Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Spiritual Money Conundrum

The following is a chain of email communications that occurred recently. The essential nature of the communications are in tact, but we’ve removed the person’s name for privacy reasons. It involves the subject of fair exchange for services rendered – CMN being a service to mankind.

We would love to hear your thoughts, as this is a challenging issue for all of us trying to help others and each other.

Hi Regina and Scott

Thanks for your reply. I just LOVE your interviews, the people you choose and subject matters......Can't get enough....regrettably, there are very few great thinkers, scientists and speakers in the field of the changing and expanding human consciousness in Australia.....
Also, you are the ONLY people/website in this field who actually reply to people's emails. E.G. I have sent several emails with various queries to News For the Soul (I'm sure you know it), and - as much as I love their interviews too, they never bother to reply.
And this does make a difference. You are wonderful.
Keep up the great work!
I love you!

Hi __________,

[Thanks for your suggestions and comments.] I have a question for you: Would you be willing to pay $5.00 a month to be able to see the newest interviews while the rest of the interviews and information remained free? We need to change our financial model as we've gone 3 years without a paycheck but we don't know what people like you are willing to do to support us. The alternative may be that we have to stop doing the site. What do you think is fair?

Warmest wishes,

Hi Regina

Hmmm.....I must admit that I am two-minded on this issue. From the business side, yes, I understand that there are costs involved and you would want to have some income happening. From the spiritual side in terms of spreading the very important information and messages to people all over the world, I feel that it deserves to be free. I'll be very honest with you: there are several "similar" spiritual websites out there with access for a fee - I never subscribe. Perhaps I am missing out on some wonderful information. But I always felt that true spiritual teaching calling has no price tag. Most of them I (and many other people) could not afford, anyway. I always have ambiguous feelings about the multitude of spiritual and new age personal development teachers and seekers (e.G. Post- The Secret) who charge people through the nose for their (often great) teachings and products. To me, education of ANY kind and sort should be free. Any teaching, and bringing important information to the masses about the nature of life, the world, all that is and us, humans - should be free. I believe that it is our birthright TO KNOW, to learn, to experience. Those very lucky ones who have accessed this knowledge through science, research or channeling could share it with the rest of us for free. And yes, be rewarded for it somehow, but not through the fees……..

Hi ________,

Thank you for your thoughts on the issue of a subscription. It is always interesting to hear what people have to say when presenting the notion that there might be a price tag to spiritual knowledge as there is with the acquisition of all other knowledge. So, in the spirit of open discovery, I have a couple more questions I'd like to ask about this, as this is really important for all of us to examine as we go into a time where we will need to look after each other and form closer communities in order to flourish.

[We've examined every possible option for a fee based site and the one I mentioned is the only one that appears to be sustainable. People don't pay for the ancillary products, and we can only charge for the things we personally create. That said, I have some serious questions we need clarification on.]

Why do you feel it is a "birth right" to be given knowledge that requires someone else to invest their time, money and talent into creating something valuable for humanity? I don't just mean us, but the wider community of educators, leaders, physicians and scientists. Is it part of our human nature to stand and watch people we say we respect, give away their experience and knowledge freely and go into financial ruin in the process? I do not know of any garden that continues to produce food without nurturing and nourishment.

In truth, education is rarely free. People attend higher education and pay for the privilege. People buy millions of books a year to learn. How many books have you bought on one subject, and, would it compare with the knowledge in about 4 books for $5? People also attend lectures and colleges for the acquisition of knowledge. They buy CDs and DVDs. The great masters of music, art, literature and so forth were compensated by patrons who sponsored their endeavors, insuring that their talents could thrive. Many of those who did not have this support died broken hearted and young.

Let me ask you another thought provoking question. Do you believe that what you currently do for a living is doing some good for people? If yes, why aren't you doing it for free? If no, why are you doing it at all? Even if you are working for a company that is offering a product or service that provides some good to people, why are you not working for them for free? The answer is simple, most people put their survival first, above helping others.

We are certainly not wealthy people and are less so now. We have done this from the generosity of our hearts, a commitment to going up against the traditional media, which required a significant amount of personal financial risk, which most people are not prepared to attempt in order to help speed the education process for others for nearly 3 years. We distill the equivalent of 5 books of information a month through to provide 4 interviews, a radio interview and thought provoking features, which we add to our site every day for others to access easily, without effort on their part other than the click of a mouse.

It is interesting to see how many people are prepared to spend money on alcohol, coffee, SUV's, television, cell phones, clothes, magazines, DVD rentals and other things that are consumable or throw-away, yet when asked to support something valuable you hear the mental screech of brakes coupled with the suspicions and outrage that it can't be good if I have to pay. Is this site just another freebie, another entitlement in life? Would you honestly stand in front of David Icke, Byron Katie, Peter Russell, Russell Targ or many of the other fine interviewees on the site and tell them point blank that what they do should be given to you for free whenever you want, without any compensation? What do you think the response would be?

Would it be for the “ highest and best good of all” if we shut CMN down and took jobs as bank tellers? Or would it be worth re-evaluating an internal belief that all good things must be free?

The harsh truth is this. You mentioned that you considered doing what we do once upon a time. If you were told up front that you would have to put in about a quarter of a million dollars and the combined 6 years (mine and Scott’s) of your personal time into it without pay and without any other form of income, would you be willing to do it? Add to that being faced with the decision to sell your home and leaving your friends behind to continue financing the project. You would probably not choose to do this because most people immediately go to the reality that they have bills to pay and the question of "how do I support myself doing this" would arise. It takes someone with at least a small degree of courage to ignore that consideration in order to try and make a difference. That is what we’ve done.

It is always an interesting debate to see where people are coming from on the money issue and it is one that needs to be aired, discussed, clarified and acknowledged. If the truth of the matter is that people only love you if you give them what they want for free, then the spiritual principles of a nurturing relationship are not being honored. In any relationship where one partner is constantly putting the needs of the other above their own needs, the relationship will fail and die through lack of mutual nurturing.

While it is true that the worship of money for it's own sake is an empty victory, this is using money to indicate the fair exchange of value.....which IS a basic spiritual law.
Last month, 60 people out of 81,000 - less than 0.07% - donated to our site to help keep us going. To them we are truly grateful and honor their love and commitment to supporting not only us, but the other visitors who cannot, or do not choose to, donate.

All my best,

There you have it. This is the basic question and argument the spiritual community faces. What do YOU think? If you would like to comment, click on the word "Comment" below. If you want to send this to a friend, click on the white envelope.

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