These mindfulness trainings are practical guides to help us live more fully in compassion and understanding. They are Thich Nhat Hahn’s “translation” of the traditional five precepts. Thay’s version inspires positive action and highlights the idea that these are all practices and he gives very insightful examples and brings these teachings into modern life. The fourteen trainings are a distillation of the traditional Bodhisattva precepts of Mahayana Buddhism and done in the same style as the “translation” of the traditional five precepts.
The Five Mindfulness Trainings: The Five Mindfulness Trainings are one of the most concrete ways to practice mindfulness. They are nonsectarian, and their nature is universal. They are true practices of compassion and understanding. All spiritual traditions have their equivalent to the Five Mindfulness Trainings.
The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings: The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings are the very essence of the Order of Interbeing. They are the torch lighting our path, the boat carrying us, the teacher guiding us. They allow us to touch the nature of interbeing in everything that is, and to see that our happiness is not separate from the happiness of others. Interbeing is not a theory; it is a reality that can be directly experienced by each of us at any moment. The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings help us cultivate concentration and insight which free us from fear and the illusion of a separate self.
Diversity Trainings: While these trainings are not traditional mindfulness traingings and they were not authored by Thay (they were written by Larry Yang), they were included in Thay’s book, Friends on the Path (edited by Jack Lawlor) and are published in Plum Villages Mindfulness Bell magazine #37 Autumn 2004. According to that article, practicing these trainings:
…is an opportunity to begin the journey towards narrowing the experience of separation. As humans, we all participate in the harmful behaviors that these trainings are addressing. We all have been the perpetrator and victim, at one time or another. These trainings are for all of us, not just for any particular group or community. And in our conjoint practice is the vision, hope, and possibility of both cultivating non-perpetration of oppression and increasing the compassion in how we live our lives and understand each other.
Entering into the trainings can be done in many ways. They can be used in contemplative meditation practice and as themes for inquiry in individual practice. If used in a Sangha, they can serve as guided meditations and intentions, or the beginning of mindful conversations. Related to this is the possibility to use one or more of these trainings as guiding principles during critical discussion, conﬂict resolution, mediation, or other sacred dialogue.