Sunday, October 12, 2008

CaoDai Shows the Path to Harmony

Two interesting articles from The New Statesman last week on CaoDai (this Wikipedia entry is highly educational - full name: Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ), a religion I have never before seen anything written.

The Faith Column

Every week a different believer gives the inside track on their religion or philosophy.

CaoDai shows the path to harmony

CaoDai serves to remind humanity that all religions are of the same origin and principle, only that they are different manifestations of the same truth, writes Hum D Bui.

Along with materialism, differences in religions have brought conflicts to people resulting in many wars all over the world. CaoDai, a new faith founded in Vietnam in 1926 by the Supreme Being via spiritism, with the principle that all religions are of one same origin (which is God, although called by various names or no name), having the same teachings based on Love and Justice, and are just diverse manifestations of the same truth.

CaoDai embraces all religions ranging from what is termed the way of humanity (Confucianism), the way of genies (geniism, or shintoism, or the veneration of ancestors), the way of Saints (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), the way of Immortals (Taoism), and the way of Buddhas (Hinduism, Buddhism). Although they have different physical manifestations, all religions have the same ethical teaching based on Love and Justice: Love being unconditional and without desire, and Justice being equated with the Golden Rule: “Do not do to others what you do not want done to you.”

Besides these teachings, there are other similarities among religions; the conception of God is one example.

CaoDai believes that the Supreme Being is from the “Hu Vo” (the nothingness or cosmic ether). In the cosmic ether, appeared a great source of Divine Light called “Thai Cuc” (Monad) or the Supreme Being. The Monad then created Yin and Yang energies, the two opposite logos, the interaction of which led to the formation of the universe. The Supreme Being, in giving the following message, confirmed that God’s energy had manifested through different prophets in the world:

Buddha, God; God, Buddha are Me,
Although different, all branches belong to one same trunk (family).
Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity are in my hands;
Because of love, I come to save humanity for the third time.

With the same conception that the Nothingness is the origin of everything, in the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tse says:

There was something nebulous,
Existing before heaven and earth,
Silent, empty, standing alone, altering not,
Moving cyclically without being exhausted,
Which may be called the mother of all under heaven.
I do not know its name; therefore, call it the Tao.

A similar conception that God is the Nothingness is found in Buddhism: “There is an unborn, not become, not made, unmanifest, which is called Brahmakaya or Sunyata, the Void, or the Nothingness.”

Sadly, it was because of this conception that Buddhism was misunderstood as not believing in the existence of “God.”

In the same light, Confucius says that God has done nothing but created everything:

Does Heaven ever speak?
The four seasons come and go,
And all creatures thrive and grow.
Does Heaven ever speak?

Judaism believes that God or Elohim is a state of consciousness that pertains neither to perception nor to non-perception; or, in other words, the state of consciousness perceiving Nothingness, which comes from the chaos.

Christianity believes that God is the Word: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things are made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.”

Not only religions but science theorizes that the universe came from the nothingness. Modern science has conceptualized the void, which, according to field theory, is far from empty, but on the contrary, contains an unlimited number of particles which come into being and vanish without end.

Isn't it wondrous, how much religions and even science have in common? If an individual takes time to study others' religions, one would realize that they are but one unified truth which has been expressed in different ways.

At this moment, in this current situation of the world, CaoDai’s purpose is to remind humanity and all religions that all religions are of the same origin and principle, and are just different manifestations of the same truth.

Second article:

Reincarnation and Karma in CaoDai

  • Posted by Hum D Bui
  • 10 October 2008
Hum D Bui concludes the series on CaoDai with a look at what it says about how past deeds set the course for the next life in comparison to other religions.

Most religions conceive human beings as consisting of three parts: the physical body, the soul, and the spirit.

Hinduism calls the spirit, "Brahman," "Atman" or the absolute (metaphysical) self and the soul "jiva," or the miniature self. Buddhism calls the spirit the true heart, or Buddha-heart, and the soul the earthly heart, or the illusory heart. Taoism calls the spirit god's heart (which is absolute), and the soul the regular heart (which is relative and variable). Islam calls the spirit "Naf-matmainnah," which means "supernatural," and the soul "lawwama," which means "regular." In Christianity, Saint Paul recommends: "May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our lord Jesus Christ." The Vietnamese people call the spirit "linh hon" (sacred spirit) and the soul "tam hon" (emotional soul).

CaoDai believes in the law of justice, or karma, which means that any current situation is the result of past good or bad deeds; and therefore believes that the human soul evolves continuously according to this karmic law through many physical lives to become progressively purer, ultimately to unify with the Supreme Being (in Heaven).

Karmic law is also observed in other faiths:

Hinduism: “This body is called the Field, because a man sows seeds of action in it, and reaps their fruits.” (Bhagavad Gita)

Buddhism: “Even an evildoer sees happiness so long as his evil deed does not ripen; but when his evil deed ripens, then does the evildoer see evil.”

"Even a good man sees evil days so long as his good deed does not ripen; but when his good deed ripens, then does the good man sees good things.”

Taoism: “Those who do evil in the open light of day---men will punish them. Those who do evil in secret---God will punish them.”

Judaism: “Sow in righteousness, reap in mercy.” (Hos. 10:12)
"The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh... to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.”
Christianity: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Islam: “Whatever good you do for others, you send it before your own souls and find it with Allah who sees all you do.” (Koran 2:104)

Karmic law, or justice, is the divine law, the absolute law that is applied to all souls and that chains men to rebirth; or in other words, it requires that a man make payment for his transgressions: if not in the present life, then in another. Anyone who does anything--whether it be good or evil--receives its result, either in this life or in the next. No one escapes this law. Otherwise, there would be no justice. This law explains reincarnation as the spiritual evolution of all souls.

In accepting the Karma law and reincarnation, then life on this earth is just a place for the souls to experience (to reap) the deed that they have caused (sowed), in order to progress spiritually and to get closer to God in the spiritual journey to their divine origin. The Karma law reflects the absolute law of justice. In realizing this law, no one would not desire to cause to others what one does not desire others to do unto her/him.

CaoDai believes that with compassion, humanitarian service and meditation, one may pay back whatever kind of karmic debt that one had borrowed from previous life and become progressively detached from all secular distractions, therefore free from the effects of karmic law and avoid reincarnation, ultimately becoming one with the Supreme Being.

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