Special Policies

Policy of Inclusion

The Arizona Soto Zen Center believes that suffering is due to attachment. We believe that suffering may be increased by biases or prejudices, whether for or against, that separate the One Buddha Mind into opposites. Everyone is welcome regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, size, ethnicity, vocation, occupation, political affiliation, etc.

We welcome and affirm all who come through our gates and are respectful of others. May all beings be free from suffering.

Green Policy

We believe that suffering can be increased by one’s actions and decreased by one’s aware practices. We are committed to supporting the quality of life by preserving and protecting the earth and our living environment.
We believe in decreasing our carbon footprints by recycling, supporting energy-efficient vehicles, building sustainable housing, and promoting the use of alternative, earth-friendly power sources.
As individuals, we can take these steps to decrease our personal carbon footprints:

  1. Set thermostats lower in the winter and higher in the summer.
  2. Eat locally grown organic produce whenever possible.
  3. Conserve water by traps and cisterns.
  4. Use efficient light bulbs and appliances.
  5. Live simply and without needless extras.
  6. Recycle whenever possible.
  7. Avoid buying “consumer traps” (like individually bottled water).
  8. Avoid using cleaners, air fresheners, lotions, etc. based on artificial chemicals.
  9. Use organic and natural products whenever possible.

Studies show that organic producers are more likely to be “green” in their growing and processing methods and in how they distribute products. (“Organic” can be used very loosely, so it never hurts to check further).

Guidelines for Tough Life Situations

Suffering can be increased by one’s actions and decreased by one’s aware practices. As Buddhists, we are committed to supporting life. Moral behavior in Buddhist systems is not an absolute in itself; it is a means toward awakening the transcendence of those selfish cravings which bind all beings to an unending round of suffering. There is no one absolute authority over another’s life. We encourage individuals to examine the precepts and to live within them as best they can. Let the root maxim, “Do no harm,” be your standard.

Birth Control

Buddhism has no conflict with any primary means of birth control. Abortion is not considered to be a primary means of birth control.

Death Penalty

We believe that the death penalty is wrong for any crime or action. While we also believe that prolonged incarceration is cruel, we acknowledge that some individuals are not able to live near others without causing pain, suffering, and sometimes death. We believe that in these cases society should be protected by isolating such individuals from the general population.

Childhood Harm

We believe that any kind of harm — emotional, physical, or sexual — done to a child by another child or adult is inconsistent with Buddhist precepts.

Abortion

We believe that all life is sacred. It is a gross violation of the precepts to use abortion as a primary form of birth control. We believe that aborting a fetus is a painful and harmful act to both mother and fetus. However, Buddhism does not disapprove of abortion absolutely.
The Dalai Lama has said: “Of course, abortion, from a Buddhist viewpoint, is an act of killing and is negative, generally speaking. But it depends on the circumstances. If the unborn child will be retarded or if the birth will create serious problems for the parent, these are cases where there can be an exception. I think abortion should be approved or disapproved according to each circumstance.”
We also believe that all beings have the right to make karmic choices in their own lives. Judging another’s action is not in accordance with the precepts.
We generally encourage any pregnant woman to allow the fetus to develop to full term and then be adopted rather than being aborted for the sake of convenience.
But we do not encourage saving a fetus’s life at all costs. We do not encourage the preservation of life in the face of severe birth defects, disease processes, or the mother’s health or well being.

Euthanasia

We believe that all life is sacred. Helping another person to die sooner than would occur from the normal processes of disease is in conflict with the first precept. However, in cases of painful disease or dementia it may be considered an act of compassion. The Bodhisattva may give up his own salvation to assist others to be free from suffering. It is a karmic decision of the individuals involved.

Suicide

We believe that all life is sacred, and Buddhism places great emphasis on the significance of human life. Being human offers an opportunity for enlightenment. To take any life (one’s own or someone else’s) is a violation of the first precept (which guides us to abstain from killing living beings). Suicide sometimes creates more suffering for those left behind. For some who take their lives, it is an act of anger. In every case, if you take your own life, you forfeit the potential for awakening in this lifetime and set up karmic consequences for the future.

In Summary

The above are not hard and fast “rules.” Rather, they are some guidelines for our Zen practice. All of us must look to our own salvation. We encourage all individuals to live within the precepts as best they can and to be compassionate toward others as well as to ourselves. We encourage everyone to examine these moral issues from the viewpoint of suffering. Use your own experience and insight as a means to explore who suffers and who benefits. All actions should seek to avoid harm and its attendant suffering, and to promote benefit to as many concerned as possible.