Sister Initiate Leina Leong, San Francisco, CA USA (Originally In English)
front of the San Francisco community Convalescent Hospital, Quan Yin
practitioners Got ready, with gift bags and News magazines, to visit
the elderly patients and staff. One of The sister initiates handed out
small laminated photos of Master to each of us, each photo with a different
look. I stuck my head out of the car and heard myself say: "Wow!
Look at this one! Master s expression is so precious." "You
like that one, huh?" "I like this one."
Then it was time for
us to go inside. We greeted everyone and gave out the gifts and News
magazines. In the community room, brother Joseph played classical music
on the piano to entertain everyone. A newly admitted patient, alert
and friendly, told us to let brother Joseph know that most of the patients
are too weak to clap or talk. However, they really do appreciate the
music and our visit very much.
As we greeted the
patients, their faces lit up immediately. They were eager to reciprocate
our visit with a few words and gestures of gratitude. Those who were
up to talking shared stories of their lives and were interested in hearing
In that place, death was so near, yet so was life. We felt their suffering,
their appreciation, their delight and vice versa I'm sure. Most of all,
Master s unconditional love filled every corner and every soul.
Later on at home,
I noticed that Master's photo on the kitchen wall was simply perfect.
The picture in the meditation room was exquisite, so was the photo in
the bedroom, not forgetting the one that the sister initiate had given
me earlier in front of the Convalescent Hospital. I thought that little
photo of Master seemed ordinary then. And now, it is simply perfect
in every way as well. The discriminative chatter in my head had quit
somehow. "When did it stop?" I asked myself. Perhaps it was
when I held the hand of a very frail woman at the Convalescent Hospital.
The incredible silence between us was so filled with gratitude and love.
At that very moment, I realized that I was holding Master s hand.
Musician Nhat Ngan, USA (Originally In Au Lac Language)
Musician Chau Ky (left)
attending an Evening of Music and Poetry –Traces of the Previous Life
and Love Songs hosted by the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association,
Los Angeles Center at the Long Beach Convention Center on December 29,
1996 with an audience of over 6,000 of both Au Lac and foreigners (nearly
9 hours of performance) and making a good contribution to the success
of the performing arts, we said good bye to the performers with the
utmost enthusiasm in our hearts. It was even more exciting when Supreme Master Ching Hai, before leaving, said that She would instruct the event coordinators
to send all the proceeds from the show back home Au Lac to the writers
and musicians who have been forgotten during the upcoming Tet (year
of the Bull). According to Her, these writers and musicians are very
worthy of the public s admiration and gratitude for their great contributions
in hard work and creative thought to the enrichment of literature and
arts of Au Lac over many decades without any compensation.
Amidst my busy schedule
in preparation for the upcoming Tet program, I was quite surprised and
exhilarated to be contacted by a representative of the Suam Ching Hai
International Association in Los Angeles with an invitation to join
their team to travel to Au Lac to distribute gifts to the writers and
musicians during Tet on behalf of the performers of "An Evening
of Music and Poetry Traces of the Previous Life and Love Songs".
After making the necessary
arrangements and preparations we left for Au Lac on February 2, 1997
(december 26, Lunar year). The team consisted of two representatives
from the Association, a treasurer and a cameraman, as well as myself
who represented the performers. Before leaving, the treasurer informed
us that the total amount of money to be given to the writers and musicians
from the Association was US$50,000 (US$20,000 from the proceeds of the
show and $30,000 donated from Supreme Master Ching Hai).
Poet Bui Gian (left)
a long 16 hour flight, we touched down at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Au
Lac. It was steamy hot in Saigon during the days before Tet which was
not much different from the Summer months in Los Angeles.
In order to save time
and to get the money into the hands of the writers and musicians in
a meaningful way in time of Tet, immediately after getting to Saigon
from the airport, we made contact with the musicians who represented
the former Association of Musicians in Saigon -- Thanh Son, Mac The
Nhan, Chau Ky, Hoang Trang, Bao Thu. We asked them to help us contact
the remaining musicians in Saigon and in the neighboring areas to get
together the very next morning (05/02/97) to receive their gift of money.
When members of the
artists circle had finally gathered, the number reached over 50. On
behalf of the show's host, we delivered the opening remarks and began
the distribution ceremony. One by one, these brothers and sisters were
extremely touched and happy. (The money was allocated according to each
person's situation which was the recommendation of those present, from
$200 to $1,000).
