Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Image & file uploads are now fixed. Thanks for your patience.
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Should Temple's Charge fees?

zen_worldzen_world Veteran
edited May 2011 in Sanghas
Hi Guys,

I am about to take my precepts soon. I am attending to a Zen Buddhist Temple in Canada...
They charge fee for precept cerenomy. I wonder if this is normal. Sure I understand they need money to operate but everything should be based on donations. Especially, a special occasion like "precept taking ceremony" should be charge-free in my opinion.
Now I have a well paying full time job, so to me it doesn't matter, but a lot of students/unemployed people cannot afford it ($150)...So it kind of bothers me...PS: I know that they still charge unemployed/students but with a discount ($120)...
I really like my teacher, her style resinated with me and I am comfortable with her but this fee issue is bugging me...
Anybody who wants to become a Buddhist and wants to take the precepts should do so without a fee charge...
What do you guys think?

[Mod Edit: Moved to Sanghas]
madCloud
«1

Comments

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Why exactly does there need to be a ceremony?
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    edited May 2011
    @vinlyn, Some people prefer going through a formal ceremony. It's not necessary, but if it makes you feel better about it or motivates you to keep the precepts, then it's a good thing. It's the same with taking refuge. Of course the real work is to continually remind yourself of your commitments to yourself and to make sure you uphold them.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    @vinlyn, Some people prefer going through a formal ceremony. It's not necessary, but if it makes you feel better about it or motivates you to keep the precepts, then it's a good thing. It's the same with taking refuge. Of course the real work is to continually remind yourself of your commitments to yourself and to make sure you uphold them.
    Oh, I understand that, and I once felt that way until a Thai monk thought it was kind of an odd idea (he actually said, "If you think like a Buddhist and act like a Buddhist, then you're a Buddhist.").

    I was just a little surprised at the OP who disliked the idea of going through such a ceremony at a cost of $150. I don't blame her. To be honest, I would be very suspicious. I give fairly generously at temples, but I choose to do it.
    madCloud
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    edited May 2011
    @zen_world, You don't become a Buddhist by taking a formal ceremony... or in other words you're not kept from being a Buddhist if you can't afford it; the ceremony is just a preference, and as such it's your preference to spend $120 or $150 for the service. They probably don't get enough in donations so if they have to go out of their way to satisfy the wants of the laity to have ceremonies, that's where they'll make the money. It's basically a supply and demand kinda thing.

    There's debate on the subject, but I think you "become" a Buddhist when you internally take refuge in the Buddha, his teachings (the Dharma) and his disciples (the Sangha) as your guides to this life. Just like a Christian becomes one when they accept Jesus was the son of God and died for our sins and such. It's about your choice... if you choose to be a Buddhist, you're a Buddhist.

    (Some would say you're a Buddhist if you follow the Noble Eightfold Path and observe the Precepts. It varies, but the point is it's completely on you... it has nothing to do with ceremonies or formalities, but what you do.)
  • Guys, I think my question is misunderstood!

    I am okay to pay the money - in fact I would love to do that as a donation..
    I am questioning the temples' approach here...

    They should also give an option to the people who have no money....I don't want to change my temple because of this but I think their approach is too materialistic!
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    edited May 2011
    Dunno. All I can think is that the temple may not have enough support, and may have to charge. Things are different in the west than they are in other countries where Buddhism is more integrated and supported. Donations may not be as "optional" here, and the charge for this service can be seen as something of a forced donation.
  • ....I don't want to change my temple because of this but I think their approach is too materialistic!
    I implore

    Check the reason why you are experiencing suffering in terms of the concept of materialism.

    Check the reason why this has become your temple.

    Ask if these two reasons are hindering your practice.

    Then sweep the floor
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    I have a slightly different take on the subject. Temples in the past survived because of both a big free labor force of monks and lots of money from the government, as well as donations from the local community. Temples and Zen Centers in the West have to pay the bills, and where does the money come from? So small fees and memberships keep the lights on and the many expenses under control. I've sat on boards where we agonize over how to squeeze a few more dollars out of our membership or raise money somehow to pay for a new septic tank, while knowing people are giving as much as they can already.

