The New Canonical Codes : Tân Luật
NOTES CONCERNING THIS ENGLISH TRANSLATION
Due to the present special circumstances in Vietnam, an official permission from the Sacerdotal Council (Hội-Thánh), the Tây Ninh Holy See, cannot be obtained. For better understanding and practice, the browsers/readers should consult the text in Vietnamese (see Tân Luật).
All human beings should recognise what is existing over our heads. The infinite space over our heads is Heaven / Trời. The Supreme Being who rules up there is the CREATOR, the Ngọc Hoàng Thượng Đế (The Celestial Jade Emperor), the Supreme Head of the Universe and the Cosmos.
Today, the Creator has come under the name of CAO-ĐÀI TIÊN-ÔNG ĐẠI-BỒ-TÁT-MA-HA-TÁT, to found in Vietnam, through miraculous spiritism, a true Religion of high moral value to save human beings from the reincarnation cycle. This Religion is called ĐẠI-ĐẠO TAM-KỲ PHỔ-ĐỘ (Great Way or Great Religion for the Third Amnesty or Salvation).
In his great love for human beings, The Celestial Jade Emperor comes to our salvation. He calls himself MASTER, and calls us His DISCIPLES.
Consequently, we must respect and whole-heartedly worship the CREATOR and must bring all our faith to his miraculous Religion.
The principal aim of the Great Religion is to synchronise the teachings of the three main Religions: Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism into One. Therefore, in following the Great Religion (Đại-Đạo), we must observe the basic principles of those Three Religions (Tam Giáo) to cultivate (to improve and purify) our heart and character by strictly following the Three Principal Social Bonds (Tam Cang) and the Five Cardinal Virtues (Ngũ Thường) in Confucianism, the Three Refuges (Tam Qui) and Five Interdictions (Ngũ Giới) in Buddhism, as well as striving to unify the Three Jewels/Treasures (Tam Bủu) and the Five Elements of Nature (Ngũ Hành) in Taoism.
Whoever is able to fulfil the teachings of Three Religions is ready to attain the level of the THẦN (Angels), THÁNH (Saints), TIÊN (Immortals, Archangels), and PHẬT (Buddhas).
HIERARCHY OF RELIGIOUS DIGNITARIES
Article 1: - The highest rank is the Giáo-Tông (Pope), the eldest brother, has the right to represent God (Divine Master/Thầy) to guide all believers in the Spiritual Way (Đạo) and in the Temporal Way (Đời). He has control over their bodies, but not their souls.
The Giáo-Tông is allowed to communicate with the Thirty Six Heavens, and Seventy Two Planets to beseech salvation for the souls of all believers.
All believers must obey his orders.
Article 2: - Next, there are three Chưởng Pháp (Legislative/Censor Cardinals) belonging to the three branches: Nho (Confucianism), Thích (Buddhism), Đạo (Taoism).
The three Chưởng Pháp have the right to examine the religious laws before their promulgation, whether they come from the Giáo-Tông, or are proposed by the Đầu-Sư (Cardinals). Should the two parties be in disagreement, the Chưởng Pháp must submit the law to the Hộ-Pháp (Dharma Protector) who will take it to the Temple of Divine Alliance (Hiệp-Thiên-Đài) where he will call on God for modifications.
The three Chưởng Pháp have the right to check the prayers and other religious books before they are distributed and propagated. Should they find any works harmful to public morals, they must destroy and forbid its publication.
Each Chưởng-Pháp has his particularly assigned seal. The three seals must appear together on each law to make it valid.
The Chưởng-Pháp must dissuade the Giáo-Tông and correct his mistakes. Should they find immoral mistakes committed by the Giáo-Tông, they have the right to challenge them before the Holy See as a law-suit.
Article 3: - The three Đầu-Sư (Cardinals) of the three branches have the right to rule the believers, spiritually and temporally.
They have the right to enact laws, but they must submit them for the approval of the Giáo-Tông (Pope). They must respectfully obey the Giáo-Tông's orders and instructions. Should a law be contrary to the existing practices of the general group of believers/humanity, they (the three Cardinals) can appeal for its annulment.
Should a law, set down by the Giáo-Tông be the subject of a unanimous rejection signed by the three Cardinals, it must be returned to the Giáo-Tông, who will order the Chưởng-Pháp for reexamination.
The three Đầu-Sư are provided with the three particular seals; for any document to be considered valid for implementation, it must have the imprint of all three seals.
Article 4: - There are thirty six Phối-Sư (Archbishops) divided into three branches, twelve for each, including three Chánh-Phối-Sư (Principal Archbishop).
The three Principal Archbishops can substitute the Đầu-Sư (Cardinals), but cannot ask for the repeal of the law.
