Dear Dharma Teachers, Dear Order Members, Dear Aspirants,
In 2017 there will be three opportunities for aspirants from North America to be ordained into the Order of Interbeing. In order to facilitate the process, the Care-Taking Council of the Dharma Teachers Sangha of North America (including both monastics and lay Dharma Teachers) have clarified the requirements, criteria, and procedures for North American students of Thich Nhat Hanh.
The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings offer clear guidance for living simply, compassionately, and joyfully in our modern world. They are a concrete embodiment of the teachings of the Buddha and the Bodhisattva ideal. Anyone who wishes can live his or her life in accord with these fourteen trainings.
To formally join the Order of Interbeing means to publicly commit oneself to studying, practicing, and observing the trainings and, also, to participating actively in a community which practices mindfulness in the Plum Village tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.
The minimum requirements for joining the Order of Interbeing, as established by the Charter of the Order, are that the aspirant:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Has received the Five Mindfulness Trainings and the Three Jewels
- Practices with a local Sangha in this tradition
- Is committed to observing at least sixty days of mindfulness a year
- Has been mentored by members of the Order of Interbeing for at least a year, and
- Is ready to begin the work of an Order Member: Sangha building and support, explaining the Dharma from personal experience, and nourishing the bodhicitta (the mind of love) in others while maintaining a regular meditation practice in harmony and peace with one’s family.
The process of becoming an aspirant and receiving support and training varies depending on the region and on local circumstances. In a region in which the Order of Interbeing has been established for many years, there may be clearly defined procedures; Dharma Teachers and Order Members available to train and support aspirants; and a community of Order Members that meets regularly for recitation ceremonies, study, and days of mindfulness. In other regions an aspirant may have to travel a considerable distance to practice with an Order Member or Dharma Teacher and the training of aspirants may be much more informal. Nonetheless, the Care-Taking Council and the Dharma Teacher Sangha of North America has developed and adopted an OI aspirant process that is now required in the process of receiving the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings in North America.
The decision that an aspirant is ready for ordination is a joint decision involving the aspirant, the aspirant’s local sangha, the OI mentors, and one or more lay Dharma Teachers who either have been directly mentoring the aspirant or who have been working with the OI mentors.
It is not possible to specify the exact criteria that determines whether an aspirant is “ripe enough” for ordination – for ultimately it depends on heart-to-heart insight and recognition of a mature Bodhisattva spirit – however, some general guidelines can be stated. To be eligible for ordination into the Order of Interbeing, there is the expectation that the aspirant:
- is a stable practitioner who has learned to transform suffering and embodies the practice of mindfulness in his or her own life,
- practices with a spirit of generosity, attentive to the needs of others,
- is committed to continue deepening his or her practice of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings,
- is able to teach the basic practices to others,
- participates (and will continue to participate) regularly and harmoniously in his or her local practice community and in the Order of Interbeing community, and,
- has the intention and capacity to be an active Sangha builder.
In order to be ordained at a retreat in 2017 it is requested that the aspirant and his mentors put together a packet containing the following:
- Completed Application to Become an Aspirant to the Order of Interbeing Core Community
- Completed Order of Interbeing Application for North American Applicants (this is a password protected resource and you may obtain the application from your Dharma Teacher mentor, if the Dharma Teacher needs assistance, please contact Kenley)
- letters of support from OI mentors and
- letters of support from Dharma Teacher(s)
- letters of support from local Sangha members and family members (when available)
- original letter of aspiration to join the OI (if there is one)
- a letter to Thay articulating the aspirants desire to be ordained into the Order of Interbeing. This letter should include a brief spiritual history and a clear commitment that the aspirant will be a Sangha builder in a community which practices in the Plum Village tradition.
- a copy of the 5 Mindfulness Training certificate, or at least the date, place, teacher of that transmission and the name you received
If the aspirant wishes to ordain at Blue Cliff Monastery (Retreat is August 23 – 27 with Ordination on August 26), please send a copy of the packet by July 10 to Br. Phap Man, Blue Cliff Monastery, 3 Mindfulness Rd., Pine Bush, NY 12566. If you have any questions or concerns regarding ordination at Blue Cliff Monastery please contact Br. Phap Man: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the aspirant wishes to ordain at the Deer Park Monastery (Retreat is September 12-17 with Ordination on September 16), please send a copy of the packet by July 10 to Br. Phap Ho, Deer Park Monastery, 2499 Melru Lane, Escondido, CA 92026. If you have any questions or concerns regarding ordination at Deer Park Monastery please contact Br. Phap Ho: email@example.com.
If the aspirant wishes to ordain at Magnolia Grove Monastery (Retreat is October 10-15 with Ordination on October 14), please send a copy of the packet by July 10 to Sr. Dang Nghiem, Magnolia Grove Monastery, 123 Towles Rd., Batesville, MS 38606. If you have any questions or concerns regarding ordination at Magnolia Grove Monastery please contact Sr. Dang Nghiem: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The aspirant should also bring a copy of the full packet to the retreat at which he or she wishes to be ordained. We thank you for your nourishing mindfulness, understanding, and compassion in North America.
The Care-Taking Council of the Dharma Teachers Sangha of North American and The Monastic Organizing Team for the US Tour