Teachers response to Sangha Convention

— Do you remember? —

Sangha Convention is YOU! For the first time, in September 2018 in Poland, members of Kwan Um School of Zen Europe were empowered by our bylaws to share their diverse experiences and insights, discuss their ideas and concerns about our Sangha. They voted for positive changes that could help our School adapt to contemporary culture while keeping its core tradition, so we can better help this fast-changing world. The results of this convention were presented to the European Teachers Group, who during the last Teachers Meeting in Vražné, the Czech Republic, in May responded to students’ recommendations.

— Recommendations —

Recommendations were given regarding four topics and based on survey results:

(1) Zen practice for beginners
(2) New forms of together action
(3) More education
(4) Empowerment of students

Read the recommendations

Read Sangha Convention Report

View 100 survey results

— Teachers’ response —

On behalf of our Sangha, European Office would like to thank our European Teachers Group for their commitment and dedication to the future of the sangha.

Below you will find the results of their discussions:

(4.3) Changing the Dharma Teacher title
Teachers approved. ETG voted unanimously to propose a global committee for working on new titles (current DT in training, DT, SDT and BT). Send a request about it to RCG / IC.

(2.3) Reconsider formal aspects of our practice that are not culturally relevant in the West
Teachers approved. Details:

  • Use of honorific titles “Soen Sa Nim” and “(Ji Do) Poep Sa Nim” (Zen Master and Dharma Master)
    • ETG recommends to use titles during formal Dharma events and make it optional for students and teachers in all other situations. Decision goes to IC for approval.
  • Ceremonial hit by a teacher with the stick
    • Optional for teacher – already decided before and ETG decided not to change it.
  • Greeting bow during retreats
    • ETG recommends dropping it. Decision goes to IC for approval.
  • Greeting bow for resident teachers at the Zen center before 108 bows
    • Already dropped. Decision goes to IC for approval.
  • Interview bows
    • ETG recommends standing bow pnly. Decision goes to IC for approval.
  • Greeting/saying goodbye to a visiting teacher or full monastic
    • ETG recommends no bows of any kind. Decision goes to IC for approval.
  • Bowing to the Buddha statue on leaving or returning to your home temple, or visiting another temple
    • ETG recommends optional bow. Decision goes to IC for approval.

(2.1) Establish a standardized beginner’s program/curriculum as a guideline for Sanghas to follow
Teachers approved. ETG decided to send a request about it to RCG / IC.

(2.2) For all Sanghas or centrally in the KUSZE: Improve or establish a system to collect members’ membership data
ETG decided we don’t see sufficient need for a new system.

(3.1) We recommend actively cultivating an open attitude towards offering various kinds of education for Sangha members.
Teachers approved. ETG decided to ask EO to send out recommendation to Sanghas (DT-Committee is already working on project. EO to search for volunteer to create reading list)

(3.3) We need to handle podcasts and webinars on a variety of Buddhist subjects by the European teachers. Our Zen Centers could use them in the Dharma rooms and spread the teachings amongst many centers.
Teachers approved. ETG decided to ask EO to search for a volunteer to cluster existing podcasts and webinars and create a list of the ones that are missing. Eg. in Vrazne many workshops on different topics have already been filmed.

(4.1a) FOR KUSZE: Cooperation, professionalisation and leadership outside teaching and retreats
Potential solutions:
A) Promote a culture of acknowledging volunteers. Develop a credit/loyalty system of rewarding them with “karma points”, exchangeable for retreats.
B) KUSZE association needs a part-time employee, who would be expected to be accountable and available for work. Ask European Finance Director to review if we can hire a regular employee in the future.
ETG decided against “karma points” system. Teachers approved to ask EO to establish a system for acknowledging volunteers.

(4.1c) Consider assigning a neutral person (neither involved in teaching or administration) as a first or alternative contact person when raising an ethical complaint
Teachers approved. ETG decided to form a committee for preparing a job description for this person. Ji Kwang
SSN and Bogumila PSN will find one more person and they will do it.

(4.2) Formally promote Dharma Friend Program (peer mentoring)
Teachers approved. ETG decided to ask DT training committee to create and include DF guidelines. Request to
RCG to change Dharma Mirror.

(1.1) New forms of together action for community. Within each individual sangha: Establish group discussion for everyone to work together to:
a) explore what kind of new activity would be a good first experiment,
b) learn as a group from the results, and
c) propose how to modify or abandon and try new experiments. A discussion can support the sangha in
learning who is active, what skills they offer, what they are inspired to try, and how to work together in testing
and improving new activities.
Teachers approved. ETG asks EO to send out recommendation to Sanghas.

(4.1b) Consider opening the Council work to include student representative. Change the bylaws accordingly.
Teachers disapproved. ETG keeps the current format of the Council for now.

— Volunteer —

There is much work ahead of us in the field of education, community building, mentoring, ethics, and others. If any of the above topics speak to your heart and mind – join us! Yes, it is exactly you that we need. Write to: comms@kwanumeurope.org


The Council | European Office