"There's a common saying in India that if a teacher charges money for "the dharma" (loosely translated, "teachings about the truth") he or she will go to a special section of hell set aside for spiritual entrepreneurs, an area cornered off and designed to be much nastier than the areas for axe murderers, rapists, and the like.'"
"It is the householders’ duty to support their spiritual teachers because it’s good for them and it’s good for the nation and it’s good for the world. And so they bring gifts and money constantly to keep their spiritual teachers living. And we don’t have that tradition in the West. People think that we live like beings in fairy tales and we don’t need any money and we don’t have to pay taxes, or have to pay a car license or whatever. "
"If you pay for its expenses, that’s perfectly fine, but if it’s an organization that makes a profit from it, the sense of the satsang falls apart. "
"I have always seen money as an energetic flow and I have no problem with having money as long as it is used well and to serve others generously."
" As I understand this, dana--which means giving or generosity--has been a part of traditional Buddhist practice since early times. Although generosity is not one of the items in the noble eightfold path, the idea often seems to be that practicing dana provides merit or "improvement of karma" for the giver. Since you ask for my reflections, I must say that I do not think in that way at all. I seek neither merit (whatever that means) nor improved karma, but simply allow things to arise as they will without any consideration of choosing, doing, gaining, or improving anything. I would never find myself involved in a practice of dana or any other practice with a view towards acquiring some kind of boon, blessing, or supposed advancement. In fact, I wonder if entertaining such acquisitive thoughts while supposedly "giving" can be considered generosity at all. I doubt it. "
" Wearing of orange robes, shaving off the hair on the head, holding a staff and water pot (daNDa and kamaNDala) are merely symbolical. They may serve the purpose of announcing to the world who you are, but that is not sanyAsa. As Bhagavad-Gita defines, true sanyAsa is to give up everything -- even thoughts and intentions. Mere exhibitionism does not lead one anywhere. Though externally giving up certain things for symbolical value, a person may still be wallowing in all sorts of silently entertained inner desires. Such a one ends up in more misery."
"Many people ask me why I ask for donations or charge money for the meetings and retreats I run. Shouldn’t the pointing to your true nature be free of charge?” People tend to think that if you ask for money, then you are obviously taking advantage of people in order to get rich and if you don’t charge anything for what you do, then you are obviously more genuine, pure, and saintly. "
"Like you, I am puzzled as to where this business model came from. It would have been alien to Vivekananda; Ramakrishna always warned of the danger of twin temptations of "woman and gold". Doesn't seem to fit with Yogananda either. Nor with Prabhupad (ok dualistic, but still seminal)."
"I started off doing it by donation because I suppose I was pretty idealistic and I thought that people would support someone doing this. The thing is, when you are doing it to this degree, it’s really hard to have a full time job as well because it takes a lot out of you. When we first started, I did it by donation, but some people equated donation as free. So some people would come because it was just something to do. There were also people who were really interested in meditation. I remember one guy came in and said the darts night wasn’t on at the pub, so that’s why he decided to come. (Laughs) "
"Shri Atmananda replied with a request for latitude, to describe the Guru-disciple relationship by way of an analogy. He pointed out that when wet clothes are put out in the sun, they are not dried by anything that the sun has done for them. Instead, they get dried by the very nature of the sun, which is to shine with radiant energy. There is no quid pro quo here. The shining of the sun is not a personal or a commercial transaction, done for the sake of some expected or required reward. So too, the Guru's teaching is no personal doing or service, for which any payment can be due in the world. The teaching comes about from the Guru's true nature, which is essentially impersonal. It is thus purely spiritual, beyond all transacted personality. "
"The charging of fees normally implies consideration for the transfer of something of value. In this unique case of Self Inquiry, nothing is ever transferred. Belief is simply dismissed in favor of reality. Clinging and Grasping happen. When they happen, fear happens. Then, identity happens. "
“Preoccupation with money and material. This is a controversial point. The argument goes that a spiritual teacher provides a service, like a plumber, so deserves to be compensated. Also, if the disciples pay the teacher, then the teacher can spend more time helping them. My retort: if a person has had a complete realization, the idea of asking someone to pay to speak with you is ludicrous. It is reasonable to ask people to help pay to rent a room, or help with travel expenses, or buy a book. We do not have to expect our teacher to live as a monk, yet a preoccupation with "big cigars and motor cars" is cause for concern. We know all too well of the stories of fancy cars, wild parties, country estates, and big bank accounts. Seen with your own eyes, such behavior is inexcusable. Why? Because a spiritual realization doesn't plunge you further into this dream world."
"How could someone legislate what should happen? Whose “should” would be used? Speakers, teachers and organizations will go different ways with it. For every 10 people, you’ve got 20 views! "
"Many teachers today like Eckhart Tolle and others mention Christ but they charge you when they do this. If Christ were around today, do you think he would give webinars for money or on skype or charge for satsang, or retreats?"
"Being paid for this type of work can sometimes be seen as highly controversial – as fundamentally there is nothing to be done and no-one to do it. However, from another more experiential perspective it can be seen as essential work – contributing to the experience of peace in our world. "
"Charging for anything to do with Self realization is actually taking money on a false pretense because you're charging someone for what they already have. It’s like stealing a car and selling it back to the owner. That’s the core reservation I have in regard to charging. "
"Someone paid something to support Ramana and Papaji. Even if the government of India provided the land, the maintenance, and the food -- and I don't know if it did -- someone paid. "
"As I’ve suggested earlier, the idea that spirituality is about “maintaining the Presence” is a big lie, but a deception that these retreat-leading teachers won’t reveal, because then they wouldnï’t be able to exploit people into paying money for their retreats, along with purchasing all those CDs, DVDs, and books on how to “find and maintain the Presence.” What a racket! Ah well.. "