Interesting question. Excuse the ramble..
A clarification here:
marc108 wrote: I'm referring more to one-on-one instruction, not to retreat centers as those obviously are extremely expensive to buy and maintain.
It seems common for such lay retreat centres to charge to cover costs
. They pay for the building, food, and costs associated with getting the teachers to the retreat. But the only cash the teachers get is dana from the participants. However, there are clearly other models out there. For most monasteries, and some lay organisations, such as Goenka's, there is enough support that there is no need for an up-front charge.
Now, back to your question:
I presume you are talking about teachers such as Tina Rasmussen and Stephen Snyder:http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2010/02/bg ... he-jhanas/http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2010/02/bg ... entration/http://www.jhanasadvice.com/id4.html
If you have very simple questions, we may be able to respond to these briefly by email.
For more extended or ongoing inquiries, we offer individual spiritual guidance / coaching sessions to dharma practitioners by phone. The focus of these calls is your dharma practice and how it informs your worldly life. Because we are also both professional coaches, we can also offer you tools with which you can further understand your personality structure and how it both supports your practice, and also manifests as hindrances. If you are interested in spiritual guidance, you can choose which one of us you wish to work with, or you can alternate between us. If you choose to work with one of us, we may occasionally also suggest that you do a session with the other teacher to balance your practice and understanding.
Spiritual guidance is offerred via phone calls of either 30 minutes or 1 hour, either as needed or on a regularly scheduled basis. Regularly scheduled calls can be every two weeks or monthly. One-on-one sessions are offered on a sliding scale of $75 to $150 per hour. For half an hour, the fee is $45 to $70. Payment is made in advance via PayPal, using the button below. Please enter the amount appropriate for your session.
I think that the relevant question might be whether this is a useful service for someone who wants such advice. I know that I could stay for free at a Pa Auk monastery in Malaysia (I have a Chinese-Malaysian friend who does just that from time to time), or Myanmar, but of course I'd have to get there first, which would not be free, not to mention taking time off work...
Personally, I prefer to seek out local or visiting teachers, but that might not be possible...
Depending on circumstances, a couple of half-hour phone calls per month might be extremely helpful, if one had done retreats with them, for example.
Note that they do say they will respond to email. Clearly any teacher has to ration his/her time in some way.
This is a bit of a ramble, but, in summary, I don't really like second guessing any teacher, lay or monastic, who is doing things that are legal and not against any vows they claim to be adhering to.