Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

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Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby LastLegend » Tue May 10, 2011 4:43 pm

Well lets see. I would be so glad to see books written by the efforts to spread Buddhadharma that should be left at temples or else where for in this case English-speaking people to grab. Yes, these books should be free. And my hope to see this in the future. Out of compassion, Sutras have no copyright and Buddha did not charge to teach either. So I personally think that books should have no copyright also. Maybe I take for granted the fact that Sutras, dharma talks in DVD's and CD's, meditation courses, books are available for free at the Vietnamese temples in Vietnamese generally. However, there are cases where people try to get lay Buddhists to donate for taking the DVDs and CDs. This is a no no because giving Dharma (DVDs and CDs) should come from the heart/compassion. By suggesting people to donate will not gain any merits. And donations should be willing on donor's part to give. And really with DVDs and CDs, there should not be a donation jar next to these. I guess some people don't understand Buddhist teachings. If people really take Buddhist teachings to heart, then they should employ true giving by not hesitating to spend money, for example to buy blank DVD's and CD's and to burn and make copies if one knows how to. If you are able to give 5 dollars, then give 5 dollars. If you are able to give 50 dollars, then give 50 dollars. If people really take Karma to heart, then they should not expect to get anything in return for example in form of donation. However, if others people want to volunteer to give money to chip in for the efforts of bringing in more DVD's and CD's, then this is different. Of course what I am saying here is not limited to making DVD's and CD's but about giving in general...So in short, if willing giving should come from pure motive, sincerity, and respect. Otherwise there will be not much merits. BUT giving is a practice which takes time to perfect. I am still learning my self, so you can beat me up on this one.

What I am alluding to here also is the Western writers who write books to sell versus a pure motive to spread BuddhaDharma. I don't know if I agree with too much money to print books as an obstacle because pure motive will overcome such obstacle. With the intention to sell through having copyrights and such, I am not sure if such books are worth reading since that intention is what limits the writers from expressing the proper understanding of Buddhism. Why? because the writers' Mind are focusing on the intention but not on liberation of the teachings. So I am guessing the teaching of giving is usually not mentioned in these books. I am sure these books do provide benefits and perhaps interest/introduction to further explore Buddhism, but I am not sure if these books really express the proper understanding of Buddhism. Perhaps someone can offer an alternative view to this.

Another thing is Buddhists should live the Dharma. But who know maybe these writers don't consider themselves Buddhists.

May I be wrong.
Last edited by LastLegend on Tue May 10, 2011 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Chaz » Tue May 10, 2011 5:13 pm

LastLegend wrote:What I am alluding to here also is the Western writers who write books to sell versus a pure motive to spread BuddhaDharma.



Uh, what "Western writers" would those be?
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby LastLegend » Tue May 10, 2011 5:17 pm

Chaz wrote:
LastLegend wrote:What I am alluding to here also is the Western writers who write books to sell versus a pure motive to spread BuddhaDharma.



Uh, what "Western writers" would those be?


How about all writers?
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Jikan » Tue May 10, 2011 5:27 pm

Chaz wrote:
LastLegend wrote:What I am alluding to here also is the Western writers who write books to sell versus a pure motive to spread BuddhaDharma.



Uh, what "Western writers" would those be?


How about these guys?

viewtopic.php?f=64&t=3949&start=20#p37381
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Jikan » Tue May 10, 2011 5:28 pm

Chaz wrote:
LastLegend wrote:What I am alluding to here also is the Western writers who write books to sell versus a pure motive to spread BuddhaDharma.



Uh, what "Western writers" would those be?


Maybe this sort of thing?

viewtopic.php?f=49&t=2791&start
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Astus » Tue May 10, 2011 6:48 pm

Giving Dharma books freely exists in the West, primarily among Theravada communities where monks have no trouble giving out their writings without charge. Obviously monks don't need extra income since they're already covered. However, it explains why only a few books are for free: the writers do need the income. Well, perhaps those scholars who are employed full time by a university are not in need of money, but then they may not believe that their academic products should be free. Thing is, the economy of donations don't work very well in most Western communities, like when there are fees on retreats and even for being a member. Again, it can be explained by the lack of significant lay support that exists in Asia. Note also that many Westerners who practice Buddhism don't think of it as a religion but more as a hobby/training/lifestyle, unlike in case of Christianity and such. And when you refer to karma, you might have noticed this, many don't believe in that at all.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue May 10, 2011 6:53 pm

Lost Legend,

I understand your perspective. The thing is that in modern days one accomplishes little without money.
Organizations need money to survive, Buddhist or not. Some practitioners, who are also writers, need to survive. You don't eat good will, nor dress great intentions.
Of course Dharma shouldn't be transformed in a business. One has to be realistic though. Things cost money and our society is not equipped to support a Sangha in terms of mentality, law or infra structures.

In my case, when I think about the money I have, and it isn't that much, I wish I was wealthier to support my teacher's efforts to spread the Dharma.
When I read a book, clearly written and explained so that I, a westerner, can understand it, by someone who probably doesn't even need more money to survive, I feel deep gratitude. When I read about the sacrifices people used to endure in old Tibet to get the teachings I get by switching my computer on, paying a retreat or buying a book, I feel very, very fortunate.

