Three branches, three departments, three divisions or three sects- the same as ba nhánh or ba phái.
■ All dignitaries of Cửu Trùng Đài (the Nine-Level Tower) are assigned to one of the three branches:
The Branch of Ngọc, also Nho or Thánh (the Branch of Confucianism). The dignitaries wear red vestments and add Ngọc to their religious names. For example, a person named John will have the religious name: Ngọc John Thanh.
The Branch of Thượng, also Lão or Tiên (the Branch of Taoism):The dignitaries wear azure vestments and add Thượng to their religious names. For example, Thượng John Thanh.
The Branch of Thái, also Thích or Phật (the Branch of Buddhism): The dignitaries wear yellow vestments and add Thái to their religious names. For example, Thái John Thanh.
According to The Religious Constitution of Caodaism, all dignitaries of the same ranks have equal responsibilities and power. Before 1975, all dignitaries of Bàn Trị Sự (Caodai Local Administration), who were ordained as Lễ Sanh (Rite Student), were assigned to a specific branch. The new dignitary will keep his/her branch for life.
■ All Thập Nhị Thời Quân (The Twelve Time Superiors) of Hiệp Thiên Đài (Communion Tower) are assigned to one of the three departments:
The Department of Pháp (Law): led by Hộ Pháp with four assistants: Bảo Pháp, Hiến Pháp, Khai Pháp, Tiếp Pháp.
The Department of Ðạo (Religion): led by Thượng Phẩm with four assistants: Bảo Ðạo, Hiến Ðạo, Khai Ðạo, Tiếp Ðạo.
The Department of Thế (Worldliness) : led by Thượng Sanh with four assistants: Bảo Thế, Hiến Thế, Khai Thế, Tiếp Thế.
Three social relations ( the same as Tam Cang or Tam Cương)
Note: Ba giềng, ba mối, tam cang or tam cương are three social relations, according to Confucianism: The relations between ruler and ruled, between father and child and between husband and wife.
Thirty six Levels of Heaven.
Note: Usually used as Nợ ba sinh, meaning the love tie between a couple, which will last three lives. Legend has it that a person will reincarnate even three times in order to get married to the one he/she loved.
The Three Heavenly Governors. Other names for Tam Trấn Oai Nghiêm, the Three Heavenly Governors in Cao Đài, who handle what is related to the three religions ( Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism) on behalf of the founders in the Third Amnesty.
Lý Thái Bạch or Poet Li Bai, one of the Three Heavenly Governors also the Caodaist Supreme Leader.
Thirty six thousand days (i.e. 100 years or a human life)
Three circles of Vô Vi (non-action)
The three yellow, azure and red circles which are connected in the shape of a triangle or a horizontal line. These three colors symbolize Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism respectively.
Sermons of His Holiness Hộ Pháp:
Trí Huệ Cung is the Third Great Way, which is Vô Vi Chi Pháp (Non-action strategy). Therefore, the three material circles of yellow, azure, red are created to represent it. They seem empty, but, in fact, is bí pháp (esotericism). Their horizontal position refers to justice. Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism interact mutually without any distinctions.
The only important thing now is a complete union, which is also a magical secret. White is the master color, so to practice esotericism you have to turn to Buddhism, which is the non-action strategy, avoiding sound and appearance. You have to concentrate on Thiên Lương (Holy Sense) to unite with the One. That is the foundation for you to gain the state of enlightenment. That is the true path. God is Lý, so Lý is brilliant enough to cover the cosmos.
Understanding Lý Hư Vô, you then achieve the ultimate religious goal, look through your mind with your naked eyes, get your Divine Eye and then see the three circles of Vô Vi. That is esotericism, which guards Trí Huệ Cung Thiên Hỷ Động. Everyone looks at this and sees nothing. Yet it is the superb magic. Whether you are liberated or not depends on this single power.
If you practice esotericism without a knowledge of these three circles, you cannot get away from the six earthly desires and the seven feelings nor achieve the six magical powers. That is false practice!"
