March 2020 Newsletter

Get a rare and unflinching glimpse into the ecological and social world of the Amazon through the eyes of scientist and founder of Social Ecologies, Nance Klehm.  Read her missives and view her photos here.


Our new circle,  Intersections: A Circle for Those Who Identify as Female,  begins March 18 and will meet on the third Wednesday evening of each month.  This is a wonderful chance for women to meet on a monthly basis 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.  

Please mark your calendar for an event not to be missed! Bowing Backwards:  The Art of Not Taking Oneself Too Seriously  will be presented by Moshe Cohen, an internationally renowned teacher and performing artist, called "World Class" by New York Magazine.  He is the founder of Clowns Without Borders-USA and Closhi of the Zen Peacemaker Order of Disorder (OD)  This is a wonderful opportunity for theater students and professionals, all those interested in the art of sacred mischief and of course, all of us who take ourselves too seriously.  The workshop draws from the Three Zen Peacemaker Tenets, 
 physical theater, clown improvisations, elements from butoh dance, qi gong, feldenkreis movement, outward mindfulness practices, and voice work.The workshop takes place at Great Plains Zen Center, Monroe, WI on Saturday, April 18, 9 AM - 4 PM.   Learn more about the workshop and Moshe Cohen here


Attention families!  Our Buddha's Birthday Celebration takes place Saturday, April 4 from 2-4 PM at Great Plains Zen Center in Monroe, WI.  Program includes mindful activities and crafts for children of all ages, the beautiful flower house ceremony and a nutritious snack.  Read more and find the registration link 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 #1 (Forms of Practice) takes place this month on March 21 in Monroe and on March 22 in Palatine.    These classes review the basics of zazen (body, breath and mind), zendo procedures and the teacher-student relationship.   

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 March 14 in Palatine and in Monroe

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 March 5 and 26 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

View or download our February- April 2020 calendars here.



In this Newsletter:



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

Buddha's Birthday Celebration

Saturday, April 4,  2-4 PM

Great Plains Zen Center, Monroe, WI

Bring your children of all ages to celebrate the birth of the Buddha.  The program takes place from 2-4 PM on April 4 and includes some child-friendly mindfulness practice, mindful movement, a craft, the traditional flower house ceremony and a healthy snack.  


Please indicate on your registration the age(s) of the child or children you are bringing. Also, let us know if you or your child have any food restrictions and if you would like to arrive early to help make the flower house.  Contact Myoyu Roshi or call 608-325-6248 for additional information or questions.  Register here




Amazonia Missives 

by Nance Klehm

Nance Klehm is a member of the Great Plains Zen Center community.  Her organization, Social Ecologies, engages local residents in building healthy habitats and spreading holistic, systematic thinking by creating and maintaining collaborative long-term interactive neighborhood projects.  Here Nance shares photos and accounts of her remarkable work on the ground with communities of people, plants and animals in Amazonia earlier this year.  This is a rare and up-close look at what is going on in the rainforests of  the Amazon through the eyes of a scientist deeply concerned about the ecological and human/animal health of this region.  Nance's reports and pictures can be viewed at these links:

Amazonia Missive #1 (January 29-February 1, 2020)  

Amazon Missive #2 (February 5, 2020)  

Amazon Missive #3 (February 14, 2020)

Soil Work Here




Bowing Backwards: The Art of Not Taking Oneself Too Seriously

with Moshe Cohen

Saturday, April 18 9AM - 4 PM

Great Plains Zen Center, W7762 Falk Rd., Monroe, WI  53566


Bowing Backwards is a fundamental practice of the Order of Disorder, the renegade brigade of the Zen Peacemakers founded in 2004 by Bernie Glassman, Peter Cunningham, and Moshe Cohen.

To assure that no one takes themselves too seriously, bowing backwards is a practice that asks us to embrace the contrarian aspects of our nature, and to discover reverence in irreverence. Instead of taking everything seriously, take everything not seriously. Instead of taking yourself seriously, take yourself not seriously. Instead of being knowledgeable, revel in not-knowing.

This workshop will open up inner clown, and will look at the deeper nature of embracing one’s ridiculousness, investigating one’s non-verbal capacity to express humor and delight. The workshop will embrace laughing with vs. laughing at: laugh with yourself, laugh with each other, avoid creating laughter at others’ expense (your own is permitted).

