The following ethics in spiritual education will apply to the conduct of this workshop. Participants of this workshop are requested to observe them in the spirit in which they are intended.
Ethics in Spiritual Education
Spiritual Education must be delivered and pursued ethically. It must be remembered at all times that spirituality and religion are complimentary and not in competition with each other. Religion seeks to build communities of human beings while spirituality seeks to knit all beings into one family. Spirituality seeks to highlight the universality of the essence of religion. It regards all religions as different paths of perceiving one reality.
It must be remembered at all times that the over-arching spiritual ethic is the ethic of our underlying oneness through the oneness of our deepest essence. Good is what makes for this oneness, and evil is what makes for separation or division.
The goal of building one family with mutual respect, love, understanding and rich coexistence cannot be served by shaking a seeker’s faith in his or her particular religion. We need to work on the principle that one’s personal salvation or liberation lies in the single-minded pursuit of one’s chosen religion and everyone must have the freedom of pursuing their salvation or liberation in their chosen ways. The important conclusion of spiritual endeavour is that it is senseless to bring in the element of exclusivity in one’s religion while downgrading others. This conclusion needs further elaboration because what is advocated here is not merely tolerance of other religions but mutual respect and acceptance of other religions. This can be ensured only when there is no seed of intolerance at all in the pursuit of a religion.
It is true that civilized secular societies have ensured that there are constitutional mechanisms in place where there is no scope for religious intolerance to raise its ugly head. But our objectives go one step further. What is advocated is true spirituality that transcends all differences, including religious differences, and where there is no room for intolerance of any kind. According to Meister Eckhart, “Everything pertaining to the spiritual realm is inclusive and unitive by nature, whilst matter is by nature exclusive and implies separative particularity; the more spiritual a thing is, the more inclusive and thus universal it is, and the more material a thing is, the more it excludes other things by the very rigidity of its specific contours.”
It is our position that spirituality that lies at the core of every religion is “inclusive and unitive by nature” and we therefore present the following ethical criteria for teaching such spirituality: