Every so often I receive a question in my email, or a posting on my Facebook page, that asks why certain programs or courses that I offer require a fee. This is a fair question and it deserves, I believe, a full and complete response.
Here is one such letter from a CWG reader, followed by my answer. I realize that this is a lengthy post to place here, but, as I said, I do see this as a very appropriate and understandable inquiry — and a quick two sentence reply just will not do. I invite you, therefore, to take a moment and review the entire topic comprehensively here…
Dear Neale…In your book Friendship with God — part of the Conversations with God series, the issue about making money through spirituality is touched and justified by God himself, even though I do not accept the justification mentioned in your book, because Jesus never charged for his message, and according to the holy scriptures spirituality was the most import message of Jesus and he shared his message with the people FREE OF CHARGE, so spreading the gospel and his message was one of his major goals.
Taking the above into account, let me ask you some questions about it: Do you not think that making a lot of money through spirituality is not morally correct?? Do you not think that your major goal should be sharing your message with the largest amount of people possible, and that charging for almost everything is not the best way to do that???
I am sorry if you find my questions a little bit disrespectful, but this issue has been in my head for a long time. It is a fact that other spiritual teachers like Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and Jean Houston have made a lot money with spirituality — in my opinion, more than they need to live well.
(Name withheld to ensure privacy of correspondent.)
Dear Friend….Your question raises a lot of issues for many people. And just the wording of your question alone shows how delicate this issue is. For instance, you write:
“Do you not think that making a lot of money through spirituality is not morally correct??”
I notice you said “a lot of money,” so that, presumably, you agree with paying ministers, priests, rabbis, and other members of the clergy a salary — so long as it is not too much — even though, as you note, Jesus never charged anyone for his teachings. Yet even Rev. Billy Graham received an income large enough to buy a wonderful home in the North Carolina mountains…
So it appears that, in your thinking, the “morally correct” view offers some leeway here. It does not seem, in your view, to be a matter of no money at all being received for sharing God’s truth, but simply how much.
Then you ask, “Do you not think that your major goal should be sharing your message with the largest amount of people possible, and charging for almost everything is not the best way to do that???”
I do think that sharing my message with the largest number of people possible should be my major goal, and it is. I have demonstrated this for nearly 20 years, time and time again.
I wholeheartedly agree with you on the fundamental point that I believe you seek to make here, my friend, which seems to be that all people ought to be able to have access to the messages of Conversations with God, and access to me, personally, without having to be wealthy in order to do so. It is for this reason that I do, in fact, place a great deal of my offerings into the world at absolutely no charge.
It is possible that you do not know that I have written an entire book — not a “booklet,” not a pamphlet, not a newsletter or brochure, but an entire full-length book — which I offer for free to anyone who wishes to download it. The book is titled The Holy Experience, it explains the essence and the application of the Conversations with God material, and it is available free for the downloading at my website at http://www.nealedonaldwalsch.com
It is also possible that you do not know that I offer seats at every one of the workshops, retreats, and programs of any kind that I produce at a discount (from 10% to 99%) to anyone who cannot afford the regular participation fee. All one has to do is ask for a scholarship. You may also now know that every year I present an entire 5-day Spiritual Renewal Retreat for free to anyone who shows up — and people do, from all over the world!
It is possible that you also do not know that I write a CWG Weekly Bulletin, filled with wonderful articles, commentaries, insights, and answers to readers’ questions, and that this is offered on a weekly basis to anyone who asks for it — free.
It is possible that you do not know that I offer daily inspirational messages from CWG, sent to anyone’s email box on request, for free.
It is possible that you do not know that my published book When Everything Changes, Change Everything may be read from cover-to-cover on the Internet absolutely free, and even commented on by readers, with questions they may ask about any given passage, all at http://www.CWGhelpingoutreach.com.
At this special website people may also receive spiritual assistance with any problem they may now be facing, thanks to a team of Spiritual Helpers who make sure that everybody writing in receives a response within 24 hours…all for free.
I built this website at a cost of many thousands of dollars, and I maintain it at some expense, all for people who seek and need help at no charge.
It is possible that you do not know that two of my books — The Only Thing That Matters and The New Revelations — have been posted on my Facebook page repeatedly — one passage at a time — over the past two years, to be read by anyone who finds value in this material. And that my book The Storm Before the Calm is also being posted on the Internet for free, at http://www.TheGlobalConversation.com … and that the book What God Said is being posted in installments on worldwide web as well, at http://www.WhatGodSaid.net
I know of no other globally best-selling author of spiritual books who has placed five of their works on the Internet in full, for reading by anyone who wishes to access them, at no cost whatsoever.
It is possible that you also do not know that the Conversations with God Foundation sponsors a Books for Friends program that sends free copies of Conversations with God and other books from the CWG cosmology to persons in prison, and to others who cannot afford to purchase these books. People simply write to the Foundation and ask for one.
So there is really much that I have tried to do to make both the CWG message and myself, personally, accessible, that you may not be aware of, my friend, and I hope that people everywhere see the effort I am making.
Thanks for asking your question. I understand how things must look at first glance to some people, and your asking this question helps me to assist everyone in reaching a better understanding.
To balance this, I do acknowledge that I offer a few select programs and courses that require a fee to participate.
Now, why should any money have to be involved at all? This is a question I receive a lot. “Neale,” people say, “you are doing the work of God. It’s not even your words or your wisdom! You admit this yourself. A person shouldn’t have to pay for God’s wisdom. What’s up with that?”
Here is my answer to that question…
As part of our Old Cultural Story many humans have been told that money is the root of all evil. Money is bad and God is good, and money and God (“bad” and “good”) do not mix.
