Culadasa is now offering private consultations online

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Samuel Samuel 3 weeks, 5 days ago.

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  • #2048

    Culadasa is now available for personal Dharma and Meditation consultations online.

    Working one-on-one with Culadasa is an especially effective way to make rapid progress in your practice, as many meditators have discovered doing solo meditation retreats at Cochise Stronghold.

    Culadasa is now available for a limited number of hours each week to provide this same kind of guidance online for those unable to come for a personal retreat. Culadasa is also happy to discuss matters related to Dharma and the challenges of following a spiritual path as a lay person.

    For more information, please see http://dharmatreasure.org/private-consultations/

    #2075
    Profile photo of Samuel
    Samuel
    Member

    Edit: When I wrote this post I was extremely exhausted. I would like to clarify that it was nothing more than a poorly written attempt to communicate what I wrote in later posts.

    I am fairly angry so I apologize in advance if I fail to communicate effectively.

    I want you to imagine what it would be like for someone who didn’t know you to visit your website. Interested in you private consultations, they click the link and to their own amazement they find that you are charging $325 for a 45 minute session. How do you think that will come across?

    I was going to share your website with some friends because I have deeply benefited from your teachings. Now I am too embarrassed. I don’t care why you are charging that much; as a spiritual leader, you have the obligation to make sure your behavior is easily distinguishable from that of a cult leader. I hope you understand I no longer feel comfortable telling people how much I appreciate your teachings out of concern they will think I joined a cult.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Profile photo of Samuel Samuel.
    #2077
    Profile photo of neko
    neko
    Member

    Hello Samuel!

    Premise: I am in no way associated with Culadasa or this community, except for the fact that I have signed up for this forum.

    Three questions:

    1) Why do overly expensive private consultations make this a cult? If a famous musician charges 1000$ for a private concert is he founding a cult? What if a medic charges that much for his services? Or an engineer?

    2) Assuming for a moment this is a cult, when and how did you join it?

    3) Again assuming this is a cult and you joined it, how does having joined this cult affect your life?

    Practice well!

    neko

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Profile photo of neko neko.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Profile photo of neko neko.
    #2080
    Profile photo of Dr Doug Tataryn
    Doug Tataryn
    Member

    Hi Samuel. Sorry to see that you are so upset by this but your position and reasoning perplexes me. Culadasa has offered to share his wonderful insights and teachings in written and oral form, much of it for free and easily accessible all over the internet. Why are you upset that he is willing to charge someone for personal services to someone?

    He has not taken vows of poverty, nor is his welfare, room, and board being looked after by a community, which would be the case if he were a monk, so why would you expect him to not charge people if they want, what I consider, the privilege, of one on one personal time with him. People routinely pay more than this hourly rate for lawyers, for medical doctors, for life coaches with decades less experience in their area.

    As I see it, providing some members of the spiritual community with the option of getting close personal time with him outside of a meditation retreat is a wonderful and noble gesture on his part (particularly given his age and health conditions, which make his time and energy a valuable and diminishing precious resource). How does this make him a cult leader? He does not owe you or anyone anything, let alone your particular version of what “appropriate” fees should be for completely optional services that are not being forced on anyone.

    In terms of value. Imagine spending a few years or decades trying to work out the nuances of shamatha or how to facilitate a breakthrough-type insight experience, and not getting any real results and ask yourself if $500 or even $10,000 would have been worth it to save you those years of fruitless effort and make them more beneficial to your life and relationships and spiritual evolution.

    I suspect you may have some issues around cults and feeling duped and taken advantage of. I would suggest you work those out a bit more before (taking on the karma of) implicitly trashing such a fine and noble being as Culadasa.

    Metta

    Douglas J Tataryn, TMI teacher in training

    #2081

    Hi Samuel,

    I think you have raised an important issue. It concerns me that for many in America, retreats and access to excellent teachers, are beyond their financial reach. The burden of providing teaching should not fall on one individual to the detriment of his personal welfare.

    I think it is fitting for Culadasa, as Doug has said, to see that his needs and the needs of his family and the Dharma Treasure Community are met. Culadasa has forgone the opportunity to generate a steady income, so that he can devote himself to bringing the opportunity for awakening to as many individuals as possible. So many of us have benefited from his years of study and practice, and his ability to effectively teach others. I think many of us will want to find a way to help others receive the same benefit, and be generous with our donations.

    Perhaps the answer is to try to find a way to make a session with Culadasa affordable to those who can not pay the full cost. Perhaps some of us could contribute to a fund that would be created for this purpose. We should all share the cost so that no one is left out.

    Thank you for raising this issue. I hope a solution is at hand.

