Selling the dharma

Casual conversation between friends. Anything goes (almost).
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Karinos
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by Karinos » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:34 pm

pemachophel wrote:Karinos,

This is exactly what my wife and I do on a regular basis. Since we have a big house, we don't need to rent a meeting space. We have made a large shrine-room in our home that can fit 40-50 people when necessary. We pay for all the costs of getting the Teacher to our home and feeding and housing Them while here. We do not charge anything, unless the Teacher says to publish a price per event which did happen recently. Otherwise, we make a largish donation to the Teacher and then allow everyone else to simply offer what they can/wish to. After a lifetime of work and now being retired and reasonably well off, it feels really wonderful to be a jin-dag and to be able to do this kind of thing. My wife and I are very concerned about "charging for Dharma" as well as for especially the younger, impecunious Dharma students. So far, this model is working quite well. BTW, we have been tithing for years, through times of poverty and times of prosperity, and this is something we encourage others to do. How much is the Dharma worth to one? I also think annual memberships in sanghas are a good idea. I don't see that as "paying for the Dharma" but as supporting the place where Dharma can be taught.

:namaste:
awesome :applause: I rejoice so much. We do this as well in Poland when possible.

T. Chokyi
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by T. Chokyi » Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:00 pm

Karinos wrote:Anyone can organize Dharma event, really ....

1. Invite less known Lama/Rinpoche to your country (who can use English at least) there are literally dozens or hundreds of teachers out there who'd appreciate chance to go abroad and teach,
2. Ask teacher not to bring assistants, most of them can do pretty well all tormas and altar preparations themselves with your help (if sadhana or abisheka is planned),
3. Organize Visa, buy plane ticket, invite to your home, make separate room available, organize nice food, little attractions like city tour etc,
4. Book meeting room for people to come for teaching (it doesn't have to be Dharma center, any meeting room will do),
5. Announce event for Sangha,
6. Make free entry - people can offer whatever they want to teacher directly,

here ... everybody happy.

For single sponsor it's maybe a little, but usually for westerners it's less then two weeks holidays in any exotic destination.
if you can sponsor this you will make many people happy :) if they won't come ... ohh well maybe they are after fame of teacher and not really after Dharma
I've done this a couple of times, and I was a single sponsor, this is a good way to benefit self and others.

Thanks for your post.

:smile:

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mandala
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by mandala » Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:51 pm

From an event management perspective, I understand that very large dharma gatherings (eg, Dalai Lama at an entertainment centre) can be a costly affair when you're looking at venue hire, power, stagehands, technicians, audio/staging/lighting/AV gear hire, security, catering, licensing etc... however... For an average dharma centre, I think it's outrageous to charge hundreds for teachings.

It seems to me to be catering to an elite group of wealthy students. For example, a local FPMT centre is charging over $500 for a weeks teachings with a visiting Lama- not including accommodation or food.
So all up, you'd need about $1000 to attend, and it's not like the facilities are great either. Seriously? Who can afford that? It's really discouraging.

In fact it would be cheaper to travel overseas to India to attend teachings, including airfares, than to go to my local centre...

Jangchub
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by Jangchub » Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:53 pm

“If we genuinely want to help beings, we must first perfect ourselves. If we make a lot of ambitious plans, doing business, collecting disciples, and setting ourselves up as teachers, we will end up like a spider caught in its own web. Spending our lives spinning such webs, we won't notice how fast time is passing until we suddenly realize that death is at hand. We will have used all our energy and gone through all sorts of hardships, but these hardships, unlike the trials of authentic spiritual practice, will not have helped us in the least to improve ourselves.”

--The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones, by Patrul Rinpoche, with commentary by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche [Kindle location: 750]

(In my opinion, I think it is better not to sell the Dharma. I know it looks like a lot of people get by quite well—jet-setting around the world and living lavishly, but I don’t know how they experience the world in their mind. I don’t think such a life style cultivates stability—even among some of the highest recognized “tulkus”. I just don’t think it works out very well for very long.

I also have a hard time with the prices for some retreats, but usually I have found that if the people at the Dharma Center are familiar with me and I offer to—cook, clean and so on—it can be a very beneficial way to receive Teachings in the Lhakang (at a lower or no financial cost) and get to know the Dharma practitioners at the Center more personally. By meeting the students—often over a hot stove, or mopping the floors, or pouring the butter lamps, I can get a better idea about the qualities of the Lama and the extended community of the Dharma Center.

