Ethics Council

“The bodhisattva path is usually defined by six practices, known as the six paramitas, or perfections: generosity, ethical conduct, patient forbearance, joyful effort, meditation, and transcendent insight, or prajnaparamita. . . Ethical conduct is built on a foundation of love. In order to benefit and never harm others, the bodhisattva keeps in check all forms of conduct that would directly and indirectly hurt others and promotes all forms of conduct that would directly and indirectly benefit others.” —Norman Fischer

Mission Statement

The Ethics Council was established to further GBZC’s aspiration to prevent and remediate ethical harms. Our mission is to create and organize events, as well as co-host events with other individuals or groups, that facilitate thinking about ethics. We aim both to promote healthy boundaries and to prevent ethical violations in the sangha as a whole. The Ethics Council includes the GBZC Ombuds as well as sangha members.

Ethics Ombudsperson

The Ethics Ombudsperson (“Ombuds”) is appointed by the Board for a one-year term, with allowance for renewal for up to five consecutive years. The Ombuds, who is neither a Board member nor a Senior Teacher, serves on the Ethics Council. The Ombuds also offers informal assistance to practitioners who have questions or concerns related to an ethical matter at GBZC. The Ombuds will offer such assistance impartially (independent of the status or position of anyone involved) and, to the extent possible, confidentially. Practitioners can reach the Ombuds via email at [email protected]. The Board will make every effort to ensure that the Ombuds has access to training regarding the Ombuds role.

Event Types

The Ethics Council designs and hosts educative events based on ethical inquiry as this relates to spiritual practice and sangha well-being. The Ethics Council also co-hosts events with other GBZC groups such as Watering the Seeds and Turning Toward. There will be approximately two events each fall and spring—these will be listed in the GBZC calendar, with fuller descriptions below in “Current Scheduled Events.” Future events will involve workshops, a book club, discussion events, and co-hosted events. The book club will offer genial discussions of short stories that are resonate for the sangha such as Edgar Allen Poe’s “Mask of the Red Death,” for example.

Currently Scheduled Events

No upcoming events.

Previous Events

Saturday, June 11th, 2022, 1–2:30 pm via Zoom: “Training in Compassion.” This event was co-hosted by the Ethics Council and Senior Teaching Community. Fran Ludwig led the workshop event, which will be based on Norman Fischer’s Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong (2012). You can access the recording here (password: uT!H&5Em).

Related Policies, Statements, and Projects

GBZC Ethics Policy
Anti-Racism Statements and Land Acknowledgment
Resilient Sangha Project
Indra’s Net


Being-Time: A Practitioner’s Guide to Dogen’s Shobogenzo Uji by Shinshu Roberts

The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics by Robert Aitken

Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion by Diane Rizzetto

Zen Buddhism and Environmental Ethics by Simon P. James

Invoking Reality: Moral and Ethical Teachings of Zen by John Daido Loori

We welcome additions to the Resources (readings, websites, articles) from the sangha.

Contact the Ethics Council

If you have questions or concerns, please contact the Ethics Council at [email protected].