Truth be told: I like reading spiritual books, blogs, etc.; I belong to various spiritual groups on LinkedIn. However, what really bothers me is when someone’s specific spiritual question is met with responses like, “check out my book” or “check out my CD” on that very subject.
Something inside me is immediately turned off by what sounds like a sales pitch. I can never feel comfortable with the idea of people making money from giving spiritual advice. The spiritual path is the highest journey of life (in my opinion) – and true spiritual teachers are not in it to make money (in my opinion). Yes, everybody has to make a living. Yet traditionally, spiritual teachers have lived on the goodwill offerings of devotees (students, seekers, disciples – or whatever you want to call them). In other words, the students/seekers give whatever they can afford to give (not necessarily money) in exchange for teachings. Some people cannot afford to “give” anything. Their donation is the faithful, genuine living – in gratitude – of the teachings they’ve been given.
When I met with my first spiritual director in 2004, she told me her usual fee was $25 per session. I gave her a brief skeptical look, but immediately agreed. She saw my look and responded with, “If you can’t afford that much, then that’s fine, too.” I paid her the money every time because I knew the money was important to her – otherwise she would never have brought it up. She and her husband were well-off and didn’t need the money as far as I could tell.
To me, it’s a great honor and privilege to have the ability to share spiritual teachings for the good of people’s souls. I aspire to one day help people this way. The teachings are given, not with the hope of any kind of personal gain, but purely out of compassion.
Maybe I’m wrong about this. Do you have an opinion on this topic? Should spiritual teachers uphold different standards from the usual “marketplace” values and practices?