Throughout human history God the Father (The Supreme Being / The Creator) has revealed His Truth many times. His Divine Message has been translated through the mouths of many great prophets, but always these messages have relied on human frailty. The Age has now come where He speaks to humanity directly.
The previous two Religious Amnesties saw the rise of Hinduism, Judaism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam etc. Caodaism as the embodiment of The Third Amnesty comes to unite the traditions of these Two Periods. It does so guided directly by Đức Cao Đài (God the Father) and the Divine Beings.
One of the early messages received from Him went as follows,
Formerly people of the world lacked means of transportation, therefore they did not know each other…. Nowadays, all parts of the world are explored: humanity, knowing itself better aspires to real peace. But because of the very multiplicity of religions, humanity does not always live in harmony. That is why I decided to unite all these religions into One to bring them back to the primordial unity. (1926)
His Holiness Hộ-Pháp Phạm Công Tắc (Nov 1948) said:
"...The Divine Master came to gather us together again, to unite us and to encourage us to live in peace like children in one large Family. The prediction of his coming in the Christian Gospel is fulfilled: 'I have other wandering sheep to bring back to the fold'. This means that He has to unify many religions.
Among the religions founded by those sent by God at different times, we can mention:
- The Doctrine of the Buddhas which include Brahmanism, Vedantism, Buddhism, and the Philosophy of Pythagoras;
- The Doctrine of the Seraphim which includes Taoism, the Theories of Yang-Tsu and Mei-Ti, Exorcisms, Idolatry and the Occult Sciences;
- The Doctrine of the Saints which include Christianity, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam;
- The Doctrine of the Genies which includes the Chinese, Greek and Egyptian Mythologies;
- The Doctrines of the Sages which includes the Theories of Socrates, Aesop, Plato, etc in Greece; and Confucius, Mencius etc, encompassing the refined practices and customs of the Han and Tan dynasties, and the Classical Literature of the Đường (Tang) dynasty from the early age of China.
Before revealing Himself to found Caodaism which is the syncretism of the ancient doctrines, God sent the Great Spirits incarnate in the World to create various philosophical societies aimed at giving new life to human consciousness. Examples are the Theosophical Society, the Society for Research into Buddhist Philosophy, the Psychic Society, study of Spiritism, etc. Most of these societies were founded to teach the Truth to all the countries of the World, one century before the appearance of Caodaism.
Today our Master comes and builds "The Lofty Palace / Cao Đài" or the Lofty Church symbolising the Greatest Faith in the World, in order to provide a basis for the New Religion. He has chosen His Apostles among the inhabitants of a minor group of people in the Far East, for that is what VietNam is, to carry out this prophecy: The Holy doctrine of God comes from the East. The Priestly Group is thus the Spotless Body of the Eternal One, and by beating the drum called 'Lôi-Âm' (Sound of Thunder which created the First Logos, manifestation of God to create the worlds), and ringing the bell called 'Bạch-Ngọc' (Bell which has the power to rouse sleeping souls, as it rings out God's Call to his children), they wake God's children from the sleepy lethargy of the present times and lead them towards their Father's Home.
The Supreme Being/God who rules in this space is the Creator, the Supreme Chief of all the Universe and Cosmos. This Creator/God has come under the name of CAO ĐÀI TIÊN ÔNG ĐẠI BỒ TÁT MA HA TÁT, to found in Viet Nam, through Spiritism, a New Religion of high moral and philosophical value to save humanity from the cycle of reincarnation. This New Religion is called Caodaism or ĐẠI ĐẠO TAM KỲ PHỔ ĐỘ (Great Way for the Third Universal Amnesty).
Cao Đài Religion (Đạo Cao Đài) or Caodaism, as it is usually known in Europe, is an indigenous religion, the third largest religion in Viet Nam. It originated in South Viet Nam in the early twenties, and was officially inaugurated in 1926. Its followers called Caodaists in English, worship Đức Cao Đài (pronounced: Duk Kow Dye) known as God the Father in the western world. Caodaism is a synthesis of all main religions in the world, i.e., Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Confucianism, and Geniism. Caodaism is syncretistic in its doctrine, ritual practice, organizational structure, divinities and philosophy.
The Cao Đài Religion also has another name is Đại-Đạo Tam-Kỳ Phổ-Độ (Great Way or Great Religion for the Third Universal Amnesty / Third Amnesty of God in the East). The term "Đại Đạo" literally means "Great Religion / Way", "Tam-Ky" means "The Third Time/Period", "Phổ" means "to Show" and "Độ" means "to Save". So Đại-Đạo Tam-Kỳ Phổ-Độ means "great religion that for the third time is manifest to save all living beings".
Garry W. Trompf who is Professor in the History of Ideas, School of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney wrote (1992): "...Caodaism is described as a 'super- Theosophy' bring[ing] harmony to all spiritual beliefs and philosophies". Indeed, with the Cao Đài Religion, God the Father revealed Himself, organized and founded ONE religion, which is the Religion of the future, to save humanity and to restore concord and therefore harmony, peace and love among people on this planet.
The early history of Caodaism is summarised as follows:
- From 1921 His Highness Ngô Văn Chiêu who was the first Caodaist received messages to worship Đức Cao Đài / God.
- On Christmas Eve, 1925, the Supreme Being, God identified himself to the first group of mediums (Their Highnesses - Phạm Công Tắc, Cao Quỳnh Cư, and Cao Hoài Sang), as Ngọc Hòang Thượng Đế , viết Cao Đài Tiên Ông Đại Bồ Tát Ma Ha Tát , giáo Đạo Nam Phương (Jade Emperor, alias Cao Đài Immortal, His honor to the eldest Boddhisattva, the venerable Saint, Religious Master of the Southern Quarter).
- A group of 28 Vietnamese who were the first Cao-Đài disciples signed the "Declaration of the Founding of the Cao Đài Religion" and sent it to the French Governor of Cochinchina on 17 October 1926.
- On 18 November 1926 (14th day of 10th month of the Year Bính Dần / Year of the Tiger), a three days inauguration ceremony took place at Từ Lâm Pagoda, Gò Kén (Tây Ninh Province, South Vietnam). The ceremony was planned for only three days (18,19,20 November 1926) but it lasted for three months.
- After the religious inauguration ceremony, the New Religion, Caodaism, rapidly expanded and was welcomed with much ardour by the public in Vietnam.
- Today Caodaist communities are spread across Asia (Cambodia, Japan), North America, Europe, and Australia . . . . Believers now number about five million.
- Caodaism is a Great House of Faith that welcomes in all peoples of the world for the establishment of a universal brother-and-sisterhood without distinction of creed, race, sex, social background or colour.
- Caodaism is organised and administered on both Divine and Democratic principles.
- Men and Women play an essential part in both the administration and priesthood of the Religion.
- Caodaism preaches world unity. It spreads the offer of peace made by God through the Third Alliance.
- Caodaism presents the world with a real chance for Unity and understanding between the Great Cultures of East and West.
- By offering a way of life that concentrates on the harmony of all religions, Caodaism can also offer harmony to a troubled world, providing spiritual solutions for significant world problems such as racism, intolerance and ignorance.
-As a Great House of Faith, Caodaism combines the teachings of all the great religious traditions and opens before us the Great Way to paradise.
Introduction | Caodaism In A Nutshell | Fundamental Principles of Caodaism | Stucture of Caodaism | Ways of Serving In Caodaism | Practising Caodaism - Duties of Adherents | CaoDai Rituals - Worship and Prayer | Initiation And Its Meaning | Centres of Caodaism Around the World | Bibliography / References & Links | Illustrations | Further Readings