    So it's not the temple being gready. It's the temple trying to survive in today's world. How you feel depends on which side of the stack of bills you're sitting at. Ceremonies are important. Certainly, you don't have to do anything at all to be a Buddhist but take refuge in your own mind. But, if you have a chance, it is a memory you will cherish. And you'll be doing your part to help support an important resource for the Buddhists in Canada.
  • I have a slightly different take on the subject. Temples in the past survived because of both a big free labor force of monks and lots of money from the government, as well as donations from the local community. Temples and Zen Centers in the West have to pay the bills, and where does the money come from? So small fees and memberships keep the lights on and the many expenses under control. I've sat on boards where we agonize over how to squeeze a few more dollars out of our membership or raise money somehow to pay for a new septic tank, while knowing people are giving as much as they can already.

    So it's not the temple being gready. It's the temple trying to survive in today's world. How you feel depends on which side of the stack of bills you're sitting at. Ceremonies are important. Certainly, you don't have to do anything at all to be a Buddhist but take refuge in your own mind. But, if you have a chance, it is a memory you will cherish. And you'll be doing your part to help support an important resource for the Buddhists in Canada.
    '

    You know what I agree with what you said and I feel really bad for even thinking of this. However, I still think there could be another option. For instance, wealthy members can share the cost for those who cannot afford. I am willing to pay every month for someone who cannot afford it, and I am sure there are others who are willing to do so.
    Or ceremony can be kept optional so who doesn't have the money can chose to take the precepts without attending to the ceremony.
  • Other temples may not operate the same.. Just leave it be with them. They may either use that money to attract more people or drive people away. Its all on how they choose to run it.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I understand the cost of maintaining a temple here in the West.

    I just have a negative feeling when I am forced to pay fees in a religious setting. In all of my time in Thailand I visited hundreds of temples...maybe over a thousand. I was always very generous when I visited a temple. Except for those which charged to visit...and they would get the 10 or 20 baht, and nothing else from me.

    A fee is one thing. A suggested donation is another approach.
  • ShutokuShutoku Veteran
    I am the secretary on the Board of Directors at my Jodo Shinshu Temple.
    I might have felt similar before I was on the board and saw how things work.

    For us our Ministers are not celibate monks. They marry, have families, homes, cars etc. If we want a Minister, we have to be able to allow him or her to earn a living.
    Our Temple has an annual membership fee of $100. I know many temples that have a higher fee. In our case there is no charge for affirmation, though I imagine most people do make a donation. (I didn't but to be honest, I didn't realize it would be an appropriate thing to do. Sometimes I'm really not very bright)
    However it is generally expected that if a Minister performs a Funeral, or Marriage ceremony or something of that nature, the family will make a donation.

    To be honest I find you concerns sort of curious. You wouldn't be suspicious of a fee for a university course, or an art class, or yoga/fitness class would you? How much more valuable might this be than any of those things? I can guarantee you that having fees for some things makes the book keeping easier.

    So why would specifying a modest fee for services rendered...in this case a ceremony be more suspicious than just hoping you will feel generous?
    I earn my living as a music teacher in my home. I have set fees. I don't let my students decide what they aught to pay, and I know for sure I would go broke fast if I did. Why should offering religious services be any different?

    You might choose to be very generous, but the next person might not. If you want the Temple to remain viable and stable, set fees is really the best way to do it.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    You might choose to be very generous, but the next person might not. If you want the Temple to remain viable and stable, set fees is really the best way to do it.
    How much do you charge to meditate in front of a statue of Buddha?
    How much do you charge for someone to read the Dhamma?

    Now, you might think those are odd questions, but, "To the Buddha I go for refuge. The the Dhamma I go for refuge. To the Sangha I go for refuge." In my view, you shouldn't be REQUIRED to pray to take refuge in the Triple Gem.

  • To be honest I find you concerns sort of curious. You wouldn't be suspicious of a fee for a university course, or an art class, or yoga/fitness class would you? How much more valuable might this be than any of those things? I can guarantee you that having fees for some things makes the book keeping easier.
    A university course or art class are different. We Buddhists try to show people how material life is not the way to go yet we charge them for even the basic precept taking event. And I am not saying Temples shouldn't charge anything but there should be an option for people who cannot afford it. So we only accept precepts from people who have money??? This is not noble. What kind of message we are sending? The right way is to take donations and you can suggest the $ amount for the donation and whoever can afford would pay it.
    A university or art class has no problem with materialistic view and they can charge anything they want...They are profit based organizations.
    I still think it is wrong to make the fees mandatory!
  • Theraveda usually don't charge. There is always the option of taking the precepts at a different temple and study at any temple they choose. The ceremony is not really required. It is what people practice that counts.
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran

    You might choose to be very generous, but the next person might not. If you want the Temple to remain viable and stable, set fees is really the best way to do it.
    How much do you charge to meditate in front of a statue of Buddha?
    How much do you charge for someone to read the Dhamma?

