Code of Ethics for Spiritual Guides

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Posted by Deb on June 15, 2000 at 15:57:03 from

Code of Ethics for Spiritual Guides

People have long sought to enrich their lives and to
awaken to their full natures through spiritual practices
including prayer, meditation, mind-body disciplines,
service, ritual, community liturgy, holy-day and seasonal
observances, and rites of passage. "Primary religious
practices" are those intended, or especially likely, to bring
about exceptional states of consciousness such as the
direct experience of the divine, of cosmic unity, or of
boundless awareness.

In any community, there are some who feel called to
assist others along spiritual paths, and who are known as
ministers, rabbis, pastors, curanderas, shamans, priests,
or other titles. We call such people 'guides': those
experienced in some practice, familiar with the terrain,
and who act to facilitate the spiritual practices of others. A
guide need not claim exclusive or definitive knowledge of
the terrain.

Spiritual practices, and especially primary religious
practices, carry risks. Therefore, when an individual
chooses to practice with the assistance of a guide, both
take on special responsibilities. The Council on Spiritual
Practices proposes the following Code of Ethics for those
who serve as spiritual guides.

1.[Intention] Spiritual guides are to practice and
serve in ways that cultivate awareness, empathy,
and wisdom.

2.[Serving Society] Spiritual practices are to be
designed and conducted in ways that respect the
common good, with due regard for public safety,
health, and order. Because the increased
awareness gained from spiritual practices can
catalyze desire for personal and social change,
guides shall use special care to help direct the
energies of those they serve, as well as their own,
in responsible ways that reflect a loving regard for
all life.

3.[Serving Individuals] Spiritual guides shall respect
and seek to preserve the autonomy and dignity of
each person. Participation in any primary religious
practice must be voluntary and based on prior
disclosure and consent given individually by each
participant while in an ordinary state of
consciousness. Disclosure shall include, at a
minimum, discussion of any elements of the
practice that could reasonably be seen as
presenting physical or psychological risks. In
particular, participants must be warned that
primary religious experience can be difficult and
dramatically transformative.

Guides shall make reasonable preparations to
protect each participant's health and safety during
spiritual practices and in the vulnerable periods
that may follow. Limits on the behaviors of
participants and facilitators are to be made clear
and agreed upon in advance of any session.
Appropriate customs of confidentiality are to be
established and honored.

4.[Competence] Spiritual guides shall assist with
only those practices for which they are qualified by
personal experience and by training or education.

5.[Integrity] Spiritual guides shall strive to be aware
of how their own belief systems, values, needs,
and limitations affect their work. During primary
religious practices, participants may be especially
vulnerable to suggestion, manipulation, and
exploitation; therefore, guides pledge to protect
participants and not to allow anyone to use that
vulnerability in ways that harm participants or

6.[Quiet Presence] To help safeguard against the
harmful consequences of personal and
organizational ambition, spiritual communities are
usually better allowed to grow through attraction
rather than active promotion.

7.[Not for Profit] Spiritual practices are to be
conducted in the spirit of service. Spiritual guides
shall strive to accommodate participants without
regard to their ability to pay or make donations.

8.[Tolerance] Spiritual guides shall practice
openness and respect towards people whose
beliefs are in apparent contradiction to their own.

9.[Peer Review] Each guide shall seek the counsel
of other guides to help ensure the wholesomeness
of his or her practices and shall offer counsel when
there is need.

This draft for public comment was released 15 November
1999. The current version is available on the Internet at

Copyright 1995 - 1999 Council on Spiritual Practices

Box 460820
San Francisco, CA 94146-0820

Permission is hereby given to reprint this Code, provided
that the text is reproduced complete and verbatim,
including the CSP contact information, copyright, and this
notice of limited permission to reprint.

Your comments are invited and will be considered for
future revisions. Endorsements of the Code are also

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