During the recent 21-day retreat, two new lay Dharma teachers were ordained and six UK-based practitioners received the 14 Mindfulness Trainings and joined the Order of Interbeing.
New Dharma Teachers
Within the global Plum Village tradition, there are both monastic and lay (non-monastic) Dharma teachers. A Dharma teacher is someone who through their sustained commitment to mindfulness practice is chosen to teach and transmit the practice. The prerequisite to be a Dharma teacher is not connected with accumulating a body of knowledge, but rather to be living life with true freedom and happiness.
When someone is chosen to be a Dharma teacher, there is a ‘Lamp Transmission’ ceremony. This tradition represents the passing on of the mindfulness teachings from master to disciple. Thich Nhat Hanh has transmitted the lamp to many Dharma teachers and since his stroke in 2014 senior Dharma teachers within the community transmit the lamp.
In June Theresa Payne (True Ever Present Virtue) and Angie Searle (True Solid Practice) became the latest UK-based Dharma teachers within the Plum Village Tradition.
Gathas are short poems and often used within the Plum Village tradition.
When a new Dharma Teacher received the Lamp they prepare an ‘insight gatha’ which encapsulates their wisdom and understanding that they have developed. They also recieve a ‘response gatha’ from the teacher who is transmitting the lamp.
Theresa’s Insight Gatha:
Ashes to Ashes
Dust to Dust
Only my breath
In this present moment
Response Gatha Theresa received from Sister Chan Duc:
Ever-present the miracle of life.
Indestructible the virtue of love.
Being there with the breath for another
Will reveal the truth of interbeing.
Angie’s Insight Gatha:
From desperation to inspiration,
From one rain drop a gentle river flows,
Conscious breathing is my Anchor.
Response Gatha Angie received from Sister Jina:
Solid are the footsteps that caress the earth.
Cultivating our mind is the practice.
Taking care of this ancestral body
We honour four objects of garatitude.
How was the experience?
“It was very moving and powerful ceremony, supported by more than seven hundred retreatants from all over the world and over one hundred monastic Sisters and brothers. I offer deep gratitude to my local Sangha, the UK Sangha, my mentors including Gill and all my fellow recipients, for the care and loving kindness that I have received over the last 4 years, and many years before that. It has really made a difference to me to know that you are all there, it makes me very happy!” Angie Searle
“Receiving this powerful Transmission was a deeply calming and supportive moment for me. I fully appreciate the love and appreciation I have received both before and after from so many members of the UK Sangha and those who were witness to the ceremony at Plum Village from all over the world. I do not know where this further step on my path will take me but that does not seem to be of consequence at the moment. I trust that the lamp I have received will serve to light the path for both myself and for others.” Theresa Payne
New members of the Order of Interbeing
The Order of Interbeing was started by Thich Nhat Hanh in 1966. It is a global community of people committed to practice and Engaged Buddhism as encapsulated in the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings.
Those who have received the Five Mindfulness Trainings can to join the Order of Interbeing and go through a process of mentorship from established order members where they practice with bringing the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings into their lives. Order members commit to observing sixty days of mindfulness each year, regularly recite the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings and accept the responsibility to organise and support a local mindfulness practice group.
During the ceremony, a group of nine UK-based practitioners received the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings and joined the Core Community of the Order of Interbeing. They are: Maggie Dove from Cromarty Sangha in Scotland, Madeline Parsons from Heart of London Sangha and Go as a River Sangha in Leigh-on-Sea, Richard (Harry) Bradshaw from Bude Sangha in Cornwall, Philip Bluckert from Wake Up Sangha in London and Norwich Sangha, Alexander Nunn from Wake Up Sangha in London, Nick Kenrick from Wake Up Sangha in London, Kareem Ghandour from Wake Up Sangha in London and Stroud Sangha and Jasmine Ghandour for Wake Up Sangha in London and Stroud Sangha.
[Note: The original version of this article omitted the names and photographs of three people who had received the 14 Mindfulness Trainings. Sincere apologies for this unintentional omission.]