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Ordination Personal Story

The Fertile Soil of Ireland

Setting my feet on the Path of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings standing on the fertile soil of Ireland. 

Winter storm,
Into the sea,
Snow dissolves silently.

In the Plum Village tradition there are wonderful, mindful paths of practice laid out for lay people. These are the Two Promises for children, the 5 Mindfulness Trainings for all, and the 14 Mindfulness Trainings for Thay’s Order of Interbeing (OI). The Promises and Trainings are Dharma doors through which one may enter formally by a transmission ceremony supported by monastic or lay Dharma teachers, one’s sangha and the wider community.

Some time after I received the transmission of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings I noticed that my commitment to training and practicing in their direction became more solid. I had found the public commitment and the support of the community during the ceremony both helpful and joyful. Reading and studying the trainings after the transmission ceremony created a deeper path of practice for me.

This experience with the 5 gave rise to an aspiration in me to go further on the path and commit to the 14 Mindfulness Trainings. This I did by studying and practicing the trainings for 18 months with two OI mentors and a small community of fellow aspirants. It was wonderful to have this supportive network.

At Thay’s retreat in Killarney last April, a number of young people received the transmission of the Two Promises, and a great number of all ages received the 5 Mindfulness Trainings. I watched a young teenager accept his transmission certificate from Thay. The teenager was very joyful and radiating confidence. I felt inspired by his commitment, joy and confidence.  It reignited my own commitment to studying and practicing the 14 Mindfulness Trainings.

Along with our group of aspirants I received the transmission of the 14 mindfulness Trainings last October. To my joy I experienced the transmission with a great feeling of solidity, joy and confidence. In the months since I have experienced that similar shift of commitment in my practice as an outcome of the transmission.

During the aspirant process as mentoring, practice and study progressed, I began to feel a shift in my orientation. This shift in focus meant I was more available to others. I felt I could now be present for some of the joy and suffering of others. A beautiful new door was opening to me. After a period of further mentoring, consultation and practice with my local sangha, the national sangha and international sangha, I felt ready to ask sangha members and my mentors to support my aspiration to receive the transmission by writing letters of support which would be sent to Plum Village along with my own letter of aspiration. I happily/gratefully? received their support in this.

I had long hoped to receive the transmission in Ireland if that was possible. To my delight the community supported holding the transmission ceremony here during the bi-annual Retreat. As a result our letters of application were sent first to EIAB, Germany and then onto Plum Village, France to ensure we met the requirements for transmission.

Then, in October 2012, Sr Bi Nghiem offered the first transmission of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings on Irish soil. She was supported by another sister, two lay dharma teachers and five Order of Interbeing members (from the UK, Ireland and the USA) and over 100 mindfulness practitioners from Ireland and beyond. Five aspirants received the transmission that day. How Amazing.

I experience the practice of the trainings as a reconnection and continuation of deep multilayered roots of aspiration within my ancestors (family, spiritual and land). This  aspiration for peace, joy, stability and my personal pain had propelled me onto the path of understanding and love over 20 years previously. I continue to open up with the study and practice of the trainings. I’m supported by my local sangha in Sligo town, by the larger sangha in Ireland and by the Plum Village community worldwide. My life feels like a winter storm into which the practice of mindfulness and the trainings dissolve silently, like snowflakes, and transform me.

True Path of Practice 2012 (Martin Whelan)
Open Circle Sangha Sligo