I submitted this over 12 hours ago and it did not post. Retry. A core ethical issue for the non-dual community is whether teachers are offering something of value, if they are delivering what they promise, and if they can speak with high veracity and confidence supporting these claims. That is, a) have they achieved the states and live the attributes that they claim to be able to teach others, b) are they able to effectively teach others to attain them, c) if so, what time frames are required, how much commitment is necessary (time and money), and d) are all, or only a subset of students, able to attain these states.
It seems reasonable that there may be a correlation between teachers and organizations pursuing unethical actions and the degree to which they are more bluster than bliss, more talk than performance. Addressing performance could in turn address unethical actors in the community. A strong objective framework for evaluating a teacher’s attainments and their method’s effectiveness is testing and measurement by the tools of cognitive science. For example, a lot could be gained if the teacher, along with their top 10 or 25 students offered to undergo a standardized set of evaluation measures (fMRI, advanced EEG, blood work, comprehensive sophisticated batteries of cognitive tests, etc.) While the results of these tests do not, at least per current models of consciousness, provide definitive proof of any Enlightened state, they can provide insight into whether the practitioners have achieved various markers of achieved by other advanced practitioners. And possibly exceeding thresholds or prior studies, and or novel brain activity or cognitive responses. If on the other hand, the results of the test showed nothing special or unique of the normal non-practicing populace, one would question what the practice is achieving. If no change in brain, cognitive, neurotransmitter or other activity is observed, then claims of refined mental, cognitive or emotional capabilities would be in doubt. I would think that a group called Science and Non-Duality would be aggressively seeking to validate non-duality states with state-of-the-art research (and help identify / weed out, non-performing teachers and organizations.) Yet I don’t see any research agenda on the SAND website. SAND or other non-dual groups could become a powerful conduit of advanced practitioners to the many university and research centers doing research on meditative methods. How to facilitate and fund such research is a larger topic which I may try to address in a separate post. At a minimum, core ethical values and codes of conduct revolving around full disclosure and a culture of transparency would be of value. Some useful areas of for consideration: 1) Encourage all non-dual teachers and organizations to provide evidence of the teachers’ attainments and the effectiveness of their teaching methods. 2) Guidelines as to what to do when witnessing or experiencing ethical breaches by spiritual teachers and/or organizations. Possibly implementation of hotlines or database of unethical reports. 3) Full disclosure of possible adverse effects of the practices. 4) Financial transparency. Ability to audit the financials. 5) Ethical considerations of requesting or promoting “Surrendering to the Teacher” 6) Disclosure (or some indication of) what’s in the back rooms (the esoteric teaching, the weird and wild stuff that may not become evident for several years after the student has made substantial time, effort, identity and financial investments in the teachings, practices, etc.) 7) Seva -- work/study/service practices. A time-honored and useful tradition in many circumstances and implementations where students work at ashrams, retreat centers, teaching centers, etc. for room and board and often reduction of tuition and fees for courses and instruction. However, over time, in some situations, this may evolve into a type of indentured servitude or guilt-driven labor bondage. Some ethical guidelines would be useful in this arena.