CAODAI - BRIEF ESSENTIAL NOTIONS

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CAODAI - BRIEF ESSENTIAL NOTIONS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAODAI

BRIEF ESSENTIAL NOTIONS

                    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Dang Bui, M.D.

Hum Dac Bui, M.D.

 

 

2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Library of Congress catalogue number

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAODAI

BRIEF ESSENTIAL NOTIONS

                    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Dang Bui, M.D.

Hum Dac Bui, M.D.

 

 

2018

 

 

 

Thầy là các con, các con là Thầy

I am you, My children, and children, you are Me.

                                    CAODAI – 1926

 

Cao Đài không phải là Cao Đài mới thật là Cao Đài

CaoDai without being CaoDai is the true CaoDai

                                    Lý Thái Bạch’s spirit - 1974

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENT

 

FOREWORD……………………………………………… 6

INTRODUCTION………………………………………….7

CHAPTER ONE - BRIEF REVIEW OF HISTORY  OF RELIGIONS……………………………………………….. 9

CHAPTER TWO – CAODAI, THE UNIFICATION OF

THE FIVE WAY OF THE DAO ........................................11

CHAPTER THREE – INCLUSION OF ALL IN THE UNIVERSE WITH THE COSMIC PRINCIPLE – COSMOLOGY ………………………………………….   13

CHAPTER FOUR – GOALS AND PRACTICE………… 16

CHAPTER FIVE – CAODAI STRUCTURE……………. 29

CHAPTER SIX – THE ROLE OF FEMININE IN CAODAI ..............................................................................................30

CHAPTER SEVEN – CAODAI HOLY SEE……………. 34

CHAPTER EIGHT – CAODAI ACTIVITIES……………35

SUMMARY ……………………………………………    36

OTHER READINGS……………………………………   36

CONTACT INFORMATION …………………………… 37

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreword

 

All religions have the same noble purpose of realization of a peaceful community where people love and help each other for a happy life. Thousands of denominations, religions are trying with difficulties and uncertainties to bring peace to the world, where humans mistrust each other because of the very multiplicity of faith traditions.

 

CaoDai teaches that all humans receive a spark of the spirit of God and are thus brothers and sisters from the same Father God. We all possess a common sublime origin to which we all can come back to realize lasting peace and happiness. This conception offers a way of life, which we believe has a great potential to bring religions together in harmony.

 

This booklet will give the reader succinct notions on that concept and its way of peaceful happy life for our human family in the midst of many diverse traditions.

 

Hum Dac Bui, MD

Hong Dang Bui, MD

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction and Outline

 

CaoDai is a faith of unity and inclusion, which originated in Vietnam in the 1920s, founded through spiritualism (way of communication between human and the higher spiritual realm). It has between 6 to 7 million followers, mostly in Vietnam, now spread all over the world, secondary to the exodus of 1975.

 

CaoDai is an encompassing faith, uniting humanity and religions through a common divine source, and recognizing the common teachings of all faiths for love, compassion, justice. It offers a way of practice easily reached by the faith or non-faith based person in attaining peace for the individual and for the collectiveness, as well as ultimate enlightenment.

 

This booklet “Essential Notions on CaoDai” wishes to bring you a brief useful account on this 20th century faith of unity and inclusion. The booklet follows this outline:

 

I- Brief review of history of religions - The place of CaoDai

II- CaoDai, the unification of the five ways of the Dao

III- Inclusion of all in the universe with the Cosmic Principle

IV- Goals and practice:

   A- Goals:

1-      Unification of Religions

2-      The human Tao is peace, or peace in this life

3-      The divine Tao is liberation or salvation thereafter    

   B- Practice:

1-      Practice any one or combination of the five ways of the Dao

2-      The Divine Eye

3-      Love and justice

4-      The Triple-fold path: service, self-cultivation and turning to inner-self.

5-      Vegetarianism

V- CaoDai Organization

VI- The Feminine Role in CaoDai

VII- CaoDai Holy See

VIII- CaoDai Activities

 Summary: The Three Pillars of CaoDai

 Other Readings

 Contact Information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

BRIEF REVIEW OF HISTORY OF RELIGIONS- THE PLACE OF CAODAI

All Religions are beautiful diverse manifestations of one same Truth. Religions can be grouped in 5 ways manifested in 3 revelations.

The Three Revelations also known as axial ages include

- First Revelation: 5000 years ago

- Second Revelation: 2500 years ago

- Third Revelation: contemporary, unification of the five ways of the Dao

The Five Ways of the Dao as described in CaoDai scriptures consist of

1-      The Way of Humanity, which teaches the fulfillment of the secular life with personal, family, community responsibility. This way helps the person to lead a harmonious life with himself, his family and the community.

2-      The Way of Local Spirits, with the worshipping of wise spirits. It is believed that virtuous persons, after their death, would come in spirit to help the livings.

3-      The Way of Saints (Abrahamic religions), in which service and sacrifice lead our life. Service, taught in all traditions is expressed at its highest in the way of Saints. Attested to that are the widespread mission works of Christianity in particular.

4-      The Way of Immortals with respect of the natural order, meditation for purification. The person in this way looks into leading a life conforming with the natural enfoldment of events and with attention to cultivation of personal virtues.

5-      The Way of Buddhas with eradication of human emotions, and meditation to discover our divine nature. The person strives to shed away the multitude of adverse emotions due to the ego and desires in the goal of attaining absolute calmness and enfolding the Buddha nature hidden behind the secular turmoil.

The first three ways deal mostly with our secular life. The fourth and fifth ways involve spiritual cultivation. Followed is a table summarizing the major figures of each of the ways in the revelations

 

        The Five Ways of the Dao                First Revelation (5000 years ago)                   

1-       Way of Humanity                                   King Fu-Hsi

2-       Way of Local Spirits                              Way of folkloric worshipping

3-       Way of Saints (Abrahamic religions)    Moses (Judaism)                      

4-       Way of Immortals                                  Thái Thượng Đạo Quân

5.     Way of Buddhas                                    Hinduism; Dipankara Buddha

 

The Five Ways of the Dao                  Second Revelation (2500 years ago)

 

  1. Way of Humanity                                    Confucius (Confucianism)
  2. Way of Local Spirits                               Jiang Taigong
  3. Way of Saints (Abrahamic religion)        Jesus Christ (Christianity)                                                                                                                                                                                       Mohammad (Islam)
  4. Way of Immortals                                   Lao Tse (Taoism)
  5. Way of Buddhas                                     Gautama Buddha (Buddhism)

Third Revelation: Contemporary with the Unification of Faith Traditions consists of:

* In the 19th century the ecumenical movements: Theosophy, Unitarian Universalism, Unity Church, New Thought, Baha’i which taught the unity of religions.

* In the 20th century: Burgeoning and blossoming of grass root interfaith movements.

And most recently, the Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ or The Third Universal Salvation of the Great Way, or CaoDai, which brings to its culmination the notion of religious inclusion with promise for spiritual joy and social harmony and peace.

The term CaoDai applies both to Đức Chí Tôn, the Supreme Being or Father God and to the faith. It literally means the High Tower. We recognize here the similarity with the term “Roofless Tower” in Christianity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 CAODAI, THE UNIFICATION OF THE FIVE WAYS OF THE DAO

       CaoDai was founded through spiritualism. In 1920, Mr. Ngô Văn Chiêu from Phú Quốc, Vietnam, received God's message that all religions and all human beings are one. There is no difference between people; all of them have religious beliefs that should be respected. God's words were also heard in Saigon by Mr. Cao Quỳnh Cư, Mr. Cao Hoài Sang and Mr. Phạm Công Tắc. The divine message is to let humanity know that religions come from one divine source and should come together in harmony and that human beings all receive a spark of the divine spirit and should come back to that sublime source. Thus the message was received by two different groups of people at two different locations.

 

Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ or The Third Universal Salvation of the Great Way is called as such since it comes after the other two previous revelations of the Way or Dao. Universal Salvation provides humanity with reachable ways of cultivation and enlightenment. CaoDai (1926) brings the unification of all faiths, conceives that all stem from one same divine source, with common teaching of love, compassion, service, justice and are just diverse beautiful manifestations of one same truth. CaoDai encourages to study all scriptures, respect all religious traditions, bridging all faiths. This convergence of faiths is especially visible at the esoteric level or the mystic level of experience of the divine. 

   

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Three

 

INCLUSION OF ALL IN THE UNIVERSE WITH THE COSMIC PRINCIPLE - COSMOLOGY

 

From the “Collection of Selected CaoDai Holy Messages” p. 234, translation by Bui & Bui, we read      “when there was nothing in the universe, the cosmic ether gave birth only to Me, and my throne is the universal monad. I divided the monad into the dyad which is yin and yang, and then to the tetrad and the eight trigrams. The latter changes continuously to form the universe. I then divided My spirit to create ten thousand things from elements to living beings."

 

From the above passage, we learn that the Supreme Being divided Himself and granted a spark of His spirit to all in the universe. Thus we are part of the Divine. As we carry in us that spark of spirit - also called Christ in you, Buddha nature, Atman, Tiểu Linh Quang (from CaoDai meaning the Little Sacred Light) - we may discover it in us and work to be reunited with the Divine. That sublime origin promises to us a hopeful view of our ultimate destiny.

 

Followed are some other significant quotes on God and human nature

From Thánh Giáo Sưu Tập 1966-67, 36:

“Con là một chơn linh tại thế,

Cùng với Thầy đồng thể linh quang.

Khoá chìa con đã sẵn sàng,

Khi vào cõi tục khi sanh Thiên đình.”

  “You are a spiritual being on earth;

  Sharing with Me My spiritual light essence.

  Thus you are given the key to the kingdom

  So you can be in the mundane plane,

  Or in the celestial kingdom at will!”

These verses affirm our spiritual potential and also our fragility as to reverse to our egoistic inferior self. In dealing with this duality of our nature, we need constantly to remind ourselves that it is all up to us to choose the way, the way that leads to peace or not.

 

From Đại Thừa Chơn Giáo (San Jose, Thiên Lý Bửu Tòa 1984, 65)

  “Thật là diệu diệu huyền huyền,

   Trời người có một chẳng riêng khác gì.

   This is indeed beautifully mysterious,

   God and man are one in essence,

   There is no difference.”

Again, we are happily and mysteriously very close to the Divine.

“Thầy là các con, các con là Thầy”
I am you, My children, and children, you are Me.

I am you, My children: God grants us a spark of His spirit, makes us in His image.

Children, you are Me: We may cultivate ourselves and find God’s spirit in us and attain unification with the Divine, a blissful state that we all have the potential to discover.

 

This notion is universal to all, regardless of race and creed. Knowing this, we can transcend our outer differences and see each other as brothers and sisters of the same human family. We all possess a sublime origin and may return to our source.

 

This oneness extends to the physical plane.

We have the same internal organs - heart, lungs, intestines, liver - that look alike when the surgeon operates on us.

 

At the cellular level, that sameness and identity is even more striking in terms of chemical composition, reactions, enzymes, and hormones.

The basic functions are overwhelmingly the same.

At the proton and electron levels, the differences are indistinguishable.

 

We share this physical oneness with the animal kingdom somewhat at the organ level and increasingly at the smaller levels of cells and finally of atoms.

 

Moreover, science has demonstrated that we share our genes at

       18 percent with plants,

       26 percent with yeasts,

       44 percent with the fruit fly,

       92 percent with the mouse, and

      98 percent with the chimpanzee!

      More than 99 percent between humans.

 

CaoDai cosmology: According to the scriptures, at the beginning of all, there was a chaotic, nebulous, silent, mixed pure and impure atmosphere called Khí Hư Vô or the Nil, or the Cosmic Ether, corresponding to the Cosmic Soup described in science. From that Khí Hư Vô, a big explosion occurred and the Đại Linh Quang or Great Sacred Light appeared. It is with awe that we notice that the big explosion mentioned in the scripture antedates the Big Bang in science. The Đại Linh Quang is the unique Monad, Đức Chí Tôn or the Supreme Being. The Monad divides into the Dyad, with the Dương Quang Positive Light (Male) and the Âm Quang Negative  Light (Female). While the Positive Light is governed by the Supreme Being, the Negative is trusted to the Mother Goddess. CaoDai thus worship both Father God and Mother Goddess. This feminine presence will be developed later in the booklet.

 

 

 

Chapter four

 

GOALS AND PRACTICE

A-  GOALS

  1. The Unification of Religions:

Right at the beginning, the Supreme Being clearly indicated the reason of the founding of CaoDai as in this following message: "Formerly, people lacked transportation and therefore did not know each other. I then founded at different epochs and in different areas, five branches of the Tao: the way of humanity, the way of local spirits, the way of Saints, the way of Immortals and the way of Buddhas, each based on the customs of the respective race. In present days, transportation has been improved, and people have come to know each other better, but do not live in harmony because of the very multiplicity of those religions. That's why I have deigned to unite all of those religions into one to bring them back to the primordial unity."

The conflicts between religions have led to many wars in the world just because of the name of God. Believing in the oneness of religions with similarity in their teachings, CaoDai aspires to bring religions together with mutual understanding, collaboration and harmony in the services of humanity realizing peace and harmony in the world.

       2.  Nhơn Đạo Thái Bình: The human Tao is peace

The human Tao or the way of secular life has for purpose in bringing peace, harmony, happiness to our daily encounter. This peace begins with ourselves, extends to our family, community.

The human Tao corresponds to the exoteric aspect of CaoDai and to the practice of the first three ways of the Dao mentioned in chapter one. How to attain this peace will be discussed in the practice part.

