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Rules for Vedanta Teachers
Rules for Vedanta Teachers
It so happens that ShiningWorld has become a successful voice for non-dual Vedanta because it is a powerful tool for transforming one’s life in harmony with the Truth. We appreciate the need of those who have received this precious teaching to communicate it to others and lend support to them, assuming they don’t mix Vedanta with other liberation, quasi liberation or dualistic teachings – Christianity, Buddhism, Neo-Advaita, Yoga, etc. – and that they they don’t monetize the teachings. At the same time, there are certain expenses associated with the dissemination of the teachings. Hence the idea of “donations.”
Donations fall under the category of visesa dharma, situational ethics, so there is room for problems. They are adharmic or dharmic depending on the state of mind of both the giver and the receiver. Only the giver knows if the donation is unconditional and only the receiver knows if the gift is used for its intended purpose. The rules for charity are discussed in the seventeenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. It is not wrong if a teacher who has given value uses your donation to support him or herself, although financial insecurity often tests a teacher’s integrity, as do other factors, desire for recognition and power, for instance.
As one of the senior lineage-holders in the Vedanta sampradaya, it is my duty, along with my wife, Sundari, to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, so we expect people who represent ShiningWorld to stick to the spirit and the letter of the rules. At the same time, we trust the people we endorse.
Vedanta should never be thought of as a career. It is a sacrifice, a freely given contribution. Swamiji’s teaching was called The Sacrifice of Knowledge, Gita gyana yagna. Apart from the teachings themselves, ShiningWorld is successful because we have not monetized the teaching. I have occasionally solicited donations for a particular publishing project but never for personal financial reasons, as I have a small inheritance and friends who contribute to our living expenses. ShiningWorld is not a business, although I pay taxes on donations and the sale of books and videos.
We will continue to encourage and assist people who want to teach, who have assimilated the teachings and have the right attitude, but we will not promote anyone henceforth who does not have an independent means of support and does not adhere strictly to the spirit of the teaching. It is very difficult teaching Vedanta in the West because materialism has infected every institution in society. People often tell us that we are fools for teaching on a donation basis. But this is a sacred holy teaching and it is not right to allow it to be contaminated by even the appearance of worldliness.