482.1 The Ethics of Teacher-Student Romantic Relationships

  • The Association for Spiritual Integrity does not have a moralistic, judgmental orientation. It’s a community endeavor. We don’t agree among ourselves on certain points. We’re trying to balance our subjective perspectives with standards that fit our contemporary culture.
  • A key point of disagreement is the issue of teacher-student romantic/sexual relationships. None of us are rigid or adamant in our opinions. We’re trying to work it out.
  • There are exceptions to every generality. In graduate school, psychotherapists are taught that it will never be appropriate for therapists and their clients to become partners.
  • Relationships tend to be the most challenging aspect of people’s lives. These challenges shouldn’t bleed into a teacher’s teaching activities.
  • When a teacher/student or therapist/client relationship transitions into romantic involvement, the potential for growth is undermined.
  • Sometimes “divine compulsion” arises in your spiritual path, shattering your conception of appropriate behavior.
  • The problem with teachers who haven’t transcended desire and explored their own shadow.
  • There can be a huge disparity between the apparent enlightenment of a teacher and their behavior.
  • Isolation and being closed to constructive criticism can be very dangerous for a teacher.
  • If a teacher doesn’t have friends other than his students, he might want to ask why. If he doesn’t have regular relationships and is always on a pedestal, he won’t get real-world feedback.
  • The culture is changing anyway. We’re just trying to give voice to values that are becoming lively in collective consciousness.
  • There can be a lot of practice involved in having your actions be a reflection of your deepest understanding.

Discussion of this panel in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Summary and Transcript of this discussion

Recorded October 26, 2018

Recorded October 26, 2018

YouTube Video Chapters:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction and Panel Discussion Preparation
  • 00:02:18 – Introduction of Panel Discussion and its Purpose
  • 00:04:09 – The Fluidity of the Situation and the Need for Collaboration
  • 00:05:42 – Discussing Regulation of Teacher-Student Relationships
  • 00:07:13 – Teachers and romantic relationships with students
  • 00:08:51 – The Importance of Boundaries in the Teacher-Student Relationship
  • 00:10:02 – Messiness in Relationships and the Sangha
  • 00:11:18 – The Importance of Boundaries in Therapeutic Relationships
  • 00:12:27 – Breaking the Golden Rule
  • 00:13:33 – Choosing God over my marriage
  • 00:14:48 – The Journey of Teacher-Student Relationships
  • 00:16:11 – Protecting Students from Teacher Misconduct
  • 00:17:39 – Violation of Trust and its Consequences
  • 00:19:01 – Projection into the Sangha
  • 00:20:12 – Bringing the Conversation into the Light
  • 00:21:24 – The Deception of Enlightened Teachers
  • 00:22:29 – Building Accountability and Transparency
  • 00:23:43 – The Power of Shared Accountability and Learning Together
  • 00:24:57 – Reflections on Personal Growth
  • 00:26:01 – Creating a Supportive Community
  • 00:27:26 – Open Feedback and Accountability
  • 00:28:33 – Dysfunction in Relationships and the Need for Community
  • 00:29:31 – Coming together in support and solidarity
  • 00:30:18 – Creating a new type of sangha
  • 00:31:33 – The Importance of Continuous Learning and Growth
  • 00:32:26 – Creating openness and transparency for genuine collaboration
  • 00:33:38 – The Intractable Conversation
  • 00:34:37 – The Importance of Ethics for Young Teachers
  • 00:36:02 – Learning Boundaries and Working with Power
  • 00:37:35 – The Gift of a Supportive Community
  • 00:38:57 – Website Launch and Conclusion
  • 00:40:13 – Music Introduction