Jon Joseph, Roshi is the practice leader of Portola Camp Zendo, and holding teacher for Desert Lotus Zen. He began sitting Zen over 40 years ago with a group of high school friends, led by their Spanish teacher, Robert King. Jon then took his practice to the logging camps and fishing villages of Alaska and to the redwoods of California’s North Coast. In college in Arcata, California, he helped establish a spiritual community, and for several years ran daily meditation and managed sesshin. He also attended sesshin at the Zen Center of Los Angeles under Taizan Maezumi Roshi. After college, he traveled to Kamakura, Japan, where he studied for eight years with Yamada Koun Roshi at the Sanun Zendo (with a break for graduate school at University of California, Berkeley).
In the late 1980s, Jon returned to San Francisco and New York as a technology financial analyst, and took up koan practice with John Tarrant, Roshi, the founder of Pacific Zen Institute.
About teaching, Jon says: “As I proceed further down the path, my understanding of what a teacher is and does has changed meaningfully for me. The field has flattened out, and more and more I feel I am practicing and living in a community of brothers and sisters, any one of whom at any point in time can offer guidance and wisdom to the group and to myself. Of course, sometimes they can’t and don’t, and that’s okay, too.
When I work on a koan with a student, it is such a joy to remember and re-live specific koans and experiences with them. It reminds me of a line in our sutra dedication: ‘may we share joy in each other’s joy.”
Jon writes a blog for Portola Camp Zendo, which you can read here.