Do authentic meditation teachers ever charge money?

Would an authentic meditation teacher charge students a fee to learn?

Certainly we all want our teachers to be altruistic and noble and not motivated by financial gain, especially meditation teachers. Does that mean that knowledge must be given without the student offering anything in return? 

The TM program's founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, was a monk and never accepted monetary offerings for himself (or any gift other than, say, a flower). But he did create a non-profit teaching organization that needed funds to sustain itself—accomplished by establishing a standard tuition for the seven-step TM course.

Asking the student to give something back for learning is not unusual. In the great traditions of meditation, there's a longstanding precedence of students paying a "fee" to learn.

In the oldest and probably most venerated tradition of meditation on earth, the Vedic tradition, it has been the custom for thousands of years for the student to approach the teacher with a gift in exchange for learning. The purpose of this gift, traditionally called "dakshina" or "gurudakshina," is not to benefit the teacher but to show respect and demonstrate the student's readiness and receptivity.

The Upanishads and other traditional Vedic texts instruct the student of ancient times to approach the teacher with bundles of wood or cows as offerings, or to perform chores for the teacher before and after instruction.

Milarepa, the most famous Tibetan sage, was required to do such extreme service that he nearly relinquished his desire to learn. He was required to build several houses and then demolish each one because it did not fulfill the teacher's stringent requirements. Finally, when Milarepa was about to give up and leave, the teacher consented to instruct him. Such stories are common in the Eastern traditions of meditation.

These days we have it easy: instruction in the Transcendental Meditation technique requires a only reasonable, one-time tuition, and for anyone who can't afford it there are grants, scholarships, work-study and other options. The TM course tuition is a practical necessity that allows the teachers and the non-profit organization to function and maintain the effectiveness of the teaching process. 

When you pay your TM course tuition, you're helping sustain the non-profit organization that is preserving the knowledge of the Transcendental Meditation technique for this and future generations, allowing others after you to also benefit from the practice.

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