Author Archives: Harmony Committee

Conflict Resolution Guide

The Harmony Committee for the North American Dharma Teachers Sangha has created this Conflict Resolution Guide.

This document was prepared by the Harmony Committee of the Plum Village North American Dharma Teachers Sangha over three years beginning in 2010. The committee included both lay and monastic Dharma Teachers. The document provides resources for using conflicts for learning and practice opportunities in processes of conflict resolution.

Everything is seen as an opportunity for practice. This includes conflict.

The Dharma Teachers Sangha (DTS) views conflict as a disturbance in the balance and harmony of the Sangha and the goal always is to restore the harmony and balance while applying our insight and compassion. The goal is NOT to establish “guilt and innocence,” or in any other way get caught in the adversarial punitive approaches to conflict that prevail in our greater society. One reason we have entered into this practice is to “go beyond” such views and behavior.

Where persons are unable to meet and resolve a conflict themselves, for whatever reason, there is often a feeling of helplessness, of “what else can I do?” or “what can I do differently?” There are many answers to such questions. What is offered here is one process for moving ahead from the stuck place.

Ethical Concerns Regarding Dharma Teachers

The Harmony Committee for the North American Dharma Teachers Sangha has created this Policy and Procedures for Ethical Concerns regarding Dharma Teachers.

This policy establishes a process for addressing perceived ethical lapses by ordained Order of Interbeing Dharma teachers in North America who are members of the Plum Village Lineage North American Dharma Teachers Council (“Dharma Teachers Sangha”). The Dharma Teachers Sangha Caretaking Council (“Caretaking Council”) instituted the process and its Harmony Committee implements its use. The process is intended to support Sanghas and Dharma Teachers in their efforts to reach harmony and understanding. The North American Dharma Teachers Council, its Harmony Committee, and the Dharma Teachers Sangha are not adjudicatory bodies and do not control any aspect of Lamp Transmission.

The ethical stance of the Tiep Hien Order, including its Dharma Teachers, is ahimsa, or “non-harming.” Ahimsa is elaborated in the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing. (See the Parallax Press book, Interbeing.)

The approach in this process emphasizes calming, listening with full attention, and looking deeply in order to understand all perspectives. Our intent is to be more mediational than adversarial, and to attend to the continuing well being of all involved.

This process can be used when there appears to be good cause to address an allegation that a Dharma Teacher’s conduct is causing, or appears likely to cause, injury or suffering. The process is available to North American Sanghas practicing in the Plum Village tradition of Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, participants in those Sanghas, Order of Interbeing members, and Dharma Teachers who are members of the Dharma Teachers Sangha.

Historically, neither the Caretaking Council nor the Harmony Committee selects which Order of Interbeing practitioners will be ordained as Dharma Teachers. They do not govern any aspect of Lamp Transmission and cannot revoke Dharma Teacher ordination. Nevertheless, the Caretaking Council and the Harmony Committee offer this process as “Sangha eyes” for guidance. In extreme cases, when recommended by the Harmony Committee, the Caretaking Council may censure, suspend, or expel a Dharma teacher from The Plum Village Lineage North American Dharma Teachers Council. The Harmony Committee, the Caretaking Council, and the Dharma Teachers Sangha are not authorized to void Dharma Teacher ordination.

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