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Great Plains Zen Center Newsletter

  January 2023




 


Dear Great Plains Zen Center members and friends,

As the year draws to a close, we invite you to join us for New Year's Eve Sitting, Dec. 31 from 8 - 9 PM.  Learn more about the year-end atonement practice of reflecting on the 108 bonno.

Our New Year's Sesshin January 12-15 2023 is the first retreat of the New Year and will feature a Fusatsu (Renewal of the Vows) Ceremony Thursday evening.  Learn more here


Retreat dates for the first half of 2023 are here with registration links.

Save the dates for summer ango, beginning with the Maezumi Roshi Memorial Zazenkai May 12-14 and concluding Wednesday, August 9.  During the June Sesshin, June 1-4, we will have Shuso Hossen Ceremony for Julie Seido Nelson, Teacher Coordinator of the Greater Boston Zen Center, now continuing studies in the White Plum lineage.

If you are interested in working to create more self-sufficiency within our sangha in response to climate change, consider joining the newly forming  Adaptation Circle.  

The Racial Justice Circle's Zen Teachers of Color Series will offer a presentation on January 23 about Kodo Nishimura, author of This Monk Wears Heels. Kodo Nishimura embodies his roles as Pure Land School Buddhist monk, LGBTQ+ activist and make-up artist with an open-hearted intention of helping everyone feel empowered to be themselves as they are.  Read more here

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 January 21 and future dates can be found here.  

Details, registration and dates for our upcoming Introduction to Zen Practice Workshops in Monroe WI and Palatine IL can be found here.  Register on our Events Calendar

Our next Aspects of Zen Practice class takes place January 15.  Find information here and on the Events Calendar


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. Note that there will be no sitting on January 1. 

Details about Zen Sitting Group DeKalb can be found  here or on the ZSGD Facebook Page

Our next Day of Reflection will be Sunday,  January 15. Read more on the Buddhist Precepts page of our website (toward the bottom of the page).

 
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. 

 

 
New Year's Eve Sitting

December 31 8-9 PM (Online)



Photo credit: Dreamstime


New Years Eve Sitting (Online) 8-9:00 PM 
This year we revive the tradition of sitting together on New Year's Eve.  To include all members, the sitting will be offered online.  We will start at 8 PM on December 31 with a 30 minute sitting, chant the Heart Sutra (Hannya Shingyo), have a brief check-in and be finished by about 9 PM.  The Hannya Shingyo will be screen shared, so you do not need to provide your own copy. 

Members indicated that they'd prefer the earlier sitting time for a variety of reasons (rather than waiting to sit through the New Year) so we have decided to try it.  It is not necessary to register, just join us at 8 PM CST on December 31.  Here is the link for Zoom:   https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89319995993 , Meeting ID: 893 1999 5993 .  You can dial in using:   +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago).  Join us in the final zazen together for 2022  and in welcoming the New Year as a Sangha.

Year End Atonement Practice
The end of the year is a time to reflect on unskillful parts or aspects of ourselves and our behavior and make vows for the New Year.  However the intent is not to invoke shame or guilt, but rather to bear witness to our full sevles, not just the parts we deem "acceptable."  Dogen Zenji says that we should not hate others for their shortcomings.  We could add that we should not hate ourselves, either, for our unskillful parts.  

During the Joya no kane ceremony we held prior to the pandemic, we recited a list of common human weaknesses -  the 108 bonno.  You are invited this year to reflect on this list and bear witness to the moments you have exhibited these traits in thought, speech or action, simply acknowledging them and recognizing that they do not belong to us.  They are simply part of our nature as human beings.  If we can be fully awake and aware of these, we can take steps toward creatively redirecting these tendencies, rather than feeling obligated to hide them from others out of shame or fear.  Approached in this way, these struggles can connect us and further our sense of common humanity.  We can help each other in addressing these shared human tendencies rather than letting them isolate and separate us.

We are recommending that you find some quiet time between now and the end of the year to reflect on these 108 bonno.  Here is one of the many ways to do this: Year End Reflection



 




New Year's Sesshin

January 12-14 2023





"Snowy, snowy han"
 
 

Our first sesshin of the New Year takes place from 7:30 PM on Thursday, January 12  through 8 AM on Sunday, January 15. Instruction in zendo procedures is available for anyone who would like it on Thursday evening at 6 PM.

As fresh snow blankets the ground,  trees, shrubs and perennials rest in anticipation of spring and summer blooms. We can begin the year with  powerful practice vows.  No matter how many sesshin we have attended, each is new and unknown.

