top of page
Randal Pride - Teijo-standing.tif
Randal Pride - GTHousePhotoJuly06.tif
Great Tree’s Story
"A Great Tree is a tree that reaches in many directions and nourishes all beings."
 - Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Rev. Teijo Munnich began to envision a residential center for women in 1983. In September of 2005 Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple  opened its doors. The primary purpose of Great Tree Temple is to provide opportunities to enter more deeply into the practice of self-reflection in order to learn to live in peace and harmony with all beings. The spirit of practice at Great Tree is based on teachings of Dogen Zenji in the Soto Zen tradition.


Located near the Great Smoky Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, Great Tree offers a variety of programs, including meditation instruction, online and in person meditation, sesshins (meditation retreats), lectures, and family and youth programs. While long and short-term residencies are only available for women, all other programs are open to all.


Planning for Growth

In 2011 the Board of Directors conducted a thorough survey of our site, 6.6 acres facing southwest along Dry Ridge, outside Alexander, NC. Our goal was  to provide an overview to map out the future of Great Tree to expand residential & retreat lodging, improve access, mindful land management. With this in mind, the Site Planning  Committee developed a plan working with an architect to address and  improve our existing  buildings and grounds as the first phase, and then building in the near future.

In preparation,  we raised funds in 2013-2014 to pay down our mortgage to reduce our overhead. With the help of our sangha and friends, by the end of 2014, we reduced our debt load half-way through its term of the loan. With a small personal loan we were able to pay  off the mortgage. That loan will be paid off in October of 2020, leaving Great Tree debt free. 

We now face four critical challenges: 

  • Develop sustainable and stable support for monthly expenses and residents

  • Renovation and repair of our 36 plus year old buildings

  • Practice of Good Stewardship of our 6.6 acres of woodsy, former farmland

  • To make  Practice, Dharma Study & Zazen accessible for a broader community

Growing a Great Tree – Now and Tomorrow

For Great Tree to flourish and flower, we need to become more accessible and cultivate a community of practice and joyful calm on our beautiful ridge-top site here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. This practice includes study, meditation, mindful walks, community building and outdoor work.

With focus on growing Zen practice, the pressing challenge of inadequate facilities must be addressed. The current buildings, the residency and practice hall were originally built as housing for a family of four. These structures, built are in serious need of repair and upkeep. With the future  uncertainties, Covid-19 and the  pressing challenge of safe social distancing, we hope to provide simple lodging during retreats and sesshins. Meanwhile  the living room serves as a dining hall, and parking is a challenge for more than a few guests. 

  • Landscaping encroaching woods and forest management

  • Ditch and maintain driveway for better drainage

  • Trail maintenance, meditation paths and walkways

  • Safety features, to improve accessibility, a stable railing along the front steps

  • Infrastructure needs updating: heat, plumbing, wiring, add solar panels

  • Repair and winterize windows, screens and sliding doors, skylights

  • Ongoing help with kitchen gardens to increase food security 

  • Increasing residential programs and volunteer support

After 15 years here, we need to expand our offering to the community  so we are not limited by the building capacity.  How important is it that Great Tree be for all people, to have a place of practice and retreat, a place of quiet away from the busy world.


Great Tree is growing, but needs tending and nurturing.

We are engaged with manifesting and making Dharma teachings accessible. This is not  not so much about buildings or raising money, it is about preservation of the future, one we may not even be able to imagine. Where each one who arrives here might find a way to help cultivate in themselves a place of practice and renewal through meditation, practice and day to day mindfulness.

How you can help? There are several paths to explore…

​​Annual Gifts or Pledge Monthly

Planned Giving

Service Opportunities


Contact us below about YOUR plan to sustain

the future of Great Tree.

bottom of page