I’ve spent a good deal of my time in India over the last several decades. There’s a common saying in India that if a teacher charges money for “the dharma” (which loosely translated means “teachings about the truth”) that he or she will go to a special section of hell set aside for spiritual entrepreneurs, an area cornered off and designed to be much nastier than the areas for axe murderers, rapists, and the like.

My primary teacher in India, H.W.L. Poonja, for example, never asked money from anyone for anything. There was no donation basket in the back of the room, even.

At the same time, there is another, equally well-established tradition in India, called “dana.”  You never go to a teacher empty-handed. If you want the blessings of the teacher, you should come equipped with baskets of fruit, cloth, and all other kinds of goodies.

In the last several decades, there have also been some immensely successful teachers making huge contributions to millions of people who have worked from exactly the opposite mentality. A good example is Harry Palmer, the creator of the Avatar training. He is a genuinely deep and awake guy, highly motivated to help people experience freedom.  “People will only actually integrate insights that they have come to regard as valuable”, he stated back in the early ’90’s. “And the way that people create value in Western society is by paying money.”    Consequently, a couple weekends with an Avatar trainer would cost $2,000. The Avatar training was immensely successful for a long time. Other similar examples of huge, culture-charging movements that have charged high fees are EST, Tony Robbins Seminars, The Sedona Method, and many more. (more…)