Dear Temple of Ara:
I’m interested in enrolling in your initiatory prep programs but I am trying to figure out how I feel about paying for spiritual teaching. What do these fees go toward? – Kate
Thanks for this question. We can understand your concern.
We charge for teaching, for membership and for mentoring for several reasons.
First, the Temple has operational overhead and without funds we are not able to function (never mind grow) at all. Expenses are a fact of life.
Second, we believe in reciprocity and a balance and flow of energy – our clergy and elders give a *lot* of their time to teach, to support our Grove program, to develop new courses and experiences. We feel that in return they deserve remuneration since they also have expenses in their lives. Without remuneration, they would not be able to adequately clear out enough time in their calendars to give to our congregation, which quite frankly, wants more and more of our time and teachings. And to be further frank, the fees that they earn do not even begin to adequately cover amount of time our clergy and our elders already give to the support and growth of this organization. And have given over the past 10-15 years.
If we were living in a more indigenous culture, our clergy would be supported by the villagers – they would be given food and other things that would allow the wise one to thrive … so that the village in turn would thrive. Today, the energetic currency that allows our clergy to thrive comes in the form of money.
What This Topic Means
There is a great blog post on this topic, courtesy of Drunvalo at the Spirit of Maat web site, that tackles this question in depth – here are some good, salient points that are worth reading:
What Would Buddha or Jesus Do?
To quote Drunvalo, If either were alive today, could they preach in the same way that they did all those years ago? The answer is no.
Says Drunvalo, “To begin with, gathering thousands or even hundreds of people together in cities nowadays is illegal. To gather people legally, he would have to hire managers to obtain licenses for assembling, or rent the venues within cities, which is very expensive. If he traveled outside of the country that he lived in, he would have to have passports and airline tickets. If Jesus had performed his ministry under 21st-century conditions, he would have been faced with the same ”money” problems that all spiritual teachers are faced with today.”
So, for simple, practical reasons, spiritual teachers must charge something or find someone who will pay the expenses for them…or we can’t even begin to teach.
To be sure, there are spiritual organizations that require you to give everything you own over to them before they will teach you, and some which require such high prices that only a few people could ever pay for their spiritual knowledge. These are examples of the extreme and they are not fair and they are not us.
Giving It Away
In his blog post, Drunvalo describes the time when he decided to offer his classes for free for those who could not afford them …. and he found, interestingly enough, that the ones who were allowed in for free never understood what was being taught. “I even discovered that if another person paid for someone’s class, there was the same problem. The free students were almost always the ones who showed up late and left in the middle. They were the ones who would fall asleep or talk throughout the class. And, even more important, they were the ones who didn’t actually practice the meditation after the class was over.” He then set up a program where those who wanted free teachings were required to volunteer in some way – either to his group or another non-profit. And he got no takers.
A Fair Exchange of Energy
More than ever, there needs to be an exchange. It needs to be fair, but not charging for spiritual teaching doesn’t work, not for the teacher, and not for the student.
If our clergy is struggling financially, if the Temple itself is struggling financially, we will be exceptionally limited in our ability to share with others the spiritual teachings that Nature has given us.
I hope this helps clarify why the Temple feels it is important to support our elders and clergy in this way. Many many thanks for your question!