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There is a Buddhist Centre close to me that charges circa USD8.00 for Dhamma talks, in one hand I don't like the idea of any religion charging people because poor people will not be able to participate, but on the other hand things are expensive here and they need to pay the bills, my country is not Buddhist at all so running a centre here only on donations must be very hard.

So, from a Vianaya and Buddhist ethics standpoint, is that allowed?

  • a lay retreat can rightfully ask for monetary reimbursement... – A Nonimous Sep 6 '14 at 5:45
  • I fully agree with you, paying for bed and food is ok, but I'm not so sure about paying for classes only (not a retreat) – konrad01 Sep 6 '14 at 13:38
  • i personally wouldnt pay to practice, and it doesnt sound like a wise choice for teacher selection. – A Nonimous Sep 6 '14 at 13:41
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Vinaya only applied to Monks. If it is lay teachers charges may be a possibility but as per my opinion highly not recommended. As for monks I don't think they should do this at all. The trustees (Dayaka Sabawa) may do it but again highly unadvisable as per my opinion.

But having said this, I do not like the idea of any charge. Buddhism was taught free of charge and has maintained this tradition through out most of history.

Also Buddha put much effort to become a Buddha and tough if for free. It is morally wrong to charge for teaching something the Buddha put so much efforts into when we are just teaching what he prescribed.

If you look at https://www.dhamma.org/ you will see a lot of centers all run solely by donation through out the world. So the donation model does work.

  • I'm aware Vinaya is for monks, this is why I mentioned it, I think monks should be the ones taking this decision (charging or not charging), I guess :) – konrad01 Sep 5 '14 at 13:09
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Just considering the general point about charging or not charging for classes. In my centre there is a general principle that all payment is donation or dana. So we are often invited to put something in the dana bowl if we want to. This seems very fair as bills have to be paid if the Buddhist centre is to continue.

Alongside this is the notion of a suggested donation so for a class a donation might be £6/£3 for waged/unwaged but this is only a suggestion. This works very well for me. Firstly it's a genuine offer - it is dana so if you can't pay (or won't) then that is fine. No-one will question that or think any less of the person. But also a lot of people (myself included) want to know what a fair donation is and pay that. I want to be told what to donate. I find it unsettling to be told to pay whatever I feel. I want some guidance.

From a very pragmatic point of view, if it is a genuine donation then there are tax rebates that can be claimed. That is not a major consideration - the principle remains that everyone should be able to access the dharma. But it is another angle to it I think.

But generally I just wanted to put this model forward as (our) way of combining dana and universal access to the Dharma with the realities of running a Buddhist centre.

  • Agree, I like what they do in your centre, seems fair. The Centre I went to was operating in a different way, you had to pay before class, it was not optional, a fixed amount. As I said it is fair because they have to pay the bills but I don't like the idea of charging for Dhamma – konrad01 Sep 6 '14 at 15:43

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