The Iowa City Zen Center is an independent Zen community affiliated with the Japanese Soto Zen school, following the guidance of Abbot Shoken Winecoff, the founder of Ryumonji Zen Monastery in the Midwest Zen lineage of Dainin Katagiri.  Founded in 1976 by Steve Fox and others, the Iowa City Zen Center is located at 1025 Fairchild Street in the historic Goosetown neighborhood of Iowa City. Here is a location map & contact information. The Zen Center has a Schedule for zazen (sitting meditation) as well as classes and special events. All are welcome to attend and there is no charge, though donations are gratefully accepted.

Since March 12, 2020, we are currently meeting only online through Zoom. The Zoom room number has been distributed by email and is available by request to our email address: iowacityzencenter@gmail.com. Please see below for further information and some further notices. FYI, this paragraph of information was last updated on July 13, 2022.

Rev. Dainei Page Appelbaum died on July 24, 2022; Funeral Service at Ryumonji Zen Monastery on October 9, 2022 at 10 AM, as a part of Taste of Ryumonji celebration.

We are deeply grateful to Rev. Dainei Page Appelbaum for serving as our Guiding Teacher for several years, and for guiding our sittings, readings and discussions, serving as Doshi and providing Dharma talks and personal teaching for many in our Sangha over a much longer time. Dainei passed away on July 24, 2022 in Minnesota, where she had recently relocated to be closer to family. We have observed her passing by chanting the Dai Hai Shin Dharani and the Maha Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra (Heart Sutra) on each of the seven Sundays beginning with the date of her death. Further observances will include a funeral and interment at Ryumonji Zen Monastery near Decorah, Iowa at 10 AM on October 9th, 2022.

I have also taken the liberty of including here the concluding paragraph of a communication from Stephen Pradarelli of the Winding Path Sangha in Iowa CIty, which I think speaks for many of us in the Iowa City Zen Buddhist community who knew Dainei:

“I will miss our friendship and our conversations, dearly. I know, too, that Dainei really hasn’t gone anywhere. As Thay taught, the cloud doesn’t die–it becomes rain, which joins the river, which provides the water for our cup of tea before making its way, over time, back into the sky. I’m so grateful to be part of Dainei’s continuation, and grateful for the Winding Path Sangha’s friendship with the Iowa City Zen Center because of her efforts.”

A Special Notice as of October 27, 2020: A financial  update: 

Because we could not see a way to safely sit and conduct chanting services, in March 2020 the ICZC Board opted to pack away our bells, zafus and zabutons, and continued practicing online through Zoom. Contact details for Zoom sittings and Class are available by request to iowacityzencenter@gmail.com. We will announce soon the date and details of plans for reopening to sit together in person.

That said, resources to maintain our building and grounds and support our practice and teaching are decreased, and we welcome donations. Our approach has been to offer instruction and a place for Zen meditation without charge, and we have benefited greatly from many small donations from our community. 

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to the Iowa City Zen Center. Here is our PayPal account:  


Or mail a check to our Treasurer: Steve Hirst, 135 Bowling Green Place, IC, IA 52245.

In Gassho, Tom Carlisle, President, for the Iowa City Zen Center Board

Contact: iowacityzencenter@gmail.com

Please see below for details of online sittings. Resources for practice at home are available under the Resource tab in this website’s header above. These include information on the arrangement and use of a home altar, texts of several Sutras, Ekos, Chants, and Verses. The Dai Hai Shin Dharani, the Kanzeon (related to intentions toward the ailing, including ourselves) and instructions for the Idaten, a service said at the entry altars of a place of practice, are all included.