As part of our efforts to advance equity and inclusion within the Mountains and Rivers Order community, a new leadership body was recently formed to represent the sangha in all its vastness. The Sangha Harmony Advisory Council (SHAC) is composed of diverse and dedicated sangha members who will endeavor to represent the needs of historically excluded groups as well as the larger sangha as a whole. Although SHAC is empowered by the MRO teachers and Board of Directors, its authority ultimately derives from its trusted representation of the entire sangha.
Keep scrolling and get to know the inaugural SHAC team.
While the SHAC may not have ultimate decision-making authority, in the spirit of collaborative leadership, any proposals it puts forth will be given serious consideration and the reasons for not acting on any of its recommendations will be made clear to the SHAC members and/or the greater sangha as is appropriate. The intention is for SHAC to become a trusted and credible representative body of the larger sangha. The MRO believes that decisions informed by the wider sangha will contribute to the realization of a harmonious, inclusive community where dharma practice is part of a joyous human collective experience.
Reflecting on this joyful work, Hojin Sensei offered the following:
There are strong aspirations to realize one’s true self in the midst of lay practice, monastic life and in all intersections of humanity. I want our sangha to see this, feel this, and be able to say: “Oh! There is a body that looks like mine, there is a heart I resonate with that is immersed deeply in this human project. Maybe I can speak, trust and be trusted. Maybe I can truly enter here.”
The chief purposes of the SHAC are:
- To help promote unity, harmony, inclusivity and diversity within the sangha, and to help create an MRO culture in which people of all identities and a range of abilities feel welcome and supported, particularly those from groups that have been historically underrepresented or excluded.
- To empower people from diverse backgrounds to promote horizontal leadership within the MRO.
- To hold decision-making bodies accountable for a timely response to specific suggestions and requests from the SHAC, and to advocate for open and trustworthy governance.
- To represent the lay sangha’s perspectives and suggestions regarding matters relevant to practice and training within the MRO, and to share these with the MRO teachers, senior training staff, Board of Directors, Temple Advisory Council, Affinity Groups and Program Committees.
- To model deep respect for each other’s humanity and identity in order to help manifest a beloved community through the MRO.
- Work with teachers and staff to promote initiatives that foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) within the MRO.
- Convey the concerns of the affinity groups to the MRO leadership and wider sangha community.
- Hold twice yearly meetings with the sangha at large, one of which may be the annual Sangha Treasure meeting, to report on the SHAC’s activities, and to seek input regarding the sangha culture that is being collectively created within the training environment. This includes both formal and informal points of contact in person and online.
- Help lead a timely sangha response to tragic or consequential events, both publicly and internally.
Please stay tuned for more news on the Sangha Harmony Advisory Council as the group gets up and running in the new year. In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.