As practitioners, perhaps we should be more worried about what we can give and not what we can receive freely. Our own generosity for the sake of Dharma, instead of thinking about how others should practice theirs.

Obviously that we should avoid scams and greedy teachers, but if we have a genuine teacher and gain appreciation for the Dharma, our worries become what else can we do more to help, either with money or with work. It comes naturally.

Happiness springs when we can offer something for the most precious thing we can ever find, the Buddhadharma teachings.
It's very easy to be generous towards Dharma. It is less easy to be generous towards our own enemies and still, we should.

If we start discussing terms regarding our generosity towards the Dharma, how can we ever hope to be generous towards our enemies?
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 10, 2011 6:56 pm

Astus wrote:Giving Dharma books freely exists in the West, primarily among Theravada communities where monks have no trouble giving out their writings without charge. Obviously monks don't need extra income since they're already covered. However, it explains why only a few books are for free: the writers do need the income. Well, perhaps those scholars who are employed full time by a university are not in need of money, but then they may not believe that their academic products should be free. Thing is, the economy of donations don't work very well in most Western communities, like when there are fees on retreats and even for being a member. Again, it can be explained by the lack of significant lay support that exists in Asia. Note also that many Westerners who practice Buddhism don't think of it as a religion but more as a hobby/training/lifestyle, unlike in case of Christianity and such. And when you refer to karma, you might have noticed this, many don't believe in that at all.


Unfortunately most academics make so little money with their books. They spend more money writing their books than they normally get back. However, as the saying goes: publish or perish.

As Buddhism settles down and gains roots, then facilities will become more and more freely available. But who knows? In the end Buddhism might not actually take sufficient root in the west. It is fashionable for the moment, but in three decades who knows.

I've noticed back home that the Vietnamese temple, which is rather well-funded by the local Vietnamese community, can afford to feed people for free and meditation retreats are by donation, while the Tibetan temple just gets by and thus has to charge a lot for retreats.

The Tibetan temple in order to do a meditation retreat needs to rent a lodge, which costs a lot. Meanwhile the Vietnamese temple built their own meditation retreat hall out in the countryside.

The solution perhaps is for groups to share their resources, but this is perhaps idealistic.
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby LastLegend » Tue May 10, 2011 6:57 pm

Calm down amigo!
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 10, 2011 6:58 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:Of course Dharma shouldn't be transformed in a business. One has to be realistic though. Things cost money and our society is not equipped to support a Sangha in terms of mentality, law or infra structures.


Unfortunately Buddhism has already undergone commodification.

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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby LastLegend » Tue May 10, 2011 7:00 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:Lost Legend,

I understand your perspective. The thing is that in modern days one accomplishes little without money.
Organizations need money to survive, Buddhist or not. Some practitioners, who are also writers, need to survive. You don't eat good will, nor dress great intentions.
Of course Dharma shouldn't be transformed in a business. One has to be realistic though. Things cost money and our society is not equipped to support a Sangha in terms of mentality, law or infra structures.

In my case, when I think about the money I have, and it isn't that much, I wish I was wealthier to support my teacher's efforts to spread the Dharma.
When I read a book, clearly written and explained so that I, a westerner, can understand it, by someone who probably doesn't even need more money to survive, I feel deep gratitude. When I read about the sacrifices people used to endure in old Tibet to get the teachings I get by switching my computer on, paying a retreat or buying a book, I feel very, very fortunate.

As practitioners, perhaps we should be more worried about what we can give and not what we can receive freely. Our own generosity for the sake of Dharma, instead of thinking about how others should practice theirs.

Obviously that we should avoid scams and greedy teachers, but if we have a genuine teacher and gain appreciation for the Dharma, our worries become what else can we do more to help, either with money or with work. It comes naturally.

Happiness springs when we can offer something for the most precious thing we can ever find, the Buddhadharma teachings.
It's very easy to be generous towards Dharma. It is less easy to be generous towards our own enemies and still, we should.

If we start discussing terms regarding our generosity towards the Dharma, how can we ever hope to be generous towards our enemies?


Hey amigo calm down! Too much tacos?

Puta...I kid I kid
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue May 10, 2011 7:06 pm

Huseng wrote:Unfortunately most academics make so little money with their books. They spend more money writing their books than they normally get back. However, as the saying goes: publish or perish.

As Buddhism settles down and gains roots, then facilities will become more and more freely available. But who knows? In the end Buddhism might not actually take sufficient root in the west. It is fashionable for the moment, but in three decades who knows.

I've noticed back home that the Vietnamese temple, which is rather well-funded by the local Vietnamese community, can afford to feed people for free and meditation retreats are by donation, while the Tibetan temple just gets by and thus has to charge a lot for retreats.

The Tibetan temple in order to do a meditation retreat needs to rent a lodge, which costs a lot. Meanwhile the Vietnamese temple built their own meditation retreat hall out in the countryside.

