Marie Howe’s Jack and the Moon talks about how one night she was awakened by her dog Jack, who was yelping strangely. Annoyed, she let him out, and he sat on the lawn staring at the bright moon.

When he didn’t come, I ended up on the couch,
wrapped in a shawl, and dozed for I don’t know how long …
then woke, went quietly to the door and said quietly, Jack.
It was then he turned and came in, cold and calm, soaked with the moon.

We mammals, small and large, have been fascinated with the moon for all the ages. This morning, in the predawn darkness, I dropped off my partner, who is flying to Texas with her sister to soak in the moon’s totality in front of the sun. They say that in the darkness of a full eclipse, the temperature drops and the stars shine in the sky, if only for a few minutes.

The ancient Greeks believed that the goddess Selene drove a chariot across the night sky, and that Artemis, huntress and protector of women in childbirth, wore a crescent moon on her helmet. In Chinese mythology, the moon is inhabited by a white Jade Rabbit representing purity, selflessness and sacrifice.

It is safe to say that Chan-Zen is more of a moon-practice than a sun-practice. In the classic koan collection, The Blue Cliff Record, “moon” is mentioned over one hundred times, while “sun” only a quarter of that. The “hazy moon of enlightenment” was one name the ancients had for awakening: the light of the moon is always shining, even through the clouds and the dust.

—Jon Joseph