        3. Thiên Đạo Giải Thoát: The divine Tao is liberation

The divine Tao is the road to recognizing our inner divine self, developing it, and attaining unification with the Divine. By embarking on that road, we become more and more spontaneously loving, compassionate, clearer, lighter, in harmony with all.

The divine Tao corresponds to the esoteric aspect of CaoDai.

This way of living, realizing both the human Tao and the divine Tao is also known as Phước Huệ Song Tu or concurrent cultivation through service and purification. Anyone of us whether faith or non-faith based can realize this way with the Triple - Fold Path described later in the booklet.

 

B- PRACTICE

This succinct rendering of the practical approach which culminates in the peace within and without can be realized by all regardless of their backgrounds.

1-  Practice anyone or combination of the Five Ways

■       Way of Humanity: Confucianism, fulfillment of the secular life in families and communities

■       Way of Local Spirits: worshipping of wise spirits

■       Way of Saints: Abrahamic religions, service and sacrifice

■       Way of Immortals: respect of natural order, meditation

■       Way of Buddhas: eradication of humane emotions - meditation

CaoDai encourages the disciples to study scriptures of all religions. And in doing so, they learn the commonalities among the scriptures, which spanned over the ages. These similarities denote that the teachings derive from the same source. Differences may however arise because of fragile human interpretations.

 

In the CaoDai cultivation, a person first fulfills the responsibilities of a human being, respecting his own self, then fulfills his/her duties as spouse, children, parents, citizens. As we perform these basic social duties, we may follow the worshipping of wise spirits, as well as the example of love, service and sacrifice of saints. At a deeper level of cultivation, we will strive in controlling our worldly desires, turn to the inner self to discover our sublime origin and be united with the cosmic principle.

 

2- The Divine Eye

The Supreme Being ordered Mr. Ngô Văn Chiêu, the first CaoDai disciple, to use the Divine Eye to represent God as well as  CaoDai faith. The meaning of the symbol was explained in the following God's message:

"Nhãn thị chủ tâm,

Lưỡng quang chủ tể,

Quang thị thần,

Thần thị thiên.

Thiên giả ngã giả".

The eye representing the Supreme Being is the master of the heart;

From God, Yin and Yang lights create all;

Light is spirit;

Spirit is God.

The Supreme Being creates Yin and Yang energies corresponding to electrons and protons in sciences.  They interact with each other to form heavens and universes.

 

 

 

         

 

3- Love and Justice

As is true in all religions, love and justice constitute a basic essential teaching in CaoDai.

Love is unconditional love, spontaneous love without searching for rewards.

And justice is “do not do to others what we don’t want others to do to us,” or “do to others what we want to be done to us.”

As we enter any CaoDai temple, we'll see at the center of the foremost wall the painting of the Three Saints, with the words in French and in Chinese of "Dieu et Humanité, Amour et Justice" or “God and Humanity, Love and Justice.”

This is the agreement of the three saints with God which originated from a teaching séance of the Giáo Tông (Spiritual Pope) Lý Thái Bạch. The three saints were Vietnamese Trạng Trình, a renown sage and poet from the 16th century, French novelist and socialist Victor Hugo from the 19th century and Chinese reformer Sun Yat Sen from the 20th century. Together, they showed forgiveness and reconciliation since Vietnamese had harsh feelings for Chinese and French from their colonization and dominance. The grouping also illustrates the collaboration between East and West. "God and Humanity, Love and Justice" calls for humanity to promise with God to abide with the practice of love, compassion, kindness and justice or the Golden Rule of "don't do to other what we don't want others to do to us," or “do to others what we like to be done to us.”

Love is unconditional, springing spontaneously from our heart toward our fellow humans, and extending to animals, plants and even inanimate objects. Love and justice enhance a pleasant interaction with others, create harmony and peace in families and communities.

Several passages in the CaoDai scriptures call for love and justice:

“You would not have further opportunity to serve humanity and thereby redeem yourselves...You are to love one another; your guidance to and sharing with each other are precious gifts which please Me greatly." (Collection of Selected CaoDai Holy Messages- Translation by Hum D. Bui, M.D. and Hong Dang Bui, M.D., CreateSpace 2015 p. 141).

"As I taught, just aspire to be able to love one another following my Holy example. Love is the key to the thirty six heavens, to Nirvana and the White Jade Palace. Whoever denies love would never be able to escape reincarnation. And moreover, I will take care of all your difficulties, while i just ask for your love of each other and for your effort in serving humanity for its liberation." (Collection of Selected CaoDai Holy Messages- Translation by Hum D. Bui, M.D. and Hong Dang Bui, M.D., Create Space, 2015 p. 209).

