Paid dhamma teachers

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Thu May 26, 2011 10:04 pm

Well the Buddha clearly said that the dhamma is not to be taught for personal gain. I am comfortable with the free or not for profit option. I think Kirk has a point - if you want to make a living off it, maybe you are not cut out to live a lay life- in which case you better deepen your practice real quick!

My worry with paid for dhamma (unless it is a direct translation of the suttas) is that at some level the author may have succumbed to the the pressures of 'demand and supply'- it is after all not a secret that the dhamma goes against the grain of existence.

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Jhana4 » Thu May 26, 2011 11:58 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Jhana4 wrote:Do people have a problem with paid meditation teachers or paid dhamma teachers?

In that regard here is free 1 hour documentary about a similar debate with hatha yoga as a business in the west.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/134936/yoga-inc

Could you summarise it, Jhana4, for those of us who haven't got an hour's worth of interest in the subject?
TIA,
Kim


I can try

1. Some yogis in the 50s and some hippies in the 60s brought Hatha yoga to the west with some philosophy/religion still attached to it desiring to teach it because it was a cool thing.

2. Many people found the techniques of hatha yoga a big enhancement to their lives and did not care for the religious aspects so much.

3. Hatha yoga became mainstream and popular.

4. A number of aggressive teachers are making it into a significant money making enterprise, getting legal, getting corporate and getting nasty.

5. The spiritually orientated yoga teachers who originally brought it over think this is sad and wrong. The money orientated teachers and the exercise-freak orientated yogis don't care.
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: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Alex123 » Fri May 27, 2011 12:03 am

There are suttas which say:

""[4] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak not for the purpose of material reward.'"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"One should not make the Dhamma a trade."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


"Monks, there are these five forms of stinginess. Which five? Stinginess as to one's monastery [lodgings], stinginess as to one's family [of supporters], stinginess as to one's gains, stinginess as to one's status, and stinginess as to the Dhamma. These are the five forms of stinginess. And the meanest of these five is this: stinginess as to the Dhamma."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Goofaholix » Fri May 27, 2011 12:27 am

kirk5a wrote:I think if someone wants to teach Dhamma to such an extent that they have no time for a normal job, then let them show their commitment and ordain. And complete their own training in the process, how about that? Unless you believe in lay arahants, I don't.

The Dhamma is not for a layperson to sell because they need to "eat" I think the notion is rotten. No way can I see the Buddha giving sanction to such a thing. If the Dhamma isn't for the ordained to sell, it sure as heck isn't for laypeople to sell.

By which of course I am not saying that laypeople should not teach, or that there doesn't need to be recovery of costs for a retreat or meditation center. However, that's a separate matter from costs related to supporting the teacher.


That's a very narrow view, I don't believe lay teachers in the insight meditation/Theravadin tradition teach because they need to "eat" at all, I don't think anybody teaching with that attitude would last long.

They teach because they love the practise and one doesn't have to ordain to prove that, I haven't noticed anyone getting rich this way. The fact is lay teachers have a lot more time and flexibility to teach than monastics do. Some lay teachers can teach retreats back to back virtually all year round wheras most monastics don't, except those that head Burmese style meditation centres.

The primary job of the Theravadin monastic is to work on their own enlightenment, teaching is not their primary job though some make it so I guess.

In my country I'd estimate that for every retreat taught by a monastic there are more than 10 taught by a lay person in the insight meditation/Theravadin tradition, I think anywhere in the west would be the same. If these lay people weren't allowed to teach then these retreats simply wouldn't happen and we'd miss out as a result.

As for the distinction between dana and fees I think we are lucky that in our tradition lay teachers are able to rely on dana to support them in fulltime teaching, I've never felt I've been asked to pay a fee (other than accommodation etc) and if people didn't think a teacher was any good they wouldn't support him/her.
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 27, 2011 12:47 am

I agree! :goodpost:

:anjali:
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby kirk5a » Fri May 27, 2011 1:03 am

Alex123 wrote:"One should not make the Dhamma a trade."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:goodpost:
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby danieLion » Fri May 27, 2011 8:21 am

I do not know if my perception is typcial but as a newcomer it turns me off.
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Kaktus » Fri May 27, 2011 9:49 am

Probably my viewpoint may help within this discussion.

In the last years i spent a good amount for different projects. A big part went to the upkeep of a local sangha. At that time they asked for some generous people to help as there was temporary not enough income through dana to hold the rooms. Beside myself one other person anonymously helped out for about a year until the income increased and no further help was necessary.

