Selling the dharma

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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby Son of Buddha » Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:02 pm

Jikan wrote:
justsit wrote:
KonchokZoepa wrote:justsit that would be a good thing if buddhism would be a registered religion like christianity.

What difference would it make if it was registered or not?


Depending on the country, this is necessary for tax purposes. It's not so easy for a religious group to get tax-exempt status as it is in the US (in Europe especially). it took several years for the Tendai sangha to get such status in Denmark, for instance.


Churches Need Not Apply In order to be considered for tax-exempt status by the IRS an organization must fill out and submit IRS Form 1023 and 1024. However, note what the IRS says regarding churches and church ministries, in Publication 557: Some organizations are not required to file Form 1023. These include: Churches, interchurch organizations of local units of a church, conventions or associations of churches, or integrated auxiliaries of a church, such as a men’s or women’s organization, religious school, mission society, or youth group. These organizations are exempt automatically if they meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3).

Churches Are “Automatically Tax-Exempt” According to IRS Code § 508(c)(1)(A): Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations. (a) New organizations must notify secretary that they are applying for recognition of section 501(c)(3) status.
(c) Exceptions. (1) Mandatory exceptions. Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to—(A) churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches. This is referred to as the "mandatory exception" rule
. Thus, we see from the IRS’ own publications, and the tax code, that it is completely unnecessary for any church to apply for tax-exempt status. In the IRS’ own words a church “is automatically tax-exempt.”

You can start a church tommorro Jikan.
(do study the 503 ca to make sure ypur in line with legal aspects,there is a thin line between a preacher stealing from the church (fraud) and a preacher who has a very very large salary
(joel olstein,pat robertson)

If your Tendai temple needs any help with legal laws concerning the church just ask me and Im pretty sure I can find you the legal codes from there just check with an IRS represetative on the ingormation and run with it.

Peace and Love
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby justsit » Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:20 pm

Jikan wrote:
justsit wrote:Sorry, I guess I wasn't clear. I was referring to donation of the money pre-tax; that is, as part of gross income, not after tax dollars. It would obviously be a larger amount donated. Nothing to do with the status of the organization, nor with charitable contribution tax deductions on tax returns.


I'm so ignorant. I didn't even know this was possible. (is it possible in the US?)


Oh boy, I'm clear as mud today. Let's do an example.

Say you make $5000/month gross. Each month you would donate $500 to your dharma center. The $500 amount is 10% of your gross. You have paid that money out of your net take home pay, which may only be, say $4000, since taxes have been taken out already.

The difference being, your take home pay ($4000) is less than your gross pay ($5000). So giving 10% of the gross ($500) to the dharma center is more than giving 10% of your net ($400). It is better for the dharma center, but harder on your pocketbook.

If your dharma center has tax exempt status, you could still then deduct the $500/mo. from your income tax as a charitable contribution, if you so choose (up to whatever limit the law allows, and you would need a letter from the dharma center stating you received no goods or services for your contribution).

All this pertains only to USA laws.

Tithing is a fairly common, mostly voluntary Christian practice.
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby reddust » Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:26 am

I'm broke, no retreats or classes for me :shrug: EDIT: That's okay I had over 20 years of lots of study and access to teachers.
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 02, 2013 3:30 am

Son of Buddha wrote:
Churches Need Not Apply In order to be considered for tax-exempt status by the IRS an organization must fill out and submit IRS Form 1023 and 1024. However, note what the IRS says regarding churches and church ministries, in Publication 557: Some organizations are not required to file Form 1023. These include: Churches, interchurch organizations of local units of a church, conventions or associations of churches, or integrated auxiliaries of a church, such as a men’s or women’s organization, religious school, mission society, or youth group. These organizations are exempt automatically if they meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3).

Churches Are “Automatically Tax-Exempt” According to IRS Code § 508(c)(1)(A): Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations. (a) New organizations must notify secretary that they are applying for recognition of section 501(c)(3) status.
(c) Exceptions. (1) Mandatory exceptions. Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to—(A) churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches. This is referred to as the "mandatory exception" rule
. Thus, we see from the IRS’ own publications, and the tax code, that it is completely unnecessary for any church to apply for tax-exempt status. In the IRS’ own words a church “is automatically tax-exempt.”

