Hello, first let me introduce myself. My name is Jewel and I am a 33 year-old woman currently living in North Carolina. While I am quite new to formal zazen practice, I have been studying and practicing Zen for fifteen years on my own. I do not currently have a teacher, though I hope to find one soon. In the meantime, I am under the tutelage of a man I'll call Bob, who was once offered the position of Zen Teacher, but turned it down, feeling he wasn't ready for its responsibilities.
So, here I am studying zazen with a man who knows his stufff, but doesn't have the title (what's a title anyway?). Like I said, I've been studying Zen for 15 years now on my own, and I am at a point in my life when I feel I want to become a monastic. You may be thinking, "She doesn't have formal training under a Zen teacher..." and you'd be right. But I feel I really would fit in in a residential setting.
Now, I have two issues to inquire about. First, should I take up with a teacher for formal training, knowing that I will then transfer to a monastery when the time is right, or do I move close to the monastery I want to eventually join (Zen Mountain Monastery) and learn specifically from the teachers there? My husband (and I) want to move to Austin, Texas, so I could study under a teacher at the Austin ZC, if that is what I should do...
Also, I am concerned that the monastery will look at my disability and say that they cannot support me as a monk. You see, I am almost totally blind. I have been blind for ten years this year, so I'm not new to the ways of being blind, but I'm worried that the monastery will refuse my application on the grounds that it would require accommodations that they don't feel they are able to provide. Namely, I would need Braille or audio books and documents and be shown around places that I am new to to get the "feel" for it before I get started at the location. I don't need a babysitter or aide; I can take care of myself. However, I would need things like a screenreader-enabled computer (which I could provide or just provide the screenreader for) and the other two things I said. I feel like they would reject me without considering what it would actually be like, maybe they'd see me as a burden that cannot be accommodated...I have my doubts about the possibility of being a monastic, though I don't doubt my abilities to be indepenedent.
What are your thoughts on all this and what can I do to ensure that I am given just as much of an opportunity to show myself ready for the monastic life as anyone else?
Thank you for any comments.