Monday, 1 June 2009

To find a teacher?

I reckon I should find a teacher, but I don't want anyone whacking me on the side of the head with a fan. The monk at the temple I sit in zazen at says that I'm doing well enough with my reading. His English is virtually non-existant as is my Japanese, so he can't be it just yet I think. One of the other sitters translates for us, but his English is not great either. The monk said, "Suzuki-san ga ii." (Mr Suzuki [Shunryu] is good for now). I'm reading Beginners Mind. That said, I'd like to find a teacher.


  1. I am right there with you, my friend! I recently contacted the abbot at the San Francisco Zen Temple (Suzuki Roshi's old digs) and we are scheduling a phone call or dokusan to discuss exactly this subject. After years of self study and daily practice I think it's time to seek some direction. In Zen the work is entirely yours to do and personal realizations are very personal. But if nothing else, being able to have contact with someone who can serve as an example for you is never a bad thing. And if you intend to try koan study it's pretty much a requirement. (This would be the part with the fan and the slapping!). It's good to have someone who you can have a dialog about things like Buddhist philosophies, meditation events (makyo, kensho, satori, etc.) and what to look for. Brad Warner's books are great and make it clear you could benefit from having a touchstone to reality handy. (Not that any sane person is in danger of suddenly becoming a serial killer or declaring himself God or whatever.)
    In any case, it's somewhat ironic that you have easy access to a Zen temple but there's a language barrier between you and the teacher! Whereas I am 45 miles away from San Francisco but the abbot there is clear as a bell! You know, I personally get a lot out of listening to the Dharma talks of Paul Haller at SFZC and Gil Fronsdal at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. If you have an iPOD and go to podcasts you can subscribe to and to the Dharma talks at the San Francisco Zen Center. It's worth a listen! And even if you can't be physically there for the talks so as to ask questions, you'll still take a lot away from listening.
    Good luck!

  2. Really neat advice Klifford. It's absolutely true to say that we must do the legwork ourselves in Zen, but that it's wise to find out how to walk properly and where to walk to from those who journeyed before us.

    I'm familiar with Paul Haller Roshi from the SFZC, but I haven't heard his dharma talks yet. Thanks for that link. I'll be following that up tonight.

    Thanks again.

  3. Are you also aware of the Suzuki Roshi Dharm talks blog?