Dogen Sangha Blog


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Friday, June 22, 2007

Finding a teacher

Dear Gudo Nishijima Roshi:

Thank you for inviting me to participate in the Dogen Sangha Blog. My question to you concerns zazen and teachers. My first teacher was wonderful, but I did not know this at the time--I just thought this was the way things were supposed to be.
I knew nothing about Japanese culture, I knew nothing about Soto/Rinzai lineage, I knew nothing about Zen or zazen.
My first teacher was Matsuoka Roshi. He emphasized practicing zazen 'everyday everyday.'
After several years I had to move away and could not sit with Matsuoka Roshi any more. Then I found out just how rare and precious it is to have a group to sit with and to have a teacher.
Having a teacher is so important.
So my question to you has to do with teachers. How do you know when a teacher is 'good' for you and when you need to find one more suitable?
Some parts of practice where 'ego' are concerned are uncomfortable and unpleasant, working with a teacher in this area, some exchanges may not feel 'good.' I have had the experience of one of my teachers psychologically 'beating me up' and bullying me. At first I thought this was 'crazy wisdom' but after a while it became clear this was just bad treatment.

Now I understand what I want: how to take zazen into every aspect of my daily life.

In the beginning I did not know what I wanted--it was sheer luck (karma?) to find Matsuoka Roshi at the Zen Temple of Long Beach and get a such a good start.

How would you advise someone just beginning, who knows nothing about anything, in finding a teacher?

In closing I want to say that I am deeply grateful to all my teachers: past, present, and future.
(As you know, I recently started sitting with Odo in Santa Monica and I also recently joined the Treeleaf Sangha on the internet with Jundo. Both are wonderful teachers and place emphasis on daily regular practice of zazen.)

I very much appreciate your kindness in inviting me to participate in this world wide Dogen Sangha Blog.




Blogger GUDO NISHIJIMA said...

Dear Ven Keishin,

Thank you very much for you becoming the member of Dogen Sangha, and I think that your question how we can find the true Master, who teaches you true Buddhism, is very important problem.

Fortunately, Oto, Jundo Cohen, are my students, and the auther of book entitled "Sit down and shut up" Ven Brad Warner is also my successor, therefore please study under them, and select your favarate one.

Unfortunately I haven't met Matsuoka Roshi yet, and so I cannot say anything about him.

4:11 PM, June 22, 2007  

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