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Tác giả Chủ đề: A BRIEF ARTICLE ABOUT CAODAI RELIGION  (Đọc 57588 lần)
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« vào lúc: Tháng Chín 29, 2007, 11:53:48 AM »

A. HISTORY OF THE CAODAI RELIGION:
 
Caodaism is a new religion that was established through direct guidance from the Supreme Being/Cao Dai (also known asGod/Duc Chi Ton), through written spirit messages, in the year of Tiger 1926, at Tay Ninh province, Vietnam. A basic principle of Caodaism consists in synthesising the doctrines of the three Asian traditions - Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism and five different major branches- Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, and the worship of local saints and spirits.

The first disciple of Cao Dai who received messages to worship Duc Chi Ton/God was  Ngo Van Chieu. In 1921, Mr. Ngo was a district head of the French administration, working on the island of Phu Quoc. In order to receive religious teachings, Mr. Ngo used spirit mediums and a tipping table. One day, there was an apparition that revealed its identity as “Duc Chi Ton”. He received Mr. Chieu as the first Caodaist, giving him a vision of the Divine Eye that is now the symbol for worship on all Caodai altars. Mr.Ngo returned to Saigon in 1924, and continued to worship Duc Chi Ton through self-cultivation and the esoteric path. To those interested in the new religion, he taught the philosophy and practice of self-cultivation he had learned from Duc Chi Ton during his stay in Phu Quoc.

In mid 1925, many people experimented with popular forms of spiritism. Totally separated from Ngo Van Chieu, several civil servants in Saigon began to practice as spirit mediums. In their first experiements with spiritism, souls of their death relatives came to contact them. They were followed by immortals, local spirits, saints and even Buddha who came to teach them about spiritual virtue. Later, one spirit contacted was singled out for his wonderful virtues and outstanding knowledge. He introduced Himself as A Â Ă (The letters AÂĂ are the first three in the Vietnamese alphabet). On Christmas Eve of 1925, AÂĂ revealed that He was the Supreme Being, coming under the name of Duc Chi Ton to teach the Tao. He accepted all people who had been contacted by him as Caodists and told them to propagate Caodaism in its exoteric form throughout the southern region. Among the first Caodaists were Mr. Pham Cong Tac Cong, Cao Qunh Cu, Cao Hoai Sang, Truong Huu Duc, Nguyen trung Hau and Le Van Trung.

At the end of 1925, Duc Cao Dai/God dispatched Mr. Le Van Trung, Pham Cong Tac, Cao Quynh Cu to meet with Ngo Van Chieu to learn how to worship Him. During mediumsitic seances, the Supreme Being  announced that a unique religion would be founded for all of humanity. Soon by dint of their selflessness and dedication, and the virtues of their teachings, these pioneers succeeded in building a new religion. Caodaism began to establish an ecclesiastic hierarchy.

At this point, Ngo Van Chieu retired from the organization, choosing to follow an esoteric rather than exoteric path. He lived in a mediation center in Can Tho where his disciples could be trained in a calm atmopshere of solitary or group meditation. Chieu’s followers formed a branch of Caodaism known as Chieu Minh Vo Vi, in which the Supreme Being (Duc Cao Dai) is approached through disciplined esoteric practices.

Duc Cao Dai sent a spirit message appointing Le Van Trung was as Giao Tong (Leader of the Executive Body or Cuu Trung Dai) to replace Chieu. Under his leadership, Pham Cong Tac, Cao Quynh Cu, and Nguyen Ngoc Tho worked to establish the new religion. Caodaism expanded rapidl and was welcomed by many people in Vietnam.


On Octobor 07, 1926, the religion’s leaders wrote an official declaration of the founding of Cao Dai religion, and sent it to the French Governor of Cochinchina and registered the official name of Caodaism as was Dai Dao Tam Ky Pho Do (the Great Way of the Third Age of Redemption).


B. REASONS  WHY CAODAI RELIGION WAS RECEIVED THROUGH SPIRITISM:

Caodaism was guided directly by Supreme Being through spirit messages received in seances. The two reasons to form this new religion were (1) to unify all the religions into one and (2) to avoid the corruption of God’s teachings by human frailty.

