A Brief Biography of The Supreme Master Ching Hai
"A Master is one who has the key for you to become a Master...to help you realize that you are also a Master and that you and God are also One. That's all...that's the only role of the Master."
"Our path is not a religion. I do not convert anyone to Catholicism or Buddhism, or any other "ism." I simply offer you a way to know yourself, to find out where you come from, to remember your mission here on earth, to discover the secrets of the universe, to understand why there is so much misery, and see what awaits us after death."
"We are separated from God because we are too busy. If someone is talking to you and the telephone keeps ringing, and you are busy cooking or chatting with other people, then no one can get in touch with you. The same thing happens with God. He is calling every day and we have no time for Him and keep hanging up on Him."
-The Supreme Master Ching Hai-
The Supreme Master Ching Hai was born in Au Lac (Vietnam). Her father was a highly reputed Naturopath. He loved to study world literature and was especially interested in philosophy. Among his favorites were the writings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu which were available to The Supreme Master Ching Hai as a young child. She had read these and other Buddhist texts before she had entered primary school.
The Supreme Master Ching Hai was not a typical child. She was often found reading philosophical literature when the other children were doing homework and playing. This concerned her father who asked her if she understood these works. She answered him "If I didn't understand, I wouldn't have any interest in doing this." Although he remained concerned, she consistently did excellent work in school so he supported her unusual interests.
Although her parents were Catholic, they were open to Buddhism. Suma Ching Hai's grandmother, a Buddhist, whom Master loved to spend time with taught Her the scriptures and Buddhist worship. The Supreme Master Ching Hai developed a very open attitude toward religion due to this background. She would attend Catholic Church in the morning, Buddhist temple in the afternoon and in the evening would listen to lectures on the holy teachings. This left Her with many spiritual questions, "Where did we come from? What is life after death? Why are people so different?"
At one time, there was a shortage of doctors and nurses in Her town, so Master helped in the hospital after Her classes. She washed patients, emptied bedpans and did errands in Her efforts to ease the suffering. Her friends in different countries often called Her the "living Buddha" or the "funny saint" because of Her sense of humor and kindness to everyone.
She has always had a soft spot for animals and has been known often to take a wounded animal home, care for it and release it. If she saw an animal slaughtered, she would cry, wishing that she could prevent the suffering in the world. She has been a vegetarian and has always been repulsed by the sight of killing, and of meat all Her life.
When The Supreme Master Ching Hai was a child, an astrologer said that She was an unusual, very intelligent being with superior character and morals. It was predicted that She would be a renunciate and become enlightened if not married, but if married, She would have a happy relationship and an admirable husband. This same prediction was repeated many other times in Her later life.
When The Supreme Master Ching Hai left home to become a nun, Her mother went to a Quan Yin temple to pray for advice. She chose a temple where the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva was said to answer all questions of sincere devotees. She was told, "The Master is a very rare and noble child, one of a billion. She has come to this world, on the mission of Quan Yin, to save sentient beings from misery."
She worked for a time in Germany as a translator for the Red Cross. She translated Au Lac Language, German and English, and voluntarily also worked long hours in the service of Au Lac refugees at the expense of her own health and comfort. Her work with Red Cross put The Supreme Master Ching Hai in contact with refugees from many countries. She continuously saw suffering and turmoil brought on by wars and natural disasters. The Supreme Master Ching Hai suffered a great deal as She sought to alleviate the pain She saw, and realized how impossible it was for one person to stop the suffering of humanity. This drove Her more strongly toward enlightenment, as she realized that only this could help alleviate mankind's pain. Therefore, while living in Europe, She practiced Her meditation even more seriously. She sought out new teachers, read everything She could find and practiced many methods She often felt that this was not working, however, and that She was not experiencing the spiritual phenomena She read about in the scriptures, nor was she reaching an enlightened state. This was extremely frustrating for Her.
The Supreme Master Ching Hai has an unusual broad view toward all religions. She has studied and teaches the words of Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu and many others. She constantly shows the similarities among the great teachings and lets us see through Her eyes how all the great Masters are preaching the same Truth. She often explains how different religious opinions have arisen due only to the difference in opinions of different people in different countries at different times.
While in Germany, The Supreme Master Ching Hai was happily married to a German scientist. He had doctorates in two fields. He was a kind, attentive and supportive husband. He became a vegetarian, travelled with his wife on pilgrimages and was very supportive of her charitable works. Eventually, The Supreme Master Ching Hai felt that She needed to leave Her marriage in order to pursue Her spiritual goal. She discussed this at great length with Her husband and the separation was with his agreement. This was an extremely difficult decision for both of them, but She felt very strongly that this was the right decision for Her and that She needed to do this in order to pursue enlightenment.
