Paying For The Dhamma

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: Paying For The Dhamma

Postby octathlon » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:13 pm

I don't know if "strawman" is the correct way to put it, but what I mean is: the truth of "The Dhamma should be free" stands on its own and it is irrelevant whether maitreya31 is willing to support it.
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Re: Paying For The Dhamma

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:23 pm

Greetings,

Taking something of an historical perspective to this, I believe it originates from the fact the Buddha and his Sangha refused any gratuity for their teachings as this may have jeopardized the integrity of the teachings. There were certainly sectarian contemporaries who were "in it for the money" and the Sangha wanted to avoid any such inference. In my mind then the focus should not be on the "Dhamma should be free" angle (which originates from god knows where), but rather "The Dhamma should not be exploited for personal gain".

Often in these discussions, the subject of Dhamma books come up and whether they should be free. Often the subject of Bhikkhu Bodhi's valuable translations come into the discussion too. These translations are not free, but they are produced on a not for profit basis. If they were to be free to the end recipient, someone else indirectly would be paying for them, because they don't just appear on your bookshelf without work performed by a lot of people, whether that work is direct (effort) or indirect (funding). Free dhamma books are no more cost-free than those you pay for... it's just that they're effectively being purchased and subsequently gifted by the donor(s).

Indeed the Dhamma is the greatest of all gifts, but the cultivation of unwholesome mindstates rooted in conceit are detrimental to the individual and any attempts at dhammadatu they may be involved in. Accordingly I hope this topic doesn't become a "my dana's bigger than your dana" discussion as there's something distasteful about such comparisons, quite probably because they are the Dhamma being used for personal gain (e.g. pride, recognition, righteousness), which is precisely what the Buddha was trying to avoid in the first place with his actions.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Paying For The Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Mar 26, 2011 1:20 am

octathlon wrote:I don't know if "strawman" is the correct way to put it, but what I mean is: the truth of "The Dhamma should be free" stands on its own and it is irrelevant whether maitreya31 is willing to support it.
Except that the Dhamma is not free. It requires support. It always has, which is the point. One may go to the local wat to hear a Dhamma talk without having to pay for it, but the Wat and the food for the monls requires money and other help to exist.
maitreya31 may not have money or the physical ability to help support his/her local Dhamma center/wat, but to say without any qualification - "The Dharma should be free" - is to not understand the reality. So, maitreya31's statement - "The Dharma should be free" - is meaningless.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Paying For The Dhamma

Postby octathlon » Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:07 am

tiltbillings wrote:
octathlon wrote:I don't know if "strawman" is the correct way to put it, but what I mean is: the truth of "The Dhamma should be free" stands on its own and it is irrelevant whether maitreya31 is willing to support it.
Except that the Dhamma is not free. It requires support. It always has, which is the point. One may go to the local wat to hear a Dhamma talk without having to pay for it, but the Wat and the food for the monls requires money and other help to exist.
maitreya31 may not have money or the physical ability to help support his/her local Dhamma center/wat, but to say without any qualification - "The Dharma should be free" - is to not understand the reality. So, maitreya31's statement - "The Dharma should be free" - is meaningless.

Hmm, I guess the problem was the wording of the statement rather than the sentiment behind it. Maybe it should be rephrased as "Payment should not be required for access to the Dhamma." Everyone should have access to it. How sad if during the time that the Dhamma teaching exists on Earth that people should be denied hearing it because they couldn't "pay" for it. It is not a commodity to buy and sell but a priceless gift from the Buddha.
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Re: Paying For The Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:47 am

octathlon wrote: Everyone should have access to it.
I don't disagree, but it is an interesting question as to what that actually might mean.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Paying For The Dhamma

Postby Jhana4 » Sat Mar 26, 2011 1:23 pm

As far as books and videos go, it would be interesting experiment to see some made available for free download along with some kind of graphic device ( like a thermometer ) showing how much of the cost has been paid for so far, by donations.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Paying For The Dhamma

Postby nobody12345 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:01 am

Bankei wrote:Ordination as a monk in Thailand, for example, is very expensive.
Bankei

How much do they charge in Thailand?
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Re: Paying For The Dhamma

Postby minthukyaw » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:26 am

Bankei wrote:You may be surprised to learn that the Dhamma is not free in the Eastern world either (generally).

Ordination as a monk in Thailand, for example, is very expensive.

Bankei


It is absolutely free in Myanmar . but ordination as a monk in some poor monasteries in rural sides , pay a little amount of money for Food like donation .
poor monasteries means not much people donation to those monastery . They 're not doing business .
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Re: Paying For The Dhamma

Postby Nibbida » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:09 pm

It's important to recognize the context of the Buddha's time versus contemporary Westernized societies. There is no cultural context of supporting monks/nuns in the way that there was then. If we relied solely on that, very few of us would have had access to teachings either in person or in print. But even in the Buddha's time, they supported the monastics with food, and wealthy patrons of the Buddha donated land where the sangha could reside.

Retro's point about "for personal gain" is a critical one. Publishers like Wisdom, Pariyatti, etc. are non-profit. They charge for the costs of producing their books & materials, but aside from paying basic salaries and operating costs, their profits go into other projects. In other words, nobody is getting rich from those sales. This, to me, seems like the best possible arrangement given our cultural and economic system. Sometimes people make their work freely available online, like Gil Fronsdal has done with his book "The Issue at Hand." But as Tilt points out, even that requires time and effort in the form of transcribing talks, editing, etc.

In order for the Dhamma to be available, we need a working economic model for the dissemination of teaching, both in print and in support of monastic and lay teachers, in a way that is consistent with the spirit of the Buddha's teachings. To let the teachings wither or to corrupt them would be an equal misfortune.
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