Perennially it comes up here--the topic of teachers, various ones are mentioned and the wrongness or rightness of what they say.
I think it's a good idea to think about what a teacher is, and what a teacher does
and what our minds do with that concept of 'teacher.'
I think it is perfectly appropriate for a teacher to say 'this is the only way.'
I don't think that is any different from going to any kind of teacher who says--
you must hold the yarn like this, or you must hold the brush/penicil/bow/mop/knife/whathaveyou, etc. like so.
Certainly at some point (at any point) you can hold things anyway you please, but if you want to learn what the teacher has to offer, then learn from their perspective which starts from their 'form.'
If, from the very start, their perspective strikes you as 'wrong' or 'flawed' or 'off,' or 'lacking' or whatever, then it is a kindness, a great kindness, that you don't have to work with them. This 'distaste' means spit it out, don't swallow it!
It's how you get to find the right teacher for you.
The 'right' teacher may change over time. There is tradition in monks being sent by their own teacher to study with another one.
This is not the consumeristic -- let me sit with this (insert name of popularly known teacher/author/now on dvd and cassettes) person, and I've been on sesshin with that (famous) person and I took a seminar with that (also well known name) person. The role consumerism (spritual materialsim)plays is something to look at, no question about it. What I am talking about is keeping the flame under the zafu, so to speak: choosing to keep company with those whose embodiment of practice calls out in us a deepening of our own.
Choosing to expose ourselves to others, taking our preferences and opinions, exercising setting these aside, however briefly, and letting all the windows of the mind be open, and letting a teacher's words/presence waft through like a current of air in the Spring--nothing to grab hold of, nothing to push away.
It's great to try--I recommend it highly--try it with someone you absolutely love as a teacher and someone you absolutely hate.
In the beginning I read one book someone gave me, when I was ready to start sitting, I found a place to sit. It was close to home. I didn't shop around, I didn't know that I could, or that it was possible. I didn't feel 'satisfied' and I didn't feel 'dissatisfied' in the years I sat with Matsuoka Roshi, I just kept not knowing anything and I just kept sitting. No one asked me, and I didn't have to explain what I couldn't explain to anyone.
We think we know what we are looking for in a teacher. OK! Go try and find it!
Our mothers, our fathers did/do their best with us.
Teachers--same thing. Gratitude for them all! Even if we didn't like the meals they served, or the lectures they gave, they gave us their place to stay until we found 'our own.'
They are 'ahead' of us in life experience, and then, comes a bend in the road, and we are all at the same place: equal, and we equally teach, nurture, help each other.
In the best sense, parents and teachers remove dependency, with everything they teach us. 'My way or the highway' is just a way of stating the obvious--if you want/can do it another way--you're good to go!
Anyway, I'm home sick today and had some time to ramble with some thoughts.
Now it's to some much needed paperwork, for meetings I must be well enough to attend tomorrow.