The Monistic Theory

by Nhân Tử Nguyễn Văn Thọ

TOC | Preface | Chapters: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19

Chapter 19

Caodaism and the Monistic Theory


Caodaism was officially founded through a medium system by Cao Đài or the Supreme Being in 1926. The message was first given to a group of South Vietnamese elates, administrators or secretaries in the Cochinchina government: Ngô Văn Chiêu, Cao Quỳnh Cư, Phạm Công Tắc, Cao Hoài Sang, Lê Văn Trung, etc. One of the Spirits revealed Himself first under the pseudonym AAA (first three letters, with different accents, of the Vietnamese alphabet), then gradually under the pseudonym Cao Đài (High Tower), or Cao Đài Tiên Ông Đại Bồ Tát Ma Ha Tát (His Highness The Very Great Immortal). The Spirit afterward was symbolized by an Eye, image of the Universal and Individual Conscience. Caodaists call this Spirit God himself.

Caodaism spread rapidly in South Vietnam. Its main Temple is now in Tây Ninh (South Vietnam), a very beautiful architectural monument. Its pantheon of Saints includes such diverse figures as Buddha, Lao-tzu, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Li Tai Bai (Lý Thái Bạch), Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo, Sun Yat Sen (Tôn Dật Tiên) etc..

Its followers now number around 2 million.

It has a temporal pope, Lê Văn Trung, and a spiritual pope, Li Tai Bai (Lý Thái Bạch), the famous poet of the Tang dynasty (Nhà Đường) (701-762).

Caodaism tries to be, esoterically, a synthesis of all religions in the world, but exoterically, it is now a syncretism of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

Caodaists are very divided among themselves. Most of them are exoterists, some are esoterists. An exoterist Caodaist tries to live a normal family and social life, to practice good and to avoid evil. He doesn't make harm to any creature, considered as participating in the Divine life, and conducts himself in a brotherly fashion believing that "God is you, and you are God".

An esoterist Caodaist belongs mainly to Ngô Văn Chiêu's sect, called Chiếu Minh Vô Vi, is strictly vegetarian, cultivates his personal holiness, endeavors to eradicate his inferior self, and develops the divine element within. The ultimate aim is to be united with Cao Đài or with God.

All the messages that a Caodaist receives from the Spirits, come from "table tipping", or from "basket with beak" (Ngọc Cơ) seances.

In California, there are now at least three small Caodaist Temples: One in San Jose, one in Perris, and one in Anaheim.

As an outsider, I was non-plussed by its existence. I didn't know why there are now so many religions in the world, and God still likes to create a new one. Therefore, I liked to spend some time studying this new religion. I began first to study all the spiritual messages given through the mediums. I tried to meet all of them. They are girls or boys from 13 to 17 years old. They are very simple people. But all the messages are given mostly in poems surpassing by far their intellectual level. These messages were obeyed in earnest by all the elders, and carefully kept in the archives. So, I ruled out cheating. I never attended any seances, but I read all their contents and tried to find out the best teaching in them.

I marveled also at the rapid spreading of the new religion: 2 million in 66 years! Gradually, I found that Caodaism tries to make a synthesis of all religions. Caodaists are taught to study all the religions existing in the world, to find out what is best in them.

In Caodaism, there is a slogan: "All religions derive from one Principle."

Confucius said: "My doctrine is that of an all-pervading unity." [1]

Mencius also said: "When we examine those sages, both the earlier and the later, their principles are found to be the same." [2]

Ramakrishna said: "All jackals have the same cry; All the sages have the same teaching." [3]  

What is this one principle? It is the Monistic Theory.

What is the highest of man's attainment? It is Mysticism.

Buddhism calls it Nirvana, Confucius calls it Union with God (Doctrine of the Mean, Ch. 26), Lao-tzu calls it Possession of the Tao, or Union with God (Tao Te Ching, Chap. 68).

As a man who has spent already almost 40 years in the study of comparative religion, I am convinced that the Monistic Theory and Mysticism are the two facets of a true religion. I tried therefore to investigate if Caodaism has these two main facets. I will present my findings afterward.

Actually, we can say that there are three kinds of philosophy leading the world.


1.- The spiriritualist philosophy or the Creationism philosophy

The Creationism philosophy is based on the Bible, and teaches that this world was created ex nihilo by an eternal God. And the Creation roughly began on 4004 B.C. (this date is calculated by Bishop James Usher (1581-1656) of the diocese Armagh (Scotland) and by Dr. Lightfoot of Cambridge, a contemporary with Usher).

After 1701, the King James version of the Holy Bible has put the year 4004 in the middle of the first page of Genesis.

The Bible predicts also that the world will come to an end soon.

