The valley spirit who never dies.

Gossamer so unceasing it seems real.
Use it: it's effortless.

Become a Member

PZI Events Calendar

W E L C O M E  to the PZI Events Calendar! Here you will find all upcoming events and registration links for PZI Zen Online retreats, sesshins, and weekly meditations & talks. Search by individual event, day, or month. Save to your Google Calendar or iCal Calendar. No experience required to participate. Questions? Contact


Sundays with John Tarrant: Next on May 22nd

Weekly Meditation & Talks: Monday – Thursday, join us

Alternating Tuesdays: PZI Talk LIVE! with Gaffney & Hitchcock next on May 24th

Looking Ahead: Santa Sabina Summer Sesshin in June

Next: David Parks’ Dragon Series in May, Morten Schlutter on May 23rd


Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Returning with the Moon: Monday Meditation with Jon Joseph

January 10 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Free – $10

Register here for Jon’s Monday Meditation & Talk

Abandonment and alone-ness.

Omokage ya
Oba hitori naku
Tsuki no tomo

A frail shadow
The old mother cries alone
Friend of the moon

—Kobayashi Issa, d. 1828

There is a beautiful backstory to the above haiku. In pre-modern Japan, as in many poor agricultural and hunter-gatherer cultures, societies practiced senicide. In Japanese, it was called ubasute 姥捨, abandoning to die an old person who could no longer work.

The above poem refers to a folktale wherein a farm family was struggling to feed everyone, and a wife convinced her husband that it was time to abandon his mother. Reluctantly, he agreed, and put his mother on his back and carried her far into the mountains, setting her down in a meadow. He then turned and left. It had gotten very dark, and as the son was walking he saw the full moon rise over a ridge. Seeing the moon, he had a change of heart and went back for his mother. He found her all alone, frail as a shadow, crying in the moonlit meadow. He lifted his tiny mother in his arms and carried her home.

When we work with koans, poems, and songs in our practice, we often find our minds latching onto just one piece of the koan. In Chinese, this is called the huatou 話頭, or “word head” of a koan. In Issa’s haiku, the huatou that stuck with me was the image of the old mother crying all alone in a meadow, illuminated by the bright moon—and, with utmost tenderness, the son then picking her up to carry her home.

Jon Joseph Roshi

A few days ago, I was talking with my cousin who cared for his 98-year-old mother, my father’s sister, in the last years of her life. There was no money for outside help and it was he who bathed her, fed her, and cleaned her. Listening to him, I wondered if I could do the same. The poet Ikkyu wrote:

My dying teacher could not wipe himself
Unlike you disciples, who use bamboo
I cleaned his lovely ass with my bare hands.

It is pretty easy for us to get self-righteous about the farmer. In an earlier draft, I angrily pounded out, “I could never abandon my mother.” But that is not completely true. In her later years, I probably did abandon her some. When I look back, I don’t feel like I called her or visited her enough. I should have given her more pocket money. I should have told her that I loved her more often.

But I don’t think this is a story about perfect behavior or perfect caring. It is a story about imperfect behavior. In a difficult world, the son made choices, and then on seeing the moon had a change of heart. We, too, abandon others. And probably far more often, we abandon ourselves. And sometimes terribly so. And despite the pain in that abandonment of self and other, there is also a sweetness and tenderness in this story, our story, of abandonment. A decision is made. The journey is taken. A mother left behind. The moon rises, and we return. Then we journey back home together. Nothing in this story is out of place. Nothing in our lives is wrong.

Even in an imperfect world.

— Jon Joseph

Join us for a koan, meditation, dharma talk, & conversation. All are welcome. Register to participate.
Registration is FREE or you may donate 10 to keep the dharma lamps burning!



January 10
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Free – $10
Event Category:


PZI Online Temple


Jon Joseph Roshi
Register here to attend: