Title

Author: David Christopher Lane
Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER
Publication date: January 1997

E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at dlane@weber.ucsd.edu

I want to go back to the home base now.


The self-proclaimed Supreme Master Ching Hai and I

This is my personal account of how a cult organisation has effected my
life.  I will try to keep the story as simple and free from bias as
possible.  I have changed the names of the people involved to keep
anonymity.  However, if anybody wishes to contact me they can do so
through this web page.  I must point out that these are my views and
my views only.  I am writing this in the hope that it may help
families who have lost loved-ones to cult organisations.  I also hope
that people who are already involved or are thinking about becoming
involved in such organisations will read this with an open mind and
seriously reconsider what they are doing or are about to do.

Firstly, I wish to introduce myself.  My name is Stephen and I am 31
yrs. I have a Ph.D in Chemistry and I am employed at university in UK.
 My nationality is English.  I am not a religious nor a spiritual
person. I believe that there is a force (some would call it God) far
greater than we can imagine. I try to treat everyone with respect.  I
am open minded.  I believe in living as good a life as possible.  I
believe that family is very important.  I am not materialistic and
believe that there are no easy answers to living in this tough world.

In October 1995 my life changed.  I first heard the name Supreme
Master Ching Hai.  I was on business in New York where I met a
beautiful and talented young woman, called  Katie.  Katie was 25 yrs,
a Harvard graduate who played the piano like an angel.  I am well
travelled and have been to most parts of the world (China, Australia,
New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Europe, etc.).  However, I had literally
never before met anyone like her.  I fell in love.   I returned to UK
but was unable to get Katie out of my head.  We started writing to
each other.  In one letter she told me that she had found a guru, whom
she believed offered her everything she was searching for in her life.

During her childhood, Katie had two near death experiences.  She
believed that her quest in life was to attain enlightenment so that
she could be in heaven.  She believed that this guru could show her
the path to heaven.  She would be saved and would not be reincarnated.
 She would become a Master herself through following this guru.  The
guru in question was The self-proclaimed Supreme Master Ching Hai.

I thought this was all a bit strange, but if Katie was happy then so
was I.  I visited New York on a couple of occasions and found myself
being hooked into Katie=92s beliefs- Maybe this was the way to live
one's life?  I became a lacto-vegetarian. I gave up alcohol and other
intoxicants.  I started reading the writings of Ching Hai.  I was
trying to find out as much information about Suma Ching Hai and her
International Meditation Society as possible.  I wanted to understand
what Katie was doing.  I must admit I was, at first, impressed.  Here
was an organisation where "membership" was free,  all of the initiates
were very friendly, there was no pressure on anyone to follow the
groups beliefs and generally everyone associated with the group seemed
harmless.  However, I did think that it was a little strange that
Ching Hai was completely adored by initiates - everyone would go
around saying "thanks Master" and "Master says this or that".  The
followers would wear pictures of Ching Hai as pendants or broaches. 
They would have photographs of her all around their houses.  They
would constantly read and re-read her teachings.  And much more but
you get the drift.  It worried me that one person could have such a
great effect on others.  But, what harm was it doing?  After all,
Catholics follow the teachings of Jesus and they wear crucifixes
etc...

For those of you unfamiliar with this group, when you join you
practise what is called the convenient method.  This entails a
lacto-vegetarian diet and meditating for 30 minutes each day.  I am
not sure about how strict the convenient method is but one is
encouraged to give up all intoxicants, etc. since they are meant to
hinder any benefit which one may attain.   After three months,
convenient practitioners may be fully initiated into the Quan Yin
method (light and sound meditation).  This more serious.  You must
follow five precepts, you should meditate two and a half hour a day;
30 minutes of which is done under a blanket in secret.

Katie was practising the convenient method when I met her.  I had
previously had vegetarian partners and well, if she does not want to
drink alcohol then it=92s up to her.  And meditation is meant to do some
people the world of good.

