This page presents the KUSZEu bylaws broken down clause-by-clause, allowing contributors to comment specifically on one part, or more. You are invited to make brief comments and suggestions for clarification, improvements, changes, or deletions. Please be aware that the broad outline, basis and form of the bylaws is now accepted by the KUSZEu sangha, ETG and Council, so suggestions to radically change them, or the organisational structure they set up, are not going to be useful. The Council and Bylaws Committee consider the present version almost as the definitive one and only minor changes or corrections will be accepted that are in accordance with its present spirit.

Please use the REPLY facility on each bylaws clause to make your comment on that clause only, rather than replying to another student’s previous comment or suggestion, as that facility is reserved for use by the Bylaws Committee to confirm the suggestion has been noted or acted on, or why not. Please keep your contributions brief and to the point. As usual, your contributions have to be moderated, but will usually appear within 24 hours. The moderators may shorten your suggestions or split them into several suggestions if they are over-long, in the interest of keeping the page as useful and focused as possible. No offence or censorship is intended.

If you wish to ask questions, or for clarification on the meaning of the bylaws or any part of them, please use the new Q&A page rather than trying to post questions on this page.


66 thoughts on “Suggestions”

  1. BYLAWS of the European Kwan Um School of Zen

    This bylaws were decided at the foundation meeting on … … …. {insert date} in ……….. {insert place}.
    It is intended to register the association into the register of associations of the magistrate’s court in Berlin, Germany.

  2. Preamble:
    In keeping with the mission of saving all beings, as formulated by Zen Master Seung Sahn, and based on his teaching and that of his Dharma heirs, the European Kwan Um School of Zen will guide and support all the KUSZ Sanghas in Europe, Russia, and Israel.

  3. § 1 Name
    The name of the association is “The Kwan Um School of Zen /Europe e.V. ” (KUSZEu). This includes the European continent, Russia and Israel

    Seat: The seat is in Berlin, Germany.

    Calendar Year: The calendar year shall be the business year

  4. § 2 The Teaching Tradition

    §2(1) of the Kwan Um School of Zen traces its roots as follows: Buddhism began in India; from India it spread to China; from China it traveled to Korea; from Korea it has come to the West through Zen Master Seung Sahn, 78th Patriarch in the direct Zen lineage tracing back to Buddha Shakyamuni.

  5. §2(2) The Kwan Um School of Zen was founded by Zen Master Seung Sahn at Providence, Rhode Islands, USA in 1978 and spread to Europe through his teachings in Europe during the following years.

  6. §2(3) The Kwan Um School of Zen has an elected School Zen Master as the spiritual head for the worldwide school. The School Zen Master is elected by all the regional Teachers Groups composed of the authorized Zen Masters (Soen Sa Nim) and Dharma Masters (Ji Do Poep Sa Nim) in Asia, Americas, Africa, Australia and Europe.

  7. §2(4) The interconnectedness and integration of the KUSZEu within the worldwide school is ruled in the Teachers Compact, which is endorsed by all authorized Zen Masters and Dharma Masters worldwide.

  8. §2(5) The Regional Head Zen Master in Europe is elected by the European Board of Trustees, composed of the authorized Zen Masters and Dharma Masters residing in Europe.

  9. §2(6) The Zen Masters and Dharma Masters of our European Board of Trustees are the spiritual guides of the Sangha (community) in Europe, i.e. monks and nuns, dharma teachers, five precepts students and no precepts students.

  10. §2(7) The teaching authority for the Kwan Um School of Zen/ Europe is thus vested in the Regional Head Zen Master and the Zen Masters and Dharma Masters in Europe, who together form the Board of Trustees. They will observe the teaching forms approved by Zen Master Seung Sahn, the School Zen Master and the Regional Head Zen Masters. They will also be in contact with the other regional Teacher Groups in Asia, Americas, Australia and Africa.

    • The future tense in “They will observe the teaching forms approved by Zen Master Seung Sahn, the School Zen Master and the Regional Head Zen Masters. They will also be in contact with the other regional Teacher Groups in Asia, Americas, Australia and Africa.” should be replaced with “supposed to” or just present tense.

