Assaya Sangha Value Statement
- We value practicing and awakening together in Dharma community: supporting life changes and challenges, celebrating our wholeness, challenging our blind spots, and uplifting each other to reach our spiritual potential.
- We value sangha as a refuge: providing a safe, welcoming, inclusive, inspiring, nurturing, and empowering spiritual home for women*.
- We value multiple approaches to practice: offering embodied, integrated, creative, communal, and formal practice.
- We value the self-identified female awakening experience: acknowledging the under-representation of women’s stories in Buddhism, we witness and honor self-identified women in their awakening.
- We value inclusivity and diversity: working to cultivate safety and understanding by practicing wise speech and deep listening and being aware of the suffering caused by social and structural injustices. We have and strive towards equity, and aim to unravel any internalized sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, unrecognized traumas, and advantages as part of our awakening process. Our diverse leadership fosters an ongoing attunement to the individual needs of our members.
- We value benevolent community: learning to respond empathetically to each other’s joys and sorrows, we integrate heart and wisdom practices and encourage compassionate action in our greater community.
The Five Buddhist Precepts for Daily Living
With the additional explanation of each precept by meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh**
- I undertake the training to abstain from taking life. Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life.
- I undertake the training to abstain from taking what is not given. Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I vow to cultivate loving-kindness and learn ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I vow to practice generosity by sharing my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in real need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.
- I undertake the training to abstain from sexual misconduct. Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I vow to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.
- I undertake the training to abstain from unwise speech. Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread the news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
- I undertake the training to abstain from intoxicants that cloud the mind and lead to the breaking of precepts. Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.
**(Excerpted from “For a Future to Be Possible: Commentaries on the Five Wonderful Precepts” (1993) by Thich Nhat Hanh, with permission of Parallax Press, Berkeley, California.)