Diversity Program Initiative
Statement of Intention
Our purpose is to ensure that Spirit Rock is accessible and welcoming to all people who wish to participate in the sangha regardless of ethnic origin, race, cultural background, socio-economic class, age, gender, sexual orientation, or physical ability. Our purpose is to awaken and sustain an engaged exploration into the many levels of seen and unseen separation among the Spirit Rock community using the fundamental grounding of our Dharma practice.
Separation occurs in innumerable forms, however in North American society a most difficult and deeply profound wound is that of race. We have embraced the following priorities: (1) to address the separation in regards to race with compassionate honesty and diligent effort and (2) to cultivate attitudes, processes, and methods by which to develop freedom and healing from the dukkha of racism and oppression.
This document is not meant to be a specific proposal of programs, allocation of resources, or definition of standards. Rather, it is a statement of collective intention. Just as we take the Three Refuges and commit to the Five Precepts, we endeavor to involve ourselves in a practice of Diversity, which can only deepen our own individual exploration into our true nature and broaden our collective experience with the Teachings. We regard this as an integral part of the long-term vision and maturation of the Spirit Rock community.
Making the Invisible Visible
Suffering due to oppression and racism is often clear only to those who are the direct targets of racial and ethnic inequities. This kind of suffering is often hidden and unseen by a majority of the community. Part of the purpose of this Diversity Initiative is to reveal that which is usually hidden, in order that the process of extinguishing this suffering can begin.
The following specific objectives and strategic methods are meant to begin examining what previously has not been seen or explored. They express ways to actualize our commitment to greater diversity in the sangha.
- To create on-going programs which weave diversity awareness into the fabric of the entire Spirit Rock community.
- To commit to the transformation of attitudes and behaviors in ourselves and in our sangha which reduce the humanity or inherent value of any person or group.
- To create opportunities to join together in spiritual practices which respect and honor our differences and our underlying interconnectedness.
- To create and evolve the spirit and attitude of inclusion, and a genuine openness and curiosity toward experiences that are different from our own.
Methods to be Considered
- Creating a matrix of programs to develop a shared language and common understanding of how diversity relates to each of us, to each other, and to our practice.
- Developing and nurturing the participation of diverse populations on the Board of Directors, within the Spirit Rock teaching community, in the Spirit Rock staff and volunteer base.
- Developing procedures that support outreach to interested multi-racial, multicultural, and multi-class communities, and sustaining their involvement.
- Building cultural competency and proficiency at all levels of experience within the sangha. Cultural competency is not an outcome objective, but a continual process that is defined as "a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come to together" to create meaningful relationships in cross-cultural and multicultural environments.
- Participating in relationships and alliances in the greater Mahasangha to dissolve the separation caused by racism, oppression, and discrimination. Working with other sanghas, lineages, and practices to benefit the greater whole.
- Dedicating and developing resources, staff, and funding to implement the above intentions, objectives, and methods. Actualizing our initial intentions through tangible acts of commitment and action.
- We commit ourselves to exploring the issues of power and authority with great care, and also with great diligence so that power is understood and exercised with wisdom and compassion by all members of the sangha.
This Initiative acknowledges all the people and events that have created the opportunity for this document. In doing so, there is gratitude and openness for what has occurred; compassion and acceptance for what has not occurred. There is an ongoing diligence to being fully aware of what is occurring in the present; there is committed intention directed towards the future.
May the awareness of the needs of diverse communities continue to be recognized and to grow in all sanghas.
May all sanghas, to the best of their abilities, take actions that eliminate cultural, racial, ethnic, and economic barriers to practice.
May this work on issues of diversity, race, and oppression heal the experiences of separation and show us all, the commonality of our nature, for the benefit of all beings everywhere, in all directions.
Submitted by the Diversity Council of Spirit Rock Meditation Center: Bill Boykin, Carol Cano, Leonicia Castro, Debra Chamberlin-Taylor, Anna Douglas, Ruby Grad, Charlie Johnson, Evan Kavanaugh, Ruth King, Jack Kornfield, Naomi Newman, Trang-Anh Nguyen, William Poy Lee,Rick Ramirez, Marlene Schoonover, Shanti Soule, Marg Starbuck, Nancy Taylor, Julie Wester, Larry Yang
Revised by the Teacher’s Council on 9/11/2001 and adopted by the Board in 2001.