After leaving Her marriage, The Supreme Master Ching Hai sought the perfect method which could lead one to attain liberation in one lifetime. In the Surangama Sutra, Sakyamuni Buddha said that the Quan Yin Method was the highest of all methods. However none of Her teachers knew it. She travelled and searched everywhere and finally, after many years, found a Himalayan Master who initiated Her into the Quan Yin Method and gave Her the Divine Transmission that She had sought for so many years. After a brief period of Quan Yin practice, She became fully enlightened and continued practicing and improving Her understanding. She remained in retreat in the Himalayas for some time, continuing Her daily practice.
Eventually, The Supreme Master Ching Hai travelled to Formosa. One evening, during a typhoon with heavy rain, as She meditated in a room behind a small temple in Formosa, a group of people knocked at Her door. When Master asked them why they had come they answered, "Quan Yin Bodhisattva (The Goddess of Mercy) replied to our prayers and told us about you, saying that you are the great Master and we should pray to you for the method to reach liberation." Master tried to send them away but they would not go. Finally Master was touched by their sincerity and devotion and agreed to initiate them after several months of purification and their agreement to adhere to a vegetarian diet.
Shy in nature, The Supreme Master Ching Hai did not seek out students to teach. In fact, She ran away from people who sought Her initiation. This happened in India, and in the United States where She was living the unassuming life of a Buddhist nun. When She was "discovered" for the third time in Formosa, She realized that She must not run away from the inevitable tasks that lie ahead. She began sharing with all who wished to hear Her message of Truth, and She began initiating sincere students into the Quan Yin Method.
The Supreme Master Ching Hai's work has spread by word of mouth from this first small group in Formosa to many hundreds of thousands. Most of Master's initiates are in Formosa, because that is where She has stayed the longest. In recent years She has travelled and taught throughout Asia, the United States, Latin America and Europe. Many people from all walks of life, and from many different religious backgrounds, have made great spiritual progress with Her help. Although no formal organization exists to spread Her teachings, grateful friends and disciples are to be found all over the world, ready and willing to help others learn from their beloved Master.
In addition to helping countless numbers of people through Her spiritual teachings and initiations. The Supreme Master Ching Hai has used her boundless energy to assist those who are suffering or in need. In recent years, Her humanitarian efforts have touched the hearts and lives of millions of people all over the world. Master does not discriminate between suffering caused by spiritual ignorance, material privation, or circumstantial events. Wherever there is suffering, She will help.
Some of The Supreme Master Ching Hai's humanitarian activities in the past few years include aid to: the homeless throughout the United States; victims of fire in southern California; victims of floods in the Midwest United States, central and eastern Mainland China, Malaysia, Au Lac, Holland, Belgium and France; disadvantaged elderly in Brazil; those displaced by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines; disaster victims in northern Thailand; destitute families in Formosa and Singapore; lepers on Molokai, Hawaii; spiritual communities in India, Germany and Uganda; families of mentally retarded children in Hawaii; victims of the Los Angeles earthquake; veterans of the United States; orphanages in Au Lac; institutions of medical research on AIDS and cancer in the United States; and many, many others. Of course, we must also mention The Supreme Master Ching Hai's neverending and tireless efforts to help the Au Lac refugees, those both inside and out of refugee camps.
Although She has not sought acknowledgement of any kind, The Supreme Master Ching Hai has been recognized and honored for Her humanitarian work by government officials throughout the world. For example, October 25, 1993 was proclaimed "The Supreme Master Ching Hai Day" by the mayor of Honolulu Hawaii, and February 22, 1994 was likewise proclaimed by the governors of the States of Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri and Minnesota. She also received the "World Peace Award" in Honolulu, an the "World Spiritual Leadership Award" at a ceremony in Chicago on February 22, 1994. Congratulatory messages were sent to the Chicago ceremony by many government officials worldwide, including Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Reagan.
The sales of all her artistic endeavors have enabled Master Ching Hai to create an independent source of funding for humanitarian activities, highlighting her pragmatic view that we should always try and create our own means from which to give others.
Master Ching Hai told us that She was not always enlightened. She lived a normal worldly life, and knows from experience about our problems, our heartaches, passions, desires and doubts. She also knows the Heavenly Realms of Buddhahood, and how to get there from here. Her sole function at this point in Her life is to help us with our journey from the suffering and confusion of the unawakened state to the Bliss and Absolute Clarity of Total Divine Realization. If you are ready, She is here to take you home!
The Supreme Master Ching Hai gives a variety of lectures to interested students according to their backgrounds and cultures; no matter if one is Christian, Moslem, Buddhist or Taoist, etc.. She speaks in English, French, German, Chinese, and Au Lac Language. Those who wish to learn and practice the Quan Yin Method with The Supreme Master Ching Hai are welcomed to receive Her initiation. Her lectures and initiation are offered free of charge.