Discussions of Zen Buddhism in all shapes and sizes.
Stuart, I don't think you're inexperienced.
A way -- one way -- to work, is to go to the nearest place of a Zen Buddhist teacher, and start training as they train there.
I think the very important thing is that a practitioner can see the teacher -- a teacher -- almost any teacher (!), regularly, and the sangha around that teacher. Maybe take five years and do that.
I really think that a majority of the importance is on the quality of how the practitioner connects with the sangha and the teacher. Some people don't need much contact with the teacher at all. But the teacher sets the content and the tone of the communal practice, so a teacher is very highly important in that regard. Yes, in other regards, too, but a good student can make up for a lot of perceived or imagined lacks in a teacher.
Hows does the expression go? There's a ditty that goes something like... :
"Don't let the search for 'perfection' become the enemy of complete adequacy."
Every student makes the teacher even better, by the way, too (he said, as if he knows... ). Don't deny the teacher the refinements and improvements you can bring him or her.
ps BTW, Stuart, Guo Gu and I both know Dr. Simon Child, a Dharma heir of Ven. Sheng Yen (as Guo Gu is). Simon is a friend of mine, and we've sat a number of 7-day Chan retreats together while Simon was Sheng Yen's student. He's in Wales, I think, but he may teach in other areas as well (he's occasionally in USA, also). Just search under "Simon Child, Chan", and you'll find lots of info and addresses. But, OK, let's await Guo Gu's reply and see if he can "recommend" Simon (*I* can!).
I suppose this was a bit of an open question for anyone coming on looking for a teacher AS well as for myself and my search.
Thanks for the information. my hot little fingers will be searching away as soon as I HIT SUBMIT below!
P. S. Experience does not equate with.... Tozan Rankage ha!
Guo Go through Tallahassee Chan Group's web site contact page:
Granny Hawkins tells the Outlaw Josey Wales what that big talk is worth......
*Also what roshi would say just before ringing me out of dokusan
you may contact simon child who teaches in uk and lead retreats in whales. his grp has satellite sitting grps all over england. see if you're causes and conditions are with him.
the thing with finding a teacher has more to do with affinity than other factors. use your common sense and see if you feel comfortable practicing with a teacher and his/her students. aside from this, a teacher should have a correct view of buddhadharma. his/her teachings should accord with the three seals of buddhadharma: impermanence, suffering, selflessness. it is called "seal" because these three aspects put a stamp on what is and what is not buddhadharma. also observe his/her character as well as his/her observance of precepts. see if what s/he says is congruent with his/her actions. this will take some time... but worth it.
opening this questions to the online sangha of this forum is good. many will have useful things to say or experiences to share.
i do a skype teaching for our dharma drum lineage london group on a monthly basis. folks there meet up and practice together and i present a teach or answer questions. anyone is welcome. the grp is here: http://chanmeditationlondon.org/ and you can contact them. if you're around then i may see you in november online.
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
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