    Lovingly,

    Colleen Vaughn, Dharma Treasure Teacher in Training

    #2082
    Profile photo of Michael Dunn
    Michael Dunn
    Member

    Hello, Samuel

    Thanks for raising this issue in the forums, I am glad that you felt to do so freely, which is a sign of the community here.

    You may rightly feel that the cost for a service is higher than it should be, but to conclude that there is a cult because of this just doesn’t follow. I’m missing the connection between the price of a (student generated) professional consultation and a cult. I’m sure that you know of a lot of services that are priced too high, and you simply avoid them, right? You move on and don’t use them, but you don’t call them all cults do you?

    It would be good to review the criteria for inclusion as a cult against what the Dharma Treasure community does as your choice of words is very important. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult

    Others have already made points about the need/right for subsistence income for teachers and I think that America is a good place for this to be explored in a way that will see some changes from what may be a norm in other cultures. Perhaps you have a non-western view that teachers should not charge for their time? In this process of change do you have some ideas on how teachers can earn an income in a way that would allow you to share your experiences with family and friends?

    In fact, there are many people who would love this time with a teacher like Culadasa, to aid them in their goals of training the mind to meditate perfectly. Like many things in the world, this may not be for you but they may be well suited to others and this avenue should be available to them. Some like Coke, some like Pepsi, but the world needs this choice ( I like root beer 🙂

    The most important thing is that you have benefitted from his teachings, which is his only goal.

    To Colleen’s point, I work for an organization that routinely takes 5-10% of the income of an event and puts it into a scholarship fund, which is then distributed to those who cannot afford full-price tickets, and this has worked well for us.

    Best regards,

    Michael – Dharma Treasure teacher-in-training

    #2084
    Profile photo of Samuel
    Samuel
    Member

    Thank you for your mature response. I would like to clarify that my concerns are:
    1) If I share Culadasa’s website with people, THEY will think it is a cult.
    2) If legit teachers like Culadasa start doing things like this, it will be harder to tell the difference between a legit teacher and someone more interested in your money than your spiritual growth (like a cult leader).

    I more concerned about the unintended consequences of his doing this than about his motivations.
    I am not accusing him of anything.

    #2086
    Profile photo of Ted Lemon
    Ted Lemon
    Member

    Samuel, one thing that what you have said brings up is actually a really important question: how do you determine whether or not a teacher is legitimate? As students, we don’t always have a good way to do it. One of the Bodhisattva vows in the Tibetan tradition (possibly in others) is to behave in a way that gives the appearance of being virtuous, so as to help others to develop faith. From that perspective, any behavior that serves as a basis for judging a teacher negatively could be seen as behavior to avoid, including, for example, charging for meetings.

    However, another way to judge a teacher is by the quality of the teaching that they offer, and the availability of that teaching. I personally find this to be a more useful metric. Why? Appearances can be deceiving. There’s a story in that same Tibetan lineage about the abbot of a monastery who doesn’t even have refuge, but is considered a high holy being by virtue of his outward appearance. Such a person is not actually qualified to teach, and could harm the students by teaching.

    So how can we do this? Appearances are easy to see; in order to learn the quality of the teaching, we have to put it into practice. There are useful criteria for that: does it make sense? Do we understand what to do, what to pay attention to, what to expect, and how to respond when that which we have been told to expect occurs? When we do the practice according to that understanding, does it produce the intended result? This way of judging the teacher is harder, because it takes time to see results. But the clarity of the teaching can be evaluated readily; the clarity of Culadasa’s teaching is why I started trying the practice he teaches.

    Can you get the teachings? Yes, not only from Culadasa, but from his teacher training students. You can download course material online, and of course there’s his book. Are the teachings you get clear? I think they are, but you can judge for yourself. If you share Culadasa’s web site with your friends, I encourage you to try to help them to understand how to evaluate the qualities of a teacher. This will help them to avoid falling into the trap of elevating their own prejudices about how the teacher should act over the ability of the teacher to help them.

    #2092
    Profile photo of Samuel
    Samuel
    Member

    One way to address my second concern would be to have a service that is basically linked-in for Dharma teachers.

    #2101

    Dear Samuel, It gives me great joy to know that you have benefited from my teachings.
    I’m sorry that my offer of consultations for money has offended you, but I find your association of this offer with cults quite confusing, whether in your mind or the mind of anyone else you might suggest this community to. Cults ask for money, but don’t offer anything tangible in return. Quite the opposite. You say “If legit teachers like Culadasa start doing things like this…”
    Kenneth Folk, Stephanie Nash, and Tucker Peck all charge for online consultations. I’m sure there are many others as well. Reggie Ray charges a substantial amount for his recorded teachings. Tucker suggested that I should be doing the same.
    Enough has already been said about my health and financial issues. Bottom line, I simply don’t have the time and energy to make myself available too broadly. After much encouragement from many people, I agreed to try this as a way to generate much needed income in a way that I could afford energetically. I recognize the exclusive nature of the cost, but there are those who can afford it and who will regard it as a way of giving while enjoying a special opportunity that would otherwise never be available.
    I have searched my heart, reflected on a life of Dharma study and practice, thought and discussed deeply on these issues, and feel there is no conflict or inappropriateness in what I am proposing.

