January 2019 Newsletter

Dear members and friends of the Great Plains Zen Center community,

As the Year 2018 comes to an end, and 2019 brings longer and brighter days and a sense of renewal, I  find much to be grateful and hopeful for. In spite of so much suffering and struggle in the world, there are so many who are making sincere and heroic efforts to care for those in need and bring about positive change.  The practice of Zen helps me feel my connection with all of humanity and all the creatures and beings of this earth and inspires me to keep opening my heart to their joys and concerns and I hope it does for you, too.  How wonderful to realize that no effort to raise the mind of Wisdom and Compassion is ever lost!  Whether you attended one workshop some years ago, came to a class or participate in sesshin nearly every month, you have touched upon the path of awakening within yourself in a meaningful way.   

The year has been a productive one for Great Plains Zen Center with the Waking up for Racial Justice course last spring and Your Footsteps are the Path: Buddha's Teaching on Life and Suffering continuing through April 2019. We hosted some unique workshops: Our Living Soil with Nance Klehm, Gathering Story with Tiokasin Ghosthorse and Jadina Lilien, Narrative Identity with Dr. Matthew Dewar, and Zenga Painting with Ekyo Maezumi.  Beloit Zen Community provides weekly sitting on the Beloit College campus, and GPZC continues weekly schedules in Monroe WI and Palatine, IL and Logan Square Zendo in Chicago.

Our Service Circle members have been active with various community organizations including Indivisible groups, Justice Overcoming Borders, WISDOM Wisconsin, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Green County Family Promise, Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light, Habitat for Humanity, Citizens for Peace and Justice, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Back2School Illinois, and Lily Lake Cemetary Association to name just a few.   We travelled to Montgomery, Alabama to volunteer at the opening of Equal Justice Initiative's Peace and Justice Memorial and Legacy Museum this past April and to La Plant, SD to volunteer with Simply Smiles Cheyenne River Reservation summer camp.

Our monthly retreats included Beginner's Mind Sesshin, Honoring the Way of Zazen sesshin, a seven day sesshin in July featuring study of the Shobogenzo Genjo Koan, the four Brahma Vihara practices during August sesshin and Hakuin Zenji's commentary on the Heart Sutra during Rohatsu.

As always, we work to share and protect the earth's resources and blessings with more care and respect.  New native species have emerged in our prairies this year and we look forward to investigating renewable energy sources in the coming year as well as making better use of local, organic food sources that support our community farmers.

Our Membership Circle has been working to make the path for newcomers to practice more approachable and our Cleaning Circle has made some helpful improvements in the kitchen and residence hall. We are also hard at work on a new website.

Most of all, we have enjoyed welcoming each of you and are deeply grateful for your support, through both participation and contribution. With your help, the Great Plains Zen Center can continue to provide many types of practice opportunities to enrich the lives of all who come and the communties in which we live.

Wishing you a year of joy and fulfillment in 2019!

With deep bows,
Myoyu Roshi

Participants in our first-ever Joya no kane ceremony.

A new statement of Vision, Mission, Principles and Practices has been created by the Vision and Mission Circle.   This was collectively written by circle members through many hours of meeting and email conversation and represents many points of view.  While the Vision and Mission broadly state what GPZC is about and why it exists, the Principles and Practices give more details about how we are actualizing our goals.   Read it here and let us know what you think!

A path for those new to Zen practice. We know that it is not easy to get started in this practice.  We recommend that everyone begin with an Introduction to Zen Practice Workshop offered monthly in Palatine and Monroe.  You can then follow up with  Aspects of Zen Practice at GPZC, a series of four monthly classes  reviewing the basics and exploring various aspects of practice in more depth.  Regardless of how long it's been since you took the Introductory Workshop, you are welcome to sign up for the Aspects classes.  They are repeated throughout the year and you can take them in any order.  We'd love to see you!  Please call 608-325-6248 if you have questions.  Learn more here     

Sangha news:  Congratulations to Doreen and Rosebud Sparer on the birth of their granddaughter, Azalea, earlier this month.  Wishing the whole family peaceful nights of sleep and joyful daytime adventures.  


Please take note of our new schedule in Monroe as follows: 
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 take place on Saturdays.  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. 

Beloit Zen Community is closed for Winter Break through January 14 and resumes with 4:15 PM sitting on Monday, January 21.

Save the Dates
Madison Action Day 2019 takes place Tuesday, March 26 from 9-3 beginning at the Madison Masonic Temple, 301 Wisconsin Ave., Madison  WI.   Over 1,000 are expected to participate in visiting state representatives to educate and advocate about social justice issues in the proposed state budget.  More information and an opportunity to sign up for buses to the event from all over the state can be found here.  Great Plains Zen Center will be participating with our local WISDOM affiliate, Justice Overcoming Borders.  Please join us to make a difference in the lives of Wisconsinites!

Writing and Zen: Creativity and Obstacles, a Zen Writing Workshop with acclaimed author Bonnie Myosen Nadzam takes place on Sunday, May 19 2019.  Learn more here.

We are happy that you have chosen to receive our monthly newsletter with periodic announcements.  You can change your preferences or contact information at any time by clicking on the update preferences link at the bottom of this email and following the instructions.  

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

In this Newsletter:


Three-Day Sesshin January 24-27 2019
Practicing the Three Zen Peacemaker Tenets

  January Three-Day Sesshin takes place 1/24-27/2019  In honor of Roshi Bernie Glassman, founder of Zen Peacemakers, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., talks during this first sesshin of 2019 focus on the Zen Peacemaker Three Tenets and other frameworks for engaged Buddhist practice.  