In the opening remarks
welcoming folks in the artists' circle, we informed them that these
gifts were from Supreme Master Ching Hai Herself and the Supreme Master Ching Hai International
Association in Los Angeles after an Evening Of Music and Poetry entitled
"Traces of the Previous Life and Love Songs". This special
vening was designed to introduce Ching Hai s poetic works which were
composed into music by the prominent musicians abroad like Pham Duy,
Thu Ho, Le Dinh, Nhat Ngan, Phuong Vu, Le Vu and Supreme Master Ching Hai Herself.
These songs were performed by the top artists abroad, with singers Duy
Khanh, Khanh Ly, Le Thu, Mai Huiong, Xuan Phat, Duy Quang, Thai Hien,
Thai Thao, Tuan Ngoc, Phuong Vu, Le Uyen Phuong, My Huyen, Kieu Loan,
Dan Hung; musicians Duy Cuong, Duy Minh, Duy Hung, Hua Bich Thuan, Ta
Nhu Viet; the traditional instrumentalists in the legendary Nguyen Dinh
Nghia family; actor Tran Quang, actress Mai Phuong and comedian Van
Son, Hoai Linh.
From left to right, musician Nhat Ngan.
singers Huyen Tran & Hong Van, and poet To Kieu Ngan
the ceremony, musician Chau Ky, the doyen of the artists circle in Saigon,
on behalf of these folks extended his thanks to Supreme Master Ching Hai and the
Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association. He said: "Every year,
in the Tet approaching days like these, we often receive gifts from
a representative sent over by brothers and sisters of the artists circle
abroad for us to enjoy Tet. But this year, the latest report tipped
us that due to many set backs in the organizing work no gifts would
Amidst our being unhappy
due to this dispirited report, we suddenly received and invitation from
Suma Chng Hai and Her Association to come and receive the special spring
gifts. Frankly speaking, we were extremely surprised and touched by
Supreme Master Ching Hai and Her Association s concern. This year, You indeed
have brought the unexpected spring time to the writers and musicians
in the country. We don t know what to say besides extending our sincere
words of gratitude and our prayers to the Most High to bless You in
the new year.
The number of gifts
of money distributed to the artist circle in Saigon and vicinity was
roughly over 100. The artist circle inculded musicians, singers, poets,
writers...conunting those that had already passed away like Le Thuong,
Hung Lam, Duong Thieu Tuoc, Y Van, Truc Phuong, Minh Ky, Hoai Linh,
Thanh Vu, Vu Hoang Chuong, Dinh Hung, Nguyen Trung Cang, Tan An... Their
families were also entitled to receive their gift just like the writers
and musicians who wre still alive. A number of special gifts were also
distributed, as recommended by the former Association of Musicians in
Saigon, to those artists who had been through more difficult times and
circumstances, like musicians Do Thu and Khanh Bang who are completely
blind. Musician Thang Long is so poor that he has to work as an umbrella
repairman around town. Poet Bui Giang is anormal and lives the life
of a wanderer. In the case of poet Bui Giang, we had to spend many days
searching every dead end street and alley in Saigon and Gia Dinh to
find and give him his gift of money. Poet Tuong Linh has poor eye sight
from illness and while waiting for surgery he was not allowed to go
outside. Therefore, we had to go to his home.
Widow of musician Van Cao
Widow of poet Vu Hoang Chuong
the case of the deceased poets Vu Hoang Chuong and Ding Hung, since
they both had been forced to the new economic zone for many years right
after 1975 then came back to Saigon, no one knew their addresses any
longer. In order for us to be able to locate the families of the poets,
we had to rely on the help of some famous voices inpoetry recital in
Saigon like to Kieu Ngan, Hong Van, Huyen Tran to help us search for
them. We finally found them after a week of looking and were able to
give them the money.
Singer Da Huong had
just gone through a cancer surgery and was still receiving therapy.
Musician Giao Tien, (composer of the son Co Tham Ve Lang) whose house
had just burned down, had almost no money and was making sticky rice
rolls for a living at Cam ranh bus station.
Musicians Hoang Thong
drifted from the new economic zone to a business in selling lottery
tickets at Go Cong bus station. Singer Tuyet Mai, a famous singer in
the era of Duy Khanh, Moc Lan, Chau Ha, Kim Tuoc... was sick and living
in poverty. She received her gift of money with tears of deep emotion
of an artist who had long been forgotten by colleagues and life. Musician
Hoang Bao, who had been released from communist jails after 11 years
because of the anti-authority songs he wrote after 1975, was also visited.
He was so touched upon receiving the money that he said: "Have
you ever thought that this money is the largest amount my family has
ever had since1975? It is really like a dream."
After completing our
work in the Saigon area and vicinity, we went to Ha Noi to distribute
the remaining gifts to the once legendary artists there since the prewar
era. These were the muscians and composers before 1954. However, since
the Communist took over the North, their works were discontinued for
many reasons. Their prewar songs have been extremely popular and loved
by the whole country for the past many decades. Thses are musicians:
Van Cao (since musician Van Cao was deceased, Mrs. Cao accepted the
money on his befalf with her sincere thanks); Hoang Giao, composer of
the songs "Ngay Ve" (Day of Return) and "Mo Hoa"
(Dream of Flower); musician Nguyen Thien To, composer of the song "Giao
Duong Im Bong" (Cathedral with Receding Shadow); and poet Hoang
Cam, who had written many very popular prewar poems. He and musician
Van Cao were the ones who were previously condemned by the communist
during the case of the Literary Work of Humanity. All the musicians
and poets accepted their gifts of money with great surprise and emotion.
Leaving the North,
we entered the Central region and distributed gifts to Nguyen Van Xuan,
a writer who had created many valuable works before 1975. He is now
75 years old but still healthy and continues to write. His latest work
is "Duy Tan Movement". He is currently living with his family
in Da Nang. Also while in Da Nang, we distributed money to musician
and teacher Hoang Bich Son. A well known musician in Da Hnang, Hoang
Bich Son has also contributed a lot of effort in the field of promoting
music in the Central region of Au Lac.
Upon entering Hoi
An, money was given to Nhu Pham, a poet who has written poems really
praising life. However, he himself is living in seclusion like an austere
monk, practicing in a run down temple in the subrurb of old town Hoi
On our way South,
we stopped over in Nha Trang to distribute gifts to Vo Hong, a writer
who made his name by writing a series of long and short novels befor
1975 -- La Boi, An Tiem, Van, Thoi Moi... Writer Vo Hong expressed his
deep feelings when accepting the money and said that this gift was full
of meaning, something he never thought that he would receive.
Back to Da Lat, money
was given to Buu An, a prominent musician of the highlands, who has
created many songs dedicated to Buddhism and the Au Lac youth before
1975. Leaving Da Lat, we made a short stop in the city of Ba Ria to
search for musician Tran Quang Loc. He and his family were quite touched
by our sudden appearance. On this occasion, musician Tran Quang Loc
told us that recently, his newly written songs have been recorded by
many artists abroad. For example, such songs as: "Tra Loi Thu Em"
(Response to Your Letter), "Tinh Co Gap Nhau"(meeting Each
Other by Coincidence)... He said, "I hope that this early spring
time gift of yours will inspire me to write more new songs to send abroad."
On the road West,
we distributed money to musician Nhat Le, composer of the famous pre
1975 song entitled "Goi Nguoi Gioi Tuyen" who is currently
living in Can Tho; and Thien An, an actor in Thep Sung (Gun of Steel)
TV program of Cuc Chinh Huan (Political Instructional Department) of
the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces before 1975. Also while in Can
Tho, we visited poet Hong Quy, a man with many poems full of the fighting
spirit published in the RVN Armed Forces magazines before 1975.
Leaving Can Tho, we
went to Long Xuyen and distributed gifts of money to musician Lieu Hoang
Anh. He is the one who wrote many heroic songs for the RVN Armed Forces
We returned to Saigon
after more that 10 day nonstop journey across the country from north
to south. The number of writers, poets and musicians who received gifts
of money was 128. Before returning to the U.S.A., we held a get-togther
party with all brothers and sisters of the artist circle in Saigon and
vicinty to say farewell. At this party, the artists extended their sincere
thanks to all the artists abroad in the performance of poetry-reciting
and songs event, Supreme Master Ching Hai and the Supreme Master Ching Hai Intenational
Association. Everyone longed for a day to be able to meet Supreme Master Ching Hai in Au Lac.
I'd like to extend my most sincere feelings of gratitude to Supreme Master Ching Hai and the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association. Thank you for
giving me an opportunity to be part of a journey that brought a spring
full of love back to the artists at home.
Singer Hong Van (left) and musician Nhat Ngan