History and philosophy of Caodaism Part 1

Updated 2012-05-06 19:09:36

Written by Gabriel Gobron

Introduction

We can speak of the “message” and with a capital letter.

 
 
GABRIEL GOBRON
 
HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY
OF CAODAISM
 
Reformed Buddhism, Vietnamese Spiritism,
New Religion in Eurasia
Translated from the original French by Pham-Xuan-Thai
Published under the auspices of His Excellency
Tran-Quang-Vinh, Major-General,
Commander-in-Chief of the Caodaist Troops,
Minister of the Armed Forces of the Government of Viet Nam
 
Republished by the
CAO DAI OVERSEAS MISSIONARY
Washington D.C, USA
2003
 
 
 
 
Being an eminent polyglot, an indefatigable inquirer in the world of the Spirit and spirits, novelist, historian, journalist and teacher, Gabriel was a curious man and himself a curiosity.A Great soul, by his overflowing intellectual generosity, he was an ardent polemicist.
 
He was curious indeed, but without dilettantism: when he thought to have discovered a spiritual beauty, a philosophical or religious truth, he liked to make it known and shared by others at once.He would not hesitate to fight, always with passion, against those, who, in his eyes, wanted to put the light under a bushel.It is in the way that he discovered Caodaism, and also in the way that he fought to his last breath, praying for his illumination.Gabriel Gobron, a great intellect, was above all a great heart.
 
After a period of research, study and discovery beginning in 1930, Gabriel Gobron became a convinced propagator, a well informed, and before long officially accredited initiator of Caodaism in the West and more particularly in France.
 
Lectures, articles and observations succeeded one another, and with the remaining unpublished texts, they form a copious collection of which the present posthumous book is one of the main parts.
 
Thus, the present work constitutes an authentic message from the Beyond.It was a consoling task to us to work out this text.
“A Message from Heaven” this posthumous work, we are sure, will be particularly honored by the numerous spiritist friends of the author who has done so much, by his pen, speech and experimentation, for Spiritism.
 
His printed works number ten volumes and hundred articles or published essays everywhere, in the world, in the languages which he spoke and wrote besides French: English, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
 
Gabriel Gobron, being the author of several novels, had written a great many rustic pages about the life of the workers in country and city.
 
Truly, Gabriel Gobron was a delicate, sensitive, even tender soul, who very often hid himself voluntarily behind this rude aspect in the manner of Leon Bloy.
 
This secret sensibility of the heart and the soul had more than once inspired pages of remarkable delicacy and finesse.
 
Delicate and modest tenderness, reaction of the romantic poet who would not deny the little blue flower of popular romance or the archaic complaints of a folklore which he loved.
 
Having exhausted himself writing big books inspired by the petty miseries of daily bourgeois life, like Henri Heine, he could write little songs from a wealth of painful experience.
 
It is certain that Gabriel Gobron, throughout his lifetime, was a rebel, a non-conformist, an “outsider”, like Théo Varlet and Macolm Mac-Laren, the poets whom he liked and had made acquaintance with at the Mercure Universel.Along with and in his scholastic, historic and journalistic works, we find irritated, nervous and bitter pagers to the point of crying out and invective.They have been called “quibbling and rancor”, but the truth is that: all Gabriel Gobron’s works imbued with truth and suffering life, belong to the literary class which is so rightly named Dolorism of which Julien Teppe is the founder.
 
The style and the rhythm of the sentences of the writer, Gabriel Gobron, adapt themselves spontaneously to the subject treated.
 
The style and the form adapt themselves to the sentiments to such a point as to appear unequal and different, and the general impression given is that no professional machinery has presided over the composition of this work, which grew up freely and courageously, like nature in its liberty, with thick copses and fine glades.
 
Gabriel Gobron seems to be aided in the completion of his work by one of those sorceresses painted by Breghel-le-Jeune, who mix and blend the best with the worst, the most diverse and repulsive ingredients.The pot boils, the lid is lifted, and Gabriel Gobron, the writer, is not satisfied with veracity of the facts simply recounted: he must pose in the most direct terms, he delights in the densest materials as much by the style adopted as by the vocabulary employed.
 
I considered “Notre Dame Des Neiges”to be a great philosophical document in which a man expresses himself without constraint, even esthetically, and without any trace of social hypocrisy.Whether it pleases or not, the fact is: the man frees himself by writing, and the present case, it not only concerns an individual deliberation, but numerous heredities which, tired of being repelled or sublimated, express themselves.
 
