02 February 2009

What is an anagarika? (in the FWBO)

From Wikipedia:

Unlike some Buddhist sangha, the FWBO does not propagate a monastic lineage. Sangharakshita devised a non-monastic ordination system, whilst also allowing the undertaking of the "anagarika" precept which enjoins celibacy.

From Marriage in the Western Buddhist Order by Subhuti:

We...have a ceremony for those who wish to undertake life-long celibacy as Anagarikas, in recognition of the prime importance of celibacy for spiritual life. Anyone who is seriously pursuing the path will be working to overcome craving and attachment, and perhaps our strongest and most abiding longing is the sexual. Indeed, the Buddha says:
I know of no other single form, sound, scent, savour, and touch by which a man’s heart is so enslaved as it is by the form, voice, scent, savour, and touch of a woman. A man’s heart is obsessed by these things. And so is a woman’s heart enslaved and obsessed by those of a man. (Condensed from Anguttara Nikaya, 1, i.) [Please replace "men" and "woman" with "object of your desire."]
Sangharakshita teaches that brahmacharya or chastity is an aspect of going for Refuge, and all who are committed to the Three Jewels should be developing brahmacharya to some extent, whether or not they are sexually active, by diligently deepening their sources of fulfillment and cultivating contentment. Anagarikas have reached the point of being able to maintain physical chastity quite happily, and are working to further diminish their reliance on the senses as means of emotional satisfaction. Whilst Anagarikas have no superior status in the Order and movement, we have marked out the importance of celibacy by instituting a ceremony for those who are able to take on the precept of brahmacharya, and aspire to do so for the remainder of their lives.

From Sexual Evolution by Dhammadinna:

...He [Sangharakshita] also expressed pleasure that more people were taking the Anagarika precept, which enjoins chastity. He never urges anyone to take this precept and Order members need not be celibate. 'One is only asked to keep one’s sex life at the periphery, or towards the periphery. But if one can be celibate in a positive and healthy way, I’m sure that will enable one - other factors being equal - to develop spiritually more rapidly.'

During the late 1980s and early ′90s more men and women Order members took the Anagarika precept. Becoming an Anagarika does not constitute a higher ordination but it involves the precept of abstention from sexual activity (abrahmacarya). Some Anagarikas have maintained this precept while others have ceased to be chaste and reverted to their previous status. It seems that being celibate is not easy in the West, as the culture that surrounds us is so concerned with sex.

Sangharakshita maintains, however, that the extent to which we are caught up in sexual activity and craving is a matter of degree. In this sense we are all celibate or non-celibate to some extent..."

Image is Thiebaud's "Girl with Ice Cream Cone" from Mark Harden's Artchive.

FWBO stands for Fickle World Boxing Organization. Also, Friends of the Western Buddhist Order at fwbo.org.


Sarah Brown said...

I like the photo you used with this posting...as the ice cream melts running down fingers onto sleeves, I furiously try to lick it up--saddened when the madness ends.

ethan davidson said...

Um, right, me to. That's what this picture makes me think about. Ice cream.

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