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Lotus Templar Inc Adopts The Dhamma Vinaya Order for Ordination and Ethical Conduct

We are pleased to announce that Lotus Templar Inc has formally adopted The Dhamma Vinaya Order for all matters of ordination and ethical code of conduct. This significant step underscores our commitment to spiritual growth and ethical integrity, aligning our operations with the ancient and respected teachings of The Dhamma Vinaya.

Effective immediately, all ordinations within our organization will adhere to the rigorous standards set forth by The Dhamma Vinaya Order. This adoption not only reflects our dedication to maintaining a high ethical standard but also enhances our organizational culture, promoting a path of righteousness and spiritual discipline.

This decision was reached after extensive consultations with leading figures in the spiritual and ethical domains, ensuring that our practices are aligned with the best traditions of spiritual governance.

We are excited about the profound impact this alignment will have on our community and stakeholders. We believe that the principles of The Dhamma Vinaya will guide us in fostering a more ethical, transparent, and spiritually enriched environment.


Lotus Templar Inc is committed to fostering spiritual development and ethical living in accordance with venerable traditions. Our adoption of The Dhamma Vinaya Order marks a pivotal moment in our mission to nurture a holistic and spiritually attuned lifestyle.

Ordination As A Minister At Lotus Templar Inc

I

DHAMMA VINAYA ORDER

The Dhamma Vinaya Order is a Buddhist order of lay Buddhist ministers comprised of Upasakas, Dhammacaris, and Bodhicaris. Titles are conferred based on the guidelines set forth in this document. The DVO represents multiple lineages of historical Buddhism. The DVO was formed as a response to the perception of several urgent needs not being met in the Western cultural context by the current Western versions of historical Buddhist lineages or Western Scientific Materialism’s recent appropriation, decontextualization and commodification of specific elements of the Buddhadhamma. Candidates for ordination include but are not limited to M.Div. students, chaplains, community Dharma leaders, and persons interested in participating in a course of mentorship with a DVO minister. 

 

The founding members of DVO represent a growing but overlooked facet of the nascent Western Buddhist Tradition, that being the Lay Teacher or Acharya. While Buddhist lay teachers or priests represent a familiar entity in certain Eastern cultures this intermediary position between lay person and monastic has not yet taken root in the West. DVO founders were drawn together by a syncritic vision of a Buddhist version of Liberation Theology that seeks to engender individual and collective mundane and supermundane liberation from suffering. 

 

DVO ordination consists of three levels:

1. Upasaka “Adherents” or trainees: an individual who have taken refuge in the Three Jewels and committed to keeping the five precepts with the DVO and are actively being mentored by an ordained Dhammacari or Bodhicari with an end goal of becoming a minister themselves. Adherents will be expected to engage in an active probationary training period of a minimum of six months and up to two years. Dhammacaris and Bodhicaris are expected to assist Upasakas in becoming established in eight areas of training loosely based on John Daido Loori Roshi’s eight gates of Zen. Those eight areas are 1) meditation, 2) Dharma study, 3) embodiment practice, 4) liturgy, 5) precepts, 6) mentorship, 7) right livelihood, and 8) art/play.  

 

2. Dhammacari: Ministers that have a level of competence in the eight gates and a commitment to the DVO through some or all of these ministry practices: mentoring, leading practice, providing religious education, spiritual care and counseling, and spiritual formation, rites of passage, etc. They are ordained caregivers, teachers and community leaders who have committed themselves to relieving suffering in the world through teaching the Buddhadharma and engaging in actions to address suffering, hatred, greed, delusion and inequity in Buddhist and non-Buddhist communities. Dhammacaris may operate under the titles of “Lay Priest,” “Minister,” “Reverend,'' or “Pastoral Counselor.” Dhammacaris are lay persons who have committed themselves to kindling and teaching the Dhamma in a humble, ethical manner. Dhammacaris must be able to demonstrate an understanding of the Dhamma and be capable of intelligibly teaching the Dhamma to a lay person. They must also be willing and capable of upholding Buddhist ethical standards including taking the 5 precept vows and regularly participating in 8 precept days. Dhammacaris are expected to be able offer a Dhamma talk of no less than 20 minutes in person or in recording and will need to offer one as part of their final ordination review.

