The sangha is key to Zen practice. The sangha usually meets in the zendo, a large hall or room where zazen is practiced. When a group gets together to practice, certain rules must apply to ensure that order and the quality of practice is maintained. Each practice group might have its own rules of practice, and there might be some variation. Some of the practices used by a sangha might include: walking meditation, a dharma talk given by the teacher, tea service, sutra recitation, and bowing. Lighting of candles and incense might be part of the sesshin, or Zen meditation retreat.
When the teacher gives a talk to the group it is called teisho. Teisho is not a lecture or a sermon. It is more of a presentation of insight to the students. Often the subject of a teisho will be a koan. A private encounter with the teacher is called dokusan. In dokusan the teacher will gauge the student's progress and do what is necessary to encourage the student's practice.
When the Student Is Ready
It is said that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Although at the heart of Zen is the realization that you are already enlightened, the student/teacher relationship in Zen is a very important element of practice. A teacher will guide the student through the various stages of practice, helping the student toward enlightenment.
Zen is transmitted from person to person. A teacher will have become a teacher through direct transmission from his or her teacher. The teacher in Zen is called the roshi.