The tradition of generosity
The spirit of generosity, foundational to the Buddhist path, guides all aspects of IMS’s vision, retreat offerings and operations. Generosity is the first of the ten parami, or qualities of character, that the Buddha taught his students to cultivate. The practice of generosity develops lovingkindness and compassion, deepens awareness of our interconnectedness and encourages non-attachment.
Since IMS’s doors first opened in 1976, our teachers have freely offered their retreat guidance, continuing the ancient Buddhist monastic tradition of teaching on a dana basis – dana being the Pali word for generosity or giving freely.
When we all take part in the offering and receiving of dana, we join a large circle of generosity. Teachers come to our centers to share the teachings, and in turn we, as retreatants, offer financial support to them.
Why our teachers need your support
Your contributions help teachers to lead a life devoted to teaching both at IMS and in other parts of the world, including communities without the means to donate. Your gifts also allow teachers to take time for their own practice, ensuring that their teachings are continuously enriched.
It takes courage and faith for meditation teachers to dedicate their lives to offering the teachings. They must trust that daily personal and family needs will be met through this practice of dana – a system of compensation that is generally unfamiliar in our culture.
For a sustainable income here in the midst of contemporary Western society, our teachers rely on the generosity of retreatants. Most Retreat Center teachers receive no compensation for teaching at IMS – course fees go toward the cost of accommodations, meals and other operational expenses only. At the Forest Refuge, where participants often stay for long periods, IMS supplements donations to teachers as needed, to provide an adequate offering. (IMS reimburses teachers’ travel to and from our centers, and provides teachers with meals and housing while they’re teaching.)
Teacher Dana and IMS Online
IMS Online teachers may receive a modest dana advance from IMS to guarantee a minimum level of financial support and the continuation of the teachings. Your gift of teacher dana is so appreciated. Some IMS Online courses include assistant teachers, who support these programs and answer questions in the forums. They are not compensated for their efforts. At the end of each online program, IMS will send participants an email with a link allowing them to offer a donation to the teachers, assistant teachers, and IMS support.
How you can help
At both centers, there is an opportunity to offer contributions to the teachers at the end of retreats. It is traditional to determine for ourselves the amount that is right for us to give. Dana asks us to consider, “What value do these teachings have in my life?” Even though it can be a little uncomfortable to make this decision on our own – we are used to goods and services having set fees – this is an important opportunity to reflect on how the practice has impacted our lives.