Dana, an ancient Pali word meaning generosity or giving, is a voluntary expression of appreciation and gratitude. The principle of Dana maintains a tradition that has provided places for the practice of meditation for around 2,500 years. Dana offers those who value the practice of meditation the opportunity to help in the continuation of this deeply-needed service. It is a practice that diminishes self-centredness and includes the well-being of others in our actions. There is no correct sum to give. The amount depends upon your ability to give and how your heart is moved.
The peace and beauty of Gaia House provide a sanctuary of calm stillness, welcoming all people who wish to explore the heart of understanding and freedom. You can practise dana through donations which make an invaluable contribution to the running of Gaia House. Dana allows us to keep our rates as low as we can to be kept at a minimum, allowing as many people as possible to attend retreats here and online.
Our retreat rates cover the cost of food, heating and lighting, maintenance of our building and grounds, teachers’ travel expenses, a small staff team and all other outgoings required for the running of the house. There are four main areas integral to facilitating retreats that are not covered by our retreat rates. These are: Teacher dana, Residential Service Community dana, the General Fund and the Financial Assistance and Bursaries Fund (FAB Fund).
Teachers do not receive any payment for leading group retreats at Gaia House. The teachings of wisdom and compassion are considered priceless, thus teachers offer their understanding freely. Dana allows teachers to continue their work in making the teachings available, and the livelihood of most teachers depends wholly, or to a large extent, on the generosity and voluntary contributions from retreatants. Those teachers supporting our personal and work retreatants receive a small stipend, although this service is primarily supported by dana.
Our residential team members offer their time and energy to assist the smooth running of Gaia House, and this gift of service is the bedrock of Gaia House. The work involves caring for the retreat space and retreatants, supporting the kitchen, maintaining the building and grounds, and helping respond to booking and administrative enquiries. The team members receive a small monthly stipend of £157 plus food and board.
Our retreat rates cover the basic running costs of each retreat, including food, heating, administration and our ongoing maintenance costs. Any donations to this fund will contribute to our daily running costs so that we can make improvements to the facilities provided and keep our retreat rates as low as possible. In addition, the General Fund supports an ongoing programme of larger-scale projects to restore and improve the house and gardens.
This fund offers financial support to those who would not otherwise be able to participate in our programme. Its continuation depends on voluntary donations. If you have benefited from attending any of our retreats or courses and would like to help make the teachings more accessible, please make a contribution to this fund. We also have a policy of transferring deposits from cancellations into this fund.
At the end of each retreat, course or event, there is an opportunity to make a dana offering to your teacher(s), the residential service team and our General and FAB Funds.
We are deeply grateful for your generosity.
Under Inland Revenue regulations, charities can reclaim tax on all donations made by UK tax payers. The tax is reclaimable under the Gift Aid scheme and applies to any donation, whether large or small, regular or one-off. Gaia House can claim an additional £2.50 for every £10 donated by UK tax payers, with no extra cost to you. In order for us to claim tax, you must have paid tax (on income, capital gains and/or savings) at least equal to that which can be reclaimed on your donation.
The tradition of dana in Buddhism is an acknowledgement of our interconnectedness and interdependence. In Asia, monasteries are generously supported by the lay community, and in turn they offer a place of refuge and teaching as well as a whole range of projects dedicated to peace and the relief of anguish. This ancient and rich tradition has sustained the Dharma teachings for more than 2,500 years, since the time of the Buddha, enabling the creation of retreat centres, the support of monasteries and a whole range of social and peace practices and projects.
When you come to Gaia House you are staying in a centre that has been created and is supported by the generosity of those who have practised here before you. The house was purchased through the donations of countless students and continues to be supported by the generosity of our residential service community and volunteers. The teachers share a firm commitment to the principle of dana, rather than asking for a fee for leading retreats. This system is true of most Insight Meditation centres in the West. Any dana offering you make supports the very life and sustainability of the Dharma teachings.