After the first period of zazen on Thursday night, we will have a Fusatsu ceremony (Renewal of the Vows). During that ceremony, we first chant the Gatha of Atonement.  Then after asking  Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to be present, we chant the Four Bodhisattva Vows followed by Taking Refuge in the Three Treasures.  We hope to begin offering this important ceremony on a monthly basis again soon.  This will be the first time we have held it since the start of the pandemic.  Everyone is welcome, whether you have taken the Buddhist precepts yet or not.

Sesshin consists of periods of seated meditation (zazen) with walking meditation in between, chanting services, a work period, silent meals, self care and rest.  We end sesshin with the Gate of Sweet Nectar Sunday morning, renewing our vows to care for those who are marginalized and in need.

All COVID precautions remain in effect:

  • GPZC 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.  

  • 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 latest 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 full time in person participation is $150  for members, $170 for others and is prorated for part time participation. Suggested donation for online participation is $10-30 per day of attendance.  To participate in this event, please register no later than Monday, January 9.


 




 


 



     

 

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. You can also use the links below to register.  

 

2023 Retreats
 

New Year's Sesshin  (Thursday night - Sunday AM) Jan. 12-15 2023
 
Nirvana Day Zazenkai (Friday night - Sun. AM)  Feb. 10-12
 
Beginner's Mind Zazenkai (Friday night - Sun. AM)  March 24-26
 
Earth Day Sesshin (Thursday night - Sun. AM) April 20-23

Maezumi Roshi Memorial Zazenkai (Friday night - Sun. AM) May 12-14.  This zazenkai marks the beginning of Summer Ango. 

June 2023 Sesshin (Thursday night -Sun. AM) June 1-4.  Shuso Hossen will take place Saturday, June 3 at 9:30 AM with Julie Seido Nelson. Honsoku Gyocha (Main Case Tea ) will be on Friday evening June 2. 


 



 
 
 
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.  
 


Kodo Nishimura (photo credit: Tricycle Magazine)
 
Our Zen Teachers of Color series continues January  23 2023 with an online presentation by Rev. Lori Shinko Snyder on Kodo Nishimura, author of This Monk Wears Heels.  The presentation will run from 7:30-8:30 PM.  Register here to receive zoom access.

Kodo Nishimura was born in 1989 in Japan in a Temple with a father who was a Buddhist priest. Uninterested in following the Buddhist path at that time, he attended college in Boston and eventually Parsons School of Design in New York.  His study as a make-up artist eventually led to him coming out as homosexual and becoming an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.  At 24, he underwent training as a Buddhist monk in the Pure Land tradition, alternating his time between Tokyo and New York. Today, he is equally dedicated to being a Buddhist monk, being a makeup artist, and being an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, believing that all of these endeavors have the common message of acceptance and empowerment. His appearances and interviews have included  Queer Eye, Vogue Magazine, Lion’s Roar magazine, BBC news. and more.

Read about his life's path in Kodo Nishimura: Buddhist monk, Make-Up Artist, LGBTQ+ Advocate.  Register for the online presentation about Kodo Nishimura taking place on January 23.



 




 

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 January 21.  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:

  • January 21 2023
  • February 25
  • March 11
  • May 20
  • June 17
Dates for upcoming half-day sittings can also be found on the Events Calendar page of our website. 


 



 

 

The han at GPZC calls people to the zendo during sesshin

 

Great Plains Zen Center is offering in person Introductory Workshops in Monroe and Palatine.  The next Introductory Workshop at GPZC in Monroe will be Saturday, January 7 2023 from 8:30 -11:30 and the next Introductory Workshop at Countryside Church, 1025 N. Smith St. Palatine, IL.  will be Saturday, January 14 2023 from 8:30 - 11:30  Future dates can be found on our Events Calendar and are listed here:

Upcoming Introductory Workshops in Palatine IL:
January 14
February 11
March 18

Upcoming Introductory Workshops in Monroe, WI:
January 7
March 4
April 15
May 6
June 24

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 when registering.  Registration prior to attending is required.  To register, click on the date of the event on the Events Calendar.  or click on the link (date) above for the workshop you would like to attend. Then scroll down to the green "Register Now" button or the link at the bottom of the page. 
 


 





Aspects of Zen Practice

Classes


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

 
Aspects of Zen Practice 4: Being a Part of GPZC takes place at Countryside Church Sunday,  January 15 2023 from 5:30-6:30 PM.  This 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. 

Upcoming Aspects classes:

Jan. 15:    Aspects of Zen Practice 4:  Being a Part of GPZC
Feb. 19:    Aspects of Zen Practice 1:  Forms of Practice
March 19:   Aspects of Zen Practice 2:  Liturgy and Lineage




 



 

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 that there is no sitting on Sunday evening January 1.

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.   

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
 

 


 

 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


 

 

GPZC garden in summer
 

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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