Looking externally for enlightenment in the example of trying to find the perfect teacher, is more than often an exercise in futility. While such an endeavor might soothe our mental discord for a limited period of time, actually seeing our Buddha-nature is seldom accomplished by external means such as finding the right teacher.
What adds to the difficulty, making matters even worse, is that growing up in a culture of hucksters in which everyone is trying to sell you something, it is virtually impossible to tell who is spiritually accomplished and who is a huckster. What should be obvious is that it is extremely easy to fake sagacity. As one Rinzai Zen abbot told me several years ago who trained and lived in Japan running a small temple in Osaka, the task of being a good Buddhist priest is being able to pretend to be the Buddha for an hour!
Perhaps looking externally for enlightenment might be a form of psychological compensation hence serving to mask one's inability to ‘look within’ with any satisfactory result.
This leads me to say that looking within has nothing to do with finding teachers or even sitting in meditation with a group. There is no evidence in the canon of Buddhism that the Buddha, when he was still a Bodhisattva, won enlightenment by doing zazen. Meditation only helps facilitate the deeper spiritual and intellectual task of looking within.
Perhaps the most puzzling part of uncovering our Buddha-nature or the same, our pure Mind, involves first understanding what it actually means to ‘look within’. Somewhat on a lighter note, looking within is not about following our thoughts as if we were a member of the audience and our thoughts and emotions were like actors on a stage. Looking within is much more subtle. If you can imagine that our thoughts are like the images on our computer monitor, then looking within is trying to see the pixels. Another way to put it. If looking within were looking at a golden lion that was so intricately made it even had delicate golden hair and golden eyes that moved, the looking within would be like looking at the gold free of the mesmerizing image of the golden lion with its beautifully crafted parts.
Turning to our own thoughts, looking within involves seeing the Mind-stuff from which our thoughts and emotions are made which, incidentally, is animative. By no stretch of the imagination is this easy. This is why the Buddha in the Catusparisat Sutra said, “The dharma obtained by me is profound, of deep splendor, difficult to see, difficult to understand, incomprehensible, having the incomprehensible as its scope, fine, subtle, the sense of which can only be understood by the wise.”
If only for a split second we could see the Mind-stuff, which is the basis of all phenomena, we would truly be amazed. From the most insignificant thought to the universe itself, all is a product of Mind. Nothing is apart from Mind—not a single thing.