In Europe, some hundred years ago, any writer or scientist who liked to conserve his honor endeavored to have his findings fit with the teachings of the Church. In 1744, Buffon, in his Histoire Universelle, sustained that the world was created 70,000 years ago. This was considered a blasphemous action, and his book was put in the Index and barred from circulation by Catholic authorities.

When Darwin died (1809-1882), people still declared that this world was created in 4963 B.C., and the Larousse Dictionary declared that this date was the only one accepted in all schools.

As for the end of the world, the Bible emphatically declared that it would happen very soon: "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you. There be some standing here which shall not taste the death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." (Mat. 16, 27-28).

Or: "For verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come." (Mat. 10: 23)

Or ; "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light. And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven...Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away. (Mark 13: 24-32; Mat. 24: 29-35 and Mat. 24: 6-30).

All the great Apostles such as Peter, Paul and John professed the same thing. In I Peter, 4:7, it is written: "But the end of all things is at hand..." (See also, II Peter, 3:10)

In I Thessalonians 4:16-18 it is written: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive, and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

In Revelation 6: 12-17, the end of the world is described in a vivid manner: "And I beheld when he had open the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the Kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? "

In the last chapter of Revelation, it is written: "And, behold, I come quickly..." (Rev. 22: 12), and: "Surely I come quickly..." (Rev. 22:20).

But now, science has demonstrated that the world has existed at least 10 billion years. And man has made his appearance about 1 million years ago.

Now, few Christians dare to say that the world will end soon, except the followers of Seventh Day Adventists and of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Christianity is now on the defensive, and is very embarrassed.

We see also that, now, one finds many errors in the first 8 Chapters of Genesis, concerning the Creation and the Flood. We can see that the cosmogony of the Bible is geocentric. The Earth stands immobile in the midst of everything (terra in aeternum stat. Ecclesiaste, 1: 4), while the Sun is turning around it. Galileo (1564-1642) was solemnly condemned for saying the contrary.

It is said in Genesis that God had spent the whole second day to create the firmament. What is then the firmament? It is a solid vault, provided with gates which can be opened in case of the Flood, for instance. (Cataractoe coeli apertoe sunt: and the windows of heaven were open: Biblia Sacra, Vulgata, and King James, Gen. 7:11). All of us now know that there is no such vault in the sky. According to Job, the firmament is made of something which is strong and as a molten glass. (Job, 37: 18). In the version of the Vulgata, the same phrase is translated as: Tu forsitan cum eo fabricatus es coelos, qui solidissimi quasi aere fusi sunt. The firmament is then made up with solid brass. The Revelation compared it to a scroll that can be departed at the end of the world. (Rev. 6: 14). Sun, Moon and stars are under this vault. The throne of God is above it. (Ps. 11:4) It is called the sky (Gen. 1, 18). It is sustained by many columns (Job 27: 11). The earth stood firmly on water (Ps. 136), and has also many columns (Job 9, 6).

One can't understand, also, what the Light created on the first day is, nor why trees and grass etc can be created before the Sun and the Moon.

Furthermore, if we compare the first Chapter of Genesis with the Second one, we will see that the order of the creation is totally different.

Adam, instead of being created on the sixth day at the same time with Eve, now appears as the first creature. Afterwards, God created a garden for him, and did then only he create trees. Then all mammals, all birds were created, and God brought them to Adam to give them a name. As Adam was not satisfied with all the mammals, and can't find any mate among them, God then created Eve with one of Adam's ribs etc (Gen. 2: 1-23)

As for the Flood, we run also into many unsolved problems. It is strange to see that there are two stories of the Flood: one version is now called version P, another is called version J. According to version P, Noah must bring in the Ark a couple of animals for each species (Gen. 6: 19-20), and the duration of the Flood is 150 days (Gen. 8:3).

According to version J, Noah must bring in the Ark, 7 couples for each clean species, and a couple for each unclean species (Gen 7:2), and the duration of the Flood is only 40 days (Gen 7: 17. 7:4).

One never can understand also why Noah can roam through the five continents (?) to bring all the species in the Ark. The number of species is now around 5,000,000. And we know that the Ark was only 150 yards long, 25 yards wide, and 15 yards high with three stories (Gen 6:16). The Ark had only one small window (Gen. 6:16). How could all these animals live in so small a place for 150 days. How they could be fed, and why didn't they die?

Since 1960, there have been many scientific associations in the States that believe in Creationism. To be members of these Associations, one must be a post-graduate from some University. Members must firmly believe that all the teachings of the Bible, concerning the Creation and the Flood are true. They militate to have the Creation taught in school. These associations are:

The American Scientific Association (ASA) founded in 1941, having 3000 members.

