Nitartha Institute Online Courses, Programs and Events


Nitartha Institute has certain expectations regarding the conduct of our community members, which includes students, faculty, teachers in training (TnT), staff, and volunteers. These are described below and include those who participate in both onsite as well as online programs. Every report or complaint of behavior that is contrary to these expectations is taken seriously.

This Ethical Conduct Policy includes descriptions of:

  1. The view of ethical conduct;
  2. The Institute’s Ethics Council, which is responsible for handling complaints. Based on the recommendations from the Ethics Council, Nitartha’s Executive Committee will take action or impose possible sanctions;
  3. Types of harassment and misconduct;
  4. The Institute’s process for reporting and resolving situations in which someone encounters conflict, harassment or inappropriate behavior;
  5. The consequences of such behavior, including sanctions and disciplinary actions;
  6. The Eightfold Path, which can be used as principles and values on which ethical conduct at Nitartha Institute is based.

1. The View of Ethical Conduct

We aim to create a harmonious environment that is conducive to teaching, learning, and meditating, one which is kind, peaceful and respectful. To do so, the Institute expects faculty, staff and students to manifest these qualities.

By being mindful of our conduct and respecting everyone’s cultural and personal backgrounds and sensitivities, we can create a strong culture of kindness, compassion and wakefulness that supports our reflecting on and practicing the dharma.

Specifically, Nitartha Institute students, teachers and TnTs, staff and volunteers, are expected to, and shall, treat each other with dignity and respect, as well as abide by basic Buddhist principles of not harming others. Any form of harassment and any form of physical or verbal abuse has no place at the Institute and will not be tolerated. This applies to in-person and online participation.

All those who are in positions of actual or apparent power, including but not limited to Nitartha instructors, teachers in training, staff and volunteers, must be aware of the dynamics involved in having a position of power and must not, for sexual or financial gain or for any other benefit, misuse the trust placed in them as leaders of the Nitartha Institute community. These individuals are expected to abide by the highest standards of ethical conduct and virtuous thoughts, speech and action.

2. The Ethics Council

The Executive Committee will appoint a minimum of three individuals to the Ethics Council on an annual basis, with options to renew the appointments. If these individuals do not attend the Summer Institute, the Executive Committee will appoint other individuals who have the appropriate qualifications to serve on the council during the Summer Institute. 

The members of the Ethics Council will be chosen from different bodies of the Institute, such as staff, faculty and Executive Committee members. 

Its purpose is to facilitate the process to resolve conflict, harassment and misconduct, including:

  1. Hearing the concerns of anyone who reports such incidents;
  2. Communicating with anyone about whom such reports are made;
  3. Helping the parties involved to respectfully communicate with each other when direct communication between them is possible;
  4. Making recommendations about steps the parties can take to resolve the incident;
  5. Making recommendations to the Executive Committee when applicable. 

Any Nitartha community member who feels they have been subject to harassment or misconduct is encouraged to discuss the situation with a member of the Ethics Council. All discussions will be held in confidence.

Neither the Council nor Nitartha will make any judgments or take any legal actions based on those discussions. The members of the Ethics Council are concerned fellow community members and do not act in any professional capacity. They will not perform the roles of taking legal action or providing professional emotional support. However, the Council could investigate reports of misconduct and/or refer the community member to outside professional support such as psychotherapists, when requested.

After listening to and discussing the situation among the affected parties, the Ethics Council will make a recommendation to the Executive Committee if the Council members consider that additional action is required. Such recommendations can include actions described below in section 5 (Consequences and disciplinary action).

3. Types of Harassment and Misconduct

Harassment and misconduct encompasses a broad range of physical, written or verbal behavior, including but not limited to:

  • Physical or mental abuse
  • Racial insults
  • Derogatory ethnic slurs
  • Derogatory statements about another person’s sexual orientation
  • Unwelcome sexual advances, speech or touching
  • Speech or touching that one party reports as uncomfortable, regardless of whether the other party considers it appropriate
  • Requests for sexual favors used as a condition of employment or to affect other personnel decisions, such as promotion or compensation
  • Display of offensive materials
  • Accusations of crimes or “bad actions”
  • Discrimination encompasses derogatory comments or exclusionary behavior based on a person’s age, sex, race or color, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability or other “protected class” delineated under state or federal law.

