaissance, sparked off this time by the discovery of the immense riches of oriental literature. In this paper, given on 29th August 1985 at Friends' House, London, to mark the publication of his new book 'The Eternal Legacy: an Introduction to the Canonical Literature of Buddhism' (Tharpa, London 1985), the Venerable Sangharakshita reflects upon this most important theme.
No one who is seriously interested in human culture can ignore the wealth that is to be found in Buddhist canonical literature. Sangharakshita here demonstrates the spirit with which it must be approached if we are to appreciate its full significance. Using definitions drawn from great Western writers and critics, he gives the term 'literature' a far fuller and richer meaning than it usually receives in modern times. He shows us that much Buddhist canonical literature is literature par excellence. We should read it therefore not merely for information but for its power to move us. We should learn to enjoy 'the glory of the literary world'.
The Venerable Sangharakshita, born Dennis Lingwood, London 1923, has a deep knowledge of the entire field of Buddhism in all its many forms, as well as of Western literature. After spending some twenty years in the East, studying and practising Buddhism, he returned to the West in 1967 to found the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, now a flourishing movement with Centres world-wide, whose fundamental purpose is to create a Buddhist way of life in the midst of Western culture. He has lived for the last ten years at Padmaloka Community in Norfolk where he devotes much of his time to writing.