Monk’s displaced congregation opens new home in Jackson, Mississippi
Minh Cong Nguyen has found a home for his displaced Buddhist congregation – this time outside of Rankin County.
Nguyen opened a Zen Center last month on Terry Road, just south of U.S. 80, which will house meditation classes and worship services.
He holds worship services on Sunday for Buddhists as well as meditation classes for everyone.
“Westerners are invited,” the monk said of the free classes he will start holding on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The first is Saturday.
Americans live a stressed-out lifestyle, and these two-hour sessions give people a mental break, he said.
“Our minds are like a computer,” he said. “You keep putting too much information in it. Meditation is the delete key.”
Nguyen’s quiet little studio, behind Kim’s Seafood, is a break to the busy roads around it. Each class will have 12 people.
Interested people may e-mail him.
“I came here to open my doors for everyone,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen came to the Jackson area from Biloxi last year to set up a Buddhist temple. He chose a site north of Pelahatchie in rural Rankin County.
“They didn’t have a temple here,” he said.
Neighbors filed complaints, and the plans to expand the temple, located in a spruced up mobile home, were halted when a stop-work order was placed on the facility.
Officials denied a request for a building permit in September, citing public safety as the chief issue.
Located on a small feeder road to Mississippi 43, the church did not have the best transportation access, the board cited.
District 4 Supervisor Walter Johnson said he has heard an “outpouring of concern” from nearby residents about traffic, related to use and parking along the quiet lane, which was among the reasons supervisors cited for denying the request.
Nguyen said he does not plan to return to Rankin County. It wasn’t a good fit, he said.
Nguyen estimates there are 500-1,000 Buddhists in the metro area, saying a meeting he hosted at a Rankin school last summer drew 400 people.
Before coming to Jackson, Nguyen started a temple in Biloxi. He even rode out Hurricane Katrina, giving shelter to as many people as could fit in the building’s attic.
The water rose to an inch below the ceiling of the first floor, he said. They stayed calm through meditating, he said.
“A lot of Westerners came to my temple,” he said, a trend he hopes picks up at this new temple in Jackson. “When you meditate, it helps you reach peace.”