“If we genuinely want to help beings, we must first perfect ourselves. If we make a lot of ambitious plans, doing business, collecting disciples, and setting ourselves up as teachers, we will end up like a spider caught in its own web. Spending our lives spinning such webs, we won't notice how fast time is passing until we suddenly realize that death is at hand. We will have used all our energy and gone through all sorts of hardships, but these hardships, unlike the trials of authentic spiritual practice, will not have helped us in the least to improve ourselves.”
--The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones, by Patrul Rinpoche, with commentary by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche [Kindle location: 750]
(In my opinion, I think it is better not to sell the Dharma. I know it looks like a lot of people get by quite well—jet-setting around the world and living lavishly, but I don’t know how they experience the world in their mind. I don’t think such a life style cultivates stability—even among some of the highest recognized “tulkus”. I just don’t think it works out very well for very long.
I also have a hard time with the prices for some retreats, but usually I have found that if the people at the Dharma Center are familiar with me and I offer to—cook, clean and so on—it can be a very beneficial way to receive Teachings in the Lhakang (at a lower or no financial cost) and get to know the Dharma practitioners at the Center more personally. By meeting the students—often over a hot stove, or mopping the floors, or pouring the butter lamps, I can get a better idea about the qualities of the Lama and the extended community of the Dharma Center.
I also find it useful to read the autobiographies of Lamas who received their training in Tibet. In these stories it becomes quite clear that the Teachings didn’t come cheaply for them either. Right now, I am reading “Like a Waking Dream: The Autobiography of Geshe Lhundub Sopa.)
“My uncle would have to sponsor my stay in Sera, paying for my food, clothing, and everything else.”
“The monastery itself did not ever provide support for its monks who were going to Sera, so my uncle accepted all the financial responsibility.”
“Some people wanted to go to the great Geluk monasteries for educational reasons, some wanted to be great practitioners or yogis. In either case, the emphasis was not on worldly comfort or gain but on a simple, disciplined life that had a religious motivation. One had to be aware of this fact in order to decide that this was the life that he wanted.”
(I also highly recommend “Surviving the Dragon” by Arjia Rinpoche)