Guidelines for Ethical Behavior at the Zen Studies Society
The Precepts are fundamental to Zen Buddhist practice. They help create a healthy and supportive environment for all. It is each person’s responsibility to follow and honor these Fundamental Precepts and Ten Important Precepts
Refrain from all harmful acts.
Practice all that is good.
Purify your heart.
This is the everlasting teaching of all the Buddhas.
Ten Important Precepts
1. Be reverential toward all life; do not kill.
2. Respect others’ property; do not steal.
3. Be faithful and loving in your relationships; do not succumb to lust.
4. Be truthful; do not deceive yourself or others.
5. Keep your mind clear; do not abuse intoxicants.
6. Remember that silence is precious; do not gossip or engage in frivolous conversation.
7. Be humble; do not praise yourself or judge others.
8. Be grateful for your life; do not covet, envy, or be jealous.
9. Keep your mind always calm and at peace; do not give way to anger.
10. Uphold the Three Treasures: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha; do not discredit them.
At New York Zendo and Dai Bosatsu Zendo, we abide in our fundamental oneness while respecting and celebrating our differences. We strive to create accessible and equitable spaces, free from prejudice based on race, ethnicity, age, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, economic status, religion, nationality, and citizenship status, or any other category.
We unequivocally acknowledge the discrimination, prejudice, and privilege that exist in society at large; we commit to the work of building a culture of accountability and healing. We welcome and value all who come here with a heartfelt spirit of inclusion. We encourage you to speak with one of our teachers or the shika (head monastic) if you have questions or concerns regarding Sangha interactions, practices, rituals and traditions.
The Zen Studies Society is a community based on trust, harmony, and respect. Sangha members are expected to interact with one another in a manner that upholds the Precepts.
Students come to our temples to practice Rinzai Zen Buddhism. When people are working and practicing together, or living together as they do at Dai Bosatsu Zendo, attractions may occur, but the temples are not appropriate places for developing an intimate relationship. If such a relationship is forming, it must be discussed with the abbot and/or shika to find an appropriate resolution. This may include taking a period of time away from the monastery/temple to explore the viability of that relationship.
The following behavior is not permissible for any person at either Dai Bosatsu Zendo or New York Zendo:
• Sexual harassment, defined as any single act or multiple persistent acts of physical or verbal conduct that is/are sexual in nature; unwelcome flirtatious or offensive behavior in the view of the receiver of such attentions.
• Sexual intimacy between teachers and students; casual and/or serial sexual relationships; flirtatious advances on the part of teachers, monastics, residents, or senior students toward students or guests.
• Disrespectful, harmful or preferential treatment or speech with respect to any individual or group, as well as threatening, abusive, or flirtatious behavior toward anyone.
• Willfully causing injury, whether physical or psychological.
• The consumption of alcohol, marijuana or any other consciousness-altering substance. On the rare occasion when alcohol may be served at an official temple event, irresponsible consumption or inebriation is not permitted.
• The possession or sale of an illegal substance; the use of legal drugs not in accordance with a physician’s express instructions; driving a motor vehicle or using a boat while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug, or otherwise impaired.
• Removal of or damaging of temple property, or theft of funds.
• Withholding or falsely reporting income generated by the Zen Studies Society.
• Misrepresenting or not divulging necessary personal information requested for any program sponsored by the Zen Studies Society.
• Possession of firearms or other weapons.
• Hunting and fishing on Dai Bosatsu Zendo property.
• Engaging in any unlawful activity.
Violation of the Ethical Guidelines will be adjudicated by the abbot, shika, board president, and/or the Ethics Committee as appropriate. If you have concerns about or are aware of ethical matters that need attention, please see “Addressing Ethical Issues” below. This information is also posted at Dai Bosatsu Zendo and New York Zendo.
Addressing Ethical Issues
If any Sangha member, program participant or guest has concerns about behavior that may violate the Ethical Guidelines, he, she, or they may choose to have a direct conversation with the person involved to address the concerns, provide feedback, and reach an agreement about needed changes. That conversation may be mediated at the request of the participants by the shika or, if the shika is involved in that behavior, by the abbot.
However, if the concerned Sangha member, program participant, or guest does not feel safe speaking directly with that person, feels the complaint is sufficiently egregious, or has spoken with that person and does not believe the concerns have been addressed, this process may be followed:
• The concerned person may speak to the shika of the temple; if the shika is involved in the issue, the concerned person may speak directly to the abbot; if the abbot is involved in the issue, the concern may be brought to the board president.
• The appropriate mediator (the temple shika, abbot, and/or board president) will attempt to bring the involved individuals to a position of clarity on the issue and will, if necessary, make a recommendation for action. The shika or abbot will make a determination of the proper action to be approved by the abbot, or if the abbot is a participant in the issue, by the board. If a board director is accused in the complaint, that director will recuse himself or herself from any board discussion or vote regarding the complaint.
• Any activity that is believed by the abbot, shika or board president to be in violation of a law will be promptly brought to the attention of the board and the appropriate authority.
• The abbot or board president will gather necessary information, including interviewing the involved parties, and will offer guidance on resolving the issue. If necessary, the abbot will provide a written report to the board with recommendations as to elimination or modification of privileges of any person with respect to the Zen Studies Society.
• If the concerned person feels after this process that the issue has not been appropriately dealt with, or that equitable action by the shika, abbot and/or board president is not possible, the Ethics Committee may be consulted.
The board has designated an Ethics Committee consisting of three people to hear, oversee and resolve issues of violation of the Ethical Guidelines. Members of the committee are not directors, residents or staff of the Zen Studies Society. Current names and contact information of the committee members are posted below.
• A written complaint may be submitted to the committee or developed with the assistance of the committee. After a review by the full committee, the complaint will be shared with the other involved party so that he, she, or they can make a written response to the committee. After the written response is reviewed, the committee will share it with the complainant and ask for any additional comment.
• A formal complaint can be made directly during a dialogue with the other party arranged and attended by at least two members of the committee, one of whom will take notes.
The committee will also review written reports by the shika, abbot, and/or board president in their consideration of the complaint as appropriate.
• If the complaint is judged by the committee not to meet the level of egregious conduct, the committee may, at the request of the complainant, arrange a facilitated session with the concerned parties for the purpose of achieving mutual understanding.
• If a majority of the committee agrees that a reasonable person would likely judge the conduct under investigation to be in violation of law or egregious, it will be brought to the attention of the board for prompt consideration and response.
Disciplinary action by the board of directors may include expulsion, discharge, suspension, probation and/or exclusion of the person involved from future practice and events associated with the Zen Studies Society. All notes and correspondence associated with a complaint that is considered by the committee will be retained by the secretary of the board for at least 10 years.
This document is also posted at Dai Bosatsu Zendo and New York Zendo.
Abbot of the Zen Studies Society: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dai Bosatsu Zendo Shika: (845) 439-4566 / email@example.com
New York Zendo Shika: (212) 861-3333 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Board President: email@example.com
Ethics Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org Members: Ishin Bill Cross, Michael Fayne, Chigen Karen Remmler.
If you would like assistance with this process, please contact Rev. Jikyo Bonnie Shoultz at email@example.com.
Updated Sept. 14, 2021