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Ethical Principles

Introduction

The community life of Zen Center is an integral part of our practice and is based on the sixteen bodhisattva precepts. In order to help create a supportive, harmonious and safe environment within our sangha for everyone's practice, we have outlined the significant ways in which these precepts guide and inform our community life.

The sixteen Buddhist precepts are so intimate a part of Zen practice that they have traditionally been called the "blood vein" of the ancestral lineage. The precepts can be understood and interpreted at many levels. They can be understood as supports for the practice of awakening, as the arena of that practice, and as the expression of awakening itself. While Mahayana precepts are sometimes understood from relative and sometimes absolute points of view (for example, that the precepts are never fully accomplished or that they are always fulfilled), no Zen practice can exist without basing one's actions on the sixteen bodhisattva precepts.

We note, however, four caveats that will aid in understanding the intended scope of this statement. First, these principles have been developed in response to specific historical problems and concerns which have arisen in the sangha. As our community changes and evolves, it may be necessary to modify or add to these principles. Second, this statement does not attempt to cover questions of personal conduct that do not have a direct bearing on the community. Third, these principles are not intended to limit our understanding or to be a definitive reading of the precepts. Fourth, these principles do not supersede specific practice center guidelines; rather they are intended to complement and support them.