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Aloka
19 Nov 11, 10:44
Dear friends,

As the new guidelines for this Beyond Belief forum are: "A forum for free enquiry and critical exploration of Buddhism in the modern world," I thought you might like to discuss this article from the UK Guardian newspaper.


The Buddhist organisations that are thriving during the debt crisis

by Mary Finnigan

"In times of financial hardship, meditators are still willing to pay large fees to hear the teachings of high-profile Buddhists"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/nov/18/buddhism-debt-crisis


.

Karma
19 Nov 11, 14:41
I guess there are many who think they can buy wisdom or that there is some secret teaching that will be passed to them if they pay lots for it. Or maybe it’s just that they admire the teacher and have the spare cash to spend just to see him give a talk.
The article seems to me imply that people might be being taken advantage of although they did mention much cheaper alternatives in the UK. They didn’t mention all the free web based teachings and pod casts that are available.
Personally I would not pay any more than around £30 to go to a talk, it wouldn’t feel right.
My Meditation group recently had Brad Warner do a talk and this only cost £20 per person for 50 people.

Aloka
19 Nov 11, 14:52
Everything at western Theravada Forest tradition monasteries is free.....talks
and question and answer sessions with tea in between, meditation instruction, accomodation, retreats, all free. One gives a donation if one is able to.

There are also free books !

.

Karma
19 Nov 11, 20:22
Everything at western Theravada Forest tradition monasteries is free.....talks
and question and answer sessions with tea in between, meditation instruction, accomodation, retreats, all free. One gives a donation if one is able to.

There are also free books !

.But I couldn't go to one without paying them at least what they say it costs to put on the retreat per person.

Aloka
19 Nov 11, 20:26
But I couldn't go to one without paying them at least what they say it costs to put on the retreat per person.

That's up to you though, its not compulsory.

ratikala
19 Nov 11, 20:44
Everything at western Theravada Forest tradition monasteries is free.....talks
and question and answer sessions with tea in between, meditation instruction, accomodation, retreats, all free. One gives a donation if one is able to.

There are also free books !

.

dear aloka ,

ah , haa ....this is the true perfection of giving , .....Dharma and the correct conditions ;D

of all the teachings I have attended over the years the most wonderfull were given by the most simple monks or humble practitioners , one went in expecting nothing , and came away with the most wonderfull blessing .

namaskars :hands: ratikala

andyrobyn
19 Nov 11, 21:02
Everything at western Theravada Forest tradition monasteries is free.....talks
and question and answer sessions with tea in between, meditation instruction, accomodation, retreats, all free. One gives a donation if one is able to.

There are also free books !

.

It is wonderful that the tradition is able to continue to do this - obviously they have/ or have had benefactors who enable this to happen.

Aloka
19 Nov 11, 21:09
It is wonderful that the tradition is able to continue to do this - obviously they have/ or have had benefactors who enable this to happen.

Oh sure - the books for example, are printed free by supporters of the monasteries. The tradition follows the ancient custom of the monks eating one daily meal offered by lay practitioners and so on.

andyrobyn
19 Nov 11, 21:09
I guess there are many who think they can buy wisdom or that there is some secret teaching that will be passed to them if they pay lots for it. Or maybe it’s just that they admire the teacher and have the spare cash to spend just to see him give a talk.
The article seems to me imply that people might be being taken advantage of although they did mention much cheaper alternatives in the UK. They didn’t mention all the free web based teachings and pod casts that are available.
Personally I would not pay any more than around £30 to go to a talk, it wouldn’t feel right.
My Meditation group recently had Brad Warner do a talk and this only cost £20 per person for 50 people.


The other side of this position is that it is skillful to " put our money where our mouth is ", so to speak, and rather than buying wisdom, maybe the individuals chose to now spend their money at the centre rather than the pub or to buy a new consumer item.

When HHDL visits Australia the price of tickets precludes many lay practitioners from being able to attend.

Aloka
19 Nov 11, 21:16
The other side of this position is that it is skillful to " put our money where our mouth is ", so to speak, and rather than buying wisdom, maybe the individuals choose to now spend their money at the centre rather than the pub or to buy a new consumer item.

