History and philosophy of Caodaism Part 2

Updated 2012-05-06 19:13:14

The Origins Of Vietnamese Spiritualism

Rev. Stainton Moses undertook a six-month’s retreat at Mount Athos in which he studied theology, confronting various contradictory theses.An excellent exercise which recalls the spirit, always prone to be doctrinaire, dogmatic, intolerant, to greater humility, wisdom, and truth. He was then named to a little pastorate on the Isle of Man where he never lacked for leisure: Nature, reading, prayer, meditation, silence and mystic contemplation made him a poignant orator: The Imperator Spirit had already seized him, and intended never to release him, no more than his demon would release Socrates.Imperator led Rev. Stainton Moses to Oxford University, but above all, made of him one of the most precious instruments of the “ New Revelation”, one of the most sublimely inspired mediums of our age.
It was in the same solitude, the same calm meditative retreat, that Cao-Đài found his first Caodaist, no temple more beautiful than that nature, no book more divine than the book of life.Jesus retired to the Garden of Gethsemane, even to the desert; St. Francis of Assiz spoke to his little sister the rain, to his little brother the wind, to the silent stars, to the talkative swallows, and he stroked the jaws of the wolf of Gubbio and brought it home like a pet dog.The Swedish naturalist Bengt Berg nestled in his hand the wildest bird of Lapland.
Where the holy is, nature rises above itself.
The Holy rises in man.It is man above himself.
The Holy rises within man above the level of mankind in communing with the Spirit.
Thus, on the threshold of this book, we must listen to the voice, which says:
From the height of the roofless tower where Ecstasy had carried me, I regarded the world, sad and cold, black and shaken.
From the height of the roofless tower where Faith had raised me, I saw afar the sea, guarding its blue quietness like a veiled Virgin.
From the height of the roofless tower where faith had led me, I saw the dawn of an eveless morning and an infinite day.
From the height of the roofless tower where love had placed me, I beheld the sun lighten the earth.
The sad cold world turned red and warm.
Black became white, and white was changed into black.Peace and harmony reigned in the world.
From the height of the roofless tower, my heart wept for joy, my soul saw ecstasy, and my body broke with pain.
From the height of the roofless tower, I saw the shadow ship crossing the sea of light, and wondering, I contemplated the Mover of stars, the Ordainer of worlds.
I saw the elements, the seasons, and the months obey the Watcher.
The great and watching Eye.
From the height of the roofless tower, I saw in Him, by Him, for Him.
It was early in the year Bính-Dần (1926) that Caodaism was founded.Nevertheless, for six years, one man had been worshipping the Great Master Cao-Đài.Mr. Ngô-Văn-Chiêu, who was at that time in the service of the criminal investigation department of the Cochinchina government.
As an administrative delegate in 1919, at a post called Phú-Quốc, an island in the Gulf of Siam, Mr. Ngô-Văn-Chiêu led a life of great wisdom, conforming to the stern rules of Taoism.From time to time, in this isolated place so favorable to the religious life, he gave himself, with the help of young mediums from 12 to 15 years of age, to evoking the great Spirits (Cầu-Tiên) from whom he received the necessary instruction for his spiritual growth.Among the communicating spirits, he discovered one named Cao-Đài, in whom he became particularly interested.
From the first, this name caused general astonishment among those present, for to their knowledge, no religious work had ever made mention of it, Chiêu, nevertheless, whose wisdom was admired by all, by means of his revelations and philosophical studies, believed he recognized a surname of God.
Having asked Cao-Đài for permission to worship him in tangible form, he was ordered to make representation in the form of a symbolic eye.
Eye of God
Thou art the gold and the crystal of heaven.
Ethereal essence of all essence of all things, Thou seest in all.
Bodiless spirit expressed in a look (the wise never confuse the symbol with that which it represents).Thy vision is infinite.
Total intelligence, penetrating, enveloping: Zodiacal.
Life:Principle of life, life of all principles, which the regard of the sun develops and multiplies in the Gold of Heaven.
Night’s repose in the light of the moon:
Crystal of heaven.
Sidereal light.
Solar light.
Lunar light.
Unique light in the eye of God.
Unique light of the eye of God.
Thou Three-in-One of the One-Look.
Eye of God
Bathe my spirit in the light of crystal and gold.
