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Student and Teacher: A Zen Perspective

It led to an interesting discussion, not least because the relationship between student and teacher is an important part of contemporary Zen practice which can raise difficulties for both parties, as well as being one of the most important relationships we have in Zen which can really bring the practice alive.

Among the concerns Jikyo Roshi addresses are:

  • What are the desires and needs that a student may hope to fulfill in the relationship?

  • How can projection, that is when student or teacher brings their hopes, beliefs and expectations into the relationship, be used to play a positive role?

  • When the relationship doesn’t seem to work, what insights may be gained and what can be done?

  • When it does work, what stages may the learning process go through, both for the student and the teacher?

As John Gage Sensei says in his preface:

Not only does it help us understand the nature of the student-teacher relationship, but it elucidates our entire practice as Zen students. As students we are on a path which potentially leads to transformation and liberation. Jikyo Roshi gives us a clear and concise description of how these potentials can be realized and what the processes involved require of both the student and the teacher. As such, what is presented here is as valuable for the advanced Zen student as it is for those setting foot on the path for the first time.

One member asked how to get hold of a copy and I found that Student and Teacher: A Zen Perspective is available in PDF form from the White Plum Sanga website: http://www.ttzc.org/books/student_and_teacher.htm

I would strongly recommend this short and clearly written work for all sangha members.

Andrew Tanzan Scott