Q & A #3 – Finding a Good Teacher

Fall Leaves

Fall Leaves

Q & A #3

I am changing it up this week. I decided not to do a giveaway this week and this will be my last Q & A for a while. If you have a question you want to ask me, please do so on our Tao Te Ching Facebook page. I do so love to answer questions from readers! 

Last week, I had two questions but they were similar so I have decided to answer both of them in today’s post.

Q1: Amy I would love to hear how a person knows if and when they are to study the teachings from a specific Master on a certain topic. Is this something that we get to choose whether we do it or not? How did this all unfold for you in meeting and learning about the Tao Te Ching from Master Ni? I would love to believe that one day I will be brought to learn the teachings of a Master or other enlightened being that is so much more evolved than I could ever imagine possible for myself. In the meantime I’m full of questions and am curious. :)

Q2: How did you go about identifying the mentors you would call upon as you delved deeper into the Tao Te Ching?

Here is my response:

First, to be clear for those who are visiting here for the first time, I am not a Taoist teacher myself. That is not a degradation of myself, it is just where I am at. I am just learning this stuff. As people read my work, they might get the wrong idea sometimes but these are really just my own personal thoughts on this blog. I am a student of the Tao Te Ching. I am studying this work, and this blog is the findings of my studies. I am really no one special, but as I study this work I start to realize – at the same time – I am someone very uniquely special. And so is everyone else.

Both questions ask about teachers. How do you find good teachers? We are all looking for something, right? Where do we find the answers?

For me, my story is that I have been learning from authors mostly for a lot of my life. I have read a huge amount of books on personal development. I was raised by two wonderful parents who have read a lot of books on these subjects and still both turn me on to good books and resources all the time. They taught me through their way of being how to be giving and kind and to care about our world.

Some of my earliest sources of profound lessons came through Richard Bach (Illusions – around age 14), Carlos Castenada (late teens), Way of the Peaceful Warrior (Dan Millman – late teens) and Marianne Williamson (Return to Love – early 20s). Unity Church also played a part in my spiritual development as I deeply enmeshed myself in that experience for a few years. As I have gotten older, I have gotten more bold in reaching out to people that have inspired me. I got an opportunity to meet Dan Millman once. I was with a group of people, and he turned down my offer to take him out to dinner, but got to see him speak in a small group and that was fun. This Christmas, I am hoping to meet Wendy Tremayne, who wrote The Good Life Lab, since she lives in the same dinky town as my sister so I am looking forward to that. My latest fun inspiring friend I have met is Deng Ming-Dao. He inspires me daily with his wonderful work with the Tao. I am telling you about these meetings because I think that a big part of really learning is reaching out to those people that inspire you. Get to know them. People are just people. We all brush our teeth and eat breakfast. No one wants to be treated like a movie star, because it is unnatural, but there are cool people everywhere and you are cool too, so reach out.

In the early 90s, my boyfriend at the time turned me on to Master Ni (Hua Ching Ni). He invited me to go to a talk by Master Ni. This was a long time ago. So I went to this talk and I was blown away by this man. This was my first time seeing someone who is very masterful at both energetic and martial arts interacting with a group of people and applying these principles in his communication style as well. It was a real eye-opener.

Around that same time, I was studying Tai Chi with San Gee Tam of the Golden Flower Tai Chi School in North Carolina. San Gee is probably the best teacher I have ever had in my life so far. When I read The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, one thing I got out of that book was that I wanted a teacher like Socrates. I got pretty close to that with San Gee. I learned a lot from him. San Gee was the one who invited Master Ni to North Carolina. Master Ni stayed at his house. You got to understand, this is a very small community in Winston-Salem, NC. There is only a small handful of people that would even care about any of these things, especially in the late 90s. I was new down there when I first saw Master Ni speak, so I did not really know San Gee yet then except that he was my boyfriend’s teacher. My boyfriend at that time was hugely into all of this. He was reading all of Master Ni’s books and studying martial arts theories and all that. So he was very influential to me as well on a lot of this stuff. So for the three years that I lived down there, I studied Tai Chi very intensely. I went to two to three classes a week and studied forms every day. I studied a lot during that time. I know that I am getting a little off the subject, but this is how things roll. You get into something, you meet someone. If you get a chance, go and meet some of the people that are writing about what you are studying. Go deep into those things that inspire you and the teachers will appear.

Years later, after I moved back to Minnesota, I had an opportunity to go to California and meet Master Ni personally. It was an honor to spend time with him. For a year or so, I helped him some with his projects and went out there a few times to see him. It is hard for me to write about Master Ni. He is very special. If you ever get a chance to meet him, please do. I feel very blessed to have known him. I have not seen him for many years now, but what I learned from him is that I am responsible for bringing my full self to this life. I struggled some during that time because I felt unworthy to accept the gift of his friendship. He treated me like an equal and I never felt sure that I could live into that expectation that I was equal to him. In some ways, I have spent the rest of my life since then developing myself so that I can at least get close to the kind of person that he treated me to be. I hesitate to call him my teacher, although I guess he has been. I never really took any classes from him, though. It was a different kind of teaching.

In some ways, both of the people that asked these questions have been my teachers as well. Suzanne for her consistent presence and for living into her self-care in a way that is very inspiring and Nanette teaches me new things nearly every single time I talk with her. Nanette, you are a born teacher. Thanks to both of you for giving me a fun way to talk about teachers who have been near and dear to me!

So how would YOU answer the question? Please post your answers in the comments below!


  1. Thanks so much for providing a great history on your experience with finding mentors, Amy – and for the kind words. While reading is a great way to learn, it must have been so inspiring for you to have those face-to-face encounters. Having people like that available to guide you along the way must be incredibly uplifting.

    • Yeah, actual teachers are always better than books! 🙂 I have found most authors to be open to connecting with their readers. I guess that would depend on how popular they are, but it never hurts to try. As I am sure you know, writing can sometimes be isolating when you are writing to the invisible masses.

  2. Amy I so appreciate you answering our questions together. Loved reading about your spiritual journey that you began while you were so young. I think it’s awesome that your parents were/are also on this same path in life. I can only begin to image what it’s like to meet the Masters and amazing teachers you have along the way. No coincidence. You did the work and took the necessary steps to make it happen. Recently I have met someone who has been connected with some wonderful spiritual teachers/Masters and I have learned a bit of that from her. I’m excited to see where this will lead to for me.

    I appreciated hearing this advice: “If you get a chance, go and meet some of the people that are writing about what you are studying. Go deep into those things that inspire you and the teachers will appear.”

    Suzanne McRae recently posted…Time in nature to fill my soul!My Profile

    • Yeah, it was fun that both questions were so similar! How timely. Once you start looking for teachers, it is amazing how many wonderful people you meet along the way.

  3. Amy, it was very interesting to read about some of the influences on your life and way of thinking. I think all of your teachers are very proud of you.

    By the way, I also got to meet Dan Millman; I guess he gets around a lot (or used to).
    Louis Weltzer recently posted…CHAPTER 25 – ONLY HUMANMy Profile

  4. I love your insight here and appreciate how you refer to yourself as a student and, yet, as a student, you teach so much to others…just by giving of yourself honestly and opening 🙂
    Michele Bergh recently posted…Life Lesson 41: Beauty + Grace Make Life EnjoyableMy Profile

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