In Tây Ninh, Việt Nam, rises the highest mount in the South of the country called Mount Điện Bà or Mount Bà Đen, so called because there is a temple to worship Bà Đen (Lady Đen). Bà Đen was officially deified as Linh Sơn Thánh Mẫu by King Gia Long. In late 1953, Mr. Bùi Trung Phẩm made a request for Bà Đen's bronze statue to be temporarily relocated in Báo Ân Từ in Tây Ninh Temple.
His Holiness Hộ Pháp approved and made a comment: "I approved this to return Her favor. When I was imprisoned in a French jail, She came to visit, console and support me."
When His Holiness Hộ Pháp, together with five other dignitaries, was forced into exile in Madagascar by the French government, Linh Sơn Thánh Mẫu frequently communicated with Him by psychography (automatic writing). She did not say who She was, but simply said Her Master, Thất Nương (the Seventh Female Buddha), told Her to visit His Holiness Hộ Pháp.
However, after the talk, the gemstone in His ring, which was found on Mount Bà Đen by Lễ Sanh Võ văn Đợi, and then offered up to His Holiness Hộ Pháp, flashed several times. Thanks to this signal He knew that Linh Sơn Thánh Mẫu had come.
One of the poems Bà Đen wrote (through automatic writing), which precisely predicted the French government in Việt Nam would be overthrown by the Japanese later, is:
Chinese: 百 also Bách
An evergreen forest tree with leaves like needles.
A nobleman of high rank, similar to an Earl in Britain.
Bá Huê Viên
The name of a garden near Caodaist Tây Ninh Temple.
Note: This garden, initiated by Bảo Thế Lê Thiện Phước in 1963, is located opposite Báo Ân Từ (the Appreciation Temple). Precious flowers of all kinds were contributed and planted there.
A vestment made out of hundreds of sewed scrap patches and usually worn by a Buddhist monk. This way of dressing demonstrates monks have to be as thrifty as possible. Caodai's dignitaries in Phái Thái (the Branch of Buddhism), whose ranks are Giáo Sư (Religious Teacher) and above, also wear this vestment in red called "khậu".
The two best friends during the Warring States period in China. Bá Nha was a mandarin and Tử Kỳ was a lumberjack. Despite his lower social status, Tử Kỳ was extremely knowledgeable about music. Bá Nha played Dao Cầm (a musical instrument). Legend has it that when Bá Nha played music, only Tử Kỳ understood it.
Therefore, after Tử Kỳ's death, Bá Nha broke his musical instrument and swore he would stop playing music for good. The legendary friends now are used as an example of precious friendship.
Countless Buddhas. (Also hằng hà sa số Phật.)
The pine tree.
This kind of tree is evergreen and everlasting. They are planted around pagodas, so they symbolize the place suitable for religion practice.
A person who rows a boat, a rower.
In a Caodai funeral rite, the coffin is carried on thuyền Bát Nhã (the Prana Boat) rowed by 12 teen rowers called bá trạo.
Government officials of high rank in the past, in general.
Charity, philanthropy, universal love, humanity.
Chinese: 駁律 & 破罟
To reject, nullify or invalidate the outdated law.
Ill-treat, mistreat or maltreat.
To live to be 100.
This phrase is usually used to wish the newly wed couple a happy marriage.
A hundred years is the limit of human life.
It is better to meet someone in person than to hear about him.
All rivers flow into the ocean. (i.e. all roads lead to Rome.)
The white horse that passes the door (i.e. Time flies).
A famous general in ancient China, Bạch Khỉ, also Bạch Khởi, won a lot of victories, but carried out many massacres. It is told that he committed suicide at last as a result of his brutal bloody actions.
The Tower of the White Jewel Bell.
The two towers that form the facade of the Caodai Temple in Tây Ninh are Bạch Ngọc Chung Đài (The Tower of the White Jewel Bell) and Lôi Âm Cổ Đài (The Tower of the Thunder Drum)
Hitting the White Jewel Bell.
The rite announcer sings out this phrase to signal someone to hit the White Jewel Bell in a ceremony at Caodai Temples. Then, the bell hitter performs a complicated procedure to produce a total of 454 sounds. It is believed that these sounds not only mark the beginning of a ceremony but also have a greatly magical power to save the sinners in Hell.
