Further Reading: Buddhadharma Winter 2023

Explore a collection of deep reads on the subject of the teacher and the student.

By Mariana Restrepo

1: What, or Who, Is a Teacher?

The Teacher-Student Relationship

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche on how our relationship with the teacher evolves in the three vehicles of Buddhism.

No Teacher of Zen

In Zen, wisdom comes from personal experience, says Norman Fischer. Everyone is a student – even the teachers.

The Ordinary, Extraordinary Teacher

Koun Franz on meeting his teacher for the first time. 

2: Finding and Choosing a Teacher

Guidelines for Choosing a Buddhist Teacher

How do you go about finding a teacher (and by extension, a community) that’s right for you? Lewis Richmond shares his advice.

Ask the Teachers: How do you know if you should be with one teacher or another?

Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Narayan Helen Liebenson, and the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman respond. 

What Are Teachers For?

Given how difficult Buddhist teachers can be to locate, trust, understand, accept, admire, and follow, asks Karen Maezen Miller, are they even necessary?

3: The Guru & The Student

Guidelines for Choosing a Buddhist Teacher

How do you go about finding a teacher (and by extension, a community) that’s right for you? Lewis Richmond shares his advice.

Ask the Teachers: How do you know if you should be with one teacher or another?

Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Narayan Helen Liebenson, and the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman respond. 

What Are Teachers For?

Given how difficult Buddhist teachers can be to locate, trust, understand, accept, admire, and follow, asks Karen Maezen Miller, are they even necessary?

Forum: Your Teacher and You

A forum on what it means to have a teacher today, how you can make the most of the relationship, and what you can do when it’s not working.

4: How To Be a Student

Ask the Teachers: Am I doing myself a disservice by practicing Buddhism without a guru?

Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Narayan Helen Liebenson, and the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman respond. 

The Guru and the Great Vastness

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche looks at the role and the influence of the guru on learning in the Vajrayana tradition.

Is the Guru Model Broken?

Pema Khandro Rinpoche, Lama Rod Owens, Lama Rigzin Drolma, and Lobsang Rapgay discuss the guru model in the Tibetan tradition, in which the teacher is central to the path.

How Will You See the Guru?

Are you able to see your teacher as the Buddha? It’s not easy, says Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, but this is where the real path begins.

Approaching the Guru

A talk on devotion by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, given in 1996 in Boulder, Colorado at the commemoration of the death of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

5: Issues in the Teacher-Student Relationship

Confronting Abuse of Power

Recent headlines have revealed that spiritual communities, including Buddhist ones, are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse by male authority figures.

Breaking the Silence on Sexual Misconduct

Willa Blythe Baker offers both her painful firsthand account of sexual misconduct by a guru and insight for fellow survivors and communities.

Our Teachers Are Not Gods

Longtime practitioner and psychotherapist Rob Preece says even though as students we may be devoted to our teachers, we can’t afford to idealize them anymore.

When a Buddhist Teacher Crosses the Line

Mingyur Rinpoche explains Vajrayana ethics, how to find a genuine teacher, and what to do if a teacher crosses the line.

The Promise and Peril of Spiritual Authority

Gina Sharpe, Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, and Pilar Jennings examine spiritual power, the roots of its abuse, and how we might learn to hold it differently going forward.

Advice for Women in a Secret Sexual Relationship with Their Buddhist Teacher

Willa Blythe Baker offers nine pieces of advice for women who find themselves in secret relationships with their teachers.

When Teachers Don’t Practice What They Preach

Tenku Ruff on what to do when you discover a teacher is all too human.

Commentary: Sexual Misconduct Is No Joke

To victims of sexual misconduct, writes former Buddhadharma editor Tynette Deveaux, “we stand with you.”

Us Too

Buddhist teacher Trudy Goodman looks at the history and harm of sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers, and what we can do to stop it.

How We Can Address Patriarchy

Buddhist teacher Lama Rod Owens on why Buddhist community members must confront and deal with ethical misconduct, and how to do it.

6: How Do Students Become Teachers?

How Do We Cultivate Dharma Teachers?

Ven. Pannavati, Rev. Blayne Higa, Rev. Myokei Caine-Barrett, and Kakumyo Lowe-Charde explore the complexities of guiding others toward leadership roles.

Who Will Teach the Dharma?

A panel discussion with Ponlop Rinpoche, Jack Kornfield, Yvonne Rand, Ajahn Amaro and Richard Shrobe.

Who Me?

Marshall Glickman on the doubts, traps and insecurities that come with the title “Buddhist teacher.”

Ask the Teachers: My teacher wants to certify me as a dharma teacher, but I feel like a fraud.

Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Narayan Helen Liebenson, and the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman respond. 

Mariana Restrepo

Mariana Restrepo is deputy editor of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Guide (published by Lion’s Roar). She is Colombian with a Nyingma-Kagyu Tibetan Buddhist background, has an MA in Religious Studies, and currently lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina with her husband and two children.