At the Dzogchen Center, we recognize that the foundation of the good and spiritual life rests upon our mindful and caring relationship to all the lives and life around us. “Goodness is next to Godliness. First, cherish life and do no harm. Second, help if you can and when it’s needed. Third, we are all in the same boat, and rise and fall, sink or swim, together. Fourth, teach only when asked, go only when invited. Fifth: Remember our Bodhisattva Vow and altruistic Bodhichitta intention. May we all together fulfill the great promise of love and active compassion on this wisdom journey.” ( Lama Surya Das)
For those of us who live a lay life, we acknowledge that without the support and protection of traditional monastic vows and customs from our Buddhist roots in Asia, we need clear and modern Western guidelines that help ensure wise ethical conduct possible and further make it possible.
In keeping with this understanding, and for the long-term benefit of ourselves and the community at large, we agree to uphold at the center, at a minimum, the five lay training precepts. These are expanded below to make them explicitly appropriate in our role as teachers and students, meditators and yogis, spiritual activists and service-oriented karma yogis in our time, place and society.
All Dzogchen Center Personnel (“Personnel” includes the Center’s teachers, management, board of directors, advisors, employees, and (paid and unpaid) staff) agree to the following guidelines:
1. We undertake the precept of refraining from killing.
We agree to acknowledge the interconnection of all beings and our respect for all life. We agree to refine our understanding and practice of not killing and non-harming in all our actions. We seek to understand the implication of this precept in such difficult areas as abortion, euthanasia, and the killing of pets. While some of us recommend vegetarianism, and others do not, we all commit ourselves to fulfilling this precept in the spirit of reverence for the miracle of all forms of life.
2. We undertake the precept of refraining from stealing.
We agree to not take that which does not belong to us and to respect the property of others. We agree to bring heightened consciousness to our own greed and selfishness, and to use the earth’s resources in a mindful, respectful and thoughtful ecological manner. We agree to be honest in our dealing with money and not to misappropriate money committed to Dharma projects. We agree to offer teachings without favoritism in regard to any student’s financial circumstances, gender orientation, color, creed or background..
3. We undertake the precept of refraining from sexual misconduct.
We agree to avoid creating harm through sexuality and to avoid sexual exploitation or relationships of a sexual nature that are outside the bounds of the relationship commitments we have made to another, or that involve another who has made vows to someone else.
Dzogchen Center Personnel with vows of celibacy will live according to their vows. Dzogchen Center Personnel in committed relationships will strive to honor their vows and refrain from adultery and unwholesome habits. All Personnel agree not to use their role or their knowledge, authority and position in order to enter into a sexual relationship with an Attendee (“Attendee” includes all Dzogchen Center students and retreat participants).
Because several Personnel have developed partnerships and marriages with former Attendees, we acknowledge that such healthy relationships can be possible, but that great care and sensitivity are needed. We agree that in this case the following guidelines are crucial:
- A sexual relationship is never appropriate between Personnel and Attendees during the course of a Dzogchen Ctr retreat or event.
- During our retreats or events, any intimation of future Personnel-Attendee romantic or sexual relationship is inappropriate.
- If interest in a romantic or sexual relationship develops over time between Personnel and an Attendee, such a relationship must be approached with restraint and sensitivity – in no case should it occur during or immediately after a retreat. A minimum time period of three months or longer from the last contact, and a clear understanding from both parties that the Personnel-Attendee relationship has ended, must be coupled with a conscious commitment to enter into a caring relationship that brings no harm to either party or their relations or intimates.
We understand that some members of our community may opt to engage in ancient esoteric tantric sexual practices. As a community, we accept individual paths of spiritual growth. However, recognizing the complex emotions that any form of sexual intimacy may generate, Personnel shall not engage in any form or variation of tantric practice with Attendees except in the context of a permitted, committed romantic relationship.
4. We undertake the precept of refraining from harmful speech.
We agree to speak that which is true and useful and to refrain from gossip, innuendo and the anachronistic practice of shunning in our beloved community. We agree to hold in confidence what is explicitly told to us in confidence. We agree to cultivate conscious and clear communication, and to cultivate the quality of loving kindness and honesty as the basis of our speech.
Specifically, we will not publish or make public any confidential oral or written interactions with students or attendees, that could be recognized, without their prior written consent. This includes Dharma articles, books, interviews and blogs, both in print and online. Conversations with yogis may be recounted in Dharma talks, whether posted online or not, as long as prior written permission is given, such as via email or text message. If the Attendee has given permission, it is generally suggested that the teacher mask the yogi’s name and other identifying details, unless there are special circumstances making it beneficial to do so.
5. We undertake the precept of refraining from intoxicants that cause heedlessness or loss of awareness.
It is clear that substance abuse is the cause of tremendous suffering. We agree that there should be no use of intoxicants during retreats or while on retreat premises. We agree not to abuse or misuse intoxicants at any time.
Unlawful Harassment Prevention Policy
In addition to the precepts, Dzogchen Center Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment is also part of this Code of Ethics, available at https://www.dzogchen.org/policies.
To help uphold the standard of ethical behavior at our centers, Dzogchen Center’s Board of Directors has created a Community Council, comprised of board members and senior staff, that is responsible for receiving and addressing complaints of unethical, discriminatory or harassing behavior at Dzogchen Center under the Dzogchen Center Code of Ethics and Dzogchen Center Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment by Personnel and attendees. Please refer to Dzogchen Center Grievance Policy for details about this process, also available at https://www.dzogchen.org/policies.
Any Personnel who demonstrate a violation of any of the above ethics code, including inappropriate sexual conduct, a drug or alcohol addiction problem, or a breach of confidentiality by publishing conversations with retreat participants—any such person shall be held accountable and will likely be subject to appropriate discipline, including termination of employment and the severing of any other relationship with the Dzogchen Center at the discretion of the Board. Retreatants who repeatedly interfere with or stalk Teachers, staff or volunteers or other student participants are similarly liable to such repercussions including expulsion from Dzogchen workshops and retreats.
We endeavor to throw no one out of our hearts nor build walls around our hearts and ourselves, and wish only for the best and most harmonious, safe, sane, sacred and beautiful community sangha and Bodhisattva ideal in living action possible. An ideal and community to which we have offered our service as well as continuing practice efforts and participation.
SARVA MANGALAM (Best wishes, peace and happiness to one and all)