In March 1996, Katie was fully initiated by a Quan Yin messenger sent
by Ching Hai herself.  I was present.  I was at the centre but since I
was not an initiate I was not allowed to be in the same room as the
initiation.  During that day I was given the convenient method - it
was the first time I had meditated.  I spent the whole day waiting for
Katie.  I was given lots of Ching Hai literature to read.  Initiates
came and talked to me.  I was offered food and generally looked after
very well.  I look back on that day now with different eyes - I was
being recruited.

The following week, Katie became very ill and had to be rushed to
casualty.  She had a fever and was feeling nauseous.  However, the
doctor could find nothing wrong with her.  This worried me.  What had
happened during her secret initiation?  That week her group contact
person phoned to see if everything was all right.  When  Katie told
him she was ill, his response was to say that this is normal after
initiation and it is evil spirits causing the illness - apparently,
these evil spirits do not like people being saved by Ching Hai and try
their best to hold onto the person just initiated.  And, apparently
past life bad karma was also making her ill.

Katie was never really the same again......

I returned to UK and continued practising the convenient method.  It
was my way of being with Katie while we were so far apart.  We
continued to write and in the Easter of 1996 she came to England to
meet my family.  Obviously, as you can imagine, when she started
telling them about her guru they were very concerned.  What is their
son doing?  Who is this girl?  Who is this guru?  I tried to reassure
them that everything was fine.  Katie and I were in love (or so I
thought) and we were going to marry.  I had also changed - the more I
meditated, the more and more I began to believe in Ching Hai.  I used
to read her writings think they were wonderful - If only everybody in
the world followed this way of life?   I now look back and think -
"What a fool" - The majority of Ching Hai writing is confusing.  
A sign of a cult is the use of confusing doctrine and Ching Hai is 
certainly master of that.

We planned to marry in May 1996.  A week before we were married Katie
came to England.  During that week I discovered that I was only
following Ching Hai as a way to be close to Katie.  And now she was
with me and we were going to marry, I did not need to meditate etc...I
wanted to go back to living a normal life.  Katie was very upset.  She
could not believe that I was not happy following Ching Hai. 
Basically, all I got from meditating was a bad back and my strict
vegetarian diet was making me feel cold and generally run down - I had
no energy.  Anyway, I agreed to try and remain alcohol free and a
vegetarian because I loved her so much.  We married in May 1996.  The
wedding day was very stressful.  My family all thought that Katie and
I would go off and disappear into the cult.  My sister was so upset
that she did not want to be present - She said to my mother  "That=92s
not my brother anymore".  I have since heard the full story of how
hurt everyone in my family was.  I regret that I put them through all
that I have.  However, they stood by me then and they have continued
to stand by me since.

So, Katie and I settled down to family life.  Although I was not
following Ching Hai, I did not mind the Ching Hai pictures and
literature all around the house.  I did not mind Katie meditating.  I
thought that I had taken her away from the influence of the group in
New York - it was only a matter of time before she realised that she
didn=92t need to follow this guru anymore - she had a caring husband who
would look after her, keep her safe and provide a Home.  Things were
going fine.  Katie would sometimes not meditate and she seemed less
and less interested in Ching Hai.  Then she got in touch with the
group in UK.  There were a few initiates living in our area and we
went to one of the initiate=92s houses one evening.  Katie was very
excited at meeting new "brothers and sisters". I was not but went
along anyway.  During the evening, they meditated together while I was
left alone (since I was not one of them).  As this stage let me say
that group meditation is very much encouraged.   Although I was very
worried by all this secrecy, I was naive enough to think that it
cannot be doing any harm - Katie appeared happy.  Katie would then
attend a group meditation each week.