A congress held in Bạch Ngọc Kinh (the White Jade City), where angels, saints, immortals, and buddhas discuss the way to govern the universe.
The White Jade City.
This is believed to be the capital of the universe, where Đức Chí Tôn (King of Heaven or God) reigns. All spirits achieving the religious goal are supposed to come there to see God.
It is said that Caodaist Temple, designed by Lý Giáo Tông and built by Hộ Pháp, was modeled after Bạch Ngọc Kinh. This Temple is considered another Bạch Ngọc Kinh on earth.
His Holiness Hộ Pháp's Sermon:
"Coming near, I saw an exotic, yet gorgeous heavenly castle, whose color is continuously varied. Covered by a Thoại Khí (an amazing atmosphere), it seemed extremely active. Unlike the immobile concrete buildings on earth, it was alive, always changing its color. It was too fantastic to describe!
Earthly houses are completely motionless while Bạch Ngọc Kinh was a changeable living creature. It was surrounded by a sun-like atmosphere, which, unlike the blazing hot sun, was so magically mild and pleasant.
Why it was alive can be understood easily though. Bạch Ngọc Kinh originates in Hỗn Ngươn Khí, which humans and other living beings breathe so as to survive. That is why it was alive!
Arriving in a pháp xa (a heavenly vehicle), I saw countless spirits gathering at the three entrances of Bạch Ngọc Kinh. Getting off, I saw Thập Nhị Thời Quân (the Twelve Time Superiors) in armor with bửu pháp (holy weapons) preventing everyone from entering. So upset was I that I asked them why? Immediately, the three entrances united into one and the twelve superiors gathered in front of me.
In a confusing manner, they said they got an order. At once, I knew Kim Quang Sứ (the Devil) had ordered them not to allow the spirits to enter Bạch Ngọc Kinh.
Getting furious, I turned around and told the spirits to enter, so they all rushed in. Then I told the Twelve Time Superiors to come in and followed them, carrying my Gián Ma Xử (Devil Destroying Pestle).
Bạch Ngọc Kinh consisted of three sections, the middle of which was for the Buddhist Superiors. On the left were the female and the other were the male. Looking through the jelly-like walls, I could see lots of figures moving. Then, noticing everyone had a throne to sit on, I thought to myself, "Where is mine?" Instantly, someone showed me a beautiful throne, "Here you are, Sir." At first, I was afraid that was a joke, but another said, "It really is, Sir."
It was really comfortable to sit on the throne and I felt like it was the first time I had ever had such a pleasant seat.
The white belt of holy light.
This is the belt for the formal vestment of Bảo Văn Pháp Quân ( one of the Twelve Time Superiors). It is 3,33 meters long and 0,333 meters wide.
A blue cloud in the shape of a dog that originates in a white cloud. (That is, life always changes unexpectedly.)
The phrase is from a poem by Ðỗ Phủ (a famous Chinese poet):
The Cave of White Cloud.
His Holiness Hộ Pháp explained: " According to Buddhist scriptures, our planet has experienced its second life after seven transformations, each of which lasted 61 million years. The earth was dead once (its corpse is now the moon). The moon has been known as a port of call for angels and saints before their reincarnation on earth. They had to stay on the moon for a while to contact the gods on earth and get used to an earthly life.
As far back as the ancient time, the moon was dubbed Bạch Vân Động. Through a lot of European seances, it was called Loge Blanche (French for Bạch Vân Động). Its religious leader is Bạch Vân Hoà Thượng (the White Cloud Monk), a great great grandchild of Từ Hàng Đạo Nhơn, and of Phật Quan Âm. Bạch Vân Hoà Thượng has reincarnated twice in France: first, as Cardinal Richelieu, then as Duke La Roche Foucault. In Việt nam, he reincarnated as Trình Quốc Công Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm, also called Trạng Trình".
A spirit tablet.
Note: A thin wooden or paper tablet with the profile of the deceased usually put on home altars of Asian families.
Issue, give, grant.
An organization, a department.
At the time.
(Literally) Demonstrating how to use an ax in front of Lỗ Ban.
