Interview with Supreme Master Ching Hai by Agence France-Presse News Agency December 13, 2010 Cancún, Mexico    
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Veronica, nice to know you.

*Nice to meet you, Master. Master Ching Hai, I was wondering what time you have to meditate. When do you have time?

Whenever. Whenever have time, even five minutes.

* So, I think you have a lot of work. (Yes.) What time do you have for your rest?

Yes, yes. I do have lots of work, but I work very fast. Yes. I don't just work like from 8 to 5, I do whenever the job finished, and I try to balance. When I know that I am low, then I must go, recharge quick. Yes, and if I have time, then I meditate all day, all night. If I don't have time, then I meditate in the night. Whenever I have time, even five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes,  I try to always remember God.  Yes, if I don't have work to do in the world, I think I just… All day, all night meditate, because that's the best time for me, the most enjoyable and happy.

*What about your animals, your dogs, your birds? You have birds, you have dogs. You have cats? (‍Yes.) Yes? (
Yes.) I used to have a cat, but she's already gone back to Heaven. So now I have dogs and birds. But I also have outside birds and squirrels and wild cats. They come to my house and we always have food for them, ready in the garden.

*I know you started from a very young age, very tender age, but when did you experience enlightenment?

When I was in the Himalayas. Yes.

*Please tell us about that experience.

Just in the beginning, like that. I just went to the Himalayas and searched all over for different masters and finally I met one. Actually, he found me. And then I meditated with him for a while, and then in a cave. I really felt then that I knew something, not everything, but a great, a lot, of things. To us, yes, our meeting. I felt true connection with the Divine within us.

*And how can we, all the rest of the people, find this connection?

Easy.  The most difficult is to find the one who can show you.   Yes. Sometimes that person is in the Himalayas, sometimes he is in the supermarket, sometimes he is your neighbor. It depends.

*It can be anyone?

It can be anyone, if that person is already connected with the Divine, with God, with Heaven, or with Buddha Nature.

*But how many people can be connected?

How many? A lot, a lot - millions of them.

*So, from that period, or from that occasion, to today, what have you been doing?

What have I been doing?

*Yes. What have you done?

First, I enjoyed myself, a short time in the Himalayas, and I did not want to go down. But then God told me  I had to go down to help others who are not yet connected and who suffer the emptiness of not knowing their real Self.   Then I just went down and I did not even know what to do and people really found me. At least three times I was discovered, and then there was no stopping anymore after that. Yes, I just meditated in a small place, behind the temple, and people just came and said that they had a vision, that they had to come and find me. That was a very rainy day, almost like typhoon and everything. That was not the first time.
The first time was in India. I was just walking around like everybody else and then somebody wanted to read my hand. Yes, I just walked by, and then he said, “I want to look at your hand.” Because he saw Light around me. I said, “I don't believe in hand reading.'' I was young and carefree and I said, “I don't believe in fortuneteller and stuff.” And I told him, “I have just a little money, enough just to live. I don't have money, extra, for fortunetelling. I don't believe anyway.” So he said, “No, no, no. It would be my privilege to read your hand. I just want to read your hand, and free, free of charge.” So, he read my hand and he told me that I am almost like a Buddha - means almost “complete enlightenment,” something like that, almost, yes. And then everybody wanted to learn from me. I said, “No, no, no. I'm just here for learning myself.” So I ran back to my hut.

*You were not so sure?

Was just a baby, a baby Buddha maybe. Yes. I know things, but I had no expectations to be… At that time, I was still in India and still meditating and enjoying, until God told me to “get out of here.” Also, I did not intend to be a Master or anything at that time. I was young, almost thirty, walking around the Ganges, looking around, eating chapatis and curry. I did not think much of anything. I was still thinking… You have a concept about what a Master should be, you know?

Since you were young, everybody told me, “Buddha is like this, Jesus like that,” and you still have that concept with you, even after enlightenment.

*You don't have that concept anymore?

No, no. I understand now.

*And you believe in the fortuneteller?