- Amen –
Such was the conversion of the first Caodaist, to the new religion, that it was able, six years later, to plant itself in Saigon.Soon, Mr. Chiêu’s administrative duties recalled him to the capital, where he made several proselytes to the new faith.However, let us leave for the moment these first converts, to show the reader the manner in which the Great Master recruited his mediums.
It was the middle of the year Ất-Sửu (1925).A little group of Vietnamese secretaries belonging to various branches of the administration in Saigon amused themselves evenings by dabbling in spiritism.They made use of a “ouidja board”.Their first attempts were mediocre.Nevertheless, through patience and practise, they finally obtained results.Their questions put to the spirit, sometimes in verse, sometimes in prose, received surprising answers.Their dead parents and friends showed themselves to talk of family affairs and give counsel.These sensational revelations taught them of the existence of an occult world.
One of the communicating spirits became particularly noticeable by his high level of moral and philosophic teachings.The spirit who signed himself under the pseudonym “AĂ”, which is the first three letters of the Vietnamese alphabet, did not wish to reveal himself, in spite of the entreaties of his hearers.Soon, other secretaries came to swell the little group of amateur spiritist.The meetings became more serious and regular.As the ouidja board was no longer convenient, this spirit replaced it by the “corbeille à bec”.With this apparatus, which permitted direct writing, the communications became more rapid and less fatiguing for the apprentice-mediums.
On Christmas Eve, the 24th of December, 1925, the guiding spirit, who, until then had obstinately guarded his anonymity, revealed himself at last as the “Supreme Being”, coming under the name of Cao-Đài to teach truth to Vietnam.Speaking in Vietnamese, he said in substance:
“Rejoice this day.It is the anniversary of my coming to Europe to teach my doctrine.I am happy to see you, O my disciples full of respect and love to me.This house will have all my blessings.Manifestations of my power will inspire even greater respect and love in my regard."
From that day forth, the Great Master initiated his disciples in the new doctrine.
Such was the calling of the first mediums charged with the reception of the divine messages.
I asked the Great Master, who from the nearby Beyond made answer.
I asked the Great Master, saying, “Venerated Lord, what is the earth?”
The Spirit replied:
The earth is a vessel, which rocks in an ocean of light.
This light is time and space.
Time is invisible light.
Space is visible light.
Thus time envelops space as spirit envelops all.
Time hovers above, within and without.
Space abides beneath, without and within.
Of invisible space is time
Of the passing of time is space.
The earth is a vessel that rocks in an ocean of light.
The earth is time condensed.The weighting of spirit in matter.
Consulting the magazine l’Inde Illustrée, which undertook a series of articles on various religious manifestations in British India, Siam, China, Japan, The Philippines, etc., we find in No. 2 dated March, 1933, a study on Caodaism in Vietnam (South).We read concerning its origins:
“Of recent date (1929) Caodaism has grown rapidly and spread through all Cochinchina.”
Origin -Early in 1926, some young Vietnamese scholars, all Buddhists, gathered in a compartment in the middle of Saigon.They had the habit of “table tipping”, and giving themselves to spiritist experiments.
After a period of groping about, they finally obtained some “surprising” results, they said, by means of some of their number who possessed a powerful “fluid”.
They were at first in spirit communication with one of the Chinese sage of antiquity, Lý-Thái-Bạch, more commonly known as Li-tai-Pe, the Chinese Homer, author of a literary revival under the 13th Tang dynasty (713-742), a fervent Taoist.
Thus again, we seem justified in our sub-title: Caodaism, or Vietnamese Spiritism.
It is that of Mr. Jean Roos, writing in le Colon francais of Hải-Phòng, on the origin of Caodaism:
1926 !The year is just beginning!
In a few days comes the Vietnamese Tết.Not far from the Central Market, in a block of shop-houses of modest appearance, occupied for the most part by employees of the administration and large business firms.In one of them, since many long months, young clerks from Customs, Public Works, the Railroad, and various business houses find themselves from evening to evening playing with the table – tipping it, making it talk.They are all Buddhists.How did it all begin?One of them had heard of spiritualism, of the most important tables, in his office, where one of the bosses, a Cochinchinese, is a convinced spiritualist, member of one of the most important spiritist societies of France.He, in turn, had spoken of it to friends, and one day, they found themselves, four of them, seated about a table.