"Greetings to all younger brothers and sisters, do you know why we have to love all living beings? Because the Mercy Gather created all living in the universe, therefore they all have the same constituents. Therefore the love of the Great Mercy Father is unlimited. We  are one of all species of the universe and are affected by the law of creation and nurture... Therefore opening the heart to love all living beings including petty species is a way to avoid Karma Law, because the Divine Law would never be partial to anyone..." (Collection of Selected CaoDai Holy Messages- Translation by Hum D. Bui, M.D. and Hong Dang Bui, M.D. Create Space, 2015 p. 269).

 

4- Tam Công or Triple - Fold Path

consisting of the concurrent practice of Công quả (Service), Công trình (Self-cultivation) and Công phu (Turning to Inner-self).

   4.1: Công Quả - Service

Rendering help from spontaneous loving kindness, indiscriminately to anyone, anywhere, at anytime is the behavior of a person of faith. Service is an effective practical contribution to the well-being of all in the universe. As we have a physical body, emotions and a mind or spirit, service can be accomplished at three planes:

■       Physical: Food, clothing, shelter; conservation of the environment.

■       Emotional: Moral support, comforting gestures and words.

■       Spiritual: Prayers – sharing spiritual teachings

These acts of service relieve distresses from suffering persons and enhance spiritual enfoldment of the recipient and the giver alike.

Followed are two passages on service, one from the Bible and one from CaoDai scripture:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” 

Matthew 25:35


“You do not need to seek for great philosophy. Just look at the life of your human companions and try to serve and nurture it. If you serve humanity with all your heart, the gate of Heaven is already open to you.”
CaoDai. (The Sermon of HH. Phạm Công Tắc, 1949).

    4.2: Công Trình - Self-Cultivation

Self-cultivation is a self discipline in the improvement of our demeanor, behavior, attitude so as to bring forward love and harmony. Followed is a description of some essential     aspects in self-cultivation:

■       Taming of emotions: controlling our secular emotions of desire, jealousy, hatred, anger, fear, hunger for dominance by recognizing them as they arise, and dissipating them with the practice of love, compassion, inclusion, generosity. Each evening, reassess the day of activities and see what can be improved to bring happiness to others and to ourselves.

■        Study of scriptures, religious and moral texts: These studies give examples on how we can develop our understanding for others, help us to see more of our defaults, discover our good potentials, encourage us in exercising our yearning toward our higher self.

■        Enhancement of service to all: self-cultivation reminds us to keep bringing service to all, human and other living beings alike. It is in the selfless service that we find our sublime origin, our purpose in this earthly life.

■        Application of Love and Justice: Part of self- cultivation is to consistently observe love and justice as described earlier. Grounding on love and justice helps us to evolve to peace and harmony by guiding us in our relations with others.

■       Persistence in meditation: We need to have courage and strength to surmount difficulties as we search to uncover our sublime self in meditation, which will be addressed in this next section.

  4.3: Công Phu - Turn to inner-self, meditation

Meditation is one of the three prongs of the Triple-fold path. It represents a necessary pillar in the rhythm of our spiritual journey. For the clarity of the text, we'll discuss the basic questions of what, why, who, when, where and how, and finally end with the description of the five steps of achievement in meditation. But we want to mention right away that research in neuroscience, psychology, neurobiology have recently found many beneficial effects of meditation which will be addressed thereafter.

4.3.1. What is meditation?

Meditation is a process that help to quiet down our mind, leading to clearer thinking, relaxation of both body and mind, inducing a sensation of peace. From the Latin meditatus, it is "to think or reflect upon; to revolve in one's mind," which implies a focusing of one's thought, a cessation of the continuously wandering of the mind (monkey mind). Công Phu, the word in CaoDai for meditation, brings us to a deeper dimension. It means to quiet down all emotions, secular activities, or attachments; it is to calm down the egoistic self, so as to bring forward the “True self,” genuinely good and pure. It leads to unification with the divine.

4.3.2.  Why do we meditate?

Effects of meditation.

In daily general life, meditation brings about a rest from the incessant secular turmoil. It is a nourishment for our mind and spirit, as physically, we nourish our body with three daily meals.

Recent research from immunology, neuroscience, psychology, neurobiology points toward the following beneficial effects of meditation:

-   Booster effects on the immune function.

- Meditation is linked to beneficial effects on longevity, stress control, sense of purpose in life and brain structure and function (studies of T.L. Jacobs et al, Linda E. Carlson et al, and of Sara Lazar, Madhav Goyal, Florian Kurth).