Article 5: - There are seventy two Giáo-Sư (Bishops), twenty four for each branch. The Giáo-Sư are responsible for the spiritual and temporal education of believers.
The Giáo-Sư are obliged to care for the believers the way elder brothers do for his younger blood brothers.
The Giáo-Sư keep all records of the believers. They must take care of marriage and funeral for each believer.
In large towns Giáo-Sư have the right to preside over worshipping ceremonies the way that the Đầu-Sư and Phối-Sư do.
The Giáo-Sư have the right to present petitions to God with the aim of suppressing or modifying laws which are harmful to humanity.
The Giáo-Sư must be approachable and close to all believers as blood brothers and sisters in need in the same family.
Article 6: - The Giáo-Hữu (Priests) have the mission of propagating God's True Religion. They have the right to request alleviation of religious laws, and to preside over ritual ceremonies when being assigned to administer a Temple (Thánh-Thất) in small provinces. There are three thousand Giáo-Hữu, one thousand for each branch. This number must be neither increased nor decreased.
Article 7: - The Lễ-Sanh (Student Priests) are chosen from among the righteous sub-dignitaries to conduct ceremonies. They have the right to preside over the installation ceremony of domestic God's Altar for every adept.
To become dignitaries, it is necessary to pass the rank of Lễ-Sanh.
These Laws and Rules in establishing the Sacerdoce are based on Devine Messages.
Article 8: -
- The Đầu-Sư (Cardinals) are promoted to the rank of Chưởng-Pháp by a vote among three of them.
- The Phối-Sư (Archbishops) are promoted to the rank of Đầu-Sư (Cardinals) by a vote among thirty six of them.
- The Giáo-Sư (Bishops) are promoted to the rank of Phối-Sư (Archbishops) by a vote among seventy two of them.
- The Giáo-Hữu (Priests) are promoted to the rank of Giáo-Sư (Bishops) by a vote among three thousand of them.
- The Lễ-Sanh (Student-Priests) are promoted to the rank of Giáo-Hữu (Priests) by a vote of all Lễ-Sanh (Student Priests).
- Chưởng-Pháp (Legislative/Censor Cardinals) and Đầu-Sư (Cardinals) can be candidates for the Papal Throne (Ngôi Giáo-Tông), but they must be elected through a universal vote of all believers.
Except when God comes through a spiritism seance to award some one, otherwise all dignitaries must be bound by this election law.
These Laws and Rules in establishing the Sacerdoce are based on Devine Messages.
Article 9: - Anyone who wishes to enter Caodaism has to be introduced by two believers of outstanding moral rectitude to the Head of Parish. The two introducing believers must be responsible for teaching and providing guidance of the new follower in understanding the Caodaist path of ethics and morality.
Article 10: - Each local Temple (Thánh-Thất) is then responsible for administering the oath-taking ceremony for the new follower, who must be registered and immediately take an oath, on the same day, in front of God's Altar.
The new believer must learn by heart the prayers and understand the religious laws promulgated by The Great Way (Đại-Đạo).
Article 11: - The Head of Parish or his representative dignitary must come to install the domestic God's Altar and perform the initiation ceremony to bless the new believer's home .
Article 12: - Once converted and baptized (Nhập môn), the new adherent is called a believer (Tín Đồ). Believers are classified into two categories:
Article 13: - Among the Lower Category (Hạ-Thừa), those who observe ten days or more of vegetarian diet (per month) will be granted admission into a Meditation House (Tịnh-thất) where Esoteric Teaching are taught and they’ll be assigned a supervisor who'll assist them in practicing spiritual exercises.
Article 14: - Dignitaries from the Religious Administration having the rank of Priest (Giáo-Hữu) and above must be selected only from among believers in the Higher category (Thượng Thừa).
Article 15: - Those who belong to the Higher category (Thượng Thừa) of Đại-Đạo must grow beard and not cut hair. They must wear only simple white cotton dress or the colour assigned to their branch. They must be frugal and never indulge in luxuries.
Article 16: - Any local area having more than 500 believers is authorized to establish a Parish (Họ Đạo) and a Temple (Thánh-Thất) which is managed by a dignitary.
Article 17: - Parish/Parishes can be established only with the permission and authority of His Holyness Giáo-Tông.
Article 18: - The parishioners must obey the order of the Dignitary, Head of Parish, and strictly follow his guidance/teachings without acting on one's own will.
Article 19: - Twice a month, the first and the fifteenth day of the lunar calendar, believers must come to the local Temple (Thánh-Thất) to worship and listen to the teachings. Exception can be made for those with acceptable excuses.
