Dear Still Water Friends,
This week, after our meditation period, we will read the 14 Trainings of the Order of Interbeing and also celebrate Annie Mahon, who was ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh into the Order of Interbeing on October 5th at Blue Cliff Monastery.
The Order of Interbeing was founded in 1966 in Saigon, when Thich Nhat Hanh ordained six colleague and students who worked with him relieving the suffering of war through projects organized by the School of Youth for Social Service. In joining the Order, they publicly dedicated themselves to the continuous practice of mindfulness, ethical behavior, and compassionate action in society.
Because of the dislocations caused by the war and Thich Nhat Hanh’s exile from Vietnam, no additional ordination into the Order occurred for fifteen years. Then, beginning in 1981, Thich Nhat Hanh invited into the Order some of the many lay and monastics students who studied and practiced with him in the West. By 2009 the Order has grown to include approximately 1200 lay practitioners and 300 monastic practitioners outside of Vietnam.
The 14 Mindfulness Trainings are similar to the Five Mindfulness Trainings in that they are concrete guidelines and aspirations for mindfulness practitioners. They differ though, in that the 14 trainings are intended especially for practitioners who have made wholehearted commitments to self-transformation, engaged practice, and sangha building.
While any one who wishes to is encouraged to practice with the 14 mindfulness trainings, formal ordination into the Order of Interbeing, which is equivalent to a clerical ordination, occurs only after a period of training, preparation, and mentorship.
Annie has been a committed and sincere practitioner and a pillar of the Still Water community for more than ten years. She is also the founder of Circle Yoga and Budding Yogis in Chevy Chase, DC, which offer yoga and mindfulness to children, adults, and families. Annie joins four other Order of Interbeing members who regularly participate with Still Water: Lynd Morris, Mitchell Ratner, Scott Schang, and Valerie Stains.
You are invited to be with us for our sharing and our celebration.
The text of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings is below.
The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing
The First Mindfulness Training: Openness
Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, I am determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help me learn to look deeply and to develop my understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill or die for.
The Second Mindfulness Training:Non-attachment to Views
Aware of suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, I am determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. I will learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to others’ insights and experiences. I am aware that the knowledge I presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life and I will observe life within and around me in every moment, ready to learn throughout my life.
The Third Mindfulness Training: Freedom of Thought
Aware of the suffering brought about when I impose my views on others, I am committed not to force others, even my children, by any means whatsoever – such as authority, threat, money, propaganda or indoctrination – to adopt my views. I will respect the right of others to be different and to choose what to believe and how to decide. I will, however, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness through compassionate dialogue.
The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Awareness of Suffering
Aware that looking deeply at the nature of suffering can help me develop compassion and find ways out of suffering, I am determined not to avoid or close my eyes before suffering. I am committed to finding ways, including personal contact, images and sounds, to be with those who suffer, so I can understand their situation deeply and help them transform their suffering into compassion, peace and joy.
The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Simple, Healthy Living
Aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom and compassion, and not in wealth or fame, I am determined not to take as the aim of my life fame, profit, wealth or sensual pleasure, nor to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying. I am committed to living simply and sharing my time, energy and material resources with those in real need. I will practice mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs or any other products that bring toxins into my own and the collective body and consciousness.
The Sixth Mindfulness Training: Dealing with Anger
Aware that anger blocks communication and creates suffering, I am determined to take care of the energy of anger when it arises and to recognize and transform the seeds of anger that lie deep in my consciousness. When anger comes up, I am determined not to do or say anything, but to practice mindful breathing or mindful walking and acknowledge, embrace and look deeply into my anger. I will learn to look with the eyes of compassion on those I think are the cause of my anger.
The Seventh Mindfulness Training: Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment
Aware that life is available only in the present moment and that it is possible to live happily in the here and now, I am committed to training myself to live deeply each moment of daily life. I will try not to lose myself in dispersion or be carried away by regrets about the past, worries about the future, or craving, anger or jealousy in the present. I will practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. I am determined to learn the art of mindful living by touching the wondrous, refreshing and healing elements that are inside and around me, and by nourishing seeds of joy, peace, love and understanding in myself, thus facilitating the work of transformation and healing in my consciousness.
The Eighth Mindfulness Training: Community and Communication
Aware that lack of communication always brings separation and suffering, I am committed to training myself in the practice of compassionate listening and loving speech. I will learn to listen deeply without judging or reacting and refrain from uttering words that can create discord or cause the community to break. I will make every effort to keep communications open and to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
The Ninth Mindfulness Training: Truthful and Loving Speech
Aware that words can create suffering or happiness, I am committed to learning to speak truthfully and constructively, using only words that inspire hope and confidence. I am determined not to say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people, nor to utter words that might cause division or hatred. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain nor criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will do my best to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten my safety.
The Tenth Mindfulness Training: Protecting the Sangha
Aware that the essence and aim of a Sangha is the practice of understanding and compassion, I am determined not to use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit or transform our community into a political instrument. A spiritual community should, however, take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.
The Eleventh Mindfulness Training: Right Livelihood
Aware that great violence and injustice have been done to the environment and society, I am committed not to live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. I will do my best to select a livelihood that helps realize my ideal of understanding and compassion. Aware of global economic, political and social realities, I will behave responsibly as a consumer and as a citizen, not investing in companies that deprive others of their chance to live.
The Twelfth Mindfulness Training: Reverence for Life
Aware that much suffering is caused by war and conflict, I am determined to cultivate non-violence, understanding and compassion in my daily life, to promote peace education, mindful mediation and reconciliation, within families, communities, nations and in the world. I am determined not to kill and not to let others kill. I will diligently practice deep looking with my Sangha to discover better ways to protect life and prevent war.
The Thirteenth Mindfulness Training: Generosity
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing and oppression, I am committed to cultivating loving kindness and learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants and minerals. I will practice generosity by sharing my time, energy and material resources with those who are in need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but will try to prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other beings.
The Fourteenth Mindfulness Training: Right Conduct
For lay members: Aware that sexual relations motivated by craving cannot dissipate the feeling of loneliness, but will create more suffering, frustration and isolation, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without mutual understanding, love and a long-term commitment. In sexual relations, I must be aware of future suffering that may be caused. I know that to preserve the happiness of myself and others, I must respect the rights and commitments of myself and others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to protect couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. I will treat my body with respect and preserve my vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of my bodhisattva ideal. I will be fully aware of the responsibility for bringing new lives in the world, and will meditate on the world into which we are bringing new beings.
For monastic members: Aware that the aspiration of a monk or a nun can only be realized when he or she wholly leaves behind the bonds of worldly love, we are committed to practicing chastity and to helping others protect themselves. We are aware that loneliness and suffering cannot be alleviated by the coming together of two bodies in a sexual relationship, but by the practice of true understanding and compassion. We know that a sexual relationship will destroy our life as a monk or a nun, will prevent us from realizing our ideal of serving living beings, and will harm others. We are determined not to suppress or mistreat our body or to look upon our body as only an instrument, but to learn to handle our body with respect. We are determined to preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of our bodhisattva ideal.