To the extent that modern teachers or sanghas set up high societal bars to reach, economic barriers to enter, or design seminars only for the CEOs, the glitterati and the wealthy, this is a violation of what the Buddha intended. Whenever I see these 'glittered up' seminars, or ads that suggest special teachings at $10,000 a pop, I recoil. These kinds of seminars are shameful and only serve to diminish what Buddha was trying to teach.
My teachers have, I think, all been genuine, humble, and endlessly generous with offering the Dharma freely to anyone who asks.
I would be rather skeptical of teachings that are offered for a very high fee.
I would even go so far as to suggest that
the deeper one has to reach into one's pocket to pay for teachings
the shallower in depth the teachings will be.That being said...
making the dharma available is not an inexpensive endeavor.
Of course, it is true that there are many free books and plenty of stuff online.
And there are some groups who do measure people by how much money they give, and this is quite unfortunate.
but if a local sangha offers, say, a weekend teaching from a qualified teacher,
consider the costs involved in making that teaching available, consider it an investment,
and pay without attachment if you can.
I encourage people to save 25 cents a day specifically to pay for dharma teachings
or to give to support your local center.
it isn't very much, so you can save it without much attachment, and in a year you will save over $90
Which, in the United States, can usually pay for a weekend teaching event if it is not too elaborate.
In the west, where money seems to cause all sorts of stress
and we associate it with greed and materialism and so forth,
there is often a reluctance on behalf of students to support their local sanghas financially.
Not to mention the fact that that we have all been exposed to
those Sunday Morning preachers who ask for money all the time.
We have this imaginary picture of the happy barefoot sage,
going no place, coming from nowhere, with no money and no cares
la la la la la.
So, when the Buddhists ask us to make a big
we think, "WTF???"
So, somebody else usually picks up the tab. Is that good?
I used to operate a "store" at a dharma center,
where books, incense, malas, and various practice material were sold, to raise money for the center.
Somebody told me I should just sell the books at wholesale cost instead of marking the price up.
they said, this way people could get the dharma teachings for less money.
What a great idea.
But I told that person, in that case, only the people who could afford the books would benefit.
But if the center made money from the sale of the books, all beings would benefit.
Most dharma groups need money but they will usually accept help from people who want to volunteer to do things.
This has gotten away from the topic, perhaps. But I think the point is that elitism is best overcome when everybody offers what they can, and whether it is a tiny amount or a lot doesn't matter, as long as it is a generous and sincere offering.
At the same time, historically, buddhism has often been supported by rich donors who want extra-special treatment.
It's a pitiful thing, really. But hey, there are 84,000 roads to Dharma and people create their own paths.
Who am I to judge others?