By Lyn Fine
The New York Sangha is slowly evolving a process for Order of Interbeing aspirants that feels good to us basically sending Jack Lawlor's "Letter to Aspirants," our twelve questions, and inviting people to write a dated letter of intention after further reflection and conversations, when they are ready.
We then encourage aspirants to choose three "practice partners," Order members, or, if there are no Order members nearby, people in their Sangha. These three people, plus me as the Dharmacharya, constitute the Aspirant Support Team.
Working with the team (as individuals or together), the aspirant devises what will be most useful for the aspirant for at least a year of practice with a home Sangha in the light of their aspiration to receive the 14 Mindfulness Trainings. They may use various resources we're developing, resources from other Sanghas, and of course, their own reflection.
The rest (i.e., the "decision-making process" at the time of formal application) is still in discussion-the aim, of course, is to devise a practice that is clear enough and open enough that trust can be developed and sustained, and unnecessary suffering in the application process can be avoided. In the past, we've tried to have consensus among all Order members, but now that there are 17 of us, that is really unwieldy. So we're experimenting with the "team" idea. The thought is that more than one practice partner means more resources and perspectives to draw on. The "team" practice is also good for Sangha-bonding and building, and for creativity in co-creating this process and tailoring it well for individual needs-and also, it allows for the fundamental impennanence of all of our lives! There is a possible "down side" of confusion, too, in the team practice-too much difference of views, etc., but we thought we'd try it out, as a next step.
Dharma teacher Lyn Fine highly recommends the book Mentoring: The Tao of Giving and Receiving Wisdom, by Chung liang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch (Harper SanFrancisco, 1995), which greatly influenced her views and approach.