Thich Dieu-Thien Bio | Interview | Photos | Travel Schedule | Quote of the Week


Our Teacher

Zen Master Thich Dieu-Thien

Zen Master Thich Thong Hoi (click here)

The Teacher at Universal Door Meditation Center

Zen Master Thich Dieu-Thien was born and raised in Vietnam. She lives in the United States, and founded Universal Door Meditation Center (Houston, Texas) in 2003 and Suoi Tu Meditation Center (Dallas, TX) in 2013. She is a Buddhist nun devoted to teaching the direct path to Wake Up from illusion in order to return to our original Awake mind.

From the time she was very young, she saw that life always changes and began asking questions about life. Why are things always changing, why are people happy one day and sad the next, why does every living thing die? How could anyone be happy in a world like that? These questions haunted her every moment, preventing her from connecting to the world like most people do. Everyday was filled with conflict and struggle, and she suffered deeply because deep down she knew that there was something that does not change, something unconditionally happy and free. However, she didn’t know how to return to it and live with it. This knowing drove her to stand up and constantly search for answers.

At age 13, she read about the Buddha and for the first time learned that someone else had her same question and realized a complete answer, which confirmed that it was possible! The next year, upon seeing a special, bright, and clear nun, Thich Dieu Thien knew that she wanted to follow in that person’s footsteps and ordain. She became involved with that nun’s Sangha for four years. Seeing that Thich Dieu Thien was still clear about her goal and path, all the nuns and family members finally allowed and supported her to ordain.

After becoming a nun, she was sent to study at a Buddhist University for six years, and then traveled to the United States where she was encouraged to study further, and completed a masters degree. After having studied and applied countless practice methods for so many years, Thich Dieu Thien saw that she was still no closer to answering her question. A breakthrough came when suddenly she realized that holding onto the methods and knowledge was actually blocking her from truly finding her answer. At this point she knew without a doubt that knowledge and methods could not help her. Determined to find her answer, she set out on a quest, traveling the world to find a clear teacher, vowing she would not return until she found her answer.

She traveled throughout Asia and was brought before many special teachers in hopes of resolving her question. However, again and again there was no resolution, and after one particular occasion where she was especially hopeful, the crushing disappointment fueled another break through. She came to the conclusion that she had to stop looking outside for help, and shifted her focus to completely start over from ground zero, looking within. She began searching for meditation centers.

After many days of exhaustive travel, she arrived at a meditation center, open, willing and very hopeful. But it became clear that those teachings were not at all what she was looking for, creating a huge conflict within her. Day by day, more and more conflicts built up. She knew they were the result of her own expectations, but that understanding was useless because her goal was deeper than merely understanding; her goal was to Wake Up, break the system of suffering, and live truly free. Part of her wanted to face the conflicts within yet part of her wanted to leave and find another center. At that moment she thought, “Conflict for what? Leave for what? Stop everything! Face it! Just face it!” She came to a final conclusion and vowed she would no longer run away. She knew that the answer could only be found from within, and she made the decision to stay inside and face everything in herself until she realized her answer.

As days passed, nothing interrupted her from directly facing herself. Many dark and terrible thoughts, images, and voices threatening harm and death appeared continuously, telling her to turn away and get out. Even the threat of death did not deter her for she knew to live without the answer was no life at all. As a result of her clear goal and fierce determination she continued to face them again and again, like hitting a hard rock that slowly began to fracture until finally BOOM…like an exploding boulder, the entire system shattered to pieces and Awake appeared. Everything became clear; the answers to all of her questions, what is “I”, where “I” comes from, what happens when we die, why people suffer, why the cycle of birth and death exists… everything.

She had completed her journey, fully realized Awake, and from that moment lived with it. She also discovered with certainty what is suffering, the cause, the system, the nature, and the end of suffering, leaving only true happiness and true freedom. From that moment on she became a completely different person. She clearly sees that all people have Awake nature, but continue to be lost in the system of illusion that creates all their suffering. Seeing this reality, automatically a vow appeared to help all people Wake Up, regardless of the challenges; she saw even though students hear the teachings, many continue to be lost in the system. This does not affect her clarity and vow to help all beings Wake Up.