Over several millennia, the Supreme Being revealed his teachings many times.  During the first and second ages of redemption, human beings followed the religious teachings of Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroasterianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, and so on. These religions had different icons and symbols and were founded at different times and places, but their philosophies were much the same. They shared a  faith in the existence of a Creator who reigns over the universe and living beings. They shared a belief that the Supreme Being wanted people to live in peace, to avoid aggression and to love and and help others. God’s teachings in the first two ages of redemption were received through the mouths of many prophets and these messages were subject to human frailty. With time, their doctrines were corrupted and diluted. Over the centuries, many people have not lived in peace, have not helped each other, and have not loved each other as they were taught.  Instead, they fight and killed each other in religious wars. The age has now come when God came to speak directly to humanity to form Caodaism, so that his teachings would not become corrupted as in earlier ages. Caodaism as the embodiment of The Third Age of Redemption has come to bring together the religions formed during these earlier eras. One of the early messages received from Cao Dai was, “Formerly people of the world lacked means of transportation, therefore they did not know each other…. Nowadays, all parts of the world are explored: humanity, knowing itself better aspires to real peace. But because of the very multiplicity of religions, humanity does not always live in harmony. That is why I decided to unite all these religions into One to bring them back to the primordial unity”. (1926)

C. SOME FREQUENTLY QUESTIONS ASKED:

What is Caodaism?
The term Cao Dai means High Tower or Palace where God reigns over the Universe. Cao Dai also means to God the Father, the Supreme Being, the Creator, the Ultimate Reality of the Universe. So, Caodaism is a religion created in a dialog with the Supreme Being and guided directly by Supreme Being. 

What does Dai Dao Tam Ky Pho Do mean?
Dai Dao Tam Ky Pho Do is official name of Cao Dai Religion. Translated directly, it means: The Great Way of the Third Age of Redemption. Dai Dao means Great Way, or the Great Tao, a universal pathway for all humanity. Tam Ky means Third Age. Pho means to announce and Do means to provide redemption for our souls.

Does the Great Way in The Great Way of the Third Age of Redemption meaning that Caodaism is more important than other religions?
No, the Great Way just means that the way for everyone, of every race and every nationality. There is no difference between us in the meaning of worship. We are a brother-and-sisterhood because we all are related as children to God the Father. In the Third Age of Redemption, Caodaism allows us to worship together and to avoid violence because of religious differences.

Why colors of the uniforms are White, Yellow, Blue and Red?
The color of the Third Age of Redemption is White. This is the color of White Jade Place in heaven where God reigns and the Maitreya Buddha is a judge. Maitreya Buddha, in this age of redemption, was asked by the Supreme Being to serve as a judge presiding over the final judgment of salvation (called Long Hoa or the Assembly of Dragons and Lotus Flowers). Caodaists wear white robes at their rituals to remind them that Caodaism is a religion of the Third Age of Redemption.  High ranking male dignitaries wear colored robes, with yellow representing Buddhism, blue for Taoism and red for Confucianism. These are the three main religions that Caodaism draws on as its basis.


Why is the Divine Eye a left eye?
The Left eye represents yang, the eye of the Holy Spirit who reigns over the entire universe. Yin represents humanity. The Eye reminds Caodaists that the Supreme Being witnesses everything, everywhere, constantly. Whatever men do either good or bad, He sees them clearly.

What is the praying posture before the altar?

The hands are folded together in the following manner. The left hand should bắt Ấn-Tý (bring the tip of the thumb to the lowest joint of the ring finger) then the fingers should close over the thumb. Then the right hand is wrapped around the left hand, the thumb of the right hand is placed between the thumb and the index finger of the left hand.
The two hands are held in this position before the chest
and brought to the forehead, three deep bows are then made, and then the adept kneels. After kneeling one brings one's hands to one's forehead and recites quietly, Nam-mô Phật (Venerations to the Buddha) the hands are then moved over the left shoulder reciting, Nam-mô Pháp (Venerations to the Dharma) then the hands are moved over the right shoulder and the adept recites, Nam-mô Tăng (Venerations to the community). Then the hands are brought to the middle of the forehead while the worshipper quietly prays.

