November 2018 Newsletter

Schedule change at Great Plains Zen Center, Monroe Wisconsin:   After many years of Friday morning and evening and Saturday morning sitting and service, Great Plains Zen Center is changing to the following schedule in an attempt to better serve the community:

Friday mornings at 5:30 AM:  Zazen followed by service (continues as before)

Friday evenings at 7 PM:  Two periods of zazen (continues as before)

Saturday mornings:  Introduction to Zen Practice workshops, Aspects of Zen Practice at GPZC classes and other events will take place on Saturdays.  The regular service and sitting that occurred on Saturday mornings will now take place on Sunday mornings.  Community members are welcome to attend Saturday morning sitting during retreats (starts at 9:15 as before). 

Sunday mornings:  Service at 8:30 and two periods of sitting beginning at 9 AM with informal conversation following. 

                                                 Photo by Bonnie Myosen Nadzam

We invite those who have taken the Introduction to Zen Practice Workshop to attend our new Aspects of Zen Practice at GPZC class series (see details in article below) These classes will help you take the next steps in continuing and establishing regular Zen practice.  We'd love to see you!  Please call 608-325-6248 if you have questions.  

Beloit Zen Community has partnered with Justice Overcoming Borders (JOB) and Beloit College in bringing a special interactive and educational presentation on Solitary Confinement to Beloit Campus Nov 2-3.  The powerful staged reading on Friday night was co-authored by Talib Akbar, state board member of EXPO (Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing) and Resident Priest Emerita of Milwaukee Zen Center and longtime advocate for criminal justice reform in Wisconsin Rev. Tonen O'Connor.  Both will be present, along with a cast of formerly and currently incarcerated people who will be available following the performance to speak with us. 

Our 6 month online class Your Footsteps are the Path: Buddha's Teaching on Life and Suffering begins November 4.  Register right away if you plan to attend. 

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View or download our Nov. 2018 - Jan. 2019 Calendar

In this Newsletter:


November Zazenkai 11/9-11  We invite you to join us for November Zazenkai.  This is a wonderful opportunity to deepen practice with alternating periods of zazen (seated meditation), kinhin (walking meditation), chanting services, silent meals, and a work practice period.  Experience the beauty of fall colors, the crisp, cool air and the serenity of autumn's transformation.  An informal dinner takes place on Friday at 5:30 PM followed by instruction in zendo and oryoki (eating bowls) procedures for any who need it.  Zazenkai begins formally at 8 PM.  The Gate of Sweet Nectar ceremony will take place on Sunday morning at 7 AM.  Please bring non-perishable food items to contribute to the local food pantry.  The cost of this Zazenkai is $75 for all participants and includes all meals and accommodations.  For more information, please call 608-325-6248.  Register here by 11/7.

Dates for Upcoming Retreats and registration links:


Aspects of Zen 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.  The class series will repeat throughout the year, so you can take a class you missed the next time it is offered. These classes provide a great way to continue learning after the Introductory Workshop.  All classes are 1 hour with optional zazen following. Saturdays at 9 AM in Monroe and Sundays at 5:30 PM in Palatine.  The cost of each class is $5. 

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 Lineage:  The 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 and Practices.  2/10 (Palatine), 2/16 (Monroe)

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

Solitary Confinement Performance and Exhibition

Created and presented by Talib Akbar, Rev. Tonen O'Connor, Melissa Luden and others who are both currently and formerly incarcerated and who have experienced segregated incarceration. Experience the sounds and space of solitary confinement. Hear the voices of those affected. Learn about the impacts of solitary confinement and what you can do to help end this torture.  No charge for either event. No preregistration necessary.  

Exhibition:  Friday and Saturday, November 2-3 from 10-4 PM each day in front of the Beloit College Liberal Arts in Practice Center, 703 Emerson St. on the campus of Beloit College, Beloit, WI. This is an exact replica of a solitary confinement cell, which you will be able to enter to feel the space and hear a recording of what it sounds like to be in a solitary confinement cell. Interpretors will be present to answer questions. 

Performance of Like a Bird in a Cage: Friday night, Nov. 2 at 7:30 PM in the Bunge Theater (in the Neese Performing Arts Center) on the Beloit College Campus, Beloit WI. Hear the voices of those who have experienced segregated incarceration. Powerfully revealing the realities of solitary confinement, a practice viewed as torture and human rights violation by many. Conversation with actors and creators follows the performance. 




Introduction to Zen Practice Workshops:

Great Plains Zen Center offers monthly Introductory Workshops 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:

  • November 18 7 PM (Palatine)
  • December 30 7PM (Palatine) special end of year event
  • January 24 7PM (Monroe - at start of sesshin but open to all) 

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:

  • November 11 7 AM (Monroe - following November Zazenkai but open to all)
  • December 9 7 AM (Monroe - following December Sesshin but open to all)
  • January 27 7AM (Monroe - following January Sesshin but open to all)

Teisho (Public Talks by Myoyu Roshi)

  • 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)
  • January 26 10:30 AM (during Sesshin but onpen 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
  • See calendar for classes scheduled on Saturdays
  • Chanting service at 8:30 AM followed by Zazen at 9 on Sundays
  • 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. Periodic special events (see calendar). For those new to practice, a brief orientation is offered during the first sitting period. 

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)

                4:55 short talk/discussion

                5:10 zazen (optional)

All are welcome to come and participate, not only those affiliated with the college.  Whatever your religious affiliation (or if you have none), 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.  
  • For further information, please visit the Logan Square Zendo website here.




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

Support our community by making a donation here.

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You can also ask to join the Facebook Group, Great Plains Zen Center Sangha


Phone:  (608) 325-6248


Our postal mailing addresses:

W77962 Falk Rd • Monroe, WI  53566




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.