We need to stop looking for dharma/buddhist/zen/spiritual teachers because we will never find the one we want. Why? Because nobody can live up to the expectations we create in our minds!
There are plenty of teachers out there and if you keep your eyes open you will spot them when they cross your path. Learn what we can from them while you can and keep moving down your path.
How will you know when you see a teacher? Will he be wearing a saffron robe? Will she be meditating on the beach? Will he have a group of followers writing down his every word? Will she have an ethereal glow? If you are looking for any kind of sign you are doing something wrong. Know what it is? You’re looking for a teacher! Stop that.
Let me give you an example of a teacher that showed up in my life. I was adding SSMS to three SQL Server 2005 servers. The first two servers took the addition without issue. The third server continually failed to accept the addition and throwing errors at me. I had ninety minutes total to get the work done when I started and was down to my last thirty. My mind went in to panic mode and I lost my focus. Knowing I needed help I sent an e-mail to one of the DBAs in the building. He’s agnostic, drinks beer, loves to go out partying, not 30 yet, darn good at what he does and was listening to some indie rockband when he called me and said five simple words, “What do the logs say?” Boom! There it was. I had the answer to my problem all along. All I had to do was look at the error logs and I would know how to fix it. Fifteen minutes later all three servers were online and working. Instead of giving me the answer or doing the work for me he pointed out that I already had the answer and all I had to do was put my mind in the right place.
How does this make him a dharma/buddhist/zen/spiritual teacher? He gave me a working example of what we do when we meditate. We put our mind in the right place and discover the answers we already have but haven’t realized yet. I wasn’t looking for a teacher but one showed up and reminded me of why we meditate.