Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

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zenman
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Re: Simhamukha Retreat @ Tara Mandala, May 19-27

Post by zenman »

I worked in festival and event production, and have been involved with organising of dozens of retreats, so I have a pretty good sense how much things cost. With the best food ingredients available, mostly organic, three meals per person a day costs roughly from 15€/17usd. For duration of 7 days, that adds up to 120 usd per person. This is the price range in UK and Scandinavia which is expensive. I would assume that US is cheaper.

At James Low's 4 day retreat they charge 78.88 usd for all meals. Double that for 8 days = 158 usd.
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Re: Simhamukha Retreat @ Tara Mandala, May 19-27

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Your expectations are out of whack by us standards, sorry. This is particularly so if a venue must be rented. Apparently your food also cooks and serves itself.

But seriously, do you have a point other than disparaging Tara Mandalas prices? This is getting old.

Jump into the Dharmic Fungibility thread if you wanna keep on the subject, I'm gonna clean this one up later, since its a retreat announcement. I'll migrate the posts later.
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Tata1
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by Tata1 »

If that is expensive for people from usa and europe imagine for someone from a third world country
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jake
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by jake »

I live in Europe but come from the US. I suspect there is a key factor that drives some of these (minor) price differences. In Europe many meeting venues are available at substantially reduced rates, because of State support. E.g. the event in the UK is held at a Girls school. In France one can rent an entire meeting hall for 150 people with kitchen for almost nothing because the State (and taxpayers) have made the decision to support social activities through very subsidized meeting venues. Borrowing or renting a Girls school during off season is very affordable because the school receives tuition and government money to cover long-term capital costs. This means you can rent the space for a week and only need to cover the electric bill, incidental staff, and minor wear and tear.

You don't have this in the US. Plus, in the US you have a very complicated legal situation which drives high insurance premiums. Further, I imagine Tara Mandala has any number of infrastructure needs (snow-clearing, fuel, etc.) that is not subsidized or provided for by the county or state government, unlike nearly anywhere I've lived in Western Europe. This must also impact their operating costs.

This said, I think it is completely asinine to complain about this and saddens me when contemplating the six paramitas. To complain that receiving the teachings of the Buddha at a Buddhist religious complex in the mountains of Colorado, per hour, costs what a pizza and drink cost in Paris and how in the UK you can get two pizzas and a drink for the same price is just flipping weird to me. On top of that, to complain about their price and ignore the incredible generosity they have offered through the work programme or scholarship programme is wrong. This should be praised. Having strangers show up to help run stuff is a pain in the butt. No matter how well-intentioned they are usually require more time, attention and direction than just doing it yourself. Further, the fact that they are able to offer scholarships tells me that some small part of my tuition for their event will help cover the cost of sharing the Dharma to someone else in the future. This should be a point of excitement. As should the fact that they have taken great pains to build such a beautiful facility.
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jake
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by jake »

Tata1 wrote: Wed Jan 30, 2019 9:21 am If that is expensive for people from usa and europe imagine for someone from a third world country
I'm guessing you missed the fact that many places offer scholarships. So what is there to imagine?
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Re: Simhamukha Retreat @ Tara Mandala, May 19-27

Post by treehuggingoctopus »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:53 pmI had no idea about the price difference.
It has always puzzled me.

I have just been rummaging through my notes, and it turns out that the most expensive Dharmic event I have ever been to was Tenerife in 2013, a 15-day long Mandarava retreat with ChNN. It took about 750 Euros out of my wallet (it was actually 1500 Euros for me and my wife) -- and I mean total costs, including the flights, shared taxis to the airport, accommodation (and we did not choose anything like the cheapest option), retreat price (back then it was not generosity-based yet), food (a bit on the frugal side, admittedly), etc.

The Italian retreats would have been slightly more expensive had they been equally long, I guess. In 2017 it was about 650 Euros per week (per person, again including flights and all), voluntary donation included -- but we really splashed out on food, wine and petrol that time, and spent most of the free time travelling around in a rented and fully insured car.

I would not be too surprised by the surprise of us Europeans. We really live in very different worlds.
To offer care and affection to sentient beings
In desperate situations who lack protection
Brings just as much merit as the meditation
On emptiness with compassion as its core—
So it has been said by glorious Lord Atisha.

Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche

If you cannot generate an altruistic mind, even extensive retreat will be of not much benefit.
Garchen Triptrul Rinpoche
zenman
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by zenman »

Tata1 wrote: Wed Jan 30, 2019 9:21 am If that is expensive for people from usa and europe imagine for someone from a third world country
I've actually seen a person say at Facebook that they couldn't attend Mingyur Rinpoche's events in Mexico because the price was so high. He also said his request for lower price was never answered by the organiser. Hopefully they forgot to answer due to human error, not because he didn't have money.
jake wrote: Wed Jan 30, 2019 9:34 am Borrowing or renting a Girls school during off season is very affordable because the school receives tuition and government money to cover long-term capital costs. This means you can rent the space for a week and only need to cover the electric bill, incidental staff, and minor wear and tear.
I have no problem with Tara Mandala or spreading the dharma and asking money for it. But there is an element of making money, doing business, in dharma and this I find a bit questionable ethically. Let's be honest and clear about that. Organisations make a lot of money with dharma events. It's not necessarily bad but since buddhism is concerned with ethics and these things are not openly discussed, it leaves some blind spots and raises questions.

Last year I joined a rather big retreat held in a rented private school. By very cautious calculation they made about 40 000 BP/53 000 usd of one event. I didn't know what jake says above and assumed the organisation had to pay high rent for the facility but apprently they didn't and actually made even more. On top of retreat fees, donations for rinpoche were asked several times and after the retreat when they sent an email of edited audio recordings, which they again asked 20 BP/26 usd for. Yes, the retreat was good, everyone was happy etc. but the business side is pretty harsh. Rinpoche teaches 6 such retreats this year, plus 6 weekend events. Then there is the book sales. Do the math. We are talking about million dollars of profit or close on annual basis.
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Zen might be cheaper.
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jake
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by jake »

zenman wrote: Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:47 pm Last year I joined a rather big retreat held in a rented private school. By very cautious calculation they made about 40 000 BP/53 000 usd of one event. I didn't know what jake says above and assumed the organisation had to pay high rent for the facility but apprently they didn't and actually made even more. On top of retreat fees, donations for rinpoche were asked several times and after the retreat when they sent an email of edited audio recordings, which they again asked 20 BP/26 usd for. Yes, the retreat was good, everyone was happy etc. but the business side is pretty harsh. Rinpoche teaches 6 such retreats this year, plus 6 weekend events. Then there is the book sales. Do the math. We are talking about million dollars of profit or close on annual basis.
My problem with this line of argument is the narrow focus. These old arguments tend to only mention "profit" and never discuss operating costs, liabilities, capital campaigns, etc. One should not simply analyze a single event and ignore the remaining 360 days of the year and their related expenses, the need to raise capital for future efforts, equipment costs, supporting teachers who have retired, healthcare, etc. As mentioned elsewhere, many people in the West tend to lack the strong commitment to dana and the generation of merit. Further, I believe there is real risk in this line of thinking with such a narrow focus. Why? Because in most of these situations, ironically, it is those that are making the "Dharma should be free/low cost" who are commodifying (h/t Marx) the Dharma. I find the argument "they charge too much for the Dharma" is an argument attempting to valuate the teachings of the Buddha. Those calculating the prices for events, they know the Dharma is priceless, it's all the other expenses they're trying to cover. I find many others are simply immensely grateful for the opportunity and many are eager to support the effort. I would argue that many centers recognizing their role in providing opportunities for the generation of merit accept volunteers to work and help in lieu of paying the full costs. Do problems arise with the modern political economics of Dharma in the West? Yes, of course. They also arose in the feudal days of the Dharma too. We are human, after all and my argument is of broad generality.
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treehuggingoctopus
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by treehuggingoctopus »

zenman wrote: Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:47 pm
Tata1 wrote: Wed Jan 30, 2019 9:21 am If that is expensive for people from usa and europe imagine for someone from a third world country
I've actually seen a person say at Facebook that they couldn't attend Mingyur Rinpoche's events in Mexico because the price was so high. He also said his request for lower price was never answered by the organiser. Hopefully they forgot to answer due to human error, not because he didn't have money.
jake wrote: Wed Jan 30, 2019 9:34 am Borrowing or renting a Girls school during off season is very affordable because the school receives tuition and government money to cover long-term capital costs. This means you can rent the space for a week and only need to cover the electric bill, incidental staff, and minor wear and tear.
I have no problem with Tara Mandala or spreading the dharma and asking money for it. But there is an element of making money, doing business, in dharma and this I find a bit questionable ethically. Let's be honest and clear about that. Organisations make a lot of money with dharma events. It's not necessarily bad but since buddhism is concerned with ethics and these things are not openly discussed, it leaves some blind spots and raises questions.