      • ● This is not a future tense, predicting what the masters “will” do. It is the courteous imperative saying what they “shall” do, more polite than saying they “should” do it or “must” do it. – EO, view/opinion

  11. §2(8) This Teaching Tradition is the base of our Zen practice inside the European Sangha. The administrative body as laid out in these bylaws are designed to support the teaching and practice of Zen in the European Sangha of the KUSZ.

  12. § 3 Goals of the Kwan Um School of Zen /Europe (KUSZEu)

    It is the goal of the association

    §3(1) to follow the above teaching tradition and principles thus forming the region Europe of the Kwan Um School of Zen called The Kwan Um School of Zen /Europe (KUSZEu)

  13. §3(2) to form a non-profit association umbrella to band together the Kwan Um School of Zen Sangha in Europe, Russia and Israel with all its local Sanghas organized in temples, centers and groups and corporate bodies of local Sanghas, organized in national Sanghas

  14. §3(3) to support the KUSZEu member Sanghas, and their members, i.e. students, teachers, monks and nuns, in their effort to practice meditation, to offer Zen meditation practice and retreats and to provide the study and the spreading of our Buddhist teaching

  15. §3(4) to support the founding, construction and development of Kwan Um School of Zen temples, centers and groups in Europe as well as Buddhist temples, monasteries and Zen centers worldwide

    §3(5) to support charity projects worldwide

  16. §3(6) to become part of an international association of the Kwan Um School of Zen if such an association is appropriate and constituted legally. This entry must be done if the above goals of the KUZSEu are also the goals of the international association and their non-profit character is approved.

  17. § 4 Non Profit Guidelines

    §4(1) The association pursues only the non-profit guidelines outlined in the German law: Abschnitte “Steuerbegünstigte Zwecke” der Abgabenordnung 1977 (§§52 ff AO) in the current version. The association acts purely in an altruistic manner and does not primarily pursue commercial purposes of its own.

  18. §4(2) Capital funds of the association can be spent only for purposes stated in the articles of the association. The members do not receive or are paid from the capital funds of the association. No person can receive payment for administration tasks, which do not serve the purpose of the association, or through a disproportional high allowance.

  19. §5 Membership

    §5(1) All local and national Sanghas in Europe, Russia and Israel, respectively its corporate bodies, who want to become part of the KUSZEu and who agree with the teachings, purposes and tasks of this association can apply for membership.

    §5(2) Each local Sangha can become part of the KUSZEu directly or in case it is part of a corporate body then through its corporate body.

  20. §5(3) The European Sangha of the KUSZEu is therefore composed of local Sanghas organized in Zen centers, Zen groups and Zen temples as well as national Kwan Um Schools of Zen corporate bodies, each of which is organized and administrated independently through abbots, group leaders and directors, especially in all matters concerning
    a. its structure of administration
    b. its organization of its board of directors and other positions in the Sangha
    c. its local finances, public relation work and activities
    d. its choice of venue and dates of its activities

  21. §5(4) Only those local and national Sanghas which geographically are part of Europe, Russia or Israel can become members of the KUSZEu. They should not and cannot be member of another KUSZ organization. Membership applications from Sanghas outside these regions/countries will be refered to those KUSZ organizations responsible for this region.

    • A serious problem with this clause is that a group, center or national sangha within the geographic region of Europe+Russia+Israel may not like the bylaws or for some other reason may want to be part of the international school but not of KUSZEu.

  22. §5(5) The local or national Sangha must apply for membership in order to become part of the KUSZEu.
    a. Individuals cannot become members, except for
    a.i. the authorized Zen Masters and Dharma Masters, who are forming the Board of Trustees
    a.ii. Honorary members, who are defined by the Board of Trustees
    b. Each affiliated Zen center, Zen group, Zen temple or the national corporate body of the KUSZEu has a representative in the Meeting of Members, who is proposed by the local or national Sangha and approved by its Guiding Teacher, respectively the national Guiding Teachers Group.