The Creation Research Society, founded in 1963, at Ann Arbor Michigan. It has around 500 members.

The Creation Science Research Center (CSRC). It organized many trips to Mount Ararat, Turkey, hoping to find the Ark.

The Institute for Creation Research (ICR), founded in 1970, in San Diego. It has published 55 books, and has a magazine called Acts and Facts sent to 60,000 readers.

The Genesis School of Graduate Studies at Gainsville, Florida.

The Bible Science Association.

The Scientific Creationism Association of Southern New Jersey.

The Creation Research Science Education Foundation Inc. in Ohio.

The Triangle Association for Scientific Creationism in the Research Triangle, close to Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Missouri Association for Creation.  

In England, there are also some of such Associations:

The Evolution Protest Movement (EPM) founded in 1932, in England.

The Newton Scientific Organization 1973 in England etc. 

The aim of these organizations is to advocate the teaching of Creationism at school, parallel with the Evolution theory. They like also to control all the teaching material so that Evolution can't be taught crudely.

Since 1921 to 1929, they maneuvered to have 37 States ban evolutionism from school. We have for instance the Mississippi Law (1926), the Arkansas Law (1928), the Texas Law (1929), but the Supreme Court based on the Separation of the State from the Church declared that these laws are unconstitutional.

On the side of the government, we have these committee having the responsibility to prepare the teaching program:

The National Science Foundation (NSF),

The Biological Sciences Study (BSCS),

Man: a course of study (MACOS),

The Education Development Center (EDC),

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS),

The National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT),

Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) [4]

Besides, we have also The American Civil Liberty Union aimed to defend Americans' liberty etc. 

Both sides are against each other, and the Creationists have brought suits many times against the Board of Education, but the Creationists lose the suit all the time. Once, the Creationists in California filed a suit against the Board of Education because it had offended the liberty of creeds of their children. They brought their children to Court to testify that they are taught to be descendants of the ape. The Board of Education invited eminent scientists to defend them and the Evolution Theory. The judge at this time, Mr. Irving Pertluss, advised the Board of Education to be flexible and careful in dealing with the genesis of man. The Creationists consider this as one of their advantages etc. [5]

And the battle will continue for ever.

The Spiritualist Philosophy sustained that man has only a Soul and a Body. At death, Soul departs from Body, and goes to Hell, Purgatory or Paradise. At the end of the world, every body will be resurrected, and the Body will again be united to the Soul, for everlasting happiness or misery.

For it, God is exterior to all creatures, infinitely different from them, and transcendent to them. He is in the sky and is there to derogate any natural laws. He created the Flood and sent many tribulations to Egyptian people, for instance.

Man can't be united with God, can't be divinized. They can only communicate with God. After death, a holy soul can only contemplate God. This is called Beatific Vision.

All souls are created by God, and are immortal from conception. They will go to Paradise, Purgatory or Hell according to their deeds.

The spiritualist philosophy teaches love of our neighbors. As for other creatures, we can dispose of them at will, because we are created to be their Kings.

The spiritualist philosophy is upheld by exoterist Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam.

The spiritualist philosophy practices Monotheism.


2.- The Materialist Philosophy, or the Atomic Theory

The Materialist Philosophy accepts only Matter as the root of everything. It denies God, Spirits and Souls. It claims that this world is made of atoms. These atoms in their revolution, meet other atoms by pure hazard, act upon each other, and gradually create sun, moon, stars, inorganic and organic elements. Organic beings must adjust themselves with the environment, and in their struggle for life and in their adaptation to the environment, evolve from invertebrates to vertebrates and finally end up in mankind.

We see that the main key of this philosophy is the Theory of Evolution by natural selection.

This Theory is elaborated by Darwin (1809-1882) in his famous book On the Origin of Species,

It was also expounded by Lamarck (1744-1829) with his theory that adaptive responses to environment cause structural changes capable of being inherited, by De Vries (1848-1935) with his Theory of Mutation, by Mendel, Weissmann (1834-1945), Morgan (1866-1945), and Spiemann with their works on heredity, and is propagated by Spencer (1820-1903) and Hoeckel.

It is worth noting that the Evolution Theory is also used to explain the origin of all the stars, of the solar system, and of the new stars. And we can refer to the works of famous astronomers, such as Laplace, Lemaitre, Eddington, Fayes Ligondes, Seeliger, Ham, See, G. H. Darwin, Norman Lockyer, Arrhenius, Belot, etc.

