Looking for a teacher in San Francisco

Chris, modified 8 Years ago at 5/31/15 3:08 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 5/31/15 3:08 PM

Looking for a teacher in San Francisco

Post: 1 Join Date: 5/30/14 Recent Posts
Hello everyone, 

Long-time occassional lurker here. 

I am looking for a teacher in (or very near) San Francisco and would greatly appreciate any suggestions or advice. 

I have committed myself to Buddhism as a path in general but have not selected a particular school. So far I have been exposed to:
  • 2-3 hours of teaching from two students of Upasaka Culadasa, a teacher who has trained in both the Theravadin and Karma Kagyu tradition. Although my exposure to his studnts was limited, his very clearly written "Light on Meditation" handouts and retreat recordings have guided my Shamatha meditation practice so far.
  • I am currently studying the Kalachakra Preliminaries online with Khentrul Jamphel Lodrö Rinpoche and have plans to attend the Kalachakra teachings in Bodhgaya in January 2016.
  • Very limited exposure to the Mahayana tradition via FPMT. This lead me to Khensur Jampa Tegchok's "Insight Into Emptiness" which I am enjoying but still very much wrapping my head around.
  • A weekend retreat with the Bay Zen Center (Ordinary Mind Zen School) in Oakland.
  • A 10-day S. N. Goenka retreat.
  • Ram Dass' "Remember, Be Here Now" has been extremely influential.
  • Various profound experiences (that have had significant influences, including radically reducing my alcohol consumption, starting a mostly-daily sitting practice, and going almost entirely vegetarian... so close but not 100%! emoticon)
  • Nichiren Shōshū as a young boy.
My partner has a particular affinity for Nyingma Buddhism though she isn't practicing very much at the moment. Me? I'm not as sure. The seeming "purity" of Goenka's approach really appealed to me and I wonder if the Tibetian Buddhist practices are too colored by Bon (?) to of most use for Westerners such as myself. I am going to the Kalachrakra ceremony with an open mind (and trying to study it now), but I wonder: how practical is it to try to pray, visualize deities and mandalas, and recite mantras rather than focus on morality, concentration, and wisdom? Do I complete Ngöndro or do I spend that time meditating and studying Emptiness? I recognize my own ignorance here: perhaps these are essential to the path, but I think there are Buddhist practices that do not include these components to the same degree (the sense I got from S. N. Goenka and Culadasa to some degree). 

So I would very much like to find a teacher avaialble to me in or near San Francisco. The city would be preferred so that I can spend more time directly with the teacher and sangha; it's hard to get to the east bay and peninsula on a regular basis. The SF Zen Center is an obvious candidate. I also understand that Segyu Rinpoche is opening a meditation center in SF that seems consistent with my proclivities. There's a weekly and monthly Dhamma group in the city, too, but I wonder if I should be practicing shamatha and studying emptiness rather than dry insight.

Any advice or thoughts would be very much appreciated.