Every once in a while, I get questioned about why I charge what I do for my online programs. Shouldn’t the dharma be free? People wonder. Why are you charging so much? Monks don’t charge, why do you? The inference being that anyone who does is a charlatan.
Every time someone takes it upon themselves to investigate me on this point, I take the time to explain my reasoning. I mean, there is intelligence in wanting to check someone’s motivation, especially when that someone purports to offer spiritual teachings. So, in that sense, I respect the question and it is an honor to engage in conversation. However, it is most often not presented as a question, but as a judgment. That is not an honor and it pisses me off.
The basic point is I am not a monastic. I don’t live in community where accommodations, food, and transportation are provided. I supply those things for myself. And btw, there is a long history of financial chicanery in the world of monasticism. Cultivation of patronage, favors, preferred seating (whether in the temple or the next life) abound. So just saying, “monks teach for free” is somewhat naïve.
The second basic point is we live in a consumerist society. Buddhism is now mixing with that society. What are we to do? Look down our noses at money and refuse to get involved because ick? Or dive in and work the system to our own advantage?
Check the video for my answer.
What do you think? I am happy to continue this conversation as long as it is a genuine exchange rather than thoughts from someone who has already made up their mind about what is what and who is who.
Certainty is very suspect, y’all.