- As a devotional act, meditation uncovers our sublime self and help us to connect with the Divine. As CaoDai puts it: “Phàm tâm lặng lẽ, thánh tâm sanh” or “when the human mind quiets down, the saintly mind emerges.”

4.3.3.  Who meditates?

 Meditation can be practiced by anyone regardless of background. It has been introduced in schools such as in Bhutan and in some US schools.

4.3.4.  When and where to meditate?

It is important to find a suitable time to enter into the quietness of meditation. For beginners, early in the morning before the day of activities starts, or late in the evening before sleep and after the day is completed, help to induce into the contemplation. Try to return at the same time and the same place every day, until you can enter into meditation anytime and anywhere.

4.3.5.  How to meditate?

The principle of meditation is to empty the mind from its incessant wandering turmoil, so as to achieve a clearer, purer, more peaceful state, at which time the True Self may be unveiled, leading to joy and peace.

Many ways of practice are available. We suggest the triple approach of harmonizing the body, harmonizing the breath and harmonizing the mind.

In harmonizing the body, a lotus or semi-lotus position of the legs, with the spine erect, and all muscles relaxed is suggested.

Then imagine the Chi flow following the breathing in and out. Focusing on the breath is convenient because it can be done anytime and anywhere.

As the body is calm, the rhythmic regular breathing will induce the mind to come into quietness.

4.3.6.  The five steps of evolvement with meditation:

The ultimate goal in meditation is the union with the divine. With regular meditation, five discernible steps of spiritual evolvement can be described:

Giới or literally restriction indicates that the person observes the precepts of do not kill, do not steal, do not get intoxicated, do not sin by sex, do not sin by words.

Định or concentration refers to concentrate the inner-self for purification, so as not to be disturbed by secular matters.

Huệ or clarity indicates that the mind become clear and bright.

Tri kiến or wisdom refers to a state of understanding the matters of the universe.

Giải thoát or liberation, the final step of enlightenment.

Practicing the three aspects of the Triple-fold Path constitutes the concurrent cultivation of exoterism (service to humanity) and esoterism (meditation) also called Phước Huệ Song Tu in CaoDai.

 

 

5- Vegetarianism

CaoDai promotes a vegetarian lifestyle, recommending to the new disciple to start out with at least 6 days a month of vegetarian diet, progressing to 10 days a month, then to fully vegetarian especially if embracing the esoteric path. Six days a month would involve the 1st, 8th, 14th, 15th, 23rd and the 30th of each lunar month. Ten days a month involve the 1st, 8th, 14th, 15th, 18th, 23rd, 24th, 28th, 29th, and 30th. In the months that have only 29 days (instead of 30th), the 27th day will be included to make up for the missing 30th.

 

Why do we practice vegetarianism?

Love to animals, conservation of environment, health benefits, and spiritual lift can be cited as the main reasons.

The very first reason is the avoidance of killing animals. Vegetarianism expresses compassion, mindfulness for animals, an attitude of inflicting no harm, subjecting no pain to other organisms.

 

The industry of animals farming wastes natural resources as it takes up land, water, crops for animals raising. Animal excreta add to the pollution. Instead of nourishing one meat eater, we can nourish fourteen persons following a vegan diet.

 

Vegetarian lifestyle is associated with the decrease in risks for diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia or high cholesterol and fats, and even a decrease in risk for cancer.

Observing a plant-based diet enhances our sense of well-being, our loving-kindness and helps avoid bad karma. It facilitates our efforts for meditation and assists our purification

.

Does the vegetarian get enough nutrients?

We will address the provision of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and minute elements.

Proteins are produced by the combination of base elements called amino-acids (AA). Twenty AA are available, with eleven that can be manufactured by our body, and nine that need to be supplied by the diet. These nine AA, called essential AA can be found in animal derived food (meat, dairy, eggs), which are termed as complete proteins. Vegetable derived proteins are incomplete protein, as individually, they do not offer all the nine essential AA. However if grains (rice, wheat, oats.. pastas..) are consumed together with beans and nuts (soy, white, red beans... cashew, almond, walnuts...), all the nine essential AA will be provided.

Carbohydrates, the main source of fuel for the body are all provided by vegetables in the form of diverse grains, rice, wheat, corn, oat...

 

Fats, required in the synthesis of certain hormones and in carrying certain vitamins come from animal fats and vegetable oils. Vegetable oils, especially olive oil are generally healthier than animal fats.

 

Moreover, plants and fruits offer sufficient amounts or more of calcium, potassium, iron, fiber...Vitamins are well supplied except vitamin B12 which is now supplemented in fortified cereals.

