They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Sounds good, rather much like Luke Skywalker opening up his eyes and seeing Obi-Wan Kenobi in the desert wastelands of Tatooine. For those who have had the ill fortune of having a bad teacher, however, saying that when the student is ready the teacher appears makes it sound more like a curse than a blessing.
I'm a really lucky guy. I have a teacher I have confidence in. I have seen enough of him in action to know that he is someone who can guide me in the Dharma. I can be open and frank with him, and yet I know when I am being taught in ways subtle as well as obvious.
But best of all, I get the sense from him that we are attaining the Way together: he in his teacher form, I in my student form, both of us in our priest form, he in his abbot form, I in my head of zendo form, both of us in our dad form, etc.
I bought the finial for my shakujo off my old teacher; my new teacher made the staff and affixed it to the finial. When I carry it, I carry both of their teachings. When I shake it, heaven and earth and all therein awaken to Buddhahood.