Copy
View this email in your browser

 

Great Plains Zen Center Newsletter

  September 6 2022




Dear Great Plains Zen Center members and friends,

We are grateful for all who participated in the Summer Ango that just concluded on August 29, the final day of the weeklong sesshin.  Find some beautiful poetry, descriptions and pictures of projects members created during Ango.


Though Ango has ended, we continue to offer sitting virtually on a slightly changed schedule: Tuesday - Thursday at 6 AM.  Details can be found here.  Though we live in different areas, even different states, we can be a part of the Sangha community practicing together on a daily basis. 

The GPZC Racial Justice Circle is excited to announce our new class series, Zen Teachers of Color, featuring a one hour presentation on a different teacher of color the 4th Monday night each month, starting with Jules Shuzen Harris Roshi on October 24. Read Genshin Knewitz' article about the series.

Those new to retreat practice have a special opportunity to attend Beginner's Mind Sesshin, taking place Sept. 30 - October 2.  Beginner's Mind retreats take place in March and September each year and are especially designed for those attending their first sesshin (and open to everyone).

Upcoming retreat dates for the remainder of 2022 are listed here.  You can register for all upcoming events on the Events Calendar of our new website.  Click on the event on the calendar and scroll to the registration button at the bottom of the description.  

Monthly Half-Day Sittings continue at GPZC, W7762 Falk Rd., Monroe Wisconsin from 9-12 on with optional lunch and an afternoon work period.   Information about the next Half-Day Sitting on September 17 and future dates for the remainder of 2022 can be found here.  


 Details, registration and dates though the end of 2022 for our Introduction to Zen Practice Workshops in Monroe WI and Palatine IL can be found here.  Register on the Events Calendar page of our website. 

Aspects of Zen Practice classes through the end of 2022 are listed here and on the Events Calendar page of our website.  Get details and register here. 

Zen Sitting Group DeKalb meets September 22 this month (in person).  Details here or on the ZSGD Facebook Page

Attend Sunday night sitting in person at Countryside Church in Palatine Illinois or attend vitually.  Find more information here.

Our next Day of Reflection will be Sunday, September 18.  Read more on the Buddhist Precepts page of the website (toward the bottom of the page).


Looking for a special, rustic retreat site?   Member Nance Klehm offers a unique retreat space on her land, Pachamanka, about 30 minutes from Great Plains Zen Center.  Read more here.
 
The Calling Out to Hungry Hearts Food Drive to support our neighbors in Palatine through the Palatine Township Food Pantry is ongoing.  Member Michael Wormley has taken over the responsibility of getting donations to the food pantry.   Read the latest in how you can make a food or monetary donation here.  

Note that we have updated our COVID policy for retreats and now require a negative result on an antigen test within 72 hours prior to arriving at the retreat.  Our other COVID precautions remain the same.  View our complete COVID policy here and contact us if you have questions about our policy. 

 
 
 


Summer Ango

Projects and Poetry





Sujata Nandabalā offering milk-rice to Shakyamuni Buddha
image credit: © Anil Dave | Dreamstime.com
 

Dharma Food
by Hoen (Tandy Sturgeon Wolff)


Recognizing that genuine need
flowed from six frail figures men who heard the river
thirsty within dark trees, sitting
between bare roots on the hard
dark forest floor 

Sujata Nandabalā
daughter of the herdsman
(they called her the milkmaid
but she had a mother's heart beneath her deep blue sari)

bent her arm, all laced
with white shell bracelets, scooped milk-cooked rice
into the brown begging bowl
of the mendicant Gautama

he of skin and bones, he of
painful thirst, he of
numb hunger, she
gave to him food from her compassionate bowl

On that day
two thousand seven hundred
years ago, there on the banks of the pure River Nairañjanā
Sujata fed Siddhartha Gautama

& we are what follows:
Sujata Nandabalā
surrounds us, feeds us
madhyama-pratipadā
& need not come again


22 July 22

 

Editor's note:   Sujata Nandabalā, a farmer's wife, is said to have convinced Siddartha Gautama to eat a bowl of kheera, a milk-rice pudding.  The Buddha was so emaciated that she wrongly believed him to be a tree-spirit that had granted her wish of having a child. While the Buddha initially resisted, Sujata is said to have persuaded him, saying that between the paths of asceticism or indulgence, was the Middle Way (madhyama-pratipadā) and that he should accept the nourishment to continue on his path.  He did so and eventually attained full enlightenment under the tree that now bears the name "Bodhi Tree."

