August 2019 Newsletter

August 2019 Newsletter

     from left Genshin Knewitz (shoki), Myosen Nadzam (shuso), Roshi (juji), Mark Munns (benji)
Our 2019 Summer Ango concluded with Shuso Hossen on the morning of July 28 2019.  The ango featured practice commitments from all participants, three sesshin, online drop in sessions with the shuso, a guided hike in the Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL, and collaboration with Zen Life and Meditation Community, Chicago, IL for a women's retreat focusing on the climate emergency and neighborhood ecology, as well as all of our regular programs:  zazen, talks, fusatsu, Gate of Sweet Nectar and introductory programs. 

The July Sesshin Prairie Crew

Nachusa Grasslands Hike with Tom Mitchell (fourth from left)

Congratulations to Shuso Bonnie Myosen Nadzam, who successfully dealt with all dragons and elephants during the dharma combat to achieve the rank of a senior student at GPZC.  Myosen is the first female shuso at Great Plains Zen Center.  She is also the first to serve as shuso while the mother of young children - 3 year old twins to be exact! Myosen's husband, Jeremy, and their two children, Claude and Gustave, attended the last few days of the seven day sesshin and the shuso hossen, so that they could be a part of this significant rite of passage.  Gus' and Claude's exuberant voices could be heard returning from an outing to the water park or commenting on intriguing plants, people and events at the Zen Center.  They were especially interested in watching the jikido strike the han to call people to sitting.  

Myosen presented Case 69 from the Book of Equanimity: Nansen's Cats and Cows:  Attention! Nansen addressed the assembly, saying, "All Buddhas of the Three Times don't know of it.  Cats and cows know of it."  It is believed that our Japanese Soto Zen founder, Dogen Zenji, had his first enlightenment experience upon hearing this famous koan.  
For the ceremony, the verse for the koan was displayed  on a board hung in the zendo and chanted by the benji (Mark) as the shuso returned the sambo (offering stand) holding a copy of the koan (main case), to juji (Roshi) and received the shippei (ceremonial curved black stick) to be used during the dharma combat part of the ceremony. 


Read Shuso Bonnie Myosen Nadzam's message of thanks to the Sangha and see more pictures here

Shuso invites participants to challenge her with questions about the koan.

Peaceful Way/All My Relations Sesshin
August 15-18 2019

Sign up now for the Peaceful Way/All My Relations Sesshin, August 15-18 2019.  This sesshin is dedicated to the memory of all those who suffered or lost their lives as a result of violence, oppression, genocide, and all forms of injustice. Along with the practices of zazen, service, oryoki and work, that comprise our typical sesshin, we incorporate the practice of metta bhavana (lovingkindness meditation). We affirm our intention to transform our own greed, hatred and delusion through the practice of metta as a tangible step toward nourishing the seeds of wisdom and compassion in the world around us.  Learn more about this sesshin and register here

During the Annual Gate of Sweet Nectar Ceremony that occurs during the August sesshin, everyone is invited to dedicate a hanging lighted lantern to a loved one who has passed on.  Information here.
Beloit Zen Community Monday afternoon zazen on the Beloit College campus resumes September 9 2019.  More information can be found here.   Learn about our new affiliate, Zen Sitting Group DeKalb here.

We are happy that you have chosen to receive our monthly newsletter with periodic announcements.  You can change your preferences or contact information at any time by clicking on the update preferences link at the bottom of this email and following the instructions.  

Do you have something you'd like included in next month's newsletter?  Please call Roshi at 608-325-6248 or email

View or download our August - October  2019 Calendar



In this Newsletter:

Photo credits for this newsletter:  Tom Zwick, Roshi Myoyu Andersen

A special message from Shuso Bonnie Myosen Nadzam about our 2019 Summer Ango that recently concluded with Shuso Hossen on July 28:

"Thank you so much to everyone who participated in Ango this year. The word on the street is that it’s been a strong season, and it certainly is a strong sangha to connect and hold from Chicago through Wisconsin to Minnesota (and further east, to Michigan, if you count Gendo Roshi, which I do!). I appreciate every role each of you has played over the past few months in the commitment to your practice and in the daily affirmation and reaffirmation of our vows. In particular, thank you to Roshi and to everyone who participated in the 7-day sesshin. I don’t know for sure, but think it may have been the first-ever shuso hossen that included the shuso’s young children, and this was groundbreaking, powerful, and personally important, too. All of you held the space and picked up extra slack for this mama to be able to tuck the children into bed and give Jeremy an occasional and much needed break. Genshin asked me for final words to the sangha at the end of the ceremony, and I’d like to say those words again here: I think you are all so wonderful. Thank you for your practice. Let’s keep going." - Shuso Bonnie Myosen Nadzam, July 28 2019

"Water flows and returns to the source"

The Shuso family

Memorial Lanterns for Loved Ones who have Passed On

During the Annual Gate of Sweet Nectar Ceremony, we chant the complete list of names of people and pets who have passed on over the years. We also invite anyone to make a free will donation (of any amount ) in honor of your loved one and then write a message to them that will be attached to the star suspended in the sky. This is a wonderful way to remember those who were part of our lives and continue in our hearts.  It can help us honor and process our own feelings.  Please let Roshi know if you would like to dedicate a star for a loved one.  Call 608-325-6248 or email  

The Annual Gate of Sweet Nectar takes place during the Peaceful Way Sesshin, August 15-18.



All My Relations (Peaceful Way) Sesshin 8/15 -18/2019


This sesshin is dedicated to the memory of all those who suffered or lost their lives as a result of violence, oppression, genocide, and all forms of injustice. Along with the practices of zazen, service, oryoki and work, that comprise our typical sesshin, we incorporate the practice of metta bhavana (lovingkindness meditation). We affirm our intention to transform our own greed, hatred and delusion through the practice of metta as a tangible step toward nourishing the seeds of wisdom and compassion in the world around us.


Additionally, we practice care and respect for the earth by eating only foods from our garden or grown locally and products from animals (eggs and milk) who were treated humanely. By decreasing the miles the food must travel, we decrease the use of fossil fuels to transport it. This practice helps us to become aware of how our food comes to us (how it was grown, harvested, packaged and transported), rather than just picking items off a supermarket shelf with no sense of the effort, suffering or consequences that resulted from their creation. We hope this will evoke a more intimate understanding of the interdependence of all beings and increase our gratitude and respect for the people, animals and plants that inhabit the earth with us, especially when considering our food choices. The sesshin name “All My Relations” comes from the Lakota understanding of the interdependence and relatedness of all things: Mitakuye Oyasin. Please join us for this important retreat.

This sesshin begins Thursday night with informal dinner at 5:30 followed by instruction and then the formal opening of the retreat at 8 PM. During the Peaceful Way sesshin, we hold our Annual Gate of Sweet Nectar Ceremony, Saturday night, August 17 at about 8:30 PM. As in previous years, we will suspend our beautiful paper lanterns in the sky with messages for those we love who have passed on and we read the list of names from the Book of the Dead to remember all of our family, friends, pets and others. The suggested donation for this sesshin is $150 for members and $180 for non-members, which includes lodging and all meals. Part time participation is allowed.  Please register by Sunday, August 11 here



Dates for Upcoming Retreats and registration links: 


Introduction to Zen Practice Workshops:

Great Plains Zen Center offers monthly Introductory Workshops especially for those new to practice.  The workshops provide 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. 

Upcoming Introductory Workshops at GPZC, W7762 Falk Rd, Monroe, WI 53566:

 All workshops take place  8:30-11:30. Register here:

Upcoming Introductory Workshops at Countryside UU Church, 1025 N. Smith St., Palatine, IL:

All workshops take place 8:30 – 11:30. Register here:




Aspects of Zen Practice at GPZC  This series of four classes helps those who have taken an Introductory Workshop review the basics and continue to learn about the various elements of practice and ways to participate at Great Plains Zen Center.  Classes are held once per month in Monroe and in Palatine and may be taken in any order.  The class series repeats throughout the year, so you can take a class you missed the next time it is offered. These classes provide a great way to continue learning after the Introductory Workshop.  All classes are 1 hour with optional zazen following. Saturdays at 9 AM in Monroe and Sundays at 5:30 PM in Palatine.  The cost of each class is $5. 
Forms of Practice Review the basics of zazen (body, breath and mind), zendo procedures, and the teacher-student relationship.11/ 9 (Monroe), 11/17 (Palatine)

