January 2020 Newsletter

A New Year Message from Myoyu Roshi


Dear Friends and Members of Great Plains Zen Center,

I would like to thank each of you for your sincere interest in Zen Buddhism and for your participation and practice at Great Plains Zen Center (in both Monroe and Palatine), and its affiliates, Logan Square Zendo, Beloit Zen Community and Zen Sitting Group Dekalb. During the past year, membership at GPZC has expanded, we have developed a new Vision, Mission, Principles and Practices statement, grown our prison ministry programs and explored new topics together in classes, both at the Zen Center and in the community at large. We continue to offer monthly retreats (sesshin or zazenkai ranging in length from a weekend to 7 days), monthly Introductory Workshops and Aspects of Zen Practice classes, and monthly Fusatsu (in a format that includes a council circle). We have offered Gate of Sweet Nectar ceremonies each month and have collected many bags of items for local food pantries.

All of this is possible because of your participation and generous donations. We appreciate you and are so grateful that you have chosen to be part of our community, whether as an occasional participant in a program, a donor, a full practicing member, or in any other capacity. If you became a member in the past year or are continuing your membership, we thank you for your enduring support. It means a lot. If you are considering membership, we encourage you to join us.  And above all, we hope you will continue to practice Zen and participate in our programs, many of which are free or offered at a relatively low cost. We are committed keeping our programs accessible to everyone regardless of their financial status.

One of our collective goals as a Zen Center has been to become more involved in connecting with and serving our local communities.  In the Palatine area, some of our members have stepped up to support the Chalice House Project of Countryside UU Church.  We have begun donating the non-perishable goods collected at Gate of Sweet Nectar ceremonies to the Palatine Township Food Pantry as well as the Green County, WI area food pantries.  We have provided mindfulness training at Beloit Public Library and are starting a class at the Behring Senior Center in Monroe this month.  We continue to provide weekly mindfulness classes for Intouch Outreach, a program for those affected by incarceration in Rock County, WI.  We answered the request of WI Department of Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr to establish a mindfulness program at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lakes Schools in Irma, WI and will start a 9 week MBSR-T program at Racine Youthful Correctional Facility in February.  Please tell us how you are serving your community and how we can become involved.  Contact John Genshin Knewitz, steward of the Service Circle.

Finally, I would like to share my reflections on a unique event this year, the Belonging to Earth vigil that we joined in the last days of Rohatsu Sesshin. We spent a continuous 24 hours bearing witness to our relationship to Mother Earth by listening to talks by spiritual leaders, ecologists, and indigenous healers and by many hours of meditation. To read these reflections, please visit this link.  I'd like to share with you the dedication of merit from One Earth Sangha:

May all places be held sacred.

May all beings be cherished.

May all injustices of oppression and devaluation

be fully righted, remedied and healed.

May all wounds to forests, rivers, deserts, oceans,

all wounds to Mother Earth be lovingly restored to bountiful health.

May all beings everywhere delight in whale song, birdsong and blue sky.

May all beings abide in peace and well-being, awaken and be free.


In Dharma, 

Myoyu Roshi


Integrating our practice into our daily lives is always a challenge.   How do we find the time and make the habit of sitting regularly at home?  Member Mark Lundberg has a practical suggestion we can all relate to.  Please read his thoughts here.  


The Anti-Racism Book Discussion class begins Sunday, January 5 (section 1) or Thursday, January 9 (section 2).  More information and registration here.  Please register now if you are interested so that we can send you materials before the class starts.  The first book we are discussing is White Rage by Carol Anderson.

Illustration from What is Intersectionality and Why Is It Important

by Anne Sisson Runyan


Intersections: A Circle for Those Who Identify as Female begins March 18 and will meet on the third Wednesday evening of each month.  In Intersections, our intention is to take a deep and nuanced look at the intersectionality of our identities – the ones we have been born with, the ones we have been given, and the ones we give ourselves.   More information can be found here.  

The dates for retreats in 2020 through July can be found here and you can register for any of these sesshin or zazenkai here

Have you attended an Introductory Workshop and want to continue learning?  Sign up for Aspects of Zen Practice classes.  The four different classes can be taken in any order and continue throughout the year.  Topics addressed are:  the basics of meditation and zendo forms, our lineage of teachers and ceremony, precepts practice in everyday life and how to become more involved in the GPZC community.  Aspect class #3 (Everyday Practice) takes place this month on Saturday, January18 in Monroe and Sunday, January 19 in Palatine.   These classes teach about the precepts:  guidelines for our everyday activities and interactions with others.  