 

Sujata Stupa, initially built 2nd Century BCE,  located in the village of Senanigrama (Bakraur) slightly east of Bodh Gaya where the Buddha sat under the Bodhi Tree

 


Flowers of Myoshinji
by Keith Jikai Percy


Endless Vow Prairie


"To Myoyu Roshi and all the SIblings at Myoshinji and Affiliated Temples"

The Flowers at Myoshinji
Flowers and gardens
Look back and warm me
Across the miles afar distanced by a screen

But they nonetheless
Comfort and move me
In yellows, orange, purple
In red, blue, and white
I look on them as
Dharma gems and perplexingly, still gifts to me
Or perhaps, this is as it should be.

I wonder which are native, wild and introduced:
Where they go,
In gardens of beauty, in gardens edible
Some for O-jizo Bosatsu?

Some wild and free
Spreading, sitting and wind-bowing as they please.
But all move, warm and inspire.

I sit in a world of simple wonder
Supported by beings everywhere
Even flowers from an old home
Visited rarely, even seen on a screen
Call me back to sitting

Just fully sitting
Just flowers
Flowers as flowers
Flowers as living beings
Even some human beings as flowers.

 

Editor's note:  Myoshinji is the temple name for Great Plains Zen Center, that includes our Illinois and Wisconsin locations.  Jikai Percy received jukai from Myoyu Roshi in Ludington, MI, on July 27 2007, exactly 15 years before the date of this poem. 






 




Zendo Doorway Flowers
Sketch by Jeff Ryuzan Slepak



 


 

The Whole Moon

by John Genshin Knewitz


 

      

Photo credit:  © Wirestock



The height of ecstasy

The depth of despair

Dewdrops on the grass

A sneeze in the air

The gift of life

And death too soon

Each one, and all

The whole of the moon

 

 



 




Ango Crane Project
by Sudesh Kannan

 

Many years ago, my family and I were inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young lady who was 2 years old, when the Atomic Bomb was dropped in Hiroshima Japan.  Sadako contracted the “Dreaded Atom Bomb” disease aka Leukemia when she was just twelve years old. There were no known cures at that time, and Sadako was very distraught.  Her best friend told her that the Japanese Crane lives to be a 1000 years and, if Sadako, makes a thousand origami cranes, the Crane will heal her. Sadako folded cranes and it gave her courage and strength.  When she died, her classmates and other school children across the world, collected money and made a Peace Memorial to Sadako in Hiroshima. It has an inscription:
 

"This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world."
 

Even today, school children across the world fold and send origami cranes to this memorial.

I figured that praying for World Peace was a good goal for my Ango project. I folded and gave away hundreds of origami cranes to our Zen group members,  friends and family.  It is always humbling to hear how these cranes are received by different people. One of my friends gave these cranes to her grandchildren and they looked them as treasured gifts.  If you would like a few origami cranes, please send me an email to DrSudeshK@yahoo.com along with your mailing address.
 


Children's Peace Monument, in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park


 


 
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.  Educational activities, calls to action and other information will be posted here periodically.  View our recently updated GPZC list of anti-racism resources here.  

Racial Justice Circle members recommend this two-minute video on micro-aggressions and the 2021 documentary Who We Are -- A Chronicle of Racism in America by Jeffrey Robinson.  Watch a trailer for Who We Are. 

 


 
Zen Teachers of Color Class Series 
by John Genshin Knewitz


Jules Shuzen Harris, Roshi
 

Starting in October, and occurring once per month into the Spring of 2023, GPZC members of the Racial Justice Circle (RJC) will be doing a series of one-hour online presentations, open to everyone, on Zen Teachers of Color. We are excited about this, and we strongly encourage everyone in the sangha to register for these opportunities. We think you will find them “enlightening.”

