Questions:What the Relationship between the Teacher and Lay Followers Should Be?

If people came together regularly to practice meditation, can that replace the teacher and student relationship?

The teacher has two functions: one is to use the correct concepts and safe methods to guide students; the second is to act as a model to influence them. Students can benefit from great practitioners simply by observing their manner and deportment. Therefore, there is a big difference between having a guiding master at one’s side and not having one. Of course, some teachers tell the students what they should do, but they do not follow their own advice. This may be harmful to students. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with having a small group and the members learning from each other. The important thing is whether the leaders have a clear understanding about Chan practice. Correct view and understanding are very important; whether one is enlightened is secondary.

Chan and Spiritual Environmentalism,
Liberated in Stillness and Motion, pp 61-63

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