Saturday, September 01, 2007

Financing the Dharma?

Every center, every monastery, every student has the same question: how to generate sufficient funds? Some of the entities are seeming "black holes:" all sorts of claims are made about feeding the monks, or rebuilding the temples, but nobody ever publishes any numbers and the situation never seems to get any better. There is always another crisis right around the corner.

I don't blame the times and I don't blame the students.

I blame the lamas.

Since when did fundraising take overarching precedence over teaching and practice? Since when did grandiose projects take precedence over the "bone on the stone?" Since when were empowerments for sale, or tailor-made to the whim of this or that wealthy sponsor? Since when did teachers do "fundraising tours?" I read through the pages of the Snow Lion newspaper and I see the full page ads for "His Holiness" this and "His Eminence" that, and then I remember the grace and dignity of the lamas of the past and it makes me feel so ashamed. What must people think of us?

"Dharma projects" are like writing new prayers: there are thousands of volumes of prayers already around that nobody takes time for, so why should we write any new ones? To gain merit? Please be serious. Thinking of your teacher for even one second is merit enough. If I build 100,000 stupas it will not equal even one fleeting moment of understanding and applying my teacher's pith instructions.

Maybe we better kick out Shakyamuni, Padmasambhava, and all else and just build great temples to Dzambhala and the local wealth deities. There is such a sickness on this account in Taiwan, Singapore, and Southern California that I pray constantly for the fools who enslave themselves to continual thoughts of worldly gain.

The practices of White Mahakala, Orgyen Dzambhala, and so forth are exercises in altruism; in the perfection of giving. They are not witchcraft with which to get money to go buy a new car.

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