Dhamma and Commerce

For Your Information ,

Tzu chi controversy

Tzu Chi claims that special donations are used only for a stated purpose, but it is belief that the donations has been wrongly used to purchase stocks, funds and land in industrial areas and conservation zones.

Donations have been used to purchase so called barrier funds or vice fund , ie sins stocks or risky high-yield bonds in Monsanto, Boeing and tobacco company Altria, etc as well as to buy land in industrial areas and conservation zones for rezoning and development.

Sins stocks includes ,
gambling, smoking, drinking and warmongering (defense stocks).

If you would like to know HHDL’s stance on “guru-yoga” and the infallibility of gurus, since this is a common misconception about Tibetan Buddhism:

The Dalai Lama emphasized that no Buddhist no teacher should be considered above reproach. “You should not say: ‘oh, this is my guru, whatever guru says, I must follow.’ That’s totally wrong!” he exclaimed. “The Buddha himself mentioned ‘my teachings, you must examine.’

(https://www.buddhistdoor.net/news/dalai-lama-turns-spotlight-on-fallibility-of-buddhist-teachers-in-public-address)

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Sadhu, Sadhu

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The one thing about this that really drives it home, is what exactly do we all mean by the “Dhamma.” I mean any book on buddhism is the Dhamma. When the buddha spoke that passage on trading the Dhamma, it’s not like the pali canon was thought of like it is today. He certainly meant anything that helps lead to awakening, anything pertaining to his teachings. So really, writing any book on buddhism should be released for free, or at least it seems that way to me.

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For this you need lot of supporters.
In west the major support coming from migrant Asians.
They already have commitment to their local temples.

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On the topic, I would like to call attention to the fact that Wisdom Publication’s 2016 financial statements are already public and available. See below my updated highlights from these latest financial statements.

WISDOM PUBLICATIONS INC (EIN 04-2979113)042979113_201612_990.pdf (1016.3 KB)

In 2016, Wisdom Publications made $2.405 million in gross book sales, at a gross profit of $991 k - a meaningful 41% gross margin. On top of that they received donations of $126.4 k, royalties of $427 k and other book related revenues of $12k.

Wisdom Publications’ functional expenses were $1.56 million in 2016. Some $731 k out of this total were spent in wages, compensations and employment-related expenses. The second largest functional expense item was related to compensation of officers and directors, with one single individual (WP’s president) earning a total of $157k as reportable compensation and $29k of other compensations in the period. The third largest item was advertisement, $239k or roughly 10% of the book sales amount.

As a result of the above, Wisdom Publications made in 2016 $204k out of selling Dhamma-related stuff (books mostly) after all functional expenses were deducted. Their cash and investments position ended 2016 at $1.25 million by 31 Dec 2016. On top of that their inventory position (Dhamma-related stuff waiting to be sold) ended the year at $1.4 million.

Last but not least, it called my attention the fact that Wisdom Publications apparently made very little dana itself in that year. :disappointed: In 2016, the reported total made amount of donation and gifts given/offered was of only $12,400 (twelve thousand and four hundred dollars) . This is a very small figure when compared to to the $113 k spent in travel, accommodation/occupancy, conferences, conventions and meetings in that same year. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

How much is Wisdom Publications worth?
There are many ways the value of a positive cash flow business such as Wisdom Publication can be assessed. On a conservative basis, we may approach it by its current outstanding cash and cash equivalents position ($1.25 million) and of course the operating cash flow stream selling Dhamma-related stuff yields (~200k / year). A simple net present value calculation over this cash flow stream assuming it to remain at this level in the long term and a reasonable risk-adjusted capital cost of opportunity of 10% would result in $2 million. Hence, it is worth at least $3.2 million in total.

We may as well tackle the question from a simpler end and use instead the average Price to Earnings ratio of ~54x for the Publishing & Newspaper industry found at this link. This means that Wisdom Publications could be worth as much as $11 million, or 54 times the net profit of $204 k reported in 2016 ( “Revenue less expenses” in the document above).

You may add as well to both the above measures the net-of-depreciation value of Wisdom Publications’ fixed assets - land, buildings, and equipment- booked at $355k as of year end 2016.

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That means they can avoid paying taxes too.

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Do you have a reference for that story in the samyutta…

Now that I think of it, the only other religion I can think of, where the holy texts have copyright protection, is Scientology, so that they can sue heterodox sects.

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I would like to purchase Bhikkhu Bhodis books but I simply can’t afford them right now.

I found some interesting books at a local library that were put out by a Thai monastery, I forget which one. On the back of the book it said if you want a copy of this book please contact the monastery. When I contacted them, they no longer provided books. I contacted other monasteries and none of them send out books any more. I understand printing books and sending them out is very costly.

