ZPO Code of Ethical Conduct

We, Candidates and Members of the Zen Peacemaker Order, agree to embody the wisdom teachings and practices of the Buddhadharma and model them as a Buddhist community. Aware that our words and actions carry great weight, we agree to uphold this Code of Ethical Conduct, which is based on principles of trust, integrity, justice, respect and accountability, in order to nurture a culture that supports the practice of the Dharma and our paths as Bodhisattvas.

We understand that all situations of ethical conduct provide opportunities to practice self-inquiry and apply the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemaker Order: (1) Not Knowing, (2) Bearing Witness, and (3) Taking Action from Not Knowing and Bearing Witness.

We also recognize that this Code is a living document and will evolve according to the needs of the community through the ZPO governance process.

1. Accountability and Governance. Maintaining the well-being of the ZPO is the mutual responsibility of us all and requires active participation in governance by everyone. We wish to consciously cultivate a space where all voices and opinions are heard, the diversity of individual experiences is affirmed and encouraged, and where participants feel safe in sharing personal shortcomings and concerns. We also intend to practice Right Speech and speak out on matters that, if left unaddressed, may foster doubt, suspicion or resentment. Clear communication supports taking responsibility for both oneself and the Order, and is thus an act of service to the entire community.

2. Transparency. Transparency is crucial to maintaining balance and harmony within the Order. We will be alert to potential conflicts of interest within the community and act to resolve them. Any material conflicts of interest will be disclosed to ZPO Regional Governing Councils and will be discussed with discernment and reflection.

3. Self-Awareness. Aspiring to steadfast clarity of mind, we must actively engage in self-monitoring and self-care. In addition, we recognize that joining the ZPO can subtly undermine a healthy sense of humility, which in turn can impair our ability to serve. For that reason, we agree to balance the study of the dharma and social service with leisure, engagement in family responsibilities, and relationships with friends and peers with whom we can reflect on our work as Zen Peacemakers.

4. Right Speech. Mutual respect manifests when we treat each other with dignity and engage with everyone truthfully and compassionately. Harmony is promoted when we observe the clear mind precepts regarding Right Speech: refraining from lies, self-serving talk, slander or apportioning blame. It also includes proactively and skillfully speaking out in a manner that respects all persons involved. Recognizing the potency of anger, we will practice self-awareness and endeavor to express ourselves openly and generously, without blame or rejection.

5. Confidentiality. Relationships of trust and transparency often involve the sharing of sensitive personal information. While we are all peers on the path of self-realization, members who are Seniors, Mentors, Teachers, Dharma Holders, Preceptors, Ministers and Priests hold certain power due to the roles they play. Respect between members in position of authority, as they will be referred to in this Code, and other members requires that such information be held in confidence. On those occasions when, for the well being of specific individuals, members in position of authority need to consult with others, such consultations will be maintained in confidence. At the same time, any member in position of authority who has reason to believe that another member has an intention to harm him/herself or others must inform the proper authorities as provided under applicable law. All members in position of authority have an obligation to be aware of laws applying to the reporting of crimes disclosed during confidential communications.

6. Boundaries. We are responsible for clarifying, maintaining and communicating appropriate and clear boundaries with each other. Members in position of authority must pay special attention to healthy boundaries that take into account the dignity and growth of other members, including students, and members and students are encouraged to pay special attention to boundaries that consider the wellbeing and space of members in position of authority. Since this is a matter of basic wellbeing, we must all consider our own individual needs, create the appropriate boundaries, and then communicate those boundaries to others, inviting further clarification when necessary. This also applies to situations where we are asked by other members to act in a capacity that requires competencies beyond our expertise (e.g., mental health professionals, medical professionals, legal professionals, etc.). In those cases members will be referred to those with requisite expertise

7. Power and Authority. Power is one of the ten Paramitas. Individual and communal power, when exercised with wisdom, compassion and humility, result in an inclusive and transformative community, which the ZPO aims to embody. Since relationships can develop unhealthy power dynamics, we recognize our obligation to maintain and communicate clear boundaries, educate ourselves and seek counsel from others about the subtle potential effects of power and its exercise with/on others, and the harmful effects caused by abuse of power as well as by abdication of power by all members. Those in position of authority should take particular care to study such issues and be aware of the potential for even subtle manifestations of power dynamics that advance their personal interests.

8. Dual Relationships. These are relationships in which two ZPO members take on additional roles vis-à-vis one another, explicitly or implicitly. Examples include romantic relationships, financial relationships, intimate friendships, therapeutic relationships, and other professional relationships. Although not all dual relationships are harmful, they could complicate relationships and undermine harmony in the Order. This should be carefully considered. We recognize that some dual relationships are unavoidable and should be managed skillfully through transparency and discussion. We must all pay particular attention to any additional roles we fulfill or expect others to fulfill for the sake of our own wellbeing, either explicitly or implicitly via projections. In such case, we must practice self-awareness, clarify our intentions and boundaries, and communicate them appropriately.

9. Sexual Conduct. We acknowledge that sexuality is a highly vulnerable part of human experience and recognize that certain sexual relations have serious potential for the subtle and overt abuse and/or abdication of power, which can result in disruption and harm to individuals and institutions. All such relations between two ZPO members should be commenced consensually, with awareness and consideration of the differences in attitudes towards sexuality. Sexual relations between members in position of authority and other ZPO members at all times are highly discouraged. All have the ultimate obligation to assure that these guidelines are observed, and to address this subject with deep self-inquiry of intention.

10. Zen Peacemaker Order Code of Ethical Conduct. The ZPO governance circles will make this ZPO Code of Ethical Conduct known to all members and will assure that processes for receiving and processing complaints against any member, and in particular against members in position of authority, follow the ZPO Grievance Procedure. All members have the right to initiate a Grievance Procedure as described in detail on the ZPO website.

11. Processes. To ensure openness within the Order, we will engage regularly in processes, such as council, which utilize horizontal power-sharing and listening methods to regularly and openly address the ethical issues discussed here.

12. Further Guidelines. Each ZPO Training Center is entrusted with creating and maintaining its own ethical guidelines in consonance with this Code. In the absence of such guidelines, this Code will function as a standard of conduct.

May we all practice deeply and benefit all beings.