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TOPIC: Learning about money

RE: Learning about money 13 May 2010 14:13 #59261


If I had the means I'd make the whole issue go away by setting up a foundation under the KFDh banner and be done with it. It's that important to me. If it seems from my comments that I'm overly interested in making sure dharma teachers like Kenneth succeed it's because I'm overly interested in making sure dharma teachers like Kenneth succeed. I'm a patron over at Buddhist Geeks for the same reason. I feel owe Kenneth and Vince something in return for what I've received from them.

So... peace, everyone.

  • cmarti
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RE: Learning about money 13 May 2010 14:27 #59262

to review:
1. Kenneth making a living as a dharma teacher: Good.
2. Me paying for individual instruction: Good.
3. A world in which lots and lots of people were willing to spend lots of money to pay qualified dharma teachers: Good.
  • telecaster
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RE: Learning about money 13 May 2010 18:03 #59263

No need for me to tell the parable of the burning house from the lotus sutra. The parable is applicable here, marketing like money in and of itself is neither good or bad. Marketing is fine whilever the message is not lost. Maybe it is possible to market to those outside of the ideal yogi group. For example a retreat with the hardcore and feelgooders together may work. Everyone still benifits and when the means are available the focus can be narrowed.

[edit] I obviously have no problem with a profit being made from a retreat :)
  • garyrh
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 07:21 #59264

Here is a very relevant essay written by Ken Wilbur on this whole money and Dharma issue that you might find insightful.

www.kenwilber.com/.../PDF/RightBucks_GENERAL_b42000.pdf
  • NikolaiStephenHalay
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 07:37 #59265


"It is time to have done with this Dharma on the cheap; time to stop announcing that Dharma is worthless; time to stop implying that a good practitioner hasn't a dime or a clue; time to cease this spritual child abuse. Time, rather, to enter the manifest realm of appropriate and functional relational exchange--of money, food, sex, body, earth--and find, as Plotinus said, that this earth and all its goods becomes a blessed being, and sanctifies each and every event by touching it with grace, not disinfecting it with disgust."

- Ken Wilbur


Huzzah!

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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 10:41 #59266

"Allegedly 'free' Dharma (as a matter of 'purity'), which is to say, Dharma on the cheap, sends out the unmistakable message that Dharma is worthless, and that you, too, can become worthless if you practice hard enough. It sends out the message that Dharma assumes no mature responsibility for gross relational exchange, and that you, too, can become totally irresponsible if you apply yourself diligently. It sends out the unmistakable message that 'liberation' and 'gross incompetence' are identical."

-Ken Wilber

www.kenwilber.com/Writings/PDF/RightBucks_GENERAL_b42000.pdf

This is an excellent article, an important article, which traces the historical roots of the conflicted ideas we carry about money and dharma, and presents a compelling case that it's time to move on. I highly recommend that everyone involved in this thread read Wilber's views on this issue and then reconvene here to discuss. Thanks for the link, Nick.
  • kennethfolk
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 12:15 #59267

"
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  • AugustLeo
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 13:07 #59268

Wilber/Integral I believe is a bad example to follow...'appropriate' relationships with money/sex/marketing are difficult and he is a case in point. One has to wade through the rhetorical manure to find the gems (and there are gems) and thus this article for me mostly muddies the waters.

In the article I think he confounds human value and monetary value, perhaps deliberately mostly as another muddling/muddying rhetorical device...hence such polemical phrases such as 'Dharma on the cheap/is worthless'etc...Wilber is more interested in being slick/persuasive/entertaining here rather than clarifying issues. Another example for me is "It sends out the unmistakable message that 'liberation' and 'gross incompetence' are identical."-- Ive never received that message...this to me is another muddling/muddying rhetorical device.

Dharma has the same human value whether or not someone decides to try and exchange it for a high/low monetary value. Recipes and cogs (dharma as sacred, money as sacred) are not comparable nor directly linked, they are different kinds of sacred/values...how so I dont know exactly...but Wilber confounding them and rhetoricising them doesnt help. Perhaps they should be kept seperate where circumstances of one does not damn/bless the circumstances of the other and a third mediating concept/value between the human&money values should be found...

This third value is perhaps simple and practical ... how can Kenneth maximise the spread of the dharma for the benefit of all beings...i.e. maintain health, longevity, maximise time spent on it and so on...thus the balance between scholarship and benefactor students, the $70 fulcrum etc...degree of transparency aids in student confidence, lubricates the system etc...If a student requires that his teacher has taken a vow of poverty...then perhaps they need to find another teacher...
  • sparqi
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 13:08 #59269

"Hardcore? Feelgooders? What do you mean?"

