Yesterday I had what I consider a strange, but rather common experience. On Wednesdays I have informal Satsangs. One of the visitors stated it was a relief to go to a Satsang whether his in a donation box prominently present. I have never charge for Satsang. At times we had long retreats, and I left a donation box out, because it is kind of traditional, and I have very limited sources of income.
But this person seemed to believe that the teachings should always be free. Even Robert said that, yet he always had a donation box prominently in the open, and would prod two of his students to make regular public announcements that monthly donations were expected to meet Roberts living expenses.
But this person complained about being with the famous European teacher and that money had become an increasingly important item in their sangha, with monthly dues expected, donation boxes, and increasing charges for retreats.
However the closest model that the West has to a spiritual teacher, would be there be that of a psychologist or psychiatrist, or of a priest or preacher. If this person were to go to a psychiatrist, he would probably be charged $200 per visit lasting 20 minutes, and $125 if you were going to a psychologist for 50 minute session. Naturally, parishioners donate to support the church whether it is Catholic or another question branch, and the priest receives both living expenses and perhaps an additional salary, or as provided a place to live.
Surprisingly, when I have had an Asian visitor, especially from India, all have been very generous in providing a donation even though I never asked for it. They understand the truth best expounded by Robert Adams himself.
Robert said, there is a special relationship between the spiritual teacher or guru, and their students. The guru takes care of their spiritual needs and guides them through the vagaries and sticking points on the path to attaining complete freedom and knowledge of oneself. In exchange, the student takes care of the gurus physical life needs, including rent and food. Usually this is all that a teacher does, they do not have their own separate livelihood to support themselves, pay the rent, pay for food, connection to the Internet, website etc.
The attitude that money should not touch the spiritual equation is extremely naïve if not plain stupid. Throughout history, both monks and laypeople have taken care of spiritual teachers from Zen master, to the Tibetan llamas, to the Buddhist monastic class. In India, the relationship between the groom and student is even more special. Students often dedicate their lives to make sure that their teacher is well taken care of financially and healthwise, as well as protecting them from criticism or scorn, or any possible scandals.
I was with Robert for total of about eight years, six years of which were in Los Angeles. During those six years I gave Robert approximately $14,000 for his support, and the support of his wife Nicole and his two daughters. This is not to boast, but only because I knew of the sacredness of the relationship between a guru and his student, and I was showing gratitude and my fulfillment to meet my sacred obligation to my guru’s life.
Anyone who expects the most precious of all teachings, the teachings, instructions, and methods that lead to total liberation of the self, total freedom of the self, gauging the ability to go beyond human and existential bonds of any kind, to require no effort, no cost, or no obligation on their part to the teacher really is not in a position to take advantage of those teachings as his or her heart is not yet in the right place.
Learning how to give more than one gets in exchange is an important lesson in life that flows out of an open heart and an open mind until such as attained, the teachings cannot be read, heard, or understood. Thus the giving becoming more important in the receiving is an extremely important life lesson.
One just has to look into the relationships of great crews of the past in relationship to their students. One has to look to the relationship of Zen masters to famous monks throughout history to see the reverence and obedience shown to the master by the student even years after their self-realization. One looks at the lesson of Milarepa and his relationship with his teacher Marpa. Do not begrudge a teacher, if he or she is your teacher, of anything they need to make their life more comfortable or more healthy. Only by being totally open and devoted who you get the fullest benefit out of their teachings. If you are tightfisted, your tight mind.
There are some gurus that have very large missions in life, and build large organizations that become worldwide phenomena, and set tens of thousands of people unto a spiritual path, offering them at least in initiation into the process of self-realization. Great swamis such as Muktananda or Yogananda build organizations that have spiritually benefited tens of thousands of people. Such organizations cannot be built without money and dedicated demo tease to build the buildings, set up monasteries and ashram’s, and run the ceremonies as well as help write the books that set forth the teachers teachings. These are sacred duties to be gratefully accepted by student serving not only the teacher, but all of humanity, but even more, serving their own selves in terms of spiritual openness and growth.
Then there are others like Robert Adams, who said he never wanted large numbers of followers, and did everything possible to make sure the number of followers he had was small. He stated that all that he wanted was 10 close disciples to really get what he had to give, and each of them to give to others in the world. Yet, though over the eight years I saw many hundreds of people come and go from our Sangha, I know of only three or four that stayed close to him this entire time. Spiritual students tend to have rather instable commitments both to teachers and others in relationships. Myself, before I met Robert, I studied with I believe seven Zen masters for differing lengths of time, and literally a dozen other spiritual teachers from different traditions such as Muktananda, and Dhyan Yogi, both kundalini teachers with devotional bents.
Do not be like these wishy-washy students. Be steadfast in your devotion to your teacher and to your own commitment to your own self in terms of the goal of ever pursuing relentlessly self-realization. It is only such a steadfast commitment and persistence that will lead to the results you want.