Monday, May 19, 2008

Interview with Thich nu Tinh Quang

Name: Thich nu Tinh Quang
Age: 61

Sister Tinh Quang, is the founder and director of the Blue Heron Zen Buddhist Centre community, here in Hamilton. It is not easy to describe Sister Tinh Quang and I have only known her since 1999...but I will try!

Some time ago, on the refrigerator in the centre's kitchen, there used to be a picture of a little girl, dressed up in a cowboy outfit....turns out that this was our Sister as a young girl whose very hero was none other than Roy Rogers (and very definitely NOT Dale Evans!). That little piece of historical trivia explains a lot about Sister.

OK, she doesn't keep a horse or carry a gun.....but she is certainly one small, powerhouse of a woman who charges forth into uncharted territory and could be described as a "pistol" (although pistol and Buddhist nun in the same sentence......not sure about that!)

With training and credentials (McMaster University, Gestalt Institute) in philosophy, human resources, addictions and mental health she is well-qualified for her work. Through her mindful practice and devotion to the Buddha's teachings , she works tirelessly, with kindness and compassion, to provide accessible workshops, seminars, counseling, outreach programs, to name but a few, to help one and all awaken to their fullest human potential. A lofty goal, but with quiet dignity, she stays true to her path inspiring all.

Here is her interview.

Compassionate: How many years have you practiced this way of eating?

Sister Tinh Quang: Since 1973.

Compassionate: What motivated you to adopt this particular diet?

Sister Tinh Quang: I was asked a couple of questions by a meat-eater, who was just making an observation. "How can you be eating a pork chop while you cuddle a kitten? How do you determine which animal is okay to kill and which one isn't?" I was given pause to think. I liked pigs very much. Why was it okay to eat them? Suddenly, it wasn't okay anymore.

Compassionate: What challenges do you face to maintain this lifestyle?

Sister Tinh Quang: I try to eat as close to vegan as I can, but it is not easy. As a monastic, I must accept whatever food is offered. Luckily, I'm not given meat, but sometimes I am given eggs, or dairy by well-meaning people. I'm leaving for Mongolia in a few weeks, and though I will be with monastics for most of the time there, the first 2 days will be a challenge, as I must find my own meals. I understand that finding vegetarian in Mongolia can be quite challenging.

Compassionate: If you could give tips or advice to someone new to this type of eating, what would it be?

Sister Tinh Quang: Learn as much as you can about nutrition, without becoming to dogmatic about it. Also, get yourself some good vegetarian cookbooks or go on the web - lots and lots of blogs with recipes and information. When I became vegetarian in 1973, there were very few vegetarians around, no internet, and any cookbooks had inedible (to me) recipes. Luckily, I knew some Hindus who helped me learn to cook healthy vegetarian meals. Before consulting with them, I ate a lot of grilled cheese and French fries, and boiled everything else. Not very appetizing.

Compassionate: What is your favourite meal?

Sister Tinh Quang: I enjoy most pasta dishes. I love tofu, now that I know how to prepare it properly (that took a few years). However, my favourite meal is very simple. A bowl of miso soup with cubed tofu, sprinkled with sesame seeds or cilantro. This is followed by brown basmati rice, covered with a vegetarian Korean Bipimbop. Spicy and tasty.

Compassionate: Have you noticed any changes in yourself since you began eating this way?

Sister Tinh Quang: I have to remember back as the changes were most evident in the beginning. I had more energy, and became more aware of what I was putting into my body. Before becoming a vegetarian I would look at a field of cows and think, "oh, how nice, a field of cows". Now, when I see them I see fellow travelers on this planet, who have a right to live a natural, cow life, and have as much right to be here as I do.

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Beverly said...

Can't say enough about Thich nu Tinh Quang. I knew her before she became a nun. She literally saved my life. So happy to see that she is still helping others.

Compassionate Consumption said...

Wow....that's quite a statement!
(Can't really add anything else, but I would like to say "thank you" for visiting the blog!)