  23. §5(6) Admission process for local and national Sanghas who seek to be affiliated with the KUSZEu:
    a. Written application for admission addressed to the Board of Trustees, to the Council or to the European Office
    b. Every local Sangha must have a Guiding Teacher or the support of a teacher who is approved by the Board of Trustees
    c. The application will be granted by the Council and the admission will be confirmed by the Board of Trustees in its annual meeting.

  24. §5(7) Termination of the membership
    a The withdrawal of the membership needs written application
    b. The Council and the European Office need to accept and confirm the legitimacy of the application and investigates whether it represents the wish of the majority of the Sangha
    c. The acknowledgement of the termination is given by the Meeting of Members after their annual meeting

  25. §5(8) The association can exclude members if they act against the goals of the association or if they don’t comply with the teachings, rules and responsibilities.
    a. The Guiding Teacher or the Council declare the reason for the possible exclusion and inform the member in written form
    b. They ask the member to correct the problems in a certain period of time and to comply with the rules, teachings and responsibilities
    c. The affected member may object to the exclusion within three weeks by registered mail to the European Office
    d. If the affected member does not comply within the time limit the European Office can order the suspension for a certain period of time or the exclusion
    e. The Meeting of Members needs to confirm the final decision on their annual meeting.

  26. §5(9) In case of termination of the membership or exclusion, and in case of the closing of a local Sangha, or because of their separation from the KUSZEu, the KUSZEu lay claim to all assets, capital funds and donations gained through being a member in the KUSZEu. In order to avoid conflicts, the local Sangha and its Guiding Teacher should have agreed on an individual contract that clarifies how the possession of the local Sangha has to be split in case of termination or exclusion. This contract has to be filed by the European Office. Otherwise the current regulation of the European Office regarding termination or exclusion of members will be applied.

  27. §6 Rules and responsibilities of members

    The member

    §6(1) complies with the teachings, goals and purposes of this association, and foster the practice, studies and propagation of Zen Buddhism as taught by Zen Master Seung Sahn and his authorized masters. The member shall within the limits of their own resources
    a. help other members and the KUSZEu in cases of distress
    b. offer all authorized Zen Masters and Dharma Masters as well as every monk or nun of the KUSZEu, of their regional partners in Asia, Africa, Australia and USA or of the Jogye Order accommodation, food, clothes and medicine

    • This is translated message from from Karel Beinstein

      Dear sangha,

      I agree with the point that we should help each other. However the point 6(1)b looks to me very over standard. Concerning Zen masters and Dharma masters, I feel that sufficient and meaningful to support own Guiding Teacher but not all masters. Concerning monks, I feel appropriate to support only the monks that we have invited, not all monks.

      Karel Beinstein

  28. §6(2) conducts regular meditation classes, public talks and meditation retreats

    §6(3) is represented in the Meeting of Members. The representative is authorized to use the members’ right to vote.

    §6(4) respect and follow the teachings and directions of their Guiding Teachers

  29. §6(5) must have a group leader, an abbot or a speaker, who is appointed by the Guiding Teacher. Besides this all Sanghas which are organized as corporate bodies will have their administrative structure according to their individual bylaws

    §6(6) must denominate contact persons who are responsible for all administrative issues like financial and public relation

  30. §6(7) pay membership fees

    §6(8) must issue a declaration, which is legally binding and in accordance with its national law, that in case of termination or exclusion of the membership it will fulfill its obligations regarding §5(9)

    §6(9) must aspire to a non-profit-status as defined in § 4 or must at least manage their administration accordingly

  31. §6(10) have the right to get help from the Council or from the European Head Zen Master in case of conflicts within their Sangha or with the Guiding Teacher

    §6(11) have the right to refer ethical problems to the Ethics Committee which is appointed by the Board of Trustees

  32. §6(12) can ask for organisational or financial help through the association

    §6(13) must comply and follow with the guidelines of the Council and with the administrative work of the European Office

  33. §6(14) The practitioners of Sanghas affiliated as a member of the KUSZEu are granted reduced fees in all retreats and activities of the KUSZEu and its regional partners in Asia, Africa, Australia and in the US. Accordingly the members offer reduced fees for their retreats and activities to all individuals who belong to the KUZSEu or its regional partners in Asia, Africa, Australia and in the US.