The best that Evolution Theory has given us is that it has extended by far the length of time for the existence of the world. Instead of 6000 years, the world is now at least 10 billion years old; living things appeared on earth in the Cambrian period, about 6 billion years ago. Man appears on earth as prehistoric man, such as Piltdown man, one million years ago, and as Homo Sapiens, about 30,000 years ago. These figures are only approximate. So, instead of Adam and Eve living somewhere in the Mesopotamia, we have now new ancestors, very much older, and coming perhaps from Africa. And many Christian dogmas, such as the Original Sin, the coming of Jesus Christ to save the world from the Original Sin, are no more valid.

After strong opposition to the Evolution Theory, the Church became suppler in its attitude. In one encyclical letter, in August 1950, the Pope Pius XII declared that it is permissible to study the evolution theory in so far of finding the origin of the body in a preexisting matter existing before it. [6]

Many exegetists begin to explain that the six days of creation are six geological periods, and pretend that the word Yom  in Hebrew means not only a day but also a long period. But other exegetists, such as Louis Pirot, or Georges Crespy are against this interpretation. [7] 

Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Letter Providentissimus Deus asserts that: "The sacred writers had no intention to teach people what is not necessary for their salvation; therefore, instead of pursuing a scientific work, they describe things with metaphors or talk according to the common language in use at their time. [8]

The Biblical Committee, in its decision of the 30th of June, 1909 pertaining to the historical characters of the first three chapters of Genesis, affirms that "the intention of the sacred author is not to teach in a scientific manner the intimate constitution of things and the order of the creation, but to talk according to the popular knowledge in conformity with data given by the senses, in the language of his time." [9]

It is strange enough that the Church waited until 1909, to declare these things. Before, it solemnly affirmed that the teachings of the Bible are historical truths.

We can refer to the trial of Galileo (1564-1642), to know the attitude of the Church at that time

We can say that for many centuries, the European people and people in the Mediterranean area have considered the Creationist tales and the Flood as the very exact history of the world. Now, most of the people who venerate the Bible, Christians, Jews, or Islamic, see in the Genesis only divine allegories. [10]

We can say that the Evolution Theory has now many scientists as its proponents, and is now taught in schools, while the Creation Theory is not. But The Evolution Theory has many vulnerable points:

It can't explain why life appeared on earth.

There are still many "missing links" in the long chain of living things.

One can't understand why there are now so many insects, micro-organisms and bacteria. If the Theory is true, micro-organisms must disappear and not dinosaurs.

One doesn't know why tortoises and crustaceans have skeletons outside their bodies, while fish and mammals have them inside, and their habitat is the same sea.

Only mammals can give some verification to the Evolution Theory, but we know nothing about their derivation, if there is any, from Reptilians, from Fish and from Invertebrates.

It is very hard to sustain that everything happens by hazard or by pure chance.

We can say that the Evolution Theory is only a Theory and not a truth.

The Evolution Theory sustains that there is no God (atheism), no souls, no after-life.

They declare themselves agnostic, or skeptical or atheist.

For them, man has only Body and no Soul. Soul is a product of the Body, as bile is produced by gall-bladder.

The Communist party is partisan of The Materialist Philosophy, it tries to destroy all religions in the world, but in vain.

If we take time to think it over, we see immediately that the Parts cannot create the Whole, hazard can't create order, hierarchy, and a sense in the Evolution. The struggle for life, the survival of the fittest can't explain the existence of the organs of sense, of the blood, the complicated system of nerves, and all our internal organs such as liver, lung, heart and kidneys. The Evolution theory can't explain why there are reproduction organs, nor why some species lay eggs why others give birth directly .

One can't imagine, also, why micro-organism without brain, lungs, without nostrils, without ears and eyes can evolve into a human being with a very complicated nervous systems of 14 billion neurons.

In the States, there were some lawsuits against the Evolution Theory: The lawsuit of John Thomas Scopes in Tennessee in 1925, and the lawsuit of Susan Epperson in Arkansas in 1966. First, fundamentalist people like to bar the teaching of the Evolution Theory in school, but their attempt fails, and very soon, their claim is declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Jean Serviers, professor of ethnology and sociology at the Faculty of Montpellier (France) declares: "I believe that the Evolution Theory is a creed, a philosophy of white people, aimed to give them good records of their aggression, oppression and crimes. In fact, nothing comes to support the Evolution Theory presented as a dogma. We are in the midst of a great scientific falsehood." [11]

In the French Encyclopedia published in 1938, Paul Lemoine, a famous geologist and director of the Museum, declared that the Evolution Theory would be soon abandoned. It is like a dogma in which the priests had no more belief but still conserved for the masses. [12]

Bertrand Russell declares that the Universe is made of fragments, and of leaps; there is no unity, nor continuity, nor order, nor cohesion in it. [13]


3. The Monistic Theory

This Theory sustains that this world and all its beings derive from one Cosmic Stuff, that All is One and One is All. This Cosmic Stuff can be compared with a central Sun, while all beings are its rays. We can't call the One as spiritual nor materialist, but Spirit and Matter are only aspects of It. It pervades the world, gives birth to everything, but is immanent in everything. The One is then the Essence of everything, and everything is phenomena that reveal this Essence. Beings are garments, or skins protecting the One.

