Cao Dai is a Vietnamese religion that began in 1925 with a vision of the Supreme Being given to Ngo Van Chieu. In the vision he was asked to spread the message of the unity of religion. God, as the source of all, began different religions at different times for different people. In the light of modern transportation and communication, however, it is time for all religions to unite around their common Source. Ngo was assured that other messages would be received from spiritual beings in God's service. Out of the original revelation, a new religion and hierarchy (somewhat modeled on Roman Catholicism) emerged. Integral to the structure has been a groups of mediums (some of whom practiced automatic writing ) who have continued communications with various spiritual beings. Some of the revelations were received by a practice similar to the planchette. Mediums would turn a basket upside down and insert a pencil through it in such a way that the moving basket left a written message behind. All officers in the church are approved by such a spiritualist message. Their presence is a primary sign of the influence of theosophy and French Spiritualism on the movement from its beginning.
Cao Dai developed as a synthesis of religions, trying to take universal truths and insights common to Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Genism (all present in Vietnam), as well as Theosophy and Spiritualism. It later included Islam, Zorastrianism and Hinduism in its research. Among the common beliefs that the Cao Dai have asserted is the belief in the One God, the ongoing connection of each religion to its source, and the principles of love and justice. It is the assertion of Cai Dao, that any believer following the esoteric practice of their present religion will lead them to the same ultimate goal.
The Cao Dai also teach a set of esoteric practices that attempt to transform matter into vital energy and then into spiritual energy. A basic meditation exercise utilizes the subtle body anatomy derived from Tantra, including activation of the energy centers known as chakras and the raising of kundalini energy.
The Cao Dai grew across Vietnam, but was profoundly effected by the Vietnamese War and the suppression of religion under the post-war government. During this time it spread quietly within the Vietnamese expatriate communities around the world. In the 1990s it has suddenly emerged into public notice as it has attempted to break out of it ethnic enclaves into the larger European and North American religious and spiritual community. The international center of Cao Dai remains in Vietnam, at the Tay Ninh Cao Dai cathedral located about 60 miles from Ho Chi Minh City. The government has considered the spiritualist practices of the group but superstition and banned their continuance. Cao Dai spiritists have had to operate in secret. The most recent government regulations allow it to operate, but under such a system many believe is designed to eradicate the religion in Vietnam in a generation.
International headquarters are in Vietnam, but overseas headquarters have been established at 1608 Smiley Heights Dr., Redlands, CA 92373. There are a number of Internet pages devoted to Cao Dai, including one supported by the Sydney Centre for Studies in Caodaism, http://pandora.nla.gov.au/nla/pandora/caodaism.html. The primary Internet site for the movement can be found at http://www.caodai.org/.
Sydney Centre for Studies in Caodaiism. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/nla/pandora/caodaism.html. April 20, 2000.
Cao Dai. http://www.caodai.org/. April 20, 2000.
"Cao Dai." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cao-dai
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