Contribute to the renovation of the new Madison Zen Dojo!

Contribute to the renovation of the new Madison Zen Dojo! image

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A Message from Ken Kushner Roshi

Every great once in a while opportunity knocks so loudly that it can’t be ignored. Now is one of those times for the International Zen Dojo of Wisconsin and I ask you to help us open the door. Let me give you some background.

I founded the International Zen Dojo of Wisconsin in Madison in the 1980’s in order to make available the same type of life changing training I experienced from my teachers in Hawaii. For most of the time since then, we have rented space from a Tai Chi school. In many ways, this has been a suitable arrangement. The space is conducive for our training, the location is convenient and, important to me as a Kyudo (“Zen Archery”) teacher, the ceiling is high enough to allow shooting bows indoors during the long, cold Wisconsin winters. But, the space has some major drawbacks. In particular, due to the Tai Chi school’s own schedule, we only have access to the building for a limited number of hours per week. This has prevented us from increasing training opportunities. Demand for training has increased in recent years and we now have a number of next generation teachers who could meet that demand, if we had greater access to space. For example, two of our instructors, Adrienne Hampton and Rebecca Ryan recently started a women’s zazen group, but they have to hold it in another, less optimal facility. So, for several years we have been keeping our eyes out for a space of our own; a space that we could transform into a fitting urban dojo.

And, then we found it.

Several months ago we learned that an old church building was for sale on the East side of Madison. The owners of the building wanted to sell it to a religious organization, which made us a favorable buyer in their eyes. And we determined that, with work, we could turn it into our long awaited urban dojo. We submitted an offer, it was accepted and we closed yesterday.

Scott Kiel, who is one of our instructors and a Master Electrician, has drawn up detailed plans to renovate the building. Once completed, the renovations will allow us to:

  • Greatly increase our training time and offerings. In addition to more zazen periods per week, we plan to move the women’s Zen program into the building as well as adding training in shodo (calligraphy), ceramics, and kado (flower arrangement). And, yes, the ceiling is high enough so that we can continue our indoor kyudo training.
  • Create décor and atmosphere appropriate for our tradition of training.
  • Hold late night and overnight or longer training. Unlike our current location, the building has kitchen and shower facilities.
  • Outreach to the community. The building is near a high school and a middle school. This will allow us to offer after school classes in Zen and martial arts classes for neighborhood students.

We are calling our new facility Daikozen-ji which, in Japanese means “Zen temple between the lakes”. For those of you not familiar with Madison, the building is on an isthmus and is, literally, flanked by two lakes. Daikozen-ji will work in tandem with the Spring Green Dojo which will continue to be the site for sesshin, other residential programs, and our ceramics kiln.

Our mortgage covers the purchase cost of the building, but not the renovations. And that’s why we are asking for your support. In traditional dojo style, most of the labor will be done by dojo members and by volunteers from our network of supporters. However, we need to raise $20,000 to cover the costs of building materials. Our goal is to raise “20 in 20” - $20,000 in 20 days, by June 14.

Opportunity has knocked loudly for us. I hope you will help us answer it and help us secure the future of our lineage of training in Madison for generations to come.