Thus, the ‘beings” which exist in man, free themselves from constraints, injustices imposed by life: social, individual, collective, economic injustices, etc … And at bottom, in the very depths, but real, animated, tenacious and captivating, the mystic torture of the soul which needs God and justice, cries out: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled”.
 
The “Messages” received by certain attentive and receptive mediums, prove that Gabriel Gobron is now among those who are satisfied.
 
The social and economic injustices, the oppressions of the rich against the poor, and the wrongs of one and the other, are rudely handled in the various works of Gabriel Gobron among others, in “Les Couarrails de Pont-a`-Mousson” published by Berger-Levrault and in “Barbandouille” Mercure Universel and in “Tournemol”, a novel about a bad professor.
 
In these works, Gabriel Gobron does not proceed by allusion; his style is direct, loaded with invective.He insists rigorously on the facts that he has exposed, but he also speaks frankly about the reforms and transformations of present society, of which he anticipates the corruption and degeneration to mediocrity.
 
Let me cite anew the preface of the study of 1938, which exposes the “case” of Gabriel Gobron.
 
It is the “case”, because Gabriel Gobron is a gentle lamb, who endeavors in vain to become enraged, whence the attitude of vituperation, which makes us think of (as I have mentioned above) Léon Bloy and of the Old Testament prophets.
 
Gabriel Gobron is a mild man and his dreams are magnificent:
 
“And we were dreaming, since our primary school days, to learn how to teach the little people of the world, to create a “Cosmis Home” by the side of the “House of God”!Do not make teaching an immediate, utilitarian business and materialistic matter, but make education bio-cosmic to show the students that we are as much the glorious sons of the Universe as the obscure children of the hamlets!Reveal the divine that slumbers in us, the subconscious by which we are in relation with the most improbable and mysterious entities and occult faculties, and which assures the triumph of the Spirit over animality, over the brute that growls within us!
 
Reveal the divine that slumbers within us, and seek again for God as much as God seeks us, then it will be possible to envisage the fusion of the“House of God” and the "Cosmic Home” into an immense Fraternal Temple, the synthesis of both.
 
We are still far from this harmony of the mystic; we are still far from it as much through the fault and incomprehension of some, the dogmatics, as of others, the rationalists.The “House of God” and the “Cosmic Home” will still be opposed to each other for a long time to come.They are, however, the fraternal and permanent expression of the “ad Deum” which is in the heart of all human beings, living tabernacles of the divine.
 
The book of Gabriel Gobron is crammed with just, interesting, and elevated ideas on education to be given, on liberty to be respected, and on spirituality, etc …His literary form is then more serene, sober and harmonious; it is an immense sheet of water, limpid and fresh before the dam and torrential rapids and the overflowing of the crude polemic style.
 
We must defend “Jean Peuple”, we must protect the exploited from exploitation, but we must not let “Jean Peuple” think that he is a little saint, for as soon as a “Jean Peuple” happens to be on the other side … we quickly find that power corrupts.
 
Therefore, while he defends him, at the same time Gabriel Gobron exposes the manias, vices and misunderstandings of this good “Jean Peuple”.
 
In addition, it is too bad for the too fond ears, for which the “ostendite testes” of Saint Bernard must be translated into “Be Men” for fear of a literal translation.
 
Gabriel Gobron writes, “Vanquish animality, conquer the brute that growls in us”, and by his style, he, the new Doctor Jekyll, lets Mr. Hyde whom all of us bear in us, speak freely.However, as in Stevenson novel, it happens that Mr. Hyde disengages himself from the wise Doctor Jekyll.We may then ask ourselves whether Gabriel Gobron would not have too fixed a tendency to separate forcibly matter from spirit.The Brute is what it is, useful and capable of perfection destined to transmute itself, to evolve and elevate itself from heavy planes to the ethereal.It is thus for example, that he speaks rudely of sexuality and even of sensuality, initiated in the secrets of Stanislas of Guaita.Gabriel Gobron knows well that the human center of “G” of the sacred Pentagram bears precisely on him, all the possibilities of evolution, and of transformation on all planes: cosmic, carnal, mystic and divine.By the letter “G”, matter exalts and purifies itself toward the spirit, the spirit incarnated in matter.The whole forms one.
 
Beside their literary and philosophical merits, the works of Gabriel Gobron constitute and contain some psychological documents.They have been the expression of social retrogressions of several generations.This was true of some books of our author.
 
