The Thought of Sangharakshita - A Critical Assessment - Robert M. Ellis

The Thought of Sangharakshita - A Critical Assessment - Robert M. Ellis

Interpreting Buddhist Tradition

The Thought of Sangharakshita - A Critical Assessment - Robert M. Ellis

Robert M. Ellis [+-]
Middle Way Society
Robert M Ellis has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a Cambridge BA in Oriental Studies and Theology. Originally from a Christian background, he spent about 20 years practising Buddhism, including as a member of the Triratna Order. However, he now describes himself as a Middle Way practitioner without exclusive loyalty to any one religious tradition. Over the last 20 years he has developed Middle Way Philosophy, initially in his Ph.D. thesis. This is best described as a practical and integrative philosophical approach, incorporating many elements not only from Buddhism but also from psychology, neuroscience, and other aspects of Western thought. In 2013 he founded the Middle Way Society ( to develop and apply Middle Way Philosophy beyond the limitations of the Buddhist tradition, both in theory and practice. Robert has earned a living for more than 20 years as a teacher and tutor of philosophy and related subjects. He has previously published both academic and introductory books about Middle Way Philosophy, and recently a parallel book on Christianity, ‘The Christian Middle Way’.


Although Sangharakshita was always ready to interpret Buddhist teachings in ways that would he helpful to his audience, he also had a core commitment to it from an early age. This seems to have created a strong confirmation bias in which he was unwilling to entirely let go of Buddhist teachings regardless of the practical conflict they created. His doctrinal interpretations were also influenced by idealism and Platonism from Western philosophy. His interpretations of enlightenment, conditionality, karma and rebirth, the Buddha, the unity of Buddhism, faith and going for refuge are all examined here in an attempt to separate helpful from unhelpful assumptions.

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Ellis, Robert. Interpreting Buddhist Tradition. The Thought of Sangharakshita - A Critical Assessment. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 123-166 Jul 2020. ISBN 9781781799291. Date accessed: 27 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.38961. Jul 2020

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