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What is Soto Zen?

Soto Zen was brought from China to Japan by Eihei Dogen Zenji in the 13th Century.  The main focus of Soto Zen practice is "Shikantaza meditation," zazen. Shikantaza, means “just sit,” this is meditation without techniques.  Everyone is welcome to participate in  weekly meditation sessions, monthly meditation retreats (sesshin) or other events, regardless of previous experience.  There are no prerequisites for zazen, just sit down and shut up. 

Great Tree Zen Women's Temple is affiliated with the Soto Zen School (Sotoshu), the Association of Soto Zen Buddhists (ASZB), and Soto Zen North America (SZNA).

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.

Rev. Dainin Katagiri

Jikai Dainin aka "Katagiri Roshi" (1928-1990) born in Osaka, Japan and was ordained at age 18.  A disciple 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 was invited to become abbot of the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, Ganshoji (Cultivating the Clouds Temple) in Minneapolis, where he taught Soto Zen practice. In 1978 he founded Hokyoji Monastery, (Catching the Moon Zen Mountain Center)  in southeastern Minnesota. 

For full biography of Katagiri Roshi visit here

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Rev. Daicho Hayashi  

​​Daicho Hayashi (1887-1966) was a famous teacher. He had traveled all over Japan to preach Buddhism, but he was very unlucky with disciples. Of his ten original disciples, some ran away, some died, and some became mentally ill. One attacked him and was put in jail. So, when Katagiri arrived in 1946, Daicho Roshi was glad to accept him, and he would become very attached to him as his only remaining disciple.

Daicho Roshi, whose full spiritual name Kaigai Daicho, means "Beyond the Ocean, Great Tides," was a Zen master whose influence continues to be felt today. Born into a wealthy and influential family, his early life 

was marked by a turbulent family dynamic. When he was young, an incident with this stepmother led him to skip school and go to a Zen temple and ask to be a monk. Yozan Genki Roshi, the temple's master, agreed to take him in but had to seek permission from Hayashi Roshi's father due to his young age. His father, upon learning that Hayashi Roshi had lied about going to school, disowned him, and they never saw each other again. It was from Genki-roshi that Hayashi Roshi received his new family name.


Hayashi Roshi passed away in the mid-1970s, yet his legacy continues to be felt through his teachings and the lives he touched, including those influenced by Katagiri Roshi.

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