What is the significance of holding the hands like that?
Holding the left thumb to the bottom of left index means that we are focusing our hearts and our minds on God. The left hand or left side in general is the side of Yang, the side of God.
The right hand represents the human side or Yin. Holding the right hand (yin) around the left hand (yang) shows the bonds that unite humans with God while praying.


D. THE PHILOSOPHY OF CAODAISM:

The basic principle of Caodaism is a synthesis of the doctrines of the three main Asian religions – Buddhism (yellow), Taoism (blue), and Confucianism (red) and the five different branches- the way of Buddha, the way of the immortals, the way of the saints, the worship of local spirits, and the way of humanity  - into one. So the basic ideas of all thee traditions are found in Caodaism. These are some examples:
1. Doctrine of Humanity (Confucianism) and Local Spirits: The three main duties and five essential virtues. The three main duties (Tam-Cang) are social relationships between king and subject (quân-thần cang), father and children (phụ-tử cang), husband and wife (phu-thê cang). And the five essential virtues are: Love/Humanity (Nhơn), Justice/Faithfulness (Nghĩa), Good behavior/Politeness (Lễ), Wisdom (Trí), and Loyalty (Tín).
2.  Doctrine of Saints: love, toleration, unassumingness, forgiveness
3. Doctrine of Taoism: The striving to unify the three jewels and the five elements. The three jewels (tam bửu) are: life matter/ching (tinh), life energy/chi (khí), and soul/shen (thần). The five elements are: mineral (kim), vegetable/wood (mộc), water (thủy), fire (hỏa), and earth (thổ).
4. Doctrine of Buddhism:  The three refuges and the five prohibitions. The three refuges (Tam Qui) are: to take refuge in the Buddha (Qui Y Phật), to take refuge in His Law/Dharma (Qui Y Pháp), and to take refuge in the Spiritual Community (Qui Y Tăng). The five prohibitions are: do not kill living beings (sát sanh), do not steal (du đạo), do not commit adultery (tà dâm), abstain from drinking intoxicants (tửu nhục), and do not sin by words (vọng ngữ).
Basied on these doctrines, the doctrine of the Caodaism tends not only to reconcile all religious views, but also to adapt itself to all degrees of spiritual evolution. In fact:
1) From a moral point of view, Cao Đài Religion reminds people of their duties towards themselves, their family, their society (a broader family), then toward humanity (the universal family).
2) From a philosophical point of view, Cao Đài Religion preaches renunciation of honors, riches and luxury, in other words, deliverance from servitude to materialism in the attainment of spiritual tranquility for the soul.
3) From the point of view of worship, Cao Đài Religion recommends the adoration of God, the veneration of Superior Spirits and the worship of ancestors.
4) From a spiritual point of view, Cao Đài Religion confirms, in harmony with other religions, the existence of the spirits and the soul, their survival beyond the physical body, and their evolution by successive reincarnations, according to the Law of Karma.
5) From the initiates' point of view, Cao Đài Religion communicates to worthy adherents and reveals teachings that enable them, by a process of spiritual evolution, to reach complete happiness.

E. PRACTISING CAODAISM-  THE DUTIES OF ADHERENTS:

 There are two types of worship.

I. To worship as the lower category/the secular order/The Hạ Thừa

Members consist of non-married and married persons who earn their living as ordinary people. The practice must including these steps below:
1. To do daily worship at a temple or daily prayer at home.
2. Must observe a vegetarian diet of six days a month to ten days a month.
3. Caodaists are instructed in their duties and responsibilities to self, family, country, society and humanity, and to treat other religions with love and justice.
4. To believe in the Laws of <Spiritual> Evolution, the Doctrine of Reincarnation (reembodiment), the Doctrine of Karma (law of cause and effect), in Divine Justice and in the occult Realm of Spirits.
5. To worship and adore God the Father (Đức Chí Tôn), the Holy Mother (Universal Mother, Đức Phật Mẫu), and Divine Beings, and they venerate Superior spirits and worship ancestors.
6. Must observe the Thế Luật /Secular Rules/Laws on the Secular Life of the Faithful and Five Prohibitions promulgated by Great Way of The Third Age of Redemption.

