Great Plains Zen Center
Engaged Buddhism

Engaged Buddhism

Eighth principle:  We serve all beings through socially engaged activities. We practice this principle by:

We rise by lifting others sidewalk art
We rise by lifting others sidewalk art
  1. Following the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemaker Order (Not Knowing; Bearing Witness to the Joy and Suffering in the World; Taking the Appropriate Action that Arises from Not Knowing and Bearing Witness)
  2. Our commitment to a reverence for all life, respect for the earth on which we depend, fair and just distribution of wealth and resources, and equal rights for all.
  3. Considering the impact of our decisions on future generations.
  4. Dedication to a world with freedom, justice, peace, and self-determination for all.”

from GPZC’s Vision, Mission, Principles and Practices statement

Anti-Racism Resources

Following the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, a group of White Plum members called the Circle for Healing Prejudice and Nurturing Inclusion (CHPNI) began meeting to look at ways to investigate their own experiences and beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, with respect to diversity, inclusion, privilege/power differentials, racism, and creating/being an “other.” To inspire and support teachers and practitioners in the investigation, education, and dialogue on these topics, CHPNI created a rich collection of resources, now regularly updated by GPZC.

GPZC Racial Justice Circle

Great Plains Zen Center Racial Justice Circle is a group of members from GPZC and other Sanghas coming together to address racism through listening, learning, and taking action.  The circle began meeting after the murder of George Floyd.  The RJC continues to offer educational resources and activities, calls to action, classes, and workshops with the aim of dismantling racism within ourselves and outside of ourselves. Activities have included advocacy for justice-involved adults and youth, voter engagement,  speaking at school board meetings, and advocacy for marginalized groups.  GPZC Racial Justice Circle has worked in active partnership with WISDOM Wisconsin, EXPO (Ex-incarcerated people organizing), JOB (Justice Overcoming Borders, Vote ForwardRight To Be, Poor People’s Campaign, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political OppressionIllinois Prison Project and more.  Some of RJC members’ activities have included volunteering with Equal Justice Initiative at the opening of their Peace and Justice Memorial and Legacy Museum, marching with the Poor People’s Campaign Moral March, book study groups, a campaign supporting BIPOC businesses, a voter letter writing campaign, serving as a poll watcher, and providing ongoing maintenance of the Anti-Racism Resource list.  Contact the Racial Justice Circle.

Local Foods Resources

Veggies from GPZC garden.
Veggies from GPZC garden.

Great Plains Zen Center has a policy of using local or locally processed (in the case of coffee and tac) and seasonal food whenever possible.  If the food is not grown in our garden, we attempt to buy from neighbors and farmers in the area.  In this way, we reduce our carbon footprint significantly by not buying food that was transported many miles to our location.  This also helps us support our local community farmers, and it also results in fresher food, often harvested only hours before being consumed.  When possible, we buy dairy and eggs from people we know, so that we can be confident that the animals producing the milk and eggs are being treated humanely.  When buying from outside companies, we look for organizations that have responsible practices, such as open hiring, hiring post-prison employees, or being a B-corp and we also prioritize buying from Bipoc or women-owned businesses when feasible.

.To help readers find places where they can buy locally grown or processed food, we have created a Local Food Resources List,

Gate of Sweet Nectar

May we always have the courage to Bear Witness; to see ourself as Other and Other as ourself.

The Gate of Sweet Nectar ceremony, the main liturgy of the Zen Peacemakers Order, is a translation of the Japanese sutra, Kanromon, that is regularly chanted in monasteries in Japan.  Roshi Bernie Glassman worked with Maezumi Roshi over a period of about 10 years to create the translation.  Elements of Jewish and Native American spirituality have been incorporated.  During the Gate of Sweet Nectar, we offer nourishment to those who are forgotten, 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.

At Great Plains Zen Center, we chant the Gate of Sweet Nectar once a month, at the end of sesshin.  We also ask sesshin participants to bring non-perishable food items to donate to the Palatine Township Food Pantry, the food pantry nearest to our place of practice in Palatine.

Prison Ministry

In the summer of 2019 Myoyu Roshi, along with several other volunteers, taught mindfulness classes at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lakes Juvenile Detention facilities near Wausau, WI.  Classes were also offered for the teachers who taught the incarcerated students.  Read an article about this experience.  GPZC members have also taught mindfulness at Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility.  We continue to advocate for the well-being of people who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated.

Belonging to Earth

Wisdom Heart Prairie

We belong to Earth. We endeavor to live in harmony with the Earth and all of her creations, by respecting her wisdom, generosity, and teaching.  We practice organic and regenerative agricultural techniques in our gardens and orchard.  We also have two small prairies, Wisdom Heart Prairie and Endless Vow Prairie that are habitats for birds, small animals, and pollinators as well as a source of joy and beauty for all who spend time at the Zen Center.