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The trust covers its overheads on an annual income of £35,000, but runs appeals for projects like new buildings.

An Indian prince, 2,500 years ago, brought up in the lap of luxury renounced all worldly possessions to become the Buddha.

The Dechen community led by Lama Jampa Thaye offers one-day courses for £17.50, rising to £20 next year.

“The exception to this,” says the treasurer, Anne Schellizi, “is that we charge beginners a flat £50 for a weekend at our centre.” When the Thai meditation master Nai Boonman visits, Anne says retreatants are “spontaneously” generous.Monastic institutions can accept financial donations and some of them do become quite wealthy.” Clearly many organisations are making healthy profits from running Buddhist events, although it is a recognised principle that the teachings are not for sale.Whether this state of affairs is corrupt – or simply a 21st century fact of life is open to debate.His example led to the foundation of an order of mendicant monks and nuns who rely on the generosity of local communities for their survival.“The basis of monasteries is not economic production,” says Rupert Gethin, professor of Buddhist studies at Bristol University, “but there’s a form of social contract – if you want monks and nuns in your society you have to support them.

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