A good teacher of Zen knows the limits of what they have the capacity to teach and not teach. For the most part, a good teacher cannot teach a person how to become a Buddha since they are not yet, themselves, Buddhas. They try to avoid the example of the blind leading the blind. According to the Vimalakirti-nirdesha Sutra, "No one who is himself in bondage can release the bonds of others." They may teach, however, their enthusiasm for Zen. Indeed, it is very proper to teach the joy of walking the path; that it is not drudgery but, instead, an exciting adventure of self discovery.
What I learned from my teachers, especially my first teacher, was not anything about Zen (as I look back, he was quite a beginner himself). What I learned from him was the sheer joy of that comes from studying Zen. It can’t be described anymore than one can adequately describe sensing chilled air before sunrise drinking a cup of genmaicha (green tea with popped rice)?
If a teacher can introduce you to a love of Buddhism—this is wonderful! You will have more than enough to carry you through the many years as you study the Buddha’s many discourses. In fact, it takes great enthusiasm to travel on the path; to be able to delve into the tacit subtlety of the teaching. One has to look into their mind as if they were a jeweler looking at a precision watch.
Nuance of introspection is everything. Our mind, we must see, contains minute variations and delicate gradations. There are subtle distinctions between sensory reflection and the beholder’s connection with sensory reflection arising on the tissue of the corporeal. There are non-spatial distinctions that have to be made between the Five Aggregates (skandhas) and the non-aggregated beholder of these distinctions. Most teachers cannot teach us this. In fact, a good teacher will tell you to go to the solitary mountains and look deeply within yourself. If you are good, you will begin to pick up clues as to what precisely is meant by Mind (citta) which is not yet transformed into a determinate thought. In fact, you might, one cold winter night, resonate with the unborn or waveless Mind which is indeterminate It could be for a split second or even longer. But it will be sufficient enough to introduce you to Mind (citta); to give you faith and even more reason to stay on the path.