Hello Pemako Sangha Members,
I wish that my message finds you in clarity of mind, softness of heart and radiant health. I wish that despite of the strange times and circumstances we live in, you and your loved ones are doing well. May you have peace and know yourself as a fully enlightened buddha!
This email is about Sangha Subcriptions and I'd like to take a moment of your time to introduce the matter to you, with some historical references and personal notes.
The matter of financing western dharma has been an interest of mine for many years. Also, financing Pemako in particular has been a matter of experimentation, much like our form of practice, since 2008 when I began teaching full time.
At the moment in Western dharma there are all kinds of financing plans from one extreme of ”all donation based” systems to the other extreme that only serves those who are well off. Personally, I would like to find a middle way in the matter and by doing so hopefully set an example for others. Along the years we have tried different things and feel like we are finding a reasonable and affordable way to finance the dharma in the modern world.
On 20th of December last year I wrote a post in our Facebook sangha presenting the matter of sangha subscriptions.
I've had a monthly donation page for few years now but when only less than 20% of sangha members have become donaters, we can conclude that it doesn't work that way. I've brought this up every now and then with little change.
The reason for bringing this up and making monthly donations part of our training system, is because I don't feel the exchange between you and me is in balance. I have given and continue to give so much for free and while it is nice to be thanked (verbally), I feel the exchange is incomplete and insufficient. For this reason, I have decided to make our Facebook sangha page subscription based, meaning chargeable.
In the East, people learn through culture that they should offer money and support their local temples, priests and dharma teachers. This creates a natural balance. Here in the West we don't have such a standard and most western dharma students keep missing the importance of generosity. No one is to be blamed for this, it's just how the system is set up here.
Generosity is the first perfection (skt. dana paramita) of mahayana buddhism. Because of money that has been given to the dharma by both wealthy and poor people, is the reason why there are or has been buddhist cultures with temples, monasteries, universities, pilgrimage sites and so on. From the point of view of mind training, generosity is one and very effective way to reveal our attachments.
”If you gave but did not feel a sting, you didn't give”, I remember seeing written on a donation box at the entry of a temple somewhere in India. I remember once, after a weekend of teachings in Finland, when the students were told that they could donate money for the course, one guy grabbed all the money from his pocket to his hand, put the bills and bigger coins back in there and offered the small change, something like 1.5 euros, into the donation box.
From one point of view it is very funny, from another very tragic. All actions have consequences (karma) but when it comes to dharma, we should be careful what our actions are. If and when our lives are saved by the dharma, how much is that worth?
Sangha Subscriptions: How Much and How to Set it Up
In our sangha, the problem is not that people are attached to money but that apparently you don't know that you should give back to the dharma. It is a silly situation. Maybe it even is something new in the history of dharma but fortunately this is easy to fix.
Before going into the details of how the monthly donations will be set up, I would like to say that I have always wanted to keep the Pemako pricing reasonable and affordable. The costs of our retreats have always been at the lower end of price range and continue to be so. There has always been the option of paying less or even joining for free for those who don't have money. This system will be kept.
Regarding this sangha subscription, if you have very little money, choose a small sum that doesn't cause you trouble, for example 15-10-5 €. If you can't afford any sum of monthly donation, in that case it is OK that you don't donate at all but please inform me about this by email (below). You don't need to explain anything, just inform me.
I have decided that the standard fee will be 30€ per month per member. 30 euros is like buying me a lunch and a coffee once a month so this shouldn't be a problem to most sangha members. If you wish to donate more, you can choose any sum up to 300€ per month.
You can set up your monthly donation through the PayPal donation page at our website. If you haven't used PayPal before, all you need to do is to choose the monthly sum from the menu and click ”donate”. Then, PayPal will take you through a simple process where the monthly charge made automatically by PayPal is connected to your bank account or credit card. It is easy to do, just follow the steps. PayPal is available in many languages. Preferably, start your monthly donation this month (January). You can choose whatever day of the month suits you best.
Please note that PayPal charges money for its use. You can avoid extra costs by choosing to send the money to ”friends and family”, instead of ”paying for services”.
Then you're all set and the donation will be charged from your bank account automatically each month. The payment profile can be cancelled anytime at the PayPal-website but as a rule the monthly donation should continue as long as you remain in the sangha.
I understand that some might have a problem with this arrangement but knowing how much incredibly precious and effective materials has been made available to you and everyone else out there free of charge, this is just attitude. With all respect, I'm not really interested in hearing about complaints regarding this. Should you have constructive criticism, you can start a thread at Facebook sangha.
I am sure most of you understand and have no problem with this.
Thank you for understanding and taking this seriously,
Much love, blessings and see you on retreats,
-Kim Rinpoche, 11.1.2022