Statement of Ethical Conduct and Precepts

Red Clay Sangha places an extremely high value on ethical conduct, especially related to conduct within our community. We believe it of paramount importance that all members and visitors feel respected and safe. To provide the support structure that will ensure we hold ourselves and each other to the very highest standards of ethical conduct and accountability, the Board and leadership of Red Clay Sangha have instituted a clear code of ethics and a leadership structure designed to support a safe and transparent environment. We require all members to familiarize themselves with this Statement of Ethical Conduct and Precepts, and all in leadership positions to embody it in their engagement with the sangha.

Traditionally, the Buddhist sangha has had a set of rules or precepts to govern ethical behavior and interaction. In the past, the emphasis was on monastic living, and the vinaya rules reflected that emphasis. As a peer- and volunteer-led sangha, Red Clay Sangha has adapted and customized this approach to best serve members and the public within the construct of our operations and practices.

We ask that all members be aware of the Precepts (listed below) and endeavor to keep them as a guide; and that those in leadership roles commit themselves to bringing them to the fore in their daily activity.

THE THREE REFUGES

Take refuge in the Buddha (Find safety and comfort in the historical figure, and the Buddha-nature in all things)
Take refuge in the Dharma (Find safety and comfort in the teachings brought to us in texts, by our teachers and through our community)
Take refuge in the Sangha (Find safety and comfort in the support of the Red Clay Sangha community and the other communities in which we each find support)

THE THREE PURE PRECEPTS

I vow to refrain from all evil (Eliminate self-centered action)
I vow to make every effort to live in enlightenment (Engage in selfless action)
I vow to live and be lived for the benefit of all beings (Cultivate deep awareness of and compassion for others)

We believe that implicit within the Three Refuges and Three Pure Precepts is the embodiment of non-judgment, non-harm, non-ill will, and inclusiveness; of seeing ourselves in the other, and of welcoming all persons equally, without regard to socially constructed classifications of race, faith, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

THE FIVE GREAT PRECEPTS

Do Not Kill
In undertaking this precept we acknowledge the interconnection of all beings and our respect for all life. We agree to refine our understanding of not killing and non-harming in all our actions. We will seek to understand the implications of this precept in such difficult areas as diet (including considerations of vegetarianism, veganism), abortion, euthanasia, law enforcement and the killing of pests.

Do Not Steal
We agree to not take that which does not belong to us and to respect the property of others. We agree to bring consciousness to the use of all the earth's resources in a respectful and ecological way. 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 any regard, including individuals' financial circumstances. All sangha members in leadership positions agree not to use their role to exploit their authority and position to assume any position of power over another individual or group of individuals within the sangha.

Do Not Misuse Sexuality
We agree to avoid creating harm through sexuality and to avoid sexual exploitation. All sangha members in leadership positions agree not to use their role to exploit their authority and position in order to assume a sexual relationship.

Do Not Say That Which Is Not True
We agree to speak that which is true and useful and to refrain from gossip in our community. We agree to cultivate conscious and clear communication and to cultivate the quality of loving-kindness and honesty as the basis of our speech. All sangha members in leadership positions agree not to use their role to hold conversations or to enter relationships with other sangha members that include elements that could be interpreted as therapy or counseling.

Do Not Cloud the Mind or Abuse Intoxicants
Substance abuse is the cause of tremendous suffering, and the use of intoxicants even on an everyday basis can cloud our minds and impact our thoughts, speech and actions in ways not conducive to the alleviation of suffering or to the embodiment of compassion. We agree to cultivate awareness of the impact of intoxicants on our lives and to endeavor to minimize that impact. We agree that not to use intoxicants during retreats or while on retreat or sangha premises. We agree not to engage in the use of intoxicants in a manner that could impact others, including others who may have a history of addiction or abuse. We agree not to abuse or misuse intoxicants at any time.

We seek not to judge ourselves or others, but to use the precepts as guides and support in our lives and practice, and to fulfilling them in the spirit of reverence.

STANDARDS OF CONDUCT

These standards of conduct are applicable to anyone vested with authority to lead or serve, especially in one-on-one relationships. Unlike precepts, which are guides to our behavior and are a source of ethical consideration, canons are imperative.

  1. All members shall uphold the integrity of Red Clay Sangha.
  2. All members shall endeavor to treat others, whether members of not, with utmost respect for their privacy, personal views, and lifestyle choices, and not seek to convince them otherwise save with consent and as consistent with the stated purposes of the sangha as set forth in the Articles of Incorporation or the Bylaws of Red Clay Sangha. All members shall treat others, whether members or not, with equal rights and dignity without regard to socially constructed classifications of race, faith, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
  3. All in leadership roles shall perform their duties impartially and diligently, and shall refrain from using their position to assert any position of authority or power over another individual.
  4. Right of privacy encourages fearless confession and therefore personal growth. Confidences should not be revealed, except where these disclosures are authorized by the parties or are required by law. Confidences are those personal details of life and relationship that are revealed in "one-to-one" conversation in a closed room, or a specifically protected space such as a "sangha meeting". Disclosures that are discussed by the party in other, non-privileged circumstances are no longer privileged in the legal sense, but the communication should still be treated with discretion.
  5. No member shall be required to give money or services to any individual. No member or other sangha member shall be required to give money in excess of their annual membership pledge. No member or other sangha member shall be required to give time or labor that the party deems to be detrimental to his or her needs. This does not prohibit the exchange of money or services for value received, i.e., professional services provided by one member to another, payment for retreats, etc.
  6. While Red Clay Sangha is not organized around teachers or priests and the usual canons prohibiting those in teaching or other one-on-one relationship from having sexual relationships with students/sangha members do not apply, Red Clay Sangha does recognize the existence of power imbalances in relationships within the sangha and is very cautious about sexual relationships within the sangha. All in leadership positions should remain conscious of those imbalances and never use that imbalance to violate the rights of others, whether that be through sexual, financial, or other relationships.

COMPLAINT RESOLUTION PROCEDURE

A sangha member is encouraged to discuss any possible violations of the above canons or ethical conduct and precepts promptly and directly. If you wish to report a violation or discuss this policy, please contact any member of the Elders' Council or Officer of the Board of Directors
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