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Cao Dai (also Caodaism or Caodaiism) is a new religious movement founded in Vietnam. It mixes ideas from other religions. Cao Đài is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion officially established in the city of Tây Ninh, southern Vietnam in 1926. The religion combines Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, Confucianism and Islam. The full name of the religion is Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ (Great Religion of The Third Period of Revelation and Salvation).
Cao Dai uses ethical precepts from Confucianism, occult practices from Taoism, theories of Karma and Rebirth from Buddhism,and a hierarchical organization (including a Pope) from Christianity. Caodaiisst ( believers of Cao Dai ) believe that the first disciples of the religion, Ngô Văn Chiêu, Cao Quỳnh Cư, Phạm Công Tắc and Cao Hoài Sang spoke to God and God spoke to them. God told them to establish a new religion that would commence the Third Era of Religious Amesty. Because of this, Caodaiist credit God for finding their religion. The Ultimate goal of a Caodaist is to rejoin with God the Father, in Heaven and to break away from the cycle of rebirth and death.
HistoryCao Dai was established in the Vietnamese city of Tây Ninh in 1926. Cao Dai was granted legal recognition in 1997. Cao Dai was found by Ngô Văn Chiêu, Cao Quỳnh Cư, Phạm Công Tắc and Cao Hoài. Caodaist believe God spoke to them to establish a new religion.
Teachings and Beliefs
Name of God
The name for God in Cao Dai is Cao Đài Tiên Ông Đại Bồ Tát Ma-ha-tát (translation: Cao Đài the Ancient Sage and Great Bodhisattva Mahasattva). Caodaiist believe God chose this title because it represents the Three Teachings: Saint, Sage, and Buddha.
The Three Teachings
The Three Teachings of Cao Dai are:
Note: The top is believed to be the hardest to achieve while the bottom is believed to be the easiest to achieve.
The Three Teachings represent levels of spiritual attainment. In Cao Dai's teaching being a Buddha is the hardest to achieve. Cao Dai teaches that humans can develop into other beings. Humans can develop into: Thần (angel), Thánh (saint), Tiên (sage), and Phật (buddha). According to Cao Dai, everyone can turn into one of these beings. Angels, Saints, and Sages have extremely long lives in the realms of Heavens, but Buddhas are the only ones free from the cycle of birth and death.
The Three Periods of Revelation and Salvation
- The Teachings of the Buddhas - Dipankara Buddha
- The Teachings of Sages
- The Teachings of Saints- Phục Hy ( Fu Xi )
- The Teachings of the Buddhas - Shakyamuni Buddha (Gautama Buddha )
- The Teachings of Sages - Laozi
- The Teachings of Saints - Confucius and Jesus Christ.
According to Cao Dai Teachings, God is at helm, he will not take human form as in the two past periods. Instead he sends his teachings through sacred seance ceremonies.
The Three Anchors (The Three Teachings) are:
- The Teachings of the Buddhas - Guan Yin
- The Teachings of Sages - Lý Bạch
- The Teachings of Saints - Guan Yu
Holy PeopleBuddha, Guan Yin, Jesus, Joan of Arc, Muhammad, Sun Yat-sen, Julius Caesar, Victor Hugo, and many more.
These are the main scriptures of Cao Dai.
- Kinh Thiên Đạo Và Thế Đạo (Prayers of the Heavenly and the Earthly Way) This is used for Daily life and Prayers for Worship.
- Pháp Chánh Truyền (The Religious Constitution of Caodaiism) This is used for information on the elections of officials, their powers, and ritual dress.
- Tân Luật (The New Canonical Codes) This is used for laws regulating religious, secular, monastic life.
- Thánh Ngôn Hiệp Tuyển (Compilation of Divine Messages)
- Hộ Pháp Phạm Công Tắc The Sermons of His Holiness
Other branches of Cao Dai have additional scriptures.
Cao Dai has an organizational structure like Christianity. Cao Dai's hierarchy includes a Pope, cardinals, bishops, priest, etc. Cao Dai teaches equality between men and women but women are not allowed to be Legislative Cardinal and Pope, the two highest position in Cao Dai. The religion and church claims that God ordered this because Yang represents Male while Yin represents Female. Yin cannot dominate Yang or else Chaos will happen.
Cao Dai is the third largest religion in Vietnam after Buddhism and Roman Catholicism. Estimates of followers in Vietnam, is about 2-6 million around 2%. Estimates of followers oversea, is about 30,000.
- "CAODAI, ITS CONCEPTS: Reason for the founding of CaoĐài". http://www.caodai.org: CaoDai.org. http://www.caodai.org/web/content.aspx?pageID=15. Retrieved 4 January 2012. "In 1926 the Supreme Being founded CaoĐài in Vietnam to show people that all religions are indeed of one same origin. In 1926, the Supreme Being gave the following message: (1): Nhien Dang Co Phat (Dipankara, an old time Buddha) is Me (2): Sakya Muni is Me and (3): Thai Thuong Nguon Thi (an old time Immortal) is Me."