Mentor qualification in our sangha has a long history of experimentation and evolution. We have arrived at a point where we can now bring all this experimentation and evolution together into a coherent and comprehensive system.
Our basic goal in mentoring has always been to to support each other in deepening our practice and strengthening our Sanghas. A mentor’s practice needs to be fresh and alive to mentor an aspirant effectively. To support both mentors and aspirants, the North American Dharma Teacher Care Taking Council has integrated our order’s past extensive experience into the following qualification statement for mentors. The underlying requirement for mentoring is that a Dharma Teacher must be involved as part of mentoring, as set forth in the aspirant application.
There are three situations which qualify one to mentor.
Continue reading “Mentoring Qualifications”
During the past two years, the Dharma Teachers Sangha of North America has been working diligently to produce a more formal application process for Order of Interbeing aspirants. The work is completed (approved 11/07/2012) and the information will be distributed to dharma teachers in the coming month. In managing this web site, a very common question that I receive pertains to readiness for formal aspiration. Here is a pre-aspiration checklist that is outlined in application to become an aspirant.
- I practice regularly with my local sangha.
- I formally received The Five Mindfulness Trainings one or more years ago from Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh or a Tiep Hien Dharma Teacher.
- I am aware that by aspiring I am committing to practice 60 days of mindfulness each year; to study, practice, and observe the 14 Mindfulness Trainings; to regularly recite the trainings, and to actively participate in and support my Sangha.
- I recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings at least monthly.
- I study, practice, and observe all five mindfulness trainings.
- I have a daily practice that includes meditation.
- I am alcohol- and recreational chemical-free and will remain so.
- I have the support of my partner for becoming an Aspirant.
- I am familiar with the Order and the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings and the Charter of the Order as reflected in the book Interbeing and use and study the book.
- I have begun to observe regular Days of Mindfulness.
- I am working with the reflection questions that are to be written as part of this application. [see the Dharma Teacher for application]
- I have identified a Dharma Teacher or a qualified Order Member(s) who is/are willing to serve as mentor(s).
- A Tiep Hien Dharma Teacher has agreed to support my Aspirancy and work with my mentor(s). [This is necessary when the mentor is not a Dharma Teacher]
In a future post, I will share the recommended mentoring qualifications document. If you have any questions or comments about the pre-aspirant checklist, please comment below.
I was 28 years old when I joined the Order of Interbeing in 2007. I didn’t feel ready at the time to join the OI ranks of brown jackets and not much has changed for me in that regard, I still don’t feel qualified 5 years later, whatever qualified means. And on retreats I still struggle to wear the brown jacket, concerned it will set me apart from other sangha friends on the path. So why did I join the Order? Why am I on this path? Have you ever been walking in the woods and come to a fork in the trail and decided which way to go based on what simply felt like the right direction? It was like that for me. Sometimes the answer doesn’t have to be clear in order to take a step on the path. All I knew for sure is that I enjoyed the practice and wanted to be of service to others. And that really was enough.
Becoming an OI member isn’t about having a perfect practice or mastering sutras and recitations, it isn’t about having knowledge that others don’t or gaining status and high rankings, it’s about seeing where our particular skill-set shines and offering that to others. You can’t build a house with only one tool just as you can’t build a community of practice with only one practitioner.
For me, joining the Order at a younger age has been a wonderful practice in stepping up and saying, “Yes!” Yes, I can do this, yes I want to commit myself to this beautiful tradition, yes I have a lot to offer. To embrace ourselves fully just as we are with authenticity is of great value to to the world. When we embrace ourselves we embrace others. And when we embrace others we embrace ourselves. Being a part of the OI brotherhood and sisterhood is about embracing. Embracing the practice, ourselves and one another.
What are the times when we need to be Thây? How often do we find ourselves in situations for which having Thây Nhat Hanh present with us would be very helpful – situations in which the only Thây present is the Thây within us?
