Ethical Standards

We recognize that the foundation of spiritual life is based on providing a welcoming environment that rests upon our mindful and caring relationship to the life around us.  In keeping with this understanding, and for the long-term benefit of ourselves and the community at large, we recognize the need for clear ethical guidelines for western Dharma practice. The Bhavana Community agrees to uphold the five lay training precepts.  

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 the killing of pets.  While some of us recommend vegetarianism, and others do not, we all commit ourselves to fulfilling this precept in the spirit of reverence for life. No weapons are permitted at any Bhavana Community program.

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 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. Individuals with vows of celibacy will live according to their vows. Individuals in committed relationships will honor their vows and refrain from adultery. All participants agree not to exploit their authority and position in order to assume a sexual relationship with a student or any community member.

The following guidelines are crucial to student-teacher relationships.  A sexual relationship is never appropriate between teachers 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 speech that is false, divisive, abusive, untimely or idle.

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 if remaining silent may cause harm to self or others.

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 Bhavana Community Programs.  We agree not to abuse or misuse intoxicants at any time.