Soh Wei Yu shared a link.

There are many plenty of good teachers out there. Too many to list.. I have a book recommendation list in 2019 in the AtR blog but that too is in much need of updating. But you can get some recommendations here "Book Recommendations 2019 and Practice Advices"
My recommendation of books, teachers, and so on, also depend on what the person is trying to accomplish and where they are at. If they are practicing self enquiry, then a self enquiry related book be it from advaita (e.g. ramana maharshi), zen (e.g. hsu yun, bassui, etc), or dzogchen (e.g. lama surya das's natural radiance, etc) would be good. Also although you seldom see me post neo advaita stuff here, John Tan also recommended some neo advaita books to certain people whose conditions for breakthrough to nondual was present but there wasn't conditions for breakthrough to anatta and emptiness yet. For example, I enjoyed reading Joan Tollifson books in the past, David Carse and so on. But it all depends on the conditions of the individual, I am not making a blanket recommendation that everyone should start reading these books. It may not resonate with you or you may already know those stuff and so on.
If they are post anatta, reading about mulamadhyamikakarika/mmk (translated by jay garfield, and another by mark siderits), soto zen/dogen (this is great for an introduction: ), mipham (for starters: jamgon mipam, then for more thorough into dzogchen and emptiness read 'beacon of certainty'), tsongkhapa, and also many good books of mahamudra and dzogchen may be helpful. But as the tibetan buddhist teachings state vajrayana teachings requires a teacher, so if you are interested in these teachings then you will require a proper teacher who can do transmission and so on. Actually the same for zen.
As for finding teachers, it would be good to try to find a local teacher and sangha you can actually visit and interact with. If there are no awake teachers around your vicinity then maybe find an online one. So my advise is to look around your vicinity as well and do not be restricted by what people recommend here, because we cannot possibly know all the teachers that exist around the world.
Also I just told John Tan earlier today that I find Acarya Malcolm Smith and Kyle's writings and views quite resonating, which he also said "...learn their view, it is very good". I personally attended Malcolm's Dzogchen teachings in 2020 and so had John Tan, although it seems Malcolm no longer accepts new students.

Also Malcolm posted advise in dharmawheel on how to choose teacher, "You have to investigate your prospective gurus for yourself. She is among the people out there teaching Dzogchen in a somewhat open way. But not every teacher is suitable for every student. Only you can discern that. So you have to be like a bee, you have to visit many flowers, not only one. This is the recommended behavior for a person who is interested in Dzogchen teachings."
I do recommend people read all the posts by Malcolm and Kyle:
Also for Mahamudra teachings which are very profound, check out Thrangu Rinpoche ( ) and Zurmang Rinpoche. 
As for Zen, check out some of the books and authors at Check out 洪文亮 and 慧律法师 if you can read Chinese as they are very good. Zen Master Hong Wen Liang is deep into anatta, total exertion and empty clarity, a rare beacon of clarity. Read his articles here:

1 Comment

Yin Ling
Thank you!


Tips on finding a good teacher:

Acarya Malcolm Smith:

You need to find a teacher. That is the base line. You cannot understand Dzogchen from books. Many people try. All fail.

In the beginning, you have to be like a bee, and visit and sample several teachers. Once you find the right teacher for you, then you settle down. The teacher, in every respect, is more important than the teaching.