Article 20: - The Dignitary who is staying at the Temple (Thánh-Thất), must exert four minor praying ceremonies (Tứ Thời) a day and exactly on time at 6 a.m. (Thời Mẹo), 12 p.m. (Thời Ngọ), 6 p.m. (Thời Dậu), and 12 a.m. (Thời Tý).
The bell must be rung before beginning the ceremony. The believers may or may not take part in these ceremonies as they wish.
Article 21: - Once converted and baptized to the Religion, believers must cultivate themselves by improving their attitudes and observing Five Interdictions:
Article 22: - The Caodaists must improve their virtues, and cultivate themselves by observing the Four Great Commandments:
Article 23: - Schools will be organized in the Religion to give religious instruction and general education.
Article 24: - Will establish special regulations for the pedagogy and the management of the school.
Article 25: - Later, only believers who have a graduation certificate from these schools are qualified as candidates for the functions of dignitaries of the Religion.
Article 26: - Believers who have committed minor misdemeanours (mistakes) will be judged by the Head of Parish by way of counselling, warnings, and punishment by having the believer to kneel in front of God's Altar and recite the Prayer of Repentance.
Article 27: - Serious offences or recurrent mistakes will be referred to a Discipline Council (Hội Công Đồng) for judging. The Discipline Council chaired by a Cardinal (Đầu-Sư) or an Archbishop (Phối-Sư) of the same Religious Branch as the delinquent and two dignitaries of the two other Branches as assessors. This Council has the right to excommunicate the delinquent believer.
Article 28: - In the secular/temporal life, if there are disagreements and conflicts between/among the parishioners, they must be referred to the Parish Head for resolution.
Article 29: - Dignitaries who commit infractions of the Laws and Constitutions of the Religion must appear before the Tòa Tam Giáo (Court of the Three Religions) for judgment.
Article 30: - The Tòa Tam Giáo (Court of the Three Religions) comprises of the Giáo- Tông (Pope) as Chairman, the three Chưởng-Pháp (Legislative/Censor Cardinals) as assessors. The Đầu-Sư (Cardinal) of the same Branch as the delinquent, acts as prosecutor. A dignitary of Hiệp-Thiên-Đài (Legislative Body) acts as a defence lawyer.
Article 31: - This Court has the power to deliver a demotion or excommunication verdict.
Article 32: - Within six months, from the day of promulgation of this New Canonical Law, believers must comply with the provisions of its Codes.
- 1) Those who work in professions that do not comply with the Code must change their profession within one year's time.
- 2) Dignitaries, who are not yet on full-time vegetarian diet, have up to two years of practice in order to adapt to this rule.
Beside the codes which are already changed and improved by The Divine Master/God that believers must observe, all other former codes are still effective.
Those who are converted to the Caodaism must strictly follow the following Secular Rules:
Article 1: - Having followed the Religion/Way with the same Divine Master (God), the believers must considered themselves as children of the same father. They must love each other; maintain good relations among themselves, help each other, treat each other honestly, mutually guide one another in both spiritual life (Religion Path) and temporal life (Secular Path).
Article 2: - Once having entered Caodaism, believers must forget previous hatreds, must avoid acts of jealousy, of competition and conflict involving a law-suit. Mutual tolerance must be practiced in order to live in harmony and peace. If there is discord, the involved believers have to be open-minded and gladly accept the reconciliation of the Parish Head.
Article 3: - The Three Principal Social Bonds (Tam Cang) and Five Cardinal Virtues (Ngũ Thường) are the fundamental rules of conduct of Confucianism which humankind must observe. Men must show filial piety, loyalty, politeness and courtesy, honesty and integrity. Women must remain submitted to their father, husband and children (Three Womanly Subjections / Tam Tùng); and they should fulfil their duties towards their family, care well for their appearance, use nice and charming words and have good attitude and conduct (Four Womanly Virtues / Tứ Đức).
Article 4: - In relating to the public, the believers should practice and maintain an attitude of flexibility, honesty, respect, modesty and condescension.
Article 5: - Among co-believers, good relations must be promoted to strengthen the bonds of fraternity. Believers who belong to the secular order must concern about funeral and wedding occasions.
Article 6: - Marriage is a very important act in life. Spouse should be chosen from among co-believers, except in the case when the future spouse agrees to convert to same religion.
Article 7: - Eight days before the engagement ceremony, the head of the groom's family must place a notice about the marriage at the Temple (Thánh-Thất) to prevent from any possible problems.
Article 8: - After the engagement ceremony, both the groom and bride must come to Thánh-Thất to request for marriage celebration.
Article 9: - After this Code is published, it will be forbidden for the believers to take concubine(s). In case of widowhood, re-marriage is allowed. Should the wife be sterile and childless, the Divine Master allows the husband to marry a second wife, however his principal wife herself must arrange for the wedding.
