Opening Our Hearts

By Marcel Geisser On the weekend of March 29-31, we had the first meeting of German-speaking Order of Interbeing members. Fourteen of us met at Haus Tao, a meditation center in Switzerland (See p. 30)—Iris Nowak, Uli Scharpf, Irmgard and Richard Buck, Steffi Holtje, Margret de Beckere, Loriana Pauli, Nel Houtman, Barbara Croci, Marcel Geisser, Bettina Schneider, Annette and Rainer Landgraf, and, on Saturday Karl Schmied and Claudia Wieland. We were very pleased to also have Sr. Jina with us, as she is Chief Executive of the Order of Interbeing and also serves as a bridge to the monastic Sangha.

Most of the participants came from southern Germany and Switzerland, however some traveled from as far as Berlin and Plum Village. From the first gathering on Friday evening, we realized what immense potential this community has. There are many interesting people walking this path, experiencing the same fruits of practice, and similar difficulties in life.

After our sitting and walking practice, we gathered the questions, expectations, and ideas we brought with us. Many of us wondered if the Order of Interbeing was more than a personal dedication to practice the Fourteen Precepts. During the discussions that followed, a shift of perspective happened. We started with the question, "What do I expect from the Order?" but it became, "What can I do to make the Order more alive?"

We realized how little we know each other and, therefore, have not yet come to a deeper, more personal level of communication. Some spoke about feeling they had to behave in a "correct" way, as is common in religious orders, out of fear of what other members might think if they knew certain things about them. Many expressed their wish that our group begin communicating openly and authentically like real sisters and brothers, with mindfulness and loving care for one another. Then it just happened, we opened our hearts and spoke and listened from a place of great trust.

By the end of the weekend we expressed our wish to meet once or twice a year in a way that gives us time to look deeply into a subject of our choice. Most of us will also meet at Thay's retreats in Germany in June and again in Plum Village in September. We scheduled the next meeting of German-speaking Order members for November, possibly at Zen Klausen in der Eifel in Germany, and another meeting in April 1997 at Haus Tao.

Marcel Geisser, True Realisation, is the founder of Haus Tao in Wolfhalden, Switzerland. For more information about the Order of Interbeing, see the book Interbeing by Thich Nhat Hanh (Parallax Press, Berkeley, CA).

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