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Bill Bodhri on paying for spiritual teachings.

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I just got this email from his website. I should note that I really like this guys stuff. Poorly written but a very valuable research for the higher dharma stuff. Thought I would share this since us Bums have discussed this topic at length.


Dear Darin,


Dharma is Free, But It Will Cost You


I always laugh when people tell me that spiritual teachings should be free. They are the most important thing in the universe, so of course "they should be free" ... but who will support the teacher to do that? No one wants to volunteer on that side of the equation, which shows how much people really value them.


When I hear people say they should be free, I know the secret psychology hidden in their mind. Try asking them the following question and you'll fathom it: "If they are so valuable to mankind and worth so much to others or you, what are YOU doing to support their existence other than to say they should be free?" When you get the answer, in most cases you'll laugh because you'll have figured out what's going on.


"I want, I want, I want." Okay, so what are you going to do to make it POSSIBLE? What are YOU doing to make it possible for others? Once I mentioned the work of the TUE QUANG WISDOM LIGHT FOUNDATION for translating sutras. Did you contribute? Did you even contribute $25 to and fund some struggling entrepreneur making $1 a day to help them have a better life? Do you know what life is like on $1 per day? What have YOU done to make it possible for someone to have a better life? If you just take your present state of fortune for granted, your merit will run out. It always runs down unless you replenish it.


Now let's stay on the main topic and consider NEEDS versus WANTS in life to get a handle on some clear thinking, for we all "want" spiritual teachings but what we "need" to survive is food, clothing, medicine and so forth. [Yes, yes -- we "need" spiritual teachings too but I'm making a point.]


I NEED food to survive, but I can't find any restaurant or supermarket that will give it to me for free simply because I need it. I NEED medicine when I'm sick, but it's rare that people can find a free doctor or get the medicine or operation they need for free either. Maybe it's possible in this country but certainly not in most of the world. Think about it. So what I need I must pay for.


People seem perfectly agreeable to the fact that must pay for what they need, and seem to understand what they want has costs, but their heads go loopy when they say some things should be free and what they WANT should be free. Well, PBS (public broadcasting) is free only if you support it. What are you doing to support it? Are you saying it doesn't have costs, or are you saying the costs should be borne by someone else? If so, who? Did you pass the buck? So you want to enjoy it but not pay for it ... Maybe the system is set up today so you can get away with that, but in a future life the system you experience will be different, and so will these results you take for granted. If you don't support now, you won't have the equivalent in the future, and the future WILL come.


If you say there's no cost to hearing the dharma, you are greatly greatly mistaken. If you think there is no cost to cultivation accomplishment, and it's as easy as presto-1-2-3 "attraction magic the universe will provide," you're mistaken again. Please throw those juvenile notions out the window. Enlightenment wins you freedom from the Triple Realm, from birth and death within an endless round of ceaseless incarnations up and down, through weal and woe, pain and suffering. You might not be suffering now, but look at 80% of the people in the world and you'll see poverty. There's a cost to escaping the rat race, and you don't want to pay anything to hear how to become free. Fine by me.


People also think a merit this great that you escape should represent an easy task. Let me tell you something frankly -- IT ISN'T. Monks give up their lives, homes, family and friends to cultivate, and few achieve it. Don't think it's so easy like the TV movies make things out to be. Don't be so ignorant. The road is open to everyone, it's perfectly free that way, but only great ones can achieve it. What are you doing to assist them to help make that happen so that they can help you, or others? If you practice charity you won't cling to wealth, and thus can maintain morality and ethics.


Think about this ... what is therefore actually going on inside someone's head when they make demands that you should give them things for free? What's their merit? Do they deserve it? What have they done to deserve teachings ? In Tibet you have to serve a master for twenty or so years to prove yourself before you'll get the good stuff. You think dharma should be freely given to you? Why are you so qualified? What did you do for the dharma to merit it?


In almost every genuine spiritual school or tradition I know, you have to ask and even sometimes beg the master for teachings. What makes you think the dharma comes so easily that it's tossed out like candy? Go ahead and look for it in the world or the internet, in churches and synagogues and temples and see if you can find it. You'll spend a tremendous amount of time and money and resources and in all likelihood come up empty handed. You must think deeply about this. And yet you want people to give it to you for free.


