Heart Ki

Should Spiritual Teachers Get Paid?

The following is an adaptation of my answer to a question on Quora (link here), addressing a topic which is always relevant in my opinion.

Question: Should Spiritual Teachers Get Paid?

My answer: Spirituality is free; teaching it isn’t.

Spiritual teachers, and spiritual/metaphysical practitioners in general – a category I consider myself to be a part of – have to get paid. One way or the other, you have to be compensated for your service. This is obvious and evident to some, but perhaps still a challenge to others. Bills don’t pay for themselves, and spiritual teachers have them just as well. We have to eat too, you know. Sitting under a tree and relying on donations isn’t quite cutting it, in this day and age. Generally speaking.

And while we’re on this subject, here are a few additional myths regarding spiritual service and monetary compensation.

Myth #1: Spirituality Must Be Completely Free

Reality: spirituality, i.e. your personal learning and growth, and the inner exploration of what is true, is free; but teaching spirituality – the service to others – isn’t.

As stated above.

Myth #2: If a Spiritual Teacher Asks for Money, It’s a Scam, True/Genuine Spirituality Must Be Altruistic

Reality: tell this to the schoolteacher, to the university professor, or any other role where you’re supposed to instruct and relay knowledge. Is teaching in these fields supposed to be given away altruistically for the teaching to be true and legitimate? Or for the teacher to be in integrity? Teaching in general is a paid activity, it will always have to be.

Teaching, guiding, mentoring, instructing, are all deeply honorable services no matter the kind of information or their audience.

Myth #3: You Can Be a Teacher and Pay Your Bills With a Main/Side Activity

Reality: when you truly commit and specialize in something, there will come a time where you’ll have to make it your main thing. At which point it will likely demand your full, long-term time and attention. There’s a difference between an activity you commit to professionally, and an amateur occupation. I can go outside and play ball, but me and Cristiano Ronaldo are not the same.

This is a self-evident premise applicable to most activities that demand dedication. Certainly having a side activity for monetary support may sometimes be a matter of imperative necessity; but if you suggest it to someone, more often than not it’s going to be interpreted as underappreciation, if not denigration, of what they do as their primary activity.

Myth #4: Money Is Evil, Unethical, Unspiritual, It Corrupts the Human Soul, and Is the Bane of Society and All Things in Existence

Reality: money is a tool like a car, TV, or cellphones. While it can be debatable (and relevant!) to consider how much harm they can do, they all constitute advancements relative to what existed, or didn’t exist, before. The problem with money in society is not the fact it exists, but rather how it’s distributed. It’s how some are allowed to hoard wealth in vast amounts, sometimes in intensely dishonest and malicious ways – and be rewarded for it – while so many more are allowed to stay in hunger, illness, and abject poverty, for their whole lifetimes.

It’s not money that allows this, it’s human awareness: the one that keeps things working this way, and the one that sees this and continues to tolerate it.

But any advanced society needs a mutually agreed abstraction of resources in order to facilicate their management. You need a measurement of money, “credits”, or some such concept. Unless your idea of a better society involves having us go back to barter cabbages for donkeys. No thank you.

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