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Great Plains Zen Center Newsletter

  November 2 2022



Autumn in Norwegian Forest   (photo credit: Torrill Enge)

 

Dear Great Plains Zen Center members and friends,

We begin this newsletter with two requests for assistance from members of our wider community.  Thank you for your kindness and generosity in considering these requests. 

The first is an invitation to participate in the Buddhists for Venezuelan Families Donation Drive taking place November 6.  Read more hereAqui en español

Second, a local Monroe family is struggling with medical bills for their family member who had a major stroke. They asked that we pass along this Go Fund Me link.  If you are in the area, stop by the Veracruz Mexican Market, 500 14th Ave, Monroe, WI on Saturday, Nov. 5 between 10-7 for a fundraiser featuring delicious food to support this cause. 

 


Día de Muertos Altar, Veracruz Mexican Market, Monroe


Our November Zazenkai, taking place Nov. 11-13, is filling up fast.  Read more here about this retreat that will be geared for those new to retreat practice.  

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

The second presentaion in our new class series, Zen Teachers of Color, takes place this month.  Lisa Gades will give a one hour presntation on Dr. Larry Ward on November 28.  Read more on this presentation and the Zen Teachers of Color Series

Monthly Half-Day Sittings continue at GPZC, W7762 Falk Rd., Monroe Wisconsin on Saturdays from 9-12 on with optional lunch and an afternoon work period.   Information about the next Half-Day Sitting on November 19 and future dates for the remainder of 2022 can be found here.  

Details, registration and dates for our 2022 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 for the rest of 2022 are listed here and on the Events Calendar page of our website. 


Our online morning sittings continue Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6 AM .  Details can be found here.  

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

Zen Sitting Group DeKalb meets on November 17.  Details here or on the ZSGD Facebook Page

Our next Day of Reflection will be Sunday, November 20.  Read more on the Buddhist Precepts page of our 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.  

View our complete COVID policy here and contact us if you have questions about our policy. 

November 8 is election day here in the United States!  Please vote your conscience and let your voice be heard.  Find complete information about voting in your state using the links below. It's not too late to volunteer or make sure your friends and family have a plan to vote.

 



Buddhists for Venezuelan Families
Donation Drive


November 6 2022




 
Great Plains Zen Center is one of the sponsors of a donation drive organized by Sit Around Chicago for the benefit of Venezuelan immigrant families in the Chicago area.  Here are ways to participate:
  • Drop off items at 4842 N. Claremont, Chicago 60625 between 1-5 PM on Sunday, Nov. 6 (You can also volunteer to help at this event)
  • Email sitaroundchicago@gmail.com to arrange a time to make a donation other than on Nov 6. 
  • Bring items to the GPZC in Monroe this week (leave them in the zendo if I’m not at the Zen Center) .
  • Send a check to the address on the flyer.
  • Make a PayPal donation at this link.
 

If you want to donate, but none of the above options work, email sitaroundchicago@gmail.com and make another arrangement.  These donations will be much appreciated and are truly needed.    You can read the list of new and gently used items accepted on the flyer.  Feel free to pass on the flyers in English or Spanish to anyone you know who might be interested.  Read more about Venezuelan immigrants in Chicago.  



 


November 2022 Zazenkai

November 11-13

 
 


 
Our November 2022 Zazenkai takes place Friday night, November 11 through Sunday morning, November 13. Informal dinner will be available at 5:30 Friday evening followed by zendo procedures instruction for those who require it. Evening sitting begins with opening remarks and precautions and ends with the Four Vows.  Saturday morning sitting begins at 5:30 AM with taking refuge and 3 periods of zazen followed by morning service and breakfast.  There are several more periods of zazen, a formal talk and service before lunch.  In the afternoon, there is self care, a work period, one sitting period, service, and dinner. There are 3 periods of zazen in the evening followed by the Four Vows. On Sunday morning, there is early morning sitting followed by the Gate of Sweet Nectar ceremony and informal breakfast.
  

Important update:  GPZC now requires that anyone attending in person take a rapid antigen test (home test is fine) within 24 hours prior to arriving at this sesshin and only attend in person if the result is negative.  

All other COVID precautions remain in effect:

  • 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 with a medical contraindication for the COVID vaccine (or booster, should we require it in the future) can provide proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours prior to attendance in lieu of the 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. We have very limited single rooms available. If you are uncomfortable sharing a room with others, we’ll let you know what other options are available, such as a motel room.
  • 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.

Scholarships are available for any who need them. As always, we encourage those who are able to donate an additional amount for the retreat to help us keep retreats affordable for everyone. Participants will receive instructions, a detailed schedule, and Zoom access information after registering. The cost of this retreat for in person participation is $75 for members, $85 for others regardless of full time or part time status. Suggested donation for online participation is $10-30.  To participate in this event, please register no later than Tuesday, November 8.  

