It is proper that one must receive supervision and examination of practice from a teacher. It is ideal and desirable that the Seon director of the monastery and Seon cloister or the monks who are masters in the lineage play this role. From the past the Seon director or the monks who are masters in the lineage have played this role, and finally they gave the seal of approval of the enlightenment.
In Korea also, the role of the master in the lineage until modern times has continued to some extent, but currently it is a reality that there are many places where people practice without a Seon director or master in the lineage. Because of that, according to the situation, one can also receive supervision from a long-term practitioner who has supervisory capabilities. Even though one definitely has not the supervision of a person such as a teacher, if one lives venerating an excellent long-term practitioner monk, the direct and indirect influence one receives is great. In particular, beginning practitioners can hear much beneficial advice from them.
In relation to this, Seon Master Wuzu Fayan said the following in his Songzi xingjue fayu (Dharma words sending off the pilgrim):
If among the assembly there are long-term Seon monks or companions on the Way who can select the Dharma, always request them for their teaching, and if not, if one sees the words that the patriarchal monks have studied, this is the same as personally seeing the patriarch.
The long-term Seon practitioners who can supervise Seon must have the insightful eye that can select the Dharma. If they have that insightful eye, the long-term practitioner monk or the heads of the Seon cloisters can be shown one’s own study and one can receive guidance from them. But in reality, when it is difficult to meet a teacher who can give the seal of approval of one’s study and who can discern the Dharma-opportunity and supervise one’s meditation, one can consider the following plan.
One must properly manage and prepare a guide that can examine one’s study. In circumstances where this is impossible, and when one cannot find a teacher, there is a method that prepares a plan that can examine one’s own study by oneself. That is by depending on the guide books of practice or the recorded sayings of the patriarchs.