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What is the Order of Interbeing?

The Tiep Hien Order or Order of Interbeing was first established by Thich Nhat Hanh in 1966, during the Vietnam War. At this stage it comprised a small number of dedicated followers who were involved in social work and were committed to the principles of Engaged Buddhism.

Dharma Teacher Fred Eppsteiner describes the Order of Interbeing as a wonderful blend of traditional Buddhist ethical, meditation and wisdom teachings with contemporary social concerns. Today there are more than 1,000 lay and monastic men and women in the OI core community.

The Order of Interbeing is a four-fold community.  It is made up of monks, nuns, lay men and lay women.  The emergence and strength of the particular form of Buddhism inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh and represented by the Order of Interbeing and many Sanghas in many countries, demonstrates the great benefits of the practice.

The Order was founded on the Fourteen Precepts or, as they are now known, the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. 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. Fred writes that “by developing peace and serenity through ethical and conscious living, we can help our society make the transition from one based on greed and consumerism to one in which thoughtfulness and compassionate action are of the deepest value.” Anyone who wishes to can live his or her life in accord with these fourteen trainings.

The Order of Interbeing is an essential practice of the Thich Nhat Hanh community. FCM is mindful of a need for developing resources to support the care and development of the OI community, and has created an OI Care Committee to support the development of the Order.  Currently the OI Care Committee is under the guidance of the FCM Board Practice Committee.

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.

Those interested in learning more about the Order of Interbeing are encouraged to speak with Fred and to read “Interbeing – Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism” by Thich Nhat Hanh. This book contains and explains the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings and the Charter of The Order of Interbeing.

People who are committed to this practice and wish to be ordained into The Order of Interbeing first commit to practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings, the basic Buddhist precepts for laypeople as developed by Thich Nhat Hanh. Later they study for a minimum of one year with a Dharma teacher and a mentor, commit to help develop and support their sangha, practice 60 days of formal days of mindfulness each year, and read the 14 Mindfulness Training every two weeks. For more information on joining the Order of Interbeing, please go to How to Become a Member of the Order of Interbeing

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