To study the Buddha way is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things.
~Dogen Zenji

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Listen to our SWZC Song
by Bobby Werner

Council Guidelines

  1. Be on time. Due to the confidential and intimate nature of council, the group may decide not to open the circle for you if you are late.

  2. Use the three tenets. Listen and speak from not-knowing. Bear witness to all that is going on. Allow the healing process to occur.

  3. Speak from your heart. Avoid lectures, expressing ideas, doing others inventory. Passion and a focus on personal revelation rather than philosophical reflection helps everyone stay attentive and honors the circle further by showing a willingness to take risks. Remember "no fixing, no saving, no advising, no setting each other straight."

  4. No cross-talk. The person who holds the talking piece has the attention of the circle. The only time someone else can speak is in the rare occasion that the facilitator feels that it is absolutely necessary to maintain the integrity of the circle. The person who is speaking may feel moved by someone else's speech and could mention that but not for cross-talk. No fixing, no saving, no advising, no setting each other straight.

  5. Speak using "I" statements rather than "you" statements. We express ourselves in terms of our own experience. Marshall Rosenberg"s model of Non-violent communication is wonderful training in this way of speaking.

  6. Listen from the heart. Listen without judgment. Don’t prepare what you are going to say when you listen. Develop empathy. The success of council is largely determined by the quality of listening in the circle. When it is “devout” (as the Quakers would say), the speaker feels empowered and is more likely to rise to the occasion. If you find yourself growing restless and bored in council, you’re probably not listening devoutly. Listening from the heart is energizing even if the speaker is inarticulate, dull, or the topic or story is not “your cup of tea”.

  7. Be lean. Say what needs to be said. Avoid tangents. Avoid repetition. Do say everything that needs to be said. Give everyone a chance to speak. Notice if you are speaking more than others. Notice those who aren’t speaking and make sure there is space for them. Being lean is an art. Council is an excellent arena in which to improve one’s ability to be concise and to find words and images that enliven our stories and statements. An ally in the quest for leanness is the willingness to give honest reflection to those who ramble. If anyone in the circle feels someone has gone on too long, been repetitive or unclear, they always have the option of saying something about it when they get the talking piece.

  8. Spontaneity. Don’t rehearse. Let the intuitive voice speak. Find the voice of the circle. Will speaking this serve me? Will speaking this serve the circle? Will speaking this serve the greater good?

  9. Confidentiality. If an appropriate level of confidentiality is not maintained, everyone has to spend a lot of time repairing damaged feelings and getting the council going again.

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Zen Center Accreditations: White Plum Sangha | Zen Peacemakers | Soto School
2727 Highland Avenue National City, CA 91950 | 619.477.0390 | info@swzc.org
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