Testimonials / About DL(S)F

Testimonials

      Thanks so much for the beautiful meditation cushion. When I observed you hand-sewing a pillow at the AMTA meeting and saw the fine work you were doing and heard the wonderful spirit and mission, I had to have a pillow. My pillow has stood up beautifully over the last several months, looking as good as new. There is something about having this pillow that calls me to meditate more than I was doing previously. This is clearly a great blessing for me. I appreciate your friendly, individualized service, and that I can help others while enriching my life. Thanks again for the exceptional product and the honorable work you are doing.

Sincerely,
Tori Moore


      I'm happy to report the cushions arrived safe and sound earlier in the week, and that they are amazing. You fulfilled all of our expectations and more when we set out to purchase zafus: the cushions are obviously of very high quality, and I can report firsthand they are very comfortable to sit on for long period of time, allowing for concentration to be utilized in more important areas, and were also environmentally friendly as we had hoped (we greatly appreciated the organic cotton flyers). Also, the most exciting part for our group and for me personally were the pictures of you and your team working on them over time; it was wonderful to see from whence the cushions came, and I especially appreciate the obvious compassion with which they were made. If you ever need anything resembling a recommendation feel free to pass along my email. Our group at Guilford College is very grateful.

Best,
Andrew Taylor
Guilford College Meditators


On Buddhism and Capital
by Dan Barry, Co-Founder, DL(S)F

      They seem like they should be enemies, right? Or at the very least, uncomfortable bedfellows.

      And if you think so, you’re kinda right: currently, money and Buddhism don’t get along very well. But it’s not because they’re immortal, ancient enemies. Instead, buffeted on one wing by Oprah’s “Nourish Your Spirit” media, and on the other by fashionable green environmentalism, America is currently wrapped up in a post-New Age whirlwind. Practices such as Buddhism, yoga, and meditation have suddenly become saturated with unexpected cultural and fiscal capital. Plain and simple, there is tons of money and rep to be made hawking products that cater to those markets.

      We call it the Buddhist Industrial Complex. You know those ads with people in the loose white clothing, standing on top of some perfectly landscaped hilltop, throwing their arms open to the sun? Yeah. Them.

      They're trying to take the Dharma and turn it into a pre-fab product. So we decided to take it back.

      DL(S)F was founded on the notion that it’s not hypocritical, morally shitty, or bad business to make a living off of the Dharma. And we actually mean “make a living,” not “get rich.” My Co-Founder Arielle and I are both college graduates, but as we start this business, in terms of our actual income, we’re well below the poverty line. So we’re looking for a fulfilling career, financial stability, and security—not a get rich quick scheme or an exploitable market. We believe that if we support the Dharma, and remain vigilant against greed and selfishness, then the Dharma will support us. Arielle and I are not in a position to “live outside the system” -- we're each far too deep in debt to go live off the land or start a farming collective or whatever. And I'm not sure either of us would be cut out for that, even if we were able. But one thing's for certain: as long as we have to live under a capitalist system, we're going to use our power and privilege to try and minimize its evils and maximize its strengths.

      DL(S)F believes that money and the Dharma can get along just fine. We’re not the only ones who think so, either. “Money is energy,” writes Dharma Punx founding father Noah Levine in his book Against the Stream. “As with everything else, money is not the problem; it is our relationship to money that causes us to suffer” (p. 94).

      So we do business with an understanding that the line between “making a living” and “spiritual profiteering” is a thin and admittedly debatable one. We’re here to encourage that debate and offer up a business model that unites Buddhism and capital. We move forward in this endeavor not just with an eye towards our relationship to money, but also towards how value is created and transmitted. We call it “mindful capitalism.” In general, we take only a minimal wage for ourselves, pay our hired help generously, and reinvest the lion's share of our profits.

      “But wait,” one might argue, “isn’t it hypocritical to ‘fight back’ by just selling another product? Doesn’t that just add to the problem?”

      Yes, but only in the sense that it perpetuates capitalism. But we're not trying to abolish capitalism. We're trying to transform it from the inside out. One need only read about the tragedy of the commons to imagine why we don’t just give away our cushions for free. It might be generous of us, but it’s not sustainable. We won’t be giving away OR selling any cushions if the landlord kicks us out, the student loan companies repo our possessions, and the tax man comes and locks us up.

      As long as an idea or an item is valuable, we of this day and age will never be able to fully divorce it from money. It’s not DL(S)F’s aim to completely de-commercialize and de-commodify meditation or the Dharma—but we do aim to push the boundaries in that direction, with liberation as our ideal, and the Middle Way as our practice.

      We would be honored if you would join us.