Note: Lỗ Ban was an ancient Chinese skilled carpenter, who is considered the master in this field. The expression implies it is not recommended to teach people what they already know. This expression is similar to the English idiom:" Never offer to teach fish to swim".
(God or religious leaders) grant blessing or benediction to believers.
Sermon of His Holiness Hộ Pháp:
"This evening, the New Year's Eve of Ất Mùi (Year of the Goat), as usual, I remember Caodai's Inauguration Day in Từ Lâm Pagoda (Gò Kén Pagoda). After the rite and the seance, God told all disciples to bend and walk under the Cơ (a Caodai's instrument used in automatic writing) so that He granted blessing. His Holiness Cao Thượng Phẩm and I were ordered to stand at the ceremony center, raising the Cơ for everyone to walk through.
Therefore, this evening, under God's order, I grant benediction to all male and female disciples. Please pray for God's blessing!"
To issue an official order. In Caodai, this is a God's order or decree.
The Department of Secular Dignitaries.
A Caodai special organization for current senior officials, businessmen, politicians and famous figures to do charity work and practice Caodaism.
It was established under the instructions of Giáo Tông Lý Thái Bạch from a seance (Psychics: Phạm Hộ Pháp and Cao Tiếp Đạo) in Giáo Tông's House, January 7th 1954.
"In yesterday's discussion on Secular Dignitaries, I said I would explain it to you. Hộ Pháp, you know there is a similar Catholic organization with four ranks, called Dignitaires laïques. You have had the rank of Hiền Tài, so how about three more ranks like theirs?"
Hộ Pháp: Please clarify it, sir.
" There should be Quốc Sĩ, Đại Phu and Phu Tử."
Despite Giáo Tông and Hộ Pháp's decision as far back as January 7th 1954, the Constitution of Secular Dignitaries was not issued until March 30th 1965 by Hiệp Thiên Đài. The Constitution, together with the Regulations issued on November 27th 1969, was approved by Thượng Sanh.
Under Lý Giáo Tông's instructions on January 7th 1954 and according to Caodai creed, the Caodai Sacerdotal Council establishes the Department of Secular Dignitaries in order to facilitate more Caodaiism practice among non-priest people, who are able to work for Caodai without entering the priesthood.
The Department of Secular Dignitaries is a religious organization that connects secular and religious communities in order to create a peaceful life for man in the transitional period.
Chapter 1: Responsibility and Hierarchy
The dignitaries take care of their philanthropic work as well as their religious duties, closely collaborate with Cửu Trùng Đài (Caodai Executive Body) on secular activities and being legally controlled by the Department of Thế, Hiệp Thiên Đài (Caodai Judiciary Body). There are four ranks: Hiền Tài, Quốc Sĩ, Sĩ Phu and Phu Tử. Those who want to join the Secular Dignitaries are required to have two Caodai dignitaries' recommendations and to join an entry rite. Being admitted, they will then be granted one of the above four positions according to their social status.
1. HIỀN TÀI: This position is granted to an intellectual with a Diploma of Sơ Học, Trung Học Đệ Nhứt Cấp, or Tú Tài Toàn Phần (21 years old and above), a current governmental official (40 years and above), a private company manager (40 years and above), or a military officer (Captain and above).
In addition, successful persons such as property owners, landowners, and contractors, who have been proven to assist Caodai, can also be granted this position.
Individuals of 40 or older can be Hiền Tài on the condition that they have made great contributions to Caodai and complied with ethical principles.
Caodaist Dignitaries' children or grandchildren are not required to submit Sớ Cầu Đạo (Caodai ID card) along with their applications.
The two dignitaries, who write recommendations, have to be responsible for the candidate's conduct to the Sacerdotal Council.
2. QUỐC SĨ: To be a Quốc Sĩ, an individual has to meet some requirements:
A Hiền Tài, who is ethical enough, who has spent a lot of time practicing Caodaism and doing charity work and who is greatly popular (verified in writing).
A person who has great contributions to the country and there is evidence that the public is greatly fond of him/her (verified in writing).
A Minister, Diplomat, General, Master or Doctor, who is devoted to religion and charity.
3. ÐẠI PHU: A Đại Phu needs to meets the requirements:
A Quốc Sĩ, who is ethical enough and