But times changes and at the moment there is not so much money available to be as generous as in earlier times.

Now i´m planing to go on an retreat in July. I know right now, that i can´t pay the amount that is suggested from the organizer. The course is offered only for dana, no other fee.I´m very aware of this fact but the question is to accept not paying as much as would be perfect or not to go at all. And i decided to go. So you can call me a parasite now.

But this will be my first retreat. And it was complicated to generally get the free time. With travel costs (not really much) and loss of earnings during the retreat i spend more than i probably could afford.

From birthday and xmas presents i´ve saved some cash and will be glad to give it to the organizer. I could also get some money out the the housekeeping costs. But in this way my family would have to suffer from my very own cravings for a retreat. It should be clear that i don´t spend much money for my own desires. Ever so often i put some cash aside that would otherwise be spend for a DVD or novel. I also don´t drink or smoke or have any other expansive hobbies.

And to top it all i´ve just donated half of the saved cash for another purpose. One which i think is most important right now. So even less is over for the retreat.

All this, and the retreat as a whole, wouldn´t be possible for me if there were a fee. I intend to donate later whatever is missing to the suggested amount. Or more, whatever will be possible.

Am i a bad person therefore? Should i have postponed a real heart's desire to go on a retreat up till i´ll have enough revenue but almost surely no time to go for?
English isn´t my native language. So please accept my apologies for my kind of spelling and grammar ;-)
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby tiltbillings » Fri May 27, 2011 9:53 am

Kaktus wrote: The course is offered only for dana, no other fee.I´m very aware of this fact but the question is to accept not paying as much as would be perfect or not to go at all. And i decided to go. So you can call me a parasite now.
Not at all. You give, in good faith, what you can. No need to make yourself feel guilty about this.
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.

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Fri May 27, 2011 9:01 pm

Goof seems to be agreeing with Kirk, from what I could understand.

So people seem generally against the idea of lay dhamma teachers going full time and being paid a fee/salary for it. I think.. I guess I wouldn't mind even that, as long as the content of their message isn't influenced by the payment. I am surprised I must admit that more people aren't concerned that they will be sold flowery ineffectual 'dharma', which would sell better, than the real thing warts and all.
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby pilgrim » Sun May 29, 2011 10:15 am

Godwin Samararatne of the Nilambe Meditation Centrre in Kandy was one of the most well-known lay teachers in recent times. He taught for more than 20 years at the Centre. Does anyone know the model that was used there to sustain his teaching?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin_Samararatne
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby adosa » Sun May 29, 2011 3:03 pm

pilgrim wrote:Godwin Samararatne of the Nilambe Meditation Centrre in Kandy was one of the most well-known lay teachers in recent times. He taught for more than 20 years at the Centre. Does anyone know the model that was used there to sustain his teaching?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin_Samararatne


http://nilambe.org/practical.html

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Sun May 29, 2011 3:39 pm

A mixture of foreign exchange currency and local donations seems to be sufficient.

Also similar arrangement here:

http://www.nirodhatrust.org/NT/Home.html

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby pilgrim » Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:05 pm

The website states that some payment is expected from those who make use of the teachings and facilities at the Centers. Can we then assume that the management of the center then pays some money, however small to the teacher? I believe it'll be difficult for a layman to commit so much time to teaching, if his expenses directly incurred in teaching, plus perhaps additional sums to cover normal expenses of living a lay life are not taken care of.
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby danieLion » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:20 am

Jhana4 wrote:

4. A number of aggressive teachers are making it into a significant money making enterprise, getting legal, getting corporate and getting nasty.

Hi Jhana4,
I agree. Were you thinking of any teachers in particular?
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:53 am

The conclusion I came to after this thread and others on DW is that if I am to 'safeguard the Truth' what I teach/others teach must not in anyway be influenced by personal gain (especially money). The Buddha I feel is 'on the money' once again, on this matter of not teaching the dhamma for personal gain. I rather be able to say/hear the dhamma according to the suttas, in all it's effective rawness than these flowery concoctions which inadvertently lead to subtle attachment to the 'spiritual'.

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby cooran » Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:21 am

Hello all,

Patrick Kearney always gives a talk during the Retreat on the Economy of the Gift. He does not charge for his teaching of retreats (I was recently on a 16 day Retreat of his in Perth).

In the Buddhist tradition, the dhamma teachings of wisdom and compassion are felt to be of such great value that one cannot put a price on it, it can not be bought or sold in the market place, it is priceless.

