The Association of Professional Spiritual Teachers (now ASI)

The Association of Professional Spiritual Teachers (now ASI)

Through the cycle of descending ages, most spiritual traditions came to overemphasize the masculine – both in approach and in domination by men. This has led to drier, more austere forms of spirituality and issues with repression.

Those traditions cultured well-prepared teachers though. Teaching did not begin until they were trained and deemed ready by their mentors.

Rising consciousness is bringing a gradual restoration of the feminine. This means healing emotions, relationships, and raising women into leadership roles. It also leads to a much richer unfolding when both our masculine and feminine aspects are supported.

Today we see many independent teachers and a more entrepreneurial approach to spirituality. Many teachers self-assign or come out of a brief lineage with less formal structure. This has led to a much greater diversity of voices but also to some teaching without understanding the interpersonal dynamics of their relationships with students.

Often, we see teaching begin before there is professional development. They may act out, develop co-dependent relationships, or unload on their students. There isn’t peer support nor an understanding of healthy boundaries, power dynamics, and appropriate relationship.

At the same time, students may venerate teachers. Yet spiritual development doesn’t grant interpersonal skills. They’re different kinds of development. This has been a recipe for disaster. I’ve seen some egregious issues and the resulting fallout. Students have far too often become victims.

While we are shedding many of the issues of rigid traditions, we’ve also lost the structure. To make spiritual teaching reputable in the West, we need a professional association and ethical guidelines. Not as a control mechanism or out of spiritual correctness but as a framework for education and standards that protect teacher and student.

In 2015, a group of us discussed some of these issues during the Sofia panel. Rick Archer did a talk on the subject at last year’s SAND17 conference and then had lunch with Jac O-Keeffe and Craig Holliday to discuss how they might contribute. They worked together on a formal structure all year.

APST PanelAt this year’s SAND18 conference, Rick, Jac, Craig, and Caverly Morgan formally announced The Association of Professional Spiritual Teachers (APST) during a panel discussion. (All have interviews.)

The association offers ethical guidelines, education, and peer support for spiritual teachers and anyone who offers spiritual guidance.

It also offers guidelines for students, helping them understand appropriate behaviour; for them and for teachers.

The idea is not to impose on what is often very personal and very direct teaching. It is to offer a support framework for teachers that has been lost in the shift away from ancient traditions.

The association is very new and very open to feedback and suggestions. The founders have been consulting with various professional organizations and spiritual therapists who deal with the consequences of ethical breaks. I had several discussions with the founders during the SAND conference and attended their meeting and the recording of an introductory video.

I’ve joined the association and will help some on the tech side. You’ll see their logo on the right sidebar here.

The founders describe the association as an evolving work in progress. But now they need awareness and teacher members to join for free and grow the presence of the organization.

If you are not a spiritual teacher or guide, the student guidelines may be valuable and you can offer feedback through their Contact form.

Finally, it’s worth noting the beauty of this. Not so many years ago, teachers were largely in silos, seeing others as competition. Here we see an opportunity for the community to come together under one mutually-supportive umbrella. Another symptom of the rising tide.

Update: based on feedback, the founders have decided to change the name of the association to the Association for Spiritual Integrity (ASI). The new domain is  Changing the gazillion related details will happen over time.

Last Updated on March 5, 2019 by Davidya

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  1. Hi Amit
    No, this isn’t about enlightenment. In fact, I needed to edit the original article to remove the assumption that a spiritual teacher is enlightened. Many of them are not. When enlightenment was more rare, this was very common.

    This is about supporting teaching and offering guidelines for appropriate relationship, etc. As mentioned, this is very distinct from spiritual development. Enlightened or not, people can get into trouble.

    Even for the enlightened, it takes many years to mature into and clear some of the shadows – and this assumes they are doing the work.

    Enlightenment is also not a static place. We’re talking about human embodiment so there is pretty continual unfolding and purification. It’s a little meaningless to offer certificates, although I did mock one up for a good friend after they woke up. 🙂

    1. Amit

      I was being a bit facetious! But I wonder how a teacher who isn’t awake himself could be of any use to students who are looking for enlightenment.

      I also feel that while this there could very well be some kind of journey after awakening, it is still important to stress that basic “shift” without which there is no ground to stand on.

      For instance, i have been reading this stuff and meditating for years, but to be absolutely honest i have no reason to believe that there is anything beyond regular life. I don’t even know if I am on a path or if there is even such a thing as a path. Some basic realization that isn’t lost when one is not looking at it is vital to even have faith in the “spiritual life”.


      1. Hi Amit
        Right, but I wanted to be very clear on the point to the lager audience.

        I have experienced teachers myself who are well-versed in good understanding. This can be valuable. They don’t have to be awake. But yes, to support the shift itself and the nuances of unfolding, that’s a job for the awake.

        That said, some teachers reserve themselves to their own experience and have little exposure to any other styles. Then a teacher with a process more like your own is valuable.

        I agree that the first shift is key. It is indeed the foundation of everything after that. I loop back to that regularly and have covered the topic extensively.

        And yes, I understand. I had a similar experience. It’s very common for life to be more outward for awhile. Then when life events have cleared sufficient karma, a cycle of inner unfolding loops around and changes the landscape.

        If you have concerns about progress, I have found retreats and energy healing can speed things up. But if it’s not time, nothing overt will happen.

        The curious thing is that “spiritual” can be subtle. It’s not inclined to leave memory impressions, making it hard to recall until it comes up again.

        And yet, we’re all on a grand unfolding even if that’s hard to see in day-to-day life.

  2. Amaryllis

    “The curious thing is that “spiritual” can be subtle. It’s not inclined to leave memory impressions, making it hard to recall until it comes up again.”

    Right. It’s not until I was recently re-reading something I wrote in 2013 that I was able to appreciate what has fallen away or changed or is changing. As Rick Archer would say, I still feel like the same old schmuck, but to me, the shift is tangibly apparent in my relationship to what happens… events don’t hit the same tangle of complexes and get identified with, instead, they travel through until they dissipate…’I’ am no longer the idiot that made something happen; it happened and then it unhappened… of course there are exceptions to all of the above. But as David said, it can be subtle…

    1. 🙂 Yep, the same old schmuck is here too. Only now it’s a much smaller part of the picture. And as you mention, things continue to resolve or fall away. Life has become an adventure of unfolding instead of trap to complain about.

      Often, it’s only in retrospect that we can see the value of what has been unfolding. For example, it as only at the end of an intense IT career that I saw how stabilizing and integrating it had been.

  3. Hari Kamali

    I found this campaign really very useful in the period of crisis in humanity. If we are not able to understand and promote humanity (spirituality), the future of humanity seems to be in crisis. So such campaigns will promote humanity and make this world sustainable for human beings ! As a university teacher, I would love to join this campaign and contribute as much as I can.

    1. Hi Hari
      Great. Membership is free and they have regular events discussing topics like Humility, Spiritual Leadership, and Embodying Transparency. Events are also recorded and posted for listening later if you can’t make the live (online) event.

      Many participants are relatively unknown teachers working quietly in their own areas.

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