structures mentioned above, after becoming followers, adherents have many ways
of serving which Religious Laws reserve for them. They may enter either the
Cửu Trùng Ðài/the Executive Body or the Hiệp Thiên Ðài/the Legislative
Body. According to Pháp Chánh Truyền (The Religious Constitution of Caodaism),
followers may be elected and hold a post if they can prove their capacity in
terms of deeds, words and virtue. Nominations and promotions in the episcopal
hierarchy are first submitted to the Popular Council/ Hội Nhơn Sanh. Then they
are submitted to the Sacerdotal Council/ Hội Thánh. They are also
submitted to the High Council/Thuong Hoi, and finally must be approved by God or
by the Spiritual Pope Li T'ai Pai (Đức Lý Giáo Tông). Almost all the positions
in the Caodaist hierarchy can be replaced by election, except those titles
directly appointed by God (Đức Cao-Đài) or Divine Authority through spiritism (cơ
bút). The high dignitaries of the Legislative Body (Hiệp Thiên Ðài) such as
Hộ-Pháp, Thượng-Phẩm, Thượng–Sanh, and the twelve Lords of the Zodiac (Thập Nhị
Thời Quân) are directly appointed by God.
According to Pháp Chánh Truyền /the Religious Constitution
of Caodaism :
"The dignitaries of the two Colleges
(of Men and Women) of the Cửu Trùng Ðài/Executive Body are invested in the
Temple of the Divine Alliance (Hiệp Thiên Ðài), either through their own merit,
or through designation by means of a medium (direct investiture), or through an
organised election before the dignitaries of the Hiệp Thiên Ðài, in order to
avoid all fraud or partiality. What is more, with the assistance of these
dignitaries it is permissible to consult the Spiritual Pope or Our Divine Master
to know whether those elected are worthy of their rank. Thus before official
notification, all dignitaries must be presented for the approval of the Giáo
Tông/Pope or of our Divine Master".
- "The Papal Throne/ Giáo
Tông is in the power of Legislative Cardinals/ Chưởng-Pháp and the
Cardinals/ Đầu-Sư through the universal vote of the adepts, except when the
Giáo Tông/Pope is chosen by our Divine Master (direct investiture)".
- "The Cardinals/ Đầu-Sư
are elected to the rank of Legislative Cardinals/ Chưởng-Pháp through the
vote of their colleagues (the other two Cardinals)".
- "The Archbishops/
Phối-Sư are elected to the rank of Cardinal by the vote of their thirty-six
- "The Bishops/ Giáo-Sư
are elected to the rank of Archbishops by the vote of their seventy-two
- "The Priests/ Giáo-Hữu
are elected to the rank of Bishops by the vote of their 3000 colleagues".
- "The Student-Priests/
Lễ-Sanh are elected to the rank of Priests by the vote of all their
- "The disciples who
aspire to the rank of Student-Priest are elected by the vote of all
Faithful, except in the situation when dignitaries are chosen by Divine
- "The Chánh-Trị-Sự
(Minor Office-Bearers, Village Religious Chief) are elected by the vote of
Phó-Trị-Sự (Deputy Chief for Administration of a religious village) and
Thông-Sự (representing the Legislative Body). The Phó-Trị-Sự and Thông-Sự
are elected by the vote of the adepts".
Under Hiệp Thiên Ðài/Legislative Body, Phước Thiện /the
Charitable Organisation is another way of serving in Caodaism. That is the
path of twelve divine ranks (Minh Đức , Tân Dân, Thính Thiện, Hành Thiện G iáo
Thiện, Chí Thiện, Đạo Nhơn , Chơn Nhơn, Hiền Nhơn, Thánh Nhơn, Tiên Tử, Phật Tử).
The total number of dignitaries in each rank of the Charitable Organisation is
unlimited. A follower who has fulfilled his/her duty for three years may be
raised to the next rank. The Charitable Organisation is the major agency for
social services. At the Holy See, the Charitable Organisation has responsibility
for and supervision of a hospital, homes for the elderly, an orphanage, the high
school, musicians, acolytes and choristers. The Organisation's official
representatives operate at the same levels as the Executive Body, and each local
congregation has a "local charitable committee" (Bàn Cai Quản) whose
responsibility is to care for the social needs of the local community. The
"local charitable committees" with believers normally build Điện Thờ Phật Mẫu/Holy
Mother Temples for the dedication of worship of the Holy Mother (Universal
Mother/ Đức Phật Mẫu).