Caodaists are instructed in their duties and
responsibilities to self, family, country, society and humanity, other religious
denominations. They also are taught to believe in the Laws of Evolution, the
Doctrine of Reincarnation (reimbodiment), Doctrine of Karma (law of cause and
effect), in Divine Justice and in the occult Realm of Spirits. Caodaists worship
and adore God the Father (Đức Chí Tôn), the Holy Mother (Universal Mother, Đức
Phật Mẫu), and Divine Beings, and they venerate
Superior spirits and worship ancestors.
According to Tân Luật /The New Canonical Codes(The New Religious
Codes of Caodaism), there are two categories/orders of believers:
Category/the Secular Order/The Hạ Thừa
consists of non-married and married persons who earn their living as ordinary
people. However, their religious duties consists in daily practising the
worship. They must observe a vegetarian diet of six days a month (for the first
six months after becoming a believer) and then ten days a month. They must
observe the Thế Luật /Secular Rules/Laws on the Secular Life of the Faithful
promulgated by Great Way for The Third Universal Amnesty/Caodaism, and must
Prohibitions/ Ngũ Giới Cấm:
"Once converts of the Religion (baptized),
believers must cultivate themselves by improving their behavior and observing
1- Do Not Kill.
It is forbidden to kill living beings.
2- Do Not Steal.
It is forbidden to commit robbery, banditry, to pilfer, to take goods
without authorization, to cheat, to borrow without returning, or to store
stolen goods, to appropriate objects dropped in the street, to covet the
goods of others, to wish ill to others for one's own interest, or cheat in
3- Do Not Commit Lewd Acts.
It is forbidden to commit adultery, to fall into debauchery, to encourage
others to act immorally, to entertain immoral or indecent thoughts at the
sight of beautiful persons, or to seduce by speech. (Relations between
spouse are not considered to be lewd acts).
4- Do Not Indulge in the
Use of Alcohol or a luxurious life style.
It is forbidden to abuse the drinking of alcohol and the eating of meat;
over eating and drinking causes disorder of physical body and spirit and
disturbing public tranquility. It is also forbidden to expect or covet
unusual drinks and rich foods.
5- Do Not Lie.
It is forbidden to use false words, to speak falsely, or to boast in order
to deceive others. It is forbidden to expose another person's faults, to
turn wrong into right and vice-versa; to malign, to defame, to talk ill
about other people, to incite people to anger or hatred, or to bring matters
to public trial; to swear or use vulgar language; to curse other people; to
blaspheme religion; to renege on a promise."
Codes/ Tân Luật, Chapter IV, Article 21)
Category/the Superior Order / The
consists of simple believers and particularly dignitaries from the rank of
Priests/Giáo-Hữu. According to the New Canonical Codes (Tân Luật), the Higher
Category/the Superior Order consists of persons who have practised a full-time
vegetarian regime, and who have freed themselves from killing. Those in the
Higher Category/the Superior Order/
Thượng Thừa must not have their beards trimmed or their hair clipped. They must
wear ordinary garments of only white cotton material or the color assigned to
their branch. They also must refrain from sexual intercourse, must be frugal,
never indulge in luxuries and follow:
the Four Great Commanments (Tứ Đại Điều
"The Caodaists must improve their behavior,
and cultivate themselves by observing the four great commandments:
Obey the teachings given by the superiors/higher ranks, listen openly to
words and advice given by an inferior. Caodaists should use civility as the
basis for dealing with others, recognising their own faults and repenting
Do not flaunt your talents or qualities in pride and haughtiness; be humble
and efface yourself in the service of others. Caodaists should help and
guide others into the God-Path. They should not be revengeful, nor should
they hinder virtuous and wise persons.
Be accurate in money matters; receipts and expenses must be clear. Do not
borrow without paying back. Do not be impolite and discourteous to the
higher ranks/superiors. Higher ranks, in teaching the lower ranks/inferiors,
must do so with civility. Lower ranks, in advising or approaching the higher
ranks, must not be lacking in deference and respect.
Be sincere, consistent in both the presence and absence of others. Do not be
respectful in the presence of individuals and then insult, condemn, or
offend them in their absence. Do not remain aloof without trying to
reconcile co-believers who do not agree with one another or are in conflict.
Do not appropriate public materials for private use. Do not act out of
personal interest to the detriment of public interest. Obey the Laws and
Rules. Do not cling to your personal opinion and oppose the higher
ranks/superiors, or be uncivil to the lower ranks. Do not use authority to
repress the talents or abilities of others."
Codes/ Tân Luật, Chapter V, Article 22)
As mentioned above, and according to the teaching of His Holiness
Hộ Pháp Phạm công Tắc - the believers should begin their religious lives by
serving the Religion via the Cửu Trùng Ðài /Administrative Body, or the Hiệp
Thiên Đài /Legislative Body or Charitable Organisation (Cơ Quan Phước Thiện).