There are many that would benifit from Kenneths instruction who are beyond the reach of of the "marketing" provided by the Budhist Geeks and KFD websites. The categories hardcore and feelgooders is tougue-in-cheek for those whom Kenneth currently appeals to and those that would respond and benifit should the appeal be broadened. Budhist aligned, enlightenment seeking, internet surfers is not Kenneth's full market potential for a retreat somewhere in the USA.
Appealing to your "potential customers" to feeling good is good marketing sense, after all this is what Enlightenment does, albeit not in the manner one first imagines.

Advertise the retreat locally with new age, health ... publications, groups. Kenneth will teach the same message give the same instruction without budhist terminology.
Hope this is clearer.
  • garyrh
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 13:22 #59270

I dont see a problem with Kenneth charging money for his services rendered as this is what we are use to culturally.

Perhaps it might be worthwhile looking at some package type structure which offers for a monthly fee:
one on one tutorial,
email correspondence,
skype type weekly/monthly group meetings,
reading material;
and recorded talks.

Another example could be a sectioned off area of the forum containing material that can only be accessed once a fee has been payed (whether one time or monthly)

You could encourage people to sign up for a minimum 3 to 6 month basis with an automatically credit card debit.

This would allow you to have a bread and butter services that allowed you to explore other areas which you could expand into such as talks around the country and book writing.

If you want to teach as a livelihood you need to start to look at it as a business. People should not cry foul as we cannot compare Kenneth teaching dharma to monastic sources as kenneth is not a monk.

There is still room within this to help people who are financially disadvantage but you will never be able to help these people if you do not help yourself in the first place.

We need to get over what ever aversion we have built up to paying for knowledge and get on with the learning.

thanks
Jeff
  • jeffgrove
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 13:45 #59271

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  • AugustLeo
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 13:47 #59272


Jeffgrove's last two sentences seem right on to me, and I like the way Wilbur's article plays out or I wouldn't have quoted it immediately upon reading it. So... It doesn't change my mind. Rather, it reinforces my already strongly held belief that we need to value the dharma and dharma teachers in the same way we value other knowledge givers.

  • cmarti
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 13:52 #59273

...
  • AugustLeo
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 20:39 #59274

How do you feel when you read this?
"It is time to have done with this Christianity on the cheap; time to stop announcing that the teachings of Jesus Christ are worthless; time to stop implying that a good Christian hasn't a dime or a clue; time to cease this spritual child abuse. Time, rather, to enter the manifest realm of appropriate and functional relational exchange--of money, food, sex, body, earth--and find, as Plotinus said, that this earth and all its goods becomes a blessed being, and sanctifies each and every event by touching it with grace, not disinfecting it with disgust." Gee, we've heard this before, right?
Ken Wilber has been working hard to turn his stunning insights into a business, just as televangelists work very hard to turn the teachings of Christ into a business, and I totally hate both efforts. I hate the way Ken associates with anyone and everyone who has a following, regardless of whether the person is a sociopath, student-abuser or rip-off artist. But I see the other side of this as well. There was a great anecdote in one of Vince's podcasts where a Shambhala teacher talked about how a student in one breath had said he didn't have the lousy $25 necessary to become a supporting member, but in the next was like, "Hey, let's all go to a restaurant!"
I pay $20 a week, along with a friend of mine, so that we can rent a Unitarian church and have an Insight sitting group. When the issue of the rent has come up, I've had people say, "This should be free." OK, but we're sitting here in this church, see, and the church is not free. A person recently expressed her strong disapproval of another group in town that makes people pay some small amount. She was happy to come to our group, where others shoulder the burden for her.
I don't get upset when I pay $30 for a dharma book, but a $550 online audio course by Sharon Salzberg does seem ridiculous to me.
  • jgroove
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 20:51 #59275

[cont.]
Does that mean I don't value the dharma? No. It means I feel that a Sharon Salzberg course isn't worth $550--not in a world where I can go to Dharma Seed and get a ton of awesome Bhante G. teachings for free. I have not made a donation to Dharma Seed, I am ashamed to say, nor have I donated to Buddhist Geeks, though I've long intended to. I'd like to be sanctimonious here, but I can't. This is very complicated stuff.
Seems to me there has to be some kind of new chapter in the Vinaya, so to speak, for householder teachers and students. The teacher has to make clear--maybe even take a sacred, formalized vow--that he will not let concerns over money corrupt or water down his teachings or motivations. I don't know what the specific new money-related precepts or promises would be, but given the corruptive force of money in American society in particular, students have a right to have all of their concerns and questions out in the open and addressed.
At the same time, maybe we should question this idea that "none shall be turned away." I remember reading about the Zen student who had to endure repeated, daily beatings before finally being accepted into the monastery. One thought here is that students, if they are going to make demands of the teacher, would have to demonstrate some kind of non-monetary committment or seriousness as well as a monetary one.
How to keep the rich from being the only ones with access to the teacher? Maybe yogis' actual attainment, talent or promise/dedication should be considered and evaluated. No easy answers, but perhaps what might emerge from this and other dialogues is a kind of statement of principles in which the expectations of teacher and student are spelled out in detail, and in full consideration of the pitfalls of both undervaluing the dharma and of all the potential "slippery slope" issues that have to do with commoditizing it.
  • jgroove
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 21:14 #59276