You can start a church tommorro Jikan.
(do study the 503 ca to make sure ypur in line with legal aspects,there is a thin line between a preacher stealing from the church (fraud) and a preacher who has a very very large salary
(joel olstein,pat robertson)

If your Tendai temple needs any help with legal laws concerning the church just ask me and Im pretty sure I can find you the legal codes from there just check with an IRS represetative on the ingormation and run with it.

Peace and Love


Thank you for this very helpful information. Right now our little group in DC/NoVA is in the early stages of getting organized as a branch of a New York nonprofit (Tendai Buddhist Institute), which should make it possible for us to do a number of different things we want to do, among them buying some property for use as a proper temple (we currently rent). Long term goals. Anyway... It's a confusing confusing process. Any guidance you may offer is warmly welcomed (please PM). thanks
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby justsit » Mon Dec 02, 2013 2:20 pm

Is tithing a viable option in Western countries to maintain teachers and dharma centers?

Would you be willing to tithe to support your teacher/center?
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 02, 2013 2:42 pm

justsit wrote:Is tithing a viable option in Western countries to maintain teachers and dharma centers?

Would you be willing to tithe to support your teacher/center?


I think some groups attempt to do something like tithing in the form of membership: that is, if I donate a certain sum, I will be considered a member of this temple (analogous to the danka system in Japan).
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby Son of Buddha » Mon Dec 02, 2013 5:48 pm

Jikan wrote:
justsit wrote:Is tithing a viable option in Western countries to maintain teachers and dharma centers?

Would you be willing to tithe to support your teacher/center?


I think some groups attempt to do something like tithing in the form of membership: that is, if I donate a certain sum, I will be considered a member of this temple (analogous to the danka system in Japan).



Oh no the Danka system...........I really dont want to become an "official card carrying Buddhist"
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 02, 2013 5:59 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:Oh no the Danka system...........I really dont want to become an "official card carrying Buddhist"


I'm certain that if you wished to make a regular donation to the upkeep of the temple, no one would object if you declined to carry a membership card. (No one's given me a membership card but they still let me in... Good thing Buddhist temples aren't Costco.)

Membership in the temple means that you have a voice in the temple's direction and activities. It also means you've made a commitment to the temple's ongoing existence--you vote in favor of keeping the thing alive. It's less about keeping a Buddhist identity than in participating in Buddhist social life, which is of central importance in East Asian Buddhist traditions as the heart of practice itself. Related:

http://blogs.dickinson.edu/buddhistethi ... ock001.pdf
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby Tsultrim T. » Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:57 am

Adamantine wrote:
padma norbu wrote:Have you been privy to the inner workings of the majority of dharma centers in the west? I don't think that's possible.


I have been privy to enough to have a sense for the complexity of the issue, yes.


I agree with Adamantine that it is a complex issue. The handful of large Dharma centers I have seen the inner workings of run mainly on a few very well off sponsors or donations coming from Asia (Tai Wan and China). Many of the teachers do not themselves ask for donations for the teachings but often it is a necessity as the buildings they rent for teachings or having to pay property tax etc all costs money.

As for the original poster's question, I was about to start an import business of hard to find practice items, statues and thangkas a few years back and my Tibetan friends and family and teacher all advised against it. Even though I wanted to provide (in my mind) a great service to practitioners by offering the best possible quality items, rarely found in the West at a fair price, they all felt the heavy karma associated with such a business would out weigh the benefits. One of my teacher's nephews was running such a business a and he ran into such obstacles that he had to give it up. In general I would advise anyone to be very cautious entering into any kind of business where one profits from the Dharma.
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby padma norbu » Tue Dec 03, 2013 5:28 am

Adamantine wrote:
padma norbu wrote:Have you been privy to the inner workings of the majority of dharma centers in the west? I don't think that's possible.


I have been privy to enough to have a sense for the complexity of the issue, yes.