Attending an Introduction to Zen Practice workshop is a prerequisite for the Aspects classes.  Introduction to Zen Practice workshops provide a three hour introduction to Zen meditation (zazen), an overview of  Zen practice, and practical guidance in getting practice started.  The workshops are offered on Saturday from 8:30-11:30 AM in Monroe and Palatine.  Introductory workshops this month take place on January 11, 8:30-11:30 AM in Monroe and Palatine

Check out our affiliate groups:
Live in or near the city of Chicago? Consider attending Tuesday night zazen at Logan Square Zendo.  More information here

Zen Sitting Group DeKalb meets January 16 and 30 this month.  Details here
Beloit Zen Community meets Monday afternoon 4:15-5:30 on the Beloit College campus.   More information can be found 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.  

Do you have something you'd like included in next month's newsletter?  Please call Roshi at 608-325-6248 or email myoyu.roshi@greatplainszen.org.

View or download our November 2019-January 2020 Calendar here



In this Newsletter:



Laundry as Work Practice

by Mark Lundberg


Work practice during November Zazenkai


One of the activities I most enjoy at retreat is work practice. It allows you to enhance your meditation practice while contributing to the Zen Center and the sangha. I’m sure others have also realized that these activities can be performed the same way at home. Focusing on the specific task you are doing makes it more meaningful.

I find this particularly true when it comes to doing laundry, which is one of my household responsibilities. With several loads to be done, I carve out a morning and begin sitting when the first load goes into the washer. I take a brief work practice break to move that load into the dryer and begin a second in the washer. After another session of sitting I return to fold the first load. Folding clothes can be very meditative!


The sitting sessions generally run about 30 -35 minutes, the amount of time for a wash or dry cycle. How many sittings you do is up to you. I have found this to be a great way to extend my practice and get a big chore done!


by Myoyu Roshi



In the final twenty four hours of our Rohatsu Sesshin last month, we had the opportunity to participate in the Belonging to Earth Vigil co-sponsored by One World in Dialogue and Zen Peacemakers International. This vigil was a deep plunge into bearing witness to our relationship to Mother Earth. There was an unbroken rhythm of talks and periods of sitting continuously throughout the day and night, ending for us in Wisconsin, USA at 8 AM on Sunday, December 8, Bodhi Day, on which we celebrate the enlightenment of the Buddha. It was deep, intimate and transformative, especially coming at a time so close to the Winter Solstice, the time when the nourishing sleep of longest darkness prepares the earth for the renewal of spring. On the video screen, we could see other Zen Centers practicing along with us and we could sense the presence of many more. Over 2,000, we were told, registered for the event.

I would like to share some of my reflections about this experience and revisit some of the words and thoughts of the speakers that resonated particularly for me. The recordings of all 8 talks are available at this link and I encourage you to listen to them.

An important theme in the vigil was Mother Earth not as a victim, but as our teacher. It occurs to me that it is an arrogant perspective to view ourselves as stewards of the earth. While it is important to be careful in our use of resources, respectful and humble in our partaking in the abundance earth offers, we are the ones being cared for by the earth, not vice versa. Even more, we are of the earth, we are the earth. Everything we have and are comes from the earth, is the earth. We are part of the earth and earth includes us. I remember once asking Lakota activist, musician and spritual leader Tiokasin Ghosthorse, whom we invited to GPZC for workshops on several occasions, to bless our food before lunch. He immediately corrected me, saying that the food was actually blessing us, that it was Mother Earth's offering to us.

We have, unfortunately, created a false sense of separation. We regard ourselves as beings apart from the earth and our sibling creatures who inhabit it. We regard ourselves as separate from each other. We have forgotten that we come from the earth, that the earth gives birth to us.  We have have forgotten "I and all beings of the Great Earth ahve simultaneously attained the way."

In his Shobogenzo Sansui-kyo (Mountains and Waters Sutra), Dogen Zenji talks about the expression “A stone woman gives birth to a child at night.” “You should understand the meaning of giving birth,” he says. “At the moment of giving birth to a child, is the mother separate from the child? You should study not only that you become a mother when your child is born, but also that you become a child.”

