Code of Ethics
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.
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.
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.
Spiritual guides are to practice and serve in ways that cultivate
awareness, empathy, and wisdom.
[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.
[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.
shall make reasonable preparations to protect each participant's
health and safety during spiritual practices and in the periods
of vulnerability 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.
[Competence] Spiritual guides shall assist with only those practices
for which they are qualified by personal experience and by training
[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 open 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
[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.
[Fair Exchange] Spiritual practices are to be conducted in the
spirit of service. Spiritual guides shall strive to accommodate
participants at a fair and reasonable price, always offering
more in value than is received.
[Tolerance] Spiritual guides shall practice openness and respect
towards people whose beliefs are in apparent contradiction to
[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.
© 1995 - 2001 Council on Spiritual Practices
San Francisco, CA 94146-0820
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