Last update 16th of April 2023
- ‘Buddha’ is the historical person Siddharta Gotama, that lived in India about 2500 years ago. He established a teaching and practise which today is called Buddhism.
- ‘Dharma’ is the teaching of the Buddha, which describe cosmos and the nature of human beings, and a training towards wisdom and freedom.
- ‘Vinaya’ is written rules and procedures laid down by the Buddha to regulate the life of monks and nuns.
- ‘Sangha’ is the group of monks and nuns.
- ‘Monk’ is a male Buddhist Bhikkhu, that has full ordination and are living according to the Vinaya.
- ‘Nun’ is a female Buddhist Bhikkhuni, that has full ordination and are living according to the Vinaya.
- ‘Fastboende Sangha’ er munkene og nonnene som foreningen gir livsopphold til på et av foreningens senter.
- ‘Spirituell leder’ er daglig leder for et senter hvor sanghaen bor fast.
- ‘Constitution’ is the regulations of the association that governs the association, which only can be approved or changed by the Annual General Meeting or a Special General Meeting.
- ‘Guidelines ’ are instructions and advice that describe who should do various tasks, and how they are to be done, within the framework of the constitution. They are used, for example, by the association’s committee and management.
§1. Name and financial year
- The name of the society is: Oslo og Viken Buddhistforening, hereafter referred to as ‘the Society’.
- The financial year of the Society is from 1st of January to the next 31st of December.
§2. Type of Organisation – a non-profit organization
- The Society is an independent non-profit organization with members. Neither members nor anybody else can claim the wealth or the properties of the Society, or be responsible for the Society’s debt or other obligations.
- The wealth and properties of the Society must only be used to further the aims of the Society, and neither wealth nor properties can be given, directly or indirectly, to members or anybody else.
§3. Aims and Objectives
- The propagation of the Buddhist teachings in theory and in practice, with special focus on morals, meditation and wisdom in the Theravada tradition, where the Three Jewels, the Four Noble Truths and the Nobel Eightfold Path is central.
- To further existing and new teachings, and establish and maintain properties to make the teachings and practices available. Properties includes land, buildings and equipment.
- The activities shall be characterized by volunteerism, democracy, equality, honesty, loyalty, generosity and ethics.
- To promote this purpose by:
a. Allowing the Sangha to focus on its spiritual obligations, while the committee ensures that all operational and legal obligations are met.
b. Operating in a way that recognizes mutual dependence and responsibility for all activities in the Society.
c. Using donor-directed funds for the specific purposes for which they are given, as instructed in the Vinaya texts.
d. Establishing facilities for and support of the Sangha and its members, so that the Sangha can fulfil its obligations for self-development and teaching, and the members have access to the Society’s resources for spiritual development.
e. Establishing and maintaining, for the promotion of Buddhist teachings:
i. a Buddhist city centre in the central Eastern Norway area, where members have full control over the centre, and
ii. et buddhistisk retrettsenter, hvor Sanghaen bor og underviser, underlagt retningslinjene i Buddhas Vinaya i Pali-tekstene som blant annet omhandler Sanghaens eiendom og adferd, hvor Sanghaen har full kontroll over senteret på alle måter.
f. Cultivating co-operation with other Buddhist organisations having the same aims and objectives, and show tolerance for all Buddhist traditions and other religions.
g. The society must be part of a registered religious community.
h. Complying with §5 with respect to the Sangha.
In order to promote the Society’s aim and objectives, but not otherwise, the Society is authorized to:
- Buy, rent, lease or exchange land-property and buildings in Norway, as well as build, maintain and improve these.
- Invite Buddhist monks and nuns to live in the centre of the Society or elsewhere, for a period desired by both the Sangha and the invited monks or nuns.
- Provide all necessary material support, protection and necessities (including, but not limited to: food, residence, clothing and medicine) to monks and nuns invited by the association while living in Norway.
- Pay for travel expenses to Norway to monks and nuns invited by the Society, and the return trip back to their normal place of residence.