“We’ll see if this works!We’ll see if there’s anything to it!”They said.The beginnings were not very brilliant, but, little by little, elimination those who did not possess the “fluid”, replacing them by more gifted friends, they marked up extraordinary results.They never failed to receive answers to their questions put to the table.They asked if they were truly in communication with a spirit.The answer was affirmative.
The thing became serious.At each session, they asked the name of the spirit who spoke to them.Most frequently, Lý-Thái-Bạch, or Quan-Thánh Đế-Quân, or sometimes a person unknown.Thus, that which, at the beginning, had been only an amusement with a touch of that mysticism which nearly always flourishes in the Vietnamese soul, became a privileged conversation with the superior spirits of the occult world of whom they asked counsel.
No doubts were raised concerning the nature of the conversations, first, because it was equally new to all, it was impossible to suspect one another of connivance, and later, because certain communications from the correspondent of the occult world revealed such lofty sentiments, scientific knowledge, and depth of philosophy that none among them was capable of being the author.
But the use of the tipping table to correspond with the occult world was not very practical!So much time was required for receiving the shortest sentence!
It was at the time of which I speak, that is, shortly before the Vietnamese Tết of 1926 that they made known their complaint to the spirit.
It answered that they should make use of the corbeille.
And since they asked what that was – (those more or less versed in spiritism or having attended but one seance will see what novices they still were) – the spirit told them to address their compatriot, the Phủ-Chiêu, one very deep in spiritism, for it would be too difficult for himself, to make them understand by means of a table what he was talking about.
Thus, Caodaism was about to be born, or rather was about to enter the stage of its popularity, since, for many years as we shall see, one man had been worshipping Cao-Đài.
The man, who followed the holy doctrine of Gautama Buddha, was none other than the Phủ-Chiêu.Besides the moral teachings of Buddha and those of Confucius whom he venerated as emanations of the divine, he believed in the existence of a Supreme Being, All-powerful, Sovereign Master of the Universe, called Cao-Đài.He believed also in the spirits with whom he claimed to have been in relation for years.The dignity of life of this first Caodaist, to whom the young men were sent, was exemplary.His compatriots unanimously considered him a holy man.He taught the clerks the use of the corbeille à bec, to which I shall return later, which greatly facilitated their spiritualistic seances.He participated with them, happy to make use of mediums particulary apt, gifted, and possessed of unusually powerful fluid.
After having entered into relations with the Phủ-Chiêu, it was under the same conditions at the invitation of the same spirit, that they went to find another of their compatriots, a former Cochinchinese mandarin, a member of the government counsel, Lê-Văn-Trung, who was given from time to time to spiritualist seances.Lê-Văn-Trung, whose name the young clerks did not know until the spirit told them, had not always led a life of exemplary wisdom.He, on the contrary, had gotten the most out of life to the point that, now that the young men were sent to him, he had nearly ruined all his fortune.
Having already passed the half-century mark, Lê-Văn-Trung who seemed in everyone’s eyes an impenitent materialist, in his amateur spiritist hours, considered as a warning from the Supreme Being the fact the he, with the Phủ-Chiêu whom he had long known, had been chosen to show the way to the young spiritists.He resolved from that day to lead an exemplary life and to show himself worthy of the mission to which he had been called by Cao-Đài.He immediately ceased smoking opium without the slightest inconvenience (which proves, say the Caodaists, how much he was strengthened by the Supreme Being, for without help, he could never have cured himself so easily), he abstained from alcohol, from the eating of meat, became, in a word, a sincere Buddhist priest.
This miraculous conversion attracted to him the first group of adherents, in general members of well-to-do families, or well-placed government officials, among which was Phủ-Tương, in the provincial administration of Cholon, who was, like his colleague Chiêu, a man of superior morals, practicing on every occasion.The humanitarian virtues dear to Confucius, the Đốc-Phủ Lê-Bá-Trang the honorary Huyện Nguyễn-Ngọc-Thơ and his wife, the former Mrs. Monnier, a very rich Cochinchinese, who had long used a part of his income for works of benevolence and charity.
The Phủ-Chiêu who had first been designated to fulfil the functions of supreme Chief of the religion, the pope of Caodaism, however, he later decided to retire.Therefore, the Pope position was replaced by Lê-Văn-Trung.
