Becoming a member of the Order of Interbeing
North America Only. Ordination information for those in other parts of the world will be posted here when known. In the meantime, please contact a dharma teacher or Order member in your country.
May 13, 2011
In 2011 there will be a number of 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 (six monastics from Deer Park and Blue Cliff monasteries and eight senior 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 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.
The minimum requirements for joining the Order of Interbeing, as established by the Charter of the Order, are that the aspirant:
- Be 18 years or age or older
- Has received the Five Mindfulness Trainings and the Three Jewels
- Practices with a local Sangha in this tradition
- Is committed to observing at least sixty days of mindfulness a year
- Has been mentored by members of the Order of Interbeing for at least a year, with the support of one or more monastic or lay dharma teachers who either have been directly mentoring the aspirant or who have been working with the OI mentors and,
- Is ready to begin the work of an Order Member: Sangha building and support, explaining the Dharma from personal experience, and nourishing the bodhichitta (the mind of love) in others while maintaining a regular meditation practice in harmony and peace with one’s family.
The process of becoming an aspirant and receiving support and training varies depending on the region and on local circumstances. In a region in which the Order of Interbeing has been established for many years, there may be clearly defined procedures; Dharma Teachers and Order Members available to train and support aspirants; and a community of Order Members that meets regularly for recitation ceremonies, study, and days of mindfulness. In other regions an aspirant may have to travel a considerable distance to practice with an Order Member or Dharma Teacher and the training of aspirants may be much more informal.
The decision that an aspirant is ready for ordination is a joint decision involving the aspirant, the aspirant’s local sangha, the OI mentors, and one or more monastic or lay dharma teachers who either have been directly mentoring the aspirant or who have been working with the OI mentors.
It is not possible to exactly specify the criteria that determine whether as aspirant is “ripe enough” for ordination — for ultimately it depends on heart-to-heart insight and recognition of a mature Bodhisattva spirit — however, some general guidelines can be stated. To be eligible for ordination into the Order of Interbeing, there is the expectation that the aspirant:
- is a stable practitioner who has learned to transform suffering and embodies the practice of mindfulness in his or her own life,
- practices with a spirit of generosity, attentive to the needs of others,
- is committed to continue deepening his or her practice of the fourteen mindfulness trainings,
- is able to teach the basic practices to others,
- participates (and will continue to participate) regularly and harmoniously in his or her local practice community and in the Order of Interbeing community, and,
- has the intention and capacity to be an active Sangha builder.
In order to be ordained at a retreat in 2011 it is requested that the aspirant and his mentors put together a packet containing the following:
- OI ordination application form (sent by Phap Hai or Phap Tri to the mentor of the applicant)
- letters of support from OI mentors and
- letters of support from Dharma teacher(s)
- letters of support from local Sangha members and family members (when available)
- original letter of aspiration to join the OI (if there is one)
- a letter to Thay presenting the aspirants desire to be ordained into the OI. This letter should include a brief spiritual history and a clear commitment that the aspirant will be a Sangha builder in a community which practices in the Plum Village tradition.
- a copy of the 5MT certificate, or at least the date, place, teacher of that transmission and the name you received
If the aspirant wishes to ordain at the Rocky Mountains YMCA or Blue Cliff retreats, please send a copy of the packet at least 30 days before to Br Phap Tri (Blue Cliff Monastery, 240 Pleasant Valley Road; Pine Bush, NY 12566. Email: BlueCliff@OrderofInterbeing.org.)
If the aspirant wishes to ordain at the Deer Park, Magnolia Grove, or Vancouver retreats, please send a copy of the packet at least 30 days before to Br Phap Hai (Deer Park Monastery, 2499 Melru Lane, Escondido CA 92026. Email: DeerPark@OrderofInterbeing.org.)
The aspirant should also bring a copy of the full packet to the retreat at which he or she wishes to be ordained.
These guidelines are a work in process. We have used our collective wisdom, however, inevitably there are situations and contexts we have not foreseen. If there are changes to the guidelines you believe should be made, or individual cases you would like to discuss, please contact Br Phap Tri (BlueCliff@OrderofInterbeing.org) or Br Phap Hai (Deerpark@OrderofInterbeing.org).
We thank you for your nourishing mindfulness, understand, and compassion in North America.
Sr. Huong Nghiem
Br. Phap Tri
Br. Phap Dung
Br. Phap Hai
Sr. Dang Nghiem
Br. Phap Ho