As I walked with the Sangha through the Oak Grove at Deer Park last summer I heard myself say, “I am a good wife.” I was startled and happy to hear that spontaneous belief. For years, when I became irritated, impatient, or outright angry with my husband, I would say to myself, “What a lousy wife I am. He didn’t deserve that. I was feeling bad about myself and took it out on him. Why does he stay married to me?” It wasn’t that I had said or done anything really awful, and I knew that my own suffering was the cause of my feelings and behavior. Later that day, while listening to the Dharma Talk, I realized that the time was right for me to become an Order of Interbeing aspirant. Enough of my own suffering had been transformed that I could aspire to the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings in order to build on my practice experiences and further transform my suffering. The source of my faith and enthusiasm for practicing mindfulness is the experience of transformation I have seen in my own life and the relief and joy that comes with transformation. Before I started to practice in 2007, I acted in ways that were petty, vindictive, mean spirited, or judgmental. Each time, I would chastise myself and vow to be a kinder, better person, but nothing changed. What I didn’t see was the direct connection between my behavior and my own big melting pot of internal suffering. I did see that feeling anxious and insecure about myself was the common antecedent to the behaviors that I wanted to change in myself. But I didn’t know how to become less anxious and more secure. I felt hopeless to change what I didn’t like in myself.
After a year or so of practicing mindfulness in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, I began to notice that I was less likely to act in ways that hurt others. I was more patient and accepting of others. Since I hadn’t done anything to directly change myself, I realized that the changes must be related to my daily sitting practice and from faithfully attending Sangha every week. This was a stunning realization. I realized that I didn’t have to try to change, but rather I could keep practicing and noticing my thoughts and feelings as I had been doing. I decided to stop trying to purposefully change and just keep sitting. What a relief! Continue reading
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
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)
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.
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.