These are the ethical guidelines of the Vermont Zen Center as described in our by-laws.
Code of Right Conduct
The Vermont Zen Center is committed to providing a supportive environment for the practice of the Buddha Way. The Teacher, staff, directors, officers, and members strive to incorporate the Three Resolutions and the Ten Cardinal Precepts into daily life.
The Three Resolutions
- I resolve to avoid evil.
- I resolve to do good.
- I resolve to work for the liberation of all sentient beings.
The Ten Cardinal Precepts
- I resolve not to kill, but to cherish all life.
- I resolve not to take that which is not given, but to respect the things of others.
- I resolve not to engage in improper sexuality, but to lead a life of purity and self-restraint.
- I resolve not to lie, but to speak the truth.
- I resolve not to cause others to take substances that impair the mind, nor to do so myself, but to keep the mind clear.
- I resolve not to speak of the faults of others, but to be understanding and sympathetic.
- I resolve not to praise myself and disparage others, but to overcome my own shortcomings.
- I resolve not to withhold spiritual or material aid, but to give them freely when needed.
- I resolve not to indulge in anger, but to exercise restraint.
- I resolve not to revile the Three Treasures (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha), but to cherish and uphold them.
A violation of right conduct is defined as that which is at variance with these Ten Cardinal Precepts. The first Cardinal Precept (to cherish all life) precludes any form of harassment or conduct which impairs a member's participation in the life of the Sangha. Harassment and sexual harassment are further defined in the by-laws. An allegation of a violation of right conduct shall be handled through the grievance procedure set forth in these by-laws.
HARASSMENT AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY
The third Precept of Buddhism is “Not to engage in improper sexuality, but to lead a life of purity and restraint.” As a religious institution, The Zen Center seeks to maintain an environment where bigotry and intolerance, including discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation, have no place and where any form of coercion and harassment that insults the dignity of others and impedes their religious practice and spiritual growth is not tolerated. Sexual harassment in any context is reprehensible, and is a matter of particular concern to a religious community in which students, staff, other practitioners, and teachers are related by strong bonds of spiritual interdependence and trust. A grievance with regard to sexual harassment can be brought against the Abbot, a Director, a junior teacher, the Administrator, the head of the zendo, the officers of the Center, a staff member or an affiliate leader.
Sexual harassment most frequently occurs when one person has some power and authority over another. It encompasses several different types of behavior, including sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Such unwanted sexual attention constitutes “sexual harassment” when submission to such conduct (1) involves a stated or implicit threat to the victim's membership in the Center or involvement in Center functions (e.g., attendance at sesshin or dokusan), (2) substantially interferes with the victim's spiritual practice, (3) creates an offensive environment, or is intimidating or humiliating to the person.
Sexual harassment may occur between two staff members as well as between a teacher or staff member and a member of the Sangha. Sexual harassment of a student by a teacher obstructs the Teaching and is harmful in other ways as well. It is a violation of the basic trust upon which the relationship of teacher and student is founded. Similarly, teachers and others in a position of authority should avoid comments that discriminate against persons on a basis of sex or sexual orientation or that refer to the sexuality of a person or a group in such a way as to create an intimidating or offensive environment. However, this statement is not meant to proscribe discussion of such matters as sex and sexuality.
An allegation of sexual harassment can be handled either directly by the individuals involved, or through the grievance procedure.
The Center is committed to resolving problems arising from violations of right conduct set forth in these by-laws. Any member can submit a written complaint directly to the Grievance Committee or through the Board. Grievances can be raised against a teacher, instructor, officer, zendo head, or director.
Upon receiving a written report of a violation of right conduct as set forth in the Statement of Right Conduct adopted as part of these by-laws, the Board will convene a Grievance Committee (which may be a standing committee), consisting of 3 members and 1 alternate to interview the persons concerned and to investigate the matter. Any person involved with the reported violation shall not participate in the Committee, nor shall any other person who would be unable to render an impartial decision. The Committee shall deliberate in private and may determine not to take any action in case of insufficient evidence or seriousness of the allegation. If by majority vote the Committee finds the report to be well-founded, it shall refer the matter to the Board.
Any involved member may appeal to the Board the decision of the Grievance Committee. The Board may supplement the Committee’s investigation by further interviews or by other investigations as appropriate. The concerned persons shall be afforded the opportunity to meet with the Board. The Board shall deliberate in private to determine the merits of the appeal. By majority vote, the Board may decide to take no action or may impose any of the following sanctions: (a) private reprimand, (b) public reprimand or censure, (c) suspension from performing duties or office on behalf of the Centre for up to one year, (d) suspension from all privileges of membership for up to one year, or (e) termination of membership.
Any person involved in a reported violation of right conduct shall not participate in the deliberations of the Grievance Committee or the Board concerning that matter.