Rime Center Code of Ethics
The Rime Center Board members, teachers, facilitators and other lead volunteers in positions of authority (referred to as Rime positional members in this document) recognize that the foundation of spiritual life rests upon our mindful and caring relationship to the life around us. We acknowledge that without the support of monastic vows and Asian customs, we have a need for clear Western guidelines. In keeping with this understanding, and for the long-term benefit of ourselves and the community at large, we, as Rime positional members, agree to uphold the five lay training precepts. Furthermore, we have specifically expanded the scope of these five precepts to make them explicitly appropriate to our role as teachers and facilitators of the Dharma in our specific cultural setting. The Rime Center positional members have thus agreed to the following guidelines:
- We undertake the precept of refraining from killing.
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 seek to understand the implication of this precept in such difficult areas as abortion, euthanasia, and the killing of pets. While some of us recommend vegetarianism, and others do not, we all commit ourselves to fulfilling this precept in the spirit of reverence for life.
- We undertake the precept of refraining from stealing.
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 of 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 and classes as well as outreach programs without favoritism in regard to participant’s financial circumstances. Furthermore, all Rime positional members are volunteers, unless specified in the bylaws or approved by the Board, and are not compensated for their activities, either financially or materially.
- We undertake the precept of refraining from false speech.
We agree to speak that which is true and useful and to refrain from gossip in our community. We agree to hold in confidence what is explicitly told to us in confidence. We agree to cultivate conscious and clear communication, and to cultivate the quality of loving-kindness and honesty as the basis of our speech. We strive to model healthy communication and listening by:
- Expressing my experience in a clear and direct way
- Being mindful of my experience and choosing to communicate out of compassion and care for both myself and others
- Expressing what is truthful and meaningful
- Listening from a place that validates, cares for, and honors others’ experiences
- We undertake the precept of refraining from sexual misconduct.
We agree to avoid creating harm through sexuality and to avoid sexual exploitation or relationships of a sexual manner that are outside of the bounds of the relationship commitments we have made to another or that involve another who has made vows to another. Teachers with vows of celibacy will live according to their vows. Teachers in committed relationships will honor their vows and refrain from adultery. All teachers agree not to use their teaching role to exploit their authority and position in order to assume a sexual relationship with a member of the Rime Sangha.
Because several single teachers in our community have developed partnerships and marriages with former students, we acknowledge that such. We agree that a healthy loving relationship can be possible between Rime positional members and members of the Sangha; but that great care and sensitivity are needed and the following guidelines are crucial.
- A sexual relationship is never appropriate between teachers/facilitators and students.
- During retreats or formal teaching, any intimation of future student-teacher romantic or sexual relationship is inappropriate.
- If interest in a genuine and committed relationship develops over time between a single teacher/facilitator and a student, the student-teacher relationship must clearly and consciously have ended before any further development toward a romantic relationship. Such a relationship must be approached with restraint and sensitivity – in no case should it occur immediately after teacher-student relationship. A minimum time period of three months or longer from the last formal teaching between them, and a clear understanding from both parties that the student-teacher relationship has ended must be coupled with a conscious commitment to enter into a relationship that brings no harm to either party.
The Rime Center does not accredit or certify Dharma teachers. As such we understand that as lay members we share the Dharma with others so as to benefit others and to recognize that we are still students on the path.
- We undertake the precept of refraining from intoxicants that cause heedlessness or loss of awareness.
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 do understand that the only exceptions are during empowerments and tsok offerings when alcohol (wine/beer) may be used as a symbolic offering substance. We agree not to abuse or misuse intoxicants at any time. We agree that if any Rime positional member has a drug or alcohol addiction problem, it should be immediately addressed by the community so that they can get support to overcome their addiction.
Rime Center Code of Ethics was adapted from the Spirit Rock Teachers – Code of Ethics