Ching Hai

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Ching Hai
ChingHai Sydney in 1993.jpg
Ching Hai in Sydney (1993)
Born (1950-05-12) 12 May 1950 (age 67)
Vietnam
Known for Founder of Quan Yin Method

Ching Hai (born 12 May 1950) is a Vietnamese author, entrepreneur, and teacher of the Quan Yin Method of meditation.[1] Hai founded the restaurant and fashion company Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association.[2][3] Her followers refer to her as "Supreme Master".[4]

Biography[edit]

Ching Hai was born Hue Dang Trinh to a Vietnamese mother and a Chinese father, on 12 May 1950 in a small village in the Quảng Ngãi Province in Vietnam.[5] In 1969, she began a relationship with a German scientist.[1][6] They married, but separated after two years to focus on spiritualism.[5] In 1979, she met a Buddhist monk in Germany whom she followed for three years, but his monastery denied entry to females.[6] She moved to India to study different religions.[when?]

Hai attempted to buy a copy of the Bhagavad Gita from a bookshop near the Ganges. Despite the shopkeepers' assertion that they had not got a copy, an extensive search revealed one in a sealed box. This led to rumours of her having a third eye circulating by 1982.[7]. In 1983, she met a Vietnamese Buddhist monk in Taiwan named Jing-Xing, who ordained her in 1984 as "Thanh Hai", meaning "pure ocean".[6]

According to her official biography, Ching Hai was born to a well-off naturopathic family in Âu Lạc, Hanoi, Vietnam. Though raised as a Roman Catholic, she learned the basics of Buddhism from her grandmother. A Himalayas spiritual teacher showed her a particular meditation method which she named Quan Yin method.[8]

Her meditations centres in American cities such as Los Angeles benefit from tax-exempt status as religious organizations.[5] She presides over an organization which owns restaurants and sells her jewellery and clothes.[6]

Corporate operations[edit]

Hai founded the Loving Hut restaurant chains.[9][10] with 138 restaurants worldwide in 2014.[11]

She launched an clothing line in New York and Paris in 1995.[12]

She has authored picture books, such as The Birds in My Life and The Noble Wilds.[13] The books consist of photos she has taken.

Her organization hosts websites which offer digital downloads of her media in 17 languages as well as a "Celestial Shop" which sells apparel and jewelry designed by Hai.[7][14]

Supreme Master Ching Hai International[edit]

Hai has founded organizations including the Supreme Master Ching Hai International, World Peace Media, Oceans of Love Entertainment and Supreme Master Television. Her organization runs an international vegetarian restaurants chain, some of which sell her merchandise.[citation needed]

In late 2008 Ching Hai launched a media campaign in Australia and New Zealand asking people to "Be Green, Go Veg, Save the Planet".[15]

The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association has made submissions to the Garnaut Climate Change Review, advocating large cuts to livestock production.[16]

According to political scientist Patricia Thornton at the University of Oxford, the Ching Hai World Society's heavy reliance on the internet for text distribution, recruitment and information-sharing, marks the group as a transnational "cybersect."[7] Thornton claimed that the source of income behind Hai's numerous business ventures is unknown [7] and that much of the media produced by her television programmes is heavily self-referential and promotional and aims to "build a public record of recognition for group activities."[7]

Quan Yin method[edit]

Hai first demonstrated the "Immeasurable Light Meditation Center and the Way of Sound Contemplation" or Quan Yin method of meditation in Miaoli, Taiwan.[7] The method is very similar to the Surat Shabd Yoga method from the Sant Mat tradition.

Hai has said that she did not invent the Quan Yin method of meditation, but she merely "knows" it.[17] In her book The Key of Immediate Enlightenment she claims that those who recite her name would become spiritually elevated.[18]

The method involves meditation on the "inner light and the inner sound of God", or the Shabd. Hai claims that the Bible acknowledged the existence of this method and that it has been repeatedly re-used by most major religions.[5] The Quan Yin Method requires two and a half hours of meditation per day and adherence to five precepts[19] similar to the Five Precepts of Buddhism.

Quan Yin method in China[edit]

By 1996, several thousand residents of China were practitioners of the method.

The Chinese government claimed that the organization's beliefs and activities were fundamentally "anti-communist" and called the group a "reactionary religious organization".[7]

In 2002, the manager of the Wuhan Zhongzhi Electric Testing Equipment Company was accused by the Chinese authorities of using the business as a cover to "support heresies" associated with the Quan Yin method.[7] The enterprise supported thirty practitioners who "masqueraded as employees and business associates." The manager was charged with using the company's offices and buildings as "retreat sites", organizing "initiations" and "screenings" to recruit members, and illegally printing and distributing more than 6,000 copies of heretical texts.[7]

Controversies[edit]

The Taiwan government has investigated Hai's organization for "alleged fund-raising improprieties", which included a transfer of $2 million outside of the country.[2]

Hai gave $640,000 to Bill Clinton's Presidential Legal Expenses Trust which it returned in 1996 because of "suspicious" funding sources.[20][21]

In 2004, an artificial island and a 330-foot (100 m) long boardwalk created in Biscayne National Park cost $1 million USD to remove after being illegally constructed by Hai, known locally as a wealthy property owner under the pseudonym Celestia De Lamour.[22] National Park workers replanted between 400 and 500 mangrove trees in the area once covered by the illegal boardwalk. The private property owned by Ching Hai adjacent to the national park was seized by police and later sold at auction to the village of Palmetto Bay, which planned to establish a park on the site.[23]

