Although Pure Land of Iowa has been active in Des Moines for nearly 10 years, most of that time has been spent in temporary locations such as garages and private homes. Not until 2017 did the community finally open a dedicated space on Hickman Road, just east of 86th Street.
Having multiple locations, though, did not hinder their devotion. This is an interesting aspect of Pure Land of Iowa—they are not particularly focused on where they practice, just that they are able to practice. Moreover, although the Pure Land of Iowa community practices Pure Land Buddhism, they accommodate other forms of Buddhism in their space. In fact, many different Buddhist groups actually hold many different types of Buddhist services and events in the Pure Land of Iowa complex (which contains numerous temple rooms).
Pure Land Buddhism is itself a sect of Mahayana Buddhism, which is particularly popular in East Asian (China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam). In this sect of Buddhism, a celestial Buddha named Amita is worshipped, most commonly by chanting his name. Pure Land practitioners believe that doing so ensures their rebirth in Amita’s “Pure Land,” a heavenly realm from which it is easier to attain enlightenment that here on earth.
Meditation and mindfulness are other important aspect of Buddhism at Pure Land of Iowa, as is evident by the number of weekly services dedicated to them. Chanting and prostration are also utilized to show reverence to the “Triple Gem” of Buddha, Dharma (Buddha’s teachings), and Sangha (Buddha’s community).
Pure Land of Iowa itself meets every Sunday morning for two hours. Their service begins with prostration, which includes walking slowly in a circle, then forming rows, all the while chanting and meditating. Next, they form a semi-circle and hold a class where they discuss topics that range from Buddhist philosophy to simple life-lessons. After this discussion, they break for lunch, then part ways for the week.
By Lillian Moravek
- Evelina Chen, Founder, Director of Committee Board
- Helen Liu, Co-Founder, Director of Committee Board
- Jie Shao, Director of Committee Board, Instructor, Translator
- Thomas Wu, Instructor
- Cara Liu, Instructor, Community Outreach, Translator
- 8364 Hickman Road, Clive, IA, 50325
- Pure Land of Iowa meets most Sundays from 10am – 1pm
- Other Buddhist groups meet at other times
- Remove shoes when entering hall
- Avoid pointing outstretched feet at altar or monks
- Dress modestly
- Be quiet during service; do not speak unless spoken to
- If bringing food, avoid food with meat