The Zen Studies Society Ethical Guidelines
updated September 2011

The Buddhist Precepts are a fundamental part of Zen Buddhist practice. They help create a safe and supportive environment for all. It is each person's responsibility to follow and honor these Ten Important Precepts. The precepts are:

  • Honor all life; do not kill.
  • Respect others' property.
  • Be loving and faithful in your relationship; do not succumb to lust.
  • Be truthful; do not deceive yourself or others.
  • Keep your mind clear; do not abuse alcohol or drugs.
  • Remember that silence is precious; do not gossip.
  • Be humble; respect perspectives that differ from your own.
  • Be grateful and cooperative; do not fall into envy or jealousy.
  • Practice peace; do not give way to anger.
  • Be guided by the Three Treasures: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

Guidelines:
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. The following behaviors are not permissible for any teacher, guest lecturer, monastic, Sangha member, program attendee, or visitor at either Dai Bosatsu Zendo or New York Zendo:

  • Failure to conform to zendo or monastery rules.
  • Any willful removal or damaging of property, or theft of funds.
  • Withholding or falsely reporting any income generated by the Zen Studies Society.
  • Threatening, abusive or obscene behavior.
  • Disrespectful or preferential treatment towards anyone on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, physical disability, income or national origin.
  • Willfully causing injury, whether physical or psychological.
  • Any type of illegal drug use, possession, or sale; any use of legal drugs not in accordance with a physician's express instructions; driving any motor vehicle or water craft while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug.
  • Any consumption of alcohol unless served at an officially sponsored event.
  • Possession of any firearms or other weapons. No hunting or fishing is allowed at Dai Bosatsu Zendo.
  • Misrepresenting personal information requested for any program sponsored by the Zen Studies Society.
  • Engaging in any type of unlawful activity.
  • Sexual harassment, defined as any single act or multiple persistent acts of physical or verbal conduct that is/are sexual in nature; unwelcome or offensive behavior in the view of the receiver of such attentions.
  • Sexual intimacy between teachers and students.
  • Sexual advances on the part of residents toward visiting students at Dai Bosatsu Zendo, as well as casual and/or serial sexual relationships among students. Students come to our practice centers to train in Rinzai Zen Buddhism. When people are living and working closely together, mutual attractions may develop, but the monastery is not the appropriate place for pursuing an intimate relationship. If such a relationship is forming, it must be discussed with the Abbot and the Shika.

Violations of the Precepts and Guidelines will be adjudicated by the Abbot, head monastic/director, and/or members of the Ethics Committee as appropriate. Further information on addressing issues regarding ethical conduct is available in the offices at Dai Bosatsu Zendo and New York Zendo, under Ethical Guidelines of the Zen Studies Society, Governance Procedures.

Governance:
1. If any Sangha member, participant or guest has concerns about how he or she is being treated by another or has concerns about someone’s ethical conduct within the community, he or she may choose to have a direct conversation with that person to address the concerns, provide feedback and reach an agreement about needed changes.

2. However, if the concerned Sangha member, participant or guest does not feel safe to speak directly with the source of concern, feels the complaint is sufficiently egregious, or if he or she has spoken with that person and does not believe the concerns have been addressed, he or she is encouraged to actively pursue the following process: The Zen Studies Society's board will designate an ethics committee consisting of three persons to hear, oversee and resolve issues of interpersonal behavior or ethics. The names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of all the committee members will be posted in the main office of each property associated with the Zen Studies Society. Anyone having concerns will be directed to contact someone on this committee.

3. A complainant may choose one of the following ways to submit a formal complaint. A written complaint can be submitted by the complainant to the committee or developed with the assistance of the committee. Or a formal complaint can be made directly with the accused during a dialogue arranged and attended by at least two members of the committee, one of whom will take notes. In the case of a written complaint, after a review by the full committee, it will be shared with the accused so that he or she 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.

4. The committee is authorized to review and investigate the complaint. The committee will retain all notes and correspondence associated with a given complaint for at least ten years.

5. If the complaint is judged by the committee not to meet the level of plausible illegal activity or egregious conduct, the committee will, at the request of the complainant, arrange a facilitated session with the concerned party for the purpose of achieving understanding.

6. If, after consideration, a majority of the committee agrees that a reasonable person would likely judge the conduct under investigation as illegal activity or egregious, it will be brought to the attention of the full Zen Studies Society's board for prompt consideration and response. If a member or ex officio member of the board is accused in the complaint then that member's voting rights associated with Board membership will be suspended during the period the complaint is investigated and he or she will be excluded from attending any meeting related to the complaint.

7. Disciplinary action by the Board of Directors may include expulsion, discharge, suspension, probation and/or exclusion from future practice and events associated with the Zen Studies Society. Any egregious activity that is also thought to be illegal will be turned over to the police for investigation.

8. This document will be posted in each main office of the Zen Studies Society and made easily accessible here on the Zen Studies Society web site.



If you are reading this and have concerns or are aware of ethical matters that need to be addressed, please email your written communication to the ethics committee. The Zen Studies Society Ethics Committee can be reached at zssethicscom@gmail.com. The ZSS Board can be reached at zssboard@gmail.com.

The current members of the ZSS Board are:
Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat, Abbot
Hokuto Dan Diffin, President
Shoteki Chris Phelan, Vice President
Shinkon Peter Glynn, Treasurer
Jikyo Bonnie Shoultz, Secretary
Tamon Jeff Hovden
Genno Linda King

Zen Studies Society