Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center

This profile was last updated in 2003

Research conducted by the University of Michigan-Dearborn Pluralism Project.
History and Leadership
The Midwest Buddhist MeditationMeditation is the disciplined practice of quieting and focusing the mind or cultivating the heart’s attention. Different meditation practices commend focusing attention on a word, a prayer, a form, or the breath as a way of practice. Meditation is commo... Center was established in 1992 as the Midwest Buddhist Association in the state of Ohio. The status of the Association was raised to that of the Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center in 1996 and relocated to its present site in Warren, Michigan. The center is a member of the Buddhist Council of the Midwest and the Council of Thai BhikkhusBhikkhus or Buddhist monks shave their heads and don a special robe to symbolize their renunciation of mundane pursuits. There are normally two levels of monkhood. the samanera, or novice monk, a role which may be assumed either temporarily, or as the fir... in the U.S.A. (1991). Venerable Dr. Achahn Chuen Pangcham, the founder of the Center and its abbotAn abbot or abbess is the title of the superior of a monastery or convent. Some scholars and practitioners have used these titles to apply to the ranking monk or nun of a Buddhist monastic community as well. entered the monasticA monk is a man who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully ord... life in Thailand in 1961. Before coming to the United States in 1986, he studied BuddhismBuddhism is a multi-hued tradition of life, thought, and practice that has developed from the teaching and practice of Siddhartha Gautama (6th century BCE) who came to be called the Buddha, the awakened one. The three major streams of the tradition—Ther... and meditation practice for more than 20 years, including meditation at WatA wat (Thai) or watt (Cambodian) is a Buddhist temple-monastic complex. Thai and Cambodian temples typically have two sections, one in which both monks and laity worship the Buddha, and the other reserved for the monastic community. The former typically i... Paknam Bhastrichareon, Bangkok, Thailand from 1963-76, and as a meditation student of Ajahn Kruang Subhaddho. For 10 years, he served as meditation instructor at the VipassanaVipassana is a form of Theravada Buddhist meditation, also called “insight mediation.” This method directs the attention toward the moment-to-moment workings of the mind and body, thereby developing “mindfulness” of the contents of consciousness a... (Insight) Meditation Center of Chicago. He is on the Board of Trustees of the Parliament of World Religions, was president of the Buddhist Council of the Midwest for 2 terms, and is co-president of the American Buddhist Congress.


The Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center occupies a structure that had been built as a home in the 1970s in Warren, Michigan, a Macomb County suburb of Detroit. Its location is between a car wash and another private residence, the owner of which has complained about the number of cars that have to be parked around the center, especially on special occasions. The only action taken by the Warren City Hall has been to suggest that the center buy the home when it comes up for sale and use the land for parking. The center is also close to shopping malls and office buildings. Some minor renovations were made to the structure, including converting the garage into a multi-purpose hall used for Sunday school for children and retreats through the year. The front room is the BuddhaBuddha means “awakened one” and specifically refers to Shakyamuni Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama (traditional date, sixth c. BCE), the historical founder of the tradition that became known as Buddhism. All Buddhist traditions agree that ther... hall. In addition, there is an office, meeting room, and kitchen. Upstairs are bedrooms for the resident monksA monk is a man who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully ord... and a meditation room.

Demographics and Activities

The Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center has approximately 50 regularly attending members and another 50 who attend less regularly. It was started for people from Thailand coming into the area seeking employment, but had no place for meditation. Therefore, approximately seventy-five percent of those attending the center are Thai immigrants to metropolitanA Metropolitan is the title given to a bishop, used especially in the Orthodox family of churches today. Detroit. Many are professionals, including physicians and engineers. The other twenty-five percent is made up of mostly white Americans, but there are other Asians, including Cambodians and Vietnamese. In terms of changing participation at the center, more Americans and Canadians have been becoming involved over the past few years. Daily practice includes morning chanting and meditation from 6:00-7:00 a.m. and evening chanting and meditation from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Thai is most commonly used language in the center for both services and informal conversation, however on Fridays and Sundays, there is chanting and meditation practice from 7:00-9:00 p.m. for speakers of English Special services and events at the center include the celebration of the Buddha’s EnlightenmentEnlightenment means awakening to or realizing the true nature of reality. The term is used with various nuances in the Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu traditions to express the spiritual awakening that is the goal of religious life. “The Enlightenment” also... in May and bimonthly weekend retreats for discussion and meditation.

In the Community

Under the leadership of Venerable Dr. Achahn Chuen Pangcham, the Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center has become involved in a number of local activities. The center has assisted the Birmingham, Michigan Board of Education curriculum committee to plan and coordinate the study of Buddhist teachings and Eastern culture in the Birmingham high schools. Dr. Achahn Chuen Pangcham has lectured on Buddhism and Eastern culture at local colleges and universities . He has given DharmaDharma means religion, religious duty, religious teaching. The word dharma comes from a Sanskrit root meaning “to uphold, support, bear,” thus dharma is that order of things which informs the whole world, from the laws of nature to the inner workings ... talks and meditation instruction regularly at the Indiana State prison in Michigan City, Indiana and the Michigan State Prison in Adrian, Michigan. The center has participated in interfaith activities sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice and the World SabbathShabbat or sabbath is the day of rest, the seventh day, recalling the Biblical creation narrative in which God rested from the labors of creation on the seventh day. In the Jewish tradition, the Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and runs through sundown....