  34. §6(15) Each Sangha of the KUSZEu must have and will have a Guiding Teacher who
    a. is the spiritual guide of the Sangha
    b. is connecting the local Sanghas with the teaching tradition of the KUSZEu.
    c. is proposed by the local Sanghas and approved and appointed by the Board of Trustees. National Sanghas (national corporate bodies) may have national Guiding Teachers Groups

    • I agree that the local sangha can propose its Guiding Teacher (GT) but I suggest that the Board of Trustees just approve the GT to the Head Zen Master who appoints him/her. If the Board of Trustees doesn’t approve the proposed guiding teacher, the Head Zen Master can apply his right of veto with immediate effect under §8(9). §8(4) relates here.

  35. §6(15) (continued) … a Guiding Teacher who
    d. is in close contact with the Sangha members and helps and guides them in their Zen practice
    e. communicates the Sangha’s needs into the Board of Trustees, and informs and explains the Trustees’ resolutions to the Sangha
    f. supervises the compliance of all decisions made by the KUSZEu on the local Sangha levels with the help of the European Office

  36. §6(15) (continued) … a Guiding Teacher who
    g. is the first to whom the Sangha can address complaints and receives appeals regarding problems with decisions made by the KUSZEu
    h. advises the local Sanghas at all points, and can demand clarification from the local Sanghas representatives in every respect

  37. §6(15) (continued) … a Guiding Teacher who
    i. can demand changes on local levels in case the local Sanghas representatives contradict the purposes and goals of the KUSZEu or in case they do not comply with decisions made by the KUSZEu
    j. approves the acceptability of Sangha members who want to take precepts
    k. appoints the local Sanghas group leader or abbot/abbess.

    • My point of view about 5 precepts (par. 6/15j) is that 5 precepts is exclusively a personal issue – people take 5 precepts for their own spiritual guidance (as is written also in the Dharma Mirror). In the same Dharma Mirror there are two requirements only (participation in one 7-day YMJJ or two 3-day YMJJs and have their own short bowing robe).
      I suggest we should not intervene in any way in this personal decision of people or our members. 10 precepts (DT) and more is OK to be approved by GT because to become the Dharma Teacher is not personal only but it concerns and affects whole Kwan Um Sangha.

    • I agree that a GT should approve Sangha members for taking 10 and more precepts, local Sangha Abbot can be able to approve 5 precepts students and consult with GT who has the right of veto in a specific case (if he knows the person and believes that the student is not ready).

      • The bylaws latest draft incorporates your suggestion:
        “j. approves the acceptability of Sangha members who want to take 10 or more precepts”. — ZMJK + EO

  38. § 7 Bodies

    The bodies of the association are the

    Board of Trustees (§8)
    Meeting of Members (§9)
    Council (§10)
    European Office (EO) (§11)
    Sangha Convention (§12)
    Committees (§13)

  39. § 8 Board of Trustees

    The Board of Trustees is the governing body of the association and responsible for the alignment with the teaching traditions as outlined in § 2.

    Board of Trustees

    §8(1) consists of all teachers in our teaching tradition who are authorized Zen Masters and Dharma Masters residing and teaching regularly in Europe, Russia and Israel

    §8(2) is responsible that all goals of this association are observed

    §8(3) provides support, guidance and help to all Sanghas in the KUSZEu in accordance with the teachings, purposes and goals of this association

    §8(4) approves and appoints the Guiding Teachers for its members from its group

    §8(5) elects the European Head Zen Master from among themselves. Determine the appropriate election rules

    §8(6) meets at least once a year

    §8(7) can make decisions in meetings and by electronic votes

    §8(8) makes its decisions according to the majority vote of its members present

  40. The European Head Zen Master is part of the Board of Trustees. He or she is the spiritual head of the association; the Vice Head Zen Master, who is also elected by the Board of Trustees immediately takes the place of the Head Zen Master in case he is ill or passes away.

