At first it was the name that made me suspect: “The Supreme Master Ching Hai.” What truly enlightened person would call their self a supreme master? I remembered, though, that Ramana Maharshi was called Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, which means something like the honorable, Lord, and great seer Ramana, so I couldn’t dismiss Ching Hai because of an ostentatious title.
Next, her pictures made me doubt. Ching Hai looks haughty: like someone used to having servants. A three-page spread of her hobnobbing with the Hollywood stars at an Oscar party did not help my impressions, either.
Still, what does The Supreme Master Ching Hai have to say? In her lecture “The Mystery of the World Beyond,” she speaks of hundreds of levels beyond this world where people gain abilities such as the power of eloquence. She also talks about why we should be vegetarians. Her philosophy has a patchwork feel about it, as this quote should demonstrate:
Of course, you go to the higher, the fourth. And the fourth world, this is already out of extraordinary [sic]. And we cannot just use the simple language to describe all these things to the lay person for fear of offending the lord of that world . . .. But with a master, with an experienced master, you can pass through; otherwise we cannot find the road in that kind of world.
Ching Hai’s mastership is based on a “divine transmission” received while in the Himalayas. It is a vague story reminiscent of spiritual tall tales of the 1930s and 1940s where the authors encountered secret societies in the Himalayas, were initiated, and returned to spread their newfound knowledge. These days, such stories often revolve around enlightened extra-terrestrials revealing the secrets of the universe to unsuspecting humans who later go on to write books. Ching Hai must be a traditionalist. Whatever the case, there is nothing more bullet-proof to argument than a source which cannot be cross-examined.
As I soon discovered in her booklet The Key of Immediate Enlightenment, Ching Hai offers to initiate people into the Quan Lin method of Inner Light and Inner Sound meditation.
To her credit, Ching Hai is evidently providing her services free of charge and donates to many charitable causes. I would not waste time looking deeper into her philosophy, though. If you must, here’s a link to the website: