Des Moines Zen Center




Head Priest:

Eishin Houghton

Education Liaison:

Vicki Goldsmith



Sundays: 7:10am-8:50am

Wednesdays 5:40 pm-6:40 pm, Zen study group every 2nd, 3rd, and 4th

Wednesday of the month from 6:50 pm-8:00 pm

No specific requirements 

Student Testimonial



The origins of this community was by a small group of individuals who were interested in Zen thought and writing. They wanted to focus on sitting meditation and seeking the support of their community. A workshop presented in 1992 by Rev. Nonin Chowaney awakened the interest of Zen in Des Moines. Shortly after this workshop weekly meetings were held at the Thoreau Center which consisted of zazen sitting meditations and soto Zen practices that originated from Japan. As the community grew they moved to various places until 2018 when they purchased their current site. 

Practices/ Services:

Sundays consist of zazen from 7:10 am-7:50 am, Kinhin which is a walking meditation from 7:50 am-8:00 am, zazen from 8:00 am-8:40 am, morning service from 8:40 am-8:50 am, dharma talk and discussion from 8:50 am, and finally sangha social time after the dharma talk. There are also zazen instructions from 7:40 am-8:00 am. Wednesdays consist of zazen instructions from 5:40 pm-6:00 pm, zazen from 6:00 pm-6:40 pm, and finally zen study group every 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Wednesday of the month from 6:50 pm-8:00 pm. The study group consists of reading and discussing Shunryu Suzuki’s “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal talks on Zen meditation and practice”. There will be a class offered in the Fall of 2024 which will be a series of five classes. This course will consist of enlightening Zen reflection, developing mindfulness from the lessons of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, and ways to apply these lessons to our daily lives. 

Distinctive Qualities:

Holds quarterly temple work days which for the year 2024 are; January 13, April 13, July 13, and October 12 from 9am-12pm. These work days consist of cleaning the inside of the building, working on the grounds, and any special projects. 


Welcomes people from all race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and religious backgrounds. 


Zen is a form of Mahayana Buddhism. This community specifically follows Soto Zen. 

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