People wanting to know about the study course Creating a Culture of Awakening due to start in October ask this question more than any other. My answer is generally – ‘no’.
Not knowing you (probably) and not being you (definitely) it is simply not possible to suggest the right amount of money for you to contribute for a place on the course. What you give is completely up to you, and the amount is totally unimportant. What matters is your intention, how you feel when you make the donation.
Are you perhaps…
- feeling pleasure from your generosity?
- concerned whether something will be left over for the next event?
- feeling grateful that you can support something that needs your support?
- wondering whether you’ve got away with giving as little as possible?
- feeling good for having calculated your ‘fair’ share of the cost?
- concerned about what other people might think?
Why don’t we simply set a price for the study course? We don’t because generosity is found at the core of secular dharma practice – generosity towards oneself as much as towards other people, and indeed all beings.
What’s more there’s a world of difference between generosity, as practiced by Buddhists, and the Judaeo-Christian concept of charity. This is well worth contemplating.
Having a regular practice of generosity brings four key shifts in us, moving us:
- From consumption to contribution
Using the example of this course, we see ourselves not so much as a student as a participant.
- From transaction to trust
The course is not a commodity to be paid for, rather a facility made available to us that we gratefully accept and we can be confident something like it will be available in the future.
- From isolation to community
We’re not calculating what our fair share might be, rather contributing to a situation in which many people are benefiting. An incalculable number in fact, consisting mainly of people we will never meet.
- From scarcity to abundance
The heart is far, far bigger than the purse or wallet, larger even than the pile of gold heaped up in the basement of the Reserve Bank at 2 The Terrace.
Can you see now why $10 from a single parent warms the heart as much as $500 from a millionaire?
So whether you can make it to the course or not, if you’re wanting to support secular Buddhist events in Aotearoa New Zealand now and in the future, your support is most welcome. On the page for the course you can find out how to make a donation. People you will never meet will thank you.