That's not really what I was asking. I asked if you've been privy to the inner workings of the majority of dharma centers in the west. Do most of the ones you've been privy to turn a 6-figure profit and declare a single salary of less than $30k? Consider these hypothetical figures to get some feedback from you about the numbers you've seen. Also, how many centers are you talking about when you say you've been "privy to enough to have a sense for the complexity of the issue?"

But, the OP is really talking about more than that, which I'll get to in my reply to Tsultrim...

Tsultrim T. wrote:I agree with Adamantine that it is a complex issue. The handful of large Dharma centers I have seen the inner workings of run mainly on a few very well off sponsors or donations coming from Asia (Tai Wan and China). Many of the teachers do not themselves ask for donations for the teachings but often it is a necessity as the buildings they rent for teachings or having to pay property tax etc all costs money.

As for the original poster's question, I was about to start an import business of hard to find practice items, statues and thangkas a few years back and my Tibetan friends and family and teacher all advised against it. Even though I wanted to provide (in my mind) a great service to practitioners by offering the best possible quality items, rarely found in the West at a fair price, they all felt the heavy karma associated with such a business would out weigh the benefits. One of my teacher's nephews was running such a business a and he ran into such obstacles that he had to give it up. In general I would advise anyone to be very cautious entering into any kind of business where one profits from the Dharma.


I think if you examine the OP in this thread, you'll see I think I was more discussing the idea of being a dharma teacher than I was talking about different dharma centers. That would include all kinds of things, like different kinds of yoga, meditation, massage, maybe some tibetan medicine... It seems like there are a lot of people coasting through life in this field. They own houses and travel freely compared to my broke ass, struggling to get enough money and time for a single weekend retreat.
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby Adamantine » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:23 am

padma norbu wrote: I asked if you've been privy to the inner workings of the majority of dharma centers in the west.
No of course not, but neither have you.

Do most of the ones you've been privy to turn a 6-figure profit
Certainly not.

and declare a single salary of less than $30k?
Certainly



Also, how many centers are you talking about when you say you've been "privy to enough to have a sense for the complexity of the issue?"
A few.


I think if you examine the OP in this thread, you'll see I think I was more discussing the idea of being a dharma teacher
Well, go ahead if you want to lead yourself and others to the lower realms. . . I don't think it's a huge leap for me to conclude that you are not qualified.

compared to my broke ass, struggling to get enough money and time for a single weekend retreat.


I think this is at the heart of your OP: you're in financial straights: you and most people in the world. Me too. Now, can we get back to practicing Dharma? The point isn't, after all, to make this life easy... though it would be nice of course if it had that side effect.

Please remember, in the TOS it states " this is a site to learn and discuss the Buddha's teachings without animosity." While it is of course completely acceptable to question the financial conduct of Buddhist institutions --and we should, if we think any of them in particular are running a for-profit-business that is against the very spirit of Dharma. But to over generalize, hurling a wide net of accusations, and making facetious statements about wanting to become a Dharma teacher to get wealthy --all together these begin to create an animus feeling and environment.
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby padma norbu » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:54 am

Adamantine wrote:
padma norbu wrote: I asked if you've been privy to the inner workings of the majority of dharma centers in the west.
No of course not, but neither have you.


Seems like a false equivalency. Was I stating anything remotely that I know how the majority of dharma centers are run? No. You seemed to be.
Adamantine wrote:
Do most of the ones you've been privy to turn a 6-figure profit
Certainly not.
Okay, so this is quite different from what I'm thinking of.

Adamantine wrote:
Also, how many centers are you talking about when you say you've been "privy to enough to have a sense for the complexity of the issue?"
A few.
Okay, so "a few" is definitely not close to "the majority of dharma centers." I'm thinking of one in particular that already doesn't match up to the idea you had, so I'm sure there are at least a few more out there.

Adamantine wrote:
I think if you examine the OP in this thread, you'll see I think I was more discussing the idea of being a dharma teacher
Well, go ahead if you want to lead yourself and others to the lower realms. . . I don't think it's a huge leap for me to conclude that you are not qualified.
I could get the certifications in a relatively short time, but you kind of hit the nail on the head. I don't think charging money is a good idea unless you want to go to lower realms, anyway.

compared to my broke ass, struggling to get enough money and time for a single weekend retreat.

