On the rare occasion it's needed our Reconciliation Process exists as a means by which an impartial Reconciliation Circle can listen to and investigate claims of ethical failings by community members.
Since moral actions don’t spring from abstract principles, but from good judgment in context, and because even the Buddha wasn’t omniscient, knowledge of context is always partial. As such, we recognize and expect that there will be misunderstandings, errors, and occasional misdeeds. As such, we commit to listen to and investigate claims of failings through a Reconciliation process, facilitated by the Reconciliation Circle. An important function of the Reconciliation Circle is to encourage an intention of mutual respect and reconciliation whenever conflict arises within our community. In the rare occasion that a more formal process may be necessary, the following process is available.
A formal grievance process is initiated by communicating in writing with the Reconciliation Circle. This 'letter of request' must include:
- A clear statement that a formal grievance process is requested.
- The name of the person(s) whose behavior the complaint concerns.
- A description of the alleged behavior sufficient to allow the Reconciliation Circle to decide whether the complaint is appropriate for initiating a formal grievance procedure.
- A history of the attempts, if any, to resolve the complaint through other means.
- A general statement about the resolution desired.
Once the Reconciliation Circle has accepted a request, it must convey its acceptance within two weeks to both the party filing the complaint and the party named in the complaint. As part of this notification, the Circle will state its understanding of the issue under inquiry and will distribute a copy of the original 'letter of request' to the party named in the complaint.
Once a complaint is accepted, the Reconciliation Circle will appoint one of its members to be the Facilitator of the Reconciliation Process. The Facilitator is chosen with relational neutrality in mind. The Facilitator is responsible for investigating the concern (#4) and crafting a decision proposal that will then be run through an Integrative Decision-Making Process with the rest of the Reconciliation Circle (#5).
The Facilitator schedules closed hearings in which all parties are given a chance to present their understanding of the issue under investigation. The Reconciliation Circle may question all parties and may request additional information. The Facilitator will document the proceedings.
The Reconciliation Circle may ask other people to provide information pertinent to the complaint. All parties will have a full and fair opportunity to respond to all information – oral, written, or otherwise – gathered by the Reconciliation Circle.
Except for informing appropriate community leaders, the proceedings will be held confidentially for the duration of the proceedings.
When the Reconciliation Circle members are satisfied that they are adequately informed, they will review and discuss the case among themselves. At its discretion, the Reconciliation Circle may seek non-binding advice from any other source. For matters involving the potential suspension of a Heart of Insight teacher, the Reconciliation Circle will consult with the Teachers Circle in jointly establishing the best course of action. The Reconciliation Circle’s decision should be reached through an Integrative Decision-Making Process. After reaching a decision, all parties will reconvene, at which time the Reconciliation Circle will distribute copies of its written findings and read them aloud.