Author Archives: Chân Niệm Hỷ

Sexual Harassment Policy

This is the most recent tool provided to us by the North American Dharma Teachers Harmony Committee. Here is an excerpt:

“Dharma Teachers have an ethical duty to prevent harm, including harm from intentional or unintentional sexual harassment. The Care-Taking Council offers this policy to increase Dharma Teacher awareness of and sensitivity to possible sexual harassment, minimize the risk of sexual harassment, and provide guidelines to help protect Sanghas and Dharma Teachers from the suffering caused by sexual harassment.”

Please read the entire document for additional insight.

View PDF Document

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Me

Happiness, the End of Suffering, and Recovery

Forty-six. That’s not so old — young in fact. He and I are both 46, with young children, and in a long term relationship. We both got sober very young and then maintained that sobriety for many years. Mr. Hoffman made it 23-years, and I’m about to reach my 25th year. This is where the story diverges into disbelief, tragedy, and sadness. Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead from a drug overdose in his own house and a needle in his arm.

How does this happen? Why am I still here and he’s dead? These are the questions on my mind today.

What is clear to me is that success, fame, and fortune do not equal happiness and recovery. Further, many men and women in their forties die everyday. Many probably die from alcohol or drugs. We can’t really blame the heroin, though it is gnarly and deadly, because we know that the drug is just a symptom of a deeper suffering, a deeper sadness, and an inability to cope with reality.

Here’s what I know about happiness, the end of suffering, and recovery.

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The End of Suffering

Happiness, the End of Suffering, and Recovery

Forty-six. That’s not so old – young in fact. He and I are both 46, with young children, and in a long term relationship. We both got sober very young and then maintained that sobriety for many years. Mr. Hoffman made it 23-years, and I’m about to reach my 25th year. This is where the story diverges into disbelief, tragedy, and sadness. Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead from a drug overdose in his own house and a needle in his arm.

How does this happen? Why am I still here and he’s dead? These are the questions on my mind today.

What is clear to me is that success, fame, and fortune do not equal happiness and recovery. Further, many men and women in their forties die everyday. Many probably die from alcohol or drugs. We can’t really blame the heroin, though it is gnarly and deadly, because we know that the drug is just a symptom of a deeper suffering, a deeper sadness, and an inability to cope with reality.

Here’s what I know about happiness, the end of suffering, and recovery.

First, it’s an inside job whereby we need to know ourselves. This takes many years of effort by talking, writing, and looking very deeply inside at who we are as people. It also involves a great deal of love and forgiveness towards ourselves and others. It may involve seeing our parents and ancestors as part of who we are today. This isn’t easy work and I’m sure that Mr. Hoffman did some this work over the years.

Second, it takes daily effort and training my mind to touch the seeds of joy and happiness that exist within me and around me. For those involved in a 12-step program, they call this “a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our “ spiritual” condition.” In my Buddhist practice it means that I can be fully present each moment of daily life. This can be accomplished with meditation, awareness of our breathing, stopping and seeing there are many conditions of happiness. Again, this isn’t necessarily easy work but the alternatives are pretty bleak.

My practice today is about being present for myself and for others. In doing so I can stay alive and see my happiness and face my suffering. This means I have to be willing to stop and observe my feelings as they come and as they go; both the positive ones and the negative ones.

I feel joy that I am alive, sober, and present for my family.
I feel deep sadness for the partner and children of Mr. Hoffman.
I feel anger that this continues to happen to people.
I feel frustration that so many don’t understand the deep suffering of an addict.

All these feelings co-exist within me and will eventually disappear. This is my practice?—?observing and taking care of the feelings. In fact, suffering is part of happiness and happiness is part of suffering. They are the mud and the lotus. The trick is to not let the suffering overwhelm us and bring us to despair.

Third, walking through our suffering doesn’t need to be done alone. Having others in our life to support and guide us are key; teachers and mentors who can guide and support us. For those in a 12-step program, there are meetings and sponsors. In the Buddhist community it is called a sangha, a place of refuge that can offer joy and happiness to our practice and our journey on the path.

We all have suffering. These three things – knowing ourselves, daily practice of cultivating joy, and being in community – can be applied to anyones life regardless of addiction/non-addiction, wealth/poverty, success/failure or fame/obscurity. No doubt Mr. Hoffman was able to practice some of these things but in the end we have his untimely death as he let despair win.

Today I am taking a few moments to be grateful and to also send my energy of healing to the children of Mr. Hoffman. May the end of his suffering and his healing awaken within them.

Originally posted on Medium and misc.joy

Order of Interbeing Aspirant Application

After announcing your intention of aspiration, as per the Charter of the Order of Interbeing, the form linked below implement the Aspirancy process. An Aspirant to the Core Community of the Order of Interbeing (OI) is on the Bodhisattva path.  Bodhisattvas appreciate the
help of all teachers and mentors. To promote consistency in mentoring and ensure that mentors and aspirants are supported, the North American Plum Village Dharma Teachers Council asks that everyone in North America who is pursuing formal acceptance as an Order of Interbeing aspirant use this form.

This application assists your local Sangha and supporting Dharma Teacher as they begin formal mentoring with you. In deciding whether conditions are ripe for formal acceptance and mentoring to begin, your mentoring Dharma Teacher will use this form and consult with your sangha and any other OI Mentors as appropriate.

View or Download the Application to Become an Aspirant to the Order of Interbeing Core Community (PDF Document)

Mentoring Qualifications

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.

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Pre-Aspirant Checklist

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.

Revised Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings – FINAL

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)

Long Hand of the Sangha

In June 2010, Thay gave a dharma talk (audio link and transcript link) at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism talking of the Order of Interbeing. I felt deeply inspired by the talk and hope others may find it nourishing as well. The talk is 108-minutes and was given Vietnamese, though you can clearly hear Thay’s voice, and is translated into English by Sister Chân Duc (Annabel).

The talk has four parts.

  1. Enjoying Every Moment
  2. The Order of Interbeing
  3. Engaged Buddhism
  4. The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings

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Thay Talks to OI Members

Transcript of Thich Nhat Hanh’s talk to the OI members at Deer Park on February 5, 2004

This week many OI members chose to be here for the winter retreat and it’s been a great joy to be together with other OI members at this retreat. We just wanted to come and, if you were available, sit with you. If you have something you’d like to say to Order members, we’d love to hear it. If OI members have something to say, they can. If not, it will be a good time where we can sit and smile to each other.

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Eyes of the Buddha Retreat

June 19, 2000

TNH: I was thinking of the Tiep Hien Order without a leader. It is like a bee hive without a leader. This is possible. There is no elder. We do not need an elder in order to give orders. We can operate like the neurons in the brain or the ants in the ant hill. It is perfectly possible, provided we have a very good network of communication. If we have good communication, that is enough. The bees they have their way to communicate. The ants also. We have many more facilities. If communication is there, then any group of brothers or sisters can start a project. And everyone will observe them and everyone will come and help, just like the termites the termites: when they see something going on, they are excited, they communicate more, they come, and they help build the colonies. This is possible. It is a very exciting kind of perspective. In the past we elected a leadership, but I dont think that we need it. We need something like a coordinating committee in order to get the information to flow, back and forth. And anyone in the order profits from the wisdom of everyone. And everyone can learn from the mistake of everyone. Therefore, anything can be helpful.

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