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Thank you, Oda
The Concept of Donation
The concept of donation includes within it various aspects that I have chosen to work on in my own self-cultivation. Therefore, I have attempted to incorporate this idea as much as I can into my work, and into my way of life. I believe it is beneficial to me as a therapist and a teacher, and also to patients and students, and to all of us as people living on and sharing the same planet Earth. I have put down in words some basic points regarding this concept, in order to assist you in better understanding my perspective, and also to give some guidelines for thought and reflection which may be helpful when the time comes for you to consider your own donation.
A Form of Exchange
Donation creates a relationship of exchange in harmony with the laws of nature, of inter-dependence and of inter-relationship. It is a relationship of "give and receive" between human beings, based on conscious awareness, personal responsibility, sensitivity, mutual respect and wisdom towards all.
We exchange with our Hearts. We receive and therefore we should give something in return; we receive something with our Heart, and so we should give something back from our Heart. What is received and what is given may be different, but it is the same in the sense that they are both from the Heart. We relate with each other on a pure, free, human level, from one Heart to another.
There is no selling or buying. When we buy something, our mind already thinks of it as ours, ours to do with as we please. We can treat it respectfully and with care, or we can disregard it or throw it away. When we decide to receive with our Hearts, we are personally committed and involved; we decide to receive fully, with appreciation. Thus, we awaken a sense of respect and responsibility towards ourselves, towards what has been given to us and towards the one who has given. This will help us to give back with our Hearts. In an exchange based on donation, we are all in a partnership, where there is mutual respect and an understanding that both sides have active roles and responsibilities.
When we buy, the price is set in advance and we tend to put an expectation on what we have bought, according to that price. We formulate pre-conceived ideas about what this product should give us, in terms of service or enjoyment or what we deserve to get from it. This may create a judgmental and demanding attitude. It also closes our mind and heart to whatever we may receive, since we have locked ourselves on a specific idea. Donation allows us to receive unconditionally, without pre-conceptions. First we receive in an open manner and only afterwards we can appreciate and value what has been given to us. This also allows the giver to give fully and without regard to what will be given in return. What is given is not dependent on a price; it is done freely and willingly, unconditionally.
It's helpful to remember that even if some one gives to us willingly, with his/her heart, still, in order to do so, this person has put in personal time, effort, expenses and energy (in the past and in the present). Therefore, it is perfectly natural that this person will receive something in return. As the one who has received, it is our duty to be aware of this and to value it appropriately. This evaluation should be done with wisdom; it can be one of the factors to be considered when we decide on our donation.
The donation concept gives us the opportunity to become aware of how we relate with others on a human level, through the idea of exchange. It allows us to work on our personal integrity and honesty, towards others and ourselves. In the context of inter-relationships, if we "cheat" we are actually cheating no other but ourselves.
It is important to realize that the reason we are able to receive now, in the present, is due to the fact that others, in the past, have given a donation. It is them who in the past have created the conditions that allow us to receive now, in the present. In the never-ending cycle of nature, we are active participants; we have a chance to assist in the continuation of this process. By giving a donation we are not only putting a value on what we have received, not only covering expenses; we are also creating the conditions to allow others to receive in the future.
In life, we tend to project the parent-child or teacher-student patterns in various situations, such as a treatment or a course we are taking. In a donation-based relationship, we are made aware of the fact that the more effort we put, the more we will get from it. What we will receive is in direct proportion to how much we involve ourselves. The depth of the relationship is dependent on the receiver's involvement. There is no rigid framework. Donation gives an element of flexibility; the therapist/teacher will give as much as the patient will need or "draw".
In the past, a Master would put a disciple to the test before beginning the actual teaching - testing perseverance, determination and readiness to fully commit - making him prove that he/she is really worthy of receiving the teaching. Today, here and now, we are our own Masters, and we must go through this process by ourselves. We should reflect upon our priorities in life, on what is valuable for us, what we should put our efforts, time and resources into, for our personal growth and development.
The donation symbolizes our true prioritization, our honesty and respect towards those who have given to us and towards ourselves. Through this approach, according to our feeling and resources, we can value what we have received, how it has affected us and what we feel it will bring us in the future. This is very personal, since we are all different individuals and only we can know what are our priorities.
The Money Concept
Usually, the word donation and the concept of giving something in return for services rendered are directly connected to money. In fact, 'exchange' leaves the door open to many forms of giving, such as an exchange of services, products, etc. Nevertheless, in this day and age, in the existing socio-economic order, money is a widely accepted and practical unit of exchange. Sometimes we have a concept in our mind that money is "dirty', impersonal, devoid of sentiment, but in fact it is just another form of energy, just as legitimate and "clean' as any other. It is the way you give a donation, your intention, which will make it personal. If it comes from your heart it will be received as such.
New - Sliding-Scale Pricing
Since April 2002 Three Lotus House has run all its activities (courses and treatments) on a donation basis. While remaining within this context, upon returning to Thailand in August, I wish to start working according to a sliding-scale system, in which each course will have an optional range of prices, thus allowing at least for a minimum coverage of expenses.
In practical terms, and understanding the existing difficulty in estimating costs in a foreign country, I would like to assist by presenting what it means to cover the expenses involved in maintaining the center and running the courses. Calculations are based on yearly activities and they address an average number of courses per month/year, an average number of students per course, and an average number of working days per month/year. Each course has different amounts of class hours and days, therefore the sliding scale is a helpful tool. The sums listed in the lower part of the scale are in reference only to daily/monthly expenses for the up-keep of the existing facilities and activities (in other words "breaking even"), and does not include anything needed for future improvement/growth of the center (i.e. the place, the courses, teaching materials, booklets, library, clinic, support of local activities, etc.).
Today the activities of Three Lotus House are able to function due to the kind hospitality of some special people, owners of the house and grounds. For the moment, due to limited funds, only basic upkeep and maintenance activities are performed. Hopefully, one day, Three Lotus House will have its own space, specifically designed and fitting for all its various activities. Therefore, any sum that is donated that is beyond the basic expenses would be used towards the future development of a center and its activities. This donation can reflect your personal appreciation and value of what you have experienced as well as assist in creating future experiences like these for others.
Having said all this, donation still remains your own personal expression.
The beauty of the sliding scale model is that it still leaves plenty of room for personal expression as mentioned above. Needless to say, any donations beyond the sliding-scale range will always be appreciated. There is no limit to Heart, is there?
In addition, if some one sincerely finds that he/she is unable to afford the minimum in the sliding-scale range there is always a possibility for personal consideration. In this case please contact me personally and we can try to find a solution together.
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