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Transmission Ceremony for 10 Order of Interbeing Aspirants To Be Held

06 Mar 2019 11:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Thanks to Andrew Rock, a member of the Tampa Sangha, for this article on FCM’s Order of Interbeing.

On the morning of Sunday, March 17 we will have a wonderful and inspiring transmission ceremony for two groups at FCM’s Tampa practice center. 

Our teacher Fred will transmit the Five Mindfulness Trainings to a happy group of his students who are ready to make the public commitment of taking refuge in the three jewels of Buddhism – the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha – and to take the Five Mindfulness Trainings as the ethical guiding lights for their thoughts, words and actions. 

In addition, ten senior aspirants in FCM’s Order of Interbeing (OI) community will receive transmission of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings, expanded ethical guidelines that the members of the Order take as their aspirational lodestar for a life of understanding and compassion, the life of a bodhisattva dedicated to relieving suffering. 

The Order of Interbeing was originally founded by Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) in Vietnam in 1964 during the Vietnam war to provide support and guidance for a handful of his closest students and associates engaged in providing aid to their suffering people, often at risk of their own lives. Thay, now resident at Plum Village Monastery in France although he is currently staying at his root temple in Vietnam, reopened membership in the Order fifteen years later, and our own teacher Fred was among the very earliest of the new members. 

The OI includes both monastics and laypeople, and there are now thousands of members around the world, including fifty aspirants and ordained OI members in FCM, perhaps the largest OI chapter in the country. As stated in the OI Charter, the aim of the Order is to actualize Buddhism by studying, experimenting with, and applying Buddhism in modern life with a special emphasis on the bodhisattva ideal.

Aspirancy to the Order is opened in December of each year to members of FCM who have practiced diligently for at least two years, and are willing to commit themselves to service and to their healing and transformation for the benefit of all beings. Aspirants are assigned a mentor to guide their study and practice of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings and help them develop the skills and experience to serve as sangha builders. 

The diverse FCM group, like other OI members, is geographically diffused among the various FCM sanghas and beyond, but it has regular monthly Zoom calls to recite the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings and to discuss how we can best serve our sangha and develop our practice. We have annual OI retreats; the 2019 FCM OI retreat will take place in Tampa next weekend and will include Sunday’s transmission ceremony.

Fred, our teacher and respected elder OI brother, often says that the OI is the core of the FCM community because its members may be found serving the sangha in many ways, although Fred is always quick to point out that there are many deep and dedicated practitioners who are not members of the Order of Interbeing. 

But the Order is not only, or even primarily, a subset of FCM: the Order of Interbeing is an integral part of the worldwide Plum Village community created and led by our root teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. There are also annual OI retreats at the North American Plum Village monasteries at Deer Park in California, Magnolia Grove in Mississippi and Blue Cliff in New York, and of course at Plum Village itself in France, where members of the Order, many of whom live in places where they may be the only OI member, gather to practice and renew their sense of community. In many ways the OI members, as well as the ordained Dharma teachers and monastics, are the “connective tissue” that holds the international Plum Village community together, particularly within lay communities such as FCM.

Full ordination into the Order of Interbeing is conducted by Thay’s senior monastics – formerly by Thay himself – at OI retreats and at retreats of the bi-annual Plum Village North American tour for those aspirants deemed ready by their teachers, OI mentors and themselves. Once ordained, they receive a new Dharma name and a brown jacket to wear on ceremonial occasions such as transmission ceremonies -- not as a mark of attainment, (as the Heart Sutra famously says, there is nothing to attain), but rather as a mark of humility and dedication to a life of service.

At the very heart of the Order of Interbeing are the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh as embodied in the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings, and in the profound insight that indeed everything is interconnected. More even than interconnected, we inter-are with all that is. We truly are not separate selves, and with that heart-realization come the compassion and love that power the members of the Order of Interbeing to commit their lives to deepening their understanding and service. 

Andrew Rock
True Collective Healing

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