"How do you feel when you read this?
"It is time to have done with this Christianity on the cheap; time to stop announcing that the teachings of Jesus Christ are worthless; time to stop implying that a good Christian hasn't a dime or a clue; time to cease this spritual child abuse. Time, rather, to enter the manifest realm of appropriate and functional relational exchange--of money, food, sex, body, earth--and find, as Plotinus said, that this earth and all its goods becomes a blessed being, and sanctifies each and every event by touching it with grace, not disinfecting it with disgust.""

-- confused...and this illustrates the confounding of human and monetary values very well methinks...

lets skip the muddying/muddling wilberian bombastic polemics (although there be gems within the manure) and keep it simple and grounded...

I do not believe this is that complicated, we do not need to appeal to goddesses or gods or whether its up or down, agape or eros.

human values does not equal monetary values. Grounded simple practical transparent values will amplely mediate....as is being done on this forum. Skype retreats, one on ones etc What is left is finding the balance by doing...the condition of having thousands of students competing for time is not yet an issue, so discriminating in some way, via affordance perhaps thank God is yet to arise...no need to solve everything all at once....BUT train up those proteges Kenneth :)
  • sparqi
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 21:41 #59277

"I do not believe this is that complicated, we do not need to appeal to goddesses or gods or whether its up or down, agape or eros."

I find some of these issues very tricky. For Kenneth, this isn't about human vs. monetary values, even, but about eating and paying rent, right? And about whether his dharma teaching should be a minor part of his life, something he does just in his spare time--thus turning away a lot of potential students--or whether it becomes a vocation that enables him to work with a lot more people, every day.
For students, it's about deciding whether they trust the teacher, how much they believe his teachings are worth, whether their valuations of those teachings match those of the teacher, and so on. All of this stuff is bound up in tradition, context, hang-ups, real-world financial concerns. I think it's pretty complicated stuff, overall, and I'm certainly ambivalent about the subject at best. None of it feels all that clear-cut to me.
  • jgroove
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 21:57 #59278

"Do you think that Kenneth Folk Dharma subscribes to the dichotomy between 'hardcore' and 'feelgooders'?"

Yes; in terms of advertising for those that might like to attend a retreat. In terms of the method and teachings no.

  • garyrh
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RE: Learning about money 15 May 2010 22:11 #59279

"Please explain for me what you think is the difference between hardcore and feelgooders, and how the term "tongue-in-cheek' applies. Thanks."

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tongue-in-cheek "is a term used to refer to humour in which a statement, or an entire fictional work, is not meant to be taken seriously".

I created two fictional groups one based on a suggested marketing appeal the other I think come from Daniels book. This is a generalization not representative of reality except for the point I make.



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RE: Learning about money 16 May 2010 03:42 #59280

If you liked the others, check out this link:
www.international.ucla.edu/buddhist/article.asp?parentid=105374
In his talk, Schopen hopes to illuminate a little-known aspect of Buddhism: the fact that it was one of the earliest social organizations in India to develop what might be called a corporation.
"In terms of Indian history, the Buddhists were the first to do this," said Schopen. "And they had to work out all sorts of problems that have a lot in common with modern corporate law." Ancient Indian Buddhists, for example, dealt with such issues as how they could own property and whether an order of monks was a legal entity, added Schopen, pointing out that Wall Street has much to learn from the Buddha, who instructed his monks 2,500 years ago not to make unsecured loans.

This thread is not alone in implying that middle class American values are the Buddha's values. We've known that Jesus has been 100% behind middle class values for at least a century already. According to Schopen the Buddha was a corporate CEO; and he should know since he apparently knows more about buddhism than all the Dali Lamas combined. I did some surveying of the net on this subject and it seems to be the latest rage in the buddhist blogoshphere. The only real question is 'what has taken buddhists so long?' We all know that middle class america is the pinnacle of human civilization.
None of this matters to me at all, if they wish people can adopt whatever values they please. I do find reading most of what I have read very funny and I have to thank you Kenneth for pointing all of this out. I have been laughing my butt off steady for a couple of days now. I'm not sure how much I owe you for this, bill me.
  • triplethink
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RE: Learning about money 16 May 2010 04:16 #59281


I value Kenneth's teaching.

