Seattle Shambhala Implements New Code of Conduct

by Janine Bloomfield

Stay tuned for details on Code of Conduct orientation sessions to be held on May 16th and May 27th; we will update the Seattle Shambhala Center calendar as we finalize times and Zoom information.

A Sunday Open House discussion about resiliency in the face of the pandemic.  An online class exploring Basic Goodness.  A one-on-one meeting on Zoom between a meditation instructor and a student.  Even during the pandemic, the Seattle Shambhala Center is providing space for many opportunities to explore and share our practice and our spiritual journeys as we continue with virtual and, hopefully soon, in-person programming. 

Because we are human, having a welcoming space is essential to opening up as we learn and grow in community with one another.

Because we are human, conflict and misunderstandings can arise.  

That’s where having a process for increased clarity and transparency comes in.  On Shambhala Day of this year (February 12, 2021) an updated, comprehensive Code of Conduct and related policies went into effect for Shambhala centers worldwide. These policies provide guidance for everyone at Seattle Shambhala, from the most senior teachers to meditation instructors and guides, to open house discussion leaders and hosts, to a first-time visitor to our Center, whether virtually or in person.  The documents that make up the Code of Conduct were put together to provide the clarity and details our community needs regarding expectations and process, to ensure our Center continues to provide a nurturing environment for spiritual exploration.

It’s part of the principle of a safe ‘container’ that is core to Shambhala Buddhism.

“We [the Seattle Board] hope anyone who enters the Shambhala Center in Seattle can feel welcome and know they are protected,” reflected Veronica Borgonovi, Seattle Shambhala Board member and local rollout coordinator for the Code of Conduct. “When we are all in agreement about boundaries and conduct, it helps to create a container that can enable us to focus more fully on our practice together. That’s why we are all here. We are here to study and deepen our practice in community.”

More than just checking a box, the practice of caring for each other and creating community using the Code of Conduct policies as a guide is a way to put into practice the teachings we come to the Seattle Shambhala center to learn.

“The Code of Conduct is very connected to the notion of Enlightened Society in Shambhala and is very connected to the teachings,” Veronica continued.  “It is an opportunity to deepen our practice and our connections with each other and put what we are learning into action.”

Shambhala’s new Care and Conduct policy consists of five parts: the Code of Conduct list of principles, the policy on child protection, the policy for people holding positions of authority, the policy to address sexual misconduct, and the policy on inclusion, diversity, and anti-discrimination.

“The Code of Conduct is intended as a natural manifestation of the wisdom of Basic Goodness, as applied to the warrior’s path.” remarked Trevor Slocum, Seattle Shambhala’s new Director of Societal Health and Wellbeing. “Perhaps most broadly, it is an anti-bullying statement.  It names explicitly the boundaries that should not be crossed so as to prevent harm to people in our community. “

“These policies are meant to protect people’s boundaries from things like sexual bullying, unwanted advances, or unwanted sexual interest,” continued Trevor.  “It’s also supposed to prevent aggressive bullying like name calling or threats of violence or other forms of attacks. Its main purpose is to prevent harm to all members of the community.”

The materials were put together by an international committee, led by the Care and Conduct Facilitator, Tara Templin, Director of Community Care and Conduct, after a thorough and well-documented process to formulate the Code.  The Code combines a distillation of Shambhala principles and wisdom with practical and clear rules and guidance, including at the process level. 

As part of the rollout, everyone at the Center in a position of authority will be required not only to be aware of the Code of Conduct but to understand it in depth and have signed an Oath to uphold its principles in all activities associated with the Center – both virtual and in person. Links to and mention of the Code will be posted during Zoom meetings as a reminder that this applies to everyone present in our events, and plans are evolving to integrate the Practices of Good Conduct into Open House discussions and other talks and dialogues.

“We really want this to not be the sort of thing that is sitting on a shelf”, observed Veronica. “We really want this to be a living, breathing practice that helps us have the container we aspire to”.

To this end, there will be education and awareness-building opportunities for all community members, with targeted outreach to those in positions of authority from the Board and all office holders to teachers, instructors, guides, hosts, and those staffing programs. These programs, to be held over the next few months, are intended to help all participants understand and incorporate the principles. The first events will take place on May 16th and 27th; more details including times and Zoom information will be shared soon. If you have specific questions about the Oath, please contact [email protected] and your question will be forwarded to the appropriate individual at Seattle Shambhala..

Shambhala International will also be rolling out a set of events and dialogues beginning in May, and these events will be shared with the community. You are encouraged to follow social media, emails, and/or web pages related to the effort. You can always find more at the Code of Conduct Hub: 

In the event that a situation arises that might warrant action, the Code of Conduct materials outline principles and procedures to follow.  These include issues where children are involved, sexual misconduct, discrimination for any reason, and issues relating to authority.  

Per these guidelines, the Seattle Shambhala Board and Leadership Team have put together a Code of Conduct process team in Seattle.  The Code encourages the team here to handle matters independently and locally when possible with a just and compassionate response to concerns and complaints.

In the event that an individual or group at the Seattle Center would like to make a complaint, the first step would be to talk with a trusted Shambhalian in Seattle who is in a position of some authority. Some examples are a course leader, meditation instructor, program staff member, or Open House host.  That Shambhalian and the complainant would then bring the concern to the Code of Conduct Process Team, which is currently made up of Trevor Slocum, Tom Gaylord, and Jeanette Miller.  Depending on the nature of the complaint, it may be possible to resolve some matters locally, while others would be referred on to the Care and Conduct Facilitator assigned to Seattle, currently a role being filled by Shambhala Director of Community Care and Conduct, Tara Templin.

For more information, please see the Care and Conduct page on the Seattle Shambhala website and the Code of Conduct hub at


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