The cycle of generosity
Teachings and meditation retreats at ICMC are offered on the principle of dana. Dana is an ancient Pali word meaning "generosity," "giving" or "gift."
Dana is intrinsic to the 2500 year-old Buddhist tradition. Going back to the days of the Buddha, the teachings were considered priceless and thus offered freely as a form of dana to the community. The early teachers were monastics who received no payment for their instruction, and in turn, the lay community supported them through voluntary contributions. These dana offerings provided for the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and medicine for the monks and nuns so that they could concentrate on practice and teaching. This is the cycle of generosity.
Beyond the practical dimension, dana also plays a crucial role in the spiritual life of a Dharma practitioner. It is the first of the ten paramis, or qualities of character, to be perfected. The act of giving itself is of immeasurable benefit to the giver for it opens up the heart, diminishes for a moment one's self-absorption, and places value on the well-being of others. The simple gesture of offering a flower, an act of service, a kind thought or a simple meal is in fact a sincere form of practice.
Teacher Support in the West
We do not have a strong monastic tradition in the West. Still, most Insight teachers try to follow the ancient model of generosity as much as it is feasible in this culture. Teachers do not receive any payment from ICMC. Retreat fees cover only the costs of space rental, the teacher's travel costs, and supplies. Teacher support is provided solely by voluntary donations given directly to the teacher by students at the retreat or workshop. Many teachers are dependent almost entirely on teaching donations. We ask you to consider that these teachers invest the bulk of their time serving the dhamma community and that they have the same living expenses that we all do.
People who have been coming to ICMC programs, workshops and sitting groups have been very generous. This support is deeply appreciated. Contributions of time, money and service are what allow ICMC to offer retreats and sitting opportunities on a continuous basis. However, ICMC is committed to making our programs available to all and we do not turn anyone away for lack of funds.