Updated 2016-07-16 22:57:02

(By Jason Greenberger – July 16, 2016)
 Shortly after Reverend Canh Q. Tran and Deacon Le Van Tua arrived in Korea it was already clear that this journey to the “land of morning calm” would prove to be unforgettable. The pair had opted to come to Korea early, to settle in before the 2016 CESNUR (Center for Studies of New Religions) Conference, “Religious Movements in a Globalized World: Korea, Asia, and Beyond.” Due to the generosity of Daesoon administration including administration Executive Director, Kim Wook (Department of Academic Affairs at the Daesoon Academy of Sciences), they were able to stay at the Daesoonjinrihoe Headquarters in Yeoju where Jason Greenberger was finishing his research on comparative religion for a topic which involved both Caodaism and Daesoonjinrihoe. The young religion’s headquarters were simply stunning. It was as if Reverend Canh, Deacon Le, and Jason had entered into a classical Asian brush painting. Everywhere they walked, they were surrounded by immaculately landscaped trees, rock gardens, flowing water, and traditional architecture. At the farewell dinner prior to leaving the headquarters for Daejin University in Pocheon, Daesoon administration and researchers expressed curiosity regarding Caodaism. This was a sign of what was to come in the week which followed.
Around 100 scholars from all around the world gathered at Daejin University which, much like Daesoonjinrihoe’s headquarters in Yeoju, also served to impress attendees with its visual aesthetics and the warm hospitality of Daesoon devotees. The conference, organized in Seoul, Korea, from July 5 to July 10, 2016,  featured presentations on a wide variety of western and eastern new religious movements such as: Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormonism, Freemasonry, Yīguàndào, Tiāndìjiào, Wéixīn Shèngjiào, Tenrikyo, Oomoto, Cheondogyo, Daesoonjinrihoe, Unification Church, Won Buddhism, Hoahaoism, and of course, Caodaism. By all accounts, Cesnur 2016 can be regarded as evidence that scholarly interest in Caodaism is soaring to new heights. It joined a small handful of religions such as Daesoonjinrihoe, Unification Church, and Yīguàndào,  all of which were touched upon in five or more presentations throughout the course of Cesnur.
Caodaism was first presented at Cesnur 2016 on Wednesday July 6th during parallel session 5 titled “A Comparative Study of East Asian New Religions.” During this session, noted translator of Buddhist Chinese texts, Jason Greenberger, discussed the taxonomy of eras of humankind in Caodaism during his presentation, “The Best of Times, The Worst of Times, The End of Times?: A Comparison of Eschatology in a Selection of Popular New Asian Religions.” During the same session, Daejin University’s Professor of Daesoon Theology, Lee Gyungwon, presented on “A Contrasting View of Three Teachings in East Asian New Religions: Daesoonjinrihoe, I-Kuan Dao, and Caodaism.”
The next day, Thursday, July 7th, during plenary session 9, “East Asian Movements,” California Polytechnic State University’s Professor Ninh Thien-Huong presented on “The Localization and Globablization of Vietnam-Based New Religious Movements: Innovation and Transformation Within and Beyond Asia.” Following her presentation, Jason Greenberger and Reverend Canh presented on the topic, “Common Ground and Sacred Exchange- An Overview of Theological Similarities and an Account of Inter-religious Activities among Caodaism, Oomoto, and Dàoyuàn” and showed a video of Oomoto and Dàoyuàn visit to the Caodai Holy See during the 90th Great Festival Commemorating the Holy Mother Goddess in 2015.
The final Caodaism related presentation happened the same day at parallel session 14 titled, “Case Studies of East Asian Movements.” The final presentation during that session was given by Aberdeen University's Grzegorz Fraszczak on the topic “Esoteric Current in Cao Dai: Inner Transformation and Millenarian Aspect.”
Following the conclusion of the final day of presentations, the field trip portion of Cesnur began, lasting from July 8th-10th. During that time, Reverend Canh and Deacon Le toured the Cheongpyung Headquarters of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the Fellowship of Daesoon Truth (Daesoonjinrihoe Yeoju Headquarters) and the Iksan Headquarters of Won Buddhism. Each trip provided opportunities to explore connections with other new religions, and, in particular, there seems to be strong commonalities between Caodaism and Daesoonjinrihoe.
The 2016 Cesnur Conference was a remarkable success overall, and the strong presence of Caodaism at the conference became a regular topic of conversation among the scholars who attended. If Cesnur 2016 is any indication, the 2010s may very well signal an unprecedented increase in enthusiasm for Caodaist studies.
Note :
To see CESNUR Conference Program, please click this link:
To see CESNUR Conference Cyber Proceedings, please click this link:
To see the CAODAI Video, please click this link:
Cao Dai Delegation (from left) : Gregory Fraszczak, Deacon Le Van Tua,
 Prof. Ninh Thiên Hương, Rev. Canh Tran and Jason Greenberger
Rev. Canh Tran and Deacon Tua in front of the Conference buildingị
General view of the Conference
Video presentation of the Cao Dai Holy See
Prof. Ninh Thiên Hương
 Jason Greenberger
 Gregory Fraszczak
Overview of the presentation and discussion
Conference participants for a souvenir photo
Members of the organizing committee and the Cao Dai delegation
(from left) :  Kim Wook,Edward Irons, Gordon Melton, Massimo Introvigne,
Eileen Barker, Rev. Canh Tran, Deacon Tua Le, Jason Greenberger
(from left): Edward Irons (The Hong Kong Institute), Gordon Melton (Baylor University, Texas)
Massimo Introvigne (President Cesnur), Eileen Barker (London), Rev. Canh Tran
(from left) : Rev. Canh Tran, Jason Greenberger,  Michael Homer (Honorary Italian Consul)
(from left) : Dr. Eileen Barker (London), Rev. Canh Tran, Jason Greenberger
(From left) Nam Kik Ko, Wook Kim, Minjung Noh, Seokkyun Jeong, Hoyeol Lee, Gyungwon Lee, Canh Tran
(from left) : Susan Searle (Newcastle University, Australia), Dan Fefferman (President ICRF),
Rev. Canh Tran and Angela Coco (Australia)
Prof. Gyungwon Lee (Chief, Organizing Committee) and Rev. Canh Tran
Dr.. Kim Wook, Executive Director, Daesoonjinrihoe
Presentation of Korean traditional and cultural performance
Korean traditional costume is required to enter Daesoonjinrihoe Holy Temple
(from left) : Rev. Canh Tran, Jason Greenberger và Don Baker (British Columbia University)
Visit to the Unification Church
Souvenir photo in the Unification Church auditorium
Rev. Canh Tran and Prof.Samdan Tsedendamba (National University of Mongolia)
High above in the background is the Unification Church Headquarter (Heavenly Palace)
Visit to the Holy Temple of Won Buddhism