Kyle Dixon shared on how to find a qualified teacher:
Also going forward there are actually many guidelines for engaging in a teacher-student relationship in Vajrayāna, and I think it goes without saying, but this “teacher’s” conduct obviously renders him unqualified, here are some pointers from the Vajrayāna tantras themselves for any future endeavors. All teachers are to be rigorously vetted:
Mahāvidyādhara Jigme Lingpa states:
In the first place, the primary condition necessary for initiation is none other than the vajra master himself; therefore it is very important to examine the teacher to whom you are connected. As Orgyenpa has said:
Having an unexamined teacher is like jumping into an abyss;
Having an unexamined student is like drinking poison.
Because you must not make a mistake in this basic situation. I will examine the nature of it. The rig pa rang shar tantra teaches the following on the characteristics of a master:
A master endowed with the truth of the vajra should:
Have a good disposition and be skilled in teaching,
Have obtained initiation and have applied himself to the secret mantra [vajrayāna],
Know all of the outer and inner activities,
Be inseparable from his yidam deity,
Be undistracted in contemplation,
Be learned in the secret tantras of the secret mantra,
Which hold the truth of rdzogs chen man ngag sde
Have achieved all outer an inner accomplishments,
Never move from the meaning of the view,
Perform the outer, inner, and secret activities,
With qualities like precious jewels,
And an inexhaustible treasury of activity.
This tantra [rig pa rang shar] also speaks of six characteristics:
[i] having put all samsaric phenomena behind him, [ii] having few desires and being content, [iii] being skilled in practice and having had experiences, [iv] being learned in the meanings of the tantras and having striven to accomplish them, [v] being learned in the meaning of the view and being completely capable with it, and [vi] having great compassion and being happy in renunciation.
One with the complete set of these qualities is said to be necessary. If, on the other hand, he is merely an effigy of whom it is said This one is a wonderful source of miracles, This one holds an unsurpassable rank, and This one is a sacred object of worship and harmony with worldly people, then he is not [a genuine teacher]. From the same tantra [rig pa rang shar]:
Very proud and ignorant,
Followed because of his foolish words,
Without any realization of the meaning of secret mantra,
His arrogant words disparaging others,
Engaging in a false path,
Not seeing the face of the initiation mandala,
Becoming lax in his vows,
Not coming up with the answers to pure questions,
Very proud of the little he has learned,
The unexamined master is a demon of a master.
As it says, do not get involved with such a demonic master.
Longchenpa, in his own response to the above excerpt from the rig pa rang shar (regarding the unqualified teacher), states: Accordingly, I advise you to avoid them.
The kun byed rgyal po tantra states:
The inauthentic master teaches scripture like a monkey, his false path beset with concepts.
And regarding the qualified teacher it goes on to say:
The master who displays the truth is a precious treasury worth an inestimable price.
and Jamgon Kongtrul states:
Avoid a master whose traits are discordant with those of a true teacher; But since a fully qualified master is rare, follow the one who is replete with good qualities.
A teacher whose traits are discordant with the characteristics of the [true] master stands outside of the Buddhist doctrine and connot be taken as a spiritual teacher. Consequently, even though the teacher may be very famous, active, etc., the discriminating student should be aware [of these shortcomings] and detach him or herself [from the teacher]. This should be done even if a teacher-student relationship has already been formed. If one has not yet formed such a relationship, one should avoid doing so, right from the beginning. Sakya Pandita states:
Detach yourself from the spiritual teacher
Who does not conform to the Buddha's teaching.
We should learn how to recognize [bad teachers] from the many descriptions given in the scriptures and then shun them. For example, the Condensed Tantra [of the wheel of Time] states:
Proud, subject to uncontrollable anger, defiant of pledges, guilty of misappropriation, ignorant [of the doctrine], willfully deceptive of students, having failed to enter the state of supreme bliss, uninitiated, a slave to wealth and enjoyments, careless, rude in speech, and obsessed with sexual desire: wise students who wish full awakening should shun such a teacher as they would hell.
Because we are living in a [degenerate] age, we very rarely meet a teacher endowed with all of the necessary qualifications. Since we may never meet such a teacher, we should accept a master who has many good qualities and very few weaknesses. [Pundarika's] Ultimate Familiarization states:
In this age of conflict, spiritual masters will exhibit both faults and virtues; not one is absolutely irreproachable. Therefore, examine well even those who excel in virtue before beginning to study with them.

    Hi all.. Appreciate all the resources that have been shared in the group so far. Something has been on my mind for a long time but did not ask because there were some resistance on the idea of having a teacher. Can I ask what does it mean to look for a teacher? And how does a relationship between a dharma teacher and student looks like? I have felt a little stumped by this for a while.. And how do you approach a teacher? Do you commit to a single teacher or a few? If I participate in a certain sangha group or read a lot of books from a certain teacher, e.g. Plum village.. Does that mean thich nhat hanh is my teacher even though we have no personal relationship? I have read how people would travel to India.. Tibet.. Asian countries and live with a certain teacher for a while.. Is that still the practice now? Although it's not something I can do at this point in my life. Increasingly whatever I read.. It is pointing to the necessity of having a teacher. But have no idea what that means or what am I looking for.
    I did read the atr post on teachers that we trust...but it was still not very clear to me what it means to have a teacher. I have been sidelining this for a while.. I guess it's easier to just be reading.. Practicing and studying on my own than to have someone to answer to. I do think it's time I gain some clarity on this.


