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What to look for in a teacher

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What to look for in a teacher

Postby zenci on Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:21 pm

What makes a good teacher? What sorts of traits should one look for when deciding on forming a student-teacher relationship with someone?

Are these traits universal or are different teachers suitable for different students?
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Re: What to look for in a teacher

Postby jundo on Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:38 pm

zenci wrote:What makes a good teacher? What sorts of traits should one look for when deciding on forming a student-teacher relationship with someone?

Are these traits universal or are different teachers suitable for different students?


Hi Zenci,

All teachers, even in the same corner of Buddhism or same Lineage, have their own approaches and styles. First, I would spend time in the Community and try to make sure that the Practice and Style there resonate and seem helpful. It is hard to know for sure in a short time, but a few weeks or months should let you feel something.

The best teachers just care, are dedicated, ethical (most are, don't let the few bad apples represent the vast majority). Check out what the person's other long time students say about the teacher and her character. Is the community healthy, not seemingly cultish or somebody's power trip. The teacher does not have to be perfect (in fact, the best teachers are often very human with some small rough edges), but make sure that the teacher is generally thought well of by those who have known the person for a long time. Care more about what people inside the Sangha say than outsiders (for example, many conservative Buddhist folks think I am a rebirth-skeptical heretic rabble rouser and too liberal with my online Sangha doings and such, but that suits other people, especially my own long time students of many years, just fine. For other folks, I am the wrong teacher). There should be no whiff of scandal and no sign of power abuse or the like. However, don't expect a robot or charismatic superman for a teacher either. Learning how to be a good human being .... but human ... is part of this Practice.

Anyway, this is not like marriage, and one does not need to commit to someone for life (at least, not as a lay person!). If after months or even longer it turns out that the chemistry is not there, it is okay to move on too. In fact, a good teacher should not be overly clutching or possessive of students, and should encourage you to learn from many teachers anyway.

That is what I feel anyway.

Gassho, J

SatToday
Founder Treeleaf Zendo, Japan. Member SZBA. Treeleaf is an online Sangha for those unable to commute to a Sangha, w/ netcast Zazen, interaction with other practitioners and teachers & all activities of a Soto Sangha, fully online without charge (http://www.treeleaf.org) Nishijima/Niwa
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Re: What to look for in a teacher

Postby zenci on Sun Apr 30, 2017 7:01 pm

Thanks, Jundo. That was helpful.
zenci
 
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Re: What to look for in a teacher

Postby jundo on Mon May 01, 2017 5:09 am

PS - And let me add for you to make sure that he or she should actually seem to know a little something about Zen Practice and Buddhism, have a track record, the recognition of fellow Teachers and some authorization to be Teaching (not the final word by any means on who is a good teacher, but one sign ... like that some doctor actually graduated from medical school and is not just some guy who bought a white coat) ...

... and is not just someone who had a bit of an Opening and thought she understood God,threw a bed sheet over his shoulder and took some funky Dharma Name, starting collecting donations and groupies, self-published a book and made a youtube video where he just regurgitates some garbled mess that is part Zen part Tao part New Age part Sufi and part Pink Floyd lyrics etc. etc.

Gassho, J
Founder Treeleaf Zendo, Japan. Member SZBA. Treeleaf is an online Sangha for those unable to commute to a Sangha, w/ netcast Zazen, interaction with other practitioners and teachers & all activities of a Soto Sangha, fully online without charge (http://www.treeleaf.org) Nishijima/Niwa
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