Upon asking one of the principal dignitaries for the cause of Mr. Chiêu’s attitude, I was told that since he had been the first caodaist of Cochinchina, he would normally have been called to fulfil the functions of supreme leader of that religion, but that he had shown himself incapable of overcoming a temptation which God had assigned him as he imposes to all superior beings before raising them, from low degree, to a scale the top of which is perfection and he was, therefore, obliged to redeem this weakness of which he had given proof before taking back the place to which his past seemed to give right.
The conversation of Mr. Lê-Văn-Trung, who was to become Pope of Caodaism, was one of the great events of Indochina’s history.
It was also in 1925, Mr. Lê-Văn-Trung was living in the city of Cholon.Given to diverse enterprises, in the tumult of that town devoted to the worship of money, he had a spirit completely averse to religion.One evening, at the invitation of one of his relatives, a convinced spiritualist belonging to a religious sect called “Minh-Lý” at Saigon, he went to a seance that was to take place in the suburb of Chợ-Gạo.
At that meeting, the spirit of Lý-Thái-Bạch manifested.Taking Mr. Trung aside, he revealed to him his spiritual origin and at the same time announced to him his future religious mission.He then exhorted him to quickly submit himself to the regime imposed by the new faith.Moved by grace, Mr. Trung without hesitation, sustained by his faith, had the courage to cease smoking opium and follow a vegetarian diet; he also left his business enterprises in order to consecrate himself entirely to religion.
The conversion of that man, the day before still attached to wealth and pleasure, is so striking that we may ask ourselves whether the spiritualistic seances organized at Chợ-Gạo had not been inspired by missionary spirits with the unique aim of bringing back Mr. Lê-Văn-Trung in the way of the Law.In fact, when the latter had made up his mind to live according to the new faith, which he had adopted, they ordered the dispersion of the spiritualistic group, to the great astonishment and sorrow of its members.
In Saigon, the Great Master, feeling the time had come, united the mediums of Lê-Văn-Trung.He then sent two of these (Messrs. Cư and Tắc) to the newly converted, with the order to organize there a seance during which, he should give him instructions.
Mr. Trung although he did not know these mediums, yet accepted their proposition when he understood their motives.
An evocatory seance took place.The Great Master, besides other teachings, announced to Mr. Trung his great mission in the new religion he was going to found to save humanity.
That revelation confirmed the allusions of various spiritualistic messages that Mr. Trung had received at Chợ-Gạo with other mediums.It fortified his conviction and encouraged him to consecrate himself without reserve to religious exercise.
Some time after, the Great Master sent Messrs. Trung, Cư, and Tắc close to the Phủ Chiêu, who had to guide them in the religious way as an elder brother.This man having been so ordered by the Great Master welcomed them most cordially.He immediately put them in contact with his first co-religionists.The caodaist cell thus formed was composed of a dozen members, all of French culture and most employees in various administrative departments in Saigon.
The earnestness and disinterestedness of these pioneers soon attracted to them an increasing number of adherents.The Caodaist religion then came out of its limited circle to spread among the people at the beginning of the year Bính-Dần (1926).
The Phủ-Chiêu used to his solitude, was annoyed the influx of adherents who bothered him.As an official conscious of his responsibilities, he decided from then on to keep himself free of this great religious movement.Mr. Lê-Văn-Trung was then named by the Great Master to replace him at the end of April.
Spiritualistic seances continued more and more numerous at individuals’ homes but mainly in meeting-places organized in each of the following centers: The town of Cholon, Cần-giuộc, Lộc-giang, Tân-định, Thủ-đức and Cầu-kho.
Two mediums were appointed to each place to receive the teachings of the Great Master.The admission of new members was also decided there.Adherents came in mass, amounting to hundreds of new enrollments at each seance.
The new religion was very rapidly extended, it was received with much enthusiasm, especially by the masses.Anxious to act openly and keep themselves in the strictest limits of legality, its leaders made an official declaration signed by 28 persons, which they sent in on October 7, 1926 to the Governor of Cochinchina.Also enclosed was a list of signatures of 247 members present at the ceremony announcing the official existence of Caodaism.
After having made that declaration which was courteously welcomed by the local Government, the leaders of the “Great Way” organized propaganda missions in the interior.
These were three, one for the provinces of the East, one for the Center and one for the West.
