I've just discovered Christopher Titmuss, a Theravada teacher who trained as a monk in Thailand and India for ten years, co-founded Gaia House in Devon, UK, and was one of the first teachers at the Insight Center in Barre, MA. He teaches in India annually, and around the world, but sadly, not in North America at this time. Chris explores tantra along with Theravada, rooted in Shiva tantra tradition. He teaches frequently on engaged Buddhism as an integral part of awakening, and once ran for the Green Party from Devon. He is a regular teacher at Worldwide Insight. His website, christophertitmuss.net has connections to all his media publications.
Chris is the teacher I have been looking for because he teaches a tantric Theravada that is rooted in the Indian tantric tradition (instead of the Tibetan) and teaches frequently on eros as love (see The Buddha of Love). I've already learned from Chris that our engaged Buddhism must begin with love, that love is the revolution. Chris represents where I want to go in my spiritual development, and from his teachings I feel that he can take me further down this path. In this 6-part video, from Sarnath India in 2004, Chris blends teachings on social critique, engagement, personal and social transformation, all from a place of radical love. What I love about Chris' teaching is the way he seamlessly blends the inner and outer transformation, the personal and the social.
I know now that extreme polemics is not the way to transform the world because all you are doing is recreating the same dynamics of self-righteousness, tribalism, judgement and hatred. But I also know that that just the intellectual analysis of socio-economic system isn't enough either. You must get to the existential level, the metaphysical level, to really see that radical transformation requires the transformation of the human being at every level, a transformation of body-mind, consciousness, and relationships, and the transformation of the culture. Politics and economics comes last, as a result that fundamental transformation. Love is the revolution, and not just love for one's own gender, race, or class, but universal love for all species, because universal love is the one thing that Capitalist Supremacy will never produce.
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I’ve been following Titmuss’s blog for a while, and have read a couple of his books. He’s a breath of fresh air. Having practised meditation mostly solo for years, dipping into Buddhist groups is generally dismaying. If anything remotely falling within the broad spectrum of Buddhist sketches of personhood, community & world is true, then corporate-capitalist authorities should be fucking *terrified* about the prospect of its dissemination. They should be rigorously suppressing Buddhism for all they’re worth, because our current order could not survive a substantial proportion of the population developing an immunity to the superficial blandishments of extractive consumer capitalism & the war machine. But I challenge anyone to be terrified of the average limp-lettuce sangha.
Brilliant and I totally agree with you. I stay out of Buddhist organizations for many of the same reasons. Occasionally a teacher comes along like Chris Titmuss who is keenly aware of the challenge that the dharma could pose to a capitalist society. It’s also telling that he studied with Ajahn Buddhadasa of Thailand as well, another modernist and socialist who understood the social implications of the dharma. See Buddhadasa: The Birth of Modernism: https://engagedbuddhism.net/2017/05/15/buddhadasa-the-birth-of-modernism/