The Five Prohibitions/ Ngũ Giới Cấm:

1- Do Not Kill. It is forbidden to kill living beings.
2- Do Not Steal. It is forbidden to commit robbery, banditry, to pilfer, to take goods without authorization, to cheat, to borrow without returning, or to store stolen goods, to appropriate objects dropped in the street, to covet the goods of others, to wish ill to others for one's own interest, or cheat in gambling.
3- Do Not Commit Lewd Acts. It is forbidden to commit adultery, to fall into debauchery, to encourage others to act immorally, to entertain immoral or indecent thoughts at the sight of beautiful persons, or to seduce by speech. (Relations between spouses are not considered to be lewd acts).
4- Do Not Indulge in the Use of Alcohol or a luxurious life style. It is forbidden to abuse the drinking of alcohol and the eating of meat; over eating and drinking causes disorder of physical body and spirit and disturbing public tranquility. It is also forbidden to expect or covet unusual drinks and rich foods.
5- Do Not Lie. It is forbidden to use false words, to speak falsely, or to boast in order to deceive others. It is forbidden to expose another person's faults, to turn wrong into right and vice-versa; to malign, to defame, to talk ill about other people, to incite people to anger or hatred, or to bring matters to public trial; to swear or use vulgar language; to curse other people; to blaspheme any religion; to renege on a promise."
(New Canonical Codes/ Tân Luật, Chapter IV)


II. To worship as The Higher Category/ The Superior Order/ Esoteric practice/ The Thuong Thua

Members consist of simple believers and particularly dignitaries from the rank of Priests/Giáo-Hữu. on up. They have to follow some steps below:
1. To practise a full-time vegetarian regime and free themselves from killing.
2. Must not have their beards trimmed or their hair clipped.
3. Must wear ordinary garments of only white cotton material or the color assigned to their branch.
4. Must refrain from sexual intercourse, must be frugal, never indulge in luxuries and follow:
 The Four Great Commanments:
2- Do not flaunt your talents or qualities in pride and haughtiness; be humble and efface yourself in the service of others. Caodaists should help and guide others into the God-Path. They should not be revengeful, nor should they hinder virtuous and wise persons.
3- Be accurate in money matters; receipts and expenses must be clear. Do not borrow without paying back.
4- Be sincere, consistent in both the presence and absence of others. Do not be respectful in the presence of individuals and then insult, condemn, or offend them in their absence. Do not remain aloof without trying to reconcile co-believers who do not agree with one another or are in conflict. Do not appropriate public materials for private use. Do not act out of personal interest to the detriment of public interest. Obey the Laws and Rules. Do not cling to your personal opinion and oppose your superiors in rank, or be uncivil to those of lower rank. Do not use authority to repress the talents or abilities of others."

According to Caodai teachings, in order to arrive at the esoteric phase one must cross the threshold of the established religion. For this reason, the believers must practice the exoteric and secular laws. Indeed, in order to discharge their family duties as well as fulfill their social responsibilities, Caodaists must devote themselves to practice of good and the avoidance of all evil. They must be dedicated to humanity as a  sisterhood/brotherhood, show kindness to living beings, and serve society. This is an important phase that a believer must achieve before entering the second phase which involves esoteric training for inner mystical self-cultivation.

F. ORGANIZATION OF CAODAISM :

There are three main organizations in Caodaism: Bai Quai Dai, Hiep Thien Dai and Cuu Trung Dai.
1. The Bai Quai Dai:
The Bat Quai Dai is the Council of the Great Spirits. The Bat Quai Dai is the place where the Eight States of Soul, the Eight-Sided Palace of God's presence, the Eight Trigrams Palace are found.
The Bat Quai Dai as a Supreme Holy Body directs all activities of the religion under the leadership of God and Holy Spirits such as Sakyamuni Buddha, Lao Tzu, Kong Sheng Xian Shi, Kuan Yin, Li Po/Li Tai Pei, Kuan Kung/Guan Gong, Jesus Christ Chiang Shang. The Bat Quai Dai represents the invisible government of the new religion; the visible side of the religion belongs to the Hiep Thien Dai and Cuu Trung Dai.

