Charging for Yoga Classes: Greed or Good Practice?
This was in response to a post on the kundalini yoga teacher’s forum, subject: knowledge should be free. The gist was that this person thought it was hypocritical to charge for passing on spiritual teachings. The following is a response.
Many people believe that spiritual knowledge should be free. In many ways it is, but living in a world of duality, one has to give in order to get. That is also in accordance with karmic law. Karma is simply cause and effect, which was proven scientifically by Newton in his third law–“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” As far as charging for this knowledge, the waters get muddy here in the west, in our modern capitalist system.
In the past, spiritual tradition was typically handed down from Master to Student at great physical cost. A new Chela, or student, wishing to find a master and learn the spiritual path would travel arduously up into the Himalayan mountains and once he found the master, would then work for that master for several years or more until accepted. That is if the master accepted him in the first place and allowed him to work. After this tremendous expression of commitment, the student would then get one kriya to practice and master. In that context, if you stop to think about the volume of technology Yogi Bhajan passed on in such a short time, it’s mind boggling.
Now– there is also a spiritual law “Itarashtam tithar kashtam,” which basically states “empty handed you come, empty handed you go.” If you don’t give something in exchange for the teachings, then as soon as you leave the class the whole thing will leave you. Says Yogi Bhajan: “This principle of Itarashtam tithar kashtam cannot be sacrificed or the student leaves the class without having received any benefit.”
Along with the principle of tithing, giving in exchange for the grace of these teachings is an honor and an act of gratitude. Oftentimes it’s hard to swallow “charging” for yoga classes or the western methods of marketing applied to a spiritual practice but this is another way in which the whole world will realize that “It’s all good… It’s all god”
As Wayne Dyer says in The Power of Intention, “You cannot get sick enough to heal one person on this planet, you cannot get poor enough to make one person wealthy on this planet, and you cannot get confused enough to un-confuse one person on this planet. No amount of you feeling bad will help others because you are losing your connection to source.” A yoga teacher who can’t teach classes because they have no money serves no one at all.
The only limits to abundance are in the mind. I would say that there is definitely a lot of greed in the world and it’s disgusting. How would you be able to stand up or keep up against such a dark force as greed without living abundantly and making oneself as bountiful and blissful not to mention as strong as humanly possible? There’s no spiritual crime in being in the world with all its apparent faults. In fact, that’s the only true path of a spiritual teacher is to be engaged in the world so that all whom you come into contact with are uplifted. Remember, you don’t fight against darkness, you keep adding more of your light. Being your absolute best is what truly uplifts the world. If you shine a light on a shadow, the darkness disappears.