Sunday, August 31, 2014

Vegan Lunch at Quan Am Monastery

This morning, Cassi and I went to a Buddhist monastery for chanting and meditation, followed by a lovely vegan lunch. About a week ago, I got an email from the monastery asking if I'd like to check out their service. They're trying to increase their outreach to "Westerners" since most attendees are Vietnamese. Cassi is very interested in learning more about Buddhism, and I'm super into Quan Yin (or Quan Am as she's called in Vietnamese). Plus, I just love experiencing other cultures and religions.

I'd visited the monastery back in 2012 for a bake sale fundraiser they had, but on that visit, I didn't have a chance to go inside the temple or experience a service.

When you arrive at Quan Am Monastery, you're greeted by a larger-than-life statue of Quan Am, the bodhisattva of compassion. She's my favorite goddess, and standing in front of this statue was a very special experience for me.

There are guardian foo dogs all over the grounds. By the way, I accidentally had my iPhone camera filter on black-and-white for these two pics, but I kinda like 'em like that.

Most monks, nuns, and members at Quan Am are Vietnamese speakers, but when we arrived, we were greeted by Mason, a pierced and tattooed Westerner who lives on the grounds and tends to the gardens. He took us on a little tour and introduced us to the dogs (and puppies!!) who live at the monastery. Then we took our shoes off and headed inside for the Sunday chanting service. It was all in Vietnamese, so we didn't understand a word. We just bowed and stood and kneeled when everyone else did. I wish I could have taken pictures inside the temple, but I wasn't sure if that was allowed. There was a massive gold Buddha statue with LED lights radiating from his head. It was magical.

After the service each week, they serve a free vegetarian lunch. And it was all vegan! We started with this fantastic Vegetable Rice Noodle Soup. There were mushroom, carrots, turnips, and wheat gluten meat in the soup and fresh basil and sprouts on top.

After we finished our soup, we were given Che Bap for dessert. Yes, corn for dessert!

This is a Vietnamese sweet corn pudding made with tapioca, sugar, and coconut cream. It's not overly sweet, but it has just enough sweetness to qualify as dessert. The tapioca makes it pudding-like, and coconut cream on top is buttery and rich.

We finished out our meal with cups of some of the best green tea I've ever tasted.

Wai, the Western member who sent me the initial email invite, took us on another tour of the grounds, taking us around the back side of the building to the stuff we missed before. We saw the doves who live on the grounds pecking in the grass in front of a reclining Buddha statue.

And she took us to see the on-site gardens. They grow all sorts of veggies, but we were super-impressed by all this watercress!

And this was one of my favorite Buddha statues because it not only depicts human followers but animal ones too. Look at the deer coming to see the Buddha.

Locals (and Memphis visitors), the Sunday service (and lunch!) is open to all. Here are the details:

WHAT:  OPEN SERVICE on SUNDAY MORNINGS, with Chanting and Meditation (WEEKLY)
LANGUAGE:  In Vietnamese.  Service led by:  Ven. Nguyen Tanh, Buddhist Monk
WHEN:  11am,  Every Sunday, Weekly
WHERE:  in the TEMPLE (the Big Yellow Building facing Goodlett Rd.)
DONATION:  Love Offering Basis

If you'd rather experience something in English, check out the Friday night meditation and dharma talk.

LANGUAGE:  in English  (and some of the Prayers have Sanskrit Language)
WHO:  Meditation and Dharma Talks led by:  Ven. Nguyen Tanh, Buddhist Monk
WHEN:  6:00 p.m. - 7:00p.m. Every Friday Evening (Starting June 27th)
WHERE:  in the TEMPLE (the Big Yellow Building facing Goodlett Rd.)
DONATION:  Love Offering Basis

The Quan Am Monastery is located at 3500 Goodlett Road. Here's their website.


Susan said...

That sounds like such a serene experience, such lovely grounds. The vegan food is a bonus!

VeggieNextDoor said...

What an amazing and unique experience! And such a great way to try authentic Vietnamese food too. Thanks for sharing, this was so interesting!

Nicole @ Vegan Nom Noms said...

This sounds like a super interesting experience and that food looks delish!

Sandi said...

That's pretty cool! I like the deer "followers".