Our History
The roots of the North Carolina Zen Center were established in 1972, when Susanna Stewart began a sitting group in her home north of Pittsboro, near the site of the present Center. After several dai-sesshins with Joshu Sasaki Roshi she decided to build a small zendo near her house so he would have a place on the east coast. This became known as the Squirrel Mountain Zendo of the North Carolina Zen Center, which was incorporated in 1977. In the same year she married Sandy Gentei Stewart, a student of Joshu Roshi.
Knowing that for many years Sandy had envisioned the creation of a residential center, in 1995 one of Sandy's students contributed 15 acres of nearby land to the North Carolina Zen Center. Shortly thereafter construction began on the Brooks Branch Zendo, now formally known as Sosen-ji. The meditation hall was completed in 1998, the kitchen building in 2001, the multi-use/dormitory building in 2003 and the shower house in 2005. A dormitory/dining hall and a larger meditation hall are in the planning and fundraising stages.

In recent years there have been very serious and very public allegations leveled at Joshu Sasaki Roshi concerning a repeated pattern of sexual misconduct and abuse of female students in his role as Head Abbot and Roshi, and an atmosphere among those surrounding him which tended to conceal or dismiss such allegations and the harm they caused. These allegations go back many years, and eventually resulted in Sandy breaking all ties with his former teacher and disassociating the NC Zen Center from the Rinzai-ji network of centers founded by Joshu Sasaki.

You can learn more about the history of these allegations and the continuing process to bring accountability to those responsible, and healing to those who were harmed, by visiting the two sites linked below.

The Sasake Archive - This is a site which was created to record the sayings and doings of Joshu Sasaki Roshi. Recently it has become the forum for those wishing to discuss long-standing allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct by Joshu Sasaki in his position as Roshi and Head Abbott of the Rinzai-ji network of Zen Centers.
Sweeping Zen - One of the best Zen resources on the Web, featuring articles and blogs by prominent Zen teachers around North America, and generous amounts of useful information for Zen practitioners and those interested in Zen.
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