Mother Earth gives birth to us. What that means is that in giving birth to us, she is our mother, but also in giving birth, she becomes us. We are of her. We carry her wisdom in us as well.

We have forgotten this, though – we have forgotten who we are – much like the beggar in the Lotus Sutra wandering in poverty without realizing that he has a precious gem sewn into the folds of robe. And because we have forgotten, we feel to alienated, separate, disconnected. This is delusion and it causes us great suffering.


Ancient Bristlecone Pine Tree

The Mother Earth is trying hard to teach us her wisdom. If only we would listen. Not only are we not listening, but, says Tiokasin Ghosthorse,  we are losing our ability to hear her wisdom. We have constructed our life style as a species in a way that is no longer sustainable. Mother Earth is manifesting this for us, but most of us can barely, if at all, hear her.  We have reached a point that is no longer viable and our civilization in this form, must ultimately fall apart, says Thanissara, founder of Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat in South Africa and author of Time to Stand up: A Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth.  We need to let go of our old conditioning based in fear, our separate, divided consciousness that sees everything as apart from itself and creates the untenable structures that inhabit our lives. We must instead embrace a new story, a collective story, born of our connectedness.

Charles Eisenstein, ecologist, activist and author of Climate: A New Story, points out that while we normally think of how our greed and aggression are causing climate change, maybe it is also true that our greed comes from our deep hunger for connection – the connection to the great web of life, to the great earth, that we are not feeling. We long for the sense of belonging to earth. Feeling the painful disconnection, we try to fill that void with whatever we can, hence our insatiable greed for material goods, people, things, whatever. We can no longer appreciate the earth as a living being, a living being of which we are part, as can our indigenous brothers and sisters. Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, spiritual leader of the Inayati Order (formerly the Sufi Order International) notes that “We have fallen into the exile of a disenchanted world. We speak of an inanimate world – world without soul. Can there be anything without soul?”

Our civilization as we know it cannot survive – we need a new path says Thanissara. Those at Standing Rock spoke of the teachings of the Lakota elders – they have long talked of the coming of this time. We must draw on our inner courage to see that a new way of being is needed. If we act out of our habitual fear and violence, we can't hear the voices of our ancestors helping us to hear the new vision we must now embrace.

We know – as students of Buddhism – that we must give up the ego-centered view we habitually hold onto, our having all the answers, our false security of being in control, to find true freedom and peace. We may not know yet what this will look like. We must trust the wisdom of our heart, which is earth's wisdom. Earth is manifesting the wisdom of the Buddha for us right now. She is manifesting for us the destruction and distress that our ego-centered behavior in all areas of our lives and culture is creating. Only from a place of not knowing, and bearing witness, can we receive her message. And only through not knowing and bearing witness, will the truly appropriate action arise.

Charles Eisenstein described an evolving perspective on indigenous people from initially scorning and marginalizing them, to wanting to help and fix them, to offering to assimilate them into our culture, to cultural appropriation in which we imitate and try to take on their ways to fill the void of our own, to finally a deeply humble attitude of asking them for help. We are beginning to realize that indigenous cultures, far from being backward and primitive, are much more attuned and able to access this knowing and wisdom that we all have as part of Earth. We are beginning to recognize our need to humbly ask for their help because we really don't know what to do. We are invited to enter this journey, which means entering into Not Knowing, opening the heart to hear what Mother Earth is telling us – because Mother Earth actually knows what to do, has always known what to do.



We, as humanity, are entering into journey, a shamanic journey, Thanissara says, and when we go on that journey, there is a dying, a letting go of who we think we are, a surrendering. We don't know the journey's destination, but we are beginning to know that we will perish if we refuse to embark on it.

Pi Villaraza, a gifted healer, is founder and a spiritual leader of Maia Earth Village, founder of Emergence Convergence and co-founder for Transformation Medicine, in the Philippines. “We are being called to listen to the song of the earth.” he tells us. “If we are that song, how are we composed?” Thanissara tells us “We need to hear a different voice. That voice at the moment is Mother Earth. We are Mother Earth's immune system rising. The terror and fear that we feel is her communication in our body.”

Mother Earth is demonstrating to us that our lifestyle has become what Thanissara refers to as a “psychopathic death march leading us off a cliff.” We need to transform our behavior through awareness, by bearing witness and observing the consequences of our actions without trying to indulge or distract ourselves. We need to relate to our experience in a prayerful, humble way, as a teacher, to redirect us, to guide us to a different way to be in the world. This is the time for inner discipline, for mindfulness, for being present for what Mother Earth is teaching us.

