GURU DAKSHINA and the Dynamics of Worthy Enquiry
I had wanted to write an essay to elucidate a subject that otherwise could be awkward and thorny. Its writing was triggered by a student, bless her heart, who cornered me after a meditators’ knowledge meeting. In addition to describing her financial challenges to meet our course fee to attend a retreat, she felt that, “anyway, it is wrong to charge money for spiritual knowledge”. You’ve all met this issue in different guises; perhaps this question has come up for you, personally.
Of course, one might know the practical explanation: “How do you expect to have expert full-time instructors if you don’t meet their costs?” etc.
Certainly it is true that teachers of Vedic meditation have costs of living and families, just as do other dedicated professionals, but there is more to our course fees than that. It is also true that we Initiators have a world plan to spread Vedic meditation and enlightenment to all who would like to learn it, and that effort costs money, so we ask that beneficiaries of meditation to contribute to that. But this, too, is not a complete picture of why we ask for a fee.
Even if a Vedic meditation teacher were personally well off and had no costs to meet, our tradition does not permit us to teach without requiring payment of a meaningful fee.
Amongst all the things a Guru teaches, one is: how to design the experiences you wish to have; how to employ the principle of reciprocity. How to offer, willingly, something precious to you in order to receive something that you will value even more.
Guru Dakshina (the Guru’s fee), as I define it below, involves an exchange of energy and information that triggers transformation in the consciousness field. It is the principle of initiating a ceremony in which you cause the flow of knowledge and heap benefit on yourself, by demonstrating to yourself and to the Guru what your intention is.
The following essay explains something of this tradition. After you read it, please let me have your comments.
Love and JAI Guru Deva,
“For millennia in the Vedic tradition it has been a fundamental principle that transformational knowledge, wisdom, should be imparted to a seeker only when ideal initial conditions prevail.The knowledge of the Guru (literally, “darkness remover”) can become wisdom to a seeker, but only to the extent that the seeker’s conscious receptivity has been opened sufficiently. Without openness, a seeker may become beguiled by the power that is implicit in knowledge and merely extract select fragments of the teacher’s wisdom. Fragmented knowledge is not wisdom; as Alexander Pope wrote, “A little learning is a dangerous thing…” To make a student rich with deep wisdom, it is the Guru’s responsibility to teach only when someone is qualified to learn. In the Vedic tradition, a seeker’s conscious receptivity is correlated faithfully with a quality known as “worthy enquiry”. This is the grade of enquiry that demonstrates the student’s deserving power and openness to learning.
Worthy enquiry conveys a would-be student’s willingness to defer to the teacher’s prerequisites and instructions. When worthy enquiry is present in the student, the flow of knowledge from the Guru can become complete and unfettered, without the concern of fragmentation. One way a student demonstrates worthy enquiry is by his willingness to offer Guru Dakshina, that is, the exchange of energy and information between student and teacher that triggers transformation in the consciousness field. Guru Dakshina most frequently refers to a fee or a service that is called for by the Guru; it is the means to enliven reciprocity.
The willingness of a student to offer support to the Guru certainly is a crucial indicator of worthy enquiry. But beyond this, the offering of Guru Dakshina opens the student’s heart and mind to the field of all possibilities, making room for new knowledge to flow in.
A Vedic master, a Guru, has mastered the capacity to win the support of all the laws of nature and, therefore, always will be provided for amply. Self-sufficiency is a hallmark of enlightenment. In our tradition, it is considered to confer a great blessing -and it is an honour- when our offerings become one of the means whereby nature provides for the Guru. Usually, the Guru calls for a monetary course fee before any teaching commences. In part, this is because in a materialistic society, meaningful offerings are assessed in monetary terms. The greater the resistance to parting with money, the more powerful is a monetary offering.
To surrender money and time as an offering of Guru Dakshina has a powerful effect on the student; amongst other things, it makes the student really pay attention to what is being taught.
In addition, students are asked to demonstrate worthy enquiry by complying with a daily practice, attending set meetings, and by showing respect through listening to the Guru’s discourses and evincing observance of the Guru’s rules and guidelines. Our experience as Vedic masters is that most students do not dispute or cast aspersions on value. They willingly embrace the conditions set by the Guru for learning. These students report the largest impact of the teaching most quickly.
If one hesitates to offer or haggles over Guru Dakshina –if one cannot let go- then perhaps one considers money’s outer material buying power to be more valuable than awakening the infinite organizing power of the inner Self. Or perhaps, simply, one considers their money’s value to be greater than the Guru’s knowledge.
To a master, any of these implied attitudes would be a warning sign of a lack of worthy enquiry; teaching someone under unworthy conditions could cause the teaching to become lost to future generations.
Therefore, for our own benefit, and for the benefit of all, it is good to do our utmost to meet all the conditions set by a Guru. To do so clarifies our own intention; demonstrating our worthy enquiry stimulates the unmitigated flow of knowledge, and it brings support to oneself and to the Guru’s plan to offer enlightenment to the world.”