    #2106

    I think Samuel’s underlying concern is that the commodification of Dharma teachings might rub some people the wrong way, especially if the price tag is seen to be rather high. For many, the subject matter of the Dharma has a sanctity to it, and commodifying it would be demeaning. We don’t charge others for our friendship or our honesty, because we see no place for market thinking in these areas of our lives. In a similar vein, perhaps we shouldn’t charge others for sharing the Dharma——particularly when we cannot ultimately claim ownership of its content.
    (For those interested in the moral limits of markets, I’d recommend the work of Michael Sandel.)

    Whilst it has become increasingly common for meditation teachers to charge considerable amounts for one-on-one consultations, I think many people are still concerned about the standards of guidance being provided. At this stage, being a meditation teacher is not analogous to being a lawyer or psychologist. Those professions have established accreditation processes and formalised standards of ethics, for which failure to adhere means loss of licence or civil/criminal prosecution. Meditation is still very new to the West; we haven’t gotten that far with it.

    From a personal point of view, I’m generally not in favour of this trend of commodification, but I recognise that it can be a skilful means in certain instances. And in understanding Culadasa’s circumstances, I’m quite fine with what is being offered, and I think many others would be too. Perhaps it might be worth explaining the context of the offer on the DT website, because I’m not sure everyone is as aware of Culadasa’s health and resulting financial challenges as is assumed.

    Lastly, I’d like to echo Colleen’s suggestion that we as a community try to raise funds to either support Culadasa directly or make it possible for people of lesser means, and who are in need, to gain access to Culadasa’s consultations. And if I can be of any help with this, I hope someone will let me know.

    #2107
    Profile photo of Dr Doug Tataryn
    Doug Tataryn
    Member

    So you are invited to a restaurant which offers lots of low cost and nutritious food and even lots of free food for anyone to enjoy. The owner also offers vegan protein smoothies and incredible vegan main courses for a premium price, for those who can afford it and who want to subsidize the low cost and free food.

    Do we really think it would be appropriate for you (and the poor people who have been coming to eat there for years) to decide to riot and boycott the restaurant because you can not afford the smoothies and premium dishes. I don’t think so!

    #2109

    Is that aimed at me, Doug? If so, I think you may have misunderstood me. I’m by no means hostile to what Culadasa is offering; I think he’s the best Dharma teacher out there, and I can understand why he has taken the option of offering premium consultations.

    In respect to your comments, I don’t think the analogy with nutritious food really works, because for some people the Dharma is more akin to love or friendship or truth than it is to an item like food. Putting a price on love, for instance, immediately changes what it is in some fundamental way.

    I’m not sure where rioting and boycotting is coming from. Are we not just having a civil discussion about an important matter?

    #2110
    Profile photo of Samuel
    Samuel
    Member

    I think Culadasa is doing the right thing. But what I want are 2 things:

    1) For his consultation page to offer enough context that it does not rub people the wrong way

    2) For a set of ethical standards to be produced regarding the charging of fees that could help students who know little about the Dharma distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate Dharma teachers.

    #2111
    Profile photo of Dr Doug Tataryn
    Doug Tataryn
    Member

    Hey Nelson, not at all and I am sorry that wasn’t clear. I was basically speaking to the issue that Samuel brought up, and kind of streamlined it to him, since he expressed that he was very upset by Culadasa charging so much money, that it now felt like a cult, and that he no longer felt comfortable sending his friends to the website (hence the parallels to rioting and boycotting). I felt the metaphor to the restaurant might put what Culadasa was doing in an appropriate context wand help him understand why its fine for Culadasa to charge high fees for private consults.

    In terms of your saying the parallels to nutritional food does not work, that the teaching are more about love and friendship, I don’t feel that’s true. The teachings are about reducing suffering. It has taken a lot of time and perseverance and personal agony (I may be projecting here, but I suspect these are universals) for Culadasa to become as wise and clear as he has. He may be motivated to teach by love, but as many teachers throughout history have demonstrated, the teachings often do not feel like love and can feel quite ruthless to a highly identified and self-focused ego structures; they are about helping you see the true nature of reality at increasingly deep layers. These are highly technical skills and go way beyond love and friendship, even though love and friendship can be associated with teaching them.

    Thanks for asking me to clarify who I was talking to Nelson, I would not want you to feel like I was attacking your personal post and sharing.

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