The solution perhaps is for groups to share their resources, but this is perhaps idealistic.

Well established Sanghas tend to do so. I guess it boils down to students, more than teachers. If students have enough interest, even if they are not very wealthy, they'll gather around an idea and participate in building the conditions to receive the Dharma. A lot has been achieved already. But unless money keeps flowing in, organizations are bound to collapse as they need maintenance. But I think as lot has been achieved already in the West. It's likely that at least some small deeply engaged communities survive, even if the "Dharma craze" fades. I once knew a guy who had cable, went to the movies, dinned in fancy restaurants commenting the high price of a fortnight retreat (that was quite inexpensive, really). That goes to show how much he valued Dharma. Unless this sort of mentality changes and people start putting their money where they have their mouth (because they all say that treasure the Dharma and all that rap), well organized communities have good chances to thrive.
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue May 10, 2011 7:08 pm

Huseng wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:Of course Dharma shouldn't be transformed in a business. One has to be realistic though. Things cost money and our society is not equipped to support a Sangha in terms of mentality, law or infra structures.


Unfortunately Buddhism has already undergone commodification.

Image

I have better
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue May 10, 2011 7:09 pm

LastLegend wrote:
Hey amigo calm down! Too much tacos?

Puta...I kid I kid

I'm calm. What makes you think otherwise? :smile:
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue May 10, 2011 7:18 pm

Seriously, do I seem stressed out? I don't know if I'm giving that impression in my post, but I'm not. Those are actually my ideas. I understand your perspective, Lost Legend, friend. But you see, if we all start thinking like that, Dharma in the West doesn't stand a chance. It's hard enough as it is. :smile:
Of course ideally all would be free of charge! Unfortunately such isn't possible.
We, and I'm sure you agree, should also cultivate generosity. You will also agree that being generous towards the Dharma is much easier than being generous with those who don't like us. And I'm sure you agree that equanimity is a goal, arising through wisdom, so we should also be generous towards our enemies. If we find it hard to be generous towards the Dharma, how on Earth will we ever be generous towards our enemies? That's really simple. :smile:

I just don't want you to consider my post a sort of attack to you. It's not. I hold you in great esteem, friend! :cheers:
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Astus » Tue May 10, 2011 7:47 pm

Good idea. We should make Dharma free instead of expecting others to do so. Mahayana sutras repeat regularly that we should keep, read, recite, copy and teach them.

By the way, this very forum is a gift in itself.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby LastLegend » Tue May 10, 2011 7:58 pm

No dawg, I think your mind is not very clear and erratic right now or I was not being very clear in what I said...Let me explain my hope is for the books to be available for free in the future perhaps on the lay Buddhists' part such as myself who is Asian for we do support Buddhadharma through donations and such. While Western Buddhists should strive to achieve this at some point. I understand that there are challenges as you and Astus have pointed out. When I say Western Buddhists and Asian Buddhists because apparently we don't go to the same temples and most Asians especially older generations do not speak English. And the fact that temples here (US for example) are not built to attract English-speaking Buddhists or people because the architect is still very Asian. It should be Western architect. Why? Because it's custom, you show respect and adapt to a custom when you live in a place that honors such custom.

As for the writers, I am sure there are those who write to make money. And there are those who write to spread Buddhadharma like you were alluding to in your passage. I can accept this, and I can accept that Buddhism is fairly new in the West, and that many people are still getting used to it. Because of these situations, I am sure there are those who write books to make money by taking advantage of these situations. And these books seem to cater to suit the lifestyle of people instead of focusing on liberation and such. And those who read these books will continue to absorb this trend of teachings. This is another issue that does not help with the development of Buddhism in the West for English speaking people.

The issue here is Western Buddhism is still growing and slowly getting serious about following Buddhism as Huseng said.

Lastly, giving is an issue for us all due to lack of teachings in this area.

Thanks Huseng
Last edited by LastLegend on Tue May 10, 2011 8:36 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby LastLegend » Tue May 10, 2011 8:01 pm

Astus wrote:Good idea. We should make Dharma free instead of expecting others to do so. Mahayana sutras repeat regularly that we should keep, read, recite, copy and teach them.

By the way, this very forum is a gift in itself.


Yes, it is our duty to keep it free. That's what I am saying. And encourage (instead of "expecting" since we have some sensibilities here) others to keep it free also. Also it would be better if we work together to keep it free.
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Tilopa » Tue May 10, 2011 8:29 pm

LastLegend wrote:Let me explain my hope is for the books to be available for free in the future perhaps on the lay Buddhists' part such as myself who is Asian for we do support Buddhadharma through donations and such.


Many free dharma books here although they do ask for a donation to cover postage:

www.lamayeshe.com/zencart/index.php?mai ... x&cPath=22
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Re: Giving: you have to pay to learn Buddhism?

Postby Jikan » Tue May 10, 2011 9:24 pm

I think the English-speaking world needs to work on dana-paramita a bit more. That in itself would make many more things possible, such as free publications and better care for the young, elderly, sick, and vulnerable. For starters.
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