The Community of Mindful Living is a global Sangha of people who practice mindfulness in the Zen tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh (aka “Thay”). A Sangha is a community of persons who follow the same path, who support one another, and who live together in harmony. We have Sanghas in nearly every part of the world, especially Europe, North America and Vietnam, where Thay is a popular Buddhist author and teacher.
Our tradition is non-sectarian in nature, which means that you do not need to be a “Buddhist” or a “member” of our group to practice with us. If you simply have a desire to be more awake and compassionate in your daily life, you are already on our path. We have many practitioners who also participate in other spiritual traditions. Some people formally take the Five Mindfulness Trainings (a version of the five Buddhist precepts) at retreats, which indicates their commitment to living an ethical life. This is not a requirement to practice in our tradition, but the trainings are a vital component of how Thay teaches mindfulness. More than just a formality, they are intended to be the torch lighting our way, as long as we hold them with a light touch.
It is easy to start a new Sangha in this tradition, which helps to keep our Sanghas smaller and more intimate, and allows opportunities for leadership from many different people. Our Sanghas are “leader-full” which means that we often rotate facilitators and offer different people the opportunity to bring a teaching or practice leading the group. Teachers in our tradition follow a servant model of leadership, and generally lead in a collaborative manner.
If you practice with us, you may hear about the “Order of Interbeing”. This is a community of core members, who have a made an additional commitment to practice the 14 Mindfulness Trainings in daily life and who aspire to be of service to the world. This is very similar to what is known as a “Bodhisaatva Vow” in other Zen traditions. OI members often co-lead Sanghas, organize retreats, and perform other types of service or humanitarian work around the world. It is completely voluntary.
There are many ways to be active in the Community of Mindful Living. Weekly Sangha attendance is probably the most common way, but there are also regional retreats, larger retreats at Thay’s monasteries in France and the United States, and membership in the Order of Interbeing. Every person who practices with us even one time is part of our community, and we strive to be inclusive and open-minded in our practice and our way of life. We aspire to embody the Buddha’s teachings fully, and we use the mindfulness trainings and our daily practice to cultivate the insight of Inter-being and to realize the path of right understanding and true love.
Welcome to our community, and we hope that mindfulness practice brings you much peace.