One result of this teaching: The higher one’s purpose in life, and the greater one’s value to society, the lower one’s income must be.
Hence nurses, teachers, public-safety officials, and those in similar service professions are not to ask to earn much money. Ministers, rabbis, priests and other clergy are to ask even less. Homemakers and mothers, under this guideline, should have no personal income at all, for they may be the most selfless in service to others. If they want something for themselves, they may ask their husband for a few dollars, or scrimp pennies from the grocery money, but they may not actually “earn” any personal money of their own for what they do. (You may think I’m making this up, but my mother actually lived this way.)
Now I know that some parts of humanity’s Old Cultural Story have changed—but a lot has also apparently remained unchanged. The message of that Old Story is: Because “filthy lucre” is bad, because money is intrinsically evil, pay must be in reverse proportion to the value of the function performed. The better the deed, the worse the pay.
To repeat: people should not get lots of money for doing good things. And if they’re doing something really, really, really good, they should do it for free.
And so we see that human beings have created a “disconnect” between doing “good” and being well compensated. On the other hand, doing things of somewhat less lasting intrinsic value can produce compensation in the millions, and that’s okay. People seem to be totally okay with that. Ballplayers can earn millions, and so can movie stars who take off their clothes on camera. Some people even tolerate, with a wink and a nod, certain activities that break the law (prostitution, and mathematical acrobatics that circumvent income taxes, are among them).
Thus, society’s values discourage noble actions and encourage triviality and even illegality. Humanity’s watchword is: the higher the purpose, the lower the financial reward must be.
Once again, this arises out of the mistaken notion that money is “dirty” and “bad,” and we should not accept that which is dirty and bad in exchange for that which is pure and good.
And so, many people tend to believe that anything that has anything whatsoever to do with God should be free for the asking. Folks should not have to pay for anything connected to the Divine. They’ll walk down to the convenience store and pay $2.50 for a package of cigarettes––but cigarettes are bad for them, so this is perfectly all right. They’ll buy a pack a day and spend $17.50 a week on their smoking habit, but if you invite them to pay a fee to participate in their own spiritual growth, they become resentful and disappointed in you for charging them anything.
Yes, many humans have pretty well agreed: Things having to do with God should be free (no matter what it cost in time and energy to make them available). Things having to do with poisoning oneself, on the other hand, are worth whatever the cost. This goes not only for tobacco, but also for fast food, video games, movie rentals, and a dozen other things that add nothing to their quality of life — and that, in fact, actually subtract from it.
In addition to all of the above, there is the idea that people who have nothing––who are very poor––should not have to pay anything to get the spiritual help that they need. This is one idea that I disagree with completely.
I believe there should be some energy exchange with everyone, including the penniless, for things that they receive that bring them benefit. I believe that, as Conversations with God says, “all true benefits are mutual.”
This energy exchange would best be in the form of money if the program or service they are receiving cost someone else money to provide it. It is about creating an energy exchange that diminishes no one, and provides everyone the dignity of the opportunity to experience self-sufficiency.
Yet I understand and have experienced that in a particular period or moment during one’s life it may not be possible to offer a money exchange for that from which one could most benefit — such as spiritual assistance. That is why, for the few CWG programs that I produce myself which require a fee, I created the Pay Sometime Before You Die Plan.
This unique plan allows people to say, “I don’t have it now, but I promise that if the day comes when I do have it, I will send it to this program. In this way, I can ‘pay it forward,’ giving someone else a chance to attend the program during their time of lack.”
It would neither be reasonable nor possible, however, for me to require my publishers around the world (the CWG books have been released in 37 languages), or other organizations that produce programs around the CWG material, to do the same. They have huge overhead and operating expenses to meet, and I am only grateful that they have chosen to help me get the wonderful message of CWG into the world.
Yet hopefully, after participating in a CWG program, course, or lecture — or after reading the CWG material — people will have gained the knowledge of Who They Are and of How Life Works, and will, as time goes by, use this new understanding to produce a different experience of life, including financial sufficiency.
Having read all of this, there are still some people who say, “Neale, you’ve made a lot of money on your books. Do you need any more? Why don’t you just cover the costs of providing all of your programs, courses, and books for others?”
My answer: I do not empower others by demonstrating my power rather than showing them how to experience theirs. All I do in that case is keep others dependent on me and on my generosity. And it is not generous to keep others subjugated, subservient, and dependent during their lives.
Further, it is neither my job nor my purpose, my mission nor my obligation to foot the cost of providing everyone else in the world what they desire. It is, rather, my mission to show everyone else how they can experience exactly what I have experienced: direct connection with the Divine, the acceptance and the embracing of one’s true identity, and a lifetime of greater inner peace and outer joy.
Finally, it feels fair to point out what it takes to keep the CWG work going in the world.
It requires eleven teammates—and this is something many people have not considered. The team includes a personal assistant simply to keep track of mail, email, phone calls, and a crowded and ever-changing daily calendar, a media interview request and events scheduler, a special projects coordinator, a business affairs manager, a bookkeeper, a workshop enroller and membership list manager, a webmaster, technical staff for cwg.tv, a global programs development assistant, and two directors (curriculum and administration) for the School of the New Spirituality.
These wonderful people deserve to make an income from the services they perform, and a few of our programs and services generate income, thus providing what the team needs in order to offer their skills as we seek to render the messages of Conversations with God accessible to as many people as we can, as rapidly as possible.
I could, of course, stop doing this work, but that is not a decision I have chosen to make.
Again, thank you for asking your question, my friend, giving me an opportunity to provide this full and complete response. I send you my wish that you may experience God’s presence in you, and working through you, all the days of your life.
Love all ways…Neale.