Well not necessarily, because that money could go to the sick or starving, rather than pay some of the over-inflated prices mentioned. How wealthy do some Buddhist organisations need to be?

How many statues and decorative what-nots do they realistically need at some of the centres? What does that have to do with the Buddha's teachings ?

andyrobyn
19 Nov 11, 21:17
I haven't read the article.

andyrobyn
19 Nov 11, 21:27
Nothing new or surprising in the article. I do not see the prices as overinflated and I guess I do not see the funds raised being used unwisely. In Australia it was possible to find out how funds from the tickets during the last HHDL visit I went to ( I travelled interstate from where I live to see him ) were used - my teacher showed me a break down of costs. To stimulate discussion I will offer that a lunch and dinner for the Tibetan community here were included.

Esho
19 Nov 11, 22:44
How wealthy do Buddhist organisations need to be? How many statues and decorative what-nots do they realistically need at some of the centres? What does that have to do with the Buddha's teachings ?

Yes. This is the importan issue.


"In common with pop musicians, footballers and corporate CEOs, it is the superstar Buddhist teachers who generate big money. Without them, many centres around the world would be hard pressed to make ends meet. As the older ones fade away, a new generation including the 17th Karmapa, is being groomed to take their place. These include the reincarnations of the late Ling Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. (Rinpoche means "precious one")."

Mary Finnigan (http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/newreply.php?do=postreply&t=1691)



We have a saying: "Faith moves mountains... (of money)"

The need and sense of protection, of belonging, etc., can lead toward spiritual materialism. To own a luxury car, a glamorous job and why not... a glamorous and exotic believe, too.

It is known that in Mexico the visits of the Dalai Lama (or the Pope) have similar treatment to those like the one of a Rock Star like Bono or M. Jagger or even like the once of a high profile politician.

On the other side, when I was a member of a Soto Zen sangha, the Roshi accepted to participate in a research project bringing books, teachings and Zen material to a female prison so to improve their conditions and mental health. Nowadays, having made inmate friends there, there is a group that is still doing meditation and studying basic Soto teachings. The last news I had, were that the Roshi was still supporting this group. All this for free.

;D

andyrobyn
19 Nov 11, 22:54
We have a saying: "Faith moves mountains... (of money)"



It is not possible to do much on a wide scale involving others without it, money that is ( or faith either really, at least anything worthwhile, in the case of faith anything worthwhile requires it in my experience ;) )

andyrobyn
19 Nov 11, 23:00
The need and sense of protection, of belonging, etc., can lead toward spiritual materialism. To own a luxury car, a glamorous job and why not... a glamorous and exotic believe, too.

;D

This is definately an aspect of the attraction to TB for many westerners seeking more meaning - in my experience it soon fails to be glamorous, exotic and exciting enough in reality and the drive to move on to something else is strong.

andyrobyn
19 Nov 11, 23:08
When I was a member of a Soto Zen sangha, the Roshi accepted to participate in a research project bringing books, teachings and Zen material to a female prison so to improve their conditions and mental health. Nowadays, having made inmate friends there, there is a group that is still doing meditation and studying basic Soto teachings. The last news I had, were that the Roshi was still supporting this group. All this for free.

;D

It is great that your practice was able to help bring about all of this Kaarine.

My point is that the books and bringing teachings require financial resources to happen - where ever they come from and like others here I am sure we do not mind contributing what we see as reasonable for us and commensurate for the activity involved.

Esho
19 Nov 11, 23:16
here I am sure we do not mind contributing what we see as reasonable for us and commensurate for the activity involved.

Of course Andy.

There is no free lunch.

;)

Esho
19 Nov 11, 23:21
This is definitely an aspect of the attraction to TB for many westerners seeking more meaning - in my experience it soon fails to be glamorous, exotic and exciting enough in reality and the drive to move on to something else is strong.

It was not a remark for TB, but a general known statement about faiths around the world, including, if the case, TB.