    Now, you might think those are odd questions, but, "To the Buddha I go for refuge. The the Dhamma I go for refuge. To the Sangha I go for refuge." In my view, you shouldn't be REQUIRED to pray to take refuge in the Triple Gem.

    If you are on the board of the temple, you might argue that this particular fee should be waived. And I do see your point. But what other fees should be raised, then, or how would you make up the difference when trying to pay the bills? Western Zen is mostly composed of a more liberal bunch of people, and a liberal membership is notorious for disliking the spiritual house asking for money, because using the religion to raise money is what they comdemn the other religions for.

    Having set fees helps keep the cost of full time memberships down. If you start a strict "donations only" policy then people complain just as much and it's impossible to plan a budget. Believe me, I've been there. They complain that either people don't know how much to donate so they'd rather have a set fee or membership, or that it pressures people to donate what they can't afford since any "suggested donation" is treated like something only stingy people meet. And yes, we got complaints that some people were freeloading who obviously had money. And if you're part of a larger organization, your group is always being pressured to give so much to the parent organization each year.

    After my last year on a board I swore that I'd never again put myself under such frustration.

  • I suppose they need some money to keep going but $150 for a non-student? I don't think the temple is the problem but they must be getting no funding from charities ect. to keep going!
  • I am glad to see this subject being discussed. I live in San Francisco, and have been seeking the "right fit". Most of the places I've found (that seem to cater to westerners - Shambalah center, etc) have "fees" for studying. This greatly bothers me. While I understand places have bills to pay, I do not believe one should put a price on receiving intruction. The more "asian" temples I visit, do not charge anything at all.
    The centers catering to Westerners here seem to be more commercialized, cater to yuppies and seem to promote more of "feeling good" mentality and hippiness.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I wouldn't mind a temple charging a fee for lessons.
    I have a problem with a temple charging a fee for any kind of ceremony.
  • ShutokuShutoku Veteran


    We Buddhists try to show people how material life is not the way to go
    I dissagree. We show that the middle path is the way to go in an interconnected world.
    We show that we should not discriminate. For example Shit is not dirty. Shit is fertilizer which allows beautiful oxygen producing plants to grow which give us something to eat and breath.

    A university or art class has no problem with materialistic view and they can charge anything they want...They are profit based organizations.
    I still think it is wrong to make the fees mandatory!
    As someone who sees the financial report of my temple every month I can assure you....we are very much non-profit!
    No matter how noble our teaching is, the electric company, heating company etc. still want money to provide those services to the Temple. Our Temple is often the victim of property damage by teens, homeless and racism, and that requires repairs and those repairs and or the materials required for the repairs costs money.
    No matter how enlightened a teacher is, he/she still needs to eat, be clothed and have shelter...none of which are readily had in our world without money.


    How much do you charge to meditate in front of a statue of Buddha?
    How much do you charge for someone to read the Dhamma?

    Now, you might think those are odd questions, but, "To the Buddha I go for refuge. The the Dhamma I go for refuge. To the Sangha I go for refuge." In my view, you shouldn't be REQUIRED to pray to take refuge in the Triple Gem.

    "How much do you charge to meditate in front of a statue of Buddha?"
    Well, do you have a statue? Was it free?
    Is it in a building? Does that building have heat and electricity?

    "How much do you charge for someone to read the Dhamma?"
    Well do you have a Book of the Dhamma? Was it free or did you have to buy it?
    (when you bought it, could you just make a donation to the store or was it a set price?)

    You get the idea.

