"I think it’s unfortunate that they do that. The Dharma then becomes a commodity, which makes it subject to market forces. One of the most basic lessons of the Dharma is generosity, and one of the best ways to inspire other people to be generous with one another is by being generous with the Dharma—teaching the Dharma for free. It creates the right atmosphere for people to receive the Dharma as a gift, in which case they’ll treasure it more. If they receive it as a commodity, it’ll be easier for them to throw it away. "
"The practice of dana was in no way an invention or an innovation of the Buddha. The practice of dana seems to have been already a well established practice in Indian religious scenes of the period. I think it operates first within Brahmanic culture because the Brahman were the ones who devoted themselves to the study of the Vedas, the performance of the religious rituals, and so those Brahmins who were probably following the duty of Brahmins and being supported by donations from lay people . "
"As soon as you’re saying suggested donation, you’re actually expecting a donation rather than giving it freely. Another aspect of it though is, especially in the West, that there’s a lack of understanding either of dana and sometimes how things actually work and function. So that there does need to be some education sometimes or actually letting people know what sort of need there is. That has to be handled gracefully also. "
"In the Theravadin tradition, dana is an important part of each of our practice path. When we gather on retreat we are each offering the dana of our intention, behavior, and actions to all. Are we offering support to our own practice as well as the other retreatants? Are we each being generous with ourselves by attending retreat and wholeheartedly participating? The idea, as I understand it, is for there to be a symmetry between the teacher's dana and the yogi's dana. "
"Outside the monastic setting there are no rules, so people, of course, are free to do whatever they wish. Most teachers and groups that I know of are trying to retain the spirit of dana, the best they can, within the context of living a lay life, not being supported by the laity as the monastics are. There is a wide range of what people and groups are doing. "
"If somebody invites me to do a lecture out of town, or sometimes in another county, I’m trying a variety of ways to do it. But I want to get my travel expenses covered and not lose money on it because I have out of town speaking things and teaching things where it has cost me money. And that was ok when it was at a time where I was working at another job and I could afford to throw some money at it and support the dharma too. "
"I do have one more thing to say about the topic of Dana in the West and that is I know a certain amount about philanthropy in the West and how ineffective it is. People actually believe in philanthropy, but when you actually look at the records, people aren’t really very generous and it’s going down, at least here in the states. The system has been designed so that people receive tax breaks and then they are expected to give generously, but it actually doesn’t work. "
"This should the big difference between laypeople and monastics. The dana to laypeople generally go to individuals, the dana to monastics is supposed to go to the monastery or nunnery but sometimes it goes the other way around. "
"I think early in Chinese Buddhism the idea of cultivating a "field of merit" that is, giving to the sangha took hold. By supporting the sangha and the monastery, that is, cultivating a "field of merit," the crop so to speak one received is "merit." China being an agricultural society at the time used agricultural terms like cultivating, planting, seeds, and so on. The idea of merit was and is strongly believed in Chinese Buddhist culture. Though it may seem nebulous to Westerners, to the Chinese, merit is as real as a brand new Cadilac to a Westerner. Not only could merit be gained this way but it also could be transferred to others and thereby gain in value. "
"There is no downside to Dana. Dana means giving - we give the Dharma freely to people who are ready to receive it. They, in turn, give us their attention, and their desire to receive the Dharma. Dana is not about money, if that is where this question is coming from. "
"Dolour" (I think you meant "dollars.") is an apt word - it means "pain" in Latin. That's what these people often cause. Someone with little practice experience and training to teach is totally unable to lead others. To take their money and pretend to lead them is totally against the practice they're pretending to teach. They often harm people by misleading them about what practice really is and how we go about it. The can also be downright dangerous if they deal with psychologically fragile people. "
“Generosity” has a many-faceted meaning in Buddhism, but the primary emphasis is on its import at the psychological level. In this way, it is the impulse to generosity that is seen as meaningful and momentous. How one gives, how much one gives, are irrelevant; however, from a doctrinal perspective, I came to learn, to whom one gives is important if one is concerned about merit and karmic results."
"You know, they have to survive, and this is India’s contribution to that fellow’s life. And so, for his livelihood, India has contributed something – some words, which are useful for him to earn his livelihood. And he earns his livelihood, and there are always blokes to subscribe to all that. And therefore, that’s fine. There is nothing wrong in it. He has to live his life. He has to pay his bills, and therefore he charges what he needs to take care. So teaching becomes his profession. He is an advaita professional. (Laughter). "
"The word danam is a noun derived from the root verb da, which means, “to give.” Danam includes all kinds of giving, whether it is money, resources, or time, and is considered in the Vedic tradition to be an invaluable means for spiritual growth."
"As far as charging for the teachings is concerned, that’s a pretty easy one to answer, at least in our paramparaa. This teaching is a sharing of knowledge that has been freely given, and so must be freely passed on. We certainly give gifts (dakshina) to our teachers as a sign of respect and gratitude, but such things are not asked for or required. Since the traditional teachers are mostly sannyasis who have no belongings anyway, and who live by bhiksha, they don’t need money for themselves. Any money that is given to a teacher is passed on to the gurukulam to support its operations "
"When it comes to the west the view seems to be entirely different. If one doesn’t charge, then it is just assumed that the teachings are ‘free,’ and the word 'donation’ doesn't seem to mean much. For myself, the dilemma I see in all of this is that it imposes the values of one culture (the east) onto another (the west) which doesn’t share the same values, and it doesn’t always seem to work very well."
"Traditionally, of course, sampradAya teachers would be sannyasins, meaning that they would have renounced all possessions and money would be of no interest to them at all. If they were ‘attached’ to an organization such as an ashram or math, then their needs (accommodation, food, etc) would be looked after by the organizers, who would make collections of money, or receive offerings from visitors to cover essentials. And, if a traditional teacher should travel then, again, those organizing would obtain funds from attendees or whoever to cover the costs of travel etc. But the teacher himself would not have anything to do with money. And, as regards amounts, the traditional approach would be to accept only what the seeker was able/willing to offer, and not to demand a fixed fee. Teaching would never be refused to someone unable to pay."
"I find great difficultly answering questions that are looking for some objective response, as if I can tap into the morally righteous, proper and ultimate answer to the question, as if I am sitting on a mountain top holding in my hand the ultimate laws of the universe. "
"It’s quite obvious that the words of the Buddha “let not … be carried away by worldly acclaim, but develop detachment instead” don’t concern the non-duality teachers. On the contrary, more fame means for them more customers. Let’s be clear on this subject, when we speak of non-duality teachers, we speak about self-proclaimed gurus who has decided to join the spiritual teaching profession as a business career but without any proper training and education only in order to make the most money possible. No wonder they don’t want to hear anything about traditional systems and rules!"
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