Everything proceeds from the One, always in the mood of perpetual change, but at the end will return to the One. The Theory, therefore, can be summed up as: "From the One, proceeds everything, and to the One everything returns." Oriental people talk about the Return to the Root, or the Return to the Ground.

We can say that all Saints and Sages in this world, since time immemorial, have professed this theory. The four great Religions in Asia: Brahmanism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism develop it. The Yi Jing promotes it also. Kabbalah, Freemasonry, Rosicrucians, Alchemy, Theosophy, Plotinus, Pythagoras, Hermes Trismegistus in the West deal also with the same subject.

Interestingly enough, many scientists such as Fritjof Capra, begin to profess the same idea. The spiritualist and materialist philosophy declare that Spirit and Matter are different entities; the Monistic Theory propounds that Spirit and Matter are two aspects of the same thing and can derive from each other. Einstein in his famous equation E = mc2 has demonstrated that Spirit and Matter are interchangeable.

But, we must admit that this theory has not many proponents. Few people are on the level to understand it. But its proponents are the most famous: We have for instance, Buddha, Lao-tzu, Confucius, Mencius, Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Hermes Trismegistus, Plotinus, Meister Eckhart, Boehme etc      

This theory, if well developed, will become the most complete and the most advanced philosophical theory in the world.

For it, the One initially can't be a God, separated from all beings. All the names that we give to God are not his own names but only human terms superimposed upon the Ultimate Reality, each term coined in accordance with the linguistic, social, cultural and personal properties of a respective social group or person.

The One is Immanent in everyone and can be found only by introspection and contemplation. It is everywhere, therefore The Monistic Theory can be labeled as Pantheistic, meaning that God is everywhere and in everything.

The world is not created "ex nihilo", but emanates from one Essence by emanation and by division. So, in the West, the Theory is called The Emanation Theory.

The Monistic Theory is linked with Mysticism. So the highest level that man can obtain is Union with God.

It sustains that man has Body, Soul, and Spirit. The Soul is not immortal, only Spirit is immortal. The Soul must reincarnate, to become purer and purer, and finally can become united with God.

So, the Spiritualist Philosophy sustains that man is only Body and Soul, the Materialist Philosophy maintains that man is only Body, while the Monistic Theory affirms that man has Body, Soul and Spirit.


Caodaism and the Monistic Theory

My research revealed that the Monistic Theory is inherent in Caodaism. As said previously, Caodaism was spread mostly by medium messages. In Vietnam, I had a collection of almost all these messages. A few of them shall be used to prove my view.

In the Book Đại Thừa Chân Giáo it is said:

Why we must adore the Celestial Eye?

Because it represents The Root of everything.

It is a Perfect Being,

The Principle that gives birth to every being by transformation. 

It is said in the Collection of Holy Teachings in the year of 1966-1967, p. 39: (Thánh Giáo Sưu Tập)

Before the existence of Heaven and Earth,

There is a Rotating Primordial Globe,

Endowed with great mysterious power,

We can reluctantly call it The Great Tao .

This is the Purest Energy,

Invisible, nameless,

And is in fact the Tai Ji, the Principle,

It creates the Yin and the Yang,

And gradually, the world takes form.

This Principle gives birth to Heaven and Earth,

And the Five Elements that evolve,

And create the four seasons, and all the changes.

All beings participate to the same law of change,

And multiply themselves by eggs, by fetuses, by humidity, and by mutation,

Therefore, in the world we see everlasting pictures,

And Heaven, Earth, and every being,

That belong only to the same Principle. 

We see immediately that this is a paraphrase of the Yi Jing in that it said: "Therefore there is, in the Change, the Great Primal Being (Tai Ji). This generates the two primary forces (Yin and Yang). The two primary forces generate the four images. The four images generate the eight trigrams." [14]

Therefore, all beings in their essence are similar to the Tao, and all men partake of the Essence of the Tao.

In the Collection of the Holy Teachings in the year of 1968-1969, on page 35, it is said: "The Tao is the Primordial Point and the Master of everything. It is also of the same essence with everything."

In the Collection of the Holy Teachings in the year 1968-1969, on page 200, it is said: "Because you are one of all beings, and all beings partake to the essence of the Tao, and the essence of the Tao is my own essence. Therefore, if you love each other, you, in fact, love me."

In page 186, it is written: God says only one thing: "I am you, and you are me, it means that every one has the same essence. Although the external appearance and the calling are different, everyone is One, without exception.