- Provide libraries and equipment necessary to write, translate, print, publish, distribute and sell such books and booklets that will be able to further the Society’s aims and objectives.
- Accept donations from people that the Society deems appropriate, or refuse to accept inappropriate monetary gifts.
- Issue appeals for donations, newsletters and reports on the work of the Society.
- Sell, exchange, buy or dispose of tangible and intangible assets belonging to the Society, and issue a receipt for money received by the Society.
- Prior to executing any decision to sell, exchange or dispose of real estate belonging to the Society, the committee shall have the decision ratified at a General Meeting, requiring a two-third (2/3) vote of the members.
- Borrow money or property at an appropriate interest rate, with or without security in the Society’s property, and to use this money for any activity in line with the Society’s aim and objectives.
- Rent, lease or temporarily acquire property for a period, at a cost and at conditions that the Society deems appropriate.
- Take out insurance against loss and damage, against fire or otherwise, for any insurance-eligible property belonging to the Society, and to buy any type of insurance including, but not limited to, home insurance, contents insurance, car insurance and embezzlement / crime insurance.
- Purchase and pay any agent, supplier or contractor to carry out work in accordance with the Society’s aim and objectives.
- Open and use a bank account in the Society’s name in any bank, and deposit all the Society’s money in such a bank account.
- Take the necessary legal steps or procedures to restore or protect the Society’s assets, and to adjust, clarify, settle or negotiate in any case or claim.
- Carry out all written communication digitally, preferably via e-mail and an internal office / cloud portal (intranet), including communication for the committee, Annual General Meetings and Special General Meetings.
- Do everything that the Society believes is necessary to promote the Society’s aim and objectives.
- The Sangha is an independent group in the Society that is to be governed according to the Buddha’s rules and procedures, described in the Vinaya texts. These procedures give the Sangha the full right to utilise properties and wealth given to them, the full right to decide their own activities and which monks and nuns they wish to invite into the resident Sangha. The spiritual leader represents the resident Sangha in the committee and during the Annual General Meeting, and is responsible for ensuring that the Sangha’s decisions do not violate laws and regulations, as well as internal rules and procedures in the Vinaya texts. The Spiritual leader is also responsible for keeping the Sangha within given financial limits.
- A monk or nun invited by the Sangha is part of the resident Sangha as long as he or she remains a member of the Sangha and lives in a centre belonging to the association.
- Every monk or nun who is ordained in a centre belonging to the Society is a resident monk or nun as long as he or she remains a member of the Sangha and lives in a centre belonging to the Society.
- Each centre for the Sangha belonging to the Society must elect a spiritual leader in line with tradition.
- When the committee receives the information from the Sangha about such an election, the board shall invite the elected member of the Sangha to accept the position of Spiritual Leader. If he or she were to accept the position, the Spiritual Leader should retain his or her position for the rest of his or her life, or until the spiritual leader himself or herself resigns from his or her position. Should the Society have several centres for the Sangha, each with its own spiritual leader, the constitution of the Society must be changed to deal with this.
- The association has three types of membership:
a. Full membership – is available to people over the age of 15 who take 1) refuge in the Buddha as the teacher, 2) refuge in the Dharma as the teaching, 3) refuge in the Sangha of ordained monks and nuns, and 4) who actively try to keep the five training rules. For full membership, one must be affiliated with the society’s religious community. Full membership gives a person the right to vote at General Meetings, and can be elected as a committee member. Full membership gives priority at retreats and events.
b. Ordinary membership – is available to people over 15 years of age with a looser relation to Buddhism. Membership in the society’s religious community is voluntary. Ordinary membership gives a person the right to vote at the annual meeting, and can be elected as a committee member. Ordinary membership gives priority at retreats and events.
c. Youth membership is available for those under 15 years of age. Membership in the society’s religious community is voluntary. Youth members do not have the right to vote at general meetings, and cannot sit on the society’s committee.
- In order for a person to be admitted as a member, he or she must accept and maintain the Society’s aims and constitution of Society, and have settled any financial obligations towards the Society.