Harassment, misconduct or discrimination can be a single incident or a persistent pattern of behavior that has the effect of creating a hostile, offensive, exclusionary or intimidating environment.

4. Reporting Behavior and Resolution of the Situation

Reports of any harassment or misconduct at the Summer Institute or at Nitartha-hosted events and programs, whether on site or online, will be taken seriously. If the situation is not resolved as described in Section 2 above, it will be reported to the Ethics Council.

Any person who feels they have been subject to inappropriate behavior is strongly encouraged to report it to the Ethics Council, including but not limited to harassment or sexual advances as described above in Section 3.

All parties should always practice mindfulness of speech, being aware that words have power.  This includes speaking honestly and directly and behaving with gentleness when communicating with others. The intention of relieving suffering for self and others should be clearly kept in mind. (See “Right Intention” and “Right Speech” in section 6 below on the Eightfold Noble Path.) 

Steps for resolving the incident:

A. The Ethics Council will meet with each individual separately to understand the nature of the conflict or misconduct.

B. If the parties feel they can discuss the situation with each other with the help of the participation of an Ethics Council member, a mediated discussion will be the first step to resolving the situation.

C. If one of the parties is not comfortable with meeting directly with the other party, the Ethics Council will meet separately with the individuals to help each party understand the perspective of the other.

D. If the parties do not come to an understanding of the other’s perspective or do not arrive at an agreement about how to resolve the situation, then the Ethics Council will recommend a course of action to the Nitartha Executive Committee. Depending on the severity, the recommended action can range from mediation with the help of a third party to sanctions against individuals. 

Anyone who learns of an incident that has been reported and who is not involved in that incident will respect the privacy of the parties involved by refraining from spreading gossip about the incident.

5. Consequences and Disciplinary Actions

A community member may face disciplinary action, including but not limited to:

  • unenrollment from the course or program or event 
  • being told to leave the program and premises
  • not being enrolled in future Nitartha programs and events
  • dismissal from any paid or volunteer position of the Institute.

The level of disciplinary action will be determined based on the information provided by the parties involved and by witnesses to the current incident if others were present, as well as a history of prior reports. Disciplinary action will also take into account the harm posed to the individual, to the Institute and its community, and whether or not there was an unequal power relationship. The Executive Committee will decide on the action to be taken based on the recommendations of the Ethics Council.


We wish to create a harmonious environment conducive to hearing and reflecting on the teachings, an environment which is kind, peaceful, respectful, gentle, and pleasing. To do so, the Institute requests our students to manifest the qualities one would expect of a Buddhist practitioner in performing their duties and in relating to others.

By being mindful of our conduct and respecting everyone’s cultural and personal backgrounds and sensitivities, we can create a strong culture of kindness, compassion, and wakefulness conducive to hearing and reflecting on the teachings.

Specific guidelines for online courses:

  • In the event one of your courses allows for using the chat feature, this is to be used mindfully. Your use of the chat feature should add to your own learning experience and that of others.
  • Do not use chats to sell services or merchandise.
  • Use language that is in accordance with the agreement herein.
  • If the course you are taking allows for student video, keep in mind that other students as well as teachers will be able to see you and your surroundings when your video is turned on. Wear attire that is appropriate to attending the Institute with teachers and other students. And keep the area appearing in your camera frame appropriate to a retreat environment that is held with others. If you
    wish to eat or move around during a teaching, please turn off your video.
  • Downloading or sharing of recordings or screenshots with others is not permitted.
  • To maintain a secure environment, do not share login information with others. If someone asks you for login information, ask them to contact our registrar at
  • When logging into a live online course, your login name must match the name you used when you registered.

