Procedures for the Reconciliation of Grievances
The Hollow Bones Zen Sangha follows the Bodhisattva Path to help relieve suffering in this world. We commit to the Eightfold Noble Path and our Eleven Precepts to guide our actions and practice with compassionate awareness and mindful stewardship.
However, during sangha interactions, concerns, misunderstandings, conflicts, and unethical behavior can occur. Hollow Bones Zen seeks to respond with wisdom, compassion, and skillful means to address the suffering of all involved, resolve the issues, and facilitate reconciliation. The Board of Directors has created the Ethics and Reconciliation Council to hear any concerns or grievances and to work with all parties for a harmonious resolution.
The role of the Ethics and Reconciliation Council is to carry out an Ethical Conduct Review process as prescribed in the Hollow Bones Zen Code of Ethics. This procedure for the reporting, investigating, and adjudicating of grievances is intended to manifest our bodhisattva path, to uphold the Code of Ethics, to provide support for skillful responses to conflict, and to promote and assist reconciliation.
There are three levels of grievance. Information at any level will remain confidential to the Ethics and Reconciliation Council and Abbot (unless named in the grievance). If disclosure is mandated by local, state, or federal law, the Board will also be informed, with any named parties excluded. The Board of Directors will be informed of the number and status of grievances, with any named parties excluded, at their quarterly meetings.
• Whenever possible, conflicts should be resolved directly by the parties involved.
• If this does not seem to be the best course of action, the parties are encouraged to invite counsel and mediation from a Hollow Bones Zen roshi, priest, or jukai holder to help resolve the conflict. The mediator will provide documentation of all meetings to the ethics representative on the Board of Directors.
• In the event of a conflict that cannot be resolved or a grievance that is urgent or which concerns egregious behavior, a formal grievance may be submitted to the Hollow Bones Zen Ethics Council.
This formal grievance should be made in writing to any member of the Ethics Council and must contain the following:
• A clear statement that a formal grievance is being filed.
• The name and contact information of the person filing the grievance.
• The name of the person or persons whose behavior the grievance concerns.
• A detailed description of the incident and alleged behavior that demonstrates a violation of the HBZ Code of Ethics.
• A description of any attempts made to informally resolve the conflict.
• A general statement about the resolution desired.
The Ethics Council will acknowledge receipt of the grievance within seven calendar days. The Ethics Council will then convene within fourteen calendar days to begin the process of hearing the relevant details of the grievance, to investigate as needed, and to speak to all parties involved. Throughout the process, the Ethics Council will send periodic updates to the parties at least every 30 calendar days.
The Ethics Council is comprised of up to six members:
• A standing committee of up to four members chosen by the Board of Directors (2-year term) to include at least:
– One Friends of Zen Board member
– One Hollow Bones priest
– One Hollow Bones jukai holder
• A member (Hollow Bones jukai holder, priest, or roshi) chosen by the party filing the grievance
• A member (Hollow Bones jukai holder, priest, or roshi) chosen by the party named in the grievance
Our current Ethics Council members are:
– Doru Mattie Decker
– Yoshin Dave Klaus
– Ryokan Chris Spicer
– Reishn Denise Leong
Compassionate Action recommended by the Ethics Council is limited only by the legal authority of Hollow Bones Zen and may include but is not limited to the following:
• A finding of no ethical breach while acknowledging the existence of a concern that requires further action
• A recommendation for mediated resolution of the matter
• An administrative decision or action or reversal of a standing administrative decision or action
• The amendment of an existing Hollow Bones Zen Code of Ethics policy or procedure or the adoption of a new policy or procedure
• A private or mediated apology
• A public apology to the aggrieved party or the Hollow Bones Zen Community as a whole
• Period of sabbatical for inner work as appropriate
• Suspension of certain responsibilities or positions with terms set as appropriate
Upon completion of its review, the Ethics Council will then issue its decision to all parties involved in the grievance. If complaints are resolved to all parties’ satisfaction, only general information about the complaint and resolution will be shared with the Friends of Zen Board of Directors. Identities will not be shared unless there is a compelling reason, i.e., legal. Documentation of the Ethics Council review and decision will be given to the ethics representative of the Friends of Zen Board of Directors for retention.
