Structure & Function
The group has started by examining some of the issues that influence the Structure and Function of the Order, including what the purpose of the Order is, and different ways in which we use the word ‘Order’. The researchers and consultants have begun looking at the structure of other groups that have some similarity to the OBC, to give some idea, for purposes of comparison, of what other approaches to governance are being used. The group has also started to consider the possibility of a questionnaire, perhaps to be distributed to monks and lay ministers, in order to gain some insight into what perceptions there are of the current structure and functioning of the Order.
OBC Website Development
The new OBC website has been launched and we invite everyone to see the new site at: https://www.obcon.org. Also, we have worked to integrate the OBC Journal into the new site and the Journal part can be seen at: http://www.journal.obcon.org. We hope that you find the sites helpful and informative; our intent is to continue to add more content and your feedback or suggestions are most welcome. RM Haryo thanks all who have helped with any aspect of the work on the website.
This group is on retreat until fall. However, we are in communication with each other, showing up at meetings, reading all the websites, and Facebook pages. Bright Moon has launched, and people are beginning to catch on to using it – both lay and monastic as was intended. The Facebook page has had some interesting posts and people who communicate using that social networking tool are getting up to speed. The European part of the lay Sangha has done some good communication work, and I am hoping we can copy some of it for use in the United States when we return. Thank you for your patience, this time of quietude is part of the process.
The Resource Sharing Group – which includes Rev. Master Hakuun in Europe and Rev. Helen in North America – has been meeting regularly to identify topics of interest to be shared on the new OBC website’s Monastic Resources page. An invitation is being sent out in early July to senior monks of the Order asking them to submit articles, talks and other resources to be shared. We are also looking forward to identifying resources for lay ministers and the broader Sangha. Lay minister, Mo Henderson, from France and lay trainee Dan Brodribb from Canada will be helping with this aspect of the work.
A letter has been sent to temples to gather information about what leaflets have been created that might be shared and the responses are being collated. The finished list will be ready to share in early July. Information is also being gathered about leaflets that have been created and could serve as templates for future publications. We will soon be consulting with the OBC Treasury monks to see how printing of leaflets can be financed.
We have discussed which software could be used to enable temples and meditation groups to edit and produce documents for their own use. We hope to facilitate temples and meditation groups, and the OBC itself, to prepare content to go on the web for downloading, to be optimized for on-screen viewing, or to be printed.
The Ethics Working Group currently comprises two monastics and three lay ministers, who have some background experience in the area of safeguarding and the promotion of ethical principles, within a range of different settings. At the request of Rev. Master Haryo and the interim board, we have been meeting regularly since April 2011, with the purpose of reviewing, clarifying and strengthening the ethics and grievance rules, policies and procedures for monks and laity training within the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives.
In that time we have looked at the rules of the OBC, making proposals for amendments, which have since been adopted, at the autumn 2011 Conclave and produced a document, which outlines how anyone who practices, within the Order can raise an ethical concern, should they have one. This document has undergone further amendments and is currently being reviewed, in an attempt to implement an effective system, that is as robust as possible, whilst also being acceptable to the majority of monks and laity.
Our work is challenging; not least because the group reflects the diversity of opinion, within the OBC, about how our ethical interests are best served. Additionally, changing procedures and getting new ones adopted, has proved to be a protracted process, under the present rules.
Keeping up the momentum and our spirits is a point of training as well as having practical considerations. Two monastics from our original group (one European and one American) have since moved on to other things and we have recently been joined by Rev. Master Koten Benson, who has brought a different and much valued dimension to the group. We currently have a vacancy for a European monk.
We continue to work in collaboration with Rev. Master Haryo and the interim board at developing the current procedures for raising ethical concerns into a clearer, more helpful and accessible process that will help to safeguard everyone.
Rules Digest & Cataloging
Rev. Master Zensho has completed a draft index of the Order’s rules along with an introduction to them and Rev. Margaret has completed a draft of the rules digest. All of these documents are currently in the process of being reviewed and edited.
Rules Awareness & Education
An updated version of the OBC Rules was published in March 2012. The Order then set up the Rules Education and Awareness Working Group. Its purpose is to improve understanding and awareness of the OBC rules, including those that define appropriate behaviour in teaching relationships, and how they apply to monastic and lay practice.
The working group first met on 24 March and has now met four times. Its members are Rev. Masters Ando and Shiko, Rev. Chandra, and Chris Hughes, assisted by Mo Henderson and Tony Loyd. The working group is initially concentrating on producing two leaflets that were committed to in the OBC Public Statement, covering “appropriate behaviour in teaching relationships” and “an introduction to the rules of the Order”. Members of the group are currently reviewing a first draft of the text for the former, and researching existing work that would contribute to the latter. The working group is also taking the first steps in making contact with other Buddhist groups that may share their experience of improving people’s understanding and awareness of those groups’ rules.