Ethical Conduct and Precepts

Red Clay Sangha places an extremely high value on ethical conduct, both in the world but especially 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. In establishing this code, we have followed the leadership of other notable communities, including in particular the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center.

Statement of Ethical Conduct and Precepts

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 lay- and community-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 as follows:

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.

Take refuge in the Buddha (Absolute Enlightenment Principle)
Take refuge in the Dharma (Enlightenment Knowledge and Teachings)
Take refuge in the Sangha, Monks, Priests and others on the Path to Enlightenment

Cease from evil (self-centered action)
Do only good (selfless action)
Do good for others (deep awareness of others in actions)

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 abortion, euthanasia, and the killing of pests. While some of us recommend vegetarianism and others do not, we all commit ourselves to fulfilling this precept in the spirit of reverence.

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 regard to students' financial circumstances.

Do Not Misuse Sexuality
We agree to avoid creating harm through sexuality and to avoid sexual exploitation or adultery. 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.

Do Not Cloud the Mind or Abuse Intoxicants
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.

Do Not Speak Against Others
Do Not Be Proud of Yourself and Devalue Others
Do Not Be Mean-Spirited in Giving Dharma or Wealth
Do Not Be Angry (Indulge Anger)
Do Not Defame the Three Treasures of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha


These canons 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.

All members shall uphold the integrity of Red Clay Sangha.

All members shall endeavor to treat others, either 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 in leadership roles shall perform their duties impartially and diligently.

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.

No member shall be required to give money or services to any individual. No student or member shall be required to give money in excess of their regular membership pledge. No student or 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.

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.

VII: 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 of Charli Vogt, Richard Skoonberg, Sally Landrum or Gareth Young. 
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