Adamantine wrote:I think this is at the heart of your OP: you're in financial straights: you and most people in the world. Me too. Now, can we get back to practicing Dharma? The point isn't, after all, to make this life easy... though it would be nice of course if it had that side effect.

Please remember, in the TOS it states " this is a site to learn and discuss the Buddha's teachings without animosity." While it is of course completely acceptable to question the financial conduct of Buddhist institutions --and we should, if we think any of them in particular are running a for-profit-business that is against the very spirit of Dharma. But to over generalize, hurling a wide net of accusations, and making facetious statements about becoming a Dharma teacher to get wealthy --these all together begin to create an animus feeling and environment.

I don't think you'll find any animosity in my posts and they are in the correct location.
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby Adamantine » Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:53 am

padma norbu wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
padma norbu wrote: I asked if you've been privy to the inner workings of the majority of dharma centers in the west.
No of course not, but neither have you.


Seems like a false equivalency. Was I stating anything remotely that I know how the majority of dharma centers are run? No.
Well, actually.. when you said:
I was always under the impression that dharma organizations are struggling to get by, which is why I always donated more than I could afford. Learning this high profitability has raised a new issue within me: am I being selfish for not wanting to spend a few hundred for a weekend class so some teacher can make a cool grand in about 8 hours?
Then it creates a general portrait that this is happening in a widespread way: you are not talking about a specific center, but a larger trend in Dharma centers that you seem to think should justify being stingy in retaliation.

You seemed to be.


No, you posed an absurd question. I said:

I have been privy to enough to have a sense for the complexity of the issue


Which in no way indicates that I pretend inside knowledge as to how the majority of dharma centers are run, but rather, that having knowledge of how some are run, I have "a sense for the complexity of the issue".

I don't think you'll find any animosity in my posts and they are in the correct location.[
If you're not feeling animosity and / or bitterness, then I suggest you take a big step back and reconsider your
communication tactics. Because you are not communicating your feelings or intentions adequately, imho.

Anyway, I am sorry you are frustrated. However, instead of responding to pertinent points that have been made reasonably, you choose to deflect.
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby Adamantine » Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:42 am

Topic unlocked. I hope the time out provided some time for reflection and hopefully we can all try to discuss these types of difficult and complex issues in a constructive way, rather than a cynical and bitter way. Certainly there are Dharma teachers and centers who take advantage of people financially and otherwise. This is degeneration, and should be avoided or should be called out. But there are also many Dharma centers and teachers who are just getting by, and need all the support they can get to continue providing the pure Dharma to people.

It does take no small resources to maintain properties for retreat facilities and urban temples.. If we don't collectively support these places, then soon we will have no urban temples or rural retreat centers to attend teachings, pujas or to do retreats at. It is also a great opportunity for us to generate merit: to make offerings freely for these endeavors. Paying a donation vs. a fee for precious teachings is just semantics, unless one is truly too broke to do it. But then, how many of us that claim we are too broke to offer money for Dharma teachings wouldn't think twice about going out to a movie, or out to lunch or dinner, etc. ? Most of us spend a lot of money that is truly not necessary and then we complain about being asked to support Dharma centers or Dharma teachers. This is a typical cultural phenomenon, where hedonistic selfish interests prevail above all else . If we are sincere practitioners we should always be happy to make any offerings to the 3 Jewels. This doesn't mean being stupid and making offerings to false representations of the 3 Jewels though, like charlatan teachers who are intoxicated by the 5 poisons and who are trying to get famous and wealthy or worse.. But that is the exception, in my experience, not the norm.
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby AnShen » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:51 am

I would just like to say that I am really appreciative of the way Theravada Buddhism has embraced the concept of "open-source". More than any other Buddhist tradition, I find that Theravada goes out of their way to make books and instructional materials available free of charge. This is often closely associated with their idea that the Dhamma is a gift.

