Thank you Ben, Mike, Manapa and zavk,
Yes, i also find the "college professor" and "good friends" models helpful, with the virtual sangha of fellow practitioners to be essential. Which was in part where my question came from. Until the day comes (hopefully) where i connect with a specific teacher, as Ben has, i've gained a lot over the past 25+ years from meditating on my own, as well as from the teachings of a wide range of Buddhist teachers (past and present), as transmitted in audios and books.
I've needed that kind of detailed "instructional" input, but in terms of continuous back-and-forth assistance its the community of fellow dharma practitioners that i've interacted with online-- especially those who are further along in their practice then myself- that has been something new, something very crucial, which i did not have prior to 2005....
P.S. No offense, but what may seem pointless to you, Manapa, was simply not yet clear to moi
. We're all at different points on the learning curve.