Order of Interbeing

The Order of Interbeing is a community of monastics and lay people who have committed to living their lives in accord with the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings, a distillation of the Bodhisattva (Enlightened Being) teachings of Mahayana Buddhism.

Established by Thich Nhat Hanh in Saigon in 1966, the Order of Interbeing was founded in the Linji tradition of Buddhist meditative practice and emphasizes the Four Spirits: non-attachment from views, direct experimentation on the nature of interdependent origination through meditation, appropriateness, and skilful means.

The first six members of the order, ordained together on February 5, 1966, were colleague and students of Thich Nhat Hanh who worked with him relieving the suffering of war through projects organized by the School of Youth for Social Service. In joining the Order of Interbeing, they dedicated themselves to the continuous practice of mindfulness, ethical behavior, and compassionate action in society.
Members of the Order of Interbeing can be identified by their brown jackets. There are now thousands of members around the world and over a hundred in the UK.

How to become a member of the Order of Interbeing in the UK

To become an Order member you first have to become an aspirant. To apply to be an aspirant to the Order you need…

  • several years’ experience of the practice
  • to be active in your local sangha (eg facilitate meetings)
  • to have received the Five Mindfulness Trainings at least two years ago
  • a commitment to sangha building
  • to feel a close connection to Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings and the Plum Village tradition
  • ideally, to be active in the national sangha

A handbook explaining the path to become first an Aspirant and then an Order member is available from the Secretary to the Ordination Guidance Group at orderofinterbeingogg@gmail.com. The Handbook offers information and guidance for both aspirants and mentors. Sections include the Aspirant Application Process, the Ordination Application Process, and also, becoming an active member of the OI sangha. The appendices include recommended resources e.g. the Charter of Interbeing.

Becoming a member of the Order of Interbeing is neither a qualification nor an indication of authority. It is a further commitment to Thây’s teachings, made by people who have benefitted from the practice and wish to share it with others.