2. The Cuu Trung Dai (The Temple of Nine Degrees of Evolution, Nine Spheres Palace)

The Cuu Trung Dai literally means the nine-sphere palace. In the Great Divine Temple, the Cuu Trung Dai is symbolized by the central nave of the Temple, the place where the worshippers kneel, pray and offer themselves to God (The Supreme Being), between the Bat Quai Dai (God's Altar) and the Hiep Thien Dai. The Cuu Trung Dai is the Executive Body of Caodaism which takes charge of the administration of the Religion and missionary activities. Its major functions are training of adherents, organising various programs, and controlling the total Temple program. For dignitaries in the College of Men, the Executive actually has three branches corresponding to the three main religions. Each of these three branches also has a name and a colour [Buddhism / Phái Thái (yellow), Taoism / Phái Thượng (blue), and Confucianism / Phái Ngọc (red)]. The Hhead of Cuu Trung Dai is the Pope (Giáo Tông).

 3. The Hiep Thien Dai (The Temple of the Divine Alliance, The Heavenly-Union Palace)

The Hiep Thien Dai is the Legislative Body which has the duty of communicating with the occult/esoteric power to receive divine messages, to preserve the religious laws and listen to the complaints of the unhappy, in order to symbolize equality in the Religion. Hiep Thien Dai is the mystical place where the Giáo-Tông (head of Executive Body of Cuu Trung Dai) comes and places himself in spiritual communication with Spirits in the Bat Quai Dai. The Hiep Thien Dai is placed under the authority of the Ho-Phap (Head of the Legislative Affairs). He is assisted by the Thượng-Phẩm (Head of the Spiritual Realm/Religious Affairs) and the Thượng-Sanh (Head of the Temporal Realm/Secular Affairs). The Ho Phap is concerned with the Laws and Justice."


G. THE MEANING OF DIVINE EYE AT BAT QUAI DAI:

The Divine Eye on the Universal Globe represents God’s vision of the world. A Divine message on 25 February 1926 proclaimed:
“The eye is the master of the heart,
The two energy sources are the master,
Energy is the Spirit,
The spirit is God,
God is Me.”
The Divine Eye reminds Caodai believers that the Supreme Being witnesses everything, everywhere, constantly.
- The mystical and universal symbolism of the Divine Eye extends throughout the religious history of the world. For the ancient Egyptians there was the eye of Horus; for the Hindus the third eye of Siva (Shiva); and for the Norse the single eye of Odin. All of these symbolised omniscient and divine attributes.
- As the Encyclopedia of Religions (ed; Micea Eliade) explains, "The Indo-European world attached the same value to the eye as to the sun and to the gods, that is, the quality of being able to see everything." (vol 5 page 237) The Buddha is said to have received inner enlightenment through the celestial eye and this "permitted him to see the life of all beings simultaneously and gave him knowledge of the chain of the fundamental forces of existence."
- On the side windows of Cuu Trung Dai and at local Cao-Dai Temples, the Divine Eye has 16 rays of light emanating from it. Nine radiate upward representing the nine levels of heaven, and seven radiating downward representing the seven emotions, which believers must control.

H. CONCLUSION:

- Cao Dai religion or Great Way for the Third Age of Rdemption was guilded directly through spirit mediums by the Supreme Being in 1926 in Vietnam. The basic principle of Cao Dai Religion consists in synthesising the Doctrines of the three major Asian religions and the five different branches of all world religions into one.  The reasons that this is necessary is that differences between religions have been sources of conflict.
- Caodaism is a Great House of Faith that welcomes in all peoples of the world for the establishment of a universal brother-and-sisterhood without distinction of creed, race, sex, social background or color.
- Caodaism is organised and administered on both Divine and Democratic principles.
- Men and Women play an essential part in both the administration and priesthood of the Religion.
- Caodaism preaches world unity. It spreads the offer of peace made by God through the Third Alliance.
- By offering a way of life that concentrates on the harmony of all religions, Caodaism can also offer harmony to a troubled world, providing spiritual solutions for significant world problems such as racism, intolerance and ignorance.
-As a Great House of Faith, Caodaism combines the teachings of all the great religious traditions and opens before us the Great Way to paradise.

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