Great Tree’s Story
Rev. Teijo Munnich began to envision a residential center for women and a community practice center in 1983. After a lengthy search for a site, Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple opened its doors in September of 2005.
Our mission is to create community, a sangha, based on teachings of Dogen Zenji in the Soto Zen tradition of Buddhism, and which serves all whose path brings them to Great Tree. Great Tree Zen Temple offers Sesshims. Dharma study, Zazen instruction, family and youth programs, retreats and workshops.
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
Grow 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, removal of vision blocking shrubber
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…
Contact us below about your plan to
sustain the future of Great Tree.