    "you shouldn't be REQUIRED to pray to take refuge in the Triple Gem."
    And you aren't required to pay (I am assuming "pray' was a typo) You can take refuge any time you want. But if you want to do it in a Temple making use of the training, knowledge, experience and time of a teacher and all the people who maintain the Temple, then yeah I think you should be required to give something back. I mean....do you value it? Some people might want to make a donation but are unsure how much is appropriate. I guess that Temple could call it a "suggested donation of $X.xx" but then it is just semantics really.
    I am glad to see this subject being discussed. I live in San Francisco, and have been seeking the "right fit". Most of the places I've found (that seem to cater to westerners - Shambalah center, etc) have "fees" for studying. This greatly bothers me. While I understand places have bills to pay, I do not believe one should put a price on receiving intruction. The more "asian" temples I visit, do not charge anything at all.
    The centers catering to Westerners here seem to be more commercialized, cater to yuppies and seem to promote more of "feeling good" mentality and hippiness.
    The Buddhist Churches of America and Canada are very Asian (probably too much for their own future good, but that is a different discussion) and are not catering to yuppies or promoting some shallow feel good teaching.
    To the best of my knowledge ALL affiliated Temple charge a membership fee.

    Now you do not need to be a member to fully participate in the Temple (except to serve on the board...but that is a government law) and most people make donations in addition to the membership fee. I know for sure my Temple could not survive on the membership fee alone.
    Personally I think set fees are more transparent than just donations anyway.

    I do find it interesting that two of us saying there is no problem with fees, are not just going to temples, but volunteering our time to help keep the temples running, and see first hand what the financial situation for our Temples are.

    Anyway I guess at the end of the day you are arguing against any points saying there is no problem with fees, so you clearly have made up your mind so I would suggest you should look for another Temple.

  • Ahh, the old money vs spirituality debate again... :p
  • I think many people forget that in temples which are more "Asian", they already have a group of people who are sponsoring the entire temple and their activities. This means that participants do not have to worry about paying set fees. They are free to donate as they like.

    Then again there are temples and centers which have no sponsors, and these places have no choice but to place fees on everything they offer. It's not evil. It's just a necessity.

    If you want don't want to pay fees or high rates of donations, then I suggest you look for a temple which has a board of sponsors.
  • jinzangjinzang Veteran
    Some Buddhist centers in the West run on a fee for service model, others of a by donation model. In either case, this is the material world and bills must be paid. Like you, I worry that the fee for service model shuts out the young and those who are not affluent. But even though our group does everything by donation, none of the students from the local colleges poke their heads in our door.
  • Hi guys,

    Certain Zen centers like Middle Land Chan Monastery http://www.ctzen.org/middleland/english/branches.html caters to both . They have meditation, walking meditation, tea breaks, dharma class, or vegetarian meal weekly. English on Sunday, Chinese on Sasturday. It is free, people are free to donate what they want when they want. Also there are half day retreat once a month.

    Maybe someone can list other monasteries that are similar so that people can find them more easily.

    With metta,
  • I think there's a difference between charging a fee for courses, studies, lessons, and charging for basic ceremonies, like taking refuge. Do churches charge for taking communion, for confirmation, and other rituals? If they did, worship would become a very exclusive thing, like a country club just for the rich. That sends the wrong message about religion and spiritual practice.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I think there's a difference between charging a fee for courses, studies, lessons, and charging for basic ceremonies, like taking refuge. Do churches charge for taking communion, for confirmation, and other rituals? If they did, worship would become a very exclusive thing, like a country club just for the rich. That sends the wrong message about religion and spiritual practice.
    I'm with you. I just checked with a neighbor who attends the local Methodist Church. I asked her what services required a payment. None. Even with weddings and funerals, the minister is paid an optional pay-as-you-wish stipend.

    Of course, there are churches that have literally gone out of business...perhaps that's a function of what a particular community can support.

    And I'm certainly not saying there is anything immoral with a temple charging fees for some services...although precept number ten is to refrain from taking gold or silver. Hmmmmmm.

  • edited May 2011


    I just checked with a neighbor who attends the local Methodist Church. I asked her what services required a payment. None. Even with weddings and funerals, the minister is paid an optional pay-as-you-wish stipend.

    Of course, there are churches that have literally gone out of business...perhaps that's a function of what a particular community can support.
    Where do churches get their operating funds, then? A few wealthy donors won't keep everything going. Where do the Catholics get so much money that they can offer free university education to the needy? The Mormons require a 10% tithe from everyone, plus the church owns some lucrative nationwide businesses. But what about the Methodists, the Episcopalians, the Southern Baptists, Lutherans, etc.? Maybe parishioners leave money to them in their will? Some of the TB centers have real estate donated to them, I've heard. Temples that charge for ceremonies ($150 for taking refuge seems a bit suspicious, if you ask me...) should make a study of other Buddhist groups and churches to come up with a funding plan that doesn't involve bilking people for simple, basic functions.