I hereby agree to abide with this Agreement.

The Eightfold Noble Path: Addendum to Ethical Conduct Policy

* Quotes of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche taken from unpublished transcripts of Rinpoche’s teachings entitled “Profound View, Fearless Path” (Seattle, WA, December 2000).

The Noble Eightfold Path encompasses Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings on the Fourth Noble Truth, the path out of suffering. Without this path, the first three Noble Truths (life is suffering; clinging to phenomena and “self” as the cause of suffering; and the cessation of suffering by letting go of clinging) would be merely theoretical. What follows is a summary of the eight principles of the Noble Eightfold Path.

  1. Right View:

    Right View is about seeing our experiences as they are as they arise, without trying to change them. Right View begins with an understanding of karma – cause and effect. We are constantly presented with causes and conditions, and we choose our responses in body, speech and mind, moment by moment. Each action we choose to take results in the arising of the next cause and condition. If we choose a beneficial action, the next moment of karma will be beneficial, and if we choose a harmful action, the next moment will cause harm. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche has said, “Right View is the right understanding, and the right understanding is the only way we can begin our journey.”*

  2. Right Intention:

    Right Intention (or Right Thought) arises directly from Right View. We generate the intention that we and all beings be free of suffering, and speak and act in accordance with that intention, with the heart of compassion and concern for others. As Ponlop Rinpoche said, “Freedom from suffering happens only when there is mutual communication happening between…two hearts…. The only way we can do that is by… seeing the other beings’ suffering clearly…without our projections of what they should have or should not have, but clearly seeing what they really desire, or how they desire to be free from such suffering.”

  3. Right Speech:

    Right speech is direct and honest. Right Speech refers to speaking the truth, not slandering others, not engaging in gossip or rumors, not using speech that creates schisms in the sangha or in our relationships, and not speaking words that are abusive or harsh, that would otherwise cause pain in others. Right speech communicates Right View and Right Intention. According to Rinpoche, “When those two are reflected in our speech, right speech, then it becomes more profound, becomes more beneficial [and] causes us to develop harmonious relationships in our world.”

  4. Right Action:

    Right Action (or Right Discipline) is the manifestation of Right View and Right Intention through our actions. Right Action is action that creates benefit and avoids harm, pain or disharmony. According to Ponlop Rinpoche, “it can be basically understood as not causing suffering to others, and not harming others, and bringing some kind of benefit, insight and joy in others’ life through your action.”

  5. Right Livelihood:

    Right Livelihood involves bringing the dharma path into our work lives and our interactions in daily life. As Rinpoche has said “We have a whole eight hours [a day] to work on our spiritual journey…. Right Livelihood is working with…[our] living situations in a most direct and profound way and turning them around into a most positive, spiritual, sacred and profound way of living.”

  6. Right Effort:

    As Rinpoche has said “Right Effort …is connected to the idea of developing this sense of joy within us, a joy, a delight, in the path that we are pursuing here.” We take delight in engaging in the natural development of our effort to be of benefit that arises on our Buddhist path, the path of the Fourth Noble Truths.

  7. Right Mindfulness:

    Right Mindfulness involves a sense of precision. We bring the precision of the present moment to noticing our habitual tendencies and story lines that keep us stuck in samsara, so that we can transform them. According to Ponlop Rinpoche, “in this case, you’re looking at…developing a positive tendency to transform, to transcend the negative tendencies [and]…. noticing the flow of things in our everyday experience.”

  8. Right Meditation:

    Right Meditation (also called Right Samadhi or Right Absorption) is the direct experience of mind, moment to moment. According to Rinpoche, “This experience of Right Samadhi or Right Mediation is being grounded in the present moment, to relate with awareness of the moment and to develop a certain sense of trust, confidence and joy in experiencing the moment of nowness…. Right Samadhi combines the relationship [and experience] in our ordinary world with a deepening understanding of [our] own mind.”