 

3. Bodhicari: Senior level ministers who can supervise the training of Upasakas and Dhammacaris. Bodhicaris take on the administrative tasks of running the Order. They conduct lunar observance rituals. They undertake ethical reviews of DVO ministers and respond to grievances. 


 

II

SILA

 

Ethical guidelines and commitments for candidates for the title of “Upasaka,” “Dhammacari,” or “Bodhicari” within the Dhamma Vinaya Order of Buddhist Ministries:      

 

Pertaining to Sila or ethics:

1. The conduct of DVO ministers is a reflection of the entire Order as a spiritual organization. The title of Upasaka, Dhammacari, or Bodhicari is reserved for individuals willing to take personal responsibility for conforming to a higher standard of moral conduct than lay people. All probationary candidates or “Upasakas” seeking or having achieved endorsement and ordination as a “Dhammacari” or “Bodhicari” must review, acknowledge and agree to the following Ethical guidelines, commitments and procedures in both written and verbal form. Note: The term “Sangha” as it is used here is in reference to the community of practicing DVO ministers in good standing, the term “Parisa” as it is used here includes the broader community of lay persons being served by the sangha in accordance with the teachings of the DVO, all efforts should be made to ensure that these two entities exist in non-hierarchical symbiosis.  

2. Upasakas, Dhammacaris, and Bodhicaris must be willing to take an annual vow before at least 2 other DVO Sangha members in good standing to adhere to the five precepts or Five Mindfulness Trainings and to sincerely commit themselves to upholding the spirit and intention of these precepts to the best of their ability. 

3. DVO ministers must commit to gathering once every lunar cycle with at least 2 other sangha members in good standing to support each other in a safe, mindful exploration of their achievements and short-comings in regard to their Sila Practice. DVO ministers are expected to observe a single 8 vows Uposatha day for each lunar cycle.

 

4. Sangha members who are aware that they have intentionally or inadvertently committed actions that are in opposition to their precepts or  leading to the harm of other beings within or outside of the Parisa, or are illegal, or are outside of professional standards and guidelines as pertaining to licensure are responsible for presenting both in person and in writing known instances of said misconduct for review to at least 2 other Sangha members within the current lunar cycle.  

 

5. Sangha members having been made aware of instances of fellow members having intentionally committed or being accused of having intentionally committed actions in opposition to their precepts leading to the harm of other beings within or outside of the Parisa must present said accusations to the accused party and at least two representatives of the Sangha in verbal and written form in the company of at least 2 other sangha members within the lunar cycle that said accusations were first revealed. 

 

Gross Misconduct and timely response:

Actions of ethical misconduct that are perceived to fall under the category of “Gross Misconduct” Are actions reasonably perceived to be; 

1) Illegal and leading to the harm of living beings. 

2) An immediate or ongoing source of physical or mental harm to living beings. 

3) In blatant conflict with professional and ethical guidelines associated with licensure and such that they would lead to the harm of living beings. 

 

1. In instances of such gross misconduct the Sangha is obligated to intervene immediately and without delay, working in coordination with or under advisement of the appropriate outside institutions (police, state licensing boards etc) and legal advisors. The accused will be placed on immediate probationary status within the DVO including being removed from contact with the Parisa, informing the Parisa of their change in status and having their title of Acharya indefinitely withdrawn or until such time as they have been conclusively cleared of wrongdoing.   

2. Sangha members having been subject to accusations of doing intentional harm to other beings within or outside of the Parisa in actions contrary to their vows must account for their actions in written and verbal presentations before as many members of the Sangha as are available to attend the succeeding lunar cycle gathering. The accused has the right to be presented with their accuser. If at the time of said lunar gathering the accused indicates an intention to contest the accusations made against them, the Sangha is required to submit a request for participation in mediation to the accuser. In the instance of such a request a third party mediator will be provided by the Sangha and the accuser and accused will be tasked with either coming to a resolution through mediation or if unable to, submitting written arguments in support of their perspective to the Sangha for review within the lunar cycle. If the accuser chooses not to defend their accusation and it cannot be supported by a third party witness the accusation will be dropped until further notice.     