In the Đại Thừa Chân Giáo, p. 65, it is written: "This is indeed mysterious: God and Man are one in essence. There is no difference."

In the Collection of the Holy Teaching 1966-1967, on p. 36, it is written:

"You are a Spiritual Being on Earth,

Sharing with me my spiritual light essence,

Thus you are given the key of the kingdom,

So you can be in the mundane plane, or in the Celestial kingdom, at will. 

On page 229, it is written:

Man and God being of the same essence,

If we persevere in our endeavor,            

We can become as God. 

Therefore, the goal of Caodaism is to show us that we have God in our self.

In the Collection of the Holy Teachings, 1968-1969, on page 86, it is written:

"I have my residence in the heart of every one,

Let each of them be aware of this, and know how to cultivate them.

Let them love each other, without distinction." 

It is repeatedly said in the Collection of Holy Writings that under the cover of Human Nature, man has also a Divine Nature.

This Divine Nature is called:

Holy Heart, Spiritual Heart (Thánh Tâm, Linh Tâm) (Collection of Holy Teachings, 1972, p. 48).

Celestial Nature, Buddha-Nature (Thiên Tính, Phật Tính) (Ib, p. 72)

The King of the Heart (Tâm Vương) (Ib. p.137-138)

The Heart of the Tao (Đạo Tâm) (Ib. p. 99)

The Heart of Buddha (Phật Tâm) (Ib. p. 112)

The Golden Body (Kim Thân) (Ib. p. 128)

The Golden Body, The Body of Buddha (Kim Thân, Phật Thân) (Ib. 129)

The Original Body of Tathagata (Như lai Bổn Tạng) (Ib. 118)

The Original Body (Căn Nguyên Bổn Tâm) (Ib. p. 24)

The Real Self, The Bhutatatatha (the Immutable) Original Body (Chân Ngã, Chân Như Bổn Thể) (Collection of the Holy Teaching 1970-1971, p. 83-87)

This Self is to be distinguished from the Common Self, the Ego (Phàm Tâm), that is the Limited and Narrow Self, existing on the surface of our thoughts and feelings. This is called also The False Self (Giả Ngã). (Collection of the Holy Teachings 1970-1971, p. 83, 87 and 134; 1972-1973, p. 99 and 105)

"It means that our New Born Baby's Heart (Tâm Xích Tử),

Is perfect and enlightened, and is under all phenomena..."

            (Collection of the Holy Teachings, 1972-1973, p. 130).

Oriental philosophers considered the New Born Baby Heart as the ideal moral condition of humanity. [15]

Chu Hsi (Chu Hi) said: "The mind of the great man comprehends all changes of phenomena, and the mind of the child is nothing but a pure simplicity, free from all hypocrisy. Yet the great man is the great man, just as he is not let astray by external things, but keeps his original simplicity and freedom from hypocrisy. Carrying this out, he becomes omniscient and omnipotent in the highest degree." [16]

Interestingly enough, Jesus Christ has also said: "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." (Mat. 18, 3,4; Mk, 10:15; Lk 18: 7; Jn 3:5)

In the Collection of The Holy Teachings, 1972-1973, on p. 130, it is said: "Bearing visible features, you forget that inside you, you have already the Creator."

It is also said: "The Tao not born and Immortal, is already in our Golden Body." (Collection of the Holy Teachings, year 1972-1973, p. 128)

Illumination happens when the Common Self finds the Celestial Self. "And what is the Real Self? It is the Celestial Self under the Common Self. If the Common Self can't find out the Celestial Self, then until when one can understand what is said: I am You, and You are me?" (Collection of the Holy Teachings, 1970-1971, p. 134.

Therefore, Religion and Philosophy aim only toward the finding out of our Real Self. Our Real Self is the pivot of man, and of the universe. To find our the Real Self is to find the Cosmic Consciousness, or the Cosmic Center.

"To become Immortal or Buddha, is to die for mundane affections,

We are then above right and wrong, I and Thou,

There is then only one Heart, the Cosmic Heart,

Apart from all visible features, and we return to our Original Spirit.

"The Original Spirit is eternal and devoid of all storm,

It radiates as a pearl in the bottom of the water,

When our mind is without any thought, then we are illuminated,

And we will see our Original Self, the Root of everything.

"This Self is common to everyone,

It is great, immense, and omnipresent,

It seems to be non-existent, but exists in fact,

It exists as a Point in the Circle."

                                    (The Collection of the Holy Teachings, 1972-1973, p. 78.)

Caodaism sustains that we must return to our Root, to our Origin, that is, the One.

In the Đại Thừa Chân Giáo, p. 124, it is written:

"The Principle is split into two ways: Introvert and extrovert.

