In the Theravada Buddhist tradition there is never any formal charge for teaching Dhamma. No price can be set on the Buddha's teaching. I teach because I think it is important that Buddha Dhamma is taught as widely as possible. Instead all the teaching I do is Dana based.
Dana (pronounced "dah-na") is a Pali word meaning generosity. Dating back to the time of the Buddha, there has existed an interdependence between those who offer the teachings and those who receive them. The teachings are given freely, since they are considered priceless. No one is ever turned away.
According to the Buddha, generosity, or sharing what we have, is one of the central pillars of a spiritual life. In the act of giving we develop our ability to let go, cultivate a spirit of caring, and acknowledge the inter-connectedness that we all share. The Buddha created a system to develop this quality of open-handedness whereby those who share the teachings are dependent on those who receive them
It is the practice of Dana that has kept the Buddhist tradition alive for more than 2,500 years in Asia, where committed supporters have given generously to establish networks of monasteries and retreat centers providing for millions of teachers and practitioners. In the west this tradition has been transformed into the Dana Bowl concept, where practitioners put whatever they wish into the bowl at the end of a class, retreat or workshop.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Dana and wonder what is appropriate you might consider the following things, which I have listed in order of importance:
1) How much can you afford?
2) How valuable was the teaching for you?
3) How important is it to you that Buddha Dharma continues to be offered?
4) What would you pay for a similar event in some other discipline?
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