The body is a really funny thing. You can really push it. Sometimes I work very hard, I’m very tired. I want to sleep but I cannot, because of the deadline. Things you cannot say “tomorrow.” So, I just go out, do some whatever silly exercise, and come back and work again, or go drink something, eat something. Just take a break, a few minutes, and then it’s OK.
First, they say, “You are vegetarian, right? You’re vegan, right?” And I say, “Yes.” “Ah, yes, I know. You, Supreme Master Ching Hai, right? Yes or no?” And then if I… I cannot say no, and I say, “Yes,” and then they ask again and again and again. “Really? It’s You? Yourself? Supreme Master Ching Hai self?” So I say to the assistant, “Tell her.” I’m embarrassed, man. I cannot just say, “Here! Me! Gorilla coming.” Keep asking ten times, I’m embarrassed. Everybody is looking and listening now. The whole restaurant knows. Before, they didn’t notice; they kept eating their own noodles, minding their own salad. Until they all make a big deal and take photos and whatnot, and then the whole restaurant begins.
But at least I can escape quickly. I say, “Sorry, we have to go.” But not like in our restaurant, from the beginning to the end, I just sit there like a theater, for people to watch. And even if the customers did not know, did not notice, the disciples make them. “My Master’s here! Come and look! Blessing!” Oh, blessing. Can I even eat my (vegan) soup in peace and then blessing maybe later? How can I sit there and eat? I just feel shy. Everybody sees if the noodles fall out or not. Or whether or not it’s different when the Supreme Master Ching Hai eats the salad? “Does it stick on Her teeth or not? Because everybody else has that, does She? Because She is the Supreme Master, maybe She eats differently.”
And then that’s it. That’s it. I can never finish my (vegan) noodles, because they keep talking. They come and ask questions. I cannot eat, I might get strangled inside, by answering. Then the noodles might strangle me inside, or choke. “Sorry, cannot talk. Water! Please, water!” Oh, man. So, in case you want to be a Master, you should be put off by now (by) all the stories I told you. Normally, if I go, if I eat alone, if they don’t make noise, then nobody’d notice. They also talk with their relatives and friends. They enjoy their noodles, eat their salad. They don’t look at me because so many customers come in and out; not everybody keeps staring at everybody – until they stare at me. And then they make noise, then invite everybody to come and look at me for blessing, you know that? Just a really, poor Master. Like a prisoner, can’t go anywhere.
I am so lazy to go out because of that. I don’t know where to go because, mostly, I find a normal outside restaurant, vegan. But, of course, I would prefer to make business also for my people, but I can’t. I might as well never go, because when I go there, I cannot eat anything. She keeps talking and answering. Because all the customers also come, asking and telling me their own opinions about religion, and ask my own opinion about religion, which they don’t care anyway. They just want to talk. And then they tell me their stories, how religious they are, for example, and how they understand about the Diamond Sutra and Surangama Sutra, for example. They would tell me; they would lecture to me. And then I just have to sit there, thinking of my (vegan) soup, listening but not hearing anything. My mind is too occupied with the soup, my favorite soup, and it’s getting colder and colder by (the) minute.
So, finally, I say, “OK, we have to go.” “You pack to go?” “No, no, sorry. It’s OK, we can eat at home. Thank you very much.” Go to a restaurant and go home to eat, and not my favorite soup. I don’t want to stay longer, because I’m just kind of feeling shy, feeling uncomfortable with so much attention and being lectured with so many sutras. And even other religious (people) also come and tell me things, or introduce me to another guru. “You will learn a lot from him. You don’t know, wow, he is really something, I’m telling You. I’m not telling a lie. You go and have a look. Go try, go try!” I don’t have enough time to try my own Guru already.
I have to do a lot of work. Nobody thinks I have no time. Because I go eat at a restaurant, they think I do that every day, enjoying stuff. They don’t know I’ve been meditating for one week long already or two weeks and haven’t eaten this kind of soup for long, long, long, long, long years. Because not every Aulacese (Vietnamese) restaurant cooks the same food that I like, and different people cook differently.
So, anyway, I give up. Even the normal people, normal restaurants, they would recognize, but at least they don’t put their heads over my soup and let me eat first, sometimes. So, sometimes we just buy it and go in the car and eat, enjoy freedom, fresh air. It’s not too bad. Seeing all the cars passing by and “Hallo!” “Hallo!” Because they saw we parked the car on the roadside, and three just nosing in the soup, so they would think, be curious a little bit. “Hallo?” So, we said, “Hallo.” “Hallo?” “Hallo.” It’s fun to eat on the street sometimes. You make a lot of friends. I am thinking to move to Taipei. What do you think? Can you afford it? (Great.) Great. Can you afford it? Yes? (Yes.) No. It’s maybe expensive. Taipei is expensive. And I don’t know if any hotel would like to bear you kind of people: laughing, clapping, crying for no reason, sitting all day, sleeping all night. Oh no, sitting all night, sleeping all day. Don’t move, or move, and go ga-ga when one person comes in, “Oh, Master!” Like that. Wake up all their customers.
I don’t know if any hotel would like to have you. Do you own any hotels in Taipei? (Many of them. I think one initiate owns one, Master.) Yes? (I think one initiate.) Really? How many rooms? (But it’s a small one...) How many rooms? (I am not local. Sorry, Master.) How small? Where is he? Is he here, she/he here? Hotel owner? Raise hand. Taipei. No? Do you know? Does anyone in Taipei know about it? You know? (It’s around the Taipei railway station.) Do you know? (I only know that it is around the Taipei railway station. But it’s quite small. It only occupies one or two levels inside a building. It has very few rooms.) How many rooms? (Very few.) Is every room small? (Yes.) It’s Taipei. How can the rooms be big? But it’s better than nothing. We can divide it into many levels inside. Because we only sit.
I said, inside we can make many levels, inside a room, because we only sit, we’re not doing anything. There are no activities, so can sit, and then another on top, another on top, or sit on the shoulders, save work. The big guys sit on the (Can sit on the bottom.) bottom, and then the smallest guys or skinny like me sit on top. We also practice kung fu. You get muscles, more and more every day. I’m sure you can do that, look at your tattoo. If you can bear all that, then you can bear us. Too many. Sometimes not enough room. Taipei is small. They have a center also, but I don’t think… How many people can fit in the Taipei Center at a time? How many people at a time or in a day? My God! Nobody lives in Taipei. (About one thousand people.) Only one thousand. My God. Here’s one thousand already. Today is less. Sometimes a lot of people come.
Taipei has a center but only 1,000 people. You have to put your ear (phone) on because sometimes I speak Chinese, sometimes I speak Greek. One thousand. But for them, it’s 1,000. If we come in 1,000, where would they stay? Outside? They rent it, but it’s a very nice place. And they have food cooked inside. Very nice vegan stinky tofu. I ate there only once. But they also have vegan soup, Aulacese (Vietnamese) soup, and all kinds of stuff. It’s really wonderful.
You girls need some new clothes or not? There’s a shop outside. Go select what you want, as many as you want, and I sign. OK? Just tell them to put it on Master’s account. It’s my shop. I heard, I’m not sure. You guys also. OK? After this, you can go out there shopping. Do go on a shopping spree. I’ll take you. OK? Maybe we can go now, in a while. You can buy what you want. There are long dresses for winter also. There are (vegan) cakes, (vegan) cookies, also, (vegan) sandwiches. I’m not sure how tasty it is because I have not tasted it. But clothes, if you need more, you can. OK? Some to change, you know for wash and wear. You guys also. Today, I wanted to tell them to tell you guys to come, but I completely forgot. One thing after another. You know? And it’s just so busy, busy. I didn’t sleep all night and the night before also. So much disturbance and pain. Yeah?
And last night because of the dogs; I waited for them outside next to the gate. And then when they came back, thirsty and hungry, they ate. I didn’t have any food except some vegan bread. Even frozen bread but it’s not hard. So, I chopped and they ate like crazy. I said, “Don’t ever go out again. Next time you won’t have food.” I just say that, but they know I’m just joking. Even if I’m not joking, they don’t care. They know nothing will happen to them. I said, “How can I love these kinds of dogs like you? How can I?” And they came, licked my toes, saying sorry, stuff like that. And then you melt. And then it starts all over again the next night. Even last night, I was very tired. I said, “Tonight, maybe no dogs.” I must send them somewhere, to sleep in their own room because I was very tired. I wanted to sleep. I really was sleepy already. But then I said, “Oh no. Then they cannot see me on Sunday, all day and then maybe at night also.” Because when I come back, maybe I’ll need concentration to work. A lot of documents were waiting because in the morning, I didn’t do it. I was busy with other things.
They came back late last night, about three o’clock. Then I had to feed them because I knew they were hungry. They’d been running for three hours and a half. Can you imagine? And thirsty, so I had to give them water, change the water, give them food, and then it’s already almost day. And then I had to go and pick up my clothes, see which one I’ll wear today, and then I had to fix it, etc. I didn’t sleep at all. And I thought I could not even come here. I was that tired! But when I’m here… Yeah, I’m telling you. The body is a really funny thing. You can really push it. Sometimes I work very hard, I’m very tired. I want to sleep but I cannot, because of the deadline. Things you cannot say “tomorrow.” So, I just go out, do some whatever silly exercise, and come back and work again, or go drink something, eat something. Just take a break, a few minutes, and then it’s OK.
And this morning, after I took a shower… Because I’m coming to see you, I didn’t want to smell bad, because the whole week I did not have time to shower. Really like that. So, then I took a shower. After that, I said, “Oh no. No. No, no, no, no. No! Not now, not now, not now, not now. No!” And I splashed some cold water on my face. It’s still a “no, no, no, no, no.” I said, “What shall I do?” Today, there are some new Westerners and Asians coming, so I cannot not see them. And then my house has people coming to work. I cannot stay there either. Of course, I can; I shut all the windows and doors, draw the curtain, and just... I could. But I just said, “No, no, no, no, no!” And then, I don’t know, I was really tired. On the way here, I was still feeling sleepy. I thought I could come here and just sleep. I thought I might come here and just sleep and let you just look at me. Because you say you always want to see me, so here I am. Why not? But then, when I came here, I didn’t feel sleepy anymore. Your body is really something. You can push it.
A long time ago, there was an American monk. His name was Kapleau, Roshi Kapleau. I’m not sure if he’s still alive or not. He came to Taipei, Taiwan (Formosa) to lecture before. And he went to a temple and I was there, visited that temple, and I also met him. At that time, I didn’t have money. I cleaned the temple and only (had) NT$500 per month, and you had to buy everything from that. That was in Taiwan (Formosa), not in America. In America, I didn’t even get anything. And I went to another temple and then I saw him there. So, I offered him whatever that money could buy, these dates, but Taiwanese (Formosan). It’s green; it’s so big. Dates. Green dates, green color. Dates, right?
And I bought just a small amount in a bag. And I went there and offered to the abbot at that temple, and he shared it with Roshi Kapleau. Roshi is Japanese, it means “master,” master of Zen. Meaning he already became a teacher, he could teach Zen already, so, Roshi Kapleau. And he talked in Taipei before. One time, he came all the way from America. He wrote a book also. He went to Japan and studied Zen there. I will get to the point soon. You know my calendar by now. It makes it more interesting. Otherwise, I’d just tell you in two seconds, finished, nothing else and no punch line or no waiting.