If any of the parties involved wish to appeal the decision of the Ethics Council, a written request must be made to any member of the Friends of Zen Board of Directors. The written request must include the following:
• A statement that an appeal to an Ethics Council decision is being filed
• A copy of the formal grievance submitted to the Ethics Council
• The decision rendered by the Ethics Council
• The reason for the appeal, including any aspects of the decision that were satisfactory
• A general statement about the resolution desired
The Friends of Zen Board will acknowledge receipt of the appeal within seven calendar days. The Friends of Zen Board will then convene within ten calendar days of that acknowledgement to designate two people (vice abbots, board members, executive director, roshis, or priests) to serve on the Appeals Board to hear the appeal, with attention to any diversity needs. The Friends of Zen Board may also appoint consultants and advisors as needed. The appointed people will convene within seven calendar days of their appointment to begin the process of hearing the appeal. During the entire process, the Abbot (unless named in the grievance) will be kept fully informed.
Throughout the process, the Appeals Board will send periodic updates to the parties involved, at least every 30 calendar days. Upon completion of its review, the Appeals Board will then inform the full Friends of Zen Board of Directors, the Ethics Council, and the Abbot of their decision. The Appeals Board will then issue its decision to all parties involved in the appeal.
This decision will be final.
The purpose of our Ethics Policy is to support a culture of integrity, trust, and openness based on reason and fair-mindedness. The core principles of ethics are broadly shared human fundamentals, and as such, they are trans-cultural and trans-religious. These key concepts and principles help guide us in establishing what actions help or harm sentient beings and the environment in which we live.
Ethical reasoning is distinguished from cultural mores and morality by the empathetic recognition and understanding that our actions have direct consequences on the well-being of all life around us. Our conduct can either increase or diminish this quality of life.
In the Hollow Bones Zen Order our code of ethics is based on 5 traditional Buddhist precepts (enumerated below). We take these precepts voluntarily, intuitively recognizing the value in establishing skillful action for positive benefit in life. The summary of all precepts can be stated as non-harming and respect.
It is important to understand ethical reasoning not as external rules and regulations of behavior, but rather as internal reasoning that nurtures an evolving natural empathetic realization of the true interconnection of all life, and the dramatic impact of our thinking and subsequent actions.
All people have the responsibility to investigate their own motivations and intentions, and then to directly intervene with courage and integrity to do that which is consistent with their realization and insight through ethical reasoning. Intervening in our own internal reasoning process is necessary due to our human capacity for self-deception and rationalization.
These 5 traditional Buddhist precepts represent the basis of non-harming and respect, as a way of being. They are expressed here in the first person – the declaration form – where we each take conscious responsibility. Examine and consider their significance and relevance to ethical living.
1. Recognizing our interconnection and for the purpose of cultivating benefit for all beings, I undertake the precept of refraining from killing. I acknowledged our interconnection and have respect for all life. Core to this understanding, I agree to non-harming in all my actions.
2. Recognizing our interconnection and for the purpose of cultivating benefit for all beings, I undertake the precept of not taking what is not freely given. This includes awareness and respect of the planet’s resources, in dealing with finances, and the sharing of knowledge.
3. Recognizing our interconnection and for the purpose of cultivating benefit for all beings, I undertake the precept of intelligent use of speech. I speak what is true and useful and refrain from gossip. I keep in confidence what is told in confidence. I cultivate clear communication based in ethical reasoning, non-harming and loving-kindness.
4. Recognizing our interconnection and for the purpose of cultivating benefit for all beings, I undertake the precept of refraining from harming others with sexuality. I honor my relationships according to my agreements and honor others in accordance to their agreements.
5. Recognizing our interconnection and for the purpose of cultivating benefit for all beings, I undertake the precept of refraining from abuse of intoxicants.
If you have any questions or concerns, or wish to submit a grievance, please don’t hesitate to reach out.