I began to get a little irritated by this guru.  At first, I was
probably jealous.  Here was a person who was taking my wife from me
for two and a half hours meditation each day.  I was putting Katie
first and Katie was putting her guru first.  Every aspect of our life
together revolved around Ching Hai.  The situation was becoming
unbearable.  Everywhere I looked I saw a picture of Ching Hai - there
was even one around my wife=92s neck.  During one of our many arguments
I threw all the pictures and magazines into a black bin liner. I had
had enough. I started researching cults and with access to the
internet I was able to find some negative and worrying information
about this so called Supreme Master and her group.

Katie, then attended a weekend retreat.  When she returned it was as
if she had become a different person.  I do not know exactly what they
did to her but when I got in from work all the house was cold.  All
the windows were open and a Ching Hai chanting tape was being played. 
This really worried me since Katie hated the cold.  I looked into her
eyes.  I saw an emptiness.  I asked her if everything was all right
and how the weekend went.  She said it was wonderful - all I had to do
from now on was to send her to a retreat every month and everything
would be OK.  She said that it was OK for me to eat meat and drink
alcohol since "I was not ready yet" and still "needed to play".  I
enquired further and asked what exactly had happened and why were all
the windows open.  She just  said that she liked it like this and she
was very happy.  She also giggled a lot which was very unusual for
her.  I decided that I had to take some drastic measures.  I looked
her closely in the eye and asked in a very calm, soft voice..."What=92s
happened to you Katie, you seem different.  Are you OK?.  Please tell
me why you are behaving like this.  I=92m worried about you."   All I
got was a blank look.  Katie became very agitated.  She would not look
me in the eye.  I could feel that she was chanting to herself. 
According to my knowledge of this group, when you feel threatened you
should chant the holy names.  Now why would Katie feel threatened by
me if this group and its practices are innocent?   Katie=92s initiation
had been re-boosted.  She had been re-brainwashed.

I had to work fast, since I thought I would lose her if I did not.  
Later that evening I showed Katie the negative information I had found
out about Ching Hai and how it appears that the group and its leader
are not exactly what they say they are.  However, when I showed this
information to Katie and highlighted the similarities between this and
other mind control organisations she just said all this was lies.  It
was like talking to a brick wall.  Again, my wife gave me the "blank"
look.  Katie said she was going to start waking up at  04.30 so she
could meditate.  The next morning, the telephone rang and woke me up
at 07.00.  When I answered, whoever was on the other end of the line
hung up.  Isn=92t it strange that the phone call happened 2.5 hours
after 04.30?  I believe that somebody was waking Katie out of her
meditation trance.  Something happened to her during the weekend
retreat - some kind of hypnosis.  Now, you can call me paranoid if you
wish but this was all too much of a coincidence for my liking. 

I pleaded with Katie over the next few months to give up the group and
her guru but to no avail.  I watched her slowly go down hill and drift
further from me emotionally and physically.  My beautiful and
brilliant Katie whom I had met in New York in 1995 was no longer.  It
was as if she had died.  In December 1996, Katie returned to NewYork. 
She has chosen Ching Hai and her cult over me.  My marriage lasted
seven months.

I truly believe that Ching Hai has stolen another innocent person. I
am well aware of the mind control techniques which this group uses.  
Another family has been devastated.  I look at it this way - If  Ching
Hai is the Supreme Master and, if following her is meant to bring to
happiness to the world, why is it that she effects other people in
such a negative way.  I despise her.  My family despise her.

Ching Hai constantly misinterprets the Bible as a way of justifying
her actions and  here is one quote which Ching Hai and her followers
use a lot:

 "As you sow so shall you reap"

Ching Hai has certainly ploughed the field as far as my family is
concerned.  Every night I pray that Katie will realise what she is
involved in.  It=92s too late to save my marriage but I have collected
some useful literature on Ching Hai which may be of help to others.  I
am sure that my family is not the only one to have been effected by
this group.

Let me thank all of you for reading this.  I would like to hear from
anyone who has a similar story about the influence of Ching Hai on
their life. You can contact me through this web site.  Finally, I
thank David Lane for publishing this article.