How We Began
Great Plains Zen Center, originally called Northwest Chicago Zen Group, began in the years after Myoyu Roshi received Dharma Transmission in 1995 from Maezumi Roshi. Our temple name, Myoshinji, means Subtle Mind Temple. It came from Roshi’s Dharma name, Myoyu (Subtle, Mysterious Harmony) and is another way to refer to Great Plains Zen Center.
After meeting at various locations throughout the Chicago metro area, the group began to meet regularly at Countryside Unitarian Universalist Church in Palatine IL, a northwest Chicago suburb, for weekly sitting. We have been meeting there ever since. During this time, GPZC rented various retreat facilities for sesshin in Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois.
Great Plains Zen Center in Monroe WI
As GPZC grew, we looked for a permanent place for reatreats and place-centered events. We found the property in Green County, Wisconsin, about 2 hours from metro Chicago and about 50 minutes southwest of Madison, WI. It was our intention to develop a relationship with our land that was respectful, providing habitat for native plants, animals and insects, space to grow our own food using regenerative agricultural techniques and the opportunity to minimize our carbon footprint by using renewable energy as much as possible. We saw this as a tangible expression of the Buddhist precepts.
In 2015, we renovated an old work building, which now serves as our spacious zendo (meditation hall) with high ceilings and many windows. We continue to update the Sangha house, which provides housing for retreat participants, kitchen, dining room, dokusan room (for face to face meeting with the teacher) and living quarters for our Resident Teacher, Myoyu Roshi. In 2021, we remodeled our kitchen, with environmentally responsible materials and practices as much as possible. At that time, we also installed solar panels, which have significantly cut our dependence on coal-generated electricity and are still working on reducing the use of fossil fuels for heating.
We have restored two small prairies, Wisdom Heart Prairie and Endless Vow Prairie, and also maintain a small orchard/food garden and an organically grown vegetable garden. Some years ago,we created the Jizo garden, a small memorial garden in the northwest corner of the property.
Find out about programs and activities offered at Great Plains Zen Center in Monroe.
Great Plains Zen Center at CCUU
GPZC continues to host Sunday night sitting at Countryside Church in Palatine IL and draws many of our members from the Chicago metro area. Introduction to Zen Practice Workshops and Aspects of Zen Practice classes are held here each month. CCUU is located at 1025 N. Smith St., Palatine IL. Find out about programs and activities offered at Great Plains Zen Center in Palatine.
Zen Sitting Group DeKalb (ZSGD) is an affiliate of the Great Plains Zen Center, meeting monthly 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. Read more about ZSGD schedule.
GPZC has also had affiliates in Beloit WI and in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. These affiliates are not active at this time, but may become active again in the future.