Des Moines Zen Center

Being a Zen Buddhist center in Des Moines has not always been easy; still, it is immensely rewarding for the community of the Des Moines Zen Center. For years, the community bounced from location to location, eventually settling, for a number of years, in a row of shops on 35th Street, just south of the Drake neighborhood. Recently, though, structural issues with this center have forced yet another move, this time to a former church on SW 14th Street.

In Soto Zen Buddhism, the practice of sitting meditation, zazen, is central. And in zazen, the body is of vital importance to meditation practice, just as the Zen Center’s buildings have been to its community’s practice. Utilizing one’s body is an essential part of meditation for Zen Buddhists, particularly for discovering oneself and developing a sense of mindfulness. In addition to zazen, dharma teachings about key Buddhist beliefs and practices are important to the life of the community. Typically, a meeting at the Zen Center features a 45-minute zazen session, followed by a reading from Buddhist scriptures (sutras) and sometimes also some chanting.

The teachings of the historical Buddha permeate the Zen Center in every possible way. The Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Middle Way, and the Three Jewels are a few examples of these teachings, which are bedrock principles of the community of the Zen Center, not just while at the Zen Center, but also in everyday life. The sangha (Buddhist community) that is the Des Moines Zen Center is a community that values the solidarity and togetherness these teachings and practices invariably create.

Reverend Eido Bruce Espe, a middle-aged man with a welcoming face, is the resident priest at the Des Moines Zen Center. Like most of the Zen Center’s members, Reverend Espe is Iowa-born and bred.

By Grace Radichel


  • Remove shoes
  • Be silent when meditation is happening

 Location and Contact information:

Meeting Times:

  • There is a seated meditation every Wednesday evening at 6 pm. On the first Wednesday of every month, this meditation is followed by a potluck.
    • On the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, the meditation is instead followed by a study group.
  • There is also a seated meditation every Sunday morning at 7:10 am.
    • On the second Sunday of every month, this meditation is followed by a dharma
  • Every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning, there is a seated meditation at 7 am, which is followed by a short service.
  • The community also makes monthly visits to the Ryumonji Temple in Dorchester, Iowa for sesshins (intensive meditation session).
Translate »