In less than two months, over twenty thousand persons among which many native notables, were converted to the new religion.It was on account of spiritism, and especially to the infinite kindness of God who was always manifested at each invocatory prayer and whose messages had a decisive influence over spectators, that also due to the form of the new worship which had nothing contrary to that of the principal religions practiced in the country.
Since the 10th day of the tenth month (October 14, 1926) the propaganda tours were interrupted.Every effort of the leaders was concentrated on the festival of the advent of Caodaism.This took place on the 14th, 15th and 16th of the tenth month of the year Bính-Dần (November 18, 19, 20, 1926) in the pagoda Từ-Lâm-Tự, situated at Go-Kén (Tây-Ninh).The Governor General of Indochina as well as the Governor of Cochinchina and high-placed European and native officials were invited.
Celebrated with solemnity, this festival gathered a considerable number of believers from all the provinces of Cochinchina, It also attracted thousands of curious come simply to observe.The presence of Captain Monnet, a great French spiritualist, was also noticed there.
It was during this festival that the Caodaist sacerdocy was instituted and the new religious code was established and promulgated.
The Từ-Lâm-Tự was a Buddhist pagoda newly built by the Hòa-Thượng Giác-Hải of Chợ-gạo (Cholon), who had allotted it to the new religion to which he had been converted.However, after the festival, the Buddhist faithful who had furnished funds for the erection of this temple who had not been consulted on its transfer, demanded its return.
On the other hand, experience had shown that that pagoda was too small and that the land on which it was built was too exiguous to enable them fitly to install the Holy See of the incipient new religion, which promised so great a future.
On indications of a superior Spirit, the land on which the temporary temple is actually placed was then chosen and bought to locate the Caodaist Holy See.Situated at the village of Long-Thành, province of Tây-Ninh, it is large enough (about 100 hectares) to meet with actual and future needs.
The transfer of the Gò-Kén Temple at Long-Thành took place on March 1927.The number of adherents continued to increase considerably.The movement of pilgrims to the new temporary temple is worthy of notice: it was by thousands that they were received there daily.
As any other religion at the beginning, Caodaism had also its adversaries whose criticism, often too passionate, was not always dictated by a sufficiently objective spirit.
However, the caodaist leaders obeying the instructions of the Great Master, endeavored to maintain and improve themselves in the Great Way only considering the moral and spiritual good of humanity.It is the only answer that they are allowed against attacks of which they are the objects, for every caodaist keeps his temper.
At last, after four years of existence, Caodaism counted half a million adherents.Moreover, in spite of multiplied obstacles sowed in its way, it always continued its triumphant walk towards the goal that God assigned to it: the regeneration of humanity in universal peace.
L’Inde Illustree gives an abridgment of it as follows:“Cao-Đài is a symbolic name of the Supreme Being who, for the third time, is to be revealed in the Orient.The opinion of the adherents of the new faith is that God, adapting his teaching to the progress of the human spirit, which is more refined than formerly, should this time, be manifested by means of mediums.He being unwilling to grant any mortal the privilege of founding Caodaism.
“This new manifestation of the Supreme Being arose from the fact that all religions submitted to the authority of a human founder, is opposed to universality, since its prophets rise up against truths proclaimed by other religions toward which they show an obvious intolerance.”
“The Caodaist Doctrine is a fusion of the oldest religions of the Orient: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
“ In a message transmitted on the 13th of January, 1927, in the presence of several Frenchmen, Lý-Thái-Bạch, one of God’s ministers, made clear this doctrine.We take from it the following lines:
“The holy doctrines of the various religions are ill-practiced.The order and peace of the days of Yore is effaced.The moral law of humanity is betrayed.For unthinking and skeptical persons, God exists in name only.They ignore the fact that in His supreme place reigns a Personage, Sovereign Master of all events of the universe and all human destinies.
“Formerly, the peoples of the world did not know each other and lacked means of transportation.I then founded, at different epochs, five branches of the Great Way (Đại-Đạo).
1)  Nhơn-Đạo:Confucianism
2) Thần-Đạo : Khương-Thái-Công, worships of Genii
3) Thánh-Đạo :Christianity
4) Tiên-Đạo: Taoism
5) Phật-Đạo: Buddhism
“Each based on the usages and customs of the races particularly called to practice them.
