The North American Dharma Teachers Sangha (DTS) was formed in 2010 by those in Canada and the United States who have received lamp transmission from the Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh. We have joined together for encouragement, support, and clarity as we fulfill our many responsibilities within local Sanghas. There are currently sixty members of the DTS, and the Care-Taking Council (CTC) was chosen to be our representative body.
This March, the CTC gathered for our annual in-person meeting at Blue Cliff Monastery. The CTC annual meeting has become important for us as a community, to deepen our connection and further our work and practice. This year at Blue Cliff, we joined the Thursday Day of Mindfulness with the community and participated daily in the monastic schedule of sitting and walking meditation. We also spent time meeting each day to continue our work. Throughout the year, we meet monthly by conference call, so to work and practice together in person is deeply renewing.
In the past two years, we’ve formed several working committees of CTC and DTS members. The committees have worked on a variety of tasks, such as supporting the monastic community in organizing OI transmission ceremonies, and developing resources to help address topics brought to us by local Sanghas.
The governance committee has developed by-laws that determine how the DTS makes decisions as a Sangha and how the Care-Taking Council renews itself with new members. The by- laws create an organizational structure to help us work together as Dharma teachers. The organizational model applies to us as a sub-group within the OI, not to the OI as a whole.
At the request of our monastic brothers and sisters, the aspirancy committee has developed Order of Interbeing aspirant and mentoring materials in order to support aspirants as well as the Dharma teachers and OI members who are mentoring them. The aspirancy materials have been emailed to OI members and posted on the Order website, www.tiephien.org. The materials are intended to help minimize difficulties that were encountered by aspirants in the past. They include things such as pre-aspiration checklists and contemplation questions, as well as information the monastic community needs prior to ordination.
The harmony and ethics committee has adopted Policies and Procedures for use if ethical concerns regarding Dharma teachers arise, and a Conflict Guide to help resolve difficulties that may arise anywhere in our community. These materials draw on our tradition’s many skillful means, those used by western conflict resolution professionals, and on the experience of Sanghas and Dharma teachers throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The communications committee is exploring ways to provide these materials to Dharma teachers, OI members, and Sanghas in the near future, using a variety of means. We expect to place them on the Order website with links posted to the OI yahoo groups, and perhaps to email the materials to North American Sanghas.
We, the Dharma Teachers Sangha, offer our work with the loving intention to support not only Dharma teachers, but all with whom we walk this path of practice. We offer it for anyone to use in any way that can benefit our Sanghas.
Please feel free to contact the council at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to explore any of these topics further.
The current members of the Care-Taking Council are Brother Phap Ho, Brother Phap Vu, Rowan Conrad, Lyn Fine, Chan Huy, Eileen Kiera, Jack Lawlor, Cheri Maples, Bill Menza, Anh Huong Nguyen, Mitchell Ratner, and Leslie Rawls.