3. In regards to members accused of or known to have intentionally done harm to other beings within or outside of the Parisa in actions contrary to their vows or other professional guidelines; having been informed of said misconduct and having verified the voracity of the accounts of conduct Sangha members must determine and present agreed upon consequences of said action to the accused in written and verbal form within the following lunar cycle of the Sangha’s first review of said accusations and must present a summary of accusations and the Sangha’s intended response. If in the course of ethical inquiry it is determined that a DVO minister intentionally presented false information, false witness or practiced deception this will be added to considerations in regards to the consequences of said actions. If a Sangha member is found to be in violation of their vows for three consecutive lunar cycles, they may be recommended for return to probationary status within the DVO.  

 

III

DHAMMA

 

Reading Requirements for Ordination

 

Upasaka

An Anthology of 50 Discourses from the Samyutta Nikaya by Rev. Dhammabodhi

Four Noble Truths by Ajhan Sumedho 

Discourse Summaries by SN Goenka 

Mindfulness in Plain English by Gunaratana

ACT Made Simple by Russ Harris

Eightfold Path by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Dhammacari

History of Mindfulness by Ajhan Sujato

A Mutual Critical Correlation of Buddhist Meditation and Trauma Therapy by John Freese

Buddhist Romanticism by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (also audio lecture)

With Each and Every Breath by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Frames of Reference by Ajhan Lee

Keeping the Breath in Mind Ajhan Lee

Right Mindfulness by Thanisarro Bhikkhu

Everyday Consciousness and Primordial Awareness by Thrangu Rinpoche

The Way to Bodhidharma by Shodo Harada Roshi


Bodhicari

Handful of Leaves Volumes 1-4 by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

In the Words of the Buddha edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Atthaka Vagga by Thanissaro Bhikkhu and or Bhikkhu Bodhi

Samyutta Nikaya translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Anguttara Nikaya translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi

The Transmission of Mind by Huang Po translated by John Blofeld

Chinese Buddhism by Holmes Welch

Empty Cloud by Charles Luk

Comparison Texts

Be As You Are, the Teachings of Ramana Maharshi by David Godman

Daoism the Road to Immortality by John Blofeld

Yoga Sutras by Shyam Ranganathan; by Swami Hariharananda Aranya; Prabhavananda and Isherwood; Swami Satchitananda; by Chip Hartranft

Hatha Yoga Pradipika 

 

Minimum Requirements for Dhammacari Ordination

 

Maintain a daily sitting meditation practice. 

Maintain a regular wellness practice.

Our commitment to care seekers and the ecosystem 

Dhamma Sila Parisa has agreed that our ministers and apprentices will:

1. Put cares seekers first in the context of greater ecological regeneration by: 

• making care seekers and their ecological context the primary focus of our work with them

• acting with care and compassion towards care seekers and their ecosystem by endeavouring to do them no harm

• avoiding conflicts of interest and not exploiting clients for financial, sexual, emotional, academic or other personal gain or in a way that damages the ecosystem

• protecting care seekers when we believe they may be at risk of harm in or out of the organization

 

2. Work to high professional standards by:

• delivering competent services that aim to meet care seekers’ and their ecosystm’s desired regenerative outcomes 

• practicing within the limitations of our training, experience and competence

• maintaining our fitness to practice and never practicing while intoxicated or impaired 

• maintaining our professional competence through supervision and spiritual formation

 

3. Build a relationship of trust by:

• informing care seekers about the nature of the counselling services we offer

• clarifying the terms on which our services are offered, including fees, barter opportunities, gifting, and other forms of exchange including energy exchange, community time banking, and other ground up community building forms

• obtaining adequately informed consent for our services from care seekers and respecting their right to choose whether to continue in contemplative care and counseling

• working within a clearly contracted, principled relationship with our care seekers including proof of insurance 

 