 


Samu (work practice) during sesshin

 
 



     

 

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. 

     November 11-13   November 2022 Zazenkai
     December 6-11     Rohatsu Sesshin

Our 2023 schedule will be coming soon. 


 


Cleaning altars during sesshin

 
 
 
 
 
The 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.  

November is Native American Heritage Month.   Members of the Racial Justice Circle recommend two Sitcom TV series that are written, directed, and acted primarily by Native Americans.  Seeing contemporary Native life through Native eyes brings authenticity, self-deprecating humor, and irreverent stereotype-busting instead of the misrepresentation too often seen in the non-Native mainstream media. The first two seasons of each show are available to watch and a third season of Reservation Dogs is expected in 2023.
 

Reservation Dogs (2021- )

A sitcom TV series written, directed and acted primarily by Native Americans about young adults growing up on an Oklahoma reservation.  There will be a third season in 2023.  Says IMDb member gordonrm: ” Native here, raised on the rez. I won’t say this is 100% accurate because it’s obviously a caricature in some ways, but they get so much right, especially the slang. I found it hilarious that the old warrior character [played by Dallas Goldtooth] truly represents Native humor in a way I’ve never really seen before in pop culture, just really fast, double barreled, and then suddenly drab. The sets are very close to real life. I watched these first two episodes thinking “I’ve been there,” or “I’ve done that.” Probably the best glimpse into rez life since Smoke Signals which is a huge tip of the cap.” View season one trailer. View season two trailer

 

Rutherford Falls (2021-22)  

An American Sitcom TV series largely created, written and acted by Native Americans and notable for having an indigenous woman as the lead actor.  The show brings up many contemporary issues and disrupts harmful stereotypes often with ironic humor.  It ran for 2 seasons. “The Minishonka tribe may not be real, but the comedy and emotional truth of the Native viewpoints presented in “Rutherford Falls” is certainly authentic. The show boasts a writers’ room worth of talented Indigenous screenwriters, and its plots reflect refreshing and vital viewpoints that are rarely seen on TV. There are countless small-town sitcoms out there, but how many of them bring heart and humor to topics like “Pretendians,” questionable historical monuments, and the wildly offensive misrepresentation of Native people in pop culture?” – Valerie Ettenhofer, TV, Interrupted.  View season one trailer.  View season two trailer.



 
Zen Teachers of Color Class Series: 
Dr. Larry Ward 


November 28 7:30-8:30 PM

presented by Lisa Gades



 
Seniot Dharma Teacher Dr. Larry Ward
Click on the picture to go directly to the registration form

 

The fourth Monday evening of each month, GPZC members of the Racial Justice Circle (RJC) offer a one-hour online presentation, open to everyone, on a different Zen teacher of colorThe classes take place 7:30-8:30 online and are free. We hope to increase awareness of these teachers, within our own lineage or others, and foster conversations about  issues of racial and cultural diversity in Zen communities, including our own.

This month, Lisa Gades will give a presentation on Senior Dharma Teacher Dr. Larry Ward.   Dr. Ward is a senior teacher in the Plum Village tradition of the late Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. He also earned a PhD in Religious Studies, focused on Buddhism and the neuroscience of meditation. As co-founder of the Lotus Institute, Dr. Ward’s work focuses on non-violent social change, healing, and transformation. His most recent book is entitled, America’s Racial Karma: An Invitation to Heal.  GPZC has used Dr. Ward’s poetry as part of our services.

There will be no charge for participation, but we ask that you register so we know who will be attending.


 


Orchard Garden Buddha at Night
 


 



 

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 November 19.  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 good opportunities 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:

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


 

Fall flowers


 

 

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 GPZC in Monroe will be Saturday, November 5 from 8:30 -11:30 and the next  Introductory Workshop at Countryside Church, 1025 N. Smith St. Palatine, IL.  will be Saturday November 19 from 8:30 - 11:30 AM.   

Both workshops have an online option.  However, 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:

     November 5

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

 


 





Aspects of Zen Practice

Classes


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

 
Aspects of Zen Practice Class 2: Liturgy and Lineage  takes place at Countryside Church Sunday,  November 20 from 5:30-6:30 PM.  This Aspects Class will cover  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.   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 Remaining 2022 Aspects Classes:
 
     Aspects of Zen Practice 2:  Liturgy and Lineage, Nov. 20
     Aspects of Zen Practice 3: Everyday Life Practice, Dec. 18

 


 


 

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: 389 549 801
To dial in by phone, call:  312 626 6799 and enter the above meeting ID when prompted.


 



 

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)


 
 


 


Zazen mudra (hand position during sitting)

 

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.   This month, the group meets on Thursday, November 17.

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
 
 
 


 


 
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


 

Processing dried beans 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


 

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