If we follow the introvert way, we can attain immortality,

Few understand the Great Way of God,

If it is understood, man will reach The Celestial Palace." 

As we have demonstrated, Tao or God or Celestial Eye, or Buddha-Nature is already hidden in our Heart, to serve as pivot, as the original essence of man. Then being introverted or going back to our Root is going deep in our Soul to find the Tao or God. This is also one main assertion of Caodaism.

In the Collection of the Holy Writings, 1972-1973, on p. 67, it is said that going back to our Root is being introvert.

In the Collection of the Holy Writings, 1970-1971, on p. 53, it is written:

"The Tao is in your heart, Buddha is in your heart,

If you search it outside, you are in error,

Everyone has in him the Tathagata Nature,

To possess this Nature, you must be very powerful." 

In the Collection of the Holy Writings 1965, on p. 51, it is said: "The Tao is always present in our Soul, but because we are lacking in our endeavor, we do not study enough so we can't find out the clue of it."

In The Đại Thừa Chân Giáo, on p. 118, it is written:

"All of you must understand and remember

That the Tao is within you,

Who has good luck and good fate, 

Will encounter a teacher who will show him this mystery."

In the Collection of the Holy Writings, 1972, on p. 165, it is written:

"The Tao resides in the middle of your heart, and is not far,

If you are determined, you can find It.

Buddha or Immortal or God are then very close,

The distance depends only on you." 

Caodaism has shown us very clearly, the residence of God in our body.

In the Collection of the Holy Writings, 1968-1969, on p. 5, it is written:

"The key to unlock all the mysteries, God has put in the highest place in each of you, dear Disciples."

Where is the highest place in us? It is our Third Ventricle, our Ni Wan Gong (Nê Hoàn Cung) situated in the middle of our head. The Celestial Gate is there, God is there, the Celestial Eye is there. The Paradise is there.

In the Đại Thừa Chân Giáo, on p. 61. it is written: "What is the Mysterious Gate? It is The Celestial Eye situated in the Ni Wan Gong, and is in fact the True Religion..."

In p. 56, it is said: "What is Caodai? It is the summit of the Mount Kun Lun (Côn Lôn Đỉnh), or the Ni Wan (Nê Hoàn)... It belongs to the Celestial Realm...What is the Celestial Gate? It is the Ni Wan Gong (Nê Hoàn Cung).

When the Soul can break through the Celestial Gate, it will come into the realm of the Original Spirit."

If The Celestial Eye resides there, then The Tagathata Buddha is also there, Paradise is there. The King of the Heart is there. It is then the meeting point of God and man...

It is said in the Đại Thừa Chân Giáo, p. 66:

"Everyone has the Bhutatatatha nature (The self existent pure Mind; Tính Như Lai),

If it is found, one will see that Paradise is in one self."

In the Collection of the Holy Writings, p. 138, it is said:

" The King of the Heart resides in man,

This is also the place that God and Man meet together."

Caodaists believe that men come from The Great Spiritual Light, and that they must cultivate themselves to return to their original seats, to their original native land.

It is said in the Collection of The Holy Writings, 1970, p. 87, 185, 195, 198, 199, 200:

"You are Spiritual Beings coming in this Transitory Realm,

To transcend the position of Buddha and Immortal,

Man is not destined nor withstanding all his attractions,

To stay eternally in the earth."

Caodaism therefore accepts Reincarnation, or Metempsychosis because everyone should evolve to return at last to the One.

To evolve, the Soul must pierce the Shell of Ignorance, called Avidya, or Maya that surrounds the Spirit, and separate the Soul from the Spirit. The opacity of this Shell vary with each individual.

Caodaism, being monist, believes that everything proceeds from the One, therefore proclaims universal love. A Caodaist must love man, and all other beings. (Collection of the Holy Writings, 1972-1973, p. 24)

In the Collection of the Holy Writings, 1972-1973, it is written:

"The Tao being everywhere in the world,

It proclaims only one word: Love,

Love of other people, of oneself, and of everything,

In that case only, true religion can thrive."

A true Caodaist is strictly vegetarian, for the same reason.

Caodaim and mysticism.

What is then the highest attainment of self-cultivation? It is the deep insight of the spiritual void inside and the regaining of the perfect religion. (Collection of the Holy Writings, 1972-1973, p. 157)

The highest attainment of self-cultivation is then to become Immortal, Buddha or God.

"Tao is nothing but God,

God is Immortal, Buddha and Man,

Man when illuminated become Immortal and Buddha,

Immortal and Buddha, having Small Self, will be again on Earth."

