Residents Ethical Code of Conduct

How we interact with other people shines light on how wisdom and morality are integrated.“ Buddha

General Principles for living as a resident at Sunyata 

I understand that I live in a Buddhist community, whose guiding principles are the Four Noble Truths, the Eight Fold Path and those in residence live under the eight precepts.  Together in interaction with each other and individually, we are guided by these Buddhist Principles and recognise Sunyata Buddhist Centre is a place for training ourselves and developing this path. 

The way I behave towards others, intentionally or unintentionally has a bearing on our collective ability to live harmoniously together. Thus, in addition to taking care of my own needs, I will put the wellbeing of other people and Sunyata as a whole, into my focus.

Like anywhere else Sunyata does not always feel like an ideal place. The aim of my engagement is only to support the Dhamma and to decrease greed, hatred and delusion. In taking up residence in Sunyata Buddhist Centre, I commit to the following:

Tasks and responsibilities for residents 

  • As a resident I understand that I have a shared responsibility to carry out daily tasks for the essential maintenance of Sunyata such as: cooking, weekly cleanday rota, wash up
  • Joining the daily schedule  (Morning and evening puja, maintenance meeting, maintenance period
  • Joining the resident meetings
  • Can take 2 days off a week (moonday + an extra day)
  • Taking part in practice and training workshops for residents


In relation to conduct, I commit to the following agreements.

Right Speech: 

  • I will speak truthfully. I know that I can only speak from my own perspective (e.g. I will try to be specific about particular incidents/acts instead of generalizations. I will describe and reflect my own needs and observations instead of implicating someone else’s thoughts, feelings or intentions)  
  • I allow others to finish speaking 
  • I can ask how someone understood what I said and hear their perspective to widen my understanding
  • I speak in a way that contributes to harmony. Before speaking I can ask myself is what I say:
  • factual
  • helpful or beneficial
  • spoken with kindness and good-will (that is, hoping for the best for all involved)
  • Endearing (spoken in a way the other person can hear, receive gently)
  • Timely (occasionally something true, helpful, and kind will not be endearing, or easy for someone to hear, in which case we think carefully about when and how to say it)
  • I  abstain from harmful speech (for example, using speech to turn people against one another, demeaning speech and behavior such as subtle or direct bullying, isolating or deliberately excluding someone, ridicule, sarcasm, name-calling, offensive comments/jokes/body language, non-verbal actions like rolling my eyes when someone speaks, negating his/her importance as a member of the community, spreading rumors or malicious gossip

(Subtle Bullying is described as the actions of someone who behaves with mischief, often intentional and usually behind a persons back, with negative motives. Overt bullying involves physical actions such as punching or kicking or observable verbal actions such as name-calling and insulting. Covert bullying can include repeatedly using hand gestures and weird or threatening looks, whispering etc.)

Right Action

  • I attribute a positive intention to the other person and consider other people’s perspectives and needs in order to help reach understanding. E.g – I will not assume to understand the intention behind another‘s action, without hearing their perspective. I value each person without judgement  of the contribution/tasks they undertake and endeavour to focus on my own spiritual growth rather than my perception of others. I understand it is not my objective to assess or evaluate the contribution or practice of others. 
  • I see the others as fellow practitioners. I won‘t sexually objectify someone (treating a person as an object of sexual desire, for example making comments about their appearance and body.)
  • I see others in their own uniqueness and value that people have different approaches, conditionings, talents, opinions and needs. 
  • I will respect the privacy of other people, for example respecting their private space and ask before entering their room and keep private material (e.g. photos, confidential messages etc.) to myself and ask before sharing/publishing it.
  • If I do someone a favor or decide to take on a task, I do that freely and out of my own motivation. I am not expecting something back in return. If I feel I don’t want to be engaged or decide to take on a task I can say it.
  • I take responsibility for my own beliefs and political opinions. I respect Sunyata as a space where except the center’s legal organization rules, personal political opinions will be kept to each individual. If I need to share, discuss or spread my religious or political belief I can find a suitable frame for it outside of Sunyata.
  • I leave the spaces I used tidy and accessible for others
  • I respect the animals living at Sunyata and take shared responsibility for their wellbeing

Commitment to dealing with conflict

Conflict resolution Process 

I understand that as a resident I am making a commitment to engage with the conflict resolution process should a conflict arise. 

  • In case of a conflict, if it is possible and appropriate,  I will either address the person directly with the preceding guidelines of right speech and right action. I can also bring up issues at longer term residents meeting if that’s a sensible space for the topic or ask for help, to a designated third party. (Heike Griffin)
  • In cases where a conflict cannot be resolved or it involves a more serious complaint it may go through the official complaints procedure.
  • If I am part of a conflict resolution, I am willing to hear and understand the different perspectives that are raised
  • When sensitive topics are raised I treat the process confidentially  
  • I am willing to participate constructively with the process in order to serve the best outcome of reconciliation
  • I give and receive constructive feedbac

(Elements of constructive feedback)

1. I will ask first if the person wants to get feedback / is open to it 

2. I will share my observation on a specific moment/situation focussing on my own experience of it rather than assuming to understand the other persons motivations or intentions

3.  I will focus on actions rather than commentary about a persons characteristics or personality

4. I acknowledge what that situation brought up in me 

5. I will formulate a wish or request

in a concrete and clear way based on actions rather than character 

6. I am open to hear the other person‘s feedback and acknowledge the role of my perception in my understanding

  • I take individual, self-motivated responsibility as a group member. e.g. If I am asking for a change or a pause in a group format, I take responsibility as a part of the group to help the process further, for example by finding an alternative possibility, reaching out, reflecting or making alternative suggestions. 
  • I take care of my own wellbeing. For example I will pause or leave a situation when I need to and either return to it again or find/address it in another way.