Most of these monasteries did how ever, have a lot of pdf files for download. Which is great but I can’t read online to long, it starts to bother my eyes. I understand that pdf is probably better for the environment but I admit I still much rather have an actual book. And it is great having suttacentral for reading and reference.

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Parts of this thread inspire nausea.

May peace, happiness, liberation from suffering and its causes, be. May fear, hate, greed, anger, be extinguished.

@ERose you may not have noticed, but that community member is suspended until August 2019 and won’t see your response.

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Ty for info Nadine.

Metta, metta, metta, to us all. :slight_smile:

But that does not mean that by copyrighting Dhamma material individuals working or owning Wisdom are not making profit, sustaining themselves…

And frankly, I would never feel comfortable to sustain myself and feed my cravings by using cash made out of Dharma. What kind of word conditioning one gets entangled by mixing things this way!?

And I am not sure if the Buddha or early Buddhists would see it as something wholesome or uncomplicated…

From what I can gather from EBTs this idea of making money or sustaining one’s desires through charging for teaching and guiding was strongly avoided by the immediate, monastic disciples of the Buddha.

And in the ancient West as well, the business of sharing wisdom for a price was the business of sophists and not true philosophers! :sweat_smile:

An evidence that there was no room for sophistry in early Buddhism is the fact that we often in suttas see characters who were originally paribbajakas / parivrajakas, the closest you had to sophists in Buddha’s times, becoming monks and adopting the vinaya…

:anjal:

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Can I ask how - if as suggested in some of the posts above Wisdom and Bhikkhu Bodhi hold the copyright for his sutta translations - it has been possible to share them via Sutta Central? (Apology if this is covered elsewhere; I’ve looked in vain.)

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There are established authors and others who i hope will answer you in detail. However, copyright is a control mechanism, and rights to publish can be assigned, with a variety of limits (whether that right can be delegated/assigned to others; content requirements; etc.)

Having a copyright does not necessarily mean income; it does however mean a right to prevent others from profiting. Without a copyright holder… there have been cases when material in the public domain has been claimed by corporations or others, and profiteering occurred.

Edit: this might be interesting:

https://www.unc.edu/~unclng/copy-corner73.htm

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That is much as I understand it, tho there are differences between American and Australian copyright law. I’m curious about this particular instance.

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After reading through a lot of the good points made in this thread, I feel a little awkward about buying Wisdom Publication’s sutta translations now. At the time it was the only way to read a complete translation of some nikayas—as far as I know. And if you want a physical copy of a complete nikaya today, I think Wisdom Publication is the only place where one can be affordably purchased. In both of these regards, they’ve done a great service. However, they really should consider freely distributing their PDFs and EPUBs so the dhamma can be made available to more people, and not just those who can afford a $50 hardcover. Maybe they could wait a few months after the release of the hardcovers if they’re worried about undercutting sales. This is what some video streaming sites do. Pay-customers get first access, and free-customers get access shortly thereafter.

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Wisdom Publication’s 2017 financial statements are already public and available. See at the link below my updated highlights from these latest financial statements.

In a nutshell, Wisdom Publications made in 2017 $379k out of selling Dhamma-related stuff (books mostly) after all functional expenses were deducted. Their cash and investments position ended 2017 at $1.19 million by 31 Dec 2017. On top of that their inventory position (Dhamma-related stuff waiting to be sold) ended the year at $1.7 million.

Last but not least, it called my attention the fact that Wisdom Publications apparently made very little dana itself in that year. :disappointed: In 2017, the reported total made amount of donation and gifts given/offered was of only about $8,100 (eight thousand and one hundred dollars) . This is a very small figure when compared to to the $161,000 spent in travel, accommodation/occupancy, conferences, conventions and meetings in that same year. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

How much is Wisdom Publications worth?
There are many ways the value of a positive cash flow business such as Wisdom Publication can be assessed.

On a conservative basis, we may approach it by its current outstanding cash and cash equivalents position ($1.19 million) and of course the operating cash flow stream selling Dhamma-related stuff yields (~380k / year).

A simple net present value calculation over this cash flow stream assuming it to remain at this level in the long term and a reasonable risk-adjusted capital cost of opportunity of 10% would result in $3.8 million. Hence, it is worth at least $5 million in total.

We may as well tackle the question from a simpler end and use instead the average Price to Earnings ratio of ~25-28x for the Publishing & Newspaper industry found at this link. This means that Wisdom Publications could be worth as much as $9-11 million, or 25-28 times the net profit of $380 k reported in 2017 ( “Revenue less expenses” in the document above).

You may add as well to both the above measures the net-of-depreciation value of Wisdom Publications’ fixed assets - land, buildings, and equipment- booked at $355k as of year end 2017.

Source for the above is: Charity Navigator - Unrated Profile for Wisdom Publication Inc.

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Just FYI: “occupancy” means office space costs, not hotels