Why Do I Need A Meditation Teacher?

The first time I really got ticked at my teacher I said something like, “But, the last time I talked to you you told me to do the exact opposite!!”  And he said something like, “Yeah, well, last time you needed to do that and this time you need to do something else.”  

And then he relayed a story about meditation teachers and their students. 

Students are like the blind, wandering down the path of liberation.  Now, on both sides of the path there are sharp cliffs that drop into thick forests where you can get lost forever.  My job as a meditation teacher is to watch you walk down the path and if I see you falling off the right side of the path, I’ll say, “Go left!”  Then hopefully, if you haven't completely misunderstand what I've said you'll go left.  Then, after a while, if I notice that you've gone too far to the left and are about to fall over the edge I’ll say, “Go right!  Go right!!”  Nothing in the instruction to “go right” means that the instruction to “go left” was wrong or not helpful, it is just where you are on the path at the moment that the instruction is given.


This is brush painting by Zen Master Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768) called Two Blind Men on a Bridge.  

Look at it for a moment.  What does it mean?

The near shore represents the ordinary experience of the flow of sensory phenomenon that we think of as ourselves and the world we live in.  The far shore represents liberation, the enlightened experience of that same flow of sensory phenomenon: touch, sight, sound, taste, smell & thinking.

A river of hatred, greed and delusion separate the two.  

A tree falls across the river, narrow and slippery, forming a bridge, an eight-fold path between the ordinary view and the enlightened one.  Lose your footing and you drop into the rushing water of your own mind's making and are swept away in a torrent of craving, aversion and unconsciousness.  Who knows when you will find your way back? 

You are blind because you cannot tell the difference between the ordinary experience of the flow sensory phenomenon and the enlightened one even though they are the same sensory phenomenon.  

Still, there is a way across.

Now, imagine for a moment that there was somebody ahead of you on the path, that had already crossed the bridge, that could look back, recognize where you are on your path, and could call out to you just in the nick of time, “A little to the right.  A little to the left.  Keep going, you're almost there!” 

How great would that be? 

Common Terms

What is Pāḷi?

Pāḷi is the language of Buddha.


What is Metta?

Metta is a Pāḷi word, often translated as loving-kindness.


What is Dana?

Dana is the Pāḷi word for the Practice of Generosity or giving. Learn more about dana and why all of Mettagroup’s classes are donation-based.


What is Dharma?

The Sanskrit word often translated as “the teachings of the Buddha.”


What is Sila?

The Pāḷi word for virtue or morality.


Where do I begin? 

Our daily Morning Meditation is a great place to start and is appropriate for all levels students. Our pre-recorded Downloads, which also include a two month subscription to Morning Meditation, are a great way to jump-start your practice.


Where are classes held?

Morning Meditation is conducted via conference call and One-on-One Mentoring sessions are held via phone, Skype, email and text message. Weekly classes, intensives and retreats generally take place in person in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.


When is the next intensive or retreat?

Check out our Classes section for upcoming dates, sign up for our newsletter below, or keep in touch on social media where we announce all upcoming courses, retreats and special events with links to details.


How do I sign up for One-on-One Mentoring?

We accept one-on-one mentoring students on a case-by-case basis and there is often a waiting list, so please contact us for details.


Why Do I Need A Meditation Teacher?

In the practice of Insight Meditation not all insights are equally worth pursuing. How useful would it be to have someone available to you to help distinguish between what is important on the path and worth pursuing and what is not? That’s what a meditation teacher is for.


How do I get in touch with George Haas?

Contact us. George is very busy with his students, but he'll do his best to get back to you!