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Donations for sitting groups

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Donations for sitting groups
Answer
2/21/16 12:32 PM
In about a week I'll be going to NYC emoticon So I thought I might try sitting with this group which was recommended in some earlier thread:
http://www.dharmapunxnyc.com

 
 Now here is my problem: They are donation based and I have never sat with a group before so I don't know how much would be appropriate to donate. Does anyone have a clue/an opinion? What should one evening of real-time guided meditation cost? 

RE: Donations for sitting groups
Answer
2/21/16 7:00 PM as a reply to Pål.
Now here is my problem: They are donation based and I have never sat with a group before so I don't know how much would be appropriate to donate. Does anyone have a clue/an opinion?
Five bucks...or any heart felt amount....sitting with dharma punx is always free for those who can not afford it.
If you can afford more then do so, but not so much that you curse the day you darkened thier doorstep...emoticon

The proper amount is what you will not think about the next day...you wont feel like a cheap ass or that it's too pricey.
Only you can really value what a night of "entertainment" is worth...if 20 bucks is a weeks worth of ramen food then that will be different than if you drop 200 in drinks at the bar in a night and dont sweat it.
~D

RE: Donations for sitting groups
Answer
2/21/16 9:17 PM as a reply to Pål.
re: Pål (2/21/16 12:32 PM)

1) You seem to feel some obligation –maybe something to do some vipassana on?

2) Practically speaking, here's analgorhythm I've used on retreats, using rough, engineering-type sketch-on-the-back-of-an-envelope sort of calculations:

Estimate the costs of the event –space rental, "right-livelihood" (minimal cost-of-living) of the people who run it and the teacher. Divide costs by the duration of the event, including preparation and clean-up relative to the basis for estimating costs. E.g. the meditation hall might cost ca. $3000/month; cost-of-living might be ca. $3000/month for an individual; the hall might be used for say 12 events/month, and involve the equivalent of 2 person months (teaching, organization, etc.).

So, for instance, the picture on the DharmaPunxNYC website shows pictures of 2 honcho-types (teachers/organizers?), and about 50 people in the group picture. Then, for the sake of example, $9000 (rent + 2 support for 2 people) divided by 12 events = $750/event, divided by 50 participants = $15/participant/event would be the "break-even" amount for the operation. (This is all rough demonstration; actual factors and parameters may vary a lot.)

3) In Western / American meditation groups, at least from my observation here in San Francisco area, meditation groupies include a high proportion of people relatively well-heeled financially, who can afford rather substantial donations. For instance, the Insight Retreat Center (affiliate of Insight Meditation Center, Redwood City, led by Gil Fronsdal) is run entirely on  dana (donation), and appears to be flourishing. The clientelle includes lots of Silicon Valley types, including hi-tech billionaires and millionaires. Likewise for closely affliated Spirit Rock Meditation Center in nearby Marin County. (One of the prominent teachers once quipped that these places represent the "upper-middleWay".)

These economic demographics may vary from New York City, but NYC is also not a cheap place tosurvive in.

Looked at from a different but related angle, someone once did a PhD dissertation on religious econo-demographics in the USA and found that:
a) working-class (poor) people tend to go for evanglistic fundamentalist Christian religion;
b) middle-class more for main-line Catholic or Protestant Christian establishments;
c) well-to-do people (more leisure and/or disposable income) go for things like Buddhism.

4) The situation in Asian countries is quite different. On the one hand, the teachers are ascetics, renunciates, and the devotees are of all classes, particularly the "poor" and in rural settings. On the other hand, religion (i.e. Buddhism) is also State-supported in many countries, and also supported with donations from, e.g. upper-class widows (old ladies tend inherit the family fortunes and to be religious); so the monasteries are well-financed (gold-plated Buddha's, etc), but made accessible to people regardless of ability to pay.

5) To compare these scenarios, (4) and (3), for instance, around here (SF, California):

The Tathagata Meditation Center in San Jose is an offshoot of Pandita Sayadaw's organization, staffed by Burmese Mahasi monks, in a Vietnamese community. Weekend retreats (including bed and 2 meals) are by donation – no fixed cost. Month-long retreats cost $25/day, plus teacher donations – i.e. $750 for a 30-day retreat (or $175/week – one can go for just a week or two, but only starting at the beginning).

The Insight/Vipassana Meditation (secular Western) retreats around here, except for IRC as noted above, have "list" prices in the range of $1500-3000 per week, with some more bare-bones (sliding-scale or subsidized) slots starting at ca. $800/week.

Go figure…

RE: Donations for sitting groups
Answer
2/22/16 2:29 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
I would add a multiplication factor to Chris' formula: if the at the end of the computation you get X for what you think is fair, taking into account what their expenses look like, and what your spending capability is:

If you think that the group / teacher is harmful, give less than X, even 0.

If you think that the group / teacher is ok, give X.

If you think that the group / teacher is useful, give 2X.

If you think that the group / teacher is great, give even more than that.

It is a donation, after all, so you should factor in these considerations too, and zero should definitely be an option if you think that they are harmful.

RE: Donations for sitting groups
Answer
2/22/16 2:36 AM as a reply to Pål.
Dude... Just throw five bucks in the box.  No worries.  I go to sitting groups in Seattle all the time without giving anything lol.

RE: Donations for sitting groups
Answer
2/23/16 8:21 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
1) How to do that? Any suttas on it? :p But srsly, how would you "do vipassana" on a state of mind in particular? 

2) As a mystic beyond all rational thinking, I hate math but I guess somewhere around the price of a lunch would do.

@Everyone: thanks guys! 

RE: Donations for sitting groups
Answer
2/23/16 9:43 PM as a reply to neko.
re: neko (2/22/16 2:29 AM as a reply to Chris J Macie)

"It is a donation, after all, so you should factor in these considerations too, and zero should definitely be an option if you think that they are harmful."

Points well taken. The algorithm presupposes that the event / teacher etc. are considered worth supporting; otherwise no issue, no donation. The approach I outlined came about as my financial resources are rather meager, and I was trying to figure out if there was a donation-level that I could afford that would be at least a "break-even" contribution.

RE: Donations for sitting groups
Answer
2/23/16 9:49 PM as a reply to Pål.
re: Pål (2/23/16 8:21 AM as a reply to Chris J Macie)

1) How to do that? Any suttas on it? :p But srsly, how would you "do vipassana" on a state of mind in particular? 

S/w informally. The state of mind that something is owed – what does this feel like (e.g. associated bodily sensations, tension)? Do associations come up (past experiences, maybe sense of responsibility from family training or other conditioning)? Tie-ins with self-image, self-worth?  The tension, leaning to having something to do -- can't it be dropped? What's it like then?

2) As a mystic beyond all rational thinking, I hate math but I guess somewhere around the price of a lunch would do.

That's a good approach, as well as Noah's (2/22/16 2:36 AM as areply to Pål). And, as with the "self-image" notion above, s/t I have tossed in a $1 bill, maybe just to be "seen" as contributing – which should probably also be more closely examined (used an interpretation of vipassana).

btw: good, practical topic.

RE: Donations for sitting groups
Answer
2/25/16 10:56 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Thanks!
I should try that method out next time the mindstate surfaces.