Last year I joined a rather big retreat held in a rented private school. By very cautious calculation they made about 40 000 BP/53 000 usd of one event. I didn't know what jake says above and assumed the organisation had to pay high rent for the facility but apprently they didn't and actually made even more. On top of retreat fees, donations for rinpoche were asked several times and after the retreat when they sent an email of edited audio recordings, which they again asked 20 BP/26 usd for. Yes, the retreat was good, everyone was happy etc. but the business side is pretty harsh. Rinpoche teaches 6 such retreats this year, plus 6 weekend events. Then there is the book sales. Do the math. We are talking about million dollars of profit or close on annual basis.
I am very much with you here, Zenman. That said, the question is where all the money is flowing. I am not sure which teacher you are speaking of, but great many of them support monasteries and local communities in India, Nepal and China. One could look at it in terms of wealth redistribution, actually.

Being a ChNN student, I am obviously very hostile to the idea of sending someone eager and genuinely interested off just because they do not have the money to attend the retreat. From where I am standing, it is simply wrong. At the same time I appreciate the idea of redirecting the cash flow from the opulent West to the brutally impoverished Dharma homeland(s).
To offer care and affection to sentient beings
In desperate situations who lack protection
Brings just as much merit as the meditation
On emptiness with compassion as its core—
So it has been said by glorious Lord Atisha.

Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche

If you cannot generate an altruistic mind, even extensive retreat will be of not much benefit.
Garchen Triptrul Rinpoche
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Yeah, i'd wondered about state subsidization of places used for venues. Things like that here, first there aren't many, second using them for religious services might be iffy.
Like I said, at least where I live, venue rental prices are insane.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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zenman
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by zenman »

treehuggingoctopus wrote: Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:04 pm I am very much with you here, Zenman. That said, the question is where all the money is flowing. I am not sure which teacher you are speaking of, but great many of them support monasteries and local communities in India, Nepal and China. One could look at it in terms of wealth redistribution, actually.

Being a ChNN student, I am obviously very hostile to the idea of sending someone eager and genuinely interested off just because they do not have the money to attend the retreat. From where I am standing, it is simply wrong. At the same time I appreciate the idea of redirecting the cash flow from the opulent West to the brutally impoverished Dharma homeland(s).
I am sure this lama is sincere and his lineage is great but that's the question, where does the money go to? Running a monastery and other minor projects in India/Nepal/Tibet does not require so much cash. Half a million to one million dollars (annually) is huge money there. There is lack of transparency in this aspect of dharma. It is not healthy.
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by Harimoo »

Most of all there are cultural différences, US is greedy. :smile:
In Europe, only very few people expects to earn a living with "religious" activities. Their sources of incomes are elsewhere.
Money is seen as suspicious.
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treehuggingoctopus
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by treehuggingoctopus »

zenman wrote: Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:08 pmI am sure this lama is sincere and his lineage is great but that's the question, where does the money go to? Running a monastery and other minor projects in India/Nepal/Tibet does not require so much cash. Half a million to one million dollars (annually) is huge money there. There is lack of transparency in this aspect of dharma. It is not healthy.
Transparency would surely help.
To offer care and affection to sentient beings
In desperate situations who lack protection
Brings just as much merit as the meditation
On emptiness with compassion as its core—
So it has been said by glorious Lord Atisha.

Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche

If you cannot generate an altruistic mind, even extensive retreat will be of not much benefit.
Garchen Triptrul Rinpoche
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by Nemo »

Expecting America to be sane was a rookie mistake. I doesn't cost anything to do a million Guru Rinpoche mantras at home. 10,000$ for a single initiation is still a robbery for the reciever. But let's be honest in most of the world being a wandering mendicant who can pay by practicing is a crime. Dharma centers like to make money now. Eventually leaving giant empty Dharma museums once the teacher passes. Our society hates the poor so no one has time to practice but the idle rich, entitled children and wandering maniacs. Hasn't it always been so?
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by philji »

From personal experience i have seen a lot of difference in cost depending or not whether the centre is bringing a teacher in from India/ Nepal etc. Obviously then there are more extensive costs involved. If the teacher is resident and the teaching is in an established centre then I cannot see why costs need to be so high.
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by Adamantine »

