This blog has been a wonderful tool to help me grow in Dhamma. With a limited Vipassana community and so many thoughts and questions, I needed a place to express myself. I needed a space to think and feel my way through the huge transition Vipassana was bringing to my life. Along the way, I was comforted that people could relate to my stories and experiences. The small community we’ve built here has been incredibly supportive. I’ve also been happy that individuals have been inspired to continue working on their practice because of this blog.
But a shift has occurred, and I no longer need a personal dialog to develop understanding of Dhamma. After quite a journey, I feel grounded and committed to my practice. Instead of sharing my struggles, I want to write more about my successes. Instead of empathizing with my struggles, I want people to be inspired by my strength. In the long run, I would like to build a strong community that could support many people as they start their practice.
But then the real life issues of time, money, and resources appear. I’ve started to notice WordPress putting more ads on this blog so they can profit off of my “free” blog. I am using their service so they have every right to make money off of it, but do I want to see Vipassana help used to help sell random products? Is this basically just a newspaper with advertisements? Something about the advertisements makes me uncomfortable.
Is this blog just part of my donation to the community? Should this blog be considered an extension of the teaching even though we never try to teach specifics about the technique and always direct people to their local ATs if they have questions? Could we ask for donations to support the blog? While this blog is about Goenka taught Vipassana, it feels very separate from the organization to me. I’ve talked extensively to ATs about this blog to ensure that my writing isn’t hurting anyone’s progress on the path, but I’ve also separated the blog from the organization to protect the authenticity of my voice. The blog isn’t about the organization. It’s about the voices of individuals as the walk the path of dhamma in the tradition of SN Goenka. It’s a fine line, I know, but I think it’s an important one.
So is there a middle path? Can this be a newspaper that supports people walking on the path of dhamma? Instead of advertising or asking for donations, could I ask for contributions? This would provide an income for the blog that would initially pay for a private site without advertising and eventually provide a stipend for writers? Would this be in line with right livelihood?
This is a complicated issue with lots of ins and outs, but it’s also a legitimate issue that every dhamma householder must learn to navigate so I thought I would bring the issue to you. With the desire to both protect the tradition and support the dhamma community, how should this blog navigate its economic realities?