Consider The Lilies Of The Goddamn Field: Notes on Paying for Spiritual Teachings
“I am secure, for I know who I am: a richly endowed child of God. I am secure in all I do, for I know my oneness with the divine process. I am secure in all I have, for I know my treasure is in my mind, not in my things. I live my life from day to day as if God’s supportive substance were as exhaustless and dependable as the air I breathe, which it most certainly is.” – Eric Butterworth
A friend asked me why I hated being required to pay for spiritual teachings. (This was in response to seeing that one had to pay $10 in order to listen to an Adyashanti audio). Here is my answer.
I have no problem with giving someone money as an expression of support and love for what they do, be it an artist, a spiritual teacher or a maid. But when they set it up as a business where one has no choice but to pay in order to hear the teaching, it’s a little different. Then it depends on the overall picture.
Spiritual teaching is a spontaneous expression of love and freedom. Does a bird ask for money when it sings?
An exchange is at the level of the assumption of separation and objects, and can come from an attitude of taking rather than giving, of need, want; or it can arise as an expression of something deeper.
If you saw a child and hugged him out of love, would you then ask for compensation, maybe take their sucker or something? 😉
If you went out to dinner and hung out with a friend, would you ask for money for the time spent? Charge for having sex with them? If you’re in that business, fine, but it’s a queasy combination being a professional spiritual teacher. Conflict of interests shall we say, or worldviews.
With Adyashanti’s website there is no choice: you have to pay to get the recording. There is no donation button.
With some spiritual retreats at beautiful locations it’s understandable, because one is paying for this whole package of the venue, the house, the organization, the food setup – a kind of vacation arrangement – there are a lot of expenses for them in that realm that you’re helping with (this is assuming it’s a teacher I love and consider a friend). But their teachings are freely given. But no one ever asked me or even mentioned a donation at satsangs at Francis Lucille’s for example. There was a bowl to give, to donate to, if one felt moved to. He does his teaching out of love and because people ask. The teaching is all about freedom.
On the other hand, at the Unitarian Universalist Church I used to go to (about 10 years or so ago), it was a different story: they asked for “voluntary donations”. However if you went to a musical event at the church for example, the people from the entrance table would track you down in the audience and ask you if you made a donation, very sternly. It was only an appearance of freedom.
A true sage knows Life will take care of them and there is nothing to fear. Consider the lilies of the goddamn field (O Brother Where Art Thou) and all that. 🙂
I was listening to the great American sage Robert Adams this morning (there are no coincidences):
“…truth teachings since the beginning of time have always been free. There should be no charge and no obligation for anybody to come to a true guru and a true teaching… a true guru is quiet and demands nothing.”
But the true guru is within, so ultimately there’s no need for you to pay.
You and the world are a projection of mind; but the guru, you, and God are One.
In any case, if there’s a teaching you need, or are meant to hear, it will appear.