Right livelihood

“A householder should comfortably maintain his dependents, either with money that comes of its own accord or with that gathered by the honest execution of one’s duties. Sb. 11.17.51” (p 78)

The question of right livelihood is important for one on the spiritual path. Most of us do not have enough “money that comes of its own accord” to support ourselves, what to speak of our dependents. Therefore, most of us must engage in “the honest execution of one’s duties” and hope to be able to make a decent living doing so. Blessed are the carpenters, doctors, lawyers, business persons, etc. who have marketable skills that earn a good income and are in high demand. Others may not be so fortunate and have to struggle to make a meager living doing things that do not suit their nature.

While we do not have a rigid caste system that we like to acknowledge, we do have a caste system indeed. One’s caste is determined by one’s innate qualities, upbringing, education, social position, wealth, skills and talents. Some are laborers, others farmers and business persons, others warriors and administrators, while others are priests and teachers. All are necessary for the smooth running of society. All should be adequately compensated for their work. Therefore, I have been a strong advocate for the living wage movement and welfare rights for those unable to work. No one should be without necessities in a world as abundant as ours.

As for myself, I became a spiritual teacher at age twenty under the direction of my spiritual master, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. I taught world-wide for eight years. When I left his organization due to its corruption, I continued to teach independently. I often had to take other jobs to support myself and my family.

When I became a pastor and teacher in the United Church of Christ, after much education, testing, over-sight, time and expense, I felt I found the solution to being a spiritual teacher with integrity, stability and a good income. However, after eleven years, I decided the churches I served were too conservative for me. I resigned and began this independent ministry in 2002.

Since then, I brought my Radha Krishna devotion to the forefront again. Rather than adopting the role of a traditional Indian guru, I used the model of a Catholic spiritual director, a spiritual guide or a holistic, spiritual teacher and practitioner. I am an experienced religious professional who has been trained, tested and approved for spiritual leadership in Hinduism and Christianity. I maintain high ethical standards.

There must be a reciprocal give and take relationship between a teacher and disciple. Some gurus ask their disciples to give up everything else and follow them, to follow their orders strictly and do everything they say, to serve and worship them, and to provide money. I paid a high price in terms of time, self-sacrifice, effort and money to get the spiritual wisdom I accumulated over a lifetime.

I try to make the path as easy as possible for my followers. I provide free teachings on my website and also set up a fee for service schedule and posted there. This enables a clean, professional relationship between student and teacher without a lot of entanglements. Of course, for those who wish and are qualified, a more traditional teacher-disciple relationship is available. I do not want to exclude anyone who wishes to sincerely learn from me because my fees are too high. I am willing to negotiate a sliding scale fee for those who cannot pay what I ask. I am open to barter. I put a couple of donation buttons on my website for those who wish to do so, and in this way, money can come “of its own accord.”

What type of relationship is best for you? I would just as soon be able to teach freely, without charge, yet I have to earn a living. How can we work together?

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