Dear Gen-la Jampa, March 2, 2016
I want to address to you a concern I have regarding wealth requirements to receive teachings and empowerments. I understand it costs money to run Centers and we want people to come who are interested enough to pay in. However, I do not have the money, at the moment, to be part of any program at any NKT Center, nor do I have the money to attend empowerments and teachings when the cost is quite high— like at Rigpa’s Center for California Dharma— the cost is 85 dollars; combined with getting to the empowerment, this is too much for me, yet when I asked for waived fees I received no reply at all.
I also have not received a reply on whether or not I can take a class by correspondence TTP, from Rigpa’s Center, which would also have to be at reduced fees. I am uncomfortable with the Kadam Morten style of mixed teachings which do not seem to follow Geshe-la’s books; Angie Kane teaches in the same style, so I am concerned that I cannot receive teachings at my local center. Regardless, I cannot pay you full price for teachings, and something must be done for those of us who cannot pay; I have never been to an away retreat, because I cannot afford one; I have skipped most classes taught by valid teachers when available, just because I cannot pay for them.
Sometimes, I might come if I could have waived fees or pay something nominal; for instance, I pay 18 dollars a month to ride the trolley and bus, for a disability pass, but the normal price per month is about 75 dollars. I would pay 50 dollars a month for internet but since my daughter qualifies for free lunch at the national school lunch program, I pay only 10. Some method where it is almost nothing according to most people but still significant to me might be fair. What is not good is to say that I would pay the full amount or not be responded to, or pay the full amount in other words, or not come. To me, this is a clear case of making bad rules, and it entails the result of bad karma from lives past that I am on the receiving end of this, but I think that there is bad karma being created by those who do not want me to attend for a rate that I can actually pay, even if that rate is so close to nothing that they can’t see the point of it (for instance how much I pay for bus with a disability pass vs how much I would pay without it— if it were not for the disability pass, I would not go anywhere).
This is a problem that affects not only me, but might affect others. I know my psychiatrist is very disturbed that they are asking for money, and can’t understand, much like some of the teachers at the temple, why I won’t just go to the Thich Nhat Hanh Center, which is free. Because the Thict Nhat Hanh Center, while I am sure is lovely and full of Buddha merits for those on the zen path, does not have our path, and does not have Dorje Shugden, which is a requirement for me; I have the Dorje Shugden heart commitment from you, and I am asking please, as DSD will you help us form a policy that people of lesser incomes can pay less or have fees waived if necessary; we have a long-term low money issue in that I am on disability and my daughter on welfare. I am sure it would help others receive teachings if these requirements were less stringent and if people would at least acknowledge one another’s financial issues, rather than acting like is just a lack of merit on part; according to you, the Buddha and yogi Milarepa would be turned away at the door if he didn’t find enough green pieces of paper with dead Presidents to make the requirement; I don’t think Milarepa lacked merit by the time he was a Buddha— obviously not— he might have sung you a song instead of coming inside and given you up as a bad job.
At any rate, my daughter and I are to miss this year’s CADC due to lack of communication about the possibility of waiving our fees; that is very sad as it is our spiritual equivalent of Christmas every year; we cannot receive the blessings of Buddha Shakyamuni because I do not have enough green pieces of paper with dead Presidents on them to give at the door. That is very bad karma for the people who are blocking us, but it is also a waste of time that people like my daughter and me, who are obviously quite interested in the Dharma and have been practicing for years (and I must have written you at least 250 pages by now—almost a dissertation length amount of paper) so please understand us as interested parties in the Kadam Dharma, but we do not have very much money at all. Please change the rules so we no longer have wealth requirements to get into empowerments, retreats, and teachings.
Thank you for your consideration.