Awards[edit]

  • 1994 - World Humanitarian Leadership Award, presented by Barbara Finch, Chair of the International Federation for Human Rights.[27][28][29]
  • 1994 - World Spiritual Leadership Award, presented by General Secretary Chen Hung Kwang of the World Cultural Communication Association.[30][31][32][33][34][35]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Partridge, Christopher (2004) New Religions: A Guide, Oxford University Press, p. 264
  2. ^ a b Chua-Eoan, Howard (20 January 1997). "The Buddhist Martha". Time Magazine. 
  3. ^ Maragay, Fel V. (20 November 2006). "Master of charity". Manila Standard Today. 
  4. ^ "Supreme Master Ching Hai". God's Direct Contact. Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d Young, Gordon (22 May 1996). "God Inc". SF Weekly. 
  6. ^ a b c d Guzmán, Rafer (28 March 1996). "Immaterial Girl". Metro. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Thornton, Patricia M. (2008) Manufacturing Dissent in Transnational China in "Popular Protest in China", Kevin J. O'Brien (ed.), Harvard University Press, pp. 189–192
  8. ^ Supreme Master Ching Hai (March 2009). "God's Direct Contact". Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association. 
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 November 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  10. ^ "Vegan Fast-Food Loving Hut Opens in San Francisco Centre Food Court". SF Weekly website: SFoodie blog. SF Weekly. 3 May 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  11. ^ "Loving Hut – International Vegan Chain Restaurant". 15 Jan 2018. 
  12. ^ "The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association, Humanitarian Relief Activities". Godsdirectcontact.org.tw. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  13. ^ "The Supreme Master Ching Hai: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle". Amazon.com. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  14. ^ "The Official Online Shop for Celestial Products". The Celestial Shop. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  15. ^ "Bleak days at Cape Grim as beef bashed". The Australian. 26 October 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2009. 
  16. ^ Ching Hai's submission Archived 21 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine. to the Garnaut Climate Change
  17. ^ Supreme Master Ching Hai (17 December 1998). "Master's Words: The Quan Yin Method is an Eternal Universal Law". Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association Publishing Co Ltd. 
  18. ^ Chan, Charmaine (3 January 1999). "Cult branches spread worldwide". South China Morning Post. p. 7. 
  19. ^ Supreme Master Ching Hai (25 March 2010). "Quan Yin – The Five Precepts". Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association Publishing Co Ltd. 
  20. ^ "In Ching Hai, Clinton finds new type of special interest". www.latimes.com. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  21. ^ "Behind Clinton fund donations, sect with a flamboyant leader". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  22. ^ "Park service to eliminate island". The Washington Times. 16 March 2004. 
  23. ^ Morgan, Curtis (24 March 2004). "Park removes access to illegal bay island". The Miami Herald (Link to Ross Institute). 
  24. ^ "檀香山市長代表美國政府頒贈 清海無上師 國際和平獎.榮譽公民和銅像". 聯合報 (in Chinese). 台灣台北. 1993-11-09. 
  25. ^ 記者劉乃游專訪 (1993-11-06). "清海無上師獲國際和平和平獎 赴美賑災行善獲美政府 頒贈榮譽公民並豎像". 中央日報 (in Chinese). 台灣台北. 
  26. ^ "清海無上師榮獲國際和平獎". 高雄晚報 (in Chinese). 台灣台北. 1993-11-06. 
  27. ^ 記者陳碧華、李彥甫 (1994-05-26). "談到同胞苦難 她三度淚下 國際人權大會 清海無上師致詞感人". 聯合報 (in Chinese). 台灣台北. 
  28. ^ 記者李秀姬 (1994-05-26). "國際人權聯盟發表人權宣言 立委建議 福爾摩沙收容悠樂難民". 自由時報 (in Chinese). 台灣台北. 
  29. ^ "重申國際正義人道精神 國際人權大會發表人權宣言". 中國晚報 (in Chinese). 台灣台北. 1994-05-29. 
  30. ^ 台北訊 (1994-03-01). "美國頒發世界精神領袖獎清海無上師". 聯合報 (in Chinese). 台灣. 
  31. ^ "清海無上師榮獲世界精神領袖獎". 中央日報 (in Chinese). 台灣. 1994-03-04. 
  32. ^ "清海無上師榮獲世界精神領袖獎". 中國時報 (in Chinese). 台灣. 1994-03-07. 
  33. ^ 台北訊 (1994-03-01). "清海大師獲「世界精神領袖獎」". 自由時報 (in Chinese). 台灣. 
  34. ^ 記者 黃宏玉/特稿 (1994-03-01). "清海無上師渡化眾生免除苦難實至名歸". 台灣公論報 (in Chinese). 台灣. 
  35. ^ 本報記者田人 (1994-02-25). "美中西部六州聯合舉辦「清海日」 及贈送銅像晚會 場面盛大 氣氛莊嚴 近二千人出席大會". 美國芝加哥時報. 美國. 
  36. ^ "Gusi Peace Prize International 2006". Gusi Peace Prize Foundation. 2006-11-22. Retrieved 2017-07-18. Supreme Master Ching Hai (Vietnam) for Philanthropy 
  37. ^ "Carlo among 15 Gusi Peace Prize awardees". philstar Global. 2006-11-17. Retrieved 2017-07-18. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Ching Hai at Wikimedia Commons