The mission of Shantideva Center (SC) is to serve all sentient beings by sharing the Buddhadharma as we strive to achieve liberation and enlightenment. As a spiritual home with equal compassion for all, our center cultivates mutual respect among students, teachers, facilitators, volunteers, and guests. The conflict resolution procedure described here is offered as a mechanism for students, facilitators, and volunteers to address concerns regarding the conduct of other students, volunteers, teachers, leadership, or center policies. These procedures seek to create a path to resolution consistent with our core values of non-harm, compassion, and accountability.
In many cases, conflict arises from misunderstanding or miscommunication. With this in mind, members of the SC community are strongly encouraged to resolve, to the fullest extent possible, conflicts and disputes directly with each other. In the event that your complaint needs community intervention please open a Formal Complaint with the Conflict Resolution Council (CRC).
If the concern is regarding abuse, use the procedure detailed in Shantideva Center’s Protecting from Abuse policy.
Attempting to Resolve Conflicts with Each Other
Start by bringing your understanding of Dharma into a reflection about the conflict, considering bodhicitta and karma. Reading advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other trusted Dharma teachers may be helpful.
Misunderstandings are stressful but can often be resolved early when people are able to speak directly with each other. Left unaddressed, they can escalate into larger, more complicated and hurtful situations. Sharing information productively takes time and skill.
It’s recommended that people:
- Take the time to clearly explain the problem from your side to the person concerned and allow the person to have their turn to respond. This can often result in a harmonious resolution to the problem.
- Avoid discussing the problem with other members of the community, including residents, staff and volunteers. This can be construed as gossip and slander and often only escalates the problem. People who become involved as “listeners” should encourage the aggrieved to follow the steps outlined above. These steps begin with discussing the problem with the person who is the source of the problem, rather than discussing it with others.
- Settle your mind before trying to discuss the problem with the other party and develop a good motivation for the discussion.
- Initiate any discussion in an appropriate setting. It will usually be inappropriate to have this conversation in a public part of a center or in the presence of other people whose minds may be negatively impacted by the discussion.
- Focus on the problem itself, rather than the person, in order to understand the causes and then look for solutions. Aim for long-term solutions that will reduce the chance of the problem recurring, rather than “band-aid” solutions or merely trying to smooth the problem over.
If these attempts to resolve a grievance are not successful, ask for help quickly, as noted below.
- People who have a grievance but do not follow this conflict resolution procedure cannot expect to have it resolved formally and should be careful to avoid causing disharmony through their speech or actions.
- No center staff should be retaliated against in any way for reporting in good faith any allegations of misconduct.
Opening a Formal Complaint with the Conflict Resolution Council
The Conflict Resolution Council is comprised of members of the Board, which includes the Center Director. They are available to anyone with ethical concerns or seeking guidance in resolving a conflict.
An informal discussion with a member of the Conflict Resolution Council is strongly advised before opening a formal procedure. The first responsibility of the CRC is to offer support in resolving conflicts informally. All communications with members of the CRC are held in strict confidence among members of the council, unless disclosing certain information is required by law, the FPMT Protecting from Abuse policy, and/or to prevent a risk of harm to others.
In the event that a formal complaint should involve a member of the CRC, that member shall recuse themselves. If the member’s recusal shall result in an even number of members on the CRC, then the Council shall reserve the right to bring in a senior student from within the Shantideva Center community to assist with the resolution at hand.
The Following Steps Outline the Conflict Resolution Process:
a) A formal conflict resolution procedure is initiated by submitting a letter or email to any member of the CRC. The letter or email must include:
- A statement that a formal conflict resolution procedure is requested.
- The name of the person(s) whose behavior the complaint or conflict involves.
- A detailed description of the alleged behavior or incident so that the CRC can decide whether initiating a formal evaluation and investigation procedure is appropriate.
- A history of attempt(s), if any, to resolve the issues mentioned within the complaint through other means.
- A general statement about the resolution desired.
b) Evaluating the Concern:
Within two weeks, the CRC will review the concern. All parties will be notified in writing of the matter under review and whether the concern is deemed appropriate for a formal or informal conflict resolution process. Having reviewed the concern, the CRC will notify all parties in writing whether the matter merits further investigation. If the CRC believes an informal conflict resolution process would be best, a member will reach out for further discussion. If the conflict cannot be resolved informally, then it will undergo a formal conflict resolution process.
c) Investigating the Concern – Formal Conflict Resolution:
If the CRC believes a formal conflict resolution process would be best, a closed meeting will be scheduled in which the CRC will welcome all parties to present their understanding of the concern. The CRC may ask questions of all parties, request additional information, and request other community members for pertinent information. All parties will have a full and fair opportunity to review and respond to all information (oral, written, or other). The CRC will document the proceedings and hold that documentation in perpetuity. This documentation will be held confidentially unless a court of law requires full disclosure.
d) Resolution – Formal Conflict Resolution:
When the CRC is satisfied that it has been adequately informed, it will review and discuss the concern and information collected. At its discretion, the CRC may seek non-binding advice from the FPMT or legal counsel. The decision of the CRC on the disposition of the concern and any further steps required should be reached by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, majority and minority decisions will be recorded. Within two weeks of the decision, all parties will be notified in writing of the decision, which will also be formally transmitted to the Board of Directors if the decision requires legal action or has any possible legal implications or ramifications for Shantideva Center.