A understandable human fact and a standard cultural trait.

;D

andyrobyn
19 Nov 11, 23:30
I didn't think from your comment that you were making it at TB Kaarine - most of the examples in the article were from TB, and that with good reason as I suggested, it can all appear very appealing to a seeking western mind due to a magical and mystical slant - if the cap fits wear it and all that - lol ;)

woodscooter
20 Nov 11, 11:27
Certainly everything in the developed world is based on money, it's like money is the blood coursing through the veins of modern society. If it stops moving, we are all affected.

Buddhist organisations need to hire venues for public talks, they need publicity and ticketing too, and people to operate the venues, all this must be paid for.

It's possible to charge money to the people who attend a gathering, so those who benefit are those who pay.

An alternative is to pay for public talks and teachings out of general-purpose donations made to a foundation by supporters. Then the talks may be free to those who attend, but they are not free in any other sense.

Aloka
20 Nov 11, 12:27
An alternative is to pay for public talks and teachings out of general-purpose donations made to a foundation by supporters. Then the talks may be free to those who attend, but they are not free in any other sense

This may be the case for talks aimed at large sections of the general public which require hired venues - but at a Forest Tradition monastery, for example, all it takes is a large space where people who want to attend can sit down to listen to a talk given by a teacher - and ordained Theravadin monks don't charge for their services to others.......nor do they appear to be interested in PR and courting the media and celebrities.

.

ratikala
20 Nov 11, 12:56
namaste ,

I am going to comment on this deliberately before reading the article , and going off everyones comments allone ,
I am old enough to have experienced all sides of this debate first hand , I remember earlier days when tibetan buddhism was not so universaly recognised , the teachings were then smaller and of course much cheaper to host , every thing was simpler , no need for huge venues and the enormous costs involved in staging such events , and simply relied on borrowing colledge halls and relying on voulentary helpers to handle the management , or in the case of organised retreat centers , just borrowing enough chairs for a larger ordience .
things have progressed a long way in my thirty years of practice , and with change comes the inevitable benifits and losses , now that buddhism has attracted a wider audience , the benifits I experienced of smaller more personal teachings with the advantage of much more affordable ticket prices (or simple , by donation) have become a thing of the past .

the next progression was for each independant group to think of opening their own centers and retreats , this meant fund raising , for me it meant that I either worked for my keep or paying for a ticket , but this was simply a fact of life , a cost of providing dharma in the west , making it more accessable to a wider section of the comunity .

now in my case I did have some reservations about how this was being accheived and ended up leaving the western tibetan system and spending morer time visiting other , systems , hugely preffering the temple system , but even these rely heavily on donations from the lay comunity , within the culturaly buddhist by birth comunitys , this works well with the wealthier of the comunity donating very large sums , allowing for the support of the remainder of the comunity , but this old system dosent work so well in the west , allthough personaly I prefer this system and beleive strongly that this is how it should idealy be , but I think that we all realise that things dont allways conform with the idealistic veiw .

I think the only conclusion to be drawn from this is that we should do all we can on a personal level to make dharma accessable ,
it is true that fault can be found in any system , but I am not sure that we will be best spending our time by dwelling too heavily on the rights and wrongs ,
but using our energies to do what we can to help support the systems we beleive in .

namskars :hands: ratikala

srivijaya
20 Nov 11, 14:21
I remember earlier days when tibetan buddhism was not so universaly recognised , the teachings were then smaller and of course much cheaper to host ...
... in my case I did have some reservations about how this was being accheived and ended up leaving the western tibetan system
This very much mirrors my experience. Initially donations, people put in what they could afford, then fees, fees, fees. If you didn't have the cash, then hard luck.
I agree with Woodscooter regarding costs etc. but there is also the possibility of allowing for donations from wealthy patrons to offset costs incurred by those who cannot find the cash. There just needs to be the will for it and perhaps a bit less spent on grand glitzy stuff. Many Buddhist organisations are now run along corporate lines. A bit like the Christian monasteries before Henry Vlll asset-stripped them.:shocked: