“I shouldn’t have to pay for spiritual teachings or healings.” During the past few months, I have heard this statement expressed in various ways, several times. Few people I’ve known have actually ever lived on donations only, at the discretion of the person served choosing or not choosing to donate. I have—for 10 years, so I feel well qualified to write about this and the co-dependency I discovered while I was living on donations.
This is a challenging financial time for many and as people from various backgrounds and beliefs we hold numerous views about what is appropriate to donate, pay, or receive for free in regard to help that is spiritually oriented. I respect that each of us is entitled to determine for ourselves what is appropriate to do, and I look forward to a day when we can accept each others choices without criticism and judgment of those whose choices are different from our own.
Indeed, when it comes to spiritual evolution in consciousness what you seek is inside you already. You don’t need anyone in order to discover what is of you, whether you are focusing on enlightenment or healing yourself as a part of your awakening experience. Receiving help and support is one choice a person can make. It is an option.
No one I have met that was truly enlightened or spiritually awake ever sold awakening. And they couldn’t heal what I was not already healing myself. In my experience, it is simply not possible. They suggested ways to expand my perceptions and held the space for me to unfold myself. My awakening is the most important work I do and when I allow a teacher or healer to help me in what is my responsibility to do, I learned to honor my teachers by paying or gifting them generously for their time and energy.
I found ways to do that even when I was flat broke. Why? I honored the wisdom they were sharing with me, and the sacred space they had become that allowed me to expand my perceptions of reality. There is no greater calling than our spiritual evolution and if I was willing to receive someone’s assistance in my growth, it was certainly appropriate to gift them. Even the most generous gifts were small in comparison to the life-transforming experiences I enjoyed in their presence.
Whether the source of sharing is a payment they determined, a donation I chose to make, or a trade of services to support them in their work, it was appropriate to honor the one I was receiving from. This was even true with my Native teachers. I have discovered that there is a general misunderstanding about the concept of giving freely in Native tradition, so I would like to clarify this. The healer or teacher gives freely to the very best of their ability, and it is understood that the one receiving does the same for the benefit of the one that helped them. Giving freely, as I was taught by my elders, is not about receiving without reciprocating.
It would never occur to me to ask for a doctor’s or therapist’s help without paying them. Even spiritual guides within organized religions are paid for their work. We live in a paradigm in which if we want help, we reciprocate by providing our helpers with the financial means to do their work.
Who among us attending to our spiritual growth is not doing spiritual work? Is it appropriate to pay the people that help us get well and grow if they frame their spiritual work in a secular context, but not if they frame it in a spiritual context? Do we pay someone that has a degree and doesn’t speak about spirituality out-loud with us, but not the one that spent years in deep inner work and meditation, and quietly passed rigorous spiritual tests that speaks directly to our spiritual awareness?
Living by the graciousness of others’ donations works if the ones receiving donate generously. In our culture, if we are given the option, we are more inclined to give to the least of our ability rather than the greatest of our ability. We are a culture that looks for sales, bargains, discounts, deals and anything for free that we can get. There is nothing wrong with this. It is the way we do business, and for the most part it works—unless as in my case, one is living on donations, in a context that is foreign to those receiving
After visions and insights helping me see that I was creating a reality in which I was not taking care of myself while taking care of others, I abandoned my co-dependent model. I was living on feeling good about being needed, while placing the needs of others far beyond my own. I finally realized I wasn’t needed. Everyone had what they needed inside of them. I was merely a facilitator, a holder of space for those that wanted it. If you are interested in the visions that led me to leave 10 years of spiritual work by donation please read this brief article:
After years of living without enough financial means to do the work I truly came here to do, I realized I was the one living in a paradigm that honored everyone except myself. So I changed my model to ensure that I also received what I needed in the exchange. It seemed my clients began appreciating my work even more and even discovered greater benefit from what I was offering in service.
We are all here to learn different karmic lessons. Some of us really did come here to learn how to share without receiving anything in return to balance our karmic wheel. Others of us came to learn how to respect others as well as ourselves through our transactions. Still others came to learn how to receive. In whatever ways we tend to be dependent or co-dependent, the opportunity for spiritual evolution around money is in learning how to be honest and true to our lessons and ourselves. It is my prayer, that together, we will allow each other the space to learn our unique lessons around spirituality and money.
If this topic intrigues you, my co-host Cheryl McDaniel and I did a special radio program on this called, “When Spiritual People Should Not Make Money,” at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/breakthru2ultimateu/2010/06/30/when-spiritual-people-should-not-make-money