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Empty Cloud Ethics Policy

Creating together a sangha culture of safety, effective conflict resolution and fairness

The general aim of this living document is to make people comfortable. Conflicts and concerns will inevitably arise within any community, and Empty Cloud Sangha (ECS) is no exception. The health of our community is measured by our willingness and ability to find effective, responsible, and compassionate means of resolving interpersonal conflict as well as tensions arising from violations of community guidelines. 

ECS seeks to respond wisely and compassionately to all difficulties that arise by fully addressing the suffering of all concerned. This means valuing dialogue over silence, reconciliation over estrangement, forgiveness over resentment, confession over accusation, and atonement over punishment, to the greatest extent possible.  

In addition, ECS is committed to continuing to develop the scope of its consideration of, and responsiveness to, interpersonal conflicts in ways that carefully address factors pertaining to cultural difference, marginalized identity, and biases/discrimination related to race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, age, and institutional status. Because of the wide range of issues, conflicts, and other difficulties that may arise in a community, we strive to find the most appropriate way to respond to each situation.  

The following three sections provide guidelines for meeting a range of situations, beginning with the most direct and informal approaches, followed by ways to access additional support. And finally, a formal complaint process for use when other approaches have been exhausted or are not appropriate. For anything not covered in this document, please contact

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Ethics Committee

The Ethics Committee reports to the Board of Directors.


Martin St-André, MDCM


Caleb Reese, PsyD

Ed Shearin, PhD

Complaint and Ethical Review Process

When interpersonal problems inevitably arise

I. Interpersonal conflicts that can be resolved by the parties concerned


Empty Cloud Sangha encourages direct and informal resolution of difficulties and reparative action between individuals by the parties themselves whenever possible. In most cases, an informal resolution of interpersonal conflict allows for a more positive outcome for all parties involved.  

II. Issues or complaints referred to the sangha’s leadership  


Conflicts, issues, or complaints that cannot be resolved through the processes listed above should be brought to the Ethics Committee. If the complaint involves the Roshi, a teacher, or Board members, the discussion regarding the issue will be done in the absence of the person who is the object of the complaint.   

III. Formal Complaint Process

A Formal Complaint Process is generally conducted as a last resort, to be pursued only when all other avenues have either been exhausted or are not appropriate. Because the concerned parties are not part of the decision-making process, a Formal Complaint Process carries a greater risk of unanticipated or unwanted outcomes. Under such circumstances, either ​​​​the President of the ECS Board of Directors, or the Chair of the Ethics Committee could decide to appoint another person​ from another Sangha, such as ECS LatAM, or another appropriately qualified person.    


However, a Formal Complaint Process may be an appropriate remedy when it is not possible, or has not been possible, to resolve the issue in less formal ways, especially when the issue has involved harmful or unethical conduct that may have potential legal implications, such as a suspicion or accusation of unfair treatment, racial or gender discrimination, theft, harassment, sexual harassment, bullying, or threats of violence. 

Bibliography (Much of the above language was adapted from this source)  

Everything Is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution, - 3 décembre 2013, de Diane Musho Hamilton  

Institutional Review Board

For Research Involving Empty Cloud Sangha

All research activity involving members or community activities of the Empty Cloud Sangha should be approved by the Sangha’s Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee strongly recommends applicants to obtain approval from their home IRB prior to submitting a project.  


In reviewing projects, the Ethics Committee will use standard scientific guidelines from higher-learning institutions. The Ethics Committee could decide to appoint a third party as a consultant for reviewing specific projects.  


Further information about applying for IRB approval can be obtained from the Chair of the Ethics Committee at

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