Injustices borne, sincere and pure dreams unrealized, atavistic restraints, all the accumulated hereditary traits, these are what the author relates to us, for the author is urged by a thousand demon-inspirers, who blow us the best and the worst in the long genealogy, which Gabriel Gobron gives us.
 
He sometimes touches grandeur while his simplicity shows what it is and what he is.But soon Mr. Hyde returns and here is our author, lost in massive details, which however may have their own significance and reasons for existence.
 
The reader, tasting the paragraphs of a very good observation (where harmonized sensibility dominates the style and simplifies it), tells to himself that the dispersion, the loss of self-control, the ebullience of the atavistic rancors really constitute, with “the pride of being what he is”, the psychological document, about which I have spoken; and the author is the actor at the same time, though without acting or posing in the “Human Comedy”.
 
This must be said because in the present posthumous work, the “History and Philosophy of Caodaism”, the psychological case is surpassed: the present work is a metapsychic testimony.
 
These are no more the deceased ancestors of Gabriel Gobron expressing themselves through him as a literary medium, but rather Gabriel Gobron himself, the Brother Gago from the Eternal Orient, who gives us his message.The present book is a precious testimony and, may we venture to say, a fundamental book, the spiritual repercussions of which will be considerable.
 
The word Caodaism derives from Cao-Đài, the literal translation of which corresponds to: “Supreme Palace.”This double term is found in the most ancient Buddhist prayers.It establishes the principal origin of this religion, which is first of all, as we shall see a kind of reformed Buddhism.
 
The new religion (its essential message dates from 1926) is rooted in the most tried tradition of Buddhism, and its purest revelations.
 
Caodaism is, up to a certain point, comparable to what Protestantism had been in its origin, compared to Catholicism.For the rest, even this possibility of comparison is already outweighed in the beneficent sense, that is to say, in the sense of good understanding.Permitting the vision in a more or less remote future, the union of the Christian Churches in a total Catholic Unity.
 
What characterizes Caodaism it its spirit of synthesis.That is why its conciliating role can render a great service to religions peace and thence quite simply to peace.
 
There is no sectarianism in Caodaism, and also instead of tending toward the opposition of religions among themselves, this new religion constitutes and will constitute more and more a permanent call to good will among the various creeds: religious, mystic, philosophical, or esoteric.
 
Understanding among all spiritual forces will give the world the best harmony at all levels.
 
Caodaism, as we shall see, is a religious synthesis which, in spirit and in Truth, tends to harmonize all human beings with the laws of the Cosmic Order.
 
In order to penetrate the rites of this new, and at the same time, very old religion, it suffices to be spiritually free, intellectually sincere, cordially kind and physically at the service of Good.
 
The spiritual freedom required is that which relieves the being from dogmatically imposed restraints and mental frauds due to the undemonstrated “a priori”, and that in the practice of the Universal Good.
 
We can say and we shall see it in following the present book, that Caodaism, beside the inspired part, possesses in itself, aside from the “Message”, a whole set of propositions, the distinctness and precision of which are a charm to the Reason as well as an evidence for the Intelligence.Whether these reasonable propositions be first of all “messaged” or “inspired”, the effect is still that of a mystic progression in the attractive radiance of the Doctrine which tends with all its divine and human force to fundamental Truth, to integral Beauty in the practice of the Universal Good.
 
What will surprise certain readers is that Caodaism arises from contemporary revelation, and that this revelation is attained though the course of Spiritism.
 
We should rather surprise the conformists who love their readymade ideas, well-ordered classifications, and relationships as logical as they are artificial, if we would reveal the “spiritist sources” of the principal, great human movements from Joan of Arc to Caodaism.
 
The “spiritist” character of the military genius of Joan of Arc was demonstrated by the work of Lieutenant Colonel, Collet, who published at Nancy, 1920, a “Military Life of Joan of Arc”, with technical precision and rational statement, for he is competent to judge concerning inspiration through the luminous analysis of the theories of Spiritism of Gabriel Delanne, Brierre de Boismont, Léon Denis and some others.
 
That which inspired Joan of Arc also inspired in the Occident one of the greatest poetic, literary, political, esthetic and religious movements which we put under the general term: Romanticism.
 
In fact, Ossianism, as we know, is one of the roots of European Romanticism.It was engendered by the work of a medium, James Macpherson.It is a case of the so-called “spiritist medium prior to literature”, James Macpherson, who produced in English prose the bardic messages, originally expressed in the Gaelic language by the poet King Ossian, a bard of the 3rd century.
 