    Soh Wei Yu
    If you can have mentorship meaning 1 on 1 conversation on a frequent basis with an awake teacher, that is best.
    Although preferably the teacher has gone through all the 7 stages, it may not be easy to find such a teacher. A teacher that can bring you to the next step is great and doesn't have to be perfectly enlightened. When you reach I AM and non dual for example, then you can switch your contemplative practice to penetrate the two stanzas of anatta and Bahiya sutta. But if you are just starting, even to reach I AM is a major breakthrough.

  • Soh Wei Yu


    Another update, 2022:

    • Reply
    • Remove Preview
    • 10m

  • Soh Wei Yu
    Personally, I did not "live" with John Tan and I meet him no more than a few times a year. In earlier years it may not even be once a year. But I frequently text him and he talks to me frequently online.

  • Soh Wei Yu
    Also as I mentioned before.. I am not a teacher and I am too busy. I have to put this out so I don't get bombarded with requests for mentorship by others😂

  • Reply
  • 6m
  • Edited

    Jace Min
    Soh Wei Yu I mus say the whole group is very privileged.. Just have to drop a comment here to receive your wisdom. Isn't this more accessible than a usual student teacher relationship? 🤭
    Thanks for the replies and suggestions!

  • Ken Nishiyama
    Thanks for asking the question and also for the response. Once again, I've found exactly what I needed to hear here.

  • Yin Ling
    Imo and for me, this relationship is fluid and dependent on one’s conditions and the availability of a teacher.
    For myself personally when I wanted to go deep into the dharma I tried sitting into a few free online classes and also free meditation classes with the traditional Buddhist monks etc but it didn’t work for me. It didn’t work because the guidance was too general and not personalised. They also didn’t have enough time to understnd my conditions because monastic tend to teach the public
    Hence I decided to try private teachers and got a contact from sending out some messages on Dharma overground and Reddit
    I paid to study with said teacher 1:1 an hour a week for about 15 months I think.
    She knows me inside out, I tell her everything, the relationship was extremely close. She guided me through the dukkha nanas and make sure I eat, don’t meditate too much, watch movie, take a break, see my friends lol. Like a mother. She’s lovely.
    Due to financial constraints I stop studying with her once a week and temporarily do it myself when I feel confident to be on myself .. usually this happens when one have Anatta insight .. there will be confidence with one’s mind.
    So now books are precious teachers. Conversations with John tan and soh are precious too. John is very kind and lent alot of confidence though he is not a teacher like in a teacher student relationship when each knows the other mind like their own.
    Now, Just sit and letting my mind show itself to me is my teacher, getting into situations and intuitively apply the teachings are teachers. Books from masters are wonderful teachers
    I don’t think there’s a one size fits all and I don’t think one can tell another what to do.
    Eventually a teacher need to lead one to see their own minds nature, so whichever method that can do that will work. Imo. 🙂

    Jace Min
    Yin Ling That's clear. Thank you. 🙏

  • Reply
  • 2h

Another update, 2022:

Bodhidharma: Only One Person In a Million Becomes Enlightened Without a Teacher's Help
Zen/Ch'an First Patriarch Bodhidharma:

Excerpts from

To find a Buddha, you have to see your nature. Whoever sees his nature is a Buddha. If you don’t see your nature, being mindful of Buddhas, reciting sutras, making offerings, and keeping precepts are not equal to it. Being mindful of Buddhas results in good karma, reciting sutras results in a good intelligence; keeping precepts results in a good rebirth in heavens, and making offerings results in future blessings — but no buddha. If you don’t understand by yourself, you’ll have to find a teacher to know the root of births and deaths. But unless he sees his nature, such a person isn’t a good teacher. Even if he can recite the twelve groups of scriptures he can’t escape the Wheel of Births and Deaths. He suffers in the three realms without hope of release. Long ago, the monk Good Star was able to recite the twelve groups of scriptures. But he didn’t escape the Wheel, because he didn’t see his nature. If this was the case with Good Star, then people nowadays who recite a few sutras or shastras and think it’s the Dharma are fools. Unless you see your own Heart, reciting so much prose is useless.

To find a Buddha have to see your nature directly. Your nature is the Buddha. And the Buddha is the person who’s free: free of plans, free of cares. If you don’t see your nature and run outwards to seek for external objects, you’ll never find a buddha. The truth is there’s nothing to find. But to reach such an understanding you need a good teacher and you need to struggle to make yourself understand. Life and death are important. Don’t suffer them in vain.

