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Developing A Fourfold Sangha
Some difficulties in Plum Village happen because we come from different cultures. In Vietnam monks and nuns have different activities than laypeople. The monks and nuns are in the central circle, and the laypeople are in the outer circle of the community. In the time of the Buddha, monks and nuns lived with the Buddha in the monastery, and laypeople came to hear the Dharma talks and to give offerings. In the beginning, in Plum Village, there were only laypeople, so they were my principal disciples. When I ordained monks and nuns, the monastic became the primary focus attention.
When monks and nuns begin their practice, they are often very weak. But because they are determined and committed to practice, because they have invested their whole life into the community, they have a very high degree of practice. If they were not monastic, they could always leave, they would have money in the bank and a home to go back to. But as a monastic, they have given up everything, they shave their head and have nowhere to go. That is why they are 100 percent committed. They put all their time and energy into the practice; they do not think about their position, power, or things like that. So they progress quickly. After five years, they are ready to become a Dharmacarya (Dharma teacher). But laypeople cannot be trained twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. They cannot become Dharmacaryas in five years only. They need a longer time. But we don’t have enough monastic Dharmacaryas to go around and lay Dharmacaryas also have a high degree of understanding of laypeople’s situation and needs.
I want all our monasteries to have fourfold Sangha composed of monks, nun, laymen, and laywomen, and for the laypeople living there to be a bridge between the monastic community and the laypeople society. We can call these laypeople upasika (lay disciples who have received the Five Mindfulness Training) because they are close to the monks and nuns. As their understanding deepens, they will have the capacity to hand the insight and the happiness of the monastic Sangha to larger society. There are many laypeople who have helped develop the Order of Interbeing. The have received the Fourteen Mindfulness Training, a bridge that connects the monastic community to the lay community.
The Order of Interbeing began in 1966, with six people. Today there are more than seven hundred members all over the world. Now we want to establish lay communities led by laypeople, like Intesein in Germany (led by three lay Dharma teachers) and Clear View in Santa Barbara, California (led by two lay Dharma teachers). We hope there will be many lay centers led by members of the Order of Interbeing in the twenty-first century. We also hope there will be many Mindfulness Practice Centers to offer a secular practice of mindfulness without religious overtones. In these centers, people from any belief can comfortably practice without feeling they need to become Buddhists.
Last Updated (Friday, 23 November 2012 14:54)