  • Hi vinlyn,

    It is true, there is a precept in the Vinaya not allowing monastics to charge for services. It should be based on a donation basis. But then some tradition follow the vinaya more closely than others. Personally, I prefer that they abide by the vinaya. If the system of donation doesn't work the Buddha wouldn't have set it up that way in the first place. Many western monks in Theraveda abide by that precept and they function just fine.

    With metta,
  • ShutokuShutoku Veteran
    edited May 2011
    I think there's a difference between charging a fee for courses, studies, lessons, and charging for basic ceremonies, like taking refuge. Do churches charge for taking communion, for confirmation, and other rituals? If they did, worship would become a very exclusive thing, like a country club just for the rich. That sends the wrong message about religion and spiritual practice.
    I'm with you. I just checked with a neighbor who attends the local Methodist Church. I asked her what services required a payment. None. Even with weddings and funerals, the minister is paid an optional pay-as-you-wish stipend.

    Of course, there are churches that have literally gone out of business...perhaps that's a function of what a particular community can support.

    And I'm certainly not saying there is anything immoral with a temple charging fees for some services...although precept number ten is to refrain from taking gold or silver. Hmmmmmm.

    Hmmmm I wonder if there might be a few more Methodists than Buddhists of a particular sect? I suspect there may be more Methodists than Buddhists of All sects in any given North American town.

    Here is my suggestion. If the Temple is a non-profit society and they probably are, then pay the fee you need to, get onto the board of directors (which they must have if they are a registered society) and you can bring your idealism in and change the policy.
  • @vinlyn

    The precept against taking gold or silver is for monks and nuns, not the laity. And almost 100% of the management of any temple is made up of the laity. Even monks and nuns have to worry about having a roof over their heads and having a decent meal to survive, let alone thinking of how to teach, the rental, the study materials, etc.
  • ShutokuShutoku Veteran
    I do think though, that if you feel you know better how the Temple finances should be handled, and how the Precepts should be practiced than this Temple you are considering becoming a Buddhist with, than obviously you have no confidence in their intelligence, training, and sincerity and you should find another Temple.

    If on the other hand you decide that the people actually involved in running the Temple, and the teacher who has actually gone through training, might know more about this than you, maybe you give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Either way good luck with your decision.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Hi vinlyn,

    It is true, there is a precept in the Vinaya not allowing monastics to charge for services. It should be based on a donation basis. But then some tradition follow the vinaya more closely than others. Personally, I prefer that they abide by the vinaya. If the system of donation doesn't work the Buddha wouldn't have set it up that way in the first place. Many western monks in Theraveda abide by that precept and they function just fine.

    With metta,
    Thanks for your support in my view. I would just say that when you say, "If the system of donation doesn't work the Buddha wouldn't have set it up that way in the first place," we do have to remember that was 2,500 years ago. Life has changed. Nevertheless, you and I are in agreement that charging for regular services is inappropriate.

  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit Moderator
    edited May 2011
    It occurs to me that someone unable to afford the cost would likely be accommodated. From churches to sanghas to Boy Scout troops, I've often seen the "cost" of a service listed but there was always an understanding that those without means would not be turned away.

    Consider that most would have no idea what an appropriate donation would be for such a ceremony, and many would likely be oblivious a donation was even expected. I don't think it inappropriate at all.
  • MindGateMindGate United States Veteran
    My Zendo only asks donations. And they don't even look at the amount of money you give. Theres just a little bowel that people can put money in when and if they want.
  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit Moderator
    My Zendo has a beggars bowl as well for general services, but I believe also has listed costs for orientation classes & retreats.
  • MindGateMindGate United States Veteran
    My Zendo has a beggars bowl as well for general services, but I believe also has listed costs for orientation classes & retreats.
    We have "suggested donations" for retreats and orientations.

  • I dissagree. We show that the middle path is the way to go in an interconnected world.
    We show that we should not discriminate. For example Shit is not dirty. Shit is fertilizer which allows beautiful oxygen producing plants to grow which give us something to eat and breath.