Why are we doing this?

In America, the membership of most sanghas is predominantly white, and this is true of our own sangha as well. RJC members have noted this trend, and acknowledged that we would like greater diversity within our sangha, but we know that we cannot just wish this into being.

There are multiple reasons why people of color are underrepresented in Zen communities. A major difficulty is drawing people of color into spaces where they don’t already find themselves represented by the existing membership.

Larry Yang, who teaches at Buddhist retreats nationally and has a special interest in creating access to the Dharma for diverse multicultural communities, says that “It’s not just about making different cultures feel welcome in our environments, but how to actually reach into the culture itself so people recognize a piece of their lives when they walk through the door. When they recognize a piece of their lives, they can relax and begin to explore whether the place can be a spiritual home for them.” According to Yang, Buddhist communities must start with the cultivation of multicultural awareness. Such awareness does not develop easily. “(Cultivating multicultural awareness) always takes a lot more time than we would like because, as we know, awareness practice is incremental. It blossoms slowly.”

We are starting simply, with no expectations other than to increase awareness that we hope will lead to conversations about diversity and inclusion more widely within our GPZC community. Members of the Racial Justice Circle believe that a good place to begin is to share the stories, the paths, and the contributions of Zen teachers of color. In so doing, we will learn how they came to Zen practice, and what it means to them to be a person of color operating within a largely white space. Some of these teachers will have strong positions on racial justice generally, and on diversity in Zen specifically, while others will not. More broadly, by opening to the stories of these teachers and learning about their teachings, we will all become more aware of the issues of racial and cultural diversity in Zen communities, including our own.

All presentations will be on Monday evenings at 7:30 PM. The first presentation will be Monday, October 24, with a discussion about Jules Shuzen Harris, the first African-American man to receive dharma transmission in the Soto Zen tradition in America. There will be no charge for participation, but we ask that you register so we know who will be attending.


 


  

Beginner's Mind Sesshin
September 30 - October 2

 
 

Beginner's Mind Sesshin takes place  September 30 - Oct. 2 2022. We especially encourage those new to retreats with GPZC to join us for Beginner's Mind Sesshin. While this retreat is open to everyone, additional explanation and instruction in zendo procedures, service and the how-to's of sitting are provided for those new to retreat practice. 

Sesshin will begin at 7:30 PM Friday evening, with sitting, including opening remarks and precautions and sitting instruction/review for anyone who would like it. Those who are new to retreat or to GPZC should plan to arrive by 6:00 PM for zendo procedures instruction. On Saturday morning at 6:00 AM, we begin with the chanting of the Verse of Atonement and Three Refuges, sitting and morning service, followed by breakfast for those attending in person.

The late morning schedule begins at 9:30 AM and will consist of sitting, walking meditation and a talk. Lunch will be provided for in person participants. After lunch, there will be a work practice period, sitting, evening service, dinner and evening sitting.   Sunday morning includes two periods of zazen starting at 6 AM followed by the Gate of Sweet Nectar.  

You are welcome to participate online or in person, full or part time.  If not attending full time, please indicated your planned arrival and departure times.  Note that our COVID guidelines have been updated since the previous retreat and apply to anyone attending in person. The guidelines are as follows (although subject to change as necessitated by the pandemic status):

COVID-Related Precautions:

  • (For overnight retreats) A negative antigen test within the 24 hours prior to arrival at sesshin is required.
  • We are requiring that anyone attending in person be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and  require proof of vaccination. We strongly recommend also having the booster shot, but do not require it.

  • Anyone providing proof of medical contra-indication (i.e. a letter from their doctor) for the COVID vaccine (or booster, should we require it in the future) can provide proof of a negative molecular COVID test (NAAT, PCR, etc., not an antigen test) within 72 hours prior to attendance in lieu of vaccine.

  • Participants will be seated in the zendo at least 6 feet apart and asked to maintain distance during kinhin, services and lunch.

