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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Oct 30, 2009


Recently James Ray had 65 people pay $9000. for a retreat and sweat lodge. That did not turn out so well. James Ray was out of integrity. Duh.

The incident triggered a lot of cynicism in people about the paying of money for spiritual work and spiritual teachings. There is the sort of vague idea floating around that one should not have to pay for spiritual teachings. This idea is historically unfounded - but that's another post). The natural outcome of this "not paying" is that most teachers would "not be able to survive" and would be driven straight to a "day job". We would all be much poorer for that.

Of course there is the other end of the spectrum - $9000. for a few dangerous days, for example.

To me, what is really interesting about all of this is this: the underlying assumption is that spirituality is not real. Bread and phone bills and real estate are real. You have to pay for those. But it is not OK to pay more than a minimal fee for spiritual teachings as they are not real.

So - let's go with that assumption and thread it through the following scenarios:

I have to have my septic system roto-rootered. It is going to cost $150. That's real. That is just the price I have to pay to have my plumbing work well.
I am considering attending a Yoga Workshop for $150. I start getting suspicious. Isn't the teacher making too much money? Why should he make that much money? (Notice I did not ask this question about the Rooter Rooter man. Notice also that I actually have no idea what sorts of scholarship, discounts or service the teacher is doing / giving).

I have to spend 2 - 3 hours with my lawyer to clear up an easement dispute. It is going to cost $500. That's real. That' just the price I have to pay. I may not like it but I don't really question it.
I have an opportunity to spend a weekend studying with a meditation teacher who is going to teach me a meditation technique which is powerful and life changing. The guy is legit....the real deal.....I already know that. But still the suspicion creeps in - that seems like too much money.

I want to buy senior pictures for my son. The photographer fees start at $500. That's just the going rate.
I want to learn a technique of contemplation that reflects back to me the true nature of myself and all of life in ta way that is far more radiant than any photographic image. The fee is $500.

You get the picture - no pun intended. Last night Eli told us about a black man who had been imprisoned at the age of 18 for a crime he didn't commit. At the age of 52 he was finally released. The article quoted a huge sum of money and attorney time that was spent bringing the courts around to giving this man his freedom.
I might argue that at the age of 17 I began my spiritual path with my first Yoga class. At the age of 53 I am experiencing greater and greater freedom (and the path is far from finished!) I have spent a huge amount of money, time and energy on this project. I have invested in something Real. I mean, roto rooting is real. But Yoga and the Light of Consciousness - that's Real.

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