    Yes the middle path is the way and material world is not the middle path. Buddha teach his discpiles to go out and beg for the food. If community do not provide then they don't eat that day. Buddha did not make any sort of payments mandatory for his teachings. We as a community have an obligation to donate - in my opinion - to the best we can. But also it is our responsibility to make sure that people who cannot afford should not be discrimated for the basic services that they need. Among all religions, Buddhist should be much more sensitive to this issue.

    Imagine yourself as a homeless, how would you feel if you cannot attend the basic services because you cannot afford it?
    There is absoulately no excuse to this very basic principle!
  • edited May 2011
    Hi Vinlyn,

    Nowadays, a group of lay people get together and make arrangements to feed the few monks at the monastery and raise funds to pay for other expenses ,so a lot of times they don't actually have to go on alms round. It can be hard to obtain food by going on alms these days in the West because there is is no tradition of giving alms . Besides sometimes people are in their houses with gates and locked doors or at work, so it can be difficult to obtain food. But if these are taken care of by a committee who chip in to sponsor the monks then the monks don't have to possess money or spend money. They can still keep their precept. The monastic life was set up to make it easier to follow the precept. The teachings and meditation classes can be offer free of charge in return.

    It depends if we prefer monks that follow the precepts. If we do then keep in mind that they depend on dana. If we don't mind if they follow this rule or not then pay for the services. It is the same either way. Since that is the case, with the donation system the monks can keep their precepts and people can practice developing generosity. Also, this way the dhamma remain accessible to anyone regardless of their level of income and not just a particular class/ people who can afford it. It is less like a business transaction in this case.

    With metta,
  • My Zendo has a beggars bowl as well for general services, but I believe also has listed costs for orientation classes & retreats.
    We have "suggested donations" for retreats and orientations.
    Same here. They have the suggestions to all their retreats and classes, but will not deny anyone who cannot pay. There is also no charge for attending meditation, Dokusan(one on one with a Zen teacher), etc.
    When I can afford the full suggested donation, I do so. If I can't afford the full price, I tend to donate hours of my time to help with Zendo upkeep. I have helped move stuff around, clean up, etc.
  • Also, this way the dhamma remain accessible to anyone regardless of their level of income and not just a particular class/ people who can afford it. It is less like a business transaction in this case.
    Yes, I think a donation system is more skillful and appropriate than a system of fixed charges, where there can be the sense of buying a product.

    Spiny
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    As someone brought up earlier, accommodations must be made for the difference between Buddhist countries and Buddhism in the west. There are very few Buddhist "communities" in the west which actually allow for monks and nuns to go on alms rounds and gather enough food to survive, meaning that these temples must also find money to purchase food to make sure they can survive. That's not to mention not having monetary support from the government etc. as in the east.

    The Buddha taught in a time and place where his system worked... it doesn't work (yet) perfectly in the west, due to such communities of support (where the community is made up largely of lay Buddhists who support the monastery) being relatively rare. Please keep that in mind before getting indignant about the costs for some services.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    My Zendo only asks donations. And they don't even look at the amount of money you give. Theres just a little bowel that people can put money in when and if they want.
    A Zendo I went to used to do this. But then they got kicked out of the place they were renting because they did not get enough donations to cover the cost. They could not afford the rent, the electric bill, etc. and were left with no place to practice or do anything. They now have fixed fees for retreats, special ceremonies, etc. Because of this they are now able to have a place to practice again. A donation only system works great, except when it doesn't.

  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited May 2011
    I understand the cost of maintaining a temple here in the West.

    I just have a negative feeling when I am forced to pay fees in a religious setting. In all of my time in Thailand I visited hundreds of temples...maybe over a thousand. I was always very generous when I visited a temple. Except for those which charged to visit...and they would get the 10 or 20 baht, and nothing else from me.

    A fee is one thing. A suggested donation is another approach.
    This is a common perception amongst the Theravadan or Asian 'came-across' mindsets, however, keep in mind that Theravadan monasteries are typically supported very generously mind you by a strong cultural mindset of dana and merit associated with donations. Ergo, donations are not such a big problem and in fact many temples and centers can do quite well, in this regard.

    In effect, the 'stinginess' or non willingness to pay by some is in effect subsidised by those whom do so. So the scale may thus not be so obvious.

    At Amaravati etc one will see many Thai people supporting and donating at local festivals and events. Those temples I also believe are generously supported by wealthy Thai people so again, subsidisation is in effect.

