As students of the Way and teachers of CityZen, we aspire to right conduct in our sangha
relationships. To aid in this aspiration, each of us has taken up the Vows of Taking the
Bodhisattva path and use them to guide us in walking the Way. This ethics statement is meant
to establish a clear and specific set of minimum expectations to which we will all be held
We recognize that our work is founded on trust – the trust placed in us by our teachers
to transmit the Dharma faithfully and the trust placed in us by our students to provide them
respectful and appropriate instruction.
We commit ourselves to:
a) Use our power and authority as teachers to serve the interests of the sangha;
b) Treat sangha members, including fellow teachers, with honesty and respect, not subjecting them to disparagement, coercive pressure, or undesired attention of any kind;
c) Maintain confidences received from students;
d) Practice openness and inclusivity in our relationships with sangha members, allowing personal affinities a natural place but avoiding destructive favoritism;
e) Refrain from sexual interaction with students and members of the sangha;
f) Not confer teaching authority, and especially Dharma transmission, on our lovers, spouses, siblings, children, employers, or known benefactors, nor to offer such authority as a means to attract, retain, or induce the cooperation of a student;
g) Practice careful stewardship of CityZen’s resources, not to enrich ourselves by misappropriation of sangha funds.
And we ask our fellow CityZen teachers and sanghas we serve to be accountable to these same
Our core understanding is derived from the three ancient vows common to all Buddhist
sanghas, the Three Pure Precepts:
DO NO HARM
PRACTICE ALL GOOD
SAVE ALL BEINGS
1. Confidentiality. The relationship between student and teacher often involves the sharing of
highly sensitive personal information. Respect for the student and for the relationship requires
that teachers maintain such information in confidence. There may be occasions when, for the
well-being of specific individuals and of the sangha teachers may need to consult with other
teachers or professionals concerning such confidences. On such occasions, teachers should
strive to assure that such consultations are maintained in confidence. Despite the foregoing, if
a teacher has reason to believe that a student has an intention to harm themselves or others, it
is the responsibility of the teacher to inform the proper authorities as provided under
applicable law. Each teacher also has an obligation to be aware of the applicable law with
respect to reporting crimes disclosed during confidential communications.
2. Power. Teachers have an obligation to educate themselves about the subtle power issues
that inhere in the teacher/student relationship, as well as the potential effects of that power
and its exercise on both teachers and others. Teachers should seek counsel from other teachers
and professionals, as appropriate, about the use of power and the harmful effects caused by its
abuse. Teachers should also encourage their sanghas to offer training about such issues and
their dynamics. Teachers should be especially aware of the potential for subtle abuse of power
that may arise in relation to their personal interests.
3. Right Speech. Mutual respect is foundational for an environment supportive of sound
practice. Such respect is manifested when sangha members treat others with dignity and
engage others truthfully and compassionately. Sangha harmony is promoted when the teacher
models, and all members observe, the clear mind precepts regarding right speech: refraining
from lies, self-serving talk, slander, angry or abusive speech, and apportioning blame.
4. Self-Awareness. Teachers should aspire to constant clarity of mind. They therefore have an
obligation to engage in self-monitoring and self-care. Occupying the role of teacher can subtly
undermine a healthy sense of humility. In turn, a lack of humility can impair one’s ability to
recognize and live into the fullness of the responsibilities of being a teacher. For that reason,
teachers should engage in activities that balance the teaching role with grounding in regular
practice and study of the Dharma, leisure, engagement in family responsibilities, and the
establishment of a relationship with another teacher with whom they can discuss and reflect
on their work as teachers.
5. Boundaries. Teachers should not violate trust or use power and/or position for personal
gain or self-satisfaction. The ultimate responsibility for maintaining appropriate and clear
boundaries between teacher and student always rests with the
teacher. When a teacher is asked to act in a capacity that calls for competencies beyond the
teacher’s expertise, he/she will refer students to those with requisite expertise (e.g., mental
health professionals, medical professionals, legal professionals).
6. Sexual Conduct. Because sexual relations between a student and teacher have serious
potential for the subtle and overt abuse of power, for disruption of the sangha, and for
consequent harm to all individuals and institutions involved, they should be avoided at all
7. Processes. To ensure openness within the sangha, teachers and students will engage in
processes, such as council, which utilize horizontal power sharing and listening and which
regularly and openly address ethical issues.
8. Transparency. Transparency is crucial to maintain balance and harmony within the sangha.
Teachers will be alert to potential conflicts of interest with students and other members of the
sangha and will act so as to avoid them, and any material conflicts of interest will be disclosed
to sangha leadership immediately.
Grievance Procedure for Harassment
CityZen does not tolerate harassment or misconduct of any kind, including harassment
on the basis of age, sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or religion.
Sexual harassment may include intentional physical conduct that is sexual in nature, such as
touching, pinching, patting; non-physical conduct, such as staring in a suggestive manner;
sexually-oriented gestures, noises, remarks, jokes, or comments about a person’s sexuality,
sexual experience, or appearance; and displaying pictures, posters, calendars, graffiti, objects,
reading materials, or other materials that are sexually suggestive, sexually demeaning, or
Other forms of harassment and misconduct include bullying, intimidation, stalking,
aggressive behaviors or words, making others feel unsafe, etc. Anyone in charge of or in a
leadership role at sangha events, is expected to provide a welcoming and safe environment for
attendees. Anyone in charge of or in a leadership role who witnesses harassment is expected to
intervene and make clear that harassment is not tolerated and to stop any harassing behavior
Any sangha member or participant who feels that he or she has been harassed by any
sangha member, including a teacher, may raise the issue with any Council member. The
Council will promptly investigate the complaint by talking to the complainant, and the
member alleged to have engaged in harassment, and any alleged witnesses to the harassment
and determine whether harassment occurred. The Council must first make sure the
complainant feels safe and if appropriate, has been referred to resources, whether legal
authorities, counseling, or medical professionals. If a Council member is the object of the
complaint, another Council member will be appointed by the remaining members of the
The Council designee, when talking to the complainant, should, among other things,
ask what responsive action the complainant desires. If the investigator determines that
harassment did not occur either because the alleged conduct did not occur at all or the conduct
did not rise to the level of actionable harassment, the complainant and the alleged harassing
member shall be advised of the outcome of the investigation. If the investigator determines
that harassment did occur, both the complainant and the harasser shall be so advised orally
and followed up in writing.
Depending on the circumstances, including the nature and severity of the harassment,
the Council, may determine whether informally admonishing the harasser and/or an apology
from the harasser to the complainant is sufficient to address the alleged harassment. If the
Council determines that more severe action, which may include a suspension or termination of
membership, is warranted in response to harassment, the issue shall be brought before the
Council for a determination of what action should be taken.
The Council also must ensure that the member who made the complaint feels listened
to, safe from threat or harm, and has been advised and referred to seek resources to assist. This
can include a complaint to legal authorities, counseling, mental or physical health assistance.
This process must be handled in a manner of wholehearted integrity and compassion for all
involved, to the best of our abilities.
Let true Dharma continue —
May Sangha relations become complete.
Rachel Mansfield-Howlett Roshi
Founder of CityZen