Yes, yes, I will come back to that. I'll come back to that. To answer your question: Did I think I was a big Master or anything? I probably was just a baby Buddha. Yes, even now, I don't have a concept of grandeur or anything. I just know what I know. I know what Heaven lets me know, okay? Yes. I do what's Heaven's will. Now come back to the fortuneteller. Because of him a lot of people wanted to come learn with me. He said I am going to be very great in the world, I'm going to be Buddha- like, I am going to save a lot of people. So everybody heard that, around me - you know, India, a lot of people all the time, everywhere - and they looked, they heard that, and they all wanted to come to learn with me. But I ran away. I ran away.
But then one person followed me, all the way and said, “Master, you must teach me. I want to learn with you, you cannot refuse.” You know. The reason was that because the day before, he also saw me, that I said about something… I went into the bookshop and I asked for a book and they said they didn't have that book. And he was the owner of that bookshop, or co-owner, yes, something like that. But I said, “You have that book. You have it in your bookshop.” I said, “I saw that book in your shop,” and I described how the book looked like and what the color, and what color of the word of the book and what color of the cover of the book, and how big. He said, “We don't, really, we don't have it.” Yes, but then next morning, he told me, “We found it! We really have it, but in the storeroom. We did not know it'd already arrived. Somebody put it there, we did not know. How did you know?” I said, “I don't know. I saw it in your bookshop, so I wanted to buy.”
So he thinks that I am somebody who sees things that are not even obvious, hidden in the storeroom. Yes. Even they don't know that they had. Yes. Maybe some friends helped him to bring it there, but he wasn't there and other people not there, so they didn't know. Okay. So he insisted that I am a Buddha, and then he wanted to learn with me. So, at that time I had no idea that I can be a Master or not. I told you, I'm just a baby, Just learner; just a year or something, run around, and just got enlightened recently.  
You thought it was just a vision and you know something, but I did not think much. So I didn't know how to teach him. I said, “Okay, okay, I'll think about it.” But I said to him, “Okay, tomorrow in the morning, 4 o'clock in the morning, if you can come to my place, in a hut, a small mud house on the other side of the Ganges River.” He lived on this side on the Ganges, I lived on the other side of the Ganges River. I said, “Right now, it's dark, I have to go home first. Tomorrow morning, 4 o'clock, on the other side, over there. If you come on time, I'll teach you.” Because I know from his house to over there, need to go by boat. No boat at 4 o'clock; three, half past three in the morning, no boat. Big water, no boat will go. Even you pay, they cannot go because big water at that time, and turbulent, yes. And I thought, “But if he comes, it's the divine order for him. Then I will teach him.” He came.

*And then you decided to teach him?

Yes, he went all the way, many kilometers long, to get to the bridge to cross, and then go back all the way, many kilometers long, to meet me. I had to.

* So, he was the first?

The first, the first, yes.

*And your fears…?

I didn't fear. I just didn't think that I… I didn't think I was ready to teach. I thought I must strengthen, more, my enlightenment power; did not even think of teaching yet.

* I want to know, if your journey to teach, that is your mission, that is your necessity?

Now it is, because God told me I had to do it.

* Okay. So, for how long?

Forever. (* For how many…) For whatever. For when until Hes tells me, “Stop.”

*Okay. And how is the way? It's an easy way or it's not easy?

Very easy.

*It's a very easy road or it's a very (Very easy.) risky, bumpy one?

You look at her. You look at him, look at him, her, and look at that guy there. Yes. Your countrymen, many of them, practice this. They just look better every day.

*Yes, but it's not only eating. It's not their attitude.

Just vegetarian,  vegan, that's it. No eating anything that's concerning the death of other or suffering of other beings, animals or man.   And of course we have to be an honest person. Yes. We have to be loyal to our family, as a husband, wife - husband loyal to wife, wife loyal to husband - and take care of the family, perfect, and be a good citizen of the country, yes, and contribute anything you want, anything you can to the world. Not contribute to me, no, no. You do what you do, privately. Not to me. I take nothing, not one penny from you, nada. Never, never. Never, never. I earn my own money. I make jewelry, like this, for example, clothes, yes.

*You design?

Yes, design and sell. Yes, yes.

*Design the clothes.

Yes, clothes also.


Yes, yes. (What else?) Interior decoration, painting, poetry, songs, yes.

*All these artistic activities.

Yes, yes. And I earn enough money, more than enough. So I can travel, I can help the poor people, as much as my capacity allows, yes.

*Okay. I see a big capacity. You have too much work. You work too hard and you have too many people with you. (Yes, yes.) Why is that? Why do you have so many people?

It's just growing. They just come, yes, because they feel that I really help them.  Inside, they're growing, they're happy, they know God,   and they just like to say “thank you” whenever they see me, or just to look at me, because they love me. That's all. There's no obligation to do anything for me. Just natural. Nobody tells them. Sometimes also too much, I'd say, “Why? Just go home!” Yes, but I love them also. I have to let them see sometimes. Sometimes. But then sometimes, then go home. I love them, so they go home, love their family. Yes. Sometimes they come to ask some questions, yes? The new people, maybe, some questions to ask about spiritual progress. Like they have a vision of Jesus and Jesus tells them something and they ask me, “Is that real?” or what are they going to do? Something like that, for example. Yes. In the beginning, yes. Later, they just know everything themselves. So if they come to see me, just because they love me. Just like you want to see your baby, your child, your boy, because you love him. You ask her why she wants to come see me. You ask her, because I don't really...