“Nowadays, all parts of the world are explored: humanity, knowing itself better, aspires to real peace.However, because of the very multiplicity of these religions, men do not always live in harmony.That is why I decided to unite all in one to bring them back to primitive unity.What is more, the Holy Doctrines of these religions have been, through the centuries, denatured by the very persons charged with spreading them to such a point that I now have taken the firm resolution to come to you myself to show the true way.”
In that same spiritualistic message of the 13th of January, 1927, Lý-Thái-Bạch also said:
“Dear Brethren, the merciful Christ came among you to mark out for you the good way.Try to follow it in order later to have peace of soul; go forward each day with alert step in the love of God.Unite in love one with another, help one another, this is law divine.
“At that moment, when each is condemned to undergo his purgatory, if he think of his own interests, if he seeks to sow misery and suffering, he will risk to be drawn into the infernal torment where the wicked goes to crush his life and soil his soul”.
Indeed, Caodaism or Đại-Đạo is the most simplified religion that exists at present so far as the practises of its worship are concerned; it merely asks its adherents to address daily prayers to Cao-Đài, either at home, or in appointed places; no confession (spiritualistic evocations being delicate and dangerous to handle, are reserved to the sacerdocy), nor communications.The number of Priests reduced to strict necessity for preaching from time to time, the holy doctrine, exhort the faithful to practice the virtue of humanity such as Confucius conceived.If it exists but one God, the Supreme Being, it recommends to its members to follow pure Christian morals or that of Confucius, which, actually, do not greatly differ.
It recommends the veneration of the Superior Spirits, who were benefactors of humanity at different epochs; Christ, as well as Buddha Gautama, Confucius and different Genii of the Chinese antiquity, are not forgotten in prayers.
Dignitaries of Caodaism, on principle, are forbidden evocations of spirits before the masses of the faithful in order to avoid becoming professional and abusing the credulity of the mystic crowds.The billed basket is veiled in the temples.Nevertheless, inspired mediums continue to be heard by the faithful.It would seem then, in my opinion, unjust to declare too quickly that the founders of the Caodaist religion put their light under a bushel and reserve to themselves the monopoly of contact with the invisible.It is sufficient for him who practices the religion that he may rise to acquire the right to a more complete initiation.In some respects, it is the attitude of the Catholic Church toward spiritism.
The Caodaist doctrine tends not only to conciliate all the religious convictions, but also to adapt itself to all degrees of spiritual evolution.
1) From a moral point of view, it reminds man of his duties toward himself, his family, society, that is a broadened family, then toward humanity, the universal family.
2) From a philosophical point of view, it preaches the despising of honors, riches, luxury, in a word, the emancipation from servitudes of matter, to seek, in spirituality, the full quietude of the soul.
3) From the point of view of worship, it recommends the adoration of God, the Father of all, and the veneration of Superior Spirits that constitute the occult August Hierarchy.Admitting the national worship of ancestors, it prohibits however meat offerings as well as the use of votive paper.
4) From a spiritualistic point of view, it confirms, in harmony with other religions and systems of spiritualistic and psychic philosophy, the existence of the soul, its survival of the physical body, its evolution by successive reincarnations, the posthumous consequences of human actions ruled by the law of karma.
5) From the initiates point of view, it communicates to those of the adherents who are worthy, revealed teachings that shall enable them, by a process of spiritual evolution, to accede to ecstasies of felicity.
They are of three kinds:
1) Religious: high dignitaries who are constrained to lead the life, if not of an ascetic, at least entailing certain privations: the works of the flesh are forbidden to them: they keep their wives, but they are to them no more than sisters; alcohol, meat, fish, are forbidden to them; they partake exclusively of vegetables.They are authorized to commune with God and the Superior Spirits, but only occasionally.
2) Mediums:to the number of twelve, who are somewhat auxiliary, and are not actually monks, but are yet compelled to certain rules, certain privations in their material life.They continue to take care of their daily occupations, in commerce, or industry.They are formally forbidden to practice spiritism, save in the presence of the dignitaries and with their invitation after having recited prayers to the Most-High.
3) Ordinary members: the mass of believers, whose duties are only to follow the morals and rules of behavior indicated by the directing Committee of Caodaism and especially, to prostrate themselves every day before the altar of Cao-Đài, either in a special pagoda, or in a newly created meeting place, or at home before the altar which certain have erected, on the throne of which is found the drawing of an eye surrounded with clouds, before ritual candlesticks, a perfume-burner full of ash in which joss sticks are burned, and offerings such as fruits in more or less abundance.