Organized religion is a very lucrative enterprise. Very, very lucrative. I see a material distinction between giving 10% of my income to an organized religious organization and giving Kenneth Folk $XX per hour for personalized instruction. I think this issue is really very simple at its core: how does a dharma teacher live so that they can spread the dharma full time? It's easy, and as Nathan has discovered entertaining, to consider all the deeper philosophical ramifications of this. But that won't put food on the table.

Written from the Pinnacle of Human Civilization ;-D

  • cmarti
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RE: Learning about money 16 May 2010 04:33 #59282


"... a $550 online audio course by Sharon Salzberg does seem ridiculous to me."

Because ANY audio course isn't worth $550 or because THIS audio course isn't worth $550?

;-)

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RE: Learning about money 16 May 2010 04:43 #59283

"
"... a $550 online audio course by Sharon Salzberg does seem ridiculous to me."

Because ANY audio course isn't worth $550 or because THIS audio course isn't worth $550?

;-)

"

Good question. I'm not entirely sure, but I suggest it's the latter. ;)
My point there is that, if I examine the situation closely, I can see that I'm willing to pay something for dharma-related stuff, but not a huge amount, and I take advantage of free stuff a lot, without ever making a donation in kind. On the student end of things--well, this is stuff to ponder.
Note the contrast between what Kenneth is doing, saying, "Look, I need to make $70 an hour in order to do this,"' and someone like Andrew Cohen, who says, "Look, I'm the mystical guru who holds the key to your enlightenment. You are a rotten ego. Surrender yourself and thousands of dollars to me and you will be liberated." [See whatenlightenment.blogspot.com/ for some of the harrowing tales from his students.]
It's stuff like this that makes people so nervous when this topic comes up. Also see Vince's interview with Genpo Roshi in which Genpo describes charging 5 rich students $50,000 each to sit with him for 5 days. The so-called 5-5-50 program, Genpo's extremely expensive retreats--it all makes me very uneasy, precisely because it seems to be "leveraging" the market value of people's sincerest hopes via organized religion. Kenneth's saying, "Look, here's what I need in order to do this full-time. What do you think?"

  • jgroove
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RE: Learning about money 16 May 2010 05:23 #59284


Joel, this is what I would call the "Guru Problem." I don't have easy answers to the Genpo Roshi/Andrew Cohen problem, if that's what it is. I will say that I've been disappointed in what I see Genpo doing for some time now, ever since Big Mind. Put me mostly in Bread Warner's camp on the whole Genpo thing. There are, quite obviously, people with means who are happily pay a lot of money for the time of someone like Genpo, and who are we to tell Genpo not to take it if the proceeds go for good dharma teaching for those not so fortunate? So see, to my foolish eyes we're participants in a market. A market for spiritual or dharma things, and the time of those who claim expertise in that. Deny it, detest it, or love it, that's the reality.

So I believe we all have to exercise our own best judgment. We have to be ready to cry foul if we're being taken advantage of. The guru phenomenon is a major problem in spiritual circles, but it's that way everywhere else, too. Research the self help marketplace, or the marketplace where folks go to get investment advice. Nathan will blanche at this but I think we all need to be smart consumers when we buy anything. We need to know what we're getting and how that stacks up against what we want. We need to be pretty well informed. The urge to make money does twist people's moral underpinnings, as does the urge to get and then to hold onto power over others.

I value the dharma more than you may know. It has changed my life. It's NOT about money. It's about what it means to be a human being. That said, I know that the people who really do know what I want to know have to make a living and I would prefer they make their living teaching the dharma. Why? Because that ensures that they will be better teachers, more available to me, and that will encourage other gifted folks to do the same.

Edit: formatting

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RE: Learning about money 16 May 2010 05:48 #59285

"It's NOT about money. It's about what it means to be a human being. That said, I know that the people who really do know what I want to know have to make a living and I would prefer they make their living teaching the dharma. Why? Because that ensures that they will be better teachers, more available to me, and that will encourage other gifted folks to do the same.

"

Right. But I guess the challenge here is that we don't have a working, trustworthy model for what you're talking about. We have the Maharishi models on the one hand, and monasticism on the other. The culmination of collecting money in exchange for the teachings is almost built in--collecting more and more money, gathering more and more students, becoming grandiose and arrogant a'la Genpo, watering things down and hyping them up in order to drive the process on, losing all the students and money. If this is all a market, then aren't boom-bust cycles inevitable? I'm talking about the unstated fears and assumptions that come up with this subject. Hmmm...
  • jgroove
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