The Dharma Council is introducing a new team into the Sangha’s organizational structure, designed to answer long-standing questions about how instructors are developed, and how people are given opportunities for leadership in the sangha both in class instruction and in other roles such as the sacristy and the jisha-ryo. Many important qualities of good teachers and leaders in the Dharma are hard to define. These are related to a person’s maturity, their depth of practice, their experience with group dynamics and ability to lead individuals, their skill in expressing Dharma concepts, and their general involvement with the Sangha community. The Dharma Council has debated these questions for years, and is aware that many members have been uncertain how class instructors were chosen, and what opportunities there are for individuals to develop different skills both in and outside the classroom. Both the Dharma Council and the Mandala Council want to encourage and develop opportunities in leadership in all aspects of the temple, but needed to develop methods for evaluating the readiness of individuals to take on roles.
The Mandala Council has stewardship over the many teams which support the day-to-day function of the temple and its public role, and supports apprenticeship in both formal and informal ways. The Dharma Council has stewardship over issues of teaching and liturgy, which includes public and Seminary classes. In cooperation, we now have a Leadership Development Team to help members develop skills in these areas. The first members of this team are Kyogen and Gyokuko, as Abbot advisors; Kakumyo and Jiko, as mentors; Isei, the Seminary Registrar; and James Still, representing the Mandala Council.
Kakumyo and Jiko will begin meeting with people who are already in leadership roles (including transmitted disciples, team leaders, and sitting group leaders, as well as many others) or are moving toward leadership and instruction roles (such as people who have graduated from Seminary or are near graduation). The Dharma Council developed a simple algorithm of questions, intended to be a systematic way to allow all individuals to define personal goals and find opportunities to develop new skills. This process will take some time! (Members of the team, with the exception of the Abbots, will also go through the process of interview and setting goals.) The interview process will allow the Dharma Council and the Mandala Council to make informed decisions about inviting people to be class leaders and assistants, and to work on different teams throughout the temple’s structure.
This is a new way of going about this, and we hope that it will help make such decisions more transparent and understandable both to the membership and to the individual member. If you have any questions, please contact Kakumyo or Jiko, or any member of the Dharma Council.