It takes decades of zen practice to mature to the point where they
are qualified to teach. (Our own, Nordstrom Roshi practiced for over
30 years before he was authorized.) There is no “University of Zen”
where you spend 4 years and receive a diploma making you a teacher.
The process takes years of study, practice, and trials and most
individuals will never become teachers.
Have they received Dharma Transmission or authority to teach,
Dharma Transmission is a formal ceremony in which one’s teacher
confirms that an individual is ready and able to teach the Dharma to
others. In some traditions a master may authorize someone to teach
on a VERY limited basis such as meditation instruction.
How do you contact their teacher or organization to confirm
All reputable Zen teachers are affiliated with some line or lineage
(for instance we belong to the White Plum lineage). They will be
glad to give you contact information to confirm their credentials.
It is recommended that you at least check that your potential
Sensei’s is listed on his teacher’s website as authorized to teach.
If you don’t find them, don’t get to worried, not everyone is on the
web. You can always send an e-mail to the Zen Center that your
Sensei comes from and ask if he/she is authorized to teach.
Our Teacher is Roshi Louis Nordstrom. He is authorized to teach in
the lineage of the White Plum Sangha. The White Plum Sangha is
composed of the Zen teachers in the lineage of Hakuyu Taizen Maezumi.
Roshi Louis Nordstrom’s credentials to teach are documented at
for more on the White Plum Sangha.
Some things to watch out for…
If you find a teacher or group that is anxious to keep track of you
then beware. Zen does not do a hard sell. (Neither your teacher or
your Zen group will try to keep you from leaving to try another
A teacher and temple needs money.
The money for a teacher is usually referred to as Dana (Selfless
Giving). It is typically given anonymously to the teacher. It is not
based on a list of fees for services.
This Zendo itself has a membership fee at an established rate. That
is to cover expenses and help support our sponsoring UU Fellowship.
If you can’t afford to pay the member rate, please continue to come.
Donate what you can, when you can, by just dropping it into the
donation basket. There may be times that there is a special teaching
or event that there will be fees associated with it to cover costs.
Money, Power and Long Life
Unfortunately Zen will not be able to guarantee any of these things.
If someone says they can, our advice is to leave.
As with all groups there tends to be a hierarchy. Zen has one too.
But it all boils down to nothing. A man in priest’s robes is just a
man. A woman wearing a Raksu is just a woman. We are all just
“Beginners,” everyday! Don’t think of someone as being more
“Advanced” than you just because they may have been at this a while.
There are no shortcuts in Zen!
Despite what the popular press might be trying to tell you. Anyone
who guarantees enlightenment in a fixed or very short time period
(or for that matter, at all) should be suspect.
Choose the person you want for a teacher carefully. Just because you
don’t meet a teacher on the street everyday doesn’t mean they don’t
exist. Check with other temple members. There are several teachers
who come to Florida on a regular basis. Some students have had good
experiences with one teacher and not another.
Remember, the right teacher can be a wonderful thing.
҃ Jim Sansho Gallagher