    The European Head Zen Master

    §8(9) does not vote in the Board of Trustees. However, notwithstanding anything to the contrary elsewhere in these bylaws, the European Head Zen Master shall have the right to veto any vote taken by the Board of Trustees, by the Meeting of Members or by the Council in or within sixty (60) days from the date of documented transmission of the vote. If such a veto does not occur by delivery of written notice (electronic) of the veto to the Meeting of Members or to the Council, such veto shall be of no force and effect

    §8(10) can transfer parts of his obligations and powers to a representative such as the Vice Head Zen Master or to the Council, particularly if he/she is absent for a longer period of time

  41. § 9 The Meeting of Members

    The Meeting of Members is the assembly of the members’ representatives, who convene in the general meeting of the association.

    The Meeting of Members

    §9(1) consists of all individual members as well as the representatives of the member Sanghas

    §9(2) happens annually. The invitation to the Meeting of Members shall be made by the Council at least one month in advance by written notice to all members in electronic form, a proposed agenda being enclosed

    §9(3) resolves the agenda. Additions to the proposed agenda shall require the majority of the votes of the members present at the meeting

    §9(4) shall have a quorum regardless of the number of members in attendance
    a. Unless stipulated otherwise, a motion shall be deemed passed, if more votes are yes than no.
    b. The following resolutions need an absolute majority of yes votes for approval:
    b.a.i. changes of the amount of the membership contribution
    b.a.ii. changes to the power of the votes of the members
    c. amendments of the bylaws need two thirds of yes votes
    d. changing §§ 2 and 3 requires a quorum of four-fifths majority of the members and a four-fifths majority vote of the members present

    • §9(4) states, that the power of the votes could be adjusted. What are the intended values of power or why they are supposed to differ from 1? I can imagine that the powers could be both useful and misused. This could be an issue of the first meeting of members, but there should be at least starting values of the powers known before.

  42. ( §9 continued)
    The Meeting of Members

    §9(5) has, in particular, the following responsibilities:
    a. elects the Council. Determines the appropriate election rules
    b. approves the business and treasury reports of the Council and the European Office
    c. formally approves the Council´s and European Office´s actions
    d. approves the amount of the membership contribution
    e. approves the power of the votes of the members, if appropriate
    f. decides amendments of the bylaws
    g. informs the local or national Sanghas about all decisions through the Guiding Teachers and representatives
    h. dissolves the association pursuant to § 14.

    §9(6) Minutes shall be drawn up on the resolutions of the Meeting of Members. A member who is keeping the minutes and the head of the Council shall sign the minutes.

  43. §10 Council

    The Council forms the management committee of the association according to the rule of German law. It legally represents the Kwan Um School of Zen /Europe e.V.

    The Council

    §10(1) consists of three teachers elected by the Meeting of Members. The Meeting of Members can choose new elections every three years

    §10(2) chooses one of the Council members to head it. This head can be named The European Abbot/Abbess or The chairman or speaker of the association

    §10(3) meets through internet communication or in person once a month or more often, as needed

    §10(4) guides the actions and direction of the association. Day-to-day matters of the KUSZEu in Europe, Russia and Israel and management issues are considered, and courses of action chosen

  44. (§10 continued)

    The Council

    §10(5) reports and refers matters to the Meeting of Members, the Board of Trustees and to the European Head Zen Master

    §10(6) sends regular reports to the Board of Trustees and to the Meeting of Members

    §10(7) acts for the association and represents it to the outside as well as to its regional partners in Asia, Africa, Australia and in the US

    §10(8) appoints the members of the European Office and guides their work

    §10(9) has authority over the European Office.

  45. §11 The European Office

    The European Office of the Kwan Um School of Zen /Europe exists to administrate the association and serve its members.

    The European Office

    §11(1) is the operational and executive board for KUSZEu, with members appointed by the Council

    §11(2) is a team composed of 3-6 Sangha members, who work closely with the Council and are guided by them

    §11(3) staff has job assignments according to the areas for which they are each responsible, like office director, financial director, records director, Internet director as well as personnel for communications and media, if needed


    • The EO… “is a team composed of 3-6 Sangha members…” Best to leave out the “3-6”, in case the EO ever gets down to 2 again, or up to 7.

