The Adelaide Zen Group is a sangha, a group of people who support each other in the practice of Zen Buddhism. Honoring the Precepts and recognising that each person is valuable and worthy of respect is integral to our practice. We need to be particularly mindful of the effect of our behaviour on others. We commit ourselves to treat sangha members with honesty and deep respect, and to not subjecting them to disparagement, coercive pressure or undesired attention of any kind. We all have responsibilities towards each other, towards teachers and towards the sangha as a whole.
Teachers have responsibilities towards individual students, towards other teachers and towards the sangha as a whole. Teachers’ responsibilities are acknowledged in the Diamond Sangha Teachers’ Circle Ethics Agreement. Here is a LINK to the agreement.
Dojo Leaders hold positions of trust with authority bestowed on them by the sangha to act on behalf of us all. Our group maintains a set of conventions that guides our behavior in the Zendo (see 4 below). These conventions are designed to create an optimum environment for Zen practice. Our leaders, who guide us with regard to such matters, should always be treated with respect. Those who hold leadership roles should exercise them mindfully and with due respect for sangha members.
In any group differences of opinion and conflicts are bound to arise. There will be occasions when wrong is done to people and trust is broken. Our task is to listen and to include everyone. This requires openness and honesty, first of all with ourselves: not fanning dissensions, not shutting our eyes or “knowing the answers.” There also needs to be openness and honesty with others: we need to take the time to discuss the conflict with the individuals involved so that there is clarity on all sides about the causes, conditions, feelings and responses which may have contributed to the situation.
The purpose of this document is to outline procedures whereby conflicts, disagreements and grievances can be resolved.
2. SANGHA RELATIONS
Sangha members are encouraged to follow the principles outlined below in their relationships both inside and outside the sangha.
For the purpose of this document “sangha member” refers to persons who are financial members of the Adelaide Zen Centre as well as those who attend and participate in Adelaide Zen Centre activities, including online activities.
2.1 Dual relationships
For the purposes of these guidelines, a dual relationship exists when a student has an additional relationship with a teacher or apprentice teacher, e.g. client/therapist or a sexual relationship. Students should avoid behaviour that could be misconstrued as indicating an exclusive or special relationship with a teacher or apprentice teacher. Since dual relationships generally involve disparities of power and authority, they are, as far as possible, to be avoided, or at least, not embarked on without serious consideration as to the best interests of all concerned.
2.2 Sexual harassment
Sangha members should cultivate an awareness of the effect of their behaviour on others, and refrain from persisting with unwelcome sexual advances towards others. Sexual harassment in any context is unacceptable and reprehensible especially in a community where people are bound by spiritual interdependence and trust.
2.3 Non-discrimination, harassment and bullying
The sangha seeks to be an inclusive and respectful community where all members feel safe and their well-being fostered. Sangha members shall treat all individuals with equal respect and sensitivity, irrespective of gender, nationality, race, sexual orientation, marital status, age, physical ability or any other distinction.
Harassment and discriminatory behaviour that offends, humiliates or threatens another is unacceptable.
2.4 Financial policy
The assets of the Adelaide Zen Group shall be used only to advance the purposes of the Centre, and not otherwise used for the private benefit of any person. Moreover, no income of the Centre shall be used to the advantage of any individual other than as reasonable compensation for services rendered.
3. GUIDELINES FOR RESOLVING CONFLICTS AND DISAGREEMENTS
Conflicts and disagreements often arise from our own psychological issues, and cannot necessarily be taken at face value. It is vital when trying to resolve conflicts to understand our own reactions and the way in which they may contribute to suffering for others.
Where possible, conflicts and disagreements should be resolved informally. There is a strong preference that both parties meet to air the grievance, discuss their own perception of the issue and hopefully come to a resolution that is acceptable to both parties. This may be best done with a mediator/facilitator, who would be responsible for making sure that each of the parties understood the other’s position. Such a meeting can be a valuable part of building understanding and resolving ongoing conflicts. Without opportunity to clarify misunderstandings, hearsay and talking behind people’s backs can develop and escalate matters. If any party is not willing to meet with a view to conciliation, they need to put their reasons to the Committee before any further action can be taken.
The following guidelines are intended to assist in reaching informal resolution in discussions between people involved in a conflict or disagreement:
A. Stating the actual: Don’t make general statements. Rather, stick to the particulars of the situation and the emotions experienced.