Song woman and story teller, Ruth Langford, who draws on the cultural knowledge of her Yorta Yorta mother and the Tasmanian aboriginal community where she was born and still lives, offers us a mother's perspective. She says that we are in essence accusing the earth of being a bad mother, believing that she is failing and needs rescue. And, as in a typical dysfunctional family, we try to parent the parent – we try to parent (fix) Mother Earth instead of listening to her wisdom, observing how she is healing herself and learning from her.  We are the ones who need healing. Mother Earth will survive. With or without us, she will survive.

“Who are we and who are we becoming?” asks Pi Villaraza. “When our awareness becomes aware of itself, when perception begins to perceive its own, when consciousness becomes self-conscious, there's a liberation story in the decolonization of our minds that will take place in the calcified physicality of what seems to be the body that dissolves the Cartesian mind-body problem.” We need to awaken.  We need to reconnect. “Where,” asks Pi Villaraza, "do all hearts meet?” As humans, we all came from Africa. But “Africa,” he says, “isn't just a geographical place. It's a vibratory place of origin.” It's not black, not white, but rainbow – rainbow beyond the seven colors. We are all part of one story and all stories intertwine.

How do we remember this place of connection, this place of joy? Ruth Langford states that we are looking only at the short term view and only at our surface experience, which are indeed distressing in the present times. She says that “great nourishment is taking place under the surface.” In a deep place, with the separation of the tectonic plates, people became separated, but “re-weaving” is taking place. There is an “awakening and reweaving of very important states of being ... There is a coming together.” Ruth prays “May my ancestors and the ancestors of the country and the ancestors of your land remember that they are connected, are brothers and sisters, children of mother earth.”

“Humanity on a depth of scale is undertaking a journey to reclaim a natural awakened place,” says Ruth. Opening up the lens to look at a larger scale of time, we can also feel the sense of joy on this journey, we can “ground ourselves in a greater dream story that is true.” Indigenous lineages, she says, hold the memory of knowing how to be.

Ruth asks us “Where do you see that this reweaving is happening and helping to mend where we've torn apart our human consciousness?” She says the planet is teaching her children how to come back into relationship with her and how to reclaim our natural human birthright to know that we belong as individual and as culture.” She prays “May I know that I am your brother and sister?”

Photo from Nayri Niari Good Spirit Festival, Tasmania


Where do you see this reweaving happening, this reconnecting, this affirmation of our unbrokenness even in the midst of brokenness? What about people reaching deeper below the surface to experience the connection we thought we had lost? I think of the suburban Marjorie Stoneman Douglas School students connecting with Southside Chicago students after the shooting at the Florida school, coming together in shared experience of survival amidst violence; Rev. William Barber of the Poor People's campaign bringing together people from all walks of life, traveling to Oak Flats in Arizona to support Apache people in protecting their sacred land from becoming a copper mine; Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi connecting with his own humanity and instead working to free others who have fallen under the spell of hate-based philosophies; people across different ethnicities, socio-economic groups, even different political affiliations standing against injustice; the pulling together of indigenous people around the world to support each other in protecting their land and water; over 20 years of people gathering together to bear witness to the horrific tragedy that took place at Auschwitz-Birkenau, those gathering in Montgomery, Alabama to bear witness to the decades of racial terror lynching in the United States – all of these feel like reweaving – bearing witness and allowing the strands to reweave themselves into a strong container of unity and collaborative support.

Sometimes reweaving simply feels like acknowledging harm done, our own complicity and place in the story. I recently travelled to North Weymouth Cemetery in Massachusetts to put sage on the grave sites of two Native American warriors, Pecksuot and Wituwamat, who had been murdered by my ancestor Myles Standish. Acknowledging my place in this shared story as the descendant of someone who had committed this atrocity, representative of so many others, felt like a reweaving. Not all strands are heroic, not all of our actions have been admirable. But simply bearing witness unflinchingly and without judgment is itself a reweaving, a gathering of unity where remembering, forgiving, making amends can occur.


