Organizational Structure

We use the image of a Mandala to describe the shared and interrelated nature of organizational responsibility among many different people, teams, and councils. The graphic visually represents how these elements work together. Each council has mandates and descriptions, and also develops policies and other informational documents pertinent to its work. This system of shared responsibility is known at Dharma Rain as the Mandala Model.


Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is a key piece of the mandala of organization for Dharma Rain Zen Center. The board’s function is to make sure the temple fulfills its mission statement. The board has fiduciary and legal responsibility for the organization, and so it reviews and approves major expenditures, meets with committee representatives, and considers changes to policies or bylaws. It pays attention to strategic planning for the future function and evolution of the temple, in cooperation with the Dharma Council. The board pays particular attention to the Operations (Yellow and Green) functions of the temple. The board typically meets at least monthly, and reserves time at the start of each meeting for members to bring forward concerns they may have about Sangha policies or operations.

Dharma Council

The Dharma Council assists and advises the Abbot(s) and Godo in determining matters of liturgy and teaching, and giving direction to the membership on these matters. It pays attention to strategic planning for the future function and evolution of the temple, in cooperation with the Board of Directors. The Dharma Council pays particular attention to the Teaching (Red and Blue) side of the temple, and to the training of people who could be qualified to serve as temple officers in the future.

Mandala Council

The Mandala Council, under the guidance and supervision of the Abbots, Board and Dharma Council, helps ensure the harmonious and effective functioning of the temple by filling and rotating temple jobs. The Mandala Council supports the office of Shuso, allowing the Shuso to take on whatever Mandala Council responsibilities s/he is willing or able to.

Ethics Council

The Ethics Council’s purpose is to oversee DRZC’s Grievance and Reconciliation Process, which is mentioned in the Ethics document and detailed in the Complaint and Dispute Resolution Process document. To the extent that informal dispute resolution is not successful, the Grievance and Reconciliation Process offers a formal grievance procedure to address perceived misconduct of sangha members.

Elders Council

The Elders’ Council collectively holds the knowledge and understanding of the customs, practice traditions and core Zen teachings that have been established at Dharma Rain Zen Center (DRZC). This body of knowledge includes the Soto Zen lineage teachings and traditions presented by the temple’s founders, Kyogen and Gyokuko Carlson, as well as customs, traditions and teaching approaches that have evolved within, and are supported by, the larger DRZC sangha. It is especially important that the Council provides stability and a thread of continuity during times of change within the temple, and serves as a conservative force if the Council assesses change as occurring too abruptly or too quickly, or if the changes appear to be inconsistent with the vision of the temple’s founders. The Council may also serve the temple in times of rigidity as a source of adaptability, emphasizing the creativity and ingenuity of the temple’s founders. Its primary responsibility is to assist and advise the board in finding, recruiting and selecting candidates for a new position in the Abbacy.

Dharma Garden Council

The Dharma Garden Council oversees all programs of the Dharma Garden. These include Dharma School, Dharma Camp, Frog Song Montessori Preschool, Childcare and Parent classes. The primary focus of these programs is to support children and families: their spiritual development, well-being and growth; and to encourage and support young people’s inherent Buddha nature through community, compassion, sharing and joy. The Council cultivates these programs to support a vibrant and thriving broader Dharma Rain Sangha by offering to people of all ages a way into dharma and practice.