 

In brief, the vegetarian lifestyle offers abundant nutrients,  supplies sufficient calories, while enhancing health, environment, emotional, spiritual benefits. We suggest to embrace as much as possible a plant-based diet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Five

 

CAODAI ORGANIZATION

 

CaoDai is managed by two powers: 

A. The spiritual power: seated at the Bát Quái Đài (Octagonal Palace) headed by God who gives orders and messages to the earth via mediums.

B. The earthly power: consisting of the Cửu Trùng Đài (Nine Sphere Palace) or the executive body headed by the Giáo Tông (Pope) and the Hiệp Thiên Đài (Heavenly Union Palace) or the legislative body headed by the Hộ Pháp (Dharma Protector).

The three structures denote the three components of our constitution:

-          physical with the Nine Sphere Palace,

-          mind with the Heavenly Union Palace which bridges the physical and the spiritual realm.

-          Spirit with the Octagonal Palace reigned by God.

This organization promotes democratic values as the branches offer mutual check and balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Six

 

THE ROLE OF FEMININE IN CAODAI

 

The Mother Goddess

After God created the Yang Positive (male) Light and the Yin Negative (female) Light. God governed the Yang and entrusted the Yin to the Mother Goddess.

Mother Goddess combines the Positive Light and the Negative Light to create the visible, physical and mind aspects of all in the universe. Father God grants the invisible pure spirit to all.

                           

Mother Goddess nurtures, educates and brings the children back to their divine source. She is assisted by nine Muses. She is always present in the guidance of her children during their earthly cultivation to find and return to their sublime origin. She constantly reminds them to rein their secular wants and adverse emotions.

 

In the Mother Goddess temple, all children wear white and are equal to the Mother's eye.

 

Mother Goddess and her nine Muses are celebrated each lunar year on the 15th day of the 8th month at the Hội Yến Diêu Trì in Tayninh. At this celebration, all sisters tried their best to create superb flowers, fruits, vegetarian foods offerings.

 

Followed is a message from the Mother Goddess received in Cholon, VietNam on 5/2/1965: "Children, look around you... Alas, multitude of misery, multitude of people in solitude, suffering from the cold, the hunger, at this or that corner of town, with no home, lacking of clothing, lacking of care and comfort. They are waiting for your loving hands, your kind words. This task asks for a formidable amount of energy and resources. One of you cannot respond to this demand, it needs all of you to cooperate. This is why I come to you today to bring some warmth to you, who have been lost in the coldness of time, and to show you the way of service, that each one of you has a responsibility for. Many of you who are enlightened early in your life, realize where the truth is, where the error, where is love and righteousness, where is lure, where is the ephemeral glory and not the true happiness. Children, look at all what you are enjoying, where is happiness? Happiness does not come granted from Thầy Mẹ (God and Goddess), does not reside in magnificent houses. pillows of silver or bed of ivory, but is what you receive in your heart when you do service to others: joy, satisfaction, light feelings. Spend your time to provide to all people, to all communities emotional support, food, clothing, shelters, schools, hospitals... This constitutes happiness for them and for you, a happiness that cannot be robbed by robbers, cannot be destroyed by flames or flood. If you do not see the origin of this happiness, you will always live in the impermanency of this deceitful world and in the endless reincarnation..." (The Heart of the Gentle Loving Mother 1965-1969 from Cơ Quan Phổ Thông Giáo Lý p. 8-9, translated by Hong Dang Bui, MD.)

Besides practicing service to others, Mother Goddess recommended several tips for self-improvement:

  • Try to control human emotions of desire, anger, jealousy, hatred, fear…
  • Do small things to become great.
  • Fight laziness
  • Be aware that we tend to embellish our physical outer appearances and forget to improve our virtues which are the spiritual beauty inside ourselves.
  • Be aware that human emotions bury our good nature.
  • Turning to inside, shedding away the outer layer of impurity to discover the gem deep in ourselves.

 

The Female College in the Clergy

Right at the beginning of CaoDai, the Supreme Being gave this following message to female disciples:

"Lady Duong, I, your Master, assign you to establish the female College. Your gender alone does not condemn you to the kitchen. At this 3rd salvation, there will be much hard work for everyone. Male and female are of equal number. Not only males work to become Immortals and Buddhas. As I have said, at the Bạch Ngọc Kinh (White Jade Palace), there are both male and female, and frequently, females are predominant. So follow My order to establish the female college. Listen and obey! I will always be with you. Don't worry."

