Master  The Master from the Himalayan Clouds  

A Brief Biography of
the Supreme Master
Ching Hai

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The Master from the Himalayan Clouds

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News 79, Media Reports

As Supreme Master Ching Hai becomes well known throughout the world for Her charitable work — assistance to the refugees, the poor and the homeless, and especially unconditional aids to the disasters’ victims, regardless of race or creed, subsequently Women of Spirit: A Sourcebook of Saints, Teacher, Goddesses and Sisterhoods East and West, an encyclopedic book to be in print, reserved a section especially for Her. The following article is an extract from Women of Spirit about Supreme Master Ching Hai.

The Master from the Himalayan Clouds

Once upon a time,
A true peace lover wandered around the many worlds
In search of eternal happiness.
She walked on the face of the Earth, the suns, the moons and the clouds.
At last she found,
That it was all the while hidden in her very heart.
Then she sat down,
And was about to enjoy the new-found Bliss,
But suddenly she looked down,
And saw countless beings were still groveling in darkness,
For they were searching for happiness without.
Just like her before, erring over millions of ages.
Her tears were then rolling down...
One drop, two drops... and many more...
Each drop became a shining jewel,
And soon the sky was studded with glittering tears,
Which are the stars today.
They are too shy in the day,
And too restless in the night to go to sleep.
For all Truth aspirants,
The stars are there to light the Way,
And to remind them of the compassion of a holy Sage.

By the Supreme Master Ching Hai
(from her anthology of poems called “Silent Tears”)

The Supreme Master Ching Hai’s search for an enlightened Master, who could show Her the most direct path to God, took Her through over thirty countries during a period of some seven trying years. She visited numerous important spiritual sites and ashrams, always hoping to find the Master she perhaps intuitively realized was waiting for her.

She eventually arrived in India, a land that has been graced with many great Masters over the centuries. In discussing Her travels in this mystical land, the Supreme Master Ching Hai commented that, “There are many spiritual practitioners in India who eat only one meal each day. They practice a number of methods rather than a selected one. Without a permanent home, they go everywhere on foot, searching for Masters and paths. They meditate every day, never forgetting to practice even for a minute during meals or sleep. They do not meditate briefly, just for one minute. You can imagine how terrific their inner power is. Some of them can walk on fire without getting burnt. However, these are only minor tricks that cannot lead to the ultimate level. It is more important to attain wisdom and liberation. We have tremendous latent power. If we practice well and have absolute faith in ourselves, nothing is beyond us.” Her faith, selfless devotion and all-consuming passion to serve others is made apparent when She describes Her time at one of the many ashrams She visited. “When I had the time, I did anything that needed to be done. Since most people disliked chores, like washing dishes and scrubbing the floor, I did these jobs though office staff like us were usually exempt from laborious work. I was a quick worker, and if I found things strewn around everywhere when I had finished my office job, I promptly cleaned up the mess because I disliked untidiness. I knew how to put things back in order, so I could do it very fast.”

“The more we work, the more enlightened we become. Frankly speaking, it gave me great joy to scrub the staircase and floor in India. I said to myself in jubilation, Oh! I am so honored to have the chance to clean the staircase for these saints. Their feet walk past this place every day; it’s as though I am washing the feet of the saints. I felt highly honored! This thought was a spontaneous one; no one had taught me that. Merely washing the staircase trodden by the disciples was enough to make me feel so honored. How much more honored would I have felt had it been the staircase used by the Master? It is better for us to work unconditionally. Serve others, and all will be given unto you.”

“During my times in the ashrams, I never clung around an enlightened Master or asked him to look at me while I worked. I only served. I scrubbed the staircase, cleaned the floor, watered the plants, and did things that no one else wanted to do. I washed the eating utensils because it was the last thing that people wanted to do. After each meal, eating and cooking utensils piled up like a mountain. Yet I found happiness in washing them every day.”

After working tirelessly in many ashrams, Her truly remarkable search had its final chapter in the highest and most enigmatic mountain range in the world, the Himalayas, the place that for centuries Indians have believed is the abode of the gods. For this reason, millions of devout pilgrims venture into the Himalayas each year to visit the numerous sacred sites and perhaps meet with one of the rare enlightened beings that are said to live in seclusion in remote, secret caves. Sadly, many pilgrims die along the way due to severe weather conditions, landslides or the dangerous icy terrain. There are few conveniences, so some are even consumed by starvation. Fear prevents most pilgrims from venturing too far. Only an extremely rare being with unshakable faith in the Universal Power and tremendous courage would ignore the obvious dangers. When speaking about Her numerous Himalayan treks that took Her increasingly higher and deeper into the snow swept region, Supreme Master Ching Hai said, “When I was in the Himalayas, I couldn’t afford to hire a horse or a coolie. I had nothing, so I could only walk. Perhaps my continuous walking kept me warm. Otherwise, I would have frozen, as I was wearing wet clothes and shoes amid the rain and snow in the mountains. Some peaks were high and lofty, and looked awesome. I must have been as crazy then as couples who are madly in love, and oblivious to everything else. Lovers are blind to the risks and burden of marriage and family life, nor do they think about the future. They are enthralled by their amour for each other, and live only for that moment in time.”