    In so called Western mindsets, dana is not customarily a large part of the mindset. And buildings and centers need to be sustained, they need to pay bills, maintenance etc. Further as another poster pointed out some monks and nuns are typically paid for services if it is part of their order, and they also have families to feed and houses/flats to rent.

    I would not diss out of hand donations or services to be paid. Again it is influenced by the Asian mentality but until those of us in the West do give ourself quite generously, it is probably an issue and a systematic method of payment might be one method used to render this functional.

    IMO.

    Abu

    PS I too baulk at paying my fees - see?
  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited May 2011
    @vinlyn

    The precept against taking gold or silver is for monks and nuns, not the laity. And almost 100% of the management of any temple is made up of the laity. Even monks and nuns have to worry about having a roof over their heads and having a decent meal to survive, let alone thinking of how to teach, the rental, the study materials, etc.
    I think @vinlyn (fair enough) has not ever had to run a Center and feed the people, pay the bills, serve all time serving the center etc. It's an idealistic idea and I used to worry about getting ripped off too or that Money and Buddhism didn't mix. (and no I am not talking about those that may seek material gain, but on the topic at hand of running centres & money)
  • It occurs to me that someone unable to afford the cost would likely be accommodated. From churches to sanghas to Boy Scout troops, I've often seen the "cost" of a service listed but there was always an understanding that those without means would not be turned away.
    Ditto @Lincoln.
  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited May 2011
    My Zendo only asks donations. And they don't even look at the amount of money you give. Theres just a little bowel that people can put money in when and if they want.
    A Zendo I went to used to do this. But then they got kicked out of the place they were renting because they did not get enough donations to cover the cost. They could not afford the rent, the electric bill, etc. and were left with no place to practice or do anything. They now have fixed fees for retreats, special ceremonies, etc. Because of this they are now able to have a place to practice again. A donation only system works great, except when it doesn't.

    :) A friend of mine ran his group on a donation basis. He said that at the end of the month when the bills came in, if it came up short, he would tell the group and usually people would then contribute enough to meet it. However, sometimes it didn't happen so he would just absorb the cost. He is a monk and he was willing to. But this was just a sitting group zendo, and so a fully fledged one would be a bit more complicated, I believe anyway.

    _/\_
  • Hi Guys,

    I am about to take my precepts soon. I am attending to a Zen Buddhist Temple in Canada...
    They charge fee for precept cerenomy. I wonder if this is normal. Sure I understand they need money to operate but everything should be based on donations. Especially, a special occasion like "precept taking ceremony" should be charge-free in my opinion.
    Now I have a well paying full time job, so to me it doesn't matter, but a lot of students/unemployed people cannot afford it ($150)...So it kind of bothers me...PS: I know that they still charge unemployed/students but with a discount ($120)...
    I really like my teacher, her style resinated with me and I am comfortable with her but this fee issue is bugging me...
    Anybody who wants to become a Buddhist and wants to take the precepts should do so without a fee charge...
    What do you guys think?

    [Mod Edit: Moved to Sanghas]
    Hi @zen_world!

    Best wishes on the upcoming ceremony! Don't feel bad about the question. But I think that the centre would most likely accomodate if anyone had any actual issues of payment (however I think ? these are usually private questions and conversations)

    Anyway it was a fair question and fair debate. Hope the discussion has helped and again, best wishes on the ceremony day and in all your practice!!

    Many thanks.

    Gassho,
    Abu
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Gee guys, so much for freedom of opinion here.

    Some of you feel it's a good idea to charge people for basic Buddhist services. Okay. I understand your point of view and why. It's okay for you to have that viewpoint.

    Some of you feel it's an acceptable idea to charge people for basic Buddhist services. Okay. I understand your point of view and why. It's okay for you to have that viewpoint.

    Some of you feel it's an acceptable idea to have voluntary but stated suggested donations for basic Buddhist services. Okay. I understand your point of view and why. It's okay for you to have that viewpoint.

    For me, I think a temple should sustain itself through the contributions of its members, while fees may be charged for special services. This is how the temples work in Thailand, but it's also the way the temples have worked which I have attended here in the States. I am not dissing anyone. I am not saying the monks at temples are cheating anyone.

    May I be allowed to have my own viewpoint even if it's not yours?





  • Yes, of course :wave:
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Yes, of course :wave:
    Gee thanks! Otherwise I was going to have to charge a fee for posts that attacked me!

    :bawl:
Sign In or Register to comment.