Immersion in this 24 hours of Bearing Witness to our relationship with Mother Earth was powerful and transformative, the presence still palpable at the Zen Center where we sat and listened. I opened my heart with renewed clarity to the offerings of the very much living Mother Earth, who continues to provide for us and manifest her teaching for us. I also note how quickly I can be drawn back into a distancing and objectifying relationship with Mother Earth, unconsciously falling into the habitual pattern of regarding her as a thing or collection of things with which to interact - once again, losing track of who I am, who we are, our mutual co-arising. I appreciate so much those who attended this vigil, in any part, and would like to invite all to participate next year – when the vigil will take place December 5-6, 2020, again in the last days of Rohatsu Sesshin.


Antiracism Book Discussion Class

January - May 2020

Join us in reading and discussing two very important books about racism:  White Rage by Carol Anderson and White Fragility by Robin DeAngelo. The first five classes are devoted to White Rage, which focuses on systemic and institutionalized racism.  The second five classes are devoted to White Fragility, which explores barriers to dismantling racism that exist on a more personal level.  We have included both books in recognition that dismantling racism requires understanding and awareness both on a systemic level and on the level of individual prejudice and bias. 

The class will have a Thursday evening section and a Sunday afternoon section to accommodate everyone's schedules.  Each section will meet twice per month.  Participants unable to attend their own section for a particular class have the option of attending the other section for that week.  Classes will be held online and can be accessed through a computer or cell phone.  


White Rage

by Carol Anderson


Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.  The Washington Post has called this book "A sobering primer on the myriad ways African American resilience and triumph over enslavement, Jim Crow and intolerance have been relentlessly defied by the very institutions entrusted to uphold our democracy."  

White Rage will be the topic of discussion from January 5  through March 1. A detailed listing of dates, times and topics of the classes can be found here


White Fragility

by Robin DiAngelo

Robin DiAngelo, a multicultural professor at Westfield University, coined the term white fragility to refer to "discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice."  

New Yorker staff writer Katy Waldman asserts that "the value in White Fragility lies in its methodical, irrefutable exposure of racism in thought and action, and its call for humility and vigilance. Combatting one’s inner voices of racial prejudice, sneaky and, at times, irresistibly persuasive, is a life’s work."

White Fragility will be the topic of discussion  March 15 - May 17.  A detailed listing of dates, times and topics of the classes can be found here.  

Classes will be co-facilitated by Myoyu Roshi and Lisa Gades.  Please contact Lisa here for questions or further information. There is no charge for the class, but free will donations are encouraged to offset the cost of Zoom and other administrative costs.  Your donation allows us to continue offering programs like this.  Make a donation here and indicate that your donation is for the Antiracism Book Discussion Class.  Register for the class here



Educating Mindfully Conference 2020 Educators, be inspired to bring mindfullness to your school! Consider attending the Educating Mindfully Conference (EMCON20)  in Itasca, IL, Feb. 27-March 1. This is the second year of this highly popular and acclaimed conference, hosted by Coalition of Schools Educating Mindfully (COSEM).  GPZC member Matt Dewar, past president of COSEM, and a current board member was instrumental in establishing EMCON.  Matt will be presenting a 2 day long workshops and a breakout session.  Myoyu Roshi and psychologist Jennifer Moniz will be presenting a breakout session  about providing a mindfulness program for incarcerated youth and their teachers at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lakes Schools. The session will also provide information on trauma-informed and culturally inclusive mindfulness. 



Intersections: A Circle for Those Who Identify as Female 

We would like to announce the formation of a new circle for those who identify as female. In Intersections, our intention is to take a deep and nuanced look at the intersectionality of our identities – the ones we have been born with, the ones we have been given, and the ones we give ourselves.

A few of the themes we would like to explore:

+ What identities give us access and what identities limit access?

+ What identities do we aspire to?

+ How does our identity manifest differently in different social and institutional environments?

+ Are there identities we feel we have to defend in some places?

+ Which spaces feel safe? Which don’t?

+ How can we have self-compassion for the identities we struggle with within ourselves and how does this inform compassion we feel for others?

+ Who are Self and Other?

We aspire to co-create Intersections as a space in which every circle member can feel heard, safe, creative, and curious. We aim for a deeper connection with each other and ourselves. Through a more nuanced and spacious sense of our and others' identities, we hope this circle will bring personal, interpersonal and societal healing, We welcome spirituality of any type to be part of our conversation.