According to another more recent document, I find the members divided into two categories: The thượng-thừa (superior degree) and the hạ-thừa (inferior degree).In the first degree are all the real monks; they may be dignitaries or simple adherents.With that title, they are compelled to grow a beard and long hair, to follow a diet of exclusively vegetable food, to abstain from luxury and sexual intercourse.Their life, freed from servitudes of matter, is entirely devoted to the service of religion.
The second degree comprises the mass of the believers who continue to look after their normal occupations; their religious duty consists in daily practicing the worship and observing the rules of conduct prescribed by the New Religious Code (Tân-Luật).These as well as the others are forced to “ngũ-giới-cấm” (the panchashila), interdictions drawn from the Buddhist morals commanding not to kill, to avoid cupidity, luxury, gaiety and sin in words.
Concerning the diet that the members of the second degree must follow a gradual vegetarianism is prescribed to them, consisting in abstaining from meat a fixed number of days per month.
So they begin with the “sóc, vọng”, temporary diet of two days; then successively pass to “lục trai”, diet of six days; and to “thập trai” diet of ten days.
The Caodaism admits to its fold all men of good will without distinction of race, or social rank.There the simple “dân” fraternally rubs elbows with the “đốc-phủ-sứ”.
This is practiced everyday, in places of meeting as in private homes, in four hours (times) (tứ-thời): 6 a.m., noon, 6 p.m., and midnight. Prostrated before the divine altar, in the leap of the soul toward the Supreme Being, we begin by fulfilling the rite of the offering of incense (niệm-hương).Then comes that of the offering of prayers (khai-kinh), the form of which may be translated as follows:
“Above the ocean of human pain in which immensity is lost between sky and sea, already the Day-Star points to the East.
“Lao-Tze, the Great Teacher had the merit of aiding our human salvation.
“The Three Religions teach as base of their doctrine the practice of good and of virtue.
“Confucius the Sage has clearly traced the path of the Middle Way.
“Buddha the Merciful preached devotion and charity.
“The Taoist doctrine ordained the worship of truth and character discipline.
“Tis thus that one trunk gave birth to three similar branches,
"Let him who can penetrate truth so profound, purify his heart for the recital of holy prayers.
These formalities ended, we entone in chorus a hymn to the glory of God, then three in honor of the Holy-Three: Confucius, Lao-Tze, and Buddha.
Such is, in all its simplicity, the daily worship rite.As for the divine services celebrated in the temples on great ceremonial days, we shall observe a more elaborate ritual.
I ask of you, my Brethren, to pray and sing the praises of Him who gives life, strength, beauty and what is still better: wisdom that makes you like unto him.I ask you, my brethren, to sing, pray and put yourselves in order.
Position of order standing in the station of motionless waiting…I ask you to await the benefactions of the Spirit.
Position of order standing in the gesture of the first step toward the Light…I ask you to walk toward the Light.
Position of order seated in waiting and inner meditation… I ask you to meditate, pray and wait.
I ask you, my Brethren, to pray, inwardly singing the praises of Him who gives life.
The life of the body to run to the help for those who have need of you.
The life of the heart to love all men, all beings, to love all life, all divine life, angelic, human, animal, vegetable, mineral and atomic life.I ask you to love
earth, water, fire, air, and the pebbles of the road and the stars of the heavens.
Position of order in repose.That of rest which must be an action of grace.
Immobility is an order, a position of action, a prayer, a song toward Him who gives Life, Strength, Beauty and what is more, Wisdom.
My Brethren, My Sisters, I ask you to pray and sing the praises of Him who gives life.
I bring flowers of five colors.I bring flowers.
The white lily of innocence, candid, united with God.
As all colors are found in the white of the faith, so all beliefs are of one.
The blue of the fields of heavenly hope.The blue of the heavens which induces the upward look.
In divine hope are all human ideals.
The red rose of bleeding love, of love crucified, the red rose of charity.
The rose that carries the cross.
The cross that carries the rose.
The yellow sun-flower, the gold sun-flower, the sun-flower of silent speech.
The gold of heaven falls on the earth.
The mauve flower, the violet of secret humilities.The violet made of red love and blue hope.The violet of morning, but also of secret power.

The mauve color of him who knows truth.

History and philosophy of Caodaism Part 3

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