I'm going to join buddhist group which is in another city so I'll have few occasions to meet sensei especially because she is from USA and she arrives only few times a year to my country. So how should my practice look?
Sutta-vinaya is your ultimate teacher. It is found in the books written by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk from New York City. Ven. Bodhi has many important publications such as: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya , The Connected Discourses of the Buddha — a New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya , In the Buddha’s Words (An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon), Great Disciples of the Buddha: Their Lives, Their Works, Their Legacy.. to name a few. As Buddhists, we should be familiar with the Suttas and if possible obtain our own copies. It is a sad fact that only we Buddhists who would not go to the original source for guidance. Do you find Muslims without the Quran or Christians without the Bible? It is only we Buddhists who are without the Nikáyas.
Having said that still it is very important to have a ‘Kalyana Mitta (a noble friend), as it is much more important than all else for one who wants to walk this road less travelled. It is even more important than one’s developed morality (Sila). Then that Noble Friend protects you from your own mind, until you are well established in the path. Mind is a strange thing. It is always out to find others faults, and to justify your own thinking and actions. It is your Teacher, who could remind you now and then of this. A sense of 'hiri-ottappa' accompanied by mindfulness is to reflect on oneself only, and never let your mind to compare it to others (Hiri is an innate sense of shame over moral transgression; ottappa is moral dread, fear of the results of wrongdoing). Every time you do so, you get thrown away from this path. It is because of this mind, because of us trusting this mind that we never even now see the danger of Samsara, and we are forever in it. Thankfully I have such a noble friend. One can have only one or two such, the most. Otherwise you give into your mind again, and it decided what advice to take, and what to reject or ignore. So I do hope that you will find another Teacher close to you.
The most important thing to understand the Dhamma is to remember what is heard or read. Then follows the examination of the meanings of what is remembered. We tend not to do that. Just having a collection of books, or notes in the computer will not do. The process of learning the Dhamma goes through the stages of listening, remembering, constant reciting, mental observation and ideological understanding of the Dhamma. As per the scriptures, the self-study of Dhamma should thus have the following components:
Methodology of learning
- It starts with careful listening with full attention (Suthaa).
- Then what he has heard has to be registered in the mind (dhathaa).
- The next step is to familiarize himself with what has been learned by reciting (vacaya paricita).
- Then it has to be internalized with pondering over it, contemplating the meaning by applying it to yourself. (Manasaanupekkhitha)
- The next step is practising what one has learned to become a real knower of the teaching - The realization. It is the result of the above 4 actions. (Ditthiya Suppatividdha)