Since 2007, Venerable Thich Quang Hien has called Tam Bao Buddhist Temple his home. He came to America from Vietnam by claiming refugee status as a religious leader.
He lives at the Tulsa-based temple and serves as a monk, teaching the lessons of Buddha to all who visit.
“Buddhism is a peaceful religion,” Thich says through an interpreter. “The teaching of Buddhism is compassion. We live in compassion.”
He says the temple is open to the public, and he invites everyone to come and learn, no matter their religious beliefs.
“The Buddha said you can come and see if anything is a benefit to you. Then you can follow. If not, then you don’t have to.”
Tam Bao Buddhist Temple, 16933 E. 21st St., hosts an English language service at 9 a.m. every Sunday, followed by the traditional Vietnamese language service at 10:30 a.m. The English service consists of chanting, meditation, a lesson and group discussion. Temple staff provide a soup lunch following each service to those who want to participate.
Although Thich has lived at Tam Bao for 12 years, the 41-year-old has spent the past 26 years of his life in temples, studying and gaining experience to teach the wisdom of Buddha.
“I spend most of the time learning and getting more experience for the teaching of the Buddha instead of going out and having fun every day,” Thich says. “As a Buddhist monk, every day I have to wake up early in the morning to do chanting of the sutra (the teaching of Buddha).”
Thich sometimes visits Tulsa’s various parks. “Then, of course, just regular breakfast, lunch, dinner and stuff like that, and I learn more about teaching the Buddha so that on Sunday I can teach it to people.”
The temple grounds feature various Buddhist statues and a small pond that is open to the public daily from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
“You’re welcome to walk around. It’s very peaceful around here,” Thich says. “People can relieve a lot of stress from the hot, long day.”
Thich says he believes Tulsa is “a very peaceful city,” and he has enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with many different people.
“We opened up this temple for everyone, no matter Burmese, American, Chinese,” he says. “Whoever comes here, we want to come with a mind of learning and sharing each other’s experience and helping each other and make this place a peaceful place.”
A Sunday at Tam Bao
On Sunday, Jan. 5, digital editor Tim Landes attended an English-speaking service at Tam Bao Buddhist Temple, 16833 E 21st St. Following a traditional lunch, he interviewed Venerable Thich Quang Hien for a story featured in the Feb. 2020 issue.