The Order of Interbeing ( Tiếp Hiện (接现) Order) was founded in the mid 1960’s, in Vietnam, by Thich Nhat Hanh (a.k.a. Thay). The basis of the Order are the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings which lay out the core principles for lay and monastic life. In 1987 Thay published a thin volume in English containing the 14 trainings ~ Interbeing: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism . I have a 1993 revised edition. The book is required reading for those seeking ordination in the order.
Nothing is fixed. The fourteen trainings are evolving through time. Those in use today are longer and take into account the changing times and sensibilities but retain the core meanings. It is interesting to compare the different version side by side which is what I intend to do here in a series of interlinked blog posts.
This is the Second of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing:
Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. We are committed to learning and practicing non-attachment to views and being open to others’ experiences and insights in order to benefit from the collective wisdom. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Insight is revealed through the practice of compassionate listening, deep looking, and letting go of notions rather than through the accumulation of intellectual knowledge. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.
The wording of all the trainings is evolving through time. The 1993 wording (probably a close translation of the 1960’s original) is:
Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.
This is the eleventh of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing:
Aware that great violence and injustice have been done to our environment and society, we are committed not to live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. We will do our best to select a livelihood that contributes to the wellbeing of all species on earth and helps realize our ideal of understanding and compassion. Aware of economic, political, and social realities around the world, as well as our interrelationship with the ecosystem, we are determined to behave responsibly as consumers and as citizens. We will not invest in or purchase from companies that contribute to the depletion of natural resources, harm the earth, or deprive others of their chance to live.
The shorter version in the 1980’s Interbeing book is:
Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realist your ideal of compassion.
My first sensation on receiving the book was one of gratitude. I had been wanting to read it for some time but it had never come to hand. It has been out of print for a long time but I found a copy on Abebooks for £5 delivered to my door. This copy was an ex-library volume from the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban and is a 1967 first UK edition. It feels like a piece of history. I imagine it being bought 47 years ago by someone trying to understand the situation from a Vietnamese Buddhist perspective. I wonder why it was discarded.
The cover is as powerful as it is iconic. It shows the self-immolation of Buddhist monk Thich Quang-Duc. The book could be seen as an explanation of the context in which Thich Quang-Duc and other Buddhists felt they had to burn themselves. Continue reading