Should a spiritual teacher "charge" for her service? This is a profound inquiry. And BEWARE: Often, people will give specious arguments to defend this idea because they are charging for "spiritual" work; they are feeling guilty. We have encountered this, and their many arguments, a thousand times in the past.
Our only contention is that spirituality is not beans or tomatoes. That is, it is not a "marketplace commodity," and should never be regarded as a Way to make money-- and loads of it! We must exercise supreme caution never to take advantage of people, especially of the poor.
The records of both Jesus and the Buddha show clearly that they never set up "toll booths," and never charged anything for even their most famous sermons. Instead, they trusted in the great Mind to care for them and their needs.
This is the challenging Way of faith. As one example, Love Ministries has been in existence since 1983-- twenty-five years. We have never, a single time, charged any fees for our spiritual work. And even though publishing is very expensive, we give away even our books. We started out with an actual mimeograph machine-- the kind that replicated in purple! And now, we are distributing twenty-plus books, and have affiliates in six countries, as well as an infosheet (the "uld," or "Universal Love Digest") and our monthly magazine Lovelight.
We did not seek anyone's "permission" to do this work free of charge. All our lectures, seminars, personal advising, etc., are done free of charge. Other ministries, and teachers, often feel threatened by this, or even "accused." But that is not our problem; we must follow the Spirit as we see and know It.
The bottom line is, No matter what anybody else says or does, no matter how "fine" the arguments, we must look to Jesus and to the Buddha as serious examples. Has the world changed since their times? Of course it has, and radically! Extremely! But they still needed money, and they still refused to push spirituality upon others by trying to "sell" it, as if the jewels of God were garage-sale items.
Jesus said it more clearly than I ever could: "You cannot serve both God and money." You can serve "only one master," he said.
People do not want to hear this. Some "spiritual educators" have even become upset at Love Ministries, because we make them feel selfconscious.
They are not just charging, but over charging, for their work. A cassette tape, for example, if you buy it in bulk, can be purchased for fifty cents, even on the modern market, which overcharges for almost everything. And ministries will regularly charge $12.50, fifteen, or even seventeen dollars for a taped message from the "guru."
Seminars are also terribly expensive. They can range from fifty dollars up to several hundred. I have a special identity with the poor, for I am also poor, and I know the pain of being rejected from spiritual teachings because of dollar-prohibitions. It is unfair that the poor, already abused by life, should be further abused by people who claim to care for and about them-- the so-called "teachers" of the metaphysical community!
This is immoral, and verges on the obscene!
So, even if we must go against everyone on this one, we do not want to "give in," and charge for our seminars, lectures, tapes, and other educational materials. We would rather serve the poor and keep our inner eyes fixed on the Buddha and Jesus as our models. This is especially challenging in a world in which gas is four dollars a gallon! And we do quite happily accept Love-donations to support our work. At the Pneumarium, we even have a donationbox, not that anyone ever uses it!
(Actually, one very sweet and good supporter does make regular donations to our Ministries; without her Love, we would not have survived!:)
But frankly, we are not interested in the rationalizations and justifications that people so often give for "getting rich" by "selling" that which they have received freely from the universal Mind. We do not "sell" the Word of Love, and have no intentions of ever doing so! And no, being a spiritual teacher is not directly comparable to being a social worker; for while a social worker can do very spiritual work, and a teacher can aid socially, they are two different callings. A teacher is called upon to share the invaluable (priceless) contents of her heart, with the hope of "planting seeds of Light" in another. A teacher is more like a caring relative or friend; what would you think of a close, intimate relative who helped you through a crisis, and then sent you a bill for her services?