B. Being heard. Give everyone involved a chance to be fully heard. Take the time to listen to each other in order to understand the other person’s point of view, and to move towards reconciling differences.
C. Acknowledgment: Acknowledge how you may have contributed to the conflict, and apologise for your part in the conflict or misunderstanding. This can greatly help resolution and reconciliation.
D. Facilitation: Invite one or more neutral witnesses or mediators to be present. They can provide a sense of calm and help ensure that each person is given proper space to speak.
E. Seeking advice: Seek advice from others, including Committee members or where appropriate, teachers and practice leaders, about how to resolve conflict informally.
4. ETIQUETTE IN THE ZENDO:
Arriving: Clothing and Shoes
When you enter the room, there will be a dana bowl for your contribution. Next to this is a mat for you to place your shoes and bags on. This keeps the floor clean. Place them neatly together, and mute any mobile devices. It’s traditional to wear black, but any dark, non-distracting clothing will do.
When the Jiki sounds the Han—a series of taps on the clappers—it’s time to enter the zendo. Stop talking, enter the dojo and settle in.
Entering the Zendo
Inside the room are two rows of mats (zabutons) and an altar maintained by the Ino/Tanto, forming a horseshoe with the Teacher’s zabuton at the front. It’s a room within a room. The zabutons form the walls and the opening at the front is the door.
To enter, step through this door. Bow in the direction of the altar. This is your bow to the Buddha. Place your hands in kinhin position and walk quietly around the edge of the zendo to your seat. Bow towards your seat. This is your bow to the Dharma. Turning in the direction of the altar, face the room and bow. This is your bow to the Sangha. Take your seat, facing in.
On the zabutons are cushions (zafus). If you find sitting on a zafu too difficult, please use a sitting stool or a chair. Fold your zabuton in half in front of the chair.
Leaving the zendo
Once a period of zazen has begun, you should not leave the zendo except to go to dokusan. You may leave the dojo during kinhin (walking meditation) to go to the toilet or attend to other personal matters. When you go to dokusan (interview with the teacher), don’t bow. When you leave during kinhin, bow while still in the line. At all other times, stop at the entrance, turn towards the altar and bow before leaving the zendo.
Kinhin is walking meditation. It is not a break, so please continue your zazen during kinhin. If the person in front of you leaves, maintain the gap. If you go to the toilet, leave the toilet door open when you leave.
When you hear the Teacher’s bell, you may go to dokusan, which is a private interview with the Teacher. Walk directly from your cushion to the dokusan room with your zafu under your arm. Leave your zafu outside the door. Close the door behind you. Enter and do a full bow (prostration). This is the bow to the Buddha. With your hands in gassho, walk towards the Teacher and do a full bow in front of him or her. This is the bow to the Dharma. Sit on the zafu in front of the Teacher, in any formal zazen position. Give your practice— “I am doing Mu”, “my practice is breath counting”— etc. The teacher will then lead the interview.
The Teacher will ring the bell to signal the end of dokusan. At this point you must leave. Do a tea ceremony bow (hands on waist). Stand up and gassho. Tidy the zafu and zabuton for the next person. Do a full bow towards the door before leaving. This is the bow to the Sangha. Leave the door open. Collect your zafu and return to the zendo, hand in gassho.
Return to your cushion in the usual way, unless kinhin is in progress, in which case wait near the door until kinhin is over. At the final gassho of kinhin, gassho, enter the zendo, and quietly walk to your place. Please do not join the kinhin line with your zafu under your arm.
The Dokusan Line
If there is a dokusan line, the Jisha will sit opposite the Kansho bell. When the Teacher first rings their bell, the Jisha will answer with an accelerando. You may move to the dokusan line as soon as you hear the teacher’s bell. If there is no room on the line, please return to your place. Jisha will normally go to dokusan first. During dokusan, the person at the head of the line rings the bell. When you hear the Teacher’s bell, ring the Kanshô bell twice, striking it near the bottom. Do not strike the bell harshly. Strike the bell as soon as the Teacher rings their bell. Get up immediately and walk to the dokusan room.
Helping others is the Zen way. There is plenty to do in setting up and packing away the Zendo. Ask if you can help to lay things out or pack things up.
Diagram below of the Adelaide Zen Group Meditation Space (zendo) including entry and exit points.