Informal dinner will be offered at 5:30 on Thursday night, followed by zendo and oryoki instruction for those needing it. Sesshin begins formally at 7 PM with Fusatsu (Renewal of our Vows). Fusatsu consists of a short sitting period, follow by a council circle and finally the chanting ceremony.

We will have the opportunity to refresh and renew our practice commitment for the new year. Sesshin concludes with the Gate of Sweet Nectar Ceremony, renewing our commitment to serving those who are marginalized, forgotten, and suffering without relief. Please bring non perishable goods for the local food pantry.

All meals are served in the traditional style using monastic eating bowls and utensils called oryoki. Oryoki sets are required and may be purchased or rented.

Cost of this sesshin is $150 for members, $180 for others and includes all meals and accommodations.  $150 for current members, $180 for others.  Register here

Dates for Upcoming Retreats and registration links: 



We mourn the passing of Zen Peacemakers International founder Bernie Glassman on November 4 2018.  A memorial service for Bernie Roshi will be held on Sunday afternoon, February 17th, 2019 at Greyston Foundation in Yonkers, NY USA. More details will be disclosed soon.  Check the ZPI website for updates. 

Renewable Energy in Faith Communities will take place Sunday, January 27th, 2-3:30 PM at St. John's United Church of Christ, 1724 14th St., Monroe WI.  Ask questions and learn how your neighbors are transitioning to local clean energy.  Join us at this free public event.  Brought to you by Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light, Wisconsin Green Muslims, Renew Wisconsin, Faith and Solar, St. Claire of Asissi Catholic Parish and Great Plains Zen Center.  For more information, please call 608-352-2165.  Downloadable pdf flyer here.



Aspects of Zen Practice at GPZC  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 are held once per month in Monroe and in Palatine and may be taken in any order.  The class series repeats 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. 3/10 (Palatine), 3/16 (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.  4/7 (Palatine), 4/20 (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)   Next series: 5/5 (Palatine), 5/11 (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)  Next series: 6/23 (Palatine), 6/15 (Monroe)


Writing and Zen: Creativity and Obstacles
a workshop with
 author Bonnie Myosen Nadzam
Sunday May 19 2019 9:00 - 4:00

You and your life are fundamentally creative—arising spontaneously, intelligently, and wondrously. The writing process can lend itself quite well to revealing some of the obstacles that can freeze up, block, and derail this life force. Personal preferences, good ideas, value judgments, hurt feelings, our celebrity culture, a desire to be respected, admired, feared, loved...perhaps even a desire to publish…the endless whisperings of self-protection…there are a lot of obstacles to making art. In so far as we bring awareness to these obstacles on the page, we bring them to our lives, and insofar as we bring awareness of them in our lives, we bring them to the page. In this 1 day workshop, writing assignments, discussion and Zen meditation will present us with opportunities to investigate each of our own obstacles with, hopefully, a little urgency and honesty. Where within you is the ground upon which you first felt compelled to make art, or write, in the first place? How well do you know that ground? Can you find it? Do you trust it?
Participants can expect to finish with workshop with several short pieces that might be lengthened or revised independently, and with new tools and strategies for navigating and working with the obstacles that arise during the writing/creative process. 


Bonnie Nadzam is an American writer. Her fiction, essays and poetry have appeared in Harper’sOrion MagazineGranta, the Kenyon ReviewAlaska Quartery Review, and many other journals. Her first novel, Lamb, was recipient of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, long-listed for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction in the UK, and was translated into several languages. The book was made into an award-winning independent film, Lamb, starring Ross Partridge and Oona Laurence and produced by Orchard.

Nadzam is co-author of Love in the Anthropocene with environmental ethicist Dale Jamieson. Her second novel, Lions, was released by Grove Atlantic in 2016 and was a Finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award in Fiction. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Environmental Studies from Carleton College, a Master of Fine Arts from (2004) and an MA and PhD from the University of Southern California (2010). Her third novel, 31, is forthcoming. 

The workshop takes places at Great Plains Zen Center, W7762 Falk Rd., Monroe.  Cost is $75 for members, $90 for all others. Student or senior scholarships available. Register here.


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.  Pre-registration not required. Upcoming dates are as follows:

  • January 24 7 PM (Monroe - at start of sesshin but open to all) 
  • February 3 7 PM (Palatine)
  • March 10  7 PM (Palatine)
  • April 11  7 PM 7 PM (Monroe - at start of sesshin but open to all)
  • May 5 7 PM (Palatine)
  • June 27 7 PM (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.  Pre-registration not required. Upcoming dates are as follows:

  • January 27 7AM (Monroe - at end of sesshin but open to all)
  • February 24 7 AM (Monroe - at end of zazenkai but open to all)
  • March 24 7 AM (Monroe - at end of sesshin but open to all)
  • April 14 7 AM (Monroe - at end of sesshin but open to all)
  • May 19 7 AM (Monroe - at end of zazenkai but open to all)
  • June 30 7 AM (Monroe - at end of sesshin but open to all)

Teisho (Public Talks by Myoyu Roshi)

  • January 26 10:30 AM (during Sesshin but open to all)
  • February 23 10:30 AM (during Zazenkai but open to all)
  • March 31 7 PM (Palatine)
  • May 18 10:30 AM (during Zazenkai but open to all)
  • June 9 7 PM (Palatine)


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 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 NewBZC is closed for Winter Break  though 1/14/2019 and will reopen on 1/21.

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.

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Phone:  (608) 325-6248

E-mail:  myoyu.roshi@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.