*Because I love her.

Told you. Everybody says the same stuff.

*If you can say a message to the Mexican people, what would it be?

I say, “Please go back to your ancestors' tradition of a healthy diet.” Ancestors ate a lot of corn, beans, vegetables, fruits - all natural. Only later we have some undesirable influence from other people. Then we begin to taste the meat and that's how we have a lot of trouble and disasters and diseases from that. Yes, even some, first-timeEuropean people came here, or Spanish people came here, the people, the first ever, came to America, for example, and the people there were also like the people here: they offered them - they wrote in their diary - that they offered them a lot of corn meals and a lot of vegetables and all that. They never mentioned that they had been offered meat or anything like that. Corn, they had a lot, and vegetables. Okay.

*So we have to return.

Return to the ancestry wisdom of the Mayan, of the Aztec, of the real Mexican lineage, noble lineage. And  remember God in your heart all the time. So when you die, angels will come and bring you to God.   Because whomever you love, there will be attraction to each other. If you love God, you'll be attracted and God will be attracted; you'll meet each other at the end. And  remember God made animals to help us, to bless us, to be our friends - not to be our victims.  

*Okay, it's a beautiful message! Thank you.

Thank you. I love your country very much, from my heart. I think your country has a very good tradition. That's why the people are still very pure, very simple and pure. I will pray they stay that way. Yes, stay together and find a solution together. Economic gain is not everything.

*No, but it seems to be.

Yes, because they look too much television, illusion, like America has everything - it's not always true. Advertisement is always different than the true things. The Americans, they're good, but they must work very hard also, for their possession. And some of them, if they lost, they lost things a lot. They lost. If they lost something, they lost job, they lost everything, almost everything, sometimes. But you see, the Mexicans who like to go to America, it could be that - according to Buddhist tradition - it could be last life they were there, so they try to go back home. Yes, but they don't understand that “home” is different now. Yes.  So wherever we're welcomed, wherever we feel loved, then we should stay there. That's where God wants us to be.  

*Where there is love, you feel loved.

Yes, yes. And if you can go to America - I mean, legally, normally, easily - then go. Yes, why not?

*Yes, with no risk.

Yes, yes. So, just please do not risk your precious life for anything you think that might be good but might not be good. And just wait. Maybe one day the border is no more, and like the wall of Berlin, it will be one country or just freely traveling. Yes, at least. Like Europe, before, every few kilometers you had to show your passport, visa, and now you travel from one end of Europe and to another end, nobody asks nada - no checkpoint, nothing, no police, no one.


Yes, a decade ago it wouldn't be possible, unthinkable. Let's go take the kid up here and we have some dinner with him. (*Yes, thank you.) How old is your kid?

*He is five years old.

Okay. Very good. Oh, this is before I forget… Here Madam, before I forget, Madam. (Okay.) This is yours, chocolate and stuff. These are cookies, homemade, for your child; chocolate for you and cookie for you.

*And you know Lucas from “Plaza Sésamo”? He is the monster with cookies all the time? Now my boy likes Lucas. He eats cookies all the time.

It's all vegan. Yes, and even chocolate, vegan. Don't forget.

*(No, no. Don't worry.) I give you now before I forget. (*Thank you so much!)

*When are you here again?

Maybe I will be, but who knows? And then Christmas is the time for family, I never have time to see you. You see? (*I want to be with my two kids.)Yes. You see what I mean? You save it until Christmas, it's the same. All right? (*Thank you so much.) The whole month is Christmas, the whole month of December. (*Whole December, okay.) Yes, it's already middle of December. It's okay. (*We probably give these to...) Yes, sometimes I give things already beginning of September, because I know I don't see them again.

*But will you be here next year?

Who knows? Who knows? Yes, yes. I love to stay here forever if I can.

*You need to see me.

If I stay forever, if I can, I would. How many…baby and babysitter, or two babies?

*No, two people.

Just one? We have dinner, this you can eat. You know, simple. Fruit, cut.

*And all this is vegan.

Yes, all vegan. This is the soup. This is like spring roll, Aulacese (Vietnamese) spring roll.

You can try everything, all right? We prepared and waited for you.

*I'm sorry that I have a little…a short time.

I know. You eat quick and then you go. Yes. It's cold now because we've been waiting, but it's okay. Cold is also fine. I say, “Please take care of it because she doesn't have much time.”

*She always travels with you?

No, no, not always. Different places, different people. (Okay.)

But they're all nice, they're all the same. All the same. You want soup or you want this?


Soup? Okay. Try. This, normally they make with eggs.

