Caodaist worldview, the collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by Caodaism.
God and Man
According to Caodaism, God is the Supreme Being mankind has been worshipping. God is described differently, depending on peoples and cultures on earth, so there are many names for God such as Jehovah, Baha, Brahman, Yuhuang Shangdi, Allah, Ông Trời, Dieu, you name it. God came to the world in the Third Salvation under the Vietnamese name "Cao Đài Tiên Ông Đại Bồ Tát Ma Ha Tát" or Cao Đài for short. Through seances, God preached and founded a new religion, Caodaism, urging humanity to unite, live a virtuous life, and together return to Him in Heaven. God is also addressed as Thầy (Teacher) or Đại Từ Phụ (Great Father) by Caodaists.
Probably for the world's unity, Caodaist doctrine combines monotheism and polytheism, so not only God but also other heavenly beings, most of whom are Chinese mythological deities and are considered God's assistants, are worshipped. In the divine hierarchy, the second-highest ranking deity is a goddess, God the Mother, who is worshipped in Her own temple. God the Mother is also addressed as Mẹ (Mother) or Phật Mẫu (Mother Buddha) by Caodaists.
A human is believed to be able to move up the divine hierarchy, which includes Thần (god) Thánh (Saint) Tiên (Immortal) and Phật (Buddha) after death by practicing religion while he is still alive.
The relationship between God and Man is not similar to that between ruler and ruled, but that between father and son and teacher and student. In a deeper sense, God teaches that God is man; man is God.
Heaven and Hell
Afterlife is believed to exist. After death a human's spirit will leave the physical body and travel to either Heaven or Hell according to their good or bad deeds. Heaven is described as a multi-level space with lots of divine sites.
"Disciples, a King on this planet (the 68th Earth) is not so happy as a commoner on the 67th Earth, where humans are also divided into different social classes. The level of happiness rises to the happiest planet, the First Earth. Higher than that are the Three Thousand Worlds, the Four Great Continents and the Thirty Six Heavens. You still have to have more incarnations before reaching the White Jade City, which is called Nirvana by Buddhism."
The Third Amnesty is said to be for universal salvation, so tolerance and love replace retribution. Hell is closed and there is no more judgement or punishment after death. A new place replaces Hell named Âm Quang (the Dark), where all sinners stay for remorse and religious education by the Seventh Female Buddha.
"Âm Quang, the Dark, is like a border checkpoint all spirits have to cross before entering Heaven, which frightens them most. Therefore, humans try to practice a religion because of that fear. Some spirits have to stay there hundreds of years, depending on how much impure they are. That is why God requires His disciples to practice vegetarianism while they are on earth."
The spirits in the Dark will reincarnate on one of the 72 earths after finishing religious education so that they can make enough atonement or perfect themselves until they get a higher status in Heaven. Of course, some of them who are too underdeveloped to pass the religious course will join the Thirty Six Caves led by Satan.
Eight Categories of Spirits
All spirits in the universe are arranged into eight categories: stone or material, plant, animal, human, sage or god, saint, immortal and buddha. They are believed to evolve through transmigration, moving up and down the hierarchy until they attain the ideal positions, which are believed to be able to exceed that of God. If they get a higher position, they can be a new God, creating their own universe.
"Disciples, as I said, morality is like a limitless ladder you can climb up to the position as high as Mine. I can even lower Mine so that you can achieve a higher position."
Three Categories of Humans
There are three categories of humans depending on their origins.
First, nguyên nhân or heavenly original humans, who have incarnated on earth from Heaven for some reason, especially for the world salvation. Caodaist scriptures say, after the Creation, ten million heavenly original spirits took God's orders to incarnate in the world in order to help and instruct all living things. However, for some reason, they haven't returned to Heaven, so God decided to rescue them by founding religions. In the First Amnesty, under God's orders, Dipankara Buddha saved 600.000 of them. Amitabha Buddha saved another 200,000 in the Second Amnesty. In the Third Amnesty, Maitreya Buddha is responsible for saving the rest.
Next, hoá nhân or evolutionary humans, who have had countless incarnations to develop from materials to humans on 72 earths.
Finally, quỉ nhân or evil humans, have come to the earth under Satan's orders to test whether someone is righteous enough. Some heavenly original and evolutionary humans become evil humans because they committed serious sins.
Three Components of a Human
A human is regarded as a combination of three components called Three Jewels: the physical body, the mind and the soul. The soul is a part of the greater soul, God's soul. The mind connects the two others. Lack of any of the three components will result in either an insane or a dead person. According to Caodaism, a follower can practice esotericism to unite these components and achieve Buddhahood.
Three Ways of Avoiding Transmigration
Caodaists believe there are many ways to escape transmigration and achieve a heavenly status. Among them are three constantly highlighted major ways: Lập công (merit achievement), lập đức (philanthropic achievement) and tu chơn (esoteric practice).
For merit achievement, a follower has to enter priesthood and practice Caodaism under the Sacerdotal Council's orders.
Second, he can also join the Caodaist Philanthropic Organization to do charity work.
Third, he can choose to enter the Caodaist Meditation House to practice esotericism.
Religion and Judgement Day
All religions on earth to date are said to have been founded by one God in various incarnations. Those doctrines are so different owing to local cultural influences that they become a devastating conflict. That's why God came in the third Salvation to unite them.
Judgement Day is called Long Hoa Hội (the Dragon & Flower Council) by Caodaists. This is said to have been started in 1926 when Caodaism was inaugurated and to be a very fierce competition where virtuous people are qualified and allowed to enter the new era of morality.