  • Masks must be worn indoors except when eating, sleeping, or if you are the only person staying in a room and have the door closed. Participants must sit at designated spots for meals and eat in silence.

  • In person participants must wear N95, KN95 or KF94 grade masks and will be provided with one if they do not bring one.

  • Participants must wash their hands frequently, use hand sanitizer when handling shared equipment and wipe surfaces with disinfectant after use as appropriate.

  • Please do not attend the retreat in person if you are ill and/or have any symptoms (COVID-related or not) that indicate a possible contagious illness.

  • If procedural changes become necessary due to changes in pandemic guidelines, participants will be notified

Donation: The suggested donation for this retreat is $75 for members, $85 for others.  If this amount presents a hardship, please contribute what is comfortable for you. If you are able to contribute an additional amount to help offset the cost of scholarships and retreat meals, it will be gratefully accepted.

Registration: Please register by Monday, September 26.

Please contact our retreat registrar, John Genshin Knewitz with any questions about the retreat. 


 


 


     

 

Register for all retreats using the Events Calendar on our website.  To register, click on the event in the Events Calendar and scroll to the bottom of the event description to find the link to the Event Registration form.  Note that you will be prompted to create an account (for registration purposes only) if you have not already done so. 

     Sept. 30- Oct. 2    Beginner's Mind Sesshin
     October 27-30      Honoring the Way of Zazen Sesshin
     November 11-13   November 2022 Zazenkai
     December 6-11     Rohatsu Sesshin


 

 




 

Half-Day Sitting at
Great Plains Zen Center

 

 

 


Join us for any of the monthly half-day sittings that take place at GPZC, W7762 Falk Rd., Monroe, WI 53566.   Our next half-day sitting is Saturday, September 17.  You can attend all or part of the morning sitting and stay for the afternoon work period if you would like. 

 Half-Day sittings are not formal, silent retreats, but are a time for sangha members and friends to sit, eat and work together. sharing camaraderie and conversation.  They are a good opportunity to enjoy the Zen Center grounds in a more relaxed, informal way. 


The schedule is as follows:
 8:30    Informal tea and coffee
 9:00    Zazen
 9:30    Kinhin (walking meditation)
 9:40    Zazen
10:10   Break
10:30    Zazen
11:00    Kinhin
11:10    Zazen
11:40    Four Vows

 

Optional informal lunch and afternoon work period follow after sitting.   No formal sign up is required, however we just ask that you contact Myoyu Roshi if you plan to stay for lunch.  Half-Day Sittings are open to anyone and zazen (sitting) instruction is provided during the 9- 9:30 period for anyone who requests it. There is no charge for the half-day sitting, however, donations to cover the cost of lunch are appreciated. 

Upcoming dates for Half-Day Sittings are:

  • September 17
  • October 15
  • November 19
  • December 17
Dates for upcoming half-day sittings can also be found on the Events Calendar page of our website. 
 
 

 

Online Sitting at 6 AM every Morning from Tuesday through Thursday 


 

Screen shot of Members Meeting online October 2020
 

 

Online weekday morning sitting continues Tuesday through Thursday at 6 AM.   There is one zazen period opening with the Gatha of Atonement and Three Refuges and ending with the Verse of the Kesa.  A brief check-in follows.  You are welcome to join in any morning, even if you have not attended before!
 

Use the same Zoom link and meeting ID to connect to all morning sittings:  
https://zoom.us/j/389549801

Meeting ID: 389 549 
To dial in by phone, call:  312 626 6799 and enter the above meeting ID when prompted.
 

 

 

 


 

 

The han at GPZC calles people to the zendo during sesshin

 

Great Plains Zen Center is offering in person Introductory Workshops in Monroe and in Palatine.  The next  Introductory Workshop at Countryside Church, 1025 N. Smith St. Palatine, IL.  will be Saturday September 10 from 8:30 - 11:30 AM with an option of online participation.  The next  Introductory Workshop at GPZC in Monroe will be Saturday, October 8. 