The workshop will briefly investigate the art of interaction with lightness and humor, and how to use Bernie’s Zen Peacemakers three tenets—Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness, Taking action—in that process.

The workshop will offer opportunities to let go of habitual rational mind, and hand over the conductor’s baton to our creative/intuitive mind.

We will explore bowing backwards using physical theater, clown improvisations, elements from butoh dance, qi gong, feldenkreis movement, outward mindfulness practices, and voice work.

Workshop cost:  $75 for GPZC members, $90 for non-members.  Lunch included. Register here.

Moshe Cohen is an internationally renowned teacher and performing artist, the founder of Clowns Without Borders-USA and Closhi of the Zen Peacemaker Order of Disorder (OD), where he is known by his OD name YooWho. He teaches and performs in the US, across Europe, and around the world (all told, in over 40+ countries)… When he is home in San Francisco, he works as a medical clown, a member of the Clown Conservatory faculty and offers lightfulness trainings in the working world.

Moshe with Roshi Bernie Glassman

Some of the roots of Moshe’s current projects related to Lightfulness and mindful collaboration began in 1999, when Zen Master Bernie Glassman came to study with Moshe, soon guiding Moshe toward integrating aspects of Zen and Clowning. Since then, Moshe has been teaching in an ever-widening circle of Zen centers and Spiritual retreat centers, Theater and Clown schools, and for Health-Care Clown organizations. He also applies these methods to professional development and leadership development trainings in the working world. Moshe focuses on helping participants to source their inner joy, non-verbal humor and lightness to create mindful, collaborative communication, and personal well-being.



After quitting his job at Merrill Lynch (1983), Moshe’s early career as a street performer quickly expanded and evolved, touring his Mr. YooWho show for many years to major festivals and theaters worldwide. Although his main focus these days is on teaching, he continues to perform occasionally. Alongside his solo work, he has performed with Cirque Do Somethin’, Clown Conspiracy, A Traveling Jewish Theater, lesser mortals, collaborated in many circus/variety shows and in over 30 Clowns Without Borders projects.


Moshe has trained with some of the world’s most innovative and respected physical theater, clowns, and Zen teachers from Montreal, Paris and San Francisco, to Antwerp, Maleragues, Yokohama, Vancouver, Berkeley, Tokyo and Kyoto, including extensive and long-term study with Sigfrido Aguilar, Richard Pochinko, Monica Pagneux, Phillipe Gaulier, Bernie Glassman and Wendy Egyoku Nakao. His formal training includes Butoh Dance, Sacred Clown, Kyogen, Kabuki, Taoist Health Exercises, Closeup Magic, European Clowning, Juggling, Mime, Physical Theatre, Traditional Japanese Theatre and voice.

Moshe remains an active participant of and Board Member of Clowns Without Borders. He is fluent in French, Spanish, German and English. He lives in San Francisco and is currently working on a book with author Bonnie Nadzam about the art of Sacred Mischief.

For more information about Moshe, visit

Register for Bowing Backwards: The Art of Not Taking Onself Too Seriously with Moshe Cohen here


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. 



Note that Beginner's Mind Sesshin, March 6-8 is now full and no new registrations are being accepted.   Our next Beginner's Mind Sesshin will be offered in September.  

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. 5/30 (Monroe), 5/31 (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.   6/14 (Palatine), 6/20 (Monroe)


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:

  • March 15 7 PM (CCUU Palatine)
  • April 23 (Monroe - at start of sesshin but open to all)
  • May 24 7 PM (CCUU Palatine)
  • June 18 (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:

  • March 8 (Monroe - at end of sesshin but open to all)
  • April 26 (Monroe - at end of sesshin but open to all)
  • May 17 (Monroe - at end of zazenkai but open to all)

Teisho (Public Talks by Myoyu Roshi)

  • March 29, 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 room 008 in Morse Ingersoll building on the Beloit College campusThat's the L-shaped building across from the library
  • 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 for further information. 

  • Variable schedule.  Check Facebook Page:  @zendekalb
  • Meets March 5 and 26 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.

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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 address:

W7762 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.