“However, God blesses idiots like me. When I was looking for an enlightened Master, I had only two sets of clothes, but I never caught a cold traversing the Himalayan trails. Sometimes, I couldn’t even afford to buy firewood to dry my wet clothes, so I went near other people’s campfires, holding them in my hands. The heat made my clothes dry faster and I could also warm myself. I must have been blind and “God-crazed”. I probably wouldn’t have dared to do it now.”

“All I had on my mind then was God; and all I could see was God. There was no room for family or money. I was stupid enough, but nothing else could penetrate my mind because I had only God in my heart. It is like when we are in love, we are completely blind to the faults of our lover, and we refuse to listen to any unfavorable remarks against him. Probably that was why God gave me protection, or I would have died long ago.”

The Supreme Master Ching Hai’s devotion to God enabled Her to overcome the many hardships associated with traveling alone and the inhospitable mountainous environment that She experienced. “In some parts of the Himalayas, the low atmospheric pressure made it difficult to cook food well. I could only wash the food in the Ganges and eat it raw. It was delicious, though. The Himalayas is the most wonderful place. I could do without hot water. It was fun taking a cold dip. It was so cold that it felt as though my body had shrunk. I would count to 5, and then jump out from the ice-cold river. My body seemed to bloom then as thousands flowers and I felt so exalted.” On what would be Her final trek into the abode of the gods, Supreme Master Ching Hai began like She had often done before with only two sets of clothes, a pair of sports shoes, a sleeping bag, a water bottle, a couple of books and a walking stick. She was almost constantly wet and cold as She ascended ever higher. The further she went the more belongings She discarded to conserve energy. Having discarded virtually everything, She put Her life entirely into God’s hands. All things come to those who seek God and God alone. So it was inevitable that one day She would find the Master She had incessantly yearned for. That Master was the great Master Khuda Ji, who lived in seclusion deep in the Himalayas. Master Khuda Ji was four hundred and fifty years old when He initiated the Supreme Master Ching Hai into the ancient art of meditation on the heavenly Sound and divine Light. He had remained patiently in His Himalayan abode waiting for Her. She would be His first and only disciple. Although, She had practiced this form of meditation before, Master Khuda Ji was to impart to Her the ultimate spiritual transmission that is the essence of Initiation. Only the few great Masters, who have attained the Ultimate, can perform Initiation.

The Supreme Master Ching Hai rarely speaks about Master Khuda Ji, who left the physical realm soon after His noble mission was accomplished. She acknowledges all those who taught Her at each point during Her search but saves the highest accolade for God. “I had many Masters, both tangible and intangible, and each of them taught me different things. The truth is, God is my only enlightened Master.” However, once when asked by one of Her initiates about Her great Himalayan Master, She said, “Oh, I followed an enlightened Master a very great one! However, He has passed away. He had only one disciple, that was me. And I must carry on His work.”

The Supreme Master Ching Hai stayed in the Himalayas for several months after Her experience with Master Khuda Ji, perfecting the ancient art of meditation. Despite the extreme conditions and many adversities, She felt strangely connected to this uniquely spiritual region, as She once said, “In the Himalayas, you could feel all the animals and plants giving forth a gentle and friendly ambiance. The sky was tranquil and boundless; the pine trees were very friendly. I lived at a high elevation and could feel the white clouds drifting around me. It was as though I was walking on the clouds. I didn’t summon the clouds for me to ride; they came on their own. You may have seen paintings of people riding on clouds; that is exactly what I am trying to describe. It was not a celestial phenomenon; rather, it was a common scene in the Himalayas.”

Returning to the plains, She visited one of the ashrams She had stayed at previously. While She sat innocuously reading a discarded newspaper, one of the ashram’s most long-standing disciples, who had practiced under three successive Masters in the lineage, unreservedly performed a full-body prostration before Her in full view of all around, touching and even kissing Her feet. Of course, the Supreme Master Ching Hai was startled and overwhelmed, as She later explained. “That was not the first time we met; we had worked together for several months and had had tea together. However, he prostrated to me after I came back from my trip to the Himalayas. I was afraid that my ego might grow as tall as the hill! Like everyone around us then, I was really startled. I was so shocked that I couldn’t think of anything. My mind went blank and couldn’t give the incident a further thought. I only knew that I should leave.” And so She did, immediately.

She tried desperately to remain inconspicuous as She traveled widely throughout India. However, Her sublime Inner Light was impossible to conceal.