Participating in person is preferable, so that you have the opportunity to try different sitting postures using GPZC's cushions, benches and chairs.  The workshop provides 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.

  • We are requiring that anyone attending in person be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and will require proof of vaccination. We strongly recommend also having the booster shot, but do not require it.

  • Anyone providing proof of medical contra-indication (i.e. a letter from their doctor) for the COVID vaccine (or booster, should we require it in the future) can provide proof of a negative molecular COVID test (NAAT, PCR, etc., not an antigen test) within 72 hours prior to attendance in lieu of vaccine.

  • Participants will be seated 6 feet apart and asked to maintain social distancing when possible.

  • Participants must wear N95, KN95 or KF94 grade masks and will be provided with one if they do not bring one.

Suggested donation is $25.  Scholarships or partial scholarships can be requested on the Event Registration Form.  Registration prior to attending is required.  To register, click on the date of the event on the Events Calendar.  Then scroll down to the Event Registration Form link at the bottom of the event description.  

Future dates for Introduction to Zen Practice Workshops in Monroe, WI are
     October 8
     November 5

Introduction to Zen Practice Workshops take place in Palatine IL on:
     September 10
     October 22
     November 19
     December 17



 


 


 
 
The Eight-spoked Dharmachakra (Dharma Wheel)
represents the Eightfold Path in Buddhism


 
Aspects of Zen Practice Class 4: Being Part of GPZC  takes place at Countryside Church Sunday,  September 18 from 5:30-6:30 PM.  This Aspects Class will cover shared stewardship circles and opportunities for volunteering and leadership, Council Practice, and GPZC’s Vision, Mission, and Guiding Principles.    Register now.

Aspects classes take place once per month and are geared toward students who have attended the Introductory Workshop and want to learn more.  The classes are a requirment for membership at GPZC. They are currently taking place at Countryside Church UU, 1025 N. Smith St. in Palatine but will also be offered in Monroe in the near future.  COVID guidelines are as follows:
  • We are requiring that anyone attending in person be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and will require proof of vaccination. We strongly recommend also having the booster shot, but do not require it.

  • Anyone providing proof of medical contra-indication (i.e. a letter from their doctor) for the COVID vaccine (or booster, should we require it in the future) can provide proof of a negative molecular COVID test (NAAT, PCR, etc., not an antigen test) within 72 hours prior to attendance in lieu of vaccine.

  • Participants will be seated 6 feet apart and asked to maintain social distancing when possible.

  • Participants must wear N95, KN95 or KF94 grade masks and will be provided with one if they do not bring one.

Suggested donation is $5. 

All 2022 Aspects Classes:
     Aspects of Zen Practice 4: Being a Part of GPZC, Sept. 18
     Aspects of Zen Practice 1:  Forms of Practice, Oct. 23
     Aspects of Zen Practice 2:  Liturgy and Lineage, Nov. 20
     Aspects of Zen Practice 3: Everyday Life Practice, Dec. 18


 



 

Zen Sitting Group DeKalb


 


 

Zen Sitting Group DeKalb (ZSGD), an affiliate of the Great Plains Zen Center, meets in person 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 once 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.  The schedule consists of:  6 PM Instruction, 7 PM Sitting followed by discussion. If you have interest in this group, please check out the ZSGD Facebook page, or feel free to email John Genshin Knewitz directly for further information. 

 
Sitting at ZSGD
 
 
 

 


Sunday Night Sitting in Palatine 


 

 

 

 

Sunday evening sittings at 7 PM at Countryside Church, 1025 N. Smith St., Palatine continue in person with an online option.  The schedule consists of  zazen from 7:00 – 7:30, kinhin from 7:30-7:40 and zazen from 7:40 – 8:10. Dokusan will generally be available during these sittings. Instruction will be available during the first period of zazen for anyone new to sitting.  Online participation will continue to be offered as an option (see below). Note the following COVID-related precautions for those attending in person:

  • We are requiring that anyone attending in person be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and will require proof of vaccination. We strongly recommend also having the booster shot, but do not require it.

