To support and encourage all those who seek to cultivate a Zen practice, grounded in the understanding that everyday life offers us the opportunity to engage in the world with openness, clarity and wise, compassionate action.
A community of diverse individuals manifesting oneness in the world through a shared commitment to the Dharma teachings, intimacy and relationship, caring for life’s resources, service in community and the world.
The Bay Zen Center welcomes people of different cultures, colors, abilities, ages, identifications and beliefs who can practice within the guidelines that we have laid out below. We appreciate and explore our differences in order to build understanding and openness and foster well being for the entire sangha.
The well-being of the sangha relies on all Bay Zen Center members to mutually observe ethical conduct. To that end all members are expected to observe high ethical standards by respecting all those that come to practice and endeavoring to understand and avoid abusive behavior, harassment and incompetence that could endanger the welfare of others and the sangha. This is especially so for the teachers and anyone who gives zazen instruction, teaches introductory workshops, leads study groups, teaches classes, or anyone in a position of formal authority as well as board members and officers. Our fundamental ethical guidelines are based on Three Pure Precepts:
Mutual respect and trust within our community are built when all members communicate truthfully and compassionately with the intent to be helpful, keeping in mind the subtleties of self-serving talk and non-verbal communication, angry or abusive speech, apportioning blame. Widely sharing a concern to gain support for one’s position can foster conflict, rather than resolution, and must be avoided.
Confidentiality is the basis of trust between members and teachers and between teachers and members. Dokusan, dharma discussions and Council are venues in which highly sensitive personal information may be shared. Members and the teachers are expected to maintain confidentiality among themselves and about matters raised in these venues. However, for the well-being of individuals and of the sangha, there are times when teachers and/or practice leaders need to consult about confidential matters. Such consultations are never done lightly and only as much information is shared as is needed to clarify the situation at hand. The consultations themselves are kept confidential. Furthermore, such consultations are required when a serious ethical breach has occurred (such as a sexual relationship between a teacher and student (member), misappropriation of money or other resources, or unlawful activities.)
Dokusan: The uniquely intimate nature of Dokusan – student/teacher face-to-face meetings- can give rise to questions about confidentiality. Student and teacher are expected to hold private interview interactions in confidence unless there is a strong overriding reason to share information with a third party in which case, that strict confidentiality is broken. Idle talk about interviews is inappropriate and harmful to everyone’s practice.
It is the nature of practice to encourage warm-hearted and close intimacy, but it is important for all members to remember that, with the intimacy of practice, confusion regarding certain relationships may arise in a way that can harm practitioners and the whole sangha if not dealt with skillfully. Whenever a teacher and a student are relating to each other in different capacities or roles, a dual relationship is created. For example, a teacher who is a psychotherapist may be asked by a student to become a client/patient. Or a student who is an attorney may be asked by a teacher to provide legal services. These and other such situations give rise to a dual relationship. We recognize that not all dual relationships are inherently unethical. We are, however, mindful of the complexities and risks in these circumstances, and we recommend caution in such relationships. Should they occur, they should be monitored with extreme professionalism.