|Master A Brief Biography of the Supreme Master Ching Hai|
From Book “The Key of Immediate Enlightenment 4”, page vi-xii
Master Ching Hai was born in Au Lac. Her father was a highly reputed Naturopath who 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 Master Ching Hai as a young child. She had read these and other philosophic texts from the East and West before She entered primary school.
Master Ching Hai was not a typical child. She was often found reading philosophical literature when the other children were doing homework and playing. When Her concerned father asked if She understood these works, She answered, “Father, if I didn’t understand, sir, I wouldn’t have any interest in continuing.” Although he remained concerned, Her school report was consistently excellent, and so he supported Her unusual interests.
Although Her parents were Catholic, they were open to the teachings of Buddhism. Master Ching Hai’s grandmother, a Buddhist with whom She loved to spend time, taught Her the scriptures and Buddhist worship. As a result of this background, Master Ching Hai developed a very open attitude toward religion. She would attend Catholic church in the morning, the Buddhist temple in the afternoon, and in the evening, She would listen to lectures on the holy teachings. These early pursuits left Her with many unanswered spiritual questions: “Where did we come from?” “What is life and death?” “Why are people so different?”
During the war, there was a shortage of doctors and nurses in Her hometown, so Master helped in the hospital after Her classes. She washed patients, emptied bedpans, and did errands in Her efforts to ease the suffering. Friends, even in different countries, often called Her the “living Buddha” or the “funny saint” because of Her sense of humor and kindness to everyone. A lifelong vegetarian, She has always been repulsed by the sight of killing, and has been known 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 suffering in the world.
When Master Ching Hai was a child, an astrologer said that She was an unusual and very intelligent being with superior character and morals. It was predicted that She would become enlightened, and, if married, She would have a happy relationship and an admirable husband. This same prediction was repeated many times in Her later life. (Even in different countries!) When Master Ching Hai left home for the Himalayas, Her mother went to a temple to pray for advice. Choosing a temple where the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva was said to answer all questions of sincere devotees, she was told, “Your daughter is a very rare and noble child, one of a billion. She has come to this world on the mission, together with Quan Yin, to save sentient beings from misery.”
She worked for a time in Germany as a translator for the Red Cross and at the expense of Her own health and comfort volunteered long hours in the service of Au Lac refugees. From Her work with the Red Cross, Master Ching Hai came to know of the suffering of refugees from many countries. A constant witness to the misery brought on by wars and natural disasters, She battled to alleviate their pain, but soon realized the futility of having any significant impact on the suffering of humanity. This realization strengthened Her resolve to attain enlightenment, as She knew that this was the best way to help alleviate humankind’s pain. Therefore, while living in Europe, She practiced Her meditation even more diligently, seeking out new teachers, reading all the spiritual literature that She could find, and practicing many methods. However, She felt that none of the methods was effective, and She was not experiencing the spiritual phenomena described in the scriptures, nor was She reaching an enlightened state. This situation became increasingly unbearable to Her.
While in Germany, Master Ching Hai was happily married to a German scientist, who had doctorates in two fields. A kind, attentive, and supportive husband, he became a vegetarian, traveled with his wife on pilgrimages, and was very encouraging of Her charitable works. However, 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. Although this was an extremely difficult decision for both of them, She felt very strongly that it was the right decision for Her in order to pursue enlightenment.
After leaving Her marriage, Master Ching Hai sought the perfect method that could lead to total liberation in one lifetime. However, none of Her teachers knew of this method. Traveling thousands of miles and searching for many years, She finally found a Himalayan Master who initiated Her into the Quan Yin Method and gave Her the Divine Transmission that She sought. After a 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, Master Ching Hai traveled to Formosa. One evening She was meditating in a room behind a small temple as a typhoon with heavy rainsqualls raged outside. Interrupted by a knock on the door, Master’s uninvited guests told Her, “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 Way to reach liberation.” Master Ching Hai tried to send them away but they refused to leave. Finally, touched by their sincerity and devotion, She consented to initiate them after they underwent a period of purification for several months and agreed to adhere to a vegetarian diet.
Shy in nature, Master Ching Hai did not seek out students to teach. In fact, She ran away from people who sought Her. This happened in India, Germany, Formosa and also in the United States where She was living an unassuming life in a small temple. This time in Formosa, when She was “discovered” for the third time, She realized that She must not run away from the inevitable tasks that lay ahead. She began sharing Her message of Truth with all that wished to hear, and initiating sincere students into the Quan Yin Method.
