In the past I worked for a business that created a new set of shared values and code of behaviour after it merged with another company. It was surprisingly rewarding to contemplate values in a commercial setting—it was so different to what we normally spent our time on. In contrast, ethical behaviour is something Buddhists often study, contemplate and discuss from the outset of their studies. It’s an integral part of the Buddhist path.
Allegations of misconduct by Sogyal Rinpoche triggered much discussion about what is ethical behaviour in a Vajrayana Buddhist organisation such as ours. It was instantly recognised that Rigpa should seize the opportunity to revisit its shared values and draft a new code of conduct that is an authentic expression of the Buddhist teachings, and particularly of a Vajrayana Buddhist organization—something we could all easily recognise and adhere to.
We set out to create a process with maximum community participation to avoid bypassing the important process of individual and organisational self-reflection. A code of conduct working group was formed in August 2017. Following a research period, they created a draft code based on the Buddhist teachings related to ethics, values and commitments, included aspects of similar codes from other Buddhist traditions, and incorporated the suggestions and values expressed by the Rigpa community in workshops and other feedback channels.
Every effort is being taken to create guidelines that are neither ‘too tight or too loose’. This first draft code of conduct is currently being reviewed by the Rigpa membership and will be further refined in the coming months. Each country will adapt it to their existing standards. It will then continue to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.