What is Soto Zen?
Soto Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism founded by Eihei Dogen Zenji in the 13th Century. The main focus of our spiritual practice is zazen or meditation. Shikantaza, or “just sitting,” is meditation without technique or expectation. We do not use guided meditations, mantras or other techniques. Everyone is welcome to participate in our weekly meditation sessions, sesshin (monthly meditation retreats) or zazenkai (one-day sittings) regardless of previous experience. There are no prerequisites for zazen.
Great Tree is affiliated with the Soto Zen School (Sotoshu) and the Association of Soto Zen Buddhists (ASZB)
Rev. Teijo Munnich
Disciple and Dharma heir of Dainin Katagiri Roshi, Rev. Teijo Munnich studied with him from 1975 until his death in 1990. She received formal training at Hokyoji (Catching the Moon Zen Mountain Center) in Minnesota, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in California and Hosshinji in Obama, Japan.
Rev. Munnich was ordained as a Zen priest in 1981. About 1983, she began to envision a residential practice center and community and at its heart, a zen residential practice for women. This came to be Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple, incorporated in 2004. After an exacting search, a location was found with suitable space, and Great Tree opened her doors in 2005 in Alexander, NC.
Rev. Chimyo Atkinson
Chimyo Simone Atkinson was ordained by Rev. Teijo Munnich in 2007 and received Dharma Transmission in 2015. She received her monastic training at Great Tree and completed Sotoshu International training periods (Ango) in Japan in 2010 and 2011. She completed additional training periods at the Aichi Senmon Nisodo in Nagoya in 2012 and Ryumonji Monastery in Iowa in 2014. Chimyo served as Head of Practice at Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple and volunteered with the sangha at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institute until 2020.
Jikai Dainin Katagiri Roshi
Dainin Katagiri Roshi (1928-1990) was born in Osaka, Japan and was ordained at age 18. A student of Daicho Hayashi Roshi, he trained at Eiheiji Monastery for three years under the guidance of Eko Hashimoto-Roshi and graduated from Komazawa University. In 1963, he arrived in America serving as an assitant to the abbot of Zenshuji Soto Zen Mission in Los Angeles. He later moved on to Sokoji Zen Mission and San Francisco Zen Center, where he assisted the late Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi.
In 1972, Katagiri Roshi founded the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis, where he oversaw the development of the city center as well as Hokyoji, a country retreat in southeast Minnesota.
His book Returning to Silence was published in 1988. Katagiri Roshi died in 1990. His books You Have to Say Something and Each Moment is the Universe were published posthumously.