Fragrant Mountain Ordination

By Sister Eleni Sarant In the midst of the Summer Opening at Plum Village from August 3-11,1994, there was a series of ordination ceremonies called Fragrant Mountain, named after a place of spiritual pilgrimage in northern Vietnam that is believed to be the home of Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of Great Compassion. At the Opening Ceremony, we chanted her name to elicit support, protection, and strength.

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The ceremony began at 7:00 a.m. Mindfully, with great respect, the Pratimoksa texts of precepts for monks and nuns were carried from Dharma Nectar Meditation Hall by two young members of the Order of Interbeing. Yellow and red parasols were held over the texts. The Sangha was led by high monks and nuns from many countries and followed by the monks and nuns of Plum Village wearing their yellow sanghati robes. Core members of the Order of Interbeing were seated around the bell tower, and the hundreds of retreatants were behind them. In the great silence, the sound of birds chirping joyfully and the Plum Village flag flapping gently filled the air. Thay Nhat Hanh invited the large temple bell to sound as he chanted gathas in Vietnamese to awaken us to the wonders of the present moment and officially inaugurate the ceremonies, during which more than 100 practitioners received the Five Wonderful Precepts, nearly 70 were ordained into the Order of Interbeing, and 35 bhiksus, bhiksunis, and novices were also ordained, including 12 visiting nuns who follow the Tibetan path of practice. Full ordination for bhiksunis in the Tibetan tradition has heretofore only been available in Taiwan and California. This was followed by four days of Dharma Lamp Transmission ceremonies. We were deeply moved and inspired by the Dharma talks given to us by the new Dharma teachers.

Sister Eleni is a nun resident of Plum Village.

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