Stop Looking For Teachers

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.


  1. I agree it’s a good idea to have a teacher. Somebody that can help keep you grounded is always a good thing.

    What I was trying to say is that all too often people are jumping from teacher to teacher and the reason behind it is because they have such high expectations for each teacher.

    I’ve never met the current, or any, Dalai Lama but I’m confident that if I spend a couple of days with him my illusion of what he is would be shattered by reality. That’s not a negative thing by the way.

    My other concern is that we can become so focused on one teacher we miss out on a lot of opportunites. Sure the Dalai Lama has a lot of great things to teach us, but we can learn from Thich Nhat Hanh has a lot to share as well. Plus there are many more teachers out there with something for us, even people who don’t realize they are teaching us something. It’s always good to have your eyes open.

    Here’s a controversial comparison that I hope will make people think:
    “If it ain’t KJV it ain’t Bible.”
    “If it ain’t Theravada it ain’t Buddhism.”

  2. Humm… I’m not sure you are talking about just one thing here in this post. Working with your mind is basically the point and just because it’s hard to choose a teacher or because you can ‘trip out’ in the search doesn’t mean it’s not worth finding someone with greater realization who’s committed to guiding you.

    I saw your other post on Lama Migmar and it’s cool you made a connection with him. Since it seems the Tibetan style is something you connect with I’ll mention that there is a sangha in Boston that originated with Tibet but is making the transition to the West. There center is called the Shambhala Meditation Center of Boston that will occasionally host Tibetian Teachers but also has classes lead by senior western students that I’ve found very helpful.

    I was recently at an advanced program where my guru pointed that at a certain point it’s very valuable to choose one living guru so he can be your “cook”, or in other words he’s tweaking your practice for maximum benefit.

    All the best,


  3. Bruce, thanks so much for your comment first of all, I appreciate you visiting this blog. This particular article was written by Tony, one of three contributors to this blog. The great thing about having three different writers is we all have various opinions on a wide range of subjects.

    I used to believe as Tony did, but within the past year I realized there wasn’t much progress in my practice and I opened myself up for a teacher. I did not run about searching under rocks, but stayed open to the possibility one would cross my path. I am humbled that I have found one in the traditional manner and have created a teacher/ student relationship with Lama Migmar.

    Thank you for the info on the Shambhala Center in Boston, I will take a peek at the schedule and maybe try to check it out.


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