Only when believers themselves feel that they have served this earthly life
(self, family, country, society and humanity) satisfactorily through three ways
(tam lập): deeds, words and virtue (lập công, lập ngôn, lập đức), would they
then be able to follow and practise esoteric training (tu chơn). In Secular
Rules/ Tân Luật, there are regulations regarding
House of Meditation/ Tịnh Thất (House of Calm):
"The Tịnh Thất (The House of Meditation,
Cloister) is a House of Calm where the believers can enter to receive esoteric
Believers who would like to enter a House of Calm/ Tịnh Thất, have to conform
the following regulations:
- Article 1: The believers
who have completely fulfilled their social obligations (the moral duties
toward humanity), and have practised a full-time vegetarian diet for at
least six months can be admitted to a Tịnh Thất (House of Meditation, Calm)
to practice Meditation and Detachment.
- Article 2: Anyone who
would like to enter a Tịnh Thất (House of Meditation) must be introduced by
a more virtuous co-religionist and seconded by another co-religionist.
- Article 3: It is
forbidden to have relations or written communication with people from the
outside. One's parents (close relatives) are accepted, once expressed
approval is received from the Head of the Tịnh Thất (House of Meditation).
- Article 4: It is
forbidden for persons from the outside to enter a Tịnh Thất (House of
Meditation, Cloister), whether they be functionaries or Dignitaries of the
Religion, co- religionists or relatives of the cloistered person.
- Article 5: It is
forbidden to talk with people from the outside, except with one's parents
and one's own children, after the permission of the Head of the House has
- Article 6: After being
admitted to a Tịnh Thất (House of Meditation, Cloister), the cloistered
person has to abstain from chewing betel, and smoking, and can eat nothing
in addition to his given meals.
- Article 7: In the House
of Meditation, one's spirit/soul must be maintained in calm, and one's
conscience must be serene. One must live in peace and harmony with others
and not speak loudly. One must be hard working and work well, helping and
guiding each other in the path of Virtue.
- Article 8: Believers in
a House of Meditation must obey the orders of the "Head of the House", and
strictly follow the the schedule for cultivation of esoteric training.
(Thế Luật, Tịnh Tịnh Thất / Secular Rules, The House of
In brief, Caodaism with the New Canonical Codes/Tân Luật and the
Secular Rules/Thế Luật provides any believer with the guidelines to break
through the wheel of Karmic Law and Reincarnation to be united with God.
According to Caodai teaching, in order to arrive at the esoteric phase one must
cross the threshold of the established religion. For this reason, the believers
must practise the exoteric and secular laws. Indeed, in order to discharge their
family duties as well as fulfill their social responsibilities, Caodaists must
devote themselves to practice of good and the avoidance of all evil; they must
be dedicated to human sisterhood/brotherhood, show kindness to living beings,
and serve society. This is an important phase which a believer must achieve
before entering the second phase which involves esoteric training for an inner
mystic self-cultivation (tu chơn, tu đơn).
In 1947, His Holiness Hộ Pháp Phạm công Tắc wrote of this
CULTIVATING THE SELF TO ENTER THE THIRD GREAT WAY/CAODAISM
Be closely related to
all beings, i.e seek the source of all living creatures and spirits.
Be graceful and
Be free in your mind,
Be serene, i.e do not
be influenced bad or good luck/karma, sorrow or joy. Ultimate being, accept
happiness and sorrow , but do not let the poisonous barbs of happiness and
sorrow permeate your true nature.
considerate and forgiving.
Be cheerful, moderate,
self controlled and decisive.
Conscience is the
principle for all. Have filial piety to God and the Holy Mother.
CULTIVATION THE HEART-MIND AS IT IS THE IMAGE OF GOD'S CONSCIENCE
Faith and wisdom are
the most valuable treasure; anything else is wasteful.
Those who hate their
enemies cannot be calm and impartial persons.
Those who do not hate
will win over their enemies.
Hatred is the greatest
sorrow of human beings. Therefore a true person (good person) never thinks
of it or avoids it.
Overcome your anger so
that you do not enrage others.
Use good to overcome
Use kindness to
Be generous to overcome
Use right to overcome
wrong. That is the Magic Sword of Wisdom.
CULTIVATING THE PHYSICAL BODY AND THE MIND
Eat pure food.
Think pure thoughts.
Have a strong faith in
God and the Holy Mother.
All this is
the key to open the door of Bát Quái Ðài rightly in this earthly life.
Bát Quái Đài
- the Council of the Great Spirits which head the Eight States of the Soul. It
is also the Eight-sided Palace of God's presence, or the Eight Trigrams Palace.