People will spend outrageous sums for business ventures, money making schemes, for vacations, cars, X-boxes, computer games, music tickets, clothes, for eating out at restaurants and electronic toys and so forth but if dharma is so important to them, why aren't they willing to support THAT but are willing to buy these other things? Most people support religion that does nothing, except social work and ceremonies, but don't want to support the dharma. That's why they are where they are, plain and simple, without any dharma at all. No wisdom either. Some religions, as a condition of membership, even require tithing or that you spend a year as a missionary to get more converts. That's their cost, but do you think that gets you enlightenment brownie points? Ridiculous. So think, what is free? Think carefully.


The dharma actually is free. You don't need any teachings to know the Self. Just know it. But if you desie, you can go to any library and you can get all sorts of teachings for free. Meditation is free, easy to learn in three minutes, and easy to practice. But to have a teacher skillful enough to get you a far distance down that road is more rare than a wish fulfilling gem. What have you done to make the existence of those gems possible in the world, so that the dharma thrives, is protected, transmitted and maintained, and so that others might succeed and thereby teach you as a karmic reward? Nothing, I bet. You just want everything for free. I laugh when I hear this. I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on learning the dharma and in trying to offer as much wherever possible, and still it is not enough. Not even close that I can consider having gained even a drop of merit enough to deserve the dharma. And you want it for free? My teacher would laugh. He wants to offe

r it for free (even though that often has the drawback that people don't respect it), but that costs money. Where does the money come from if you want everything from free? OH, from somewhere else....where? from whom?


I remember the story of the textile manufacturer in India who supported Gandhi and laughed when people spoke of Gandhi's poverty. "It costs me a lot of money," he said, "to keep Gandhi in poverty." Who do you think paid for Gandhi's housing, food, trips and entourage? People just don't think nowadays. Do you know why we are heading for a big recession? Because the government and bankers did not want regulation but more profits, and did not THINK ahead to see that regulation would protect the whole system from excesses -- they just wanted to make money by selling more and more loans they didn't want to keep themselves, and so the quality of loans progessively declines and now look at the mess. I mentioned this years ago to people. Think, think, think. Don't demand. Think. We just had a new American president elected. Do you think it didn't cost anything, and he got elected just because he was a better candidate? Sorry to brief you that it cost a lot of money to spread his mess

age and get him elected.


You can go to almost any church, temple or mosque without ever making a donation and hear some sort of dharma, though not the type that will liberate. People support those institutions for offering watered down milk, and yet they want the REAL dharma for free. Strange paradox that they think THOSE institutions should be supported, but not the dharma. Dharma does not mean religious teachings. It means any teachings within or outside of a religious framewok that lead to enlightenment or cultivation progress, other than dogmas and "religious teachings." So Christianity has some dharma teachings within it, so does Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, yoga, Buddhism and so forth. They all have a tiny, minor sprinkling of it within their relgiious notions. Most such teachings if you can ever find them only lead you to samadhi. The Great ones lead to enlightenment. What are you doing to find them, support them or maintain them? Oh that's right, you want them for free. So how's that going to wor

k if they die out for lack of support?


The wishful thinking I hear always reminds me of the liberal newspaper reporter who becomes the editor. All of a sudden, now responsible for costs and circulation, the liberal editor bumps up against the facts of life and becomes more conservative. Previously, without any responsibility, he or she could champion whatever cause they wanted. Now that they are responsible for actual results, they immediately start whistling a different tune.


The true enlightenment dharma teachings are the important ones in the world because it's easy to cultivate mundane samadhi. It takes a Buddha or fully enlightened one to come along and transmit full enlightenment awakening teachings. Since Shakyamuni's time, perhaps only a half dozen individuals have been able to achieve the full measure of enlightenment and then teach the Path. It doesn't matter what religion or school or sect or nation or race they teach in/from/to, because what's important is that they transmit the dharma, without which you are only privy to regular religious teachings that only win you minor merit and better rebirths for a short while. Then your good karma runs out. Do you really think in your infinite series of past lives you've used up all your hell karma that's due, animal kama that's due, suffering that's due, ghostly karma that's due, illness karma that's due, ignorance karma that's due? Think again and worry, worry enough to do something because eve

n Shakyamuni demonstarted that as a Buddha, bad karma must still be paid. He just doesn't attach to it and is indifferent. Can you be so noble and advanced?


I'm tired of the lazy thinking so I have to speak. What are YOU doing to support the dharma other than to buy a few books on for yourself? That's benefiting you, not others. An author makes about $1-2 on a book he sells that way, and you think he's getting rich or his activities are being supported that way? Ridiculous. How do you expect the good stuff to come to you if you're not making an effort to offer it to others or make it available to them?


