Great Plains Zen Center
Vision, Mission, Practices and Principles Statement

Vision, Mission, Practices and Principles Statement

Great Plains Zen Center

Our vision is to end suffering by continuously raising the heart of wisdom and compassion.
Our mission is to practice Zen Buddhism as a supportive community, open to all.

Wooden statue of Buddha with hands in dhyana mudra, or meditation gesture

First principle:  We value zazen (sitting meditation) as central to our practice. We practice this principle by:

  1. Regular, ongoing sitting practice.
  2. Participating in frequent intensive retreats (sesshin, zazenkai).
  3. Practicing together as a sangha.
  4. Developing meaningful ways of teaching meditation practices to children and young adults.
  5. Accommodating those with family and work responsibilities in event scheduling and planning.

Second principle:  We are dedicated to developing and embodying wisdom and compassion. We practice this principle by:

  1. Direct experience: it is the vehicle and the wisdom itself.
  2. Transforming our individual and collective delusion.
  3. Recognizing that we are not separate from all that is. This is the basis of our compassion for each other and for acknowledging our dependence on and inseparability from the earth and all its inhabitants.

Third principle:  We follow Buddhist teachings on ethical behavior in all aspects of our lives. We practice this principle by:

  1. Practicing the Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts and the Six Paramitas (generosity, precepts, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom) throughout our lives.
  2. Regular practice of atonement and working with our shadow and all aspects of ourselves.
  3. Living simply, without excess, with attention to the needs of others and ourselves.
  4. Returning to Beginner’s Mind, being receptive to new learning.

Fourth principle:  We preserve time-honored forms while also embracing adaptations that make practice meaningful and accessible today.
We practice this principle by:

  1. Honoring the lineage and mandala of our ancestor teachers of all genders and practicing the forms handed down by them.
  2. Adapting practice as appropriate to contemporary culture and the wise infuence of other practice/religious traditions.
  3. Practicing with the guidance of a teacher who has received permission to teach (Dharma transmission) and adhering to the practice of Dharma transmission in approving successor teachers.
  4. Embracing the Four Noble Truths, the four Bodhisattva Vows and other foundational teachings as guidance for our lives.
  5. Creating and maintaining forms as containers of practice for future generations.

Fifth Principle:  We are a community whose members support and challenge each other. We practice this principle by:

  1. Taking care of each other, supporting each other through diffculty.
  2. Speaking and listening from the heart, engaging in council practice.
  3. Using collaborative dialogue, listening for understanding.
  4. Maintaining a culture of appreciation.
  5. Embodying magnanimous mind, joyful mind, parental mind.
  6. Encouraging each other to deepen our commitment to practice and calling on one another to share our time and talents in support of the sangha.

Sixth principle:  We are committed to diversity, inclusion and equity throughout our organization. We practice this principle by:

  1. Working to make our practice and our sangha truly welcoming to all.
  2. Intentionally raising up the voices of women, people of color and others not fully recognized in historical Buddhism.
  3. Celebrating the multiple dimensions of diversity that each member of our community offers.
  4. Honoring the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Seventh principle:  We listen to all voices, providing many perspectives to arrive at wise conclusions. We practice this principle by:

  1. Implementing structures, policies and practices with inclusive decision-making on all levels.
  2. Using shared stewardship circles as our organizational form.
  3. Creating safety in our community through the use of justice-making and restorative practices for confict and grievance resolution.

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

  1. Following the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemaker Order (Not Knowing; Bearing Witness 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.