There’s no advantage in deceiving yourself. Even if you have mountains of jewels and as many servants as there are grains of sand along the Ganges, you see them when your eyes are open. But what about when your eyes are shut? You should realize then that everything you see is like a dream or illusion.

If you don’t find a teacher soon, you’ll live this life in vain. It’s true, you have the buddha-nature. But the help of a teacher you’ll never know it. Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help. If, though, by the conjunction of conditions, someone understands what the Buddha meant, that person doesn’t need a teacher. Such a person has a natural awareness superior to anything taught. But unless you’re so blessed, study hard, and by means of instruction you’ll understand.

People who don’t understand and think they can do so without study are no different from those deluded souls who can’t tell white from black.” Falsely proclaiming the Buddha-Dharma, such persons in fact blaspheme the Buddha and subvert the Dharma. They preach as if they were bringing rain. But theirs is the preaching of devils not of Buddhas. Their teacher is the King of Devils and their disciples are the Devil’s minions. Deluded people who follow such instruction unwittingly sink deeper in the Sea of Birth and Death. Unless they see their nature, how can people call themselves Buddhas they’re liars who deceive others into entering the realm of devils. Unless they see their nature, their preaching of the Twelvefold Canon is nothing but the preaching of devils. Their allegiance is to Mara, not to the Buddha. Unable to distinguish white from black, how can they escape birth and death?

Whoever sees his nature is a Buddha; whoever doesn’t is a mortal. But if you can find your buddha-nature apart from your mortal nature, where is it? Our mortal nature is our Buddha nature. Beyond this nature there’s no Buddha. The Buddha is our nature. There’s no Buddha besides this nature. And there’s no nature besides the Buddha.

Labels: Teachers, Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma 0 comments | | 

Update, 2022:

Conversation with Yasutani Roshi:

"Student: This will be my last sesshin, as I have to return to the United States next month. Will it be all right to train under a Soto priest there?

Roshi: Yes, but I would advise you not to be guided by him with respect to satori unless you are sure he is enlightened himself. Very few Soto priests these days have realized their True-nature and therefore they pooh-pooh the experience, saying in effect: "Since in possessing the Buddha-mind we are all inherently enlightened, why is satori necessary?" But this argument is specious, because until they have directly perceived their Buddha-mind they don't really know that they possess it.

Student: Then, is it possible for me to carry on my practice without a teacher?

Roshi: Whether you have no teacher in America or only a mediocre one, you can continue to discipline yourself in Zen by following what you have learned at this temple. Any teacher, even an unenlightened one, is able to supervise your practice. He can check your posture, for instance, and your breathing, and can guide you in other respects. But he ought not try to pass on satori unless he himself has had it and it has been verified by his teacher.

Student: Oh, yes, that reminds me of something I wanted to ask you. This morning in your lecture you spoke about the necessity of having one’s enlightenment confirmed by one's teacher because only in this way could correct Zen be transmitted. I don't quite understand this. Why is it necessary to be authenticated by anyone?

Roshi: Starting from the time of the Buddha Shakyamuni, correct Buddhism has been transmitted from teacher to disciple. Where the teacher's enlightenment has been authentic and sanctioned by his teacher, he has been able to sanction the enlightenment of his own disciples by using his own experience of enlightenment as a guide. You ask why this is necessary. It is necessary, first of all, in order to insure the transmission of true Buddhism from teacher to disciple. If this hadn't been done, there would be no authentic Zen today. But the truth is, you can never be sure by yourself that what you take to be satori actually is satori. With a first experience it is quite possible to misjudge it.

Student: But isn't enlightenment self-authenticating?

Roshi: No, it isn't. In fact, there are many examples of persons who became teachers without having enlightenment at all. It is like a person searching alone for diamonds in the mountains. If he has never seen a real diamond, he may think when he finds glass or quartz or some other mineral that he has found a genuine diamond. If he could verify his find through somebody who has had experience with diamonds, he could be sure. Failing that, he could easily make a mistake regardless of how brightly his stones glittered.

Student: This business of the transmission from the Buddha down to the present time - it isn't really true, is it? It's myth, isn't it?

Roshi: No, it is true. If you don't believe it, that's too bad."

Labels: | edit post
0 Responses