Natural Dharma Fellowship teachers recognize and seek to embody an ethics of non-harm and compassion as the foundation of spiritual life. NDF Core teachers sign a copy of this Code annually to affirm their commitment to its Precepts.

As NDF teachers, we agree to uphold the Five Lay Precepts, in the following form that is appropriate for our cultural setting.

  1. We agree to value and protect life. We will cultivate an ethics of care and refrain from killing and violence towards humans, animals and the natural world. We agree to refine our understanding of not killing and non-harming in all our actions. 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.
  2. We agree to refrain from stealing. We will not take what is not freely given, and will respect the property of others and the resources of the natural world. We agree not to misuse the financial offerings given to us or misappropriate funds intended for the Sangha.
  3. We agree to be honest and transparent. We recognize that secrecy and hiding are toxic behaviors in a community. We will refrain from gossip, and cultivate the quality of straightforwardness and loving-kindness as the basis of our speech. We agree to hold in confidence what is told to us in confidence in Dharma interviews and other teacher-student communications except where we believe imminent harm may be possible.
  4. We agree to avoid creating harm through sexuality and to refrain from using our teaching role to exploit our authority and position. We will honor the vows we have made to celibacy or to our partner or spouse.
  5. We agree to use restraint and moderation with regard to intoxicants.

NDF teachers accept the responsibility to support fellow teachers in upholding these Precepts. Accordingly, we will take appropriate action if we have knowledge of a fellow teacher potentially acting in a manner contrary to these Precepts. The Ethics Committee is available to discuss appropriate actions in particular situations, as needed.

Complaint Procedure

Regarding Sexual and Other Ethical Misconduct

Any member of the Natural Dharma Fellowship community who has a concern regarding potential sexual or ethical misconduct by an NDF teacher or mitra in the Margha program, or a staff or board member, is invited to consult with any member(s) of the Ethics Committee Ethics Committee. This consultation is held in confidence among the members of the Committee.

NDF’s Ethics Committee seeks to listen deeply to all concerned, respond to suffering with compassion, and offer a forum for dialogue and mediation within the NDF community. We vigorously commit to standing with anyone who is the recipient of mis-conduct.

If a person with a complaint determines that a more formal process is necessary, a grievance letter may be submitted to the Ethics Committee, including:

  • a clear statement that a formal grievance process is requested;
  • the name of the teacher(s) whose behavior the complaint concerns;
  • a description of the alleged behavior sufficient to allow the Committee to decide whether the complaint is appropriate for initiating a formal grievance process;
  • a history of the attempts, if any, to resolve the concern through other means; and
  • a general statement about the resolution desired.

If the Ethics Committee receives a request to initiate such a formal grievance process, the request letter is shared with the Board and interviews are conducted to investigate the situation, as needed. Following its inquiry, the Ethics Committee will report its findings to the Board, the NDF community member who brought the complaint and the person(s) whose conduct precipitated the complaint. The findings will include, as appropriate, proposed consequences and steps towards resolution and healing.

The Ethics Committee will strive to complete its inquiry and report its findings within 45 days of the date of the request. Depending on the nature and complexity of the reported situation, additional time may be required and the matter may be reported to appropriate authorities if that is deemed necessary.

To contact the Ethics Committee, please email ethics@naturaldharma.org.

Members are:

Kathe McKenna (Chair), Joel Baehr, Brad Howell, Suzanne Harvey

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