October 2018 Newsletter

As the weather grows cooler and the prairie and gardens prepare for winter, we enter our fall season of retreats, workshops and classes here are Great Plains Zen Center.  Retreats offered this fall range from a weekend to five days in length and part time participation and sliding scale fees are always available.  We have a number of new workshops and classes as well.  

Mindfulness, Narrative Identity and Well-Being: Does Our Story Define Us? with Dr. Matthew Dewar takes place on Saturday, October 27.  Our 6-month online class Your Footsteps are the Path: the Buddha's Teaching on Life and Suffering with Myoyu Roshi runs from November through April.  Also in beginning in November is our new four class series, Aspects of Zen Practice at GPZC open to all who have taken an Introductory Workshop. 

For those joining us at Beloit Zen Community please note that our start time has been changed to 4:15 on Mondays to better accommodate student schedules. 

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In this Newsletter:


painting by Ekyo Maezumi

Honoring the Way of Zazen Three-Day Sesshin October 4-7 This is an intensive retreat with periods of zazen (sitting meditation) alternating with 10 minute periods of walking meditation throughout the day.  As with our other retreats, there will be silent meals with oryoki bowls, a work period and time for rest.  However, unlike other retreats, there will be no talks, no chanting services, no dokusan (face to face) instruction with the teacher.  Sitting on the Buddha's seat, we immerse ourselves in our practice throughout the day with determination, great faith and great questioning.   

Great Plains Zen Center holds Honoring the Way of Zazen Sesshin twice during the year - usually in October and April.  In October, we celebrate the legendary first Chinese Buddhist ancestor, Bodhidharma, who is said to have transmitted Zen from India to China.  While scholars tell us that history offers no certain evidence of his life, Bodhidharma's legacy of fierce commitment to the unadorned practice of sitting Zen continues to inspire generations.  His thundering "I know not" when asked by the Chinese emperor who he was and terse elucidation of the first principle as "Vast emptiness, no holiness" speak to the hearts of followers of Zen everywhere.  

Sesshin begins Thursday evening with informal dinner at 5:30, procedures instruction at 6 and zazen at 8 PM.  Sesshin ends on Sunday morning with Gate of Sweet Nectar at 7 AM.  Please bring non-perishable items for the local food pantry.  Register here. Questions?  Email or call 608-325-6248.

Dates for Upcoming Retreats and registration links: 


Narrative Identity Workshop presented by Matthew Dewar, Ed. D. October 27 9-5 PM.  Our everyday sense of who we are is a narrative uniting our past, present, and future. This storied self is a collage of characters, conflicts, values, beliefs, and themes. Reflecting on our “narrative identity” can reveal assumptions about who we are and how the world works. More importantly, it can reveal story lines that ultimately affirm or negate our well-being. In this workshop, we will explore the stories we live with the intent of better understanding who we are and what is possible for our lives.  Matthew Dewar, Ed. D. is the founder of JOURNEY 30K. He is also a high school teacher, well-being coordinator, and learning facilitator who has designed and implemented teacher professional development and school wellness curricula, including mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for faculty and students. He is the author of Education and Well-Being: An Ontological Inquiry. 
This workshop includes a vegetarian lunch.  Questions?  Call 608-325-6241     $60 for members, $75 for non-members.  Register here.


Introduction to Zen Practice Workshops:

Great Plains Zen Center offers monthly IntroductoryWorkshops especially for those new to practice.  The workshops provide basic, practical information including how to do zazen (Zen meditation), how to establish a home practice, how to make everyday activities practice, the aims of practice, and what programs are available for practice through GPZC. 

Upcoming Introductory Workshops at GPZC, W7762 Falk Rd, Monroe, WI 53566:

 All workshops take place  8:30-11:30. Register here:

Upcoming Introductory Workshops at Countryside UU Church, 1025 N. Smith St., Palatine, IL:

All workshops take place 8:30 – 11:30 followed by vegetarian lunch. Register here:

Fusatsu (Renewal of Vows)

All are welcome to join us for monthly Renewal of Vows ceremonies.  We begin with a short meditation followed by a council circle.  Council is a practice that teaches us to speak and listen from the heart. Fusatsu ends with a chanting ceremony. Upcoming dates are as follows:

  • October 21 7 PM (Palatine)
  • November 18 7 PM (Palatine)
  • December 30 7PM (Palatine) special end of year event

Gate of Sweet Nectar

In this ceremony, the main liturgy of Zen Peacemakers, we offer nourishment to those who are forgotton, marginalized and not cared for.  The ceremony includes raising the Bodhi Mind and inviting all those who hunger to partake in a meal to ease their distress and includes singing, chanting and musical instruments.  Participants are asked to bring non-perishable food items which will be taken to the local food pantry after the ceremony.  Upcoming dates are as follows:

  • October 7 7 AM (Monroe – following October sesshin but open to all)
  • November 11 7 AM (Monroe - following November Zazenkai but open to all)
  • December 9 7 AM (Monroe - following December sesshin but open to all)

Teisho (Public Talks by Myoyu Roshi)

  • October 28 7 PM (Palatine)
  • November 10 10:30 AM (Monroe- during Zazenkai but open to all)
  • December 8 10:30 AM Bodhi Day Teisho (during Sesshin but open to all)


No registration or fee is required to attend weekly sitting at any location.  

