Dec 15, 09 | | 10,229 views | 2 Comments

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Caodaism – Experience Asia Through the Eyes of Travelers

CDCaodaism (“Kingdom of Heaven”):
A Vietnamese-centered religion

Đạo Cao Đài (Caodaism in English) is the third largest religion in Việt Nam (after Buddhism and Roman Catholicism). “Cao” means “high”; “Đài” means “palace”. Caodai refers to the supreme palace where God reigns — that is the Kingdom of Heaven. The word is also used as God’s symbolic name.

Caodaism is a syncretistic religion which combines elements from many of the world’s main religions, including Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, as well as Geniism, an indigenous religion of Viet Nam.

Their main religious center is in Tay Ninh, about 60 miles (100 km) North West of Saigon. They currently have 7 to 8 million followers in Viet Nam and about 30,000 members elsewhere, primarily in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States.

Cao Đài Religion by Omar’s Travels


They regard the history of religion as being divided into three periods of revelation. The first was circa 2500 BCE, when God inspired selected religious leaders to found Judaism in the Middle East, Hinduism in India and Yi king (philosophy of transformation) in China. A few thousand years later, God led the Buddha to found Buddhism, Lao Tse to create Taoism, Confucius to start Confucianism, and Jesus Christ to found Christianity.

They believe that, due to the frailty of those religious leaders, the truth became distorted. A number of religions were formed, but most flourished only in or near their countries of origin. Religions became adapted to the needs of individual cultures. Limitations in communication and transportation prevented the formation of a single, true universal religion which all of humanity could embrace. Followers of Caodaism believe that God was concerned that the multiplicity of religions prevented people from living together in harmony. God decided to initiate a third revelation, in which he communicated Caodaism by spiritist means.

Ngô Văn Chiêu, a civil servant of the Cochinchina government began to receive messages from a spirit called Đức Cao Đài (pronounced: Duk Kow Dye), whom he believed to be God. After three years of studying and worshipping God, he shared his spiritual discoveries with others in Saigon. At the end of the year Ất Sửu (1926 CE), Cao Đài instructed a small group of mediums to found a new religion. One of the mediums, Lê Văn Trung was named by God to be acting Giáo Tông (Pope). Caodaism was formally founded on 1926-SEP-26 by a group of 247 disciples.

Spiritism (called Spiritualism in England) is the method that God chose to transmit this new religion to humanity. Simple mechanical devices were used as a means of communication between spirit beings and humans. e.g.:

  • a small movable platform on a Ouija board which is lightly touched by two or more mediums. During a s’ance, the platform is seen to move around the board and point to various letters, numbers and words.
  • a small table which the mediums touch lightly. During a s’ance, the table is observed to tip and tap on the floor. The number of taps would indicate a specific letter
  • a Ngọc Cơ (basket with a beak), which consists of a wicker basket with a radiating stick about 26 inches long; a pen is attached near the end of the stick. In use, two mediums hold the basket; the apparatus moves and its pen writes out messages which are interpreted by a third person and written down by a secretary. This is a very efficient method of communication, because words are directly written. It is the preferred method used in Caodaism.

With the unification of Viet Nam in 1975, the Caodaists’ activities were restricted by the Communist government. Their Cửu Trùng Đài (executive body) and Hiệp Thiên Đài (legislative body) were abolished and replaced with a Governing Council under the direct control of the government. Rituals and ceremonies continued without government interference. A new order dawned in mid-1997, when the religion received official sanction from the government.


1. In the beginning was God, formless, nameless, unchangeable and all powerful. God divided His spirit into many parts, and created the universe, world, and its plants, animals and material components; each contains a part of God’s spirit.

2. Animals and humans have two components:

  • a visible, physical body and
  • an invisible component which is composed of:
    • a spirit (conscience) which is part of God’s spirit, and
    • a soul (or perispirit) which is responsible for emotions and personality

3. They believe in reincarnation where a person experiences a series of lives. One can break free of the reincarnation cycle by “cultivating self and finding God in self”.

4. They believe in Karma — the belief that one’s future lives are greatly influenced by deeds practiced in this life.

5. If a person accumulates excessive negative Karma they will live another life after their death. Large amount of Karma debt will cause them to be reincarnated onto another planet which is much colder, darker and miserable. If they have purified themselves spiritually, and fulfilled all of their duties, they may reincarnate to another, happier life on earth. Or they might attain Heaven or Nirvana.


Author: B.A. Robinson


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Comments (2)


  1. polarffour says:

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  2. Bill says:

    Hey…thanks for that. Fantastic content. I’ll be coming back soon for more news. Cheers!

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