Rigpa Grievance Procedure
We are committed to creating a culture where every person feels confident and empowered to give feedback fearlessly, express their concerns and report unethical behaviour.
Grievance Processes in Rigpa
Procedures for Raising Concerns, Resolving Difficulties or Grievances
Any actions you take to resolve or raise concerns about your situation will depend on things like what the problem is, how serious it is, how urgent it feels and how satisfying you think a particular step might be.
The options outlined here go from the informal to the formal. You don’t have to go through them in order and can start with any step.
1. Resolving issues informally
Talk to someone
If you need help with resolving an issue, connect with someone you respect such as a centre manager, student support person or instructor. An opportunity to talk discreetly about the issues and reflect on a resolution may be all that is needed. You can bring someone to the meeting if you don’t want to go on your own.
If appropriate, discuss options for resolution. Try to be as clear as you can about what you think would be a good and satisfactory outcome.
It is better to raise issues openly and early on, rather than suppressing them. If you don’t know who to talk to, you can contact the National Director or an instructor who can advise on the options.
Involving the National Team
If talking doesn’t solve the problem or there is an issue that feels difficult to resolve, you can send a letter to or arrange a meeting with someone from the National Team. The person who deals with your complaint should be neutral which means they won’t have been involved with what has happened so far. For example, they could be a National Director or member of the Board or retreat centre director.
In the letter or meeting you should convey what, if anything, you’ve already done to try to resolve the issue.
Options for resolution
If there is conflict with another person(s), you may request a facilitated reconciliation practice to resolve the issue together. This would be dependent on the other person’s agreement to participate. Resources for reconciliation practice and resolving interpersonal conflicts can be found at the end of this document.
You can bring someone to the meeting if you don’t want to go on your own.
If you don’t think involving the National Team will be helpful, you can go straight to making a formal complaint.
2. Formal complaint
If your informal attempts at resolution aren’t satisfying or you want the problem dealt with more formally, or if you believe it’s a serious issue or breach of the Code of Conduct you can make a formal complaint.
If you are unsure whether to make a formal complaint, you can seek advice from someone you consider impartial; it can be an instructor, national team members or the national grievance Council.
The Boards of each country will form a national grievance Council. The main role of the Council is to confidentially receive, investigate and advise on resolving formal complaints in a compassionate, fair and impartial way. It may also act as a support body for a member to consult in deciding on what steps to take in resolving difficulties.
The Council will be made up of at least two qualified individuals. Council members may be nominated by the Rigpa membership but will be appointed by the Board.
The Council has the flexibility to decide how best to resolve a grievance or complaint.
The Council will make an annual report to the Board.
How to make a complaint
Formal complaints should be in writing and addressed to the national Council. The letter needs to state clearly that it is a formal complaint. If you do not feel able to write a letter on your own, can ask for help from a sangha member or friend. They can also raise the concern on your behalf.
Your complaint is confidential
If you make a complaint about ethical breaches, Rigpa will make every effort to protect your confidentiality. However, to ensure that an adequate or fair investigation takes place, the details of the complaint may require discussions with those involved.
Your complaint can be anonymous
Anonymous concerns can be submitted. In the interest of promoting a culture of openness, we encourage individuals to come forward so we can ensure care and protection for all members of our community.
Rigpa will do its best to ensure that anyone who raises a breach or makes a complaint will be protected from rejection or reprisal by anyone else acting on behalf of Rigpa.
Next steps after a complaint is received
After your letter is received you will be contacted and invited to collaborate on the next steps towards resolution. This meeting could be in-person or online and with one or more members of the Council.
You can bring someone to the meeting if you don’t want to go on your own.
A proposed resolution will be shared with you in writing and a follow-up meeting will be arranged if you request it.
In the event that satisfactory advice is not found within the Rigpa sangha, an Independent Council has been made available. At present two senior western Buddhist teachers, unaffiliated with the Rigpa sangha, represent this council.
The purpose of the Independent Council is as follows:
- To offer an open, approachable, and discreet listening forum to any sangha member with serious concerns about ethical conduct, their own or another's, if/when that advice is not found through the Rigpa organization;
- To offer advice in such situations;
- To act as an appeals panel for complaints that have been dealt with within the Rigpa sangha;
- To make recommendations to the Rigpa Boards, including the Vision Board, which the Board(s) commit to act upon.
The Council can be contacted at email@example.com.
Lopön Helen Berliner has been a student and practitioner of Buddhism and contemplative disciplines since 1970. During this time, she has had the good fortune to receive teachings and empowerments from masters of the four great lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. Since 1993, she has been a student of Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche. Grateful for the awakening of dharma in the western world, she has served in sangha administrative and teaching roles for over forty years and is currently on staff at Mindrolling Lotus Garden in Virginia. With degrees in fine arts and psychology, she has also served as a hospital chaplain and crisis counselor. Her master’s degree is in Buddhist Studies, with a focus on environmental psychology. She is author of the book Enlightened by Design, and editor of books by authors including Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, and Ane Pema Chödron.
With the mutual aspiration to consider fairly and fearlessly the ethical concerns on the path of practice, Lopön Helen is available to Rigpa sangha.
Lopön Jann Jackson began her study and practice of buddhadharma in 1975 and has been blessed to receive teachings and transmissions in the four main lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. Since 1994 she began receiving teachings from Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, with whom she has been studying ever since. She is deeply committed to supporting the transmission of buddhadharma in the West and to supporting students in their practice and studies.
Lopön Jann received a master’s degree in counseling psychology. She has worked in the human service field for forty-five year, with a focus on helping families, communities, and public systems to interrupt patterns that cause harm and to create cultures of respect and care. In this spirit, she is available to members of the Rigpa sangha and its leadership, to listen with an open mind and heart and explore concerns within the context of Buddhist ethics.