                                    (Collection of the Holy Writing, 1972, p. 170)

According to Caodaism, self-cultivation aims toward becoming Immortal, Buddha, or God.

In the Collection of the Holy Writing, 70-71, on p. 134, it is said:

"Self-cultivation aims toward becoming God,

We are not destined to be men indefinitely..."

Therefore being in possession of the Tao, is to return to the Point of the Tao in man.

"When we look at all beings, we see that they are different in forms and names, but all of them possess the Point of the Tao. This is God omnipotent, this is the Root of mankind, this is Saint, Sage, Immortal, Buddha." (Collection of the Holy Writings, 1970, p. 95)

This is called also 'possession of the One ', or 'union with God '... (Collection of the Holy Writings, 1970, p. 207-208).

This is what we call using the One to explain everything. The One is then the essence of the world, the mechanism of all changes, and at the end of the world, man must return to the One. This is the quintessence of the Monistic Theory...

"One is All, dear Son,

If you know how to sum it up: Everything pertains then only to one Principle,

Then you can apply it to everything,

If not this becomes only a kidding."

                                    (Collection of the Holy Writings, 70-71, p. 210).

Caodaism aims toward bringing Vietnam back to this Root.

"Where are you going, Vietnam?

You must go back to your God, your Original Root."

                                    (Collection of the Holy Writings, 1970-1971, p. 215)

In dealing with Caodaism, I study only its esoteric side, and neglect purposely all its exoteric features.

Different aspects of religion.

Religion is in fact a very complicated phenomenon. But we can decompose it in many factors and study it accordingly.

Every religion has its own Ceremonies or Rites. Ceremonies are always based on prayer, incense, music, and gesture. We can also consider all Sacraments as Ceremonies. They are everything that pertains to our Five Sense organs. They are therefore very childish.

Every religion has its own Dogma. These Dogma try to satisfy our Intellect. They try to give us the truth. They explain why we are here, and where we will go, after death. Dogmas are false or true. But for the followers they are true.

Every religion has its own morale...It deals with our ethical sense, or with our Soul... It tries to give us a sense of right and wrong. It varies with all religions we study. Christians for instance, keep Sunday as holiday, Islamic people have their Friday. Buddhists show respect to the First and the Fifteenth of a lunar moon and so on. If a Catholic doesn't attend mass on Sunday, he commits a mortal sin, and goes to Hell, if he dies in this condition, without being absolved by Penitence etc ... Morale pertains to the Soul. Because it varies with the religion in question, it can't be the truth.

Every religion has its own Esthetic. It aims to bring Beauty to religion. Each religion has its own architecture. It talks to our esthetical sense.

Every religion has its Mystical Life. It consists of a purest life, a life united with God or in communion with God. It pertains to our Spirit. Mysticism varies with religion. The true mystical life is a life in unison with God and nature. A lesser degree talks only about communion with God, and not Union. Some consider it as a long pilgrimage, some say that it is not far from us, and is already in our self.

Caodaism has all these different aspects of religion. Here, I try to emphasize only on its Mystical aspect. All other aspects can be deduced because they are artificial.

I study Caodaism on its Monistic Theory and on its Mystical aspect, hoping that these two main features englobe what is highest, noblest, and purest in its doctrine. I have tried also to show that the Monistic Theory, and Mysticism are two beams of the scale leading us to a true religion.

I hope, also, that the Monistic Theory, because it can unify many religions and sects in the world, will be used as the link between East and West and will show what is the true religion for man.

[1] See James Legge, Confucian Analects, Book Four, Ch. 15.

[2] James Legge, The Work of Mencius, Li Lau, Part II, Chap. II, 4, p. 317.

[3] L'Enseignement de Ramakrisna, p. 256.

[4] Dorothy Nelkin, The Creation Controversy, W. W. Norton and Company, New York, London, 1982, p. 73-83.

[5] Ibid. pp. 100-102.

[6] Que Dieu soit reconnu pour vrai, p. 95.

[7] Louis Pirot, La Sainte Bible, texte latin... avec un commentaire exgénétique et théologique, p. 127.

[8] Ibid. p. 127.

[9] Ibid. p. 127.

[10] Larousse, Pour connaitre la nature, p. 10.

[11] Revue Planète, Edition Retz, No 18, p. 10.

[12] Rene Sudre, Les Nouvelles Enigmes de l'univers, Payot, Paris, p. 220.

[13] Andre Lamouche, La destinée humaine, p. 174.

[14] Wilhelm/Baynes, The I Ching, Bollingen Series XIX, Princeton University Press, p. 318.

[15] James Legge, The Work of Mencius, Book IV, Part II, ch. 16.

[16] Ibid. Book IV, part II, Ch. 16, p. 322.

TOC | Preface | Chapters: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19