James Macpherson has been accused of literary fraud, because, naturally he had employed the “Gaelic poems” in every document.These message-poems were dictated to him by the spirit of Ossian in the very language of the medium-writer, but in a style and rhythm so original that they forced the enthusiastic admiration of most of the great writers of his age and the following Turgot, Diderot contributed to making these poems known to Europe; and Mme de Stael considered Ossian as the “Homer of the North”.Chateaubriand did not withhold his admiration even after the accusation of literary fraud.We have these messages (1760-1763) in a French translation by P.Christian (Lavigne, publisher, Paris 1842).
 
P. Christian is the author of the famous, basic “History of Magic”.
 
The messages of Ossian were dictated (or inspired, as we like to say) to James Macpherson during a period of three years (1760-1763): Fingal, in six songs; Comola, a dramatic poem, the war of Inistoma, the Deliverance of Carrictura, Cathon, Darthula, war of Temora, etc . . . on the whole, about a score of poems of various lengths.
 
These poems lost their prestige in the eyes of the public when they were attributed to literary fraud.We have reason to believe that Shakespeare, Walter Scott and some others were, like James Macpherson and Victor Hugo, the inspired mediums of Romanticism.They transmitted the messages as James Macpherson transmitted from Ossian.
 
It would be interesting to publish some day “the Spiritual Origins of Romanticism” and Gabriel Gobron brings us to this subject an inspiring and documented source of incontestable originality and authenticity.
 
What is curious to us is that: it was P.Christian, a man initiated into the occult, and a medium himself, who translates into French the works of Ossian, the 3rd century bard, the Gaelic poems “received” by James Macpherson.P. Christian closes his introduction with these lines, regarding these poems which “maintain” here and there a comparison with those of Homer, and often lean toward Hebraic poetry which has been so much praised, and perhaps so poorly understood”.
 
The proofs of the spiritist origin of Caodaism will be easier to demonstrate than that of Ossianism; and it is also to render homage to, and by this means to communicate with the Hereafter, that the present work was published, recast, clarified, and completed.
 
Spiritism led Gabriel Gobron toward Caodaism, as the latter has been revealed by Spiritism.
 
Caodaism is a true, reformed Buddhism, it is also a particular form of Spiritism: the Vietnamese Spiritism.
 
We add today, in order to make it complete, the synthesis of religions, because what we desire to reveal to the public is revealed in the present edition.
 
Since Caodaism, born of Spiritism, reformed Buddhism, and afterwards expanded into a harmonious synthesis of all religions, it did so without losing the best of its spiritist origins or of its Buddhist formation.
 
Being true theosophy, the Caodaist doctrine draws to it through perfect selection all that was good, beautiful, and above all essential in the other religions, whether in the practical, the moral, the ritual or in philosophy.
 
Due to the great modesty of Brother Gago (Gabriel Gobron is so-called by the Caodaists of Indochina), he willingly limited his role to that of polemist-advocate, propagandist of the new religion.His essays, his meditations, his study of mysticism merited more.We can say today that he is the first philosopher and the first historian of Caodaism.
 
His work seemed to be unfinished when he left the earthly life for the Eternal Orient, but with the publication of the present work, his value as historian of Caodaism is confirmed.
 
From the Beyond, Brother Gago enlightens and protects us still, for such was the profound will of his faith.
 
Piously, let us listen to him, accepting his mission with a wholly Caodaist humility.
 
If we have accepted this ungrateful role of first historian of Caodaism, it is because our brothers and friends of Vietnam have judged in their excessive indulgence that we were one of the best-informed Westerners on the progress and tribulations of reformed Buddhism.
 
Feeble health hardly favors the overwhelming duties of such a charge.We apologize to the attentive reader, for all the imperfections of our work.We ask him only, above all, to pardon us when we cannot stay “in line”, that is to say, fraternally, even toward our adversaries and enemies: It is then that the Caodaist will have proved Unworthy.He will not have attained self-mastery.The patient will have torn his cap in a fit of ill-humor, and stamped the most sublime pages of Christ, Buddha and Confucius . . .
 
By compunction, we have transmitted the message.It only remains for us to turn over in silence to the reader, relieved of our comments, this posthumous work of Gabriel Gobron.
 
DELECOURT-GALLOIS

(Executor of the will of Gabriel Gobron)

History and philosophy of Caodaism Part 2

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