- A person who wishes to become a member must apply in writing to the Society’s committee.
- The committee processes all applications for membership, and shall, following a decision, inform the applicant of the outcome as soon as practicable.
- The membership is only valid from the day the membership fee is paid.
- The committee may in special cases deny a person membership.
- Withdrawal of membership must be made in writing by e-mail, and takes effect when it is received.
- A membership cannot be transferred to another person.
- The Society may revoke the membership of a member, if the membership fee is not paid. Members who owe two years of fees are automatically deleted as a member.
- The committee may in special cases revoke a member of membership. Before making a decision, the person in question must be made aware of the background to the case and given a period of two weeks to comment. The decision must be in writing and substantiated, as well as inform about the way of appealing the decision.
- In the event of revoking the membership in accordance with section §6.10 above, the person in question may require that the decision must be dealt with on a Special or Annual General Meeting, and the person has the right to be present during the General Meeting’s dealing of the matter. The claim must be submitted within one week after the decision of revoked membership has been received.
- The association is obliged to keep books, and an annual account must be prepared which is adopted by the annual meeting. The annual accounts must be approved and signed by all committee members.
- The Society shall follow general legislation for accounting where applicable.
- The accounts with all documents, extra information and sub-documentation shall be kept in a safe manner for a minimum of 5 years after the end of the financial year.
- A bank account must be used by the Society, and a minimum of two committee memebers must have access to the bank account. The online bank must be set up so that two people must sign for payments from a bank account. The Society can obtain a bank card which, after approval by the committee, can be used by one or more committee members alone. The spiritual leader shall be one of those who shall have access to the bank accounts, shall be one of those who sign payments regarding the Sangha and have the right to use bank cards alone.
- The Society’s money usage must be careful, moderate and frugal.
§8. General Meeting
- Annual General Meeting in general.
a. The Annual General Meeting, which is held every year, is the Society’s highest authority, and is preferably held by the end of March.
b. The Annual General Meeting is convened by the committee with at least one month’s notice, directly to the members or by announcement in the press. Proposals to be dealt with at the Annual General Meeting must be sent to the committee no later than two weeks before the Annual General Meeting. A complete agenda must be available to members no later than one week before the Annual General Meeting. The Annual General Meeting may not deal with proposals that are not on the agenda, unless three quarters (3/4) of those present so calls for it.
c. In the event of convening to the General Meeting in violation of the constitution, the General Meeting decides, respectively, during approval of the notice and approval of the agenda, whether the General Meeting has been lawfully convened and whether there are matters that cannot be dealt with.
d. All members of the Society have the right to participate in General Meetings. The General Meeting may decide that other persons and/or media may be present, or that the General Meeting is only open to members and others with the right to attend.
e. The General Meeting can proceed if a number of voting members that at least corresponds to the number of committee members to be elected by the Annual General Meeting, turns up. If the General Meeting can not proceed, a new General Meeting may be convened without a requirement for minimum participation.
f. At the General Meeting, proposals for amendments to the constitution of the Society, that are not listed on the agenda that have been made available at the convening of the General Meeting, cf. §11, may not be dealt with. Other proposals can be dealt with when two thirds (2/3) of those present with the right to vote so decide, when approving the agenda.
g. Minutes shall be kept for the Annual and the Special General Meeting.
- The tasks of the General Meeting.
a. Select the moderator.
b. Approve the notice and the agenda.
c. Deal with the annual report.
d. Deal with the financial report.
e. Deal with the received proposals.
f. Determine the yearly membership fee.
g. Elect chairman of the committee, secretary, financial manager, and other committee members.
- Voting at the Annual General Meeting.
a. Unless otherwise provided in the constitution of association, a resolution shall, in order to be valid, be passed by a simple majority of the votes cast. No member has more than one vote, and no one can vote on behalf of others. Blank votes shall be deemed not to have been cast.
b. Elections take place in writing if there is more than one proposal or a request is made to make it in writing. Blank votes, or votes on proposals or candidates who are not nominated, do not count, and the votes are considered not cast.
c. Election of committee members shall take place individually, and if no candidate obtains more than half of the votes cast, re-election shall be held between the two candidates who have obtained the most votes. If there is a tie in the re-election of a candidate, the election is decided by drawing lots.
