ⓘ Cao Dai is a new religious movement founded in Vietnam. It mixes ideas from other religions. Cao Dài is a syncretic, monotheistic religion officially establishe ..

Cao Dai

ⓘ Cao Dai

Cao Dai is a new religious movement founded in Vietnam. It mixes ideas from other religions.

Cao Dài is a syncretic, monotheistic religion officially established in the city of Tay Ninh, southern Vietnam in 1926. The religion combines Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, Confucianism, and Islam. The full name of the religion is Dai Dao Tam Kỳ Phổ Do 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. Caodaiists believers of Cao Dai believe that the first disciples of the religion, Ngo Van Chiêu, Cao Quỳnh Cư, Pham Cong 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 founding 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. Women can only wear white dress as they have to be pure, whereas men can wear colored clothing once they reach higher levels in the religion.


1. History

Cao Dai was established in the Vietnamese city of Tay Ninh in 1926. Cao Dai was granted legal recognition in 1997. Cao Dai was found by Ngo Van Chiêu, Cao Quỳnh Cư, Pham Cong Tắc, and Cao Hoài. Caodaist believe God spoke to these people to establish a new religion.


2.1. Teachings and beliefs Name of God

The name for God in Cao Dai is Cao Dài Tiên Ong Dai Bồ Tat Ma-ha-tat translation: Cao Dài the Ancient Sage and Great Bodhisattva Mahasattva. Caodaiist believe God chose this title because it represents the Three Teachings: Saint, Sage, and Buddha.


2.2. Teachings and beliefs Creation beliefs

Cao Dai teaches that before God existed, there was Tao. Tao is the unchanging, nameless, formless, immortal source. Then the Big Bang occurred, and out of the Big Bang, God miraculously blessed us with his birth and was poured onto us from the universe emanationism. The Universe could not be formed so the Yin Yang were created by the Almighty himself. Like Adam took one of his ribs to create Eve, God took control of yang and a part of himself, thereby creating the Goddess to assemble with yin. Now that the Union was completed, the Universe was formed. The Goddess, Holy Mother, is referred by Caodaiist as Mother Buddha. Cao Dai teaches that there are 36 levels of Heaven, and 72 planets having intelligent life. The first planet is closest to Heaven while number 72 is closest to Hell. Earth is number 68.


3. The three teachings

The three teachings of Cao Dai are:

  • Sage
  • Buddha
  • Saint

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 Dais 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, Thanh saint, Tiên sage, and Phat 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.


4. The three periods of revelation and salvation

First period

  • The teachings of sages
  • The teachings of the Buddhas - Dīpankara Buddha
  • The teachings of saints - Phuc Hy Fu Xi

Second period

  • The teachings of saints - Confucius and Jesus Christ.
  • The teachings of sages - Laozi
  • The teachings of the Buddhas - Shakyamuni Buddha Gautama Buddha

Third period

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 sages - Ly Bach
  • The teachings of saints - Guan Yu
  • The teachings of the Buddhas - Guan Yin

5. Holy people

There are many Holy people from other religions. Some people from history are also venerated. The pantheon of Holy people includes: Buddha, Guan Yin, Jesus, Joan of Arc, Muhammad, Sun Yat-sen, Julius Caesar, Victor Hugo, and many more.


6. Holy scriptures

These are the main scriptures of Cao Dai.

  • Kinh Thiên Dao Và Thế Dao Prayers of the Heavenly and the Earthly Way This is used for Daily life and Prayers for Worship.
  • Ho Phap Pham Cong Tắc The Sermons of His Holiness
  • Thanh Ngon Hiep Tuyển Compilation of Divine Messages
  • Phap Chanh Truyền The Religious Constitution of Caodaiism This is used for information on the elections of officials, their powers, and ritual dress.
  • Tan Luat The New Canonical Codes This is used for laws regulating religious, secular, monastic life.

Other branches of Cao Dai have additional scriptures.


7. Organizational structure

Cao Dai has an organizational structure like Catholicism. Cao Dais 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 positions 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.


8. Branches

In total there are about 6 officially recognized branches of Cao Dai. There are several others but these remain unknown. The largest branch is based in Tay Ninh Province, where the religion was founded in 1926 and where the seat of Cao Dài authority is located. Some sects broke away from the Tay Ninh Holy See. The sects that broke away are Chiếu Minh, Bến Tre, and Dà Nẵng. Ngo Van Chiêu founded Chiếu Minh. He left because he refused his appointment as Cao Dais first Pope.


9. Demographics

Cao Dai is the third largest religion in Vietnam after Buddhism and Roman Catholicism. Estimates of followers in Vietnam is about 2-6 million, or around 2%. Estimates of followers oversea is about 30.000.

  • Christianity, Islam, Baha i Faith, Sikhism, Eckankar, Zoroastrianism, Cao Dai and Tenrikyo. Some pagan and neo - pagan religions are also monotheistic
  • The ao dai is the national costume of Vietnam for women. Vietnamese wear ao dai for formal occasions, at school or for work. The male counterpart to the
  • Christianity and Islam. New religious movements include Hoa Hao Buddhism and Cao Dai Hinduism is still practised by a small Cham minority who live mainly in
  • succeeds Pope Soter as the thirteenth pope approximate date Cao Ang, eldest son of Cao Cao d. 197 Gan Ning, general of Wu d. 218 Sun Ce, elder brother
  • 1991 - now Democratic Party of Vietnam 2006 - now Religional org.s Cao Dài 1926 - now Hoa Hảo 1939 - now Social org.s Vietnamese Scout Association
  • now Religional org.s Catholic Church in Vietnam XIX century - now Cao Dài 1926 - now Evangelical Church of Vietnam 1927 - now Hoa Hảo 1939
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  • the Anterior Ly Dynasty, Dai Cồ Viet during the Dinh dynasty and Early Lê dynasty. Starting in 1054, Vietnam was called Dai Viet Great Viet During
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  • International SDI Sindhi Sikhi Tapoban Tat - Gurmat Udasi Sikh Ayyavazhi Cao Dai Chondogyo Chinese folk religion Confucianism Neo - Confucianism New Confucianism