This year, to celebrate the 40th Year since the founding of Plum Village, we had the special occasion to transmit the Dharma Lamp to monastics and lay members of the Order of Interbeing.
A lamp transmission is a formal ceremony where the teaching, or Dharma, is passed from a Zen master to their disciple. In this ceremony, the recipient of the lamp becomes a Dharma teacher in the Plum Village tradition and joins an unbroken lineage of teachers and disciples.
What is a transmission in the Plum Village tradition?
Aside from the formal ceremony, we share with you the spirit of “true “transmission from teacher to disciple. Below is a teaching from our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh on full discipleship:
When I look into the person of a disciple, whether she is a monastic or a lay person, I would like to see that my teaching has only one aim – to transmit my insight, my freedom and my joy to my disciples. If I look at her and I see these elements in her eyes, I am very glad. I feel that I have done well in transmitting the best that is in me. Looking at a disciple’s way of walking, of smiling, of greeting and of being, I can see whether my teaching has been fruitful or not. That is what is called “transmission”. Transmission isn’t organised by a ceremony with a lot of incense and chanting. Transmission happens every day in a very simple way. If the teacher/student relationship is good, then that transmission is realised in every moment of our daily life. You don’t feel far away from your teacher. You feel that he is, she is, always with you because the teacher outside has become the teacher inside. You know how to look with the eyes of your teacher. You know how to walk with the feet of your teacher. Your teacher is never apart from you. This is not something abstract: it is something that we can see for ourselves. If you look at a monk or a nun or a lay disciple and you see Thay in him, you know that he is a full disciple of Thay... When we look into ourselves, we can see it also – we can see whether our way of walking or smiling or thinking has that element of freedom, of joy, of compassion – and then we know that Thay has been taken into ourselves as a true continuation of our teacher. You don’t need another person to tell you: you can know it by yourself... Excerpts from a talk by Thầy on August 22, 2001 at the Deer Park Monastery
An example of the gathas exchanged
Shelley Anderson’s Insight gatha (True Great Harmony)
I worry, will I die alone? Afraid? In pain?
The clematis in the back garden reminds me to enjoy
the here and now.
The pink clematis just smiles at the sun and enjoys the warmth of the present.
Lamp Transmission gatha
The great work of no-birth and no-death
Can be realized at any moment
The true harmony of heart and mind,
Takes us to the shore of peace