Nemo wrote: Wed Jan 30, 2019 6:06 pm Expecting America to be sane was a rookie mistake. I doesn't cost anything to do a million Guru Rinpoche mantras at home. 10,000$ for a single initiation is still a robbery for the reciever. But let's be honest in most of the world being a wandering mendicant who can pay by practicing is a crime. Dharma centers like to make money now. Eventually leaving giant empty Dharma museums once the teacher passes. Our society hates the poor so no one has time to practice but the idle rich, entitled children and wandering maniacs. Hasn't it always been so?
Nemo, nice to see you still around, always appreciate your double-edged insights. Yeah, the empty Dharma-museums is a real risk. Ideally the qualified lineage descendants step in although it’s not always so easy. This is partly why Dzongsar Khyentse has outspokenly been encouraging sponsors to contribute towards the education or retreats of scholars, translators or sincere practitioners rather than fancy buildings and bigger statues and stupas. Those structures clearly have their merits, however his point is that without realized practitioners as well as preserved and translated texts, the Dharma itself wouldn’t survive. That said, sometimes very psychic Lamas may have a vision or prophecy that a particular structure or statue is needed to avert significant obstacles, in which case I have myself engaged in helping fundraising efforts. So it’s not always so clear cut. Anyway, I probably qualify as a wandering maniac so eat some salt as you read.
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by Cinnabar »

I've experienced both sides of this.

At times I've been unable to even see my root teachers because my dharma budget has been essentially non-existent. And I've not developed relationships with teachers I've been interested in because of the cost of their retreats, the cost of travelling to see them, or both. Sometimes scholarships are limited or not available. Truth. Economics impacts our ability to practice dharma.

I've also experienced the other side. Years ago in a different life, when I helped put together dharma events. Everything we enjoy at a teaching costs money. And there are many hidden costs that most people are not aware of. If those costs are not met by attendee tuition-- they have to be covered by donors. Benefactors with deep pockets. And if not by them, by the organizers of the event. Truth. It is money that makes dharma teachings happen.

It helps to refine one's understanding of what one's retreat fees pay for. It's not just the opportunity to receive teachings from one's teacher. Some of that tuition is going to support the center, the lama's personal needs, and special projects associated with both the center and the lama.

If those costs are too substantial, one can study with teachers who don't get involved in special projects like gonpas, stupa gardens, and retreat facilities. And one can study and practice at centers that have a low burn rate. Or one can study and practice in a place with a generally lower cost of living.

In the end it's all merit karma. And in the end one can practice with very little. I personally eventually made the choice (after some time) to stick close to a few teachers I can sit down on the couch with and chat at length, or call on the phone-- as opposed to retreats at nice retreat facilities. Maybe that will change for me someday. I suppose it will everything changes.
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by Terma »

Firstly, I do understand that it is difficult for a lot of us to attend the teachings and retreats that we wish to. If it is not money, then it may be getting the time away from our jobs or even finding the balance with family. But we should never lose sight at how precious the teachings that we seek out are. If it is that important to us, we will have to find a way or else we have to realize that we just don't have the merit at that time.

There are always ways to make it work, including various options monetary wise such as discount options in exchange for work during a retreat, and so-forth. I have even seen a few people ask their dharma friends for a bit of sponsorship in order to attend teachings. Some retreats I have attended also had the option to apply for "scholarship" in which those who may be more well off will pay a bit extra in hopes that someone much less fortunate at that time might be able to gain benefits from the same teachings or retreat that they are able to attend.

As for myself, I need to pick my spots and choose only the most important events or retreats that coincide with my own practice. Those are just my conditions. I have to travel from Toronto to New York (not that far, really) but I still need to pay for travel, accomodation, food, etc. As well as plan to have the time available off from work. The point is, it is so important to me that I really don't look at it in a negative. I understand that I need to make some sacrifices in order to recieve the precious teachings, empowerments and transmissions that I wish to recieve. If I truly am not able to because of obstacles, then I know that I just don't have the merit. Fortunately this has not been the case for me but it does take sacrifices.

Also of note to remember, that back in India and Tibet, people would travel a great distance, on foot mind you; in order to just request teachings. Often bringing what they can afford to offer the Master for those teachings. The mentality here in the material West just seems so different, but I guess this is the age of five-fold degeneration after all.

In closing, I guess I have to ask myself if there is a price I can put on teachings, empowerments and transmissions that will result in liberation? Clearly, if we have the merit then one way or another we will be able to recieve what we need to get us there.
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Re: Cost of retreats USA vs. EUR

Post by passel »

Nearly everything we regard as dharma is an artifact of the economics.
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