Master Ching Hai’s unusually broad view of all religions stems from Her knowledge that “initially all religious teachings are identical while the living Master remains on the physical plane.” She has studied and now teaches the words of Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, and many others, interpreting the similarities among these great teachings and allowing us see through Her eyes how all the great Masters spoke the same Truth. She often points out how the different religious viewpoints have resulted from varying interpretations of the scriptures in different times and areas of the world. Today, millions of people from all walks of life and diverse religious backgrounds have found meaning in the teachings of Master Ching Hai, and Quan Yin practitioners and Meditation Centers can be found in almost every country in the world. Master Ching Hai gives a variety of lectures to seekers according to their backgrounds and cultures and speaks in English, French, German, Chinese, and Aulacese. In recent years, She has traveled and taught throughout Asia, the United States, Canada, Central & South America, Australia, Africa, Europe and Russia. Sincere aspirants who wish to learn and practice the Quan Yin Method with Master Ching Hai are welcomed to receive Her initiation.
Apart from Her spiritual mission, Supreme Master Ching Hai also focuses on relieving the physical suffering of mankind via humanitarian works around the world. This includes aid to: flood victims in the Midwest United States, Oregon, and California, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Au Lac, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chile, Venezuela, Holland, Belgium and France; victims of the great flood in central and eastern Mainland China; those displaced by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines; victims of fire in southern California and Florida; victims of ice storms in Canada and snow storms in Afghanistan; those whose homes were destroyed by hurricane Mitch in Honduras and Nicaragua, by hurricane Paulina in Mexico, by hurricane Georges in Florida and the Caribbean, by tornadoes in Bangladesh, Alabama and Australia, and typhoons in the Philippines and Bahamas; and victims of earthquakes in Chile, Afghanistan, Iran, China, Los Angeles, Japan, Sakhalin Island in Russia, and Greece. Other humanitarian aid has gone to people suffering from the effects of war, terrorism, or accidents, as in: the famines of Southern Sudan, Cambodia and North Korea; the Oklahoma City bombing; collapse of a department store in South Korea; and war-caused devastation in Chechnya, Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan etc. Disadvantaged groups such as refugees, the elderly, the homeless, children, and people whose lives have been destroyed by disease also are among the recipients of Her help. Financial and other aid has been distributed to: Kosovo refugees in Albania, the Au Lac refugees in detention camps throughout Asia; the elderly and poor in Brazil, India, Armenia and Mongolia; orphanages and hospitals in Benin, Armenia, the Ivory Coast, and in Au Lac; the Starlight Children’s Foundation and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; leper colonies in Molokai Hawaii and the Culion Philippines; institutions of medical research on AIDS and cancer in the United States and United Kingdom; families of mentally retarded children in Hawaii; spiritual communities in India, Germany and Uganda; and war veterans in the United States. Besides these specific gifts of aid, Master Ching Hai’s life of loving compassion has inspired Her fellow practitioners to emulate Her example. Practitioners of the Quan Yin Method provide help to the homeless, poor, elderly and needy throughout the world.
Although She has not sought acknowledgment of any kind, Master Ching Hai has been recognized and honored for Her humanitarian work by governments around 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 and the “World Spiritual Leadership Award” at a ceremony in Chicago on February 22, 1994. Dignitaries from around the world, including Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Reagan sent congratulatory messages to the Chicago ceremony. She was also accorded the title “Honorary Citizen of America.”
In recent years, Master Ching Hai has also devoted Herself to creative expressions of the beauty She enjoys within. Her inspirational works include paintings, decorative fans and lamps, interior decorations, garden designs, dress and jewelry designs, and compositions of music, songs, and poems. Frequently, these art works are made available for purposes of fundraising for Her humanitarian projects.
For three consecutive years since 1996, year-end charity musical events have been held in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. In December 1998, “One World of Peace Through Music,” a musical gala, was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, the site of many Academy Award nights. Enchanting and thought-inspiring poems by the Supreme Master Ching Hai, combined with wonderful performances by celebrated Hollywood artists and international musical personalities, sent a message of love and peace deep into the hearts of many. Portraying the beauty and joy of union with the Divine through Her artistry, Supreme Master Ching Hai has become a pioneer in “sharing the Truth through art.”
Master Ching Hai has told us that She was not always enlightened. By having lived a normal worldly life, She knows from experience about our problems, our heartaches, passions, desires and doubts. She also knows the Heavenly Realms of the Kingdom of God 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 un-awakened state to the bliss and absolute clarity of total Divine Realization. If you are ready, She is here to take you Home!