Maha Kumbh Mela festival

At India’s Maha Kumbh Mela festival that is held every twelve years at Hardwar on the banks of the Ganges River in Uttar Pradesh, millions of Hindus from all parts of the country congregate for an entire month. It’s a rare gathering of spiritual Masters, many of whom venture down from the Himalayas only on this occasion, so pilgrims go with questions and all kinds of offerings for them. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Supreme Master Ching Hai’s visit caused quite a stir. “When I was at the Kumbh Mela, many people followed me. In India, if a woman goes out alone, people would throw stones at her, thinking that she is a bad woman. However, although I was traveling alone, people bowed to me and offered spices, coconuts, flowers and food to me. They even gave me the best tent, the kind usually reserved for great Masters. They let me use a big tent all by myself while some other Masters had to squeeze into one tent.” “There was nothing about me that would attract attention. I didn’t nail myself or grow a beard; nor did I blacken myself with ash; nor was I as lean as a skeleton. You recognized saints the moment you saw them. They had been exposed to the sun all day long, so most of them were dark. They grew a beard because they didn’t have the time to shave. They had long hair too. You could immediately recognize that they were enlightened Masters or Saints. I didn’t look like one at all.”

She eventually left India but no matter where she went people intuitively knew of Her spiritual greatness. She had no desire to attract followers; but no matter how many times She fled from those who found Her, they just kept coming. Finally, in Taiwan, just as had happened on other occasions in India, in New York City, and in other parts of the world, She was found by a group of spiritual seekers who were divinely guided to Her. At the time she was living anonymously behind a small, little-known temple. She was touched by their sincerity and realized that she could no longer avoid Her life’s mission. The seekers sincerely sought initiation, so Supreme Master Ching Hai eventually granted them, and so began Her public life as a Master.

While the Supreme Master Ching Hai’s mission is first and foremost a spiritual one, nevertheless She provides necessary material assistance to people in need whenever possible. As a result, during the last few years She has received numerous awards recognizing Her humanitarian commitment that has assisted millions of people all over the world in coping with natural disasters, poverty and disease. The most notable so far has been the 1994 World Spiritual Leadership Award that was presented by the Governors of six States in the United States (viz., Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri and Minnesota) for Her generous aid after the 1993 Mississippi flood. Most of Her other aids were unnoticed as they were done not through the governments. Her undiscriminating compassion, like Her patience, determination and perseverance, which She has displayed throughout Her life, are important qualities for all spiritual aspirants. These are the qualities that were also taught and exemplified by the great past Masters like Jesus, Shakyamuni Buddha, Krishna, Lao Tzu, Mohammed, Guru Nanak, etcetera. Yet while each Master’s life is unique, the spiritual path they take is and always has been the same. That path is the path of meditation on the heavenly Sound and Light. The Supreme Master Ching Hai has called this the Quan Yin Method, because She gave Her first public teachings in Formosa. Quan Yin is a Chinese term that means observation of the inner Vibration.

This primal Vibration or Sound is in its nature transcendental and therefore perceived in silence. Jesus’ disciples called it the “Holy Spirit” or the “Word” (which is from the Greek word “Logos,” meaning sound). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” After Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment, He spoke of this Sound too, calling it the “drum of immortality”. Krishna equated Himself with the “sound in ether”. Mohammed perceived this Sound in the cave at Gare-Hira when He had a vision of the archangel Gabriel, and Lao Tzu described the Tao as the “Great Tone”.

Spiritual Light also manifests as an aspect of the Divine Presence. Hence, the great Masters impart both transcendental Sound and Light, as the Supreme Master Ching Hai explains. “So, we get in contact with this Spirit, which is a manifestation of divine Light and Vibration, and by doing so, we know God. In fact, it isn’t really a method. It is the power of the Master. If you have it, then you can transmit it. The method is a transcendental one that cannot be described by our language. Even if someone describes it to you, you will not receive the Light and the Vibration, the inner peace and wisdom. Everything is transmitted in silence, and you will see your old Masters like Jesus or Buddha. You will receive all that you need to follow their footsteps, and little by little you will become Christ-like, and you will become one with God.”

In less than ten years, the ancient message of the Quan Yin meditation has spread to many countries across the globe. Supreme Master Ching Hai’s many lectures and informal discussions have been transcribed to numerous books, and audio/video tapes in several languages, and hundreds of thousands of people from different faiths have been initiated. The Supreme Master Ching Hai accepts all sincere spiritual aspirants for initiation, which like Her public lectures, is always offered free of charge. Aspirants must agree to a lifelong commitment to basic ethical codes of conduct, including adherence to a lacto-vegetarian or vegan diet. She finances Her mission with the proceeds derived from the sale of Her colorful artwork, exquisite fashion and fine jewelry designs, that have all been exhibited internationally to critical acclaim.

The rapid pace of the Supreme Master Ching Hai’s vital and self-sacrificing work continues today, and with God’s grace will do so long into the future. Her work will enable as many beings as possible to have the chance to connect with a most precious, fully enlightened Master. She has often said that such connections are made perhaps once in millions of years, so naturally, She welcomes all those who feel their time has now finally arrived.


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