Mission and Pledge

Founded in 2001, InsightLA has served our community for more than 20 years.  We welcome all with a mission of:

  • Living Mindfully: We offer the highest quality of teachings, rooted in the insight wisdom tradition, and are a global leader in a shift of consciousness and compassion.
  • Living Compassionately: We face our complex world with love, serving all, supporting those on the front lines of suffering and inspiring personal and collective transformation.
  • Living Joyfully: We create an inclusive, diverse and joyful community – a refuge for all.

At InsightLA, we acknowledge the implicit and overt violence that has been done to individuals based on race, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, gender identity, religion, body size, ability, age and class and recognize the violence that has been done to our planet and to the first nations peoples who stewarded this land before us.

To our community, we pledge to offer to all who come practices of mindfulness, compassion and wisdom and to hold all beings in a circle of mutual respect, love, and unity.

At InsightLA, we value dialogue over avoidance, reconciliation over estrangement, forgiveness over resentment, and atonement over punishment. We also believe a cornerstone of good governance and community building is transparency. 

Purpose

In accordance with our mission and pledge, we offer the InsightLA community the following ethics, restoration and resolution process and policy designed for anyone in our InsightLA community who experience a breach of ethics or other conflict with another member of the  InsightLA community.”InsightLA Community” refers to student, teachers, visiting teachers, directors, employees or volunteers.

Process Overview

The below order of process is intended as a suggestion to offer all persons involved in a dispute an opportunity to be heard and seek peaceful resolution and reconciliation. 

First Step – Independent Conflict Resolution 

We encourage the affected individual to first address their ethics concerns or conflict directly with the teacher or other InsightLA person in question, provided the individual feels reasonably comfortable and safe doing so. We believe an effort to independently resolve an ethics concern or conflict can bring openness and clarity in a manner that oftentimes successfully resolves the issues in question.

Suggestions for this independent approach include the following:

  • Meeting one-on-one
  • Meeting with one independent person that both parties trust to mediate
  • Meeting with two allies, one for each party
  • Meeting with representatives from the EAR Council informally, as a sounding board. 

EAR Council members will not serve as mediators in this stage of independent process.

We acknowledge that power differentials in the teacher – student relationship and other issues may make this step difficult or impracticable. Part of the collective practice as a community is to level the playing field so that power differentials do not undermine the intentions of resolving conflicts or harm and restoring the relationships involved. 

However, the affected individual may choose to forgo this first step if it does not feel appropriate or safe.

To request a teacher’s or other InsightLA person’s contact information, please send an email to earcouncil@insightla.org.

Second Step – Ethics and Reconciliation (EAR) Grievance Process

If independent informal conflict resolution is unsuccessful or feels inappropriate or unsafe to the affected individual or group, we offer a formal Grievance Process  through our Ethics and Reconciliation Council (EAR Council). 

EAR Council Composition

We endeavor to constitute our EAR Council with at least one person from each the following categories:

  • InsightLA Teacher
  • InsightLA Board Member
  • InsightLA Staff Member
  • InsightLA Community Member

EAR Council members are wise and respected individuals appointed by our Board of Directors after consultation with our Teachers Council and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee in an effort to select individuals with a diverse range of experience, including  across racial/ethnic identity, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity.  

EAR Council members will serve staggered 3-year terms to preserve continuity on the EAR Council. Members may serve only two consecutive terms.  If a member is unable to fulfill its role and steps down, the Board of Directors will appoint a replacement member in accordance with the above appointment process.

If the EAR Complaint involves any member of the EAR Council, that member will recuse themself from this process and the Board of Directors will designate a replacement. 

Please note that although the members of our EAR Council receive periodic training in ethics and reconciliation processes, they are not trained mediators or therapists. 

EAR Process

InsightLA is committed to approaching ethical breaches and conflicts thoughtfully and promptly. The EAR Council process is designed to follow appropriate steps of inquiry, investigation, acknowledgement and, ultimately, resolution and reconciliation, with each party being given an opportunity to be heard by impartial members of our community.  

EAR Council Referrals

To refer an ethical concern or conflict to the EAR Council (an EAR Complaint), please send an email to the chairperson of the EAR Council and the Executive Director at earcouncil@insightla.org.

The email referral should include:

  • A clear statement that a formal EAR Council process is requested.
  • The name of all parties involved in the relevant matter(s).
  • A description of the alleged ethical violation or conflict.
  • A history of the attempts, if any, to resolve the matter through other means.
  • A general statement about the resolution desired.

Onboarding and Initial Review

When an EAR Complaint is brought to the EAR Council, the chairperson of the EAR Council will determine in consultation with other members of the EAR Council if the matter is most appropriately addressed through the EAR Council Process, and whether a formal Grievance is warranted.   If a Grievance Process is initiated, the Chair will ask for  a written submission of the complaint. The chairperson of the EAR Council will endeavor to communicate with the individual or group bringing the EAR Grievance  within 10 days of receipt. The grievance will be heard by three members of the EAR Council; most likely the Chair and two others. The make-up of the Grievance Committee will be determined by a combination of availability, and resonance with the nature of the complaint and/or person bringing the complaint 

Notice, Investigation and Hearing

If the EAR Council has accepted a request, it will endeavor to convey its acceptance to both the party filing the EAR Complaint and all other parties named in the EAR Complaint within 7 days of its acceptance. As part of this notification, the EAR Council will state its understanding of the issue under inquiry and, in the EAR Council’s chairperson’s discretion, will distribute a copy of the original EAR Complaint to all parties named in the complaint.