The teachings of liberation have been passed down through the generations by this ancient practice of dana: receiving and transmitting these teachings as a gift. All fees charged by the Organisers for retreats are simply to cover the basic expenses, food, accommodation.
Patrick does not charge a fee, the teachings are given freely - as does Sobhana and the other insight meditation teachers in Australia.

When we hear these teachings we are touched and moved, and the feelings of appreciation and gratitude naturally express themselves in the act of generosity by offering dana to the teacher, thus circulating and completing the gift. This natural response marks our entry into the economy of gift, where buying and selling are replaced by giving and receiving, and where the defining relationship is one of spiritual friendship. The act of giving is a declaration of mutual respect. Giver and receiver recognise they share the same fundamental values and concerns.

The gift takes us beyond the limitations of our normal self-interest and opens us to a life of mutual care, called good friendship (kalyana mitta) by the Buddha. The practice of generosity is consider to be one of the highest virtures in the Buddhist tradition, as within every act of generosity, there is also the act of relinquishment, thus cultivating the spirit of letting go.

The teachings, meditations and retreats offered through his website are all offered on a dana (gift) basis. If you wish to support this work one way would be to make a payment into Patrick’s bank account. Any gift is greatly appreciated and will help to continue to nurture the dhamma in Australia and beyond. May the virtue of your gift be a support for you and for all beings to attain freedom and liberation … the complete cessation of suffering.

Patrick encourages those who wish to give Dana to do it face-to-face with him. It is amazing just how hard that was to do the first time. In the West, we are so used to donating anonymously or via credit card or internet, that we feel almost embarrassed giving the envelope into the hands of the teacher. But the smiles and exchange of greetings and appreciative remarks during the process (from both sides) are interesting and beneficial. It was a growth experience. Though those who couldn't do it, could still put a note in the Dana box.

So - in my opinion, accommodation and food may be paid for, but the Dhamma Teachings are not to be bought and sold.

with metta
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:58 am

pilgrim wrote:The website states that some payment is expected from those who make use of the teachings and facilities at the Centers. Can we then assume that the management of the center then pays some money, however small to the teacher? I believe it'll be difficult for a layman to commit so much time to teaching, if his expenses directly incurred in teaching, plus perhaps additional sums to cover normal expenses of living a lay life are not taken care of.

Cooran wrote:When we hear these teachings we are touched and moved, and the feelings of appreciation and gratitude naturally express themselves in the act of generosity by offering dana to the teacher, thus circulating and completing the gift. This natural response marks our entry into the economy of gift, where buying and selling are replaced by giving and receiving, and where the defining relationship is one of spiritual friendship.

The problem, as I see it, is what happens to a teacher in the gap between these two models.
The 'economy of the gift' is a lovely idea but a structure for it has to be put in place by (or for) each lay teacher who wishes to commit a large amount of time to teaching, in a society which has no tradition of dana for teachers.
I know one lay teacher of Buddhist meditation whose commitments have gradually spread into chaplaincy work. She is putting in maybe ten hours per week (maybe a bit more - she doesn't talk about it much) and juggling her shift work around it. Students in the meditation class give donations but the teacher has never even considered accepting anything for herself so the donations cover administrative costs and the remainder goes to Buddhist charities overseas.
As things stand, the teacher is meeting the demands upon her time but she can't give much more time to it, no matter how willing she is, without giving up (some of) her paid work - with the usual consequences for her family. I don't think it is fair that she should to do that unless she can replace that income.
There are two sides to being able to put some money in her hands: (1) she has to accept that it is 'all right' to take some money, after years of not doing so, and (2) the group which helps organise the classes has to change the financial arrangements so as to pass some money her way.
Is there any fundamental difference between the group saying, "Dear teacher, please take for yourself half of the money in the donations jar after each class," and, "Dear teacher, the average amount of money in the donations jar is usually about $50. We would like to pay you $25 out of it for each class" ?
The first is nominally a gift, the second is apparently a fee. Does it matter? If so, why?

:namaste:
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:39 am

Bump.
It's a real-life question, it has been bothering me for months, and I really would appreciate your input.

:namaste:
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby kirk5a » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:04 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:Bump.
It's a real-life question, it has been bothering me for months, and I really would appreciate your input.

:namaste:
Kim

What's the problem with how things are now, as you described above? Are there more demands for this teacher's time, being made by students? If not, why does she need to spend more time on teaching, and thereby have a financial problem?
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