  • Anyone providing proof of medical contra-indication (i.e. a letter from their doctor) for the COVID vaccine (or booster, should we require it in the future) can provide proof of a negative molecular COVID test (NAAT, PCR, etc., not an antigen test) within 72 hours prior to attendance in lieu of vaccine.

  • Participants will be seated 6 feet apart and asked to maintain social distancing when possible.

  • Participants must wear N95, KN95 or KF94 grade masks and will be provided with one if they do not bring one.

Those who would like to learn service positions can ask the greeter or one of the monitors (people who sit facing in) to arrange training in the position.  Positions include jikido/chant leader (the person who times the sitting periods and kinhin and leads the chanting of the four vows), doan (who rings the bell during the three bows and Roshi's exit), sogei (who rings handbell in response to the doan's bell during Roshi's exit and jisha (who runs the dokusan line).  While the positions might feel intimidating at first, they are a valuable part of our practice: training us to listen carefully, be attentive and be willing to make mistakes and learn gracefully from them.   Many feel that taking on positions helps them to feel more part of the group. 

Online attendance continues to be available with the following zoom link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/744106602
Meeting ID: 744 106 602
Dial in:  312 626 6799 US (Chicago)


 
 


 


 
If you are looking for a rustic retreat site -- for meditation, the creative arts or just to enjoy nature -- this might be a wonderful opportunity for you.  Member Nance Klehm offers a beautiful space for retreats on her land - 50 acres located about a half an hour from GPZC near Orangeville IL.  The setting features native prairie, woodlands, a lake and a working ecological farm.

Amenities include a 26 ft. camper that sleeps 2, space for tents, rustic barn spaces for art, writing, sleeping and gatherings, communal kitchen with stovetop or hot plate, fridge, cookware, cooking utensils, dishware, cutlery, basic seasoning and oils, sink or other dishwashing station, outdoor composting toilet, solar powered shower, communal fire pit and picnic table.  Pets are allowed on leash.  

 
The basic cost is $60 per night for 1-4 days, $55/night 5 days or more, with the possibility of work exchange to lower the fee. FIrewood, sauna, and canoe/kayak rental are available for an extra charge.  Due to mosquitoes, rental months are limited to April-June or September-October. View pictures and reviews on Hipcamp listing hereContact Nance for questions or to reserve dates.  


 


 

 We continue to collect non-perishable food for the Palatine Food Pantry to support our neighbors who may be struggling to put food on the table.    The Palatine Food Pantry sincerely appreciates these donations.  We hope that you will continue to share goods and resources with our neighbors who are especially hard hit by the pandemic.   Visit this link for a list of items most needed by the Palatine Township Food Pantry at this time. 

Michael Wormley has taken over the role of collecting food donations for the Palatine Township Food Pantry:  

  • If you would like to make a donation, please email Michael  to arrange a pick up for delivery to the Food Pantry.  You can also bring donations to Sunday night sitting in Palatine if you have pre-arranged it with Michael. 
  • You can bring food donations to any retreat.  They will be placed around the altar during the Gate of Sweet Nectar and then delivered to the food pantry afterwards. 
  • If you prefer a monetary donation, please use this link.  
 

 
 

Local and Seasonal Food Sources


 

Salad greens from GPZC garden


 

Access our list of Local and Seasonal Food Sources in Wisconsin and Illinois on our website.  Check this list as it has been updated and new items continue to be added.    Please email any additions you have for this list.  Eating local and seasonal foods reduces fossil fuel used for transport, supports community jobs and livelihoods -- from small farms to rooftop urban agriculture, helps us appreciate the work done on our behalf to grow our food and gives us the benefit ot the freshest farm to table produce from our own communities. 
 


  
May you be well and safe!  Please treat yourself with kindness and self compassion during these times of  transition and re-imagining.  Below are some reliable websites for the latest information on Covid-19 status, testing and vaccinations. 
 

World Health Organization
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Illinois Department of Public Health


 

Twitter
Facebook
Website
Copyright © 2022 Great Plains Zen Center, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp