Ching Hai appears to push a lot of people to divorce their families, and focus totally on her.
Cult took my wife – now it’s funding a woodland in North Wales
May 14 2010 by Andrew Forgrave, Daily Post
AN ELDERLY man who lost his wife to a religious cult has pleaded with the Woodland Trust not to take money from the group.
Henry Iban said he was “dismayed and saddened” that Coed Cadw (the Woodland Trust in Wales) accepted £100,000 from spiritual teacher Supreme Master Ching Hai. The money is to be used to buy and restore Cwm Mynach, a 1,000-acre valley near Dolgellau.
Coed Cadw, which has defended the gift, hopes to complete the deal in the next few days.
Mr Iban – not his real name – said the money had been donated to “buy credibility” for Ching Hai. He urged Coed Cadw to return the money, as President Clinton and the US Red Cross did with similar donations when they learned more about the organisation.
In a letter to the Trust, he wrote: “I recognise fully that you need funds for the Welsh project.
“But those of us who have had the lives of our families severely and irreversibly damaged by this cult, believe that such donations are in effect blood money.”
Mr Iban refuses to use his real name. A retired senior professional in London, he said his wife, an academic, became embroiled with the cult 12 years ago.
After her behaviour and spending became erratic, they divorced, leaving Mr Iban to fend for his 10-year-old son.
“She would disappear at a moment’s notice when the Supreme Master called, once on Christmas Eve,” he said. “Often it was for months at a time – we didn’t even know what continent she was on.
“It put a drain on the family. She had a well-paid job, which she lost, and she started buying the cult’s jewellery at £7,000-£8,000-per-item.
“I tried to accommodate her but it was difficult – in the end I filed for divorce to protect the family finances.”
His wife was always interested in Eastern mysticism and she fell into the cult’s clutches at a spiritualist fair in London.
At first Mr Iban failed to recognise the dangers and indulged her new passion. But when he researched the group, he found the world’s fastest growing cult was alarming cult watchers.
As well as being a painter, poet and Buddhist nun, Vietnamese-born Ching Hai is a fashion designer and beauty makeover consultant.
Her group promotes vegetarianism and claims to support tree planting and efforts to curb climate change.
In the US, however, Ching Hai was criticised after causing $1m damage to a mangrove plantation in a national park.
Mr Iban is undeterred. He alleged Ching Hai had not only broken up his marriage, it had extracted “very large sums of money” from his family which was now being used to finance projects like Cym Mynach.