Shared-stewardship Mandala

Shared-stewardship Mandala

Shared-stewardship Model

The Zen Life & Meditation Center, Chicago (ZLMC) offers traditional Zen training in precepts, services and koan study. We also ask all Zen students at ZLMC to participate in at least one Leadership Circle. Circles are open ONLY to ZLMC members. There are three different kinds of circles within our Shared-stewardship model.

  • Leadership Circles such as our Board of Directors, GEM Circle, Program/Marketing Circle, Teacher’s Circle and Finance Circle.

  • Support circles such as the Conscious Living/Conscious Dying Circle, Women's Circle, NVC Practice Circle, and Study Circle .

  • Social Action circles such as our Social Action Circle and Prison Dharma Circle.

Each type of circle is located within one of the five realms of the Shared-stewardship mandala. And each circle develops and defines a clear mission and purpose that clarifies what tasks it is responsible and accountable for. Each circle is lead by a trained circle steward, who is responsible for scheduling circle meetings, facilitating the circle meetings, and communicating with other circles.

All circles use council process to connect and communicate with their members. Meetings usually include council process, searching for guiding/clarifying questions and the business they need to conduct in order to fulfill their responsibilities. 

Circle may arise from time to time, to fulfill a unmet need within the ZLMC community. Such ad-hoc circles end, when the need has been met. 

We are guided by the three tenets of not-knowing, bearing witness and loving action. We are aware that this governing model of distributed power and responsibilities presents challenges and difficulties, but it is our intention to learn from our mistakes with the intention always of strengthening the authentic and genuine nature of our Sangha community. 

At the present time Roshi Robert Joshin Althouse is stewarding a Shared-stewardship circle to train members in this model. The circle begins meeting in 2018 and will meet on the second Saturday of every month from 1 to 4 pm. If you are a member and interested in joining this circle, please contact Joshin Roshi at

If you are interested in other circles, email Sensei June Ryushin Tanoue at and she will put you in touch with the circleʻs steward.

Serving on the Board of Directors

Each year we hold our Annual Membership Meeting to update our members about our Zen Center, and to vote for new members who wish to serve on our Board of Directors. Each year, in early Spring, we make applications available and set a dead line by which the Board of Directors will receive these applications. Any member may nominate themselves or another member to be a candidate for the Board of Directors. Once received, the Board of Directors will review and vet the new applicants. The Board of Directors will then set a slate of the candidates they feel are qualified to serve on the board, and this slate of candidates will be voted on, at the Annual Membership Meeting. To download the Application, please click here.


Code of Ethics and Grievance Procedures

In 2015 the Zen Life & Meditation Center Board of Directors completed work on a Code of Ethics for ZLMC Teachers and Instructors. The board also completed work on drawing up a Grievance and Reconciliation Procedure. The board of directors voted and approved both of these ethical codes and procedures in 2015. 


Equity Policy: The Zen Life & Meditation Center, Chicago is committed to providing dharma teachings to anyone regardless of their ability to pay. In order to do this, we have set up a Dharma Fund which our members contribute to in order to support this policy. As a result, partial scholarships are always available for any of our programs or offerings.