Author Topic: How much for dana at meditation retreat?  (Read 9176 times)

Duchess of Stratosphear

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How much for dana at meditation retreat?
« on: February 28, 2017, 02:29:36 PM »
For the first time, I'm attending a weekend meditation retreat (two nights). It is a retreat where we'll be working around the center a little and getting some meditation instruction, so it only costs about $50/day (most retreats at this place are more expensive). In addition, we're supposed to give dana to the teachers (it means "generosity" because I guess they don't get paid). So, of course my question is how much to give to each teacher (I think there are two). I can't afford much more than $20 each. Is that enough? How have you mustachioed meditators dealt with this? What is appropriate? How discrete is this process--I mean, do they pass a hat, or what?

koshtra

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Re: How much for dana at meditation retreat?
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2017, 02:44:25 PM »
Retreats I've been on (in the US Pacific Northwest, Tibetan tradition) the the basket just sits somewhere, and there's plenty of opportunity to wander up to it and put whatever you feel is appropriate there. What your folks might do, I don't know, but actually passing the hat would surprise me.

koshtra

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Re: How much for dana at meditation retreat?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2017, 03:05:24 PM »
You can do the math if you like: if there's twenty students giving $20 and they teach a total of 8 hours then they're getting $50 an hour. Of course, they have to be there the whole time, and if they do private interviews it's a lot more than 8 hours... on the other hand, retreat center are usually nice places to hang out, and the food's free.

Anyway, the teachers I've known really mean it: they really don't give a damn how much you give. And I never paid any attention to what anyone else put in the basket. None of my beeswax.

pudding

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Re: How much for dana at meditation retreat?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2017, 11:31:27 AM »
Retreats I've been on (in the US Pacific Northwest, Tibetan tradition) the the basket just sits somewhere, and there's plenty of opportunity to wander up to it and put whatever you feel is appropriate there. What your folks might do, I don't know, but actually passing the hat would surprise me.


I went to a yoga/ meditation a few times and the basket to put your money in for the class was behind a curtain and the cost was $15.. there were only about 5 in the class and someone would routinely not put there 15 bucks in there.

In the end the teacher had a mini meltdown and started to accuse me of being the one that didn't pay, probably because I'm a bit of a dodgy looking tattooed guy.

I had paid and thought it kind of hilarious that his calm yoga guru demeanour fell off.

Duchess of Stratosphear

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Re: How much for dana at meditation retreat?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2017, 05:57:23 PM »
For some reason, I just saw your responses to this question! Thanks, although that last story is a little scary!

I was glad to find that there was no pressure about dana. It is mentioned on the website, but nobody ever said anything about it at the actual retreat, so I asked another attendee who told me where the box was and I slipped $20 in there before I left.

Money stuff is so awkward sometimes, and I'm a southerner, so we're all weird about talking about money anyway. I was relieved that this was not worth all the worrying I did about it.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: How much for dana at meditation retreat?
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2017, 12:57:39 PM »
I have the same question.  I'm considering attending my first retreat at Spirit Rock sometime later this year.  I am 100% aware that my approach to determining an appropriate amount of dana is not at all what is recommended, and my approach may even offend serious Buddhists.  The guidance I have received is always along the lines of, "dana means 'virtue of generosity', and no one can give you guidance on your generosity or the value of the instruction you have received."  However, that is just not how my brain works.  I need to run some numbers to get a rough estimate to determine a range.   
I'm looking at a few retreats of varying duration but most are about 5 days, there are usually 3-4 teachers listed, and dana covers administrative staff and the cooks in addition to the teachers.  Based on some pictures I've seen it appears there are 40 students per retreat.  Therefore I assume that there are about 6 full-time staff supporting the retreat, this should cover 1 week (5 days) of a reasonable salary, and it needs to be split among 40 students.  If I decide that a reasonable salary for each person averages out to $40k/year, then that's $240k/50 weeks = $4,800 split among 40 students = $120/student.  These are extremely rough numbers, but hopefully they get me into a rough ballpark range that's appropriate. 

Note:  I do no plan to just give $120 - this is just to help me figure out what a reasonable range might be.  For someone with a modest income or modest assets my numbers suggest $120 could be an upper bound.  I would think that for a 5 day retreat someone with more substantial economic means should consider that to be a lower limit, and only if the instruction really isn't very good.

My hope is that I'll get so much value out of the retreat that I will consider the value to far exceed $120 and I will want to give substantially more.  If I spent 5 days on a meditation retreat and only felt that my life improved by $120 worth then I would consider it a failed endeavor.  But at least by working through some rough numbers I suspect that for the retreats I plan to attend $15 is too low and thousands of $ is too high unless you have a life changing experience and you have substantial financial resources.