Can you please suggest an appropriate donation

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.


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One Comment

  1. Posted September 6, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    This can be a bit tricky in our consumerist society where we think about “what is it worth”, but instead of thinking about worth and value, think of your donation as a donation to some future event. It feels good to donate to an unknown future event. Don’t think about paying for entry to this event – it has already been paid for by others generosity before you – this frees you from the value proposition and allows you to give what feels good without guilt or asking yourself “is it enough?”.

    So now you are free to be happy with whatever amount your generosity of spirit moves you to donate, because you don’t know what it will support in the future, you just now that it will support some good thing!

    Ramsey talked about a TED video of Amanda Palmer on “The art of asking”. You can see it here:

    Something clicked when I was watching this most engaging clip and I finally understood that by not putting a fixed price on things and letting people give what they feel happy with, it allow them the freedom to give what feels right for them – to be as generous as they want.

    I am sure we will be exploring this more …

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