Directly inspired by the example and vision of Dharma Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Tiep Hien community, the Contemplative Order of Compassion is a community of monastics and lay persons, who have committed to living their lives in accordance with the Five Precepts of Mindfulness and the Fourteen Monastic Precepts — a distillation of the Bodhisattva Ideal of Mahayana Buddhism.
The Contemplative Order of Compassion (which includes the Spiritus Project Intentional Community and Contemplative Monks of the Eightfold Path) is a non-sectarian, intentional spiritual community, drawing on the Upayayana Buddhist Tradition, Benedictine-Camaldolese and Primitive Franciscan contemplative spirituality and non-dualistic (Advaita) philosophy. The aim of the Order is to actualise the Boddhisattva Ideal by studying, experimenting with, and applying a postmodern Buddhist Dharma in contemporary life.
Deeply inspired by the examples of our elder spiritual brothers, Thomas Merton, Anthony deMello, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche,His Eminence Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and the Venerable Master Thich Nhat Hanh (whose own order served as the working model for our humble endeavour), ours is a spiritual path based on the revealed wisdom of the Four Noble Truths, and grounded in the traditional Four Spirits; namely, the spirit of non-attachment from views and opinions, the spirit of direct experimentation on the nature of interdependent origination through meditation, the spirit of appropriateness, and the spirit of skillful means.
While we are non-sectarian, post-denominational and radically inclusive, our community is comprised of individuals, for whom various spiritual traditions and cultural practices play a central role, as they grow in their understanding of the Dharma. The Contemplative Order of Compassion supports and encourages these diverse individual expressions of spirituality, and rejects all forms of dogmatism, creedal statements and imposition of any religious rituals, traditions, scriptures or doctrines on its members. Ours is a path that includes the postmodern Buddhist philosophy, without struggling to define what Western Buddhism means.
We are predominantly considered non-theistic, in that our community does not recognise the need to view what is commonly referred to as “God” as a person or Cosmic Being, but rather embraces a pure, beginningless and undefinable Energy (which may be called matter, Love, Spirit or even God, if one is so inclined) as “the Eternal Principle”. (cf: Dhammapada 5)
This does not mean that we are atheists. It simply means that we understand the mystical teaching of Rav Yeshua ben Yusef, and the leaders of the Gnostic “Christ Movement” in a more universal, metaphysical and non-fundamentalist sense, and that our understanding of sacrament and symbol are likewise more universal. We find no need to anthropomorphise the inexpressible, beginningless energy of the universe into a “creator god”, and celebrate, acknowledge and revere the primitive and ancient paths, which relied upon such archetypes to convey greater spiritual truths within the limited scope of their culture and experience. It is our belief that in the 21st century, we must move beyond denomination and dogma and begin to work toward a broader understanding of what we must do to alleviate suffering for all sentient beings, and that is our sole objective.
We welcome any individual who wishes to follow a radical path of compassion, service to humanity, and personal discovery to join us, either as a member of our Secular Associates (whose primary vehicle is the Spiritus Project), or through entry into the course of monastic study, in which one is eventually ordained according to the original principles of Buddhism and the ancient Apostolic tradition, once called “The Way of Christ”. The path we follow, and the spirituality into which our monks are ordained is simply referred to as “the Dharma of Compassion.”
“If in our daily lives we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. If we really know how to live, what better way to start the day than with a smile? Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy. The source of a true smile is an awakened mind.”
~ from Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh