Yes. Dharma is always free. It is not for sale.liuzg150181 wrote: ↑Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:16 pmTo put things into perspective, based on my limited experience for a years, in Singapore most Tibetan Buddhist teachings are free,mainly I believe due to Chinese Mahayana culture influence that donating to Dharma activities generates immersive merits. Hence wealthy patrons and Chinese associations are more willing to provide sponsorship compared to the west. Even then some events and grps do need to balance the accounts(most of the cost comes from rental,and not cheap in land-tight Singapore),so there will be charges involved,though in many cases it is negotiable if there is financial issue afaik.
For empowerment,it is customary for us to give an amount in red packet,either to the Rinpoche giving empowerment,or also including the monks and nuns involved. Again not they would enforce an amount and not like anyone would check on that. Even if one doesnt give at all,i dont think there is an enforcer to single you out.
Based on what I had read,it seems it is more customary in the west to charge a sum(or rather suggest) for a seminar or teaching,as TB doesnt have the leverage or economic-of-scale compared to Asian countries in terms of sponsorship or the customary red packet offering,or cultural and social establishment and infrastructure like Christianity in USA. Not to mention that TB/Vajrayana is the smallest of the three Buddhist denominations(like 7% percentage of all Buddhist worldwide). So lets be realistic,the sangha and the community needs money to at least mantain or survive.
Heck,if one has decent internet access,one can now receive online teachings and even 'big' empowerments for free where Tibetan Buddhism is concerned.
However, putting everything in order so that the teachings can happen requires significant capital. In Asia, there's often infrastructure in place to support the teachings, thanks to previous generations' labors and sacrifices to build up the temples and so on. Here in the US, the expenses can be greater and the logistics more challenging because it is necessary to rent spaces for large events or even ongoing activities. For example, some years ago I received teachings and empowerment from an important Rinpoche in a Jewish Community Center in suburban Maryland, USA. I also attended an event led by another important Rinpoche in a large, beautiful church in Toronto (Church of the Holy Trinity if memory serves).
It's important to keep this straight to ensure that those who would criticize Dharma practitioners and Dharma teachers do not sow confusion around issues of money. Yes, it takes money to underwrite Dharma activities. This does not mean that Dharma is for sale or that money is a barrier to receiving and practicing the teachings.
Nor does it mean that miserliness or stinginess are virtuous activities. There's great merit in supporting Dharma institutions and teachers. It's good to make sacrifices to get the teachings and support teachers and other practitioners. Remember the formula dana, sila, bhavana? Generosity comes first because it's excellent training in renouncing self-grasping, and it enables the teachings to persist (including for those who have little or nothing to give in support of the teachings). Generosity before morality or meditation. This is worthwhile for all of us to remember.
Apropos of which... maybe it would be good to start a thread on the danka system