Social Justice & Diversity Initiative DOCUMENTS

MIssion Statement

Every morning at Cambridge Zen Center we recite the four Bodhisattva vows:

1. Sentient beings are numberless. We vow to save them all.

2. Delusions are endless. We vow to cut through them all.

3. The teachings are infinite. We vow to learn them all.

4. The Buddha Way is inconceivable. We vow to attain it.

The inquiry and subsequent action inherent in these vows asks us to go beyond our limited understanding of self and towards a more inclusive and compassionate way of being. It is in this spirit of dissolving barriers between self and other and in joining hands as a community waking up together, that we as an institution would like to formally and explicitly state our intention to act towards the goal of creating a welcoming space for every person that walks through our temple doors regardless of age, gender, race, ability, nationality, sexuality, socioeconomic status, or criminal record. 

The Social Justice and Diversity Initiative at Cambridge Zen Center has been created as a working group open to all community members to take action towards the following goals:

  • To create a space where individuals can share and reflect upon experiences of oppression and its relationship to their Buddhist practice.

  • To educate ourselves on current events and their impact on certain groups, on historical realities that have shaped where we are today, and on our own blind spots, privileges, and biases.

  • To formulate specific protocols through which the Cambridge Zen Center, as an institution, can skillfully address concerns about safety and inclusion.

  • To build bridges with other local faith groups to see how our social justice programs can inform and support one another.

  • To support community actions that address systemic oppression beyond the local confines of the institution on a national and global level.

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communication Agrreements

TRY IT ON: Be willing to “try on” new ideas or ways of doing things that might not be what you prefer or are familiar with.

PRACTICE SELF FOCUS: Use “I” statements. Attend to and speak about your own experiences and responses. Do not speak for a whole group or express assumptions about the experience of others.

UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INTENT AND IMPACT: Intent does not diminish the impact of words or actions. Understand and acknowledge impact. Denying the impact of something said by focusing on intent is often more destructive than the initial interaction.

PRACTICE “BOTH / AND”: When speaking, substitute “and” for “but.” This practice acknowledges and honors multiple realities.

JUDGEMENT-FREE ZONE: Recognize and refrain from blaming or shaming self & others. Practice giving skillful feedback.

MOVE UP / MOVE BACK: Encourage full participation by all present. Take note of who is speaking and who is not. If you tend to speak often, consider “moving back” and vice versa.

PRACTICE MINDFUL LISTENING: Try to avoid planning what you’ll say as you listen to others. Be willing to be surprised, to learn something new. Listen with your whole self.

CONFIDENTIALITY: Take home learnings but don’t identify anyone other than yourself, now or later. If you want to follow up with anyone regarding something they said in this session, ask first and respect their wishes.

 PAUSE: Allow silences between speakers. We want the conversation to flow, but not be hurried.

Adapted from the East Bay Meditation Center and Visions Inc (source:  Understanding Power, Privilege, Intent, and Impact in Catholic-Buddhist and Buddhist-Catholic Social Change Initiatives )      

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