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Teacher Code of Ethics

13 Oct 2015   Shanti Gowans

All teachers must recognise that an integrated spiritual life rests upon the mindful and caring relationship to the life around them. Without the support of monastic vows and traditional customs, teachers need clear, lay-person guidelines.

In keeping with this understanding, and for the long-term benefit of themselves and the community at large, lay teachers must agree to uphold vital spiritual precepts. Furthermore, the scope of these precepts must expand to make them explicitly appropriate to the role of the spiritual teachers in thier specific cultural setting. Thus teachers must agree to the following guidelines:

Nonviolence - in thought, word and deed

This encompasses the commitment of refraining from killing.

In undertaking this precept teachers acknowledge the interconnection of all beings and a fundamental respect for all life.

As a teacher, you must agree to refine your understanding of not killing and non-harming in all your actions, and seek to understand the implications of this precept in difficult areas such as abortion, euthanasia, and the killing of pets. While some teachers recommend vegetarianism, and others do not, all must commit themselves to fulfilling this precept in the spirit of reverence for life. 


This encompasses the commitment and agreement to not take that which does not belong to you and to respect the property of others.

As a teacher you must agree to bring consciousness to the use of all of the earth’s resources in a respectful and ecological way, and to be honest in your dealing with money so as not to misappropriate money committed to spiritual projects and duties. Teachers must agree to offer teachings without favouritism in regard to a student’s financial circumstances. 


As a teacher you must undertake the precept of Truth, and agree to refrain from false speech. Agree to speak that which is true and useful, and to refrain from gossip in your community. Agree to hold in confidence what is explicitly told to you in confidence and to cultivate conscious and clear communication. Cultivate the quality of loving-kindness and honesty as the basis of your speech. 

Non-misuse of sexuality

As a teacher you must undertake the precept of refraining from sexual misconduct and agree to avoid creating harm through sexuality, to avoid sexual exploitation, or relationships of a sexual manner that are outside of the bounds of the relationship commitments you have made to another, or that involve another who has made vows to another. Teachers with vows of celibacy must live according to their vows. Teachers in committed relationships must honour their vows and refrain from adultery.

All teachers must agree not to use their teaching role to exploit their authority and position in order to assume a sexual relationship with a student.

Whilst you might acknowledge that a healthy relationship with a former student can be possible, but great care and sensitivity are needed. You must agree, that in this case, that the following guidelines are crucial.
• A sexual relationship is never appropriate between teachers and students.
• During formal teaching, any intimation of future student-teacher romantic or sexual relationship is inappropriate.
• If interest in a genuine and committed relationship develops over time between a single teacher and a student, the student-teacher relationship must clearly and consciously have ended before any further development toward a romantic relationship.
• Such a relationship must be approached with restraint and sensitivity. In no case should it occur immediately after formal teaching or a retreat. A minimum time period of two years from the last formal teaching between them, and a clear understanding from both parties that the student-teacher relationship has ended, must be coupled with a conscious commitment to enter into a relationship that brings no harm to either party.  

Non Greed

All teachers must undertake the precept of refraining from intoxicants that cause heedlessness or loss of awareness. It is clear that substance abuse is the cause of tremendous suffering. Teachers must agree that there should be no use of intoxicants during their tenure of teaching, while on retreats or while on teaching or retreat premises. Teachers must agree not to abuse or misuse intoxicants at any time. If any teacher has a drug or alcohol addiction problem, it should be immediately addressed by the community, and the teacher must seek professional help.


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About Shantiji

Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.

Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography

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