Buddhist Monk Mentor

I have never had Buddhist teacher or mentor. But after a month on this site and seeing how many members whose knowledge and wisdom I respect greatly have had Buddhist teachers, I am warming up to the idea.

It would not be something I am able to pull the trigger on immediately. But I would like to in the next few months, or by the end of the year.

I live about an hour from Chicago. If anyone knows any good centers there, or teachers they can recommend I would appreciate it.

How much does having a teacher cost?
Do you pay lesson by lesson?

What are things that you should look for in a teacher?
How do you know they are the real deal?

What are red flags that you should be cautious of?

Do people have multiple teachers at once, or only 1?

I would be very appreciative of any advice or tips on this process.
Thank you


I read a book, The Guru Principle in one of my Dharma classes that I thought was useful in understanding how the Guru-student relationship should work. In addition, we read The Guru Drinks Bourbon, which is slightly different take, though no less valid. Seems like a large urban area such as yours would have many options for communities and teachers, so perhaps a Google search might be in order. What is your background in this area? Perhaps attending online classes for a while might be a good way to start? You can ask Andrew about it during one of the Thursday afternoon Q&A sessions. He is from Michigan and may know of reputable Dharma centers in the midwest.


I really appreciate those resources and tips Barry, thank you.

I will check out those resources and do a Google search and ask him in the Q&A.

The only time I met with a monk was during a free meditation class they used to do at a temple near my apartment. It was only 1 time, I wanted to go back and keep attending that weekly class, but that is when The Covid Lockdowns hit, and illegally closed down all the churches and temples and places of worship in the area (but allowed casinos and strip clubs, and alcohol merchants to stay open)

"Perhaps attending online classes for a while might be a good way to start? "

I have thought about that. Was a little skeptical because I felt the quality might diminish? But If it means being able to connect with world renowned teacher(s) from around the world, that may be a really good idea.

Thank you for the great advice


The Dali Lama offers empowerments online, and there are many good teachers online, so the quality seems to be pretty good. Beats the alternative . . . .


What are empowerments?



My understanding is that they special transmissions from spiritual masters who received them from their teachers, allowing an advanced student or students to do certain tantric practices with added energy and purpose. Receiving empowerments usually require a commitment to do certain daily practices as detailed by the teacher. Not for beginners.


That is really cool. I really appreciate you telling me about that.

I wonder if you can give empowerments to people both directly and INDIRECTLY? I wonder if that was how I was drawn to this site? I am at the age where I am starting to be very skeptical of coincidences…

I wonder if that was what happened to me when I went to the Monk for the free meditation my first time? I mention it in the Post about Premonitions and prophecy in dreams, how the teaching he gave me before I went on my camping trip still resonates with me to this day!

1 Like

Hi Nighthawk

Please excuse weird grammar and spelling - I dictated this.

This is an excellent And I would be happy to offer any small suggestions or words for Feiss and I have. So the first thing you wanna do is investigate the qualifications of the teacher sure that you want to look at who the teachers teachers are what lineage do they come from do they come from a well-known monastery or have they kind of popped up like a mushroom and don’t really have any connections to other people.

It’s very important that they are connected to a known lineage not just so that you know that the dharma that they’re teaching is legitimate but also so that their personal behavior is under the watchful eye of their peers and or superiors.

One way that you can get a sense of the qualifications of the teacher is to go to attend several meetings and talk to the students not necessarily to the teacher himself or herself but talk to the students how long have they been with that teacher what is their experience and get a sense of whether you’re seeing any kind of uncomfortable feelings of like this is the only teacher in the world and he is the best one and he’s a special miraculous powers in route for anything like that .

You should be able to get a private audience with this teacher and explain that you’re considering going to his temple and taking classes with him and I want you to be very careful as you do this I want you to watch how you are handled as you are escorted to whatever location you’re going to be talking with the teacher are you in a room alone with him with the door closed is there someone nearby that you can hear someone like making tea or something are there nuns around this is very important because many bad things can happen when a student is alone with a teacher him and there is no attendant or witness nearby and most reputable knowledgeable experienced teachers will not set themselves up or set up the teachers of the student for having problems what they will do is they will have a meeting in the open space with the door open with other people around so there’s absolutely no question that there is anything funny going on .

Also I really recommend that you check your gut if you walk away feeling uncomfortable slimy feeling like you didn’t really think they were listening to you just keep walking go look for somebody else Money is another extremely telling area if they ask you for money in the first meeting in order to become a disciple that’s a big red flag that’s a big red flag day Walkonsidered course and rude frankly you might discuss money with a secretary or a junior monk or someone who’s there late processor staffing but if the senior monk says you need to pay me $50 every time you come see me I would I would walk in the other


Thank you, that is really great advice. I appreciate your tips, and help. Great point I didnt think about the power of supervision from the superiors and peers.

What do you believe is a fair price for a teaching? I think you are spot on with the assessment of that red flag.

I think ‘interrogating’ the students about the teacher is a really smart way to get a feel for the expertise of the monk. Great tips!

Thank you @kfitzmorgan

Hi nighthawk

I really apologize that I tdidn’t see your question until today. I had turned off notifications from this board.

You asked what is an appropriate price for a teaching. I was a personal attendant to a teacher for many years, and this question often came up. What I usually said was “Enough so that you don’t feel stingy but not so much that you feel regret later.”

There’s no way to tell you a dollar figure. $10 might be painful for you financially, which would lead to regret, or you might be a Silicon Valley gazillionaire.

A good teacher receives every offering with equanimity. If you feel even the slightest judgement from the teacher or his attendant that’s also a red flag.

You would put a cash offering in some kind of envelope and instead of handing it directly to the teacher put it on the table in front of him.

Happy to answer any more questions. And thanks for your patience with my dictated answer. I realize it is awkward or even incomprehensible in parts.

Best wishes



I wanted to mention that in the COVID era we have seen most teachers teaching online, so you have a great opportunity to check out teachers from different lineages, different organizations. It’s not necessary to meet in person with the teacher. It’s wonderful if you can, but most students in Tibetan Buddhism do not get to see their teacher in person very often if at all.

I would recommend checking out some of the large FPMT centers online. The center in the UK has a Western geshe, fluent in English and Tibetan, with a solid pedigree. His name is Geshe Namdak. That’s just one example that comes to mind. The center in the UK has a robust online presence.

Best wishes




Thank you for your detailed response it was very helpful! I appreciate you taking the time to do that. I am no Gazillionaire, lol, if that was the case, I would be throwing big chunks of money to build a temple in my back yard, and try to fill it with the top monks from around the world…

In the Spring of this year a librarian, having seen my book check out history (buddhist videos and meditation books) recommended I check out her temple in the city. Other stranger I met and struck up a conversation with ended up giving me some similar recommendations on resources. Not long after those encounters I stummbled across Andrews work. Maybe its a coinicidence, but I am starting to think its not.

You and other members made some excellent points on how many resources are now available online. Using them in addition to the in person teachings of a monk I think is the best path.

When you take on a monk as a teacher, do they frown on you having multiple teachers? Is that a red flag if they do? Or is having multiple teachers sometimes detrimental to the learning process?

I will check out the FPMT website and resources, that looks very promising.

Thank you :slight_smile:

1 Like