Code of Ethics
Portland Insight Meditation Community Code of Ethics
Ethical Standards for Harmonious Community Life.
For Teachers, and Community Program Leaders or Facilitators supported by PIMC.
We recognize that the foundation of spiritual life rests upon our mindful and caring relationship to the life around us. We acknowledge that without the support of monastic vows and Asian customs, we have a need for clear Western guidelines. In keeping with this understanding, and for the long-term benefit of ourselves and the community at large, we, as Teachers, Program Leaders and facilitators agree to uphold the five lay training precepts. Furthermore, we have specifically expanded the scope of these five precepts to make them explicitly appropriate to our role as leaders of the Dharma in our specific cultural setting. The Portland Insight teachers, leaders and facilitators have thus agreed to the following guidelines: (Adapted from Spirit Rock and IMS)
First Precept: We undertake the training to refrain from harming living beings.
In undertaking this precept we acknowledge the interconnection of all beings and our respect for all life. We agree to refine our understanding of not killing and non-harming in all our actions. We seek to understand the implication of this precept in such difficult areas as abortion, euthanasia and vegetarianism. We all commit ourselves to fulfilling this precept in the spirit of reverence for life.
In community life we agree to not cause harm by using our authority, power or position for personal gain or to meet unwholesome emotional needs. We agree to be mindful of our rank and power and to behave in ways that do not undermine people’s confidence in the Dharma. We will honor the dignity of students by respecting students’ values, culture, conscience, and spirituality.
We recognize the inherent imbalance of power in the student- teacher relationship and take care not to exploit it. Teachers and program leaders assume responsibility for continuing personal growth and deepening dharma practice. They agree to nurture self-knowledge and freedom, and cultivate insight into the influences of culture, social-historical context, race, gender, ability, sexuality, age, environmental setting, etc. We agree to receive occasional supervision from either peers or a mentor.
* See footnote below for teachers that are also therapists.
Second Precept: We undertake the training to refrain from taking what is not freely offered.
We agree to not take that which does not belong to us and to respect the property of others. We agree to bring consciousness to the use of all of the earth’s resources in a respectful and ecological way. We agree to be honest in our dealing with money and not to misappropriate money committed to Dharma projects. We agree to offer teachings without favoritism in regard to the student's financial circumstances.
Third Precept: We undertake the training to refrain from sexual misconduct.
We agree to avoid creating harm through sexuality and to avoid sexual exploitation or relationships of a sexual manner that are outside of the bounds of the relationship commitments we have made to another or that involve another who has made vows to another. Teachers, leaders and facilitators in committed relationships will honor their vows and refrain from adultery. All teachers and any PIMC leader, facilitator or ongoing volunteer agrees not to use their formal role at PIMC to exploit their authority and position in order to assume a sexual relationship with a student or any community member.
*Because several teachers or leaders in sangha communities have developed partnerships and marriages with former students, we acknowledge that such a healthy relationship can be possible, but that great care and sensitivity are needed. We agree that in this case the following guidelines are crucial.
• A sexual relationship is never appropriate between teachers or leaders and students.
• During retreats or 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 retreat. A minimum time period of three months or longer 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.
Fourth Precept: We undertake the training to refrain from false speech.
We agree to speak that which is true and useful and to refrain from gossip in our community. We agree to hold in confidence what is explicitly told to us in confidence. We agree to cultivate conscious and clear communication, and to cultivate the quality of loving-kindness and honesty as the basis of our speech. We agree to speak up or seek appropriate consultation when remaining silent may cause harm to self or others, and to keep silent when words are likely to cause harm.
Fifth Precept: We undertake the training to refrain from the misuse of intoxicants.
It is clear that substance abuse is the cause of tremendous suffering. We agree that there should be no use of intoxicants during retreats or while on retreat premises (or at any PIMC programs). We agree not to abuse or misuse intoxicants at any time. We agree that if any teacher or leader has a drug or alcohol addiction problem, it should be immediately addressed by the teacher council.
*For teachers who are also professional psychotherapists, there can sometimes be a lack of clarity when a student requests a dharma consult with them, particularly if requested to meet with the teacher in an ongoing manner. It is up to the teacher/psychotherapist to determine with the student what the primary focus of their dyadic engagement is, and to keep that focus intact for the duration of their meeting time. If this focus shifts over time from a dharma consult into more of a psychotherapeutic process or vice versa, it is the teacher/therapist’s responsibility to address this as soon as possible, and either refer the student elsewhere or mutually agree to re-contract their current relationship. While each discipline influences the other, it is the responsibility of the teacher/psychotherapist to assess and adhere to their primary consciously agreed upon role with the student and/or client. Psychotherapy clients may attend classes and or retreats given by the teacher if determined to be beneficial by both parties. If a student requests psychotherapeutic services from a teacher who is also a psychotherapist, a professional assessment must be made by the therapist as to the appropriateness of shifting into a psychotherapeutic relationship with a student. They should mutually agree upon the necessary boundaries and parameters such a professional relationship entails.