Welcome New Dharma Teachers: Lamp Transmission in Plum Village

Valerie Brown Lamp Transmission with Thay Phap Ứng
Order Member Valerie Brown and Thay Phap Ứng. © PVCEB

The lamp transmission refers to “the manner in which the teaching, or Dharma, is passed from a Zen master to their disciple. The procedure establishes the disciple as a transmitting teacher in their own right and successor in an unbroken lineage of teachers and disciples, a spiritual ‘bloodline’ theoretically traced back to the Buddha himself.” According to Zen schools, the first instance of Dharma transmission occurred as transcribed in the Flower Sermon, when the Buddha held up a golden lotus flower given to him by Brahma before an assembly of “gods and men.”

A Dharma teacher is a continuation of the Buddha and of all our ancestral teachers. Their deepest aspiration is to manifest mindfulness, concentration, and insight in every thought, word, and action. Guided and protected by wisdom and compassion, a Dharma teacher is a happy person who joyfully passes on the practice to others. A Dharma teacher in the Plum Village tradition conducts one’s life in accord with the Five and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. Is guided by bodhichitta, looks deeply, and sees and nourishes the bodhicitta in others. These teachers have the support of their sangha, fellow Dharma teachers, and their family.

Our Teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, has shared about being a dharma teacher in this talk from 2001.

“There are Dharma centres, there are monasteries, there are teachers, there are Dharma brothers and sisters who practice and being a member of the Order of Interbeing helps us to profit from all of these in order to advance on our path of freedom. With enough freedom we can make others around us happy. We know that practicing without a Sangha is difficult so we try our best to set up a Sangha around us, where we live. To be an OI member is wonderful . To be a Dharma teacher is wonderful. Wonderful, not because we have the title of OI membership, or of Dharma teacher, but because we have the chance to practice and to organize.

“Being a Dharma teacher is also an opportunity to practice – you cannot not practice! You need to practice in order that your teaching has content. How can you open your mouth and give the teaching if you don’t do it yourself? The teaching is an opportunity: even if you are not an excellent teacher yet, being a Dharma teacher helps very much when you speak about the Dharma, for you have to do what you are sharing, otherwise it looks odd. It’s like a monk living with other monks: when everyone is doing walking meditation it would look strange if that monk did not do the practice. So, as a Dharma teacher, you have a great opportunity to practice.

“Every member of the Sangha can create favourable conditions for you, whether that member is good at the practice or not. A person who has a strong practice may inspire you to be at least like them and another person who is very weak in the practice may draw you to help them. So being a Dharma teacher is a good thing.”

On June 14 and June 15, 2018 the sangha invited twenty-six Order members to receive the lamp transmission. The ceremony took place at Plum Village, France and included the following people surrounded by hundreds of lay and monastic practitioners.

  1. Valerie Brown (USA)
  2. Theresa Payne  (UK)
  3. Serge Letort (France)
  4. Christiane Terrier (France)
  5. Tineke Spruytenburg (Dutch)
  6. Jack Bertho (France)
  7. Bill Woodall (USA)
  8. Sheila Canal (USA)
  9. Juan Gregorio Hidalgo (Spain)
  10. Angie Searle (UK)
  11. Luis del Val Martinez (Spain)
  12. Ava Avalos (Botswana)
  13. Rosa Serrano (Spain)
  14. Bruce Nichols (USA) 
  15. Josselyne Letort (France)
  16. Rick Sonnenberg (USA)
  17. Margret de Backere (Germany) 
  18. Dianne Little Eagle (USA)
  19. Caitlin Bush (New Zealand)
  20. Dominique Lemoine (France)
  21. Greg Grallo (USA)
  22. Michele Tae (USA)
  23. Scott Schang (USA)
  24. Denise Segor (USA) 
  25. Phil Stein (USA) 
  26. Viviane Ephriamson-Abt (USA) 

We welcome these dear friends to the community of teachers.

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