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Buddhadharma : Summer 2013
SUMMER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 19 EMAIL YOUR QUESTIONS TO TEACHERS@THEBUDDHADHARMA.COM ZENKEI BLANCHE HARTMAN: Certainly I think practicing the Buddha Way without a teacher is better than not practicing at all. However, you have not said anything about why you want to practice without a teacher. Do you live in a location where there are no teachers available? Does it feel somehow disloyal to your original teacher for you to work with a new teacher? Have you asked this question of your deceased teacher in your heart during meditation? If your circumstances are such that you are able to practice with a teacher as well as with a sangha, I would recommend doing so, whether you take up Vajrayana practice, “secular mindfulness,” Zen, or Insight prac- tice. A teacher can be a mirror to help you see habits of clinging that may be leading you to suffering or to unwholesome actions of body, speech, and mind. Good friends in the sangha can also be supportive in this way. Practicing with a teacher also gives you a readily available recipient toward whom you can offer your gratitude for your great good fortune of being alive and born in a precious human body and for meeting the buddha- dharma in this life. TENZIN WANGYAL RINPOCHE: The “three jew- els” refer to the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha. In the Tibetan Buddhist and Bön traditions, the teacher represents the Buddha, (LEFT–RIGHT):BARBARAWENGER,JANINEGULDENER,MARYLANG ZENKEI BLANCHE HARTMAN is former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center GESHE TENZIN WANGYAL RINPOCHE is a lineage holder of the Bön Dzogchen tradition of Tibet NARAYAN LIEBENSON GRADY is a guiding teacher at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center ASK THE TEACHERS My teacher died twenty-two years ago. Since then I have maintained my connection to the sangha and still practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. But that’s only two of the three jewels. Am I doing myself and the tradition a disservice by trying to practice Buddhism without a guru? Would I be better off opting for another practice—perhaps secular mindfulness—that I can do without a teacher? Q