It seems to me that we are living at a time when conventional models of production and consumption are breaking at the seams. People are starting to explore alternative forms of exchange. We are seeing the emergence of local currencies, digital currencies like Bitcoin, work exchange like the "TEM" system in Greece, improvised gift economies like "Really Free Markets", etc. It seems to me that Buddhist institutions, especially those in the West, might do well to join in this exploration outside the realm of conventional economic relations.
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby padma norbu » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:15 am

Adamantine, I haven't read all your posts because I glanced a few sentences and am not interested in what I see there. But, I've gone on long, explanatory jags before only to be confronted by more of the same sort of response (other people telling me what I am thinking and saying and doing). I try to be about as blunt and level-headed as possible at all times; if that means making a facetious comment to open a dialogue and put some bare facts out there to scrutinize, that's what it means. No more, no less. I'm not lumping all dharma practitioners or teachers or centers and sanghas in one group and criticizing it. I didn't even name any names, for Pete's sake. If I seem too cynical or bitter for you, I can guarantee you wouldn't think so if you met me. I know of no better way to have a serious discussion than to get serious about it. If I wanted to stand by the lake and skip rocks, that's what I'd be doing. There's no point having a half-ass dialogue about this topic.
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby Adamantine » Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:22 am

AnShen wrote: It seems to me that Buddhist institutions, especially those in the West, might do well to join in this exploration outside the realm of conventional economic relations.


Well, I think that happens all of the time in the form of work-study opportunities. However I agree, there could be a greater variety of options to pursue in this regards. If you have any great brainstorms, you should let us all know. Or start a thread on it so we can all add ideas as they arise. But these institutions often still have overhead they need to cover with valid currency. . . and that probably won't go away too quickly.
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby Karinos » Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:47 pm

Anyone can organize Dharma event, really ....

1. Invite less known Lama/Rinpoche to your country (who can use English at least) there are literally dozens or hundreds of teachers out there who'd appreciate chance to go abroad and teach,
2. Ask teacher not to bring assistants, most of them can do pretty well all tormas and altar preparations themselves with your help (if sadhana or abisheka is planned),
3. Organize Visa, buy plane ticket, invite to your home, make separate room available, organize nice food, little attractions like city tour etc,
4. Book meeting room for people to come for teaching (it doesn't have to be Dharma center, any meeting room will do),
5. Announce event for Sangha,
6. Make free entry - people can offer whatever they want to teacher directly,

here ... everybody happy.

For single sponsor it's maybe a little, but usually for westerners it's less then two weeks holidays in any exotic destination.
if you can sponsor this you will make many people happy :) if they won't come ... ohh well maybe they are after fame of teacher and not really after Dharma
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby pemachophel » Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:07 pm

Karinos,

This is exactly what my wife and I do on a regular basis. Since we have a big house, we don't need to rent a meeting space. We have made a large shrine-room in our home that can fit 40-50 people when necessary. We pay for all the costs of getting the Teacher to our home and feeding and housing Them while here. We do not charge anything, unless the Teacher says to publish a price per event which did happen recently. Otherwise, we make a largish donation to the Teacher and then allow everyone else to simply offer what they can/wish to. After a lifetime of work and now being retired and reasonably well off, it feels really wonderful to be a jin-dag and to be able to do this kind of thing. My wife and I are very concerned about "charging for Dharma" as well as for especially the younger, impecunious Dharma students. So far, this model is working quite well. BTW, we have been tithing for years, through times of poverty and times of prosperity, and this is something we encourage others to do. How much is the Dharma worth to one? I also think annual memberships in sanghas are a good idea. I don't see that as "paying for the Dharma" but as supporting the place where Dharma can be taught.

:namaste:
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Re: Selling the dharma

Postby justsit » Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:53 pm

pemachophel wrote: BTW, we have been tithing for years, through times of poverty and times of prosperity, and this is something we encourage others to do. How much is the Dharma worth to one? I also think annual memberships in sanghas are a good idea. I don't see that as "paying for the Dharma" but as supporting the place where Dharma can be taught.


This. :twothumbsup:
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