I also find it useful to read the autobiographies of Lamas who received their training in Tibet. In these stories it becomes quite clear that the Teachings didn’t come cheaply for them either. Right now, I am reading “Like a Waking Dream: The Autobiography of Geshe Lhundub Sopa.)

Rinpoche writes:
“My uncle would have to sponsor my stay in Sera, paying for my food, clothing, and everything else.”

“The monastery itself did not ever provide support for its monks who were going to Sera, so my uncle accepted all the financial responsibility.”

“Some people wanted to go to the great Geluk monasteries for educational reasons, some wanted to be great practitioners or yogis. In either case, the emphasis was not on worldly comfort or gain but on a simple, disciplined life that had a religious motivation. One had to be aware of this fact in order to decide that this was the life that he wanted.”

(I also highly recommend “Surviving the Dragon” by Arjia Rinpoche)

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padma norbu
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by padma norbu » Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:50 am

Jangchub, thanks for the response. Interesting to think about and contrast with the experience of an old college friend who told me of how he just walked into a zen monastery and stayed there for about a month free of charge. He said nobody said anything to him, just handed him a broom and smiled. I think he earned his keep by washing dishes, sweeping, etc. and then left when he felt reborn or something. He was in a really bad place with nowhere to go and they just accepted him no problem. Sounded like a scene from a movie. I wish I still knew the guy because I'd ask him where it was. :)
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron

smcj
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by smcj » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:27 am

pemachophel wrote: This is exactly what my wife and I do on a regular basis. Since we have a big house, we don't need to rent a meeting space. We have made a large shrine-room in our home that can fit 40-50 people when necessary. We pay for all the costs of getting the Teacher to our home and feeding and housing Them while here. We do not charge anything, unless the Teacher says to publish a price per event which did happen recently. Otherwise, we make a largish donation to the Teacher and then allow everyone else to simply offer what they can/wish to. After a lifetime of work and now being retired and reasonably well off, it feels really wonderful to be a jin-dag and to be able to do this kind of thing. My wife and I are very concerned about "charging for Dharma" as well as for especially the younger, impecunious Dharma students. So far, this model is working quite well. BTW, we have been tithing for years, through times of poverty and times of prosperity, and this is something we encourage others to do. How much is the Dharma worth to one? I also think annual memberships in sanghas are a good idea. I don't see that as "paying for the Dharma" but as supporting the place where Dharma can be taught.
This is an excellent model as long as the jindok is sane, which it sounds like you are. That is not always guaranteed however.
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yagmort
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by yagmort » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:50 am

Malcolm wrote:
Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:31 pm
...it is a nonstarter in Vajrayāna where empowerment fees and so on are stipulated in the tantras...
where i can learn more about this? or maybe someone can educate me here? what did you pay for besides empowerment fees?

Tolya M
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by Tolya M » Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:52 am

I guess that there will be no end to the rainfall of donations, offerings and disciples if you levitate, stick a wooden kilaya into a stone, cure cancer with hands or mantras... There will certainly be several padmini spouses, patreon will blow away by money floods etc. But the main problem is there is no apparent result. If there is no apparent result then there is no big money apart from cultural traditions. It will take a very long time for Western culture to explain why even a developing brahmaviharas is worthy of offerings...

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Wed Feb 26, 2020 4:26 am

A dharma center hosted a talk by a well-known teacher from Tibet, and at the door to the event posted a sign reading: “$10 donation please”
A visitor stepped up to the table where they were collecting the money and handed over a $5 bill.
The person collecting said, “you know, this is a very famous lama. He has a lot of wisdom. Every word he speaks is like a wish-fulfilling jewel. That is why we are asking for a donation of $10”.
The visitor replied, “oh yes, I am quite sure that is all true. However, I won’t be listening to him. I’ll only be listening to the translator!”

:jumping: :rolling: :lol:
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tobes
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by tobes » Thu Feb 27, 2020 2:59 am

AnShen wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:51 am
I would just like to say that I am really appreciative of the way Theravada Buddhism has embraced the concept of "open-source". More than any other Buddhist tradition, I find that Theravada goes out of their way to make books and instructional materials available free of charge. This is often closely associated with their idea that the Dhamma is a gift.

