Author Archives: Chân Niệm Hỷ

Ordination Ceremony

North American Ordination (2015 Only)

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

Order Members Call to Ban Fracking in California

Feb 7, 2015
Dear Governor Brown,

We write to you today to support you to support a ban on fracking–hydraulic fracturing –in California, and to support you in your commitment to address climate change, as you stated in your inaugural: we need to take “significant amounts of carbon out of our economy.” As a Fourfold Community (monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen) in the Plum Village Tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, we practice mindfulness to nurture understanding and love. Our tradition’s teachings are ecologically founded – we are not here on our own, we interare with everyone and everything. It is from this awareness that we write to you today.

The deep and devastating impact of hydraulic fracking on humans, many species, and the water of our planet is now known. It is also known that with strong political will it is possible to move a fossil fuel economy towards an economy increasingly based on renewable energy. We have seen in New York State that with a combination of strong political will and clear awareness of the devastatingly destructive nature of hydraulic fracturing, it is possible to ban fracking. We can do this in California as well.

Today, we join with our sisters and brothers at San Francisco Zen Center in supporting you to sign a bill banning fracking. Help turn us away from the age of fossil fuels with its immeasurable and lasting damage to the biosphere. Help California continue to take the lead, as it has in the past, with its extraordinary implementation of energy-efficiency standards during your first term as governor, with Assemblywoman Fran Pavley’s emissions legislation in 2002 that set nationwide standards under the Obama administration, and with the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

We know that our actions today help create what kind of future we will have. As Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “We have to live in such a way that a future will be possible for our children and our grandchildren, and our own life has to be our message.” At Deer Park, our practice center near San Diego, CA, we have taken a vow to do our best not to deplete the energy of the land and her resources, but rather to contribute to the regeneration of this beautiful land. Our solar energy system covers 90% of our usage of electricity.

To take a next step to stop contributing to devastating climate change, and to protect the beautiful land of California, we support you in signing a bill to ban fracking in California. Such a ban will reduce the carbon going into the biosphere, thus reducing contribution to climate change from this source, and it will help protect the land, water, peoples, animals and plants of California, now and in the future. We support you to support this ban. Thank you.

For the well-being of all life now and to come. The following names are all Order of Interbeing members located in California.

Kenley Neufeld, Chân Niệm Hỷ
Marc Jantzi
Gael Belden, True Wonderful Eyes
John Salerno-White, True Peace on Earth
Brother Phap Ho, True Protector of the Dharma
Juliet Hwang, True Emerald Ocean
Quyen Haduong, Chan Huyen
Leigh Ann Lipscomb, True Mountain of Goodness
Meredith Klein, True Summer Garden
Jo-ann Rosen, True River of Understanding
Beverly Alexander, True Holy Insight
Jerome Freedman, True Precious Light
Terry Barber, True Moon Heart
Ngoc-Tan Phan, Chan Mat Giai
Karen Hilsberg, True Boundless Graciousness
Phil Stein, True Precious Eyes
Margo Doxakis-Stein, True Garden of Understanding
Jacqueline Kim, True Beautiful Garden
John Freese, True Dharma Awakening
Lananh Nguyen
Jim Scott-Behrends, True Recollection of Compassion
Lyn Fine, True Goodness
Laura Alderdice, True Spiritual Communion
David Ostwald, True path of Equnimity
Terry Helbick, True Original Land
Susan Murphy, True Good Birth
David Nelson, Truly Holding Equanimity
Bryan Ferry, True Recollection of Awakening
Blanca Arias, True Ocean of Purity
Zachiah Murray, True Lotus Ocean
Nathaniel Vose, True Land of Compassion
Brandy Sacks, True Spiritual Contemplation
Andrew Deckert, True Wonderful Direction
Karen Hostetler, True Mountain of Deep Vows
Lynda Louise, True garden of togetherness
Meena Srinivasan, True Seal of Peace
Louise Dunlap, True Silent Teaching
Gary De Foe, True Buddha Garden
Sophy Wong, Chan Hanh Nguyen
Harriet Wrye, True Precious Smile
Laura Hunter, True Ocean of Teachings
Alice Christine Dawkins, True Wonderful Mind
Hac Nguyen, Chan Mat Trieu
Susan C Terris, True Fragrant Ocean
Natascha Bruckner, True Ocean of Jewels
Polly Chu, True Garden of Realizations
Elizabeth Nguyen, Chan Tri Tinh
Alexa Singer-Telles, True Silent Action
Tam Le, Chân Lưu Phong – True Flowing Tradition
Nu-Ha Phan, Chan Dinh Qua
Lennis Lyon, True Silent Forest
Sharon Moy, True Mountain of Clarity
Debra Rodgers, True Chrysanthemum Garden
Birgitte Moyer-Vinding, True Path of Light
Maria Nicora, True Garden of Goodness
Joshua Kaufman, True Shining Ocean
Miriam Goldberg, True Recollection of Happiness
Keith Mesecher
Mary Gorman, True Ever Lasting Ocean
Peter Kuhn, True Ocean of Joy
Robert Speer, True Silent Light
Denise Bergez, True Silent Shining
Marge Wurgel, True Crane Garden

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

Continue reading