The Bodhi Manda Zen Center is a place of retreat and for engaging in spiritual work. This work requires we make ourselves vulnerable so that we can become open to new possibilities. Respect for others is critically important in maintaining an environment which supports all who have come to make that effort.
The Bodhi is committed to providing a safe environment for spiritual practice and restoring safety when it has been compromised; in this commitment the Bodhi requires all guests, students, staff, administrators, teachers, and clergy to abide by this policy, and reserves the right to expel anyone who compromises the safety of our community.
Harassment is persistent unwanted attention which is disturbing or pestering in nature. Harassment is not limited to the sexual realm, and all forms in which it can manifest are unacceptable. This includes unwanted teasing, joking, displays of affection/admiration, or any other persistent demand for an individual’s attention which prevent them from pursuing their own goals.
Such conduct is not only disrespectful; it is also profoundly harmful. Bodhi Manda’s concern over these types of occurrences exists whether or not the event takes place on- or off-site if it happened between two people who are practicing at or are otherwise involved with the Zen Center.
Sexual Harassment is any kind of unwanted conversation, attention or touching which is sexual in nature. Historically it has been more commonly initiated by males and directed at females, but it also occurs in reverse or may involve two males or two females.
Harassment of a sexual nature generally involves a dominant personality taking advantage of a submissive individual who is less likely to feel comfortable confronting the situation head on. For this reason, it is important that each individual be conscious of the tendency in themselves to engage in such behavior if it exists. It is also important for the community at large to be aware of when it is happening to others around them, and to assist the victim in escaping the situation and avoiding it in the future.
Interactions where power differentials exist, such as a student/teacher relationship, are common places for Sexual Harassment to manifest. While lack of consent generally defines whether harassment is occurring, it should be assumed that sexual advances in these situations is inappropriate whether consent has been granted or not.
Sexual Harassment is also considered to be occurring when two consulting adults engage in sexual behavior in front of others who did not consent to witness or be involved in such behavior. This also includes unexpected exposure to nudity.
Sharing the Hot Springs is necessarily a more intimate experience than most. In a swimsuit, half-floating we are more vulnerable. It is a situation which calls for even more mindfulness and respect.
Identity Harassment is occurring any time unwanted and repeated reference to one’s identity is taking place. This includes but is not limited to age, class, religion, race, sexual orientation, language, nationality, disability and body type. Attempting to minimize the seriousness of such behavior (e.g. “I was only joking”) does not excuse the behavior.
Criminal sexual contact – sexual touching without consent – is a criminal offense and will not be tolerated. The Bodhi encourages victims of criminal sexual contact or other criminal sexual behavior to make a report to the appropriate law enforcement agency or agencies. In addition, the Bodhi is committed to supporting any victim of criminal sexual behavior and restoring safety to the community.
Non-criminal harassment may be dealt with more co-operatively. We live close together, and we have differences. Although we strive to be mindful and respectful of others, we are only human. Mistakes happen, and we are all growing. Not every issue or event results in expulsion.
If somebody is harassing you, speak up. Although it is better to speak directly to the person who is doing it, that may not be possible. A person who is already disrespectful may not be able to listen or may have already framed the relationship in terms that leave you no voice. If you are not comfortable speaking to that person directly, speak to the abbess. In the event it is the abbess that is the problem, speak to the Chair of the Board of Trustees.
If somebody is harassing somebody else in your presence, this should be considered a safety issue since it indicates the men and women around you are also at risk because of bad behavior. You may:
• Confront the harasser directly if you feel comfortable tha it will not escalate the situation or draw hostility in your direction.
• Deflect or distract the harassment by engaging with the subject. An example of this would be introducing a new topic or activity.
• Stand by and/or follow up with the subject afterwards. Offer emotional support. Harassment is a deeply isolating experience.
• Report the incident to the abbess.
If somebody objects to your behavior, listen and try to see it from their point of view. Do not refuse to listen just because they are angry. If you have crossed a perceived boundary, anger is almost always inevitable. A person who feel hurt or frightened is not required to express themselves in a way that makes you comfortable. Understand that the objection is based on perceived hurt or distress in which you are involved. Almost certainly their reaction to your conduct involves other emotionally laden experiences in their past – that is not a reason for you to dismiss them as hypersensitive, over-reacting, or out to get you.
If the individuals involved cannot resolve the problem to their mutual satisfaction, they should take the matter to the abbess. If the matter cannot be resolved satisfactorily at that level, it goes to our Board of Trustees for resolution.
Principles of Dispute Resolution:
Every allegation of harassment is taken seriously, and is not to be dismissed out of hand. Harassment is generally thought to be under-reported. If someone reports an incident or pattern of incidents, it is not a defense to say, “There is no evidence”. An individual’s word will be given a significant amount of weight on its own.
A person who has been deemed to have harassed another can have no expectation of secrecy or confidentiality. The Bodhi will not protect harassers and enable them to continue to abuse others. Other users of the Bodhi will be warned as necessary, and will be notified that they do not have to tolerate harassment from that person if it occurs.
Bodhi leadership reserves the right to expel anyone from the grounds or the organization for any behavior it deems inappropriate. If a person is expelled from the Bodhi and then tries to return without permission, they will face legal action.
PUBLICATION OF THIS POLICY
This policy will be posted on the website and included in the package of informational material given to students, staff and WWOOFers. A short summary of respectful conduct will be set out in the Guidelines.
Any person whose conduct has been complained of will be given two copies of the policy, asked to read it, and then write at the bottom of one copy: “I have read and understood this policy”, sign it, date it, and return it to the abbess.