I/. INTRODUCTION TO CAODAI RELIGION 3
II/. MEANING OF WORD “TAO” IN CAODAI RELIGION 4
1/ THE TAO IS THE PRINCIPLE CREATING THE UNIVERSE 4
2. TAO IS PATH OF RETURN TO ORIGIN 5
3) Way is society morality conceptions 7
III/ MEANING OF TITLE OF GREAT WAY-THIRD PERIOD-UNIVERSAL SALVATION. 8
1. GREAT WAY: 8
2/ THIRD PERIOD: 9
3/ SALVATION 11
IV LEGISLATIVE STANDARD 12
V/ CONCLUSION 17
I/. INTRODUCTION TO CAODAI RELIGION
Caodai religion is a new religion founded in Vietnam before half-20th century. This is a one of great Religions preaching positively in Vietnam with a considerable people’s faith of three million disciples of total 17.50 million civilians. This religion has a close organizational system with the central located in Tây Ninh province, called as the Tây Ninh Holy See. The local administration hierarchies are Religious Region [-Châu Đạo-include many Provinces], Religious Province, Religious District, Religious Commune. That is at home. For the foreign countries, there is a central Foreign Missionary in Phnom-Penh [in Cambodia], there are dignitaries, sub-dignitaries on behalf in countries such as Japan, France, America, Congo…
This religion is called as the Great Way-Third Period-Universal Salvation [Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ] or Caodai Religion. People used to call it by the second way because of its neat shortness.
In order to comprehend two titles, we need to go back the first days of religious foundation history. The Caodai religion appears from the phenomenon of theocracy. The first disciples of this religion are curious persons of mystical trend to want to discover the secret of invisible world long since, in order to solve insolvability on the earth such as their private future and their race.
They hold the communion by séance to souls in invisible world.
They are successful in discovering the supernatural power and mysterious subjects living around our secular life.
The first stage began 1919 for Provincial Governor Ngô Văn Chiêu. For next time, he was honoured as a Head in a Caodai branch.
The second stage began 1925 for patriotic personalities including Mr. Phạm Công Tắc, Cao Quỳnh Cư, Cao Hoài Sang as basic figures with other people.
In the first stage, the invisible religious Head of Caodai religion often said His name as Cao Đài Tiên Ông [Caodai Immortal] or “Cao Đài Tiên Ông Đại Bồ Tát Ma Ha Tát” [ Caodai Immortal-Great Bodhisattva-Mahasattva] came via séance to teach disciples the self-improvement method. The religious organization was not clearly formed yet in shape, but an embryo with a simple trend of Immortal improvement method.
In the second stage from 1925 and subsequent time, His Holiness “Cao Đài Tiên Ông” also came via communion under the group of Mr. Phạm Công Tắc, Cao Quỳnh Cư, Cao Hoài Sang and said His name as “Ngọc Hoàng Thượng Đế” [God, Supreme Being] or “Cao Đài Tiên Ông Đại Bồ Tát Ma Ha Tát”. The religion had the name “Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ” [Great Way-Third Period-Universal Salvation]. The organization system became closer and larger in scale compared with previous time.
Since the history particularity of two periods were continuous, people often parallel used two titles of “Đạo Cao Đài” and “Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ”. However, for all society in decision to its title, it always has a meaning or expresses something.
The title of “Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ” used in the second stage marked the grown-up age of a religion, which began to preach deeply in civilian classes.
From this time, the Caodai religion took an important role for activities of national community. Consequently, we will spend much time to study the title of “Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ”.
For the title of “Cao Đài” toward French who was curious about the séance, it is explained:
Cao Đài is “DIEU” [God] or Cao Đài is “LE TRE HAUT” [Supreme Being] or DIEU TONT PUISSANT [Almighty God].
[Collection of Divine Messages on 8 June 1926 and 1 October 1926].
In Caodai religion, they often use the word “Đạo” [Way, Tao, Religion] with an overall meaning. Via the prayer-books and language in daily life of disciples, we generally acknowledge main meanings:
In this case, the word of Tao is used to express how the continuously happened phenomenon is in the universe from the origin to the result of stars, our solar system and all living beings living on this earth. This meaning is same to the theory of “Dịch Lý” [Principle of Changes] in the China philosophy. That is the change from monism to dualism to continuously increase eternally to form the shape and absolutely complex life of nowadays universe.
The Caodai religion’s Collection of Divine Messages shows the Supreme Being’s teaching:
“When there had not have any in the World Universe, the Supreme Ether bore only ME and MY throne is the Extreme throne.
I divided the Extreme into Yin and Yang then Yin and Yang divided into Four Emblems, then Four Emblems turned into Eight Trigrams, the Eight Trigrams metamorphosed infinitely then founded the World Universe. I also divided the MY nature in order to bear all kinds of creatures: matter, plant, insect, beat and bird called as all living beings” [Divine Messages Collection-1928]
With other paragraph, it contains the same meaning but it expresses more human and Divine Beings:
“Creation of Earth and Heaven is essentially by ME, giving birth Fairy, Buddha is essential by ME, I have told you that one Perisprit bears the World Universe and all human beings. I am Buddha, Buddha is ME.
You are Buddhas, Buddhas are you” [Divine Messages Collection, First Prayer-Book, Page 48]
This doctrine points out the birth from one to innumerability and calls that path as the Tao. When teaching the human’s death and life, the Supreme Beings teaches:
“Devil is like a wet paddy grain to be added, how can it root and flower, bear fruits?
About real monk, he likes a good grain, if it is sown, tree rises then flowers, bear fruits and develops forever. Therefore, you must leave corporality, but the holy flowers fruits bear perisprits, and bear, increase more forever. That is the Tao” [Divine Message Collection, teaching on 22 July 1926].
Moreover, when teaching the meaning of the rites by joining two hands at Tý to kowtow, the Supreme Being also teaches that the Tao is the path of birth from coordination of Ying Yang:
“On the left, it is Sun, on the left it is Moon. That means Yin Yang. Yin Yang unite to create Universe, bear and evolve. That means Religion.
Why do you kowtow the living with two kowtows?
That is origin of combination of Yin and Yang. That is Tao” [Divine Messages Collection, teaching done on 25th January 1926].
All evidences shown above let us know the meaning of that the Tao is the birth creating all living beings coming from one unique origin as cosmic ether.