It seems to me that we are living at a time when conventional models of production and consumption are breaking at the seams. People are starting to explore alternative forms of exchange. We are seeing the emergence of local currencies, digital currencies like Bitcoin, work exchange like the "TEM" system in Greece, improvised gift economies like "Really Free Markets", etc. It seems to me that Buddhist institutions, especially those in the West, might do well to join in this exploration outside the realm of conventional economic relations.
I think this is the right response.

Thing like this are happening from the Mahayana POV: https://84000.co/

Do we actually believe in danaparamita or not? If so, then the transmission of the Dharma has to be on this axiom. To me, this implies: it is given freely, and those who receive, offer freely. That doesn't have to be $. Many great masters have asserted that the highest offering is practice.

tkp67
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by tkp67 » Thu Feb 27, 2020 10:55 am

tobes wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 2:59 am
AnShen wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:51 am
I would just like to say that I am really appreciative of the way Theravada Buddhism has embraced the concept of "open-source". More than any other Buddhist tradition, I find that Theravada goes out of their way to make books and instructional materials available free of charge. This is often closely associated with their idea that the Dhamma is a gift.

It seems to me that we are living at a time when conventional models of production and consumption are breaking at the seams. People are starting to explore alternative forms of exchange. We are seeing the emergence of local currencies, digital currencies like Bitcoin, work exchange like the "TEM" system in Greece, improvised gift economies like "Really Free Markets", etc. It seems to me that Buddhist institutions, especially those in the West, might do well to join in this exploration outside the realm of conventional economic relations.
I think this is the right response.

Thing like this are happening from the Mahayana POV: https://84000.co/

Do we actually believe in danaparamita or not? If so, then the transmission of the Dharma has to be on this axiom. To me, this implies: it is given freely, and those who receive, offer freely. That doesn't have to be $. Many great masters have asserted that the highest offering is practice.
While I agree and embrace this mantra personally I have noticed that in the metropolitan US that some with great material wealth are attracted to paying for exclusivity and privilege even in regards to spirituality. I made a conscious decision to live austerely so it is not native to me to think in terms of cultivating altruism through wealth but I had to consider that perhaps the privileged needed a like entrance to path the same as I. Like defined as appealing to one's life conditions.

Malcolm
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by Malcolm » Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:17 pm

mandala wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:51 pm

For example, a local FPMT centre is charging over $500 for a weeks teachings with a visiting Lama-
Perfectly reasonable.
Seriously? Who can afford that?
Whoever makes it a priority.
In fact it would be cheaper to travel overseas to India to attend teachings, including airfares, than to go to my local centre...
India is no longer so inexpensive.

Malcolm
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by Malcolm » Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:23 pm

tobes wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 2:59 am


I think this is the right response.

Thing like this are happening from the Mahayana POV: https://84000.co/

Yes, because someone paid.
Do we actually believe in danaparamita or not?
Yes, which is why one should be prepared to give away your family members to anyone who wants them, like the Bodhisattva Viśvaṃtara handing over his wife and children to become servants of a brahmin.

But if you can't do that, giving up something valuable to you is also ok, like money. And it is also ok for Dharma teachers in the West to charge money for their time and expertise.

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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by Pero » Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:39 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:23 pm
Yes, which is why one should be prepared to give away your family members to anyone who wants them, like the Bodhisattva Viśvaṃtara handing over his wife and children to become servants of a brahmin.
I find this soooo funny, really. I mean how would this even work these days? Or are wife and children husband's property in the US or something? :D
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
- Shabkar

Malcolm
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by Malcolm » Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:49 pm

Pero wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:39 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:23 pm
Yes, which is why one should be prepared to give away your family members to anyone who wants them, like the Bodhisattva Viśvaṃtara handing over his wife and children to become servants of a brahmin.
I find this soooo funny, really. I mean how would this even work these days? Or are wife and children husband's property in the US or something? :D
Well, when people start invoking traditional Buddhist values, I think it is only fair to serve them up. People with less financial resources should understand too that every dollar they spend on Dharma brings them more merit. So, they should not complain if some Dharma program is out of their reach because of finances. They should understand that do not have the merit to participate. I myself have experienced this many times, and still do. I cannot afford to go to all the programs I would like to attend.