The chairperson of the EAR Council will schedule individual closed hearings in which all parties are given a chance to present their understanding of the issue under investigation. The EAR Council may question all parties and may request additional information. The chairperson may appoint a member of the EAR Council to document in writing the proceedings.

The EAR Council may ask other members of the InsightLA community to provide information pertinent to the EAR Complaint. All parties will have a full and fair opportunity to respond to all information – oral, written, or otherwise – gathered by the EAR Council.

By participating in any EAR Council proceeding, the participants are agreeing to maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings until otherwise directed by the EAR Council.

EAR Council Findings

Following the completion of the EAR Council investigation and proceedings, the EAR Council will review and discuss the EAR Complaint among themselves for a period of up to 10 days from the conclusion of the proceedings. At its discretion, the EAR Council may seek non-binding advice from other sources. 

The EAR Council will aim to provide its decision within 30 days of the completion of the proceedings. Within 21 days of a decision, all parties will reconvene at which time the EAR Council will distribute copies of its written findings and read them aloud. 

Appeal Process

Appeal of EAR Council decisions may be made within 14 days of receipt of the EAR Council’s written decision by sending an email to earappeals@insightla.org.  

A determination of whether or not to grant an appeal will be made by consensus of the Chair of the Board of Directors, the Chair of the Teachers Council, and the Chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. If the EAR Complaint involves one of these three individuals, that individual will recuse themself from this process and the applicable committee or council will designate a replacement. Appeals will only be granted if there is evidence of bias or procedural irregularities, or if new information not previously available comes to light.  

If an appeal is granted, an impartial Appeals Council will be formed by the above group with members of the Board of Directors, teachers, staff and/or community members.  Members of the EAR Council will not participate in the appeals process.  The Appeals Council will review the findings of the EAR Council and any new information to decide whether or not the original decision should be upheld.  Every attempt will be made to resolve appeals within 60 days of the receipt of a request for appeal. The decision of this Appeals Council will be final.


InsightLA’s Teacher Code of Ethics

The InsightLA teachers recognize that the foundation of spiritual life rests upon our mindful and caring relationship to the life around us. We acknowledge that without the support of monastic vows and Asian customs, we have a need for clear Western guidelines. In keeping with this understanding, and for the long-term benefit of ourselves and the community at large, we, as lay teachers, agree to uphold the five lay training precepts. Furthermore, we have specifically expanded the scope of these five precepts to make them explicitly appropriate to our role as teachers of the Dharma in our specific cultural setting. The InsightLA teachers have thus agreed to the following guidelines:

1) We undertake the precept of refraining from killing.
In undertaking this precept we acknowledge the interconnection of all beings and our respect for all life. We agree to refine our understanding of not killing and non-harming in all our actions. We seek to understand the implication of this precept in such difficult areas as abortion, euthanasia, and the killing of pets. While some of us recommend vegetarianism, and others do not, we all commit ourselves to fulfilling this precept in the spirit of reverence for life.

2) We undertake the precept of refraining from stealing.
We agree to not take that which does not belong to us and to respect the property of others. We agree to bring consciousness to the use of all of the earth’s resources in a respectful and ecological way. We agree to be honest in our dealing with money and not to misappropriate money committed to Dharma projects. We agree to offer teachings without favoritism in regard to student’s financial circumstances.

3) We undertake the precept of refraining from false speech.
We agree to speak that which is true and useful and to refrain from gossip in our community. We agree to hold in confidence what is explicitly told to us in confidence. We agree to cultivate conscious and clear communication, and to cultivate the quality of loving-kindness and honesty as the basis of our speech.

4) We undertake the precept of refraining from sexual misconduct.
We agree to avoid creating harm through sexuality and to avoid sexual exploitation or relationships of a sexual manner that are outside of the bounds of the relationship commitments we have made to another or that involve another who has made vows to another. Teachers with vows of celibacy will live according to their vows. Teachers in committed relationships will honor their vows and refrain from adultery. All teachers agree not to use their teaching role to exploit their authority and position in order to assume a sexual relationship with a student.

Because several single teachers in our community have developed partnerships and marriages with former students, we acknowledge that such a healthy relationship can be possible, but that great care and sensitivity are needed. We agree that in this case the following guidelines are crucial.

a) A sexual relationship is never appropriate between teachers and students.
b) During retreats or formal teaching, any intimation of future student-teacher romantic or sexual relationship is inappropriate.
c) If interest in a genuine and committed relationship develops over time between a single teacher and a student, the student-teacher relationship must clearly and consciously have ended before any further development toward a romantic relationship. Such a relationship must be approached with restraint and sensitivity – in no case should it occur immediately after retreat. A minimum time period of three months or longer from the last formal teaching between them, and a clear understanding from both parties that the student-teacher relationship has ended must be coupled with a conscious commitment to enter into a relationship that brings no harm to either party.

5) We undertake the precept of refraining from intoxicants that cause heedlessness or loss of awareness.

It is clear that substance abuse is the cause of tremendous suffering. We agree that there should be no use of intoxicants during retreats or while on retreat premises. We agree not to abuse or misuse intoxicants at any time. We agree that if any teacher has a drug or alcohol addiction problem, it should be immediately addressed by the community.