4. Respect diversity by:

• not discriminating against care seekers based on their lifestyle, ideology, values, gender, age, ability, culture, religion, spirituality, sexual identity, and level of ordination either directly or indirectly

• being aware of our personal values, beliefs and assumptions in relation to our diverse care seekers 

• being competent to work with care seekers if they come from diverse groups or have special needs

 

5. Respect confidentiality by:

• protecting care seekers’ privacy and upholding their rights under privacy laws

• informing care seekers’ of their right to confidentiality and explaining the exceptions and legal limits to confidentiality

• explaining realities of current unauthorized surveillance practices  

• taking steps to prevent unauthorized disclosure of care seekers’ personal information

• Taking steps to prevent unwanted exposure of financial transactions

 

6. Respect professional boundaries by:

• Recognizing the web of interconnection we have between care providers and care seekers, we foster healthy non-exploitative relationships with our care seekers

• not engaging in romantic or sexual relationships with care seekers or with close members of their families both during contemplative care and counseling, and for a period of at least one year post contemplative care and counseling 

• we seek to foster healthy relationships with care seekers, former care seekers and their families or friends based on traditional mutual aid models from Buddhism, indigenous traditions, etc.

 

7. Work ethically with colleagues by:

• communicating in a professional and respectful way that upholds care seeker confidentiality

• ensuring referrals for care seekers are in their best interests and are made with informed consent

• reporting serious cases of ethical misconduct or unfitness to practice

 

8. Deliver ethical supervision, if they work as Supervisors, by:

• overseeing the work of supervisees in order to protect care seekers from poor practice

• not exploiting supervisees for financial, sexual, emotional, academic or other personal gain

 

9. Take responsibility for self-care of the Practitioner by:

• taking action to ensure our work doesn’t become detrimental to our own health or wellbeing

• ensuring our practice is safe by not taking undue risks to ourselves

Process and Procedures for Transferring Ordination to Lotus Templar Inc. Theravada Buddhist Church

1. Initial Inquiry:

  • Reach out to the Ecclesiastical Head or Ordination Committee of Lotus Templar Inc. to express interest in transferring ordination.

2. Documentation Submission:

  • Provide complete documentation of your previous ordination, including the date, place, and presiding authority.

  • Submit at least two recommendation letters from senior monastics or clergy from your previous tradition or order, attesting to your character and training.

  • Include detailed records of your monastic training, teachings received, retreats attended, and other relevant experiences.

3. Review & Interview:

  • The Ordination Committee will review your submitted materials.

  • You may be invited for an interview in person or via video conference to discuss your motivations, understanding of the Dhamma, and reasons for seeking a transfer.

4. Probationary Period (If Applicable):

  • Depending on the differences between your previous tradition and Lotus Templar Inc.'s practices, you might be required to undergo a probationary period. This could include:

  • Spend time at a Lotus Templar Inc. monastery or center to integrate with the community and learn its specific practices and rituals.

  • Be assigned a senior monastic mentor to guide you during this period.

5. Formal Transfer Ceremony:

  • Once approved, you will participate in a formal ceremony that acknowledges the transfer of your ordination to Lotus Templar Inc. This might resemble an ordination ceremony, but it will specifically highlight the continuity of your monastic commitment.

6. Ongoing Training:

  • Engage in specific teachings, retreats, or trainings that are essential to Lotus Templar Inc.'s practices but might not have been part of your previous tradition.

  • For the initial period after your transfer, regularly check in with your mentor or another designated senior monastic.

7. Full Integration:

  • Take on roles, duties, and responsibilities within the Lotus Templar Inc. community. This might include teaching, administrative roles, or other community service activities.

8. Renewal of Commitment:

  • Annually, participate in a ceremony or retreat that allows all monastics, including those who have transferred in, to renew their commitment to the Dhamma and the Lotus Templar Inc. community.

9. Feedback and Reflection:

  • Periodically provide feedback to the Ordination Committee about your integration process, which can be used to refine the process for future monastics seeking to transfer their ordination.

10. Continuous Learning:

  • Engage in ongoing study and practice to deepen your understanding and embody the teachings of the Lotus Templar Inc. Theravada Buddhist Church.

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