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:58 pm

mandala wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:51 pm
From an event management perspective, I understand that very large dharma gatherings (eg, Dalai Lama at an entertainment centre) can be a costly affair when you're looking at venue hire, power, stagehands, technicians, audio/staging/lighting/AV gear hire, security, catering, licensing etc... however... For an average dharma centre, I think it's outrageous to charge hundreds for teachings.

It seems to me to be catering to an elite group of wealthy students. For example, a local FPMT centre is charging over $500 for a weeks teachings with a visiting Lama- not including accommodation or food.
So all up, you'd need about $1000 to attend, and it's not like the facilities are great either. Seriously? Who can afford that? It's really discouraging.

In fact it would be cheaper to travel overseas to India to attend teachings, including airfares, than to go to my local centre...
The 500$ is a little high, but honestly a full weeks teachings for that price does not seem ridiculous to me. High, but not that out there. A typical short weekend deal with a;; day teachings and no meals or board is around $100-200 IME. How does it cost $500 but you pay $1000? Didn't quite get that statement.

Really, instead of people worrying about prices, I would rather see people focus on institutions that are a bit more financially transparent. It costs a cubic buttload to organize Dharma events, in so many areas.
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Caoimhghín
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by Caoimhghín » Thu Feb 27, 2020 11:09 pm

When the Wǔtái Shān Temple in Bethany (near Peterborough, Ontario, Canada) opened, there were fancy dharma talks by imported Chinese masters that cost $500 a pop. I wish I remember who the people they brought over were. Either way, I just took in the opening of the temple and walked around the grounds a little. I'm pretty sure the talks were in Chinese anyways, and far above my pay grade either way.
歸命本覺心法身常住妙法心蓮臺本來莊嚴三身徳三十七尊住心
城遠離因果法然具普門塵數諸三昧無邊徳海本圓滿還我頂禮心諸佛

In reverence for the root gnosis of the heart, the dharmakāya,
for the ever present good law of the heart, the lotus terrace,
for the inborn adornment of the trikāya, the thirty-seven sages dwelling in the heart,
for that which is removed from seed and fruit, the upright key to the universal gate,
for all boundless concentrations, the sea of virtue, the root perfection,
I prostrate, bowing to the hearts of all Buddhas.

胎藏金剛菩提心義略問答鈔, Treatise on the teaching of the gnostic heart of the womb and the diamond, T2397.1.470c5-8

Pero
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by Pero » Thu Feb 27, 2020 11:23 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:49 pm
Pero wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:39 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:23 pm
Yes, which is why one should be prepared to give away your family members to anyone who wants them, like the Bodhisattva Viśvaṃtara handing over his wife and children to become servants of a brahmin.
I find this soooo funny, really. I mean how would this even work these days? Or are wife and children husband's property in the US or something? :D
Well, when people start invoking traditional Buddhist values, I think it is only fair to serve them up. People with less financial resources should understand too that every dollar they spend on Dharma brings them more merit. So, they should not complain if some Dharma program is out of their reach because of finances. They should understand that do not have the merit to participate. I myself have experienced this many times, and still do. I cannot afford to go to all the programs I would like to attend.
Ah got it.
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
- Shabkar

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tobes
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by tobes » Thu Feb 27, 2020 11:52 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:23 pm
tobes wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 2:59 am


I think this is the right response.

Thing like this are happening from the Mahayana POV: https://84000.co/

Yes, because someone paid.
Do we actually believe in danaparamita or not?
Yes, which is why one should be prepared to give away your family members to anyone who wants them, like the Bodhisattva Viśvaṃtara handing over his wife and children to become servants of a brahmin.

But if you can't do that, giving up something valuable to you is also ok, like money. And it is also ok for Dharma teachers in the West to charge money for their time and expertise.
No, they didn't "pay." They offered.

There is such a vast difference between this. And the difference in merit is also similarly vast - inconceivably vast.

Can you not see the difference between "pay for sutra translation, charge for sutra" and "donate for sutra translation, make sutras freely available to all"?

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Selling the dharma

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Fri Feb 28, 2020 12:05 am

If you drop 25¢ into a box every day as part of your morning routine, in one year you will have almost $100.
A local Dharma center near me encouraged all of its members and regular visitors to do this.
Not only was it an easy way for practitioners to save money to pay for special events, but it meant that people could practice generosity on a daily basis without much attachment, without financial burden. It brought a lot of income to the center without people complaining about money.
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