Youtube Dhamma videos with ads!

Dear fellow meditators,

There are several Youtube channels that are great resources for learning Dhamma teachings and the how-tos of practicing. Among others, those of Bhante Sujato, Ajahn Sona and Thanissaro are – in my opinion – good examples. However, all those video can be watched without ads. Now… what if videos by other monastics are also available but with ads - sometimes multiple ads throughout the video? Their content might be rather good, but I question whether it is proper for a monastic to teach the Dhamma for direct monetary reward. Didn’t the Buddha make a specific point about that in the Kasi Bharadvaja Sutta? Should one just look past the ads if the content of the videos is appropriate, or is the content “tainted” like the milk rice offered by the farmer? Evidently, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing… what would you suggest? Thanks in advance for your opinions!

1 Like

If you are on a PC, Mac, or laptop install the browser extension called “UBlock Origin”.

It will cut the commercials out of YouTube.

If you are on a mobile device install New Pipe. It is made primarily for play lists but you can watch individual videos. It will cut commercials out of YouTube.

Certainly monks who observe the vinaya don’t make money in anyway.

But I am not familiar with youtube ads thing. Is it possible for creators of the video to specify no ads for the videos uploaded? Ads as in before the video, sometimes it pops up for 5 seconds. If there’s no option to disable ad from the side of the person uploading, there’s no issue right?

Another ad for videos is the sponsorship. This video is sponsored by, … And they require the person who is in the video to verbally say the ad everytime in a new video. Certainly this is not the behavior suited for monastics, but then we can compare it to this: monks listing out the names of the donors who helped to sponsor for this event or that event. That doesn’t seem controversial. So why should a video production cost, which is sponsored by some company be controversial?

My impression is that this refers to donors who initially don’t want to donate, but after hearing a dhamma talk then decide to donate. It doesn’t bar the donors from donating out of faith in the future. So regular donors who donate doesn’t count. The Sunday morning dhamma talks, where the lunch is after the dhamma talk doesn’t count as the lunch is already intended to be given to the monks regardless of the dhamma talk.

The tricky part is for donors who got inspired and then subsequently approached the donation box or the kapiya or the treasurer of the society and make monetary donation. On the one hand, it’s not donating to the monks, so we don’t have any say to reject it, and on the other hand it’s not really possible to keep track. Who knows if the donors already wanted to donate before the dhamma talk?

Just that if it is obvious, the monk going for alms around had met someone who clearly didn’t want to donate and asked a dhamma question to the monks, and got inspired by the answer then decide to donate, that we cannot accept. Perhaps that is why it’s good policy not to give dhamma talks on alms arounds.

Another possibility is that the monastery, run by the kapiya or staff or lay volunteer committee decided to monetize the YouTube videos of their monastics to get fundings for their own operations. This doesn’t violate monks precepts if the monks are not involved in the financial part of the monastery, and just do the duty of giving dhamma talk. How the lay people decide to use the recorded videos is the lay people’s business.


Given that lay people are organizing the YouTube channel; YouTube channels get paid by how many watch the ads AFAIK, I’ve come to view ads as something that the youtube Corporation offers, and if accepted, generates some money for youtube and the owner of the channel.

We are free to refuse the offer by installing an ad block. Sometimes I turn off my ad block as a donation to the video creator.

But there is something off about ads during a dhamma talk. That wouldn’t happen live in a temple, but is it ok when it’s online? I don’t know…


To make money off YouTube ads you have to have:

  • 1,000 subscribers
  • 4,000 public watch hours on long form videos in the last year
  • signed the partner agreement with YouTube

If you meet the popularity requirements but don’t want ads you can opt to not show ads on your videos, but you have to maintain your channel’s popularity to get the option. Small channels get no control over ads nor any revenue from them and just have to just accept it as compensation to YouTube for hosting the video.


Once im done digesting these,
reading all the suttas here
and on access to insight,
listening to all the talks on Gil’s site…

I might consider watching an AD.
Not really. I won’t.

But thanks for reminding me to do the dana.

I was going to say, they are probably unable to turn it off.

And so we have the pride of Mara selling us an investment plan in the middle of the finest Dhamma talk.

That actually sounds like it would make for some ironic synchronisities. Perhaps mara will shoot himself in the foot.

Ajahn Sona here: We are very deliberately advertisement free, and also comment free. First, advertisements are just the wrong atmosphere for a Dhamma channel, secondly we don’t want to platform random comments which we may not agree with. Even our livestreams, which have a “chat bar” are monitored and any comments which we find inappropriate are removed in real time. This allows a fairly “clean” experience of a dhamma talk. But what is good about the medium is that it is free and available anywhere in the world, anytime, and can be played on repeat. It can be captioned, and even translated as well. And with new artificial intelligence programs I can suddenly speak in my own voice 30 other languages! This is different than any other time in history. The technology can be a dhamma vehicle.


Hi Ajahn Sona. Does this actually work? Do I need to change my mind if I find that scary?
Can’t think of Ajahn Sona without that Canadian charm. I don’t think that’s translateable.

Thank you, Venerable Ajahn Sona, for your post. My wife and I greatly appreciate your videos and recordings, for both the content and the format. It’s good to know that it is a very deliberate effort. Your gift of the Dhamma is a treasure and that makes it even more special.

Completely agree… nothing against the other versions of the Commonwealth English, but I find his accent the most, as you put it, charming!

1 Like

I can speak in 30 languages, but I don’t know what is being said! Before releasing such videos we would have a native speaker check the translation.

Not seeing any of these on your channel yet. Would be glad to help evaluate the German if you should need me.

The bswa started including ads several years ago, I’m not sure if they still do. I really dislike it. But anyway I use ublock, so.

But given that that tech companies are so incredibly smart, they should be able to tell that a dhamma site is not the right place for ads, right? Right?

Or at least be able to play ads suitable to the content

"With a donation of only $200 get a hand-signed leatherbound edition of Bhante Sujato’s Mahjjima Nikaya with numbered certificate of authenticity … :wink:

Is this the same as selling Dhamma books ?

One day, I pictured in my mind a cartoon of a lay person putting food in a monk’s bowl and the monk saying to the layman: “If you want my book, it’s 50 $” (I don’t remember the amount or exactly the sentence I thought though).

We have only tested so far. It is highly amusing to hear me in fluent Japanese!

1 Like

Ah yes, the subject of books. I have considered the matter over many years. There is printing and free distribution. But that requires elaborate sponsorship and a room full of books that are at the monastery. Been there, done that, for decades. It is a poor way of going about things. First of all, monks are not free distributors of paper. We are free distributors of Dhamma. I make my Dhamma available for free in verbal form or in audio, or even in digital transcription. But if you want it on paper, you need to arrange with a publisher for the paper copy…that would be Amazon. They make money on the book, which is fine, that is their livelihood. Any extra money goes to production costs at the charitable society who produces the book. I actually want people to hear or read the dhamma talks I give, and with modern distributed technology this can happen at a scale never previously possible. But handing out a few dozen free books at a monastery is a very minimal way to distribute dhamma.


Indeed, a lot of Buddhism books in bookstores are by the Mahayana. Possibly because of the free books distribution model by Theravada, end up, the first impression many people have of Buddhism is Mahayana, and we lose the people from there. It might take years for them to convert to theravada or not at all.