She introduces students to the goal of Waking Up in this lifetime, and guides them throughout every step of the journey, without relying on intellect, concepts, books, sutras or other people’s experience.

Everything she teaches aims to the purpose of Waking Up and breaking the system of illusion within us so that we can live truly happy and free. This automatically inspires others to realize Awake within themselves, and like a ripple effect, transforms the lives of individuals, families, communities, and the world, one by one.


What makes Zen Master Thich Dieu Thien special: a short video in English

Thich Dieu-Thien’s travel schedule:

The Zen Master sometimes attends the monthly weekend retreats in Dallas-Fort Worth area at Suoi Tu Meditation Center. Call Universal Door for information, including dates, times and location.

- 2016 -

March 4 - 6 -- retreat in Southern California, please contact Cô Tịnh Diệu (714-600-8854) for details.

June 17 - 20 -- retreat in Victoria, British Columbia. Please contact the Center (281) 565-9718 for more details.

December 2 - 4 --retreat in Southern California, please contact Cô Tịnh Diệu (714-600-8854) for details.


- 2015 -

April 3-6 -- retreat in Southern California, please contact Cô Tịnh Diệu (714-600-8854) for details.

April -- retreats in St. Paul, Minnesota. Please contact the Centerfor details.

May 17-18 -- retreats in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Please contact the Center for details.

June 5 - 12 -- retreats in Montreal and Toronto, Canada. Please contact the Center for details.

July 3-6 -- retreat in Southern California, please contact Cô Tịnh Diệu (714-600-8854) for details.

October 2-5 -- retreats in Ottawa, Canada at Pho Da Son Temple. Call the Center for details.

October 26 - November 4 -- retreats in Victoria and Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Contact Cô Quán Chơn (205-474-0022) for more information.

December 4-6 -- retreat in Southern California, please contact Cô Tịnh Diệu (714-600-8854) for details.


- 2014 -

January -- retreats in Vancouver and Victoria, Canada. Call Universal Door for details.

April and May -- retreats in Vietnam. Please contact Cô Diệu Ngọc (72-826849) for details.

June -- retreats in Vancouver and Victoria, Canada. Please contact Cô Quán Chơn (205-474-0022) and Cô Quán Như (604) 523-2816 for more details.

August 8 - 11 -- retreat in Southern California, please contact Cô Tịnh Diệu (714-600-8854) for details.

September 17 - October 2 -- retreats in British Columbia, Canada and Alaska, U.S. Call the Center for details.

December 22 - January 5, 2015 -- monastic Winter Retreat in Houston and Dallas.

Teachers at a gathering

The Teacher at park

Inspirational Quotes from Zen Master Thich Dieu-Thien:

"If you are not clear about a new goal in your life, you will automatically go back to your old goal. You must be clear about your new destination in order to arrive there."

"If you hold on to old perceptions, can you make new decisions?"

"You are not the voice in your head. You are what can recognize the voice in your head."

"The Unlimited is already available within, but your limiting beliefs block you from living with it."

"Awake mind is like a mirror, perfectly reflecting back what appears before it. The beliefs we hold remain like pictures imprinted on top of the awake mind. As long as the pictures are still in the mirror, the mirror cannot clearly see or reflect things as they are; the mirror sees and reflects things through the pictures. Therefore, we see things as we are, not as they are. Wake up from those picture and return to awake mind."

"Our thoughts look just like bubbles; they fill up and pop instantly. How can these fragile things make us truly happy?"

"The lotus flower begins in the pond mud,  grows up, and opens perfectly clean on the water’s surface. The mud represents the stress we feel from the system of suffering running in everyday life;  the lotus represents our potential to wake up from that system and be truly happy. Remember: we are not the mud, we are the lotus flower."

"Only when you can tolerate all aspects of yourself can you tolerate others."

“We need to see the difference between the picture of the way we want things to be and the reality of how things really are. To assume that our picture is reality is unrealistic.”

"If we hold on to our viewpoint, whether good or bad, so tightly, it makes us crazy and others around us crazy. The problem is not the viewpoint; the problem is holding onto your viewpoint."