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.
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---