WHEN: Intersections will meet monthly, on the third Wednesday, from 7 to 9 PM. First Gathering: March 18 2020.

WHERE: Great Plains Zen Center, W7762 Falk Rd., Monroe, WI. While we encourage physical gathering for more embodied connection, we understand that this might not be possible. Therefore phone and video conferencing will be made available.)

FACILITATION:  Primary Co-Facilitators: Myoyu Roshi (she, her, hers) is a Zen teacher, director of Great Plains Zen Center, member of Zen Peacemakers International, mother and grandmother.  Nance Klehm (she, her, hers/they, theirs) works and lives as an ecologist in both a densely populated immigrant neighborhood in Chicago and with 50 acres of rural Buckeye Township. Circle members are welcome to take on facilitation of individual meetings as topics emerge they would like to present.

QUESTIONS? Please contact: Nance or Roshi


Photo from Nayri Niara Good Spirit Festival, Tasmania


Chalice House Project Are you interested in helping our long time faith partner, Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist with their Chalice House project?  They are initiating the Chalice House Project, to  provide a residence adjacent to the church for an immigrant family identified by Interfaith Communiity for Detained Immigrants.  ICDI will provide case management, legal and other forms of support to the family and CCUU is seeking funds to provide housing for the family.  If you are interested in contributing or want to know more, please contact John Genshin Knewitz, Service Circle Steward. 



Three Day Sesshin

January 23-26 2020


This sesshin is the first in the New Year, in fact, the first in this decade.  We invite you to join us.  The talks given during this sesshin will emphasize the Bodhisattva Precepts and the Zen Peacemaker Three Tenets as fundamental to personal and collective harmony and peace.

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.

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. Suggested donation for this sesshin is $150 for members, $180 for others and includes all meals and accommodations.  Register here


Upcoming Retreat Dates and Registration Links


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.  Please note that the workshop is offered both in Monroe and Palatine.  

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. Register 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. 3/21 (Monroe), 3/22 (Palatine)

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.  4/5 (Palatine), 4/11 (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. 1/18 (Monroe) , 1/19 (Palatine)  

Being a Part of the GPZC Community:  Shared stewardship circles and opportunities for volunteering and leadership, Council Practice and GPZC Vision, Mission, Guiding Principles and Practices.   2/22 (Monroe), 2/23 (Palatine)


Fusatsu (Renewal of Vows)

All are welcome to join us for monthly Fusatsu (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 23 7 PM (Monroe - at start of sesshin but open to all)
  • February 14 7 PM (Monroe - at start of zazenkai, but open to all)
  • March 15 7 PM (CCUU Palatine)
  • April 23 (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 is not required. Upcoming dates are as follows:

  • January 26 (Monroe - at end of sesshin but open to all)
  • February 16  (Monroe - at end of zazenkai but open to all)
  • March 8 (Monroe - at end of sesshin but open to all)
  • April 26 (Monroe - at end of sesshin but open to all)

Teisho (Public Talks by Myoyu Roshi)

  • Jan. 12, 2020 7 PM (CCUU, 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 during the Beloit College academic year. 
                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. NOTE: Starting Jan. 20 location will move to 008 Morse Ingersoll on the Beloit College campus. 
  • For more information, please contact Bill New
  • 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.

Zen Sitting Group DeKalb (ZSGD), a new affiliate of the Great Plains Zen Center, continues to meet at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb, 158 N. 4th Street. The steward for the group is John Genshin Knewitz, a student of Myoyu Roshi. ZSGD meets twice monthly on a variable schedule which can be viewed on the Zen Sitting Group DeKalb Facebook page.   There will be no dokusan or teisho offered on a regular basis, but there will be regular formal sitting and some instruction regarding basic Zen practices and philosophy. If you have interest in this group, please check out the ZSGD Facebook page, or feel free to email John directly at birdsfan53@yahoo.com for further information. 

  • Variable schedule.  Check Facebook Page:  @zendekalb
  • Meets January 16 and 30 this month.
  • Meets at UU Fellowship of DeKalb.
  • 6 PM Instruction, 7 PM Sitting followed by discussion. 
  • For more information, contact John Genshin Knewitz 


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

Support our community by making a donation here.

Like us on Facebook: Great Plains Zen Center

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


Phone:  (608) 325-6248

E-mail:  myoyu.roshi@greatplainszen.org

Our postal mailing address:

W7762 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.