The Community of Interbeing is the name given to the network of people in the United Kingdom who practise Buddhism according to the teachings of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thây as we call him, meaning teacher in Vietnamese). The UK Community of Interbeing is part of the wider international Sangha of many thousands of practitioners worldwide, all of whom follow Thây’s mindfulness practice and teachings.
The name Community of Interbeing has been used since 1994, when the organisation was granted charitable status and adopted a formal structure and constitution. In 2003, the organisation became a company limited by guarantee (registered charity number 1096680 and company limited by guarantee number 4623280). For some years before then, a small but growing group of UK practitioners had been meeting to practise together and hold days of mindfulness and short retreats, following this Buddhist tradition. Often they met informally just to enjoy each other’s company.
As Thây’s teachings have become better known in the UK, so the community of practitioners – the Sangha – has grown, with more activities taking place locally and at a national level. Many people from the UK have visited Thây’s residential and monastic retreat centre, Plum Village, near Bergerac in South-west France. Many mindfulness retreats have been organised here in the UK, some of which have been led by Thây and other Dharma teachers. These retreats, and other mindfulness practices around the country, have introduced Thây’s distinctive form of Buddhist practice to increasing numbers of people, many of whom have joined a local Sangha and continued to practise. In addition, Thây’s books have grown in number and circulation, encouraging many newcomers to become involved.
Several hundred people in the UK have received the Five Mindfulness Trainings from Thây and other Dharma teachers in this tradition. Currently 86 have received the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings and joined the Order of Interbeing, created by Thây in 1964 (known as the Tiep Hien Order). Sister Annabel Laity, an English nun, is one of the most senior Dharma teachers and scholars in the Order and regularly runs retreats in this country. Six UK Order members – Martin Pitt, Mai Nguyen, Jane Coatesworth, Murray Corke, Vari Mcluskie, Ani Mavericka – have received Dharma-teacher initiation from Thich Nhat Hanh in France, and become Dharmacharyas.
In order to support the growing numbers of practitioners in our tradition, the Community of Interbeing has established a network of local UK Sanghas (currently over 90), each with their own activities and contacts. At the national level, the organisation is governed by a group of trustees who meet four or more times a year. They discuss and make decisions, by consensus, on many organisational and financial aspects of the Community’s life.
A newsletter, Here & Now, is circulated quaterly and subscribing to this publication grants readers membership of the Community as a whole (see below).
The Community is in the process of reviewing the shop service for the purchase of books, CDs, tapes and videos of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching. Please see the latest information regarding the progress of this review by following the link in this paragraph.
Further information on the COI can be found in the manual.