Our SammaSankappa Sangha (California Medical Facility State Prison) was approaching its first Five Mindfulness Trainings Transmission (June, 2009). As facilitator, I wanted the sangha to appreciate the honor of having three Dharma Teachers join us for our Transmission. I spoke with the inmates about the designations within the Order of Interbeing. I described what it meant to receive The Five Mindfulness Trainings, receive The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings and receive Lamp Transmission. I explained that I had received both The Five Trainings and The Fourteen Trainings but that I was not a Dharma Teacher. Continue reading “Being Thây”
Special thanks to Brian Kimmel for the words that allowed this gatha to manifest
Putting on the half robe of the Order, the true colors of my heart shine through.
Feeling the fabric against my skin, I connect to our ancestors,
who diligently and whole-heartedly worked to bring the teachings into the world.
May we continue to practice with all our heart,
so that all beings may find happiness, extinguish suffering, and experience peace and freedom.
Our Teacher released a final revised version of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings in April 2012 and can be used for both transmissions and recitations. A few edits were made in the last 6-weeks and any previously distributed revision should be discarded and the versions below should be used in their place. They are made available here in English and Vietnamese.
The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings (HTML or download Word Doc / PDF)
Giới bổn Tiếp Hiện tân (Download Word Doc / PDF)
The newly ordained order members have been asked to share their ordination experience, and I am happy to do so. But in reality the experience was much less about me than about those around me. My experience was about the Deer Park staff family with whom I worked during the late summer. It was about my blood family and how they supported me. And it was about having my home sangha, Organic Garden, there with me and with the other brothers and sisters from our sangha who were also ordained.
I did not expect any of these things to be so important next to the joy of receiving the
fourteen directly from Thay. My greatest aspiration is to continue Thay; to embody
whatever small piece of him I can for others. But these parallel experiences taught me
lessons that might support that aspiration, so I am going to share them with you. And I
am also going to tell you a little about a lesson I learned during my year as an aspirant. Continue reading “Learning from Ordination”
Practicing still ripening…in the Circle Garden; in the small meditation hall of Solidity Hamlet; outside the Solidity dining hall, under the Pepper tree; outside the Clarity dining hall.
In July 2010, when I formally declared my aspirancy, one of the intentions that I set was to practice regularly with the Still Ripening Sangha at Deer Park Monastery. Making this commitment to myself, the path, and the SRS community was to be an immensely important part of my preparation for ordination.
Each third Sunday of the month, I would make the early morning, two hour drive from my home in Northeastern Los Angeles. What at first I perceived to be a necessary sacrifice in order to spend the day at Deer Park soon became just another wonderful part of my day. Driving in the early morning darkness, watching the sunrise while heading east, spending the time with my breathing and the few other souls on the highway, I was able to ease myself into the day. Continue reading “Still Ripening Sangha”
This is about this very moment. This wonderful moment. Have you noticed? We are nearing the solstice: the 21st, to be precise. The shortest day of the year, and the longest night.
Typically, it’s a time of clarity and community, introspection and renewal. ‘Tis the season. Time to celebrate the light in darkness. As the Quakers remind us, “Where shalt thou seek the light if thou dost not turn within?” As the year turns, we turn with it. Such fact of life is so elemental, we often need reminding.
Facing this year’s solstice, it’s interesting to note that while so many people are still preparing their festivities, Buddhists around the planet have already observed their winter holy day. Two and a half millennia ago, a human being woke up. What is awakening but opening our eyes? Eyes open, as we were born with our eyes open. So here too light is key: seeing things as they truly are. Just because our eyes are open doesn’t mean we’re awake, truly intimate with our lives, engaged in a genuine life, with all its authentic wonder, living life to the fullest. Continue reading “Happy Bodhi Day”
A warm welcome to all newly ordained members of the core community of the Order of Interbeing. It has been a great joy in these past months to witness the transmission ceremonies whether through online discussions or in-person across the US and Canada. The presence of Thay, our beloved teacher, the Sangha, both lay and monastic together, and all our ancestors are deeply felt.
When let in and put to practice the transmission of the fourteen trainings waters many seeds of happiness, peace, and freedom. Every time the brown jacket, the half robe of the Order is worn the true colors of the heart shines through. With the touch and weight of the fabric against the skin the support of many generations who have diligently and wholeheartedly worked to bring the teachings out into the world fills us once again. This, our OI family, can be a continual source of inspiration, friendship, and communion. May we continue to practice with all our heart and to find the true refuge of Sangha within and around us.