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.

North American Ordination (2017 Only)

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.

Continue reading “North American Ordination (2017 Only)”

North American Ordination (2015 Only)

Ordination Ceremony

Dear Dharma Teachers, Dear Order Members, Dear Aspirants,

In 2015 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) 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. Continue reading “North American Ordination (2015 Only)”

When Next I Spill My Tea

The morning in June, 2002, that I was going to be ordained in the Order of Interbeing, I was doing walking meditation after breakfast. I was staying at Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, in France, where the ceremony was going to be held. Because people who were staying in the other hamlets had to travel, on foot from Lower Hamlet, and by bus from New Hamlet, to reach Upper Hamlet for the ceremony, I had quite a bit of time after breakfast and before the ceremony started. So I was doing walking meditation on a oval path in Upper Hamlet that goes around the lotus pond and by the dharma hall.

As I walked, I reflected on how I came to be there at Plum Village to be ordained in the Order. As I reflected, I realized that I would not have found my way to SnowFlower and to Thay if it were not for my ex-wife. As some of you know, my relationship with my ex-wife, particularly since our divorce, has been difficult at best. But if it had not been for my divorce, and the suffering and loneliness that created, I would not have found my way to my local Sangha and started going to retreats with Thay and would not be walking there that morning. So even though I often thought of my marriage to my ex-wife as a horrible mistake, without that mistake I would not be having this blessing. Continue reading “When Next I Spill My Tea”

North American Ordination (2013 Only)

Dear Dharma Teachers, Dear Order Members, Dear Aspirants,

In 2013 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) 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 to 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. Continue reading “North American Ordination (2013 Only)”

Stepping into Freedom: Savoring Life

I really had no expectations of this retreat (October 2011 at Blue Cliff Monastery), except to participate in the OI ordination ceremony, and to spend five days with Thay and 1000 of his brothers and sisters.  But of course, I found that they were my brothers and sisters too, my sangha also.  It was wonderful to be with my FCM OI friends John and Bill and Barb and Chris and Mary and Martina, and of course with my lifetime heart companion Nancy – I knew that would be so.  But I also took my place as one cell in a larger sangha body, the Plum Village – Blue Cliff – Deer Park – FCM – everywhere sangha that has grown around Thay and his teaching.

Nancy and I camped at Blue Cliff, in a tent village with hundreds of others, in simple, silent harmony. How beautiful to see many dozens of colorful tents grouped naturally together, each with just enough space around it, without fuss or clutter.  When we rose in the early mornings the only noise to be heard was the unzipping of tent doors as we made our way in ones and twos under the bright stars to the great Dharma Hall. Continue reading “Stepping into Freedom: Savoring Life”

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. Continue reading “The Fertile Soil of Ireland”