The Order of Interbeing, Tiep Hien in Vietnamese, 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 Venerable 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.
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 2006 the Order had grown to include approximately 1000 lay practitioners and 250 monastic practitioners outside of Vietnam.
In 2006, during his first visit to Vietnam after 39 years of exile, Thich Nhat Hanh’s again offered an Order of Interbeing ordination to committed practitioners in Vietnam. Within a year of Thich Nhat Hanh’s visit, in conjunction with establishment of monastic centers in Vietnam practicing under his supervision, the Order in Vietnam grew to include hundreds of new monastic and lay members.