Article 10: - The Caodaist couple are not allowed to divorce, except in the case of adultery or lack of filial piety to parents-in-law.
Article 11: - New born child should have a god-parent who will take care of him/her just in case of he/she becomes an orphan.
Article 12: - New born child from one month old onwards must be brought to the Temple (Thánh-Thất) to receive baptism (Lễ Tắm Thánh) and to be registered in the birth records of the Religion.
Article 13: - Parents must send their children aged from six to twelve years old to school for general and religious education.
Article 14: - When a fellow adept passes away, the believers of the Parish should come to help and consol the family of the defunct.
Each Parish should have its own cemetery.
Article 15: - The Parish Head, once requested by the mourning family, must come and coordinate other co-believers in the Parish to hold the ceremonies Praying for the Salvation of the defunct's Soul (Lễ Cầu siêu) conforming with the Tân-Luật (New Canonical Law) and join the cortège to the grave.
Article 16: - Funeral should not be expensive or lavish, do not prolong, do not use striking colours, only use white colour. Big banquets should not be given as it may diminish the solemn and grievous atmosphere.
Article 17: - For the offerings made to the defunct, do not use meat, one can bring more merit to his/her soul by offering vegetarian food. The rites and music are not forbidden, but the rites and music prescribed by the Tân Luật (New Canonical Law) must be used. Mourning dresses are exactly as traditional.
Article 18: - The ceremonies Praying for the Salvation of the defunct's Soul (praying sessions for the ascension of the Soul, cầu siêu cho vong linh) nine times on every nine days period (Tuần Cửu: 9 x 9 Days = first 81 days after the death), the Small Mourning/Short mourning period (Tiểu Tường = 281st day after the death), and the Grand Mourning/Long mourning period (Đại Tường = 581st day after the death) must be held at the local Temple. The believers, if invited, must come to pray.
Article 19: - If an unforseen accident befalls an adherent, the co-believers of the Parish must, depending on their capacity, help and support him/her through his/her difficult time.
Article 20: - From the promulgation of this New Canonic Law, the believers must not hold any job involving killing of living creatures, or being contrary to good morals. They must not write or publish obscene novels, or sell any type of alcohol, spirits and opium, which are the toxic substances harmful to human beings.
Should anyone have been holding those jobs, he/she should stop and find a different job.
Article 21: - The believers should dress simply and thriftily according to their financial circumstance. It is recommended to dress in cotton and avoid silk.
Article 22: - Should a believer violate one or more of these codes, any other believer who knows must try to advise the person and persuade him/her to repent. If he/she does not listen to the counsel given, the matter must be brought to the attention of the Head of Parish who will find a resolution.
Article 23: - Should someone repeatedly violate or not give up incorrigible behaviour and bad karmic deeds, he/she must be excommunicated. Other faithful must no longer consider him/her as a co-believer.
Article 24: - Hội Công Đồng (Discipline Council), consists of a Đầu-Sư (Cardinal) as Chairman, and two dignitaries of the other two branches as assessors, judge the sentence of excommunication proposed by the Parish Head.
This order will be posted at the local Temple (Thánh-Thất) to inform to all faithful.
The The Meditation House (Tịnh-Thất) is a calm house where the believers can reside to receive esoteric training. To be able to enter a Tịnh-Thất, believers have to comply with the following regulations:
- Article 1: Only those believers who have completely fulfilled their social and family obligations (the moral duties toward humanity and family), and have practiced vegetarian diet for at least six months can be admitted to a Tịnh-Thất to practice Meditation.
- Article 2: Anyone who would like to enter a Tịnh-Thất, must be introduced by a more virtuous co-believer than him/her and supervised by another co-believer.
- Article 3: It is forbidden to contact or correspond with people from the outside. Close relatives are exempted, but must be approved by the Head of the Tịnh-Thất.
- Article 4: It is forbidden for people from the outside to enter a Tịnh-Thất, whether they be civil servants or Dignitaries of the Religion, co-believers, or relatives of the cloistered person.
- Article 5: It is forbidden to communicate with people from the outside, except his/her parents and own children having been granted permission by the Head of the Tịnh-Thất.
- Article 6: After having been admitted to a Tịnh-Thất, the cloistered person has to abstain from chewing betel and smoking, and can eat nothing outside of his/her given meals.
- Article 7: In the Tịnh-Thất, one's spirit must remain calm, and one's conscience must be serene. Everyone must live in peace and harmony with others and raise one's voice. One must be hardworking and work well helping and guiding each other in the path of the Spiritual Way.
- Article 8: Believers staying in a Tịnh-Thất must obey the orders of the Head of the Tịnh-Thất, and strictly follow the schedule for acquiring esoteric training.
---- END ----