Now if you go to or a local bookstore and buy a book on dharma then you can get it that way for relatively free, too. Some may say that the Gideon Bibles you find in hotels are totally "free", but who pays for those Bibles? Someone obviously does. The printing company charges a religious press just as much for paper and printing as it does an academic press or commercial venture. There are costs to be paid. The printing company may or may not admire the religious publisher's motives but it has to cover its own costs to survive. It has to make money to survive or it cannot perform its business function and print anything at all. So who is ultimately paying for that "free" Bible? Is it really free? Not to someone...


Someone is supporting that publishing firm with a donation, or it is itself making money and donating it all back to the people. Wow, if the world was like that in all dimensions of what we want and need, it would be a better place, but for the world to become like that it must start with you, so what are YOU doing along those lines? What are you doing to start things along those lines? Don't ask what you can get for free, ask what are you doing to make things FREE, easy or available to others? If nothing, then what can you complain about? It's your karma.


Are you supporting medical charities (ex. Doctors Without Borders), or poverty initiatives (, or clean water ( Look around you -- you're okay now (you have a computer to be able to read this) but you are a minority in the world. Do you really think you will have enough merit in the future to have access to medicine, prosperity and so forth when you need it, or are you burning up your good fortune as a consumer rather than producer? Don't be so complacent. Plenty of sages of countless religions warn you not to be so complacent. A human life is rare, to be born with all your limbs and sense faculties intact is rare, to be born into a rich country is rare, and to be born into a place that has the dharma is the rarest of all. Look around you and you'll see that practically NO ONE in your country has the dharma... and you think next life it will be easier for you? Not if you don't support it. Look at the clean air and water going away. What's p

olluted cannot be reversed, you can only stem the tide of the new pollution. is one of my favorite charities that I urge you to contribute to... if you want to purify the water element of your body in this life, or set it up for next life, how much easier it will be by a millionfold billionfold if you made charitable offerings in that direction of offering clean water to thousands of people made possible by only a few bucks. Think of the gigantic karmic return. If through you donate money for one chlorinator for a city or town (Costs about $350, which is the same cost as one leg for an amputee or one cleft palate operation), you will be providing from 3,000-10,000 people clean water times 365 days per year times about 20 years, because that's how long the chlorinators last. Do the math! I cannot find a better Reward to cost ratio for any of the charities I support. This is the biggest bang for the buck I can find that is true micro public health that changes the world. You ARE saving the world, making it a better place fo

r only $350-500. But any amount of contribution will do, as it all earns you merit in that direction; it's the thought that counts when your means are limited, so even $25 will help. Just get off your tuckus and accumulate some merit. You already know that the foundational stage of all religious paths is accumulating merit, and this one gives you the greatest bang for the buck I can yet find, which also helps in cultivation as well.


The kids stop getting sick, people can drink clean water, lives change permanently and YOU did it. Contribute to something like that ( and then you can say clean water should be free and bank on being able to enjoy it in the future as the world gets more and more polluted and you return time and again, because you WILL return. Water should be free, but who's going to support that? It has to be you if you want clean water in the future. If you ever want to become a Buddha who has the power to give water to people dying of thirst, this is how you develop that meritorious ability. It's by donating to an effort like this, and then donating the merit toward enlightenment. You don't just get superpowers upon enlightenment. If you cultivated merit in a certain direction, you can draw upon it. If you cultivated merit like this, then it's yours to give when you want it. That's how it works. If you have no merit accumulated in a certain direction, you cannot e

njoy it for all you try, no matter how close to your grasp it seems.


Are you a force for good in the world, or just a consumer? After you consume the extent of your good fortune, without creating any new good karma in return, down you come again. Up and down you bob through life after life, incarnation after incarnation. Now you have it pretty good, but if you don't replenish your stores of merit, it is inevitable that the good fortune will die out and down you will come again. Look at the stock market -- what goes up, in time, goes down with unbelieveable swiftness that's unpredicted. So is your fortune due to dwindling stocks of merit. So you better do something in life to become a force for good, for change rather than just a consumer. Small things count! Knowing the state of the world, what are you actually doing along those lines other than just comment on the bad you see and then buying another X-box game or seeing another movie? If you write a check for $25, at least then you can say you did something or have a right to complain. If you

expect someone else to do it, then support them. If not, you get what you deserve because you did not act.



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I think I recieved it too, but I don't really like Bodri so much, so I didn't read it as I only occasionaly read what I get from him, so thanks for posting it. This article is great.

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Good article. I read Bill sometimes, have a few of his books and will slowly get more but I read him only occasionally as his writing style pisses me off sometimes.

He is so black and white on some issues, and so clear on others.

But this one is great - and an important subject


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