- Special General Meeting.
a. Special General Meetings are held when the committee so decides, or when at least one third (1/3) of the members so requires it. Notice is given in the same way as for Annual General Meetings, with at least 14 days’ notice.
b. A Special General Meeting (EGM) can only deal with and make a decision in the matters announced in the notice.
- The committee is the highest authority between the Annual General Meetings. The committee shall hold a meeting when the chairman of the committee or a majority of the committee members so requests. The committee must:
a. Implement General Meeting resolutions.
b. Appoint any sub-committees or persons who are to perform special tasks, and prepare guidelines for these.
c. Manage and maintain the necessary control of the Society’s finances in accordance with current guidelines.
d. Represent the Society externally.
e. Act as stewards for the Sangha, so that necessary activities that the Sangha cannot do under Vinaya are carried out, such as carrying out financial transactions.
f. Establish or change guidelines for the Society’s operations and activities, within the framework of the constitution.
g. Notwithstanding §9.1 f, and other provisions of the constitution: Before new guidelines can be adopted that affect or deal with the Sangha, or tangible or intangible assets that have been given for use by the Sangha, or that which the Sangha has the disposal of, the proposal must first approved by the Spiritual Leader.
- The committee consists of the Chairman, Secretary, Finance Manager, Board Member and Spiritual Leader.
- The committee can make decisions when a majority of the committee members are present. Spiritual Leader must be present for the committee to be able to make decisions. Decisions are made by a majority of the votes cast. In the event of a tie, the chairperson’s vote is decisive.
- All proposed resolutions of the committee must be approved by the Spiritual Leader before voting, and no proposed resolution is valid without the Spiritual Leader’s approval.
- If the Spiritual Leader does not approve a proposal for a resolution, and a majority of the committee members wish to proceed to adopt the proposal, the committee may
a. Convene a Special General Meeting to vote on the proposal.
b. Forward the proposal to the next Annual General Meeting for voting.
c. If the Annual or Special General Meeting votes in favour of the resolution, the committee shall implement the proposal.
- Minutes shall be kept of the committee meeting.
- When electing members to the committee, the association shall prioritize people with full membership. Persons with ordinary membership can also sit on the committee, after approval from the annual meeting.
- A condition for being elected to the committee, with the exception of the first two years, is that the person must have been a member for 24 months before the date of the election. The committee may set aside this condition in exceptional situations.
- A member may not sit on the committee for more than 3 consecutive years. This applies even in the event of a change to a new committee position. Exceptions are made for the Spiritual Leaders who must add competence, long-term perspective and continuity.
- Committee members may receive reimbursement for necessary, actual expenses incurred in relation to his or her position in the committee.
- The Chairman of the Committee and the Spiritual Leader jointly hold the right to sign formal documents.
§11, may not be dealt with. Amendments to the Constitution and adjustments in the early phase
- Amendments to the association’s constitution can only be made at a Special or Annual General Meeting after having been listed on the agenda when notice is received, and a two-third (2/3) majority of the votes cast is required.
- In the early phase after the Society’s start-up, while the Society still has very few members, requirements in the constitution can be temporarily relaxed or adjusted, to reflect the Society’s nature. This can, for example, apply to the number of people on the committee, and external representation. However, this does not apply to requirements regarding finances or General Meetings.
§12. Dissolution or winding up of the Society
- Dissolution of the Society can only be dealt with at the Annual General Meeting, and the proposal for dissolution of the Society must be listed on the agenda that has been made available in a notice when convening for the Annual General Meeting. Dissolution of the Society requires a four-fifths (4/5) majority.
- The Society’s assets shall, after dissolution and debt settlement, be given to an organisation having aims and objectives in line with the association, by giving the net assets to the Buddhist Federation of Norway, or another national federation at the time of the Society’s dissolution.