(Collection of Selected CaoDai Holy Messages, CreateSpace 2015, translated by Hum Dac Bui, MD and Hong Dang Bui, MD, p. 55)

At that time, women had very limited role in the community, had only responsibility in their own family, and most of the time had to follow all the orders of their husband. And yet the Divine ordered the establishment of the feminine college. About the power of the female college, the spiritual Giáo Tông said: “The dignitaries, male or female of the same level in the hierarchy hold the same power. The Giáo Hữu (priests) of the male college are placed under the order of the Giáo Sư (bishops) of the female college. The Giáo Sư of the male college must obey to the Phối Sư (archbishops) of the female college. Equality is for everyone, however, the powers differ according to the grades in the Sacerdotal Council.”

(The Religious Constitution of CaoDaism, translated by Hum Dac Bui, MD, 1992, p. 100).

 

So, in the female college, the hierarchy includes Giáo Hữu (priest), Giáo Sư (bishop), Phối Sư (archbishop), and Đầu Sư (cardinal). However, the female Đầu Sư is under the order of the Chưởng Pháp (legist-cardinal) and Giáo Tông (Pope), the two highest dignitaries exclusive for males. There is no female Chưởng Pháp and Giáo Tông.

 

The woman is well respected among CaoDai families. She holds the role in the stabilization of the family, participates in the education of the children in giving a role model as she is proud to perform her feminine duties.

 

The woman is also encouraged to participate in the clergy and to hold all the duties in local temple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

CAODAI HOLY SEE

 

CaoDai Holy See was constructed without any architectural engineering, by the hands of volunteers under the instruction of the spiritual Giáo Tông Lý Thái Bạch transmitted to the Hộ Pháp Phạm Công Tắc. It includes architectural styles of many religions. The two front towers are of Christianity style, the dome shape on top of the main body has the Islamic style, and the octagonal structure has Buddhist style with the three ancient Hindu Buddhas on top.

 

The Holy See represents the three gems of the universe which are Heaven, Earth, and Human corresponding also to the three gems of humans: spirit, physical body and mind. The three gems reflecting the structure of CaoDai consist of the Bát Quái Đài (spiritual body), Cửu Trùng Đài (executive body) and Hiệp Thiên Đài (legislative body). They also represent the stages of CaoDai meditation, which allows  transforming the physical Chi (physical energy) to vital Chi (emotion) and then to spiritual Chi that leads to enlightenment or unification with the divine.

 

    

         CaoDai Holy See in Tayninh Vietnam

Chapter Eight

 

CAODAI ACTIVITIES

 

CaoDai practice consists of simultaneous exoteric and esoteric cultivations or Phước Huệ Song Tu. Exoteric practice is held on Sundays and on the 1st and 15th days of each lunar month in all temples outside of Vietnam. Exoteric and esoteric practices are offered at the CaoDai Center in Anaheim, California with regular worshipping in the temple and with the “Journey to Bliss” session in the meditation hall.

 

The “Journey to Bliss” gathers people regardless of denominations background to discuss and to share personal experiences on life issues. This is a way of self improvement with continuous effort in controlling our bad emotions (greed, anger, desire, jealousy, hatred) while cultivating the virtues of kindness, compassion, altruism, selflessness, generosity, perseverance, understanding, love, dealing with people by the Golden Rule.

The discussion is followed by meditation that brings us to another dimension. It is to return to the inner self after quieting down all emotions, all secular activities or attachments, calming down the egoistic self so as to bring forward the true self, genuinely good and pure. It is a devotional act to find the Divine Essence in ourselves.

CaoDaists co-operate with other faiths in various services to the communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY

 

THE THREE PILLARS OF CAODAI

CaoDai principle and practice can be summarized in the following three pillars:

1- Oneness of all in the universe and the cosmic principle

2- Observation of love and justice

3- Practice the Triple-fold Path of service, self-cultivation and turning to the inner-self.

CaoDai invites all, faith and non-faith alike to attain peace and enlightenment.

 

OTHER READINGS

 

CaoDai, Faith of Unity, Hum Dac Bui, MD with Ngasha Beck, Emerald Wave 2000

 

CaoDai, Faith of Unity – Parent and Child Book. Hum Dac Bui, MD, Hong Dang Bui, MD, AuthorHouse, 2015

 

Collection of Selected CaoDai Holy Messages, Hum Dac Bui, MD, Hong Dang Bui, MD, Translation, CreateSpace, 2015

 

CaoDai Great Way, The Grand Cycle of Esoteric Teaching, Anh-Tuyet Tran, PhD, Translation, CreateSpace, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact information

 

CAODAI CENTER 

808 W. Vermont Ave., Anaheim, CA 92805


Hong Dang Bui, MD., (909) 363-6024. hongbui24568@gmail.com

David Che, D.D.S., (714) 319-4956, davidtungche@yahoo.com

 

Website: www.caodai.org

 

 

 

 

 

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