Becoming a student
Becoming a Student of Roshi Susan
The Zen teacher-student relationship is a unique, intimate and mutually respectful process of study and dialogue, usually spanning a significant number of years
In the West, psychotherapy has colonized some aspects of Dharma teaching, but a Zen teacher student relationship is different ot a therapeutic relationship. Zen offers a one-to-one master-apprentice style of teaching relationship, one that works steadily towards transforming into a relationship of equals in insight and clarity.
One-to-one interviews with a Zen teacher – known as Dokusan – are the primary way that this relationship evolves. Here in the privacy of the interview room a student and teacher might discuss meditation practice, a koan (zen story) or the koan’s that arise in our daily life.
No-one can give you what’s been yours from the beginning – your own essential nature. The teacher’s role is to offer skillful means and turning words that may help you progress into full and clear awareness of this fact for yourself.
Becoming a formal student of Roshi Susan
Roshi Susan teaches freely for all comers but to become a formal student and engage in regular guided interviews she asks potential students to become a member of ZOC and commit to regular practice as you are able.
When you become a formal student this is marked by a simple ceremony that you help create.
Zen students may also choose to formally make a commitment to the Buddhist ethical Precepts. This too is marked by formal ceremony – often as part of Sesshin – and is preceded by work with Roshi Susan on the implications of this for your life.
Zen teachers, in accordance with Buddhist tradition, are largely unremunerated for their work and rely on our generosity in the form of voluntary contributions to be able to continue to offer the teaching.
Dana (your gift of money, time and helpful work) is the traditional response of gratitude for the intensive work offered freely by teachers in lifelong service to the Dharma and to your practice.
The heart of the Zen path is the relationship between teacher and student, a relationship not quite like any other, although master and apprentice comes close. It is not a guru relationship, of self-surrender to the teacher, and not a psychotherapy relationship. It is an intimate guiding and testing process that very closely observes, encourages and challenges the students attempts to experience who they really are. Teacher and student completely meet and recognise each other in the student’s experience of Buddha nature, self-nature.Roshi Susan Murphy