Liturgy and Lineage:  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.  8/24 (Monroe), 8/25 (Palatine)

Everyday Life Practice:  
Practicing the precepts at home, at work, in the community and throughout our lives.  Sharing practice with our children and families.  9/28 (Monroe), 9/29 (Palatine)

Being a Part of the GPZC Community:  Shared stewardship circles and opportunities for volunteering and leadership, Council Practice and GPZC Vision, Mission, Guiding Principles and Practices.   10/13 (Palatine), 10/26 (Monroe)

Fusatsu (Renewal of Vows)

All are welcome to join us for monthly Renewal of Vows ceremonies.  We begin with a short meditation followed by a council circle.  Council is a practice that teaches us to speak and listen from the heart. Fusatsu ends with a chanting ceremony.  Pre-registration not required. Upcoming dates are as follows:

  • August 4 (Palatine) 7 PM
  • September 8 (Palatine) 7 PM
  • October 17 7 PM (Monroe - at start of sesshin but open to all)

Gate of Sweet Nectar

In this ceremony, the main liturgy of Zen Peacemakers, we offer nourishment to those who are forgotton, marginalized and not cared for.  The ceremony includes raising the Bodhi Mind and inviting all those who hunger to partake in a meal to ease their distress and includes singing, chanting and musical instruments.  Participants are asked to bring non-perishable food items which will be taken to the local food pantry after the ceremony.  Pre-registration not required. Upcoming dates are as follows:

  • August 17 8:30 PM (Annual with memorial lanterns - last evening of Peaceful Way sesshin open to all)
  • September 15 7 AM  (Monroe - at end of sesshin but open to all)
  • October 20 7AM  (Monroe - at end of sesshin but open to all)

Teisho (Public Talks by Myoyu Roshi)

  • October 6 7:30 PM (Palatine)



No registration or fee is required to attend weekly sitting at any location.  

Great Plains Zen Center, Monroe, WI

  • Zazen at 5:30 AM and 7 PM on Fridays
  • See calendar for classes scheduled on Saturdays
  • Chanting service at 8:30 AM followed by Zazen at 9 on Sundays
  • For those new to practice, a brief orientation is offered during the first sitting period.

Palatine, IL at CCUU

  • Zazen at 7 PM on Sunday nights. Periodic special events (see calendar). For those new to practice, a brief orientation is offered during the first sitting period. 
  • Beloit Zen Community meets every Monday from 4:15 -5:30 PM during the Beloit College academic year.  The schedule will resume on Monday, September 9 as follows: 
                4:15 zazen (sitting)
                4:45 kinhin (walking meditation)
                4:55 short talk/discussion
                5:10 zazen (optional)
  • All are welcome to come and participate, not only those affiliated with the college.  Whatever your religious affiliation (or if you have none), experience or interest in meditation, we'd love to have you. 
  •  Instruction provided for those who are new to meditation. 
  • Held in the Spirituality Room in the basement of Pearsons Hall. 
  • For more information, please contact Bill New
  • Zazen every Tuesday night at 8 PM.  For those new to practice, a brief orientation is offered during the first sitting period.  
  • For further information, please visit the Logan Square Zendo website here.

Zen Sitting Group DeKalb (ZSGD), a new affiliate of the Great Plains Zen Center, continues to meet 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 twice 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. If you have interest in this group, please checkout the ZSGD Facebook page, or feel free to email John directly at for further information. 

  • Variable schedule.  Check Facebook Page:  @zendekalb
  • Meets on August 1 and August 22 at UU Fellowship of DeKalb.
  • 6 PM Instruction, 7 PM Sitting followed by discussion. 
  • For more information, contact John Genshin Knewitz 


Several types of membership are available.  More information about membership can be found here.

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Phone:  (608) 325-6248


Our postal mailing address:

W7762 Falk Rd • Monroe, WI  53566



Recognizing that systems of power, privilege, and oppression have traditionally created barriers for persons and groups with particular identities, ages, abilities, and histories,  Great Plains Zen Center strives to foster a climate of purposeful inclusion of all people. We pledge to do all we can to replace such barriers with ever-widening circles of solidarity and mutual respect. We strive to be a Sangha that truly welcomes all persons and commits to structuring our community in ways that empower and enhance everyone’s participation.