Ethical Code of Conduct
At Suttavāda Foundation we believe it is essential to ensure a safe, ethical environment in all our activities. Everyone, regardless of color, orientation, sexual preference, social background or gender, should be able to feel at home with our retreats and other offerings. Inclusivity, diversity and safety are of paramount importance to us.
The five precepts form the basis for all our retreats and other activities and offerings, and are also the guidelines to which we ourselves adhere—and to which you can hold us accountable in everything we do. In addition, we use a sixth precept to guide our own actions, which is further explained below.
Because honesty, openness, respect and taking responsibility for one’s own behavior are at the heart of our spiritual practice—and that practice is also reflected our care for others—it is vital that teachers and participants can be confident in the knowledge that retreats always take place within clear frameworks and guidelines designed to support a safe environment for practice.
Since the end of 2022 we are a member of BUN (Buddhist Union Netherlands), who have established codes of ethics that provide the clarity necessary for the transmission of Buddhist teachings, particularly with regard to roles and relationships in this context. Suttavada Foundation strictly adheres to these principles, which include the establishment of an external confidential advisor.
A code of ethics provides clearly defined standards for meditation teachers and guides to judge their actions by, and for others, including students under their care, to expect and insist upon. Our code of ethics expresses clear agreements for our community regarding desirable behavior and its opposite.
The code of ethics is therefore not only a touchstone for teachers and guides, but also serves as protection for the participant in retreats and other programs we offer.
Maintaining the code creates a safe atmosphere and creates a basis for well-founded trust in everyone concerned.
Our tradition is deeply rooted in the five precepts of Buddhist ethics. These precepts are not rules or commands in the strict sense of the word but can be seen as fields of practice. They are accepted freely and we seek to put them into practice with wisdom and sensitivity. Buddhism therefore speaks less in terms of right or wrong action but of beneficial or unwholesome behavior. The five precepts – and their explanations – read as follows:
- Refraining from intentionally killing or harming living beings.
This is the fundamental principle of Buddhism. All precepts are elaborations of this precept. The rule is based on nonviolent action wherever possible. For example, many Buddhists are vegetarians. The positive results of this precept include loving kindness and compassion.
- Refraining from stealing, defined as taking that which is not given.
Stealing is clearly detrimental and harmful to others and oneself. In addition to actual theft of material goods, this precept includes ‘stealing’ in a non-material sense: by using, exploiting or manipulating people, taking credit for the actions of others, hogging the limelight, etc., since these can be seen as ‘taking that which is not given’. The positive side of this precept is generosity and genuine humility.
- Refrain from sexually illicit behavior. This applies to everyone.
For teachers and supervisors, there is always a power imbalance in a teacher-student relationship. They will therefore be aware of the following:
- A sexual relationship between teacher and student is never appropriate in our eyes.
- During retreats or formal teaching, any sexual allusion on the part of the teacher or supervisor is inappropriate. In this context, a teacher or supervisor is never ‘off duty.’
- In cases where a healthy and honest relationship might develop between a teacher and a student over time, the formal teacher-student relationship must be terminated before the individuals embark on new roles as romantic partners.
4. Avoiding unwholesome speech.
Speech is a crucial element in our relationship with others. Misunderstandings are difficult to avoid at the best of times. Therefore, we commit to ensuring that we are honest and that our speech is beneficial to ourselves and to others. In a positive sense, wholesome speech is all about connection and harmony.
- Renouncing substances that cloud the mind.
Mindfulness is a fundamental quality developed with dedication and patience leading to clarity of mind. The use of alcohol and/or drugs is diametrically opposed to this. It goes without saying that addictive behavior is incompatible with teaching or guiding meditation as well as the practicing of it.
We have added the following sixth precept to the traditional five:
- Undertaking to be loving and kind to oneself and all living beings.
This intention is particularly fitting for a community based on Buddhist principles, one that teaches meditation based on metta or lovingkindness.
The code of ethics applies to all participants in the activities we organize, including our teachers.
COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE, ETHICS COMMITTEE AND CONFIDENTIAL ADVISOR
If a complaint about undesirable behavior arises due to participation in any of our activities and/or contact with the teachers affiliated with us, that person has the option to contact our board, our external confidential advisers, and/or the confidential advisers of BUN.
We attach great importance to the confidential advisors and the members of the ethics committee being completely independent of our board and BUN. This is why we embrace adherence to the procedures laid down by BUN.
More information about BUN’s code of ethics can be found here
Nicki Mano (from https://nicki.care, psychologist and Mindfulness trainer) is the independent external confidential adviser of Suttavāda Foundation.
The external confidential advisers from BUN can be found here
We welcome you to contact us if you have any questions related to our code of conduct.