General View around Conduct
One theme that came up was arrogance, the idea that you think you know what’s going on. People think we’re pretty decent people, and that we behave pretty well, and that if we don’t, we realize it soon and get it together. And so to me, there seems to be a little bit of a gap between the generalities of the Seventeen Practices of Good Conduct and the subtleties of life, and people’s unique character and sensitivities.
I don’t believe any code of conduct will help changing ourselves or our ways. It can feel very moralistic, like an orthodox church, and make one just feel sinful.
Our group felt many shared experiences: remorse (and surprise in retrospect) about not having spoken up or acted when misconduct was experienced, and so much gratitude and warmth and heart experienced nevertheless by all of us throughout the years.
Bringing Conduct into the Community
In our community, we did a restorative justice process. It was a very powerful experience for everyone, and so perhaps a good idea, in some ways, for our whole community. We very much came together as a community; it was community-building in a deep kind of way. People who I never dreamed would shift their view did a little bit, and it was extremely effective for beginning a healing process for our community.
Looking at the 17 Practices of Good Conduct really helped me understand the extent to which we have not been kind in all kinds of ways, Right over the years. And how sad I am, Because I’ve been part of this culture for most of my life, 50 years of it, and I was so much in it. And there was no conduit to communicate when I didn’t feel good about something. I just took it in stride. “Oh, well, people do that.” And I really regret having done that.
Change can take generations, but I’m very confident we can do it. And I had not read the entire Code of Conduct nor these 17 Practices, and I’m so grateful for having them in just a couple of pages. They’re magnificent. They really encapsulate all the teachings and what we could be.
Our group proposed to change “Code of Conduct” for “Manual.” We can find something better. We thought “Manual of Conduct” for the community was already a completely different approach. It’s not a big revolution, but it takes away that “code.” It says that it’s a manual of conduct of the community, Shambhala. It applies to every person, but it’s also something that the community agrees on.
I find myself thinking about how hard it sometimes is to speak up in the midst of a situation when something’s happening. There’s a kind of freeze quality, “How do I intervene?” It’s very hard to know in the moment how to intervene skillfully. And one way I relate to these Codes of Conduct is, I think of it as enabling other people to speak up with me when I go off the rails.
I was in the Right Use of Power class, and one aspect of that that I really resonated with was that the more power you have in the Shambhala organization, the less people give you feedback, which really struck me. So there’s a way I’m relating to the Code of Conduct as, “Would this empower people in the community to feel like there are some guidelines so that they can speak up?”
We spoke at length about the lack of feedback loops, and also how to give feedback in a kind way. Because often, it’s very difficult to receive it, that it’s also difficult to give it in a way that it can be heard. And I thought the Right Use of Power course gave an excellent guideline on and practice on how to do this. And I think if you could extend that into the broader Shambhala community, this would be such a huge step: facilitating feedback, but also really teaching how to do it, on a practical level.