The Order of Interbeing is a Buddhist movement that is drawing hundreds of new devotees each year. The order’s outreach program is connecting with tens of thousands of young people through the internet and regular retreats. The average age of new recruits is 22.
At the helm of this movement is 84-year-old Vietnamese zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh. His teachings on the environment have influenced the Prince of Wales, and the Dalai Lama and Oprah Winfrey are his admirers. His book on ecology, The World We Have, is a best-seller. His peace work influenced civil rights leader Martin Luther King, who subsequently nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The environmental principles of his doctrine teach respect and compassion for the environment through a code of practice called the five mindfulness trainings. The system encourages followers to take responsibility for their actions and to consider carefully the consequences of their consumption, not only of food and material goods, but also of culture and sensory stimuli.
Many Buddhists believe the Earth is a living organism of which we are all a part and are all interdependent. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that if we harm the environment, we harm ourselves. The message is simple but effective – consume with compassion.
In his own words: “We all have to reconsider our values in society and live a simpler life. We have to reconsider our version of happiness.
“People are getting busier and busier. We are like fishes living in a place where water is lacking. We don’t feel comfortable, we don’t have space, we lack time. We may have more money than in the past but we have less space and less happiness and less love. So we should have a revolution which must start with a collective awakening. We have to stop and look for another direction.”
To learn more about Thich Nhat Hanh visit his website: http://www.mindfulnessretreats.org.uk/about.php