Although friends met in their homes in the 1970’s to practice zazen and study Zen Buddhism and Rev. Dainin Katagiri made occasional trips from Minnesota to assist them, the formal life of the Milwaukee Zen Center began in 1985 when Rev. Tozen Akiyama became the Resident Priest and in 1986 they moved into their present home. In 2001 Rev. Tonen O’Connor succeeded him as Resident Priest. She is assisted by two novice priests and the activities of the Center are well supported by a small but active lay sangha. The primary focus is on shikantaza in the tradition of Dôgen-zenji.
Thirteen periods of zazen are offered each week, as well as morning services. On Saturdays there is a meal with oryoki and the group also studies a Buddhist text. Monthly two-day sesshin featuring dharma talks are offered October through May and a three-day Rohatsu Sesshin. In August the Milwaukee Zen Center collaborates with the Cedar Rapids Zen Center to sponsor the seven-day Great Sky Sesshin, held at Hokyoji Zen Practice Community in rural Minnesota. This sesshin attracts as many as 25 practitioners from 10 states and is led by 6 teachers.
Local sangha members participate as tenzos for Saturday meals, help with work days, assist in caring for the Center’s gardens and many sew rakusus and take the precepts. The MZC celebrates New Year’s Eve with a renewal of vows, and in April celebrates the Buddha’s Birthday. The MZC Newsletter is distributed six times a year to a mailing list of over 700 names.
The MZC has provided Zen Buddhist practice for over ten years to inmates within the Wisconsin correctional system and currently coordinates the work of teachers serving 11 state prisons. A quarterly newsletter is edited by and features the writing of prison inmates.
Click on the national flags on the map, or on those at the left, to zoom to each country and see a list of its temples.