  46. (§11 continued)

    The European Office

    §11(4) informs the local and national Sanghas and the Sangha Convention as well as individual Sangha members if appropriate about all decisions taken in the various boards of this association through email messages or through the Guiding Teachers or representatives

    §11(5) reports regularly to the Council and once a year to the Meeting of Members during their annual meeting

    §11(6) can appeal to the European Head Teacher as the arbitration body in case of problems with the Council

    §11(7) makes its decisions as a team or according to the majority of votes. In case of a tie of votes the head of the office functions as the tie breaker.

  47. § 12 Sangha Convention

    The Sangha Convention of the Kwan Um School of Zen /Europe is a forum and a meeting of senior students and Sangha deputies who form the advisory board to the other bodies of the KUSZEu.

    The Sangha Convention

    §12(1) consists of all Senior Dharma Teachers of the KUSZEu, Sangha deputies of the KUSZEu and all Guiding Teachers. The latter have no right to vote in this assembly

    §12(2) appoints or votes for a head or a board which presides over its meetings

    §12(3) meets annually during the European Sangha meeting and keeps minutes from its sessions

    §12(4) discusses all matters which are important inside the Sangha. They exchange their views regarding innovations or changes, or in respect to new inputs, unresolved topics or voting processes

  48. (§12 continued)

    The Sangha Convention

    §12(5) participates/deals especially
    a. in all matters affecting local autonomy
    b. in financial and administrative issues which affect local structures
    c. with the minutes of the annual Meeting of Members
    d. with the record of the Board of Trustees
    Excluded are all spiritual matters and rules concerning the Zen practice

    §12(6) can hold a vote on matters which are disputed inside the Sangha Convention

    §12(7) presents their results to the appropriate bodies of the KUSZEu, who should consider them in their decisions

    §12(8) can ask to form a Committee (see § 13) in case complex topics cannot be solved inside the convention or in case the convention is not in favour of decisions from the Council or Board of Trustees

    §12(9) Each Sangha can delegate up to two deputies into the convention.

  49. § 13 Committees

    Committees serve the advancement of this association. They can be appointed to prepare decisions, provide advice or do various tasks.


    §13(1) are appointed by the Board of Trustees or by the Council, which define a clear assignment and identify the necessary resources as well as the responsibilities and decision powers

    §13(2) work temporary or for an unlimited period of time as defined by the Council

    §13(3) can consist of individual Sangha members who are students and teachers or only students or only teachers. External experts can be invited to a committee, if appropriate. Usually members to a committee are invited publicly in the whole Sangha

  50. (§13 continued)


    §13(4) are headed by an individual who is appointed by the Council. The head of a committee can decide about the composition of the committee in accordance with the Council. The head decides about the form (internet communication, email-, phone-conferences or in person) and the periods of its meetings and informs the Council, which can participate. The Council can change the head anytime, if it feels that it is necessary

    §13(5) decisions are taken by simple majority. The head breaks the tie

    §13(6) must respect the strategic decisions of the Board of Trustees and the Council

    §13(7) report to the Board of Trustees, to the Council or to the European Office as defined

  51. (§13 continued)


    §13(8) may counsel and advise the Board of Trustees, the Council or the European Office upon request

    §13(9) may help in specific areas, which need further investigation. Thus a committee may discuss and provide new ideas or propositions which may result in decisions by the Board of Trustees or the Council

    §13(10) might be appointed to deal with ethical issues, translate texts, prepare a teaching tour of a Zen Master through several countries, prepare new guidelines etc.

    §13(11) The Council or the European Office control the progress of the committees work and make sure that it is in line with the assignment and responsibilities as defined.

  52. § 14 Dissolution

    §14(1) Dissolution of the association requires a three-fourth majority of the present members at the Meeting of Members called especially for this purpose. By dissolving the the capital funds and assets of the association will be transferred to the non-profit organisation called The Kwan Um School of Zen /Americas or in absence of such an organisation to a charitable, non-profit purposes for the development of Buddhist teachings.

    §14(2) Decisions about the further use of the capital funds and assets of the association can only be administrated after the consent of the tax authorities.

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