*Oh, yes?

This is Chinese soup, with eggs - but this is not.

*Oh, okay, only vegetables?

Yes. Okay, Madam, yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes. I eat with you, of course. This is just a temporary hotel. Yes, just hotel for work.

*This is tostada.

Yes, yes.

*How do you call that?

Beans, beans.


Yes, tostada today. We have some time. Please eat.

*Thank you, thank you.

Please eat, so you can go. Yes, eat that one, whatever you like. I serve you. You're working every day, taking care of your family. Today I take care of you. Just for once, so that you know you are loved, not just a worker all the time - family, job, husband.


Work, work. This looks like meat, but it's not; this, vegetarian meat. Yes, this is from gluten. And soya is what you eat here, a little bit. This is soya plate. Okay? Hi, kiddy. Oh, he's sleeping already. Then let him sleep, right? We let him sleep.

*Do you want to eat a little bit?

Maybe he sleeps, maybe he sleeps better, and he eats later. We'll bring some home for him. Sleep on the sofa over there, big sofa, comfortable. You just eat. Try one, okay? And then we run

*Thank you.

Then we bring some for him and he tries it at home, with the other kid; (Yes.) with the other, yes.

*He's waiting for me.

My God. How do you do this? Then you ask me how I do it? It's the same.

*I'm in the same situation. But I'm not… you work too hard.

Work too hard?

Yes, yes of course. She wears that just for hygiene, that's all.

Yes, Madam, please.

*Really, really nice. You have? You're eating?

Yes, yes, I'm eating, I'm eating. You run around all day, did you have time to eat at all? Sometimes?

*In the morning.

In the morning and then late at night, right?

*Yes, from the morning to 8 pm.

You're like a monk, Buddhist monk. Don't eat much.

*It's good.


*Master, she says she knows that our fellow practitioners, already gave a cooking show in the university, Technological University, (

Yes.) and she wants to know when you are giving meditation.

When people want to, then it will be, yes. Okay, now you try this and that. I eat, I eat, I eat. I do, I do, I do. Yes.

*These are delicious.

Yes? You don't need sauce? You don't need this?


Yes, very. You don't like? Okay, okay. No spicy? No hot? You're not Mexican, are you?

*I am.

You don't need this on that, okay, fine.

*But they were for you?

No, no, I have this still. Yes, I know. We can pack it, and the kids try later at home, yes. Just to try it. They don't have to eat it. They can try only, yes? Maybe even tomorrow - warm it and then eat. Yes, try it. When you're not so rushing like this. I just want to welcome you, that's all. But you eat what you can, and what you cannot, we make it in a box. Tomorrow, you warm up, eat with the rice, very rich.

Yes, just to try. This is Chinese soup, Aulacese (Vietnamese) spring rolls… This is, like, Aulacese (Vietnamese) also. This is probably Chinese. This is Aulacese (Vietnamese). It's something new for you to try, that's all, okay? If you are in a hurry, then you go. We pack it, okay?

*Don't worry, don't worry. Master, did you find all the ingredients in here?

My people, they came like 100, 200 people. Each one doesn't take a lot of clothes. They come here, buy the clothes, and they bring only food, that's why. Because here, difficult to buy it. But they have a restaurant called “Gopal” in town.

*You said that.

Yes, and then you can buy anything, anything you want.

*I'm going to look for it.

You just warm it up or eat cold. I eat cold sometimes. Just eat cold, also very tasty. This beer, zero alcohol. Even children can drink if you mix with lemonade.

*And is there that one here in Cancún?

*Yes. Did you find that beer in Cancún, Master?

Yes, yes. You can buy anywhere. American beer.

*We even have Mexican beer, Master.

Have also?

*Yes, no alcohol.


*Sol Cero.

Yes, okay. I just give her an example only.

*I feel embarrassed.

*No, no, don't worry. She says she feels very sorry, Master. She feels a little bit embarrassed; got to rush.

No, no. I understand very well. Because journalists, they have a very rough life, sometimes dangerous even. So on our TV we pray for your safety, every day, when you're at work.  Sometimes they tell the truth and other people don't like. Not everybody welcomes the truth because   the truth sometimes hurts them - hurts their money or business or something… reputation. Yes. It's tough to be a journalist. And they always have to run, from one interview to the next, sometimes eat nothing, drink nothing all day. That's why I take care of her a little bit.

* Master. Really, really. Thank you.

It's so good.

*This is delicious.

Come back eat next time. If I stay, you come eat any time. If I stay in Mexico.

* How long are you here?

I don't know yet, but I want to stay here a little longer. If I could stay forever, I would. I love Mexico. I love your people.

*So, next time, I am here. 
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