Great Plains Zen Center, Monroe, WI

  • Zazen at 5:30 AM and 7 PM on Fridays.
  • Chanting service at 8:30 AM followed by Zazen at 9 on Saturdays
  • For those new to practice, a brief orientation is offered during the first sitting period.

Palatine, IL at CCUU

  • Zazen at 7 PM on Sunday nights. For those new to practice, a brief orientation is offered during the first sitting period.  Join us for informal tea and chat prior to zazen at 6:15 on 10/14.

Beloit Zen Community (on Beloit College campus)

  • Beloit Zen Community meets every Monday from 4:15 -5:30 PM.  Schedule as follows: 
           4:15 zazen (sitting)
           4:45 kinhin (walking meditation)
           4:50 short talk/discussion
           5:05 zazen (optional)

All are welcome to come and participate, not only those affiliated with the college.  Whatever your religious affiliation (or not), experience or interest in meditation, we'd love to have you.  Instruction provided for those who are new to meditation.  Held in the Spirituality Room in the basement of Pearsons Hall.  For more information, please contact Bill New.

Logan Square Zendo, Chicago

  • Zazen every Tuesday night at 8 PM.  For those new to practice, a brief orientation is offered during the first sitting period.  



Your Footsteps are the Path: Buddha's Teaching on Life and Suffering with Myoyu Roshi. November – AprilIn this 12 session course, we will look at the Four Noble Truths (including the Eightfold Path), the fundamental teachings of the Buddha, as they unfold in our own lives. What kinds of suffering are we experiencing? How are we contributing to them? Is it possible to end or lessen this suffering and if so, how?

The class will meet about every two weeks for a hour and a half via online platform and in person at Great Plains Zen Center in Monroe. To accommodate everyone's schedule, there will be two sections --- one meeting Sundays from 1-2:30 PM and the other Wednesday evenings 7-8:30 PM. Participants can vary attendance (i.e. attending on a Sunday sometimes and a Wednesday at other times) according to their schedule. Attendance at all classes is not mandatory, however participants are asked to commit to the self-reflection assignments.

Dates for Section 1 (Sundays 1-2:30 PM) are Nov. 4 and 18, Dec. 2 and 16, Jan. 6 and 20, Feb. 3 and 17, Mar. 3 and 17, April 14 and 28.  
Dates for Section 2 (Wednesday 7-8:30 PM) are Nov. 7 and 21, Dec. 12 and 19, Jan. 9 and 23, Feb. 6 and 20, Mar. 6 and 20, April 10 and 24.

Class periods will consist of some short talks by Myoyu Roshi, guided exercises and sharing. Participants will be encouraged to do the self-reflection assignments with as much self compassion and honesty as possible, but need only share in class what they feel comfortable with. The class will focus on helping each of us to see our life unfolding as the Eightfold Path. We will use The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering by Bikkhu Bodhi as the primary text, but will also draw on resources applying the Eightfold Path to addiction recovery. The course is applicable for everyone, as we all struggle with imbalances, cravings and addictions including those who are in recovery from substance abuse. All are welcome. Through our diversity of experiences and viewpoints, we can help each other.  $75 for members, $90 for non-members. Register here
Image Credit: Sakdinon Kadchiangsaen / Shutterstock

Aspects of Practice at GPZC  (NEW!) This series of four classes helps those who have taken an Introductory Workshop review the basics and continue to learn about the various elements of practice and ways to participate at Great Plains Zen Center.  Classes will be held once per month in Monroe and in Palatine and may be taken in any order.  A great way to continue learning after the Introductory Workshop (even if it's been a while).  All classes are 1 hour with optional zazen following. Saturdays at 9 AM in Monroe and Sundays at 5:30 PM in Palatine.  
Forms of Practice Review the basics of zazen (body, breath and mind), zendo procedures, and the teacher-student relationship. 11/11 (Palatine), 11/17 (Monroe)

Liturgy and LineageThe role of ceremony and ritual in Zen, our teaching lineage, an overview of services (including prayer list, memorials, baby blessings and weddings) and the Gate of Sweet Nectar.  12/9 (Palatine), 12/15 (Monroe)

Everyday Life Practice: 
Practicing the precepts at home, at work, in the community and throughout our lives.  Sharing practice with our children and families.  1/13 (Palatine),1/19 (Monroe)

Being a Part of the GPZC CommunityShared stewardship circles and opportunities for volunteering and leadership, Council Practice and GPZC Vision, Mission, Guiding Principles. 2/10 (Palatine), 2/16 (Monroe)


Several types of membership are available.  More information about membership can be found here.

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Phone:  (608) 325-6248

E-mail:  gpzc@greatplainszen.org

Our postal mailing addresses:

W77962 Falk Rd • Monroe, WI  53566

Website: http://greatplainszen.org/


Recognizing that systems of power, privilege, and oppression have traditionally created barriers for persons and groups with particular identities, ages, abilities, and histories,  Great Plains Zen Center strives to foster a climate of purposeful inclusion of all people. We pledge to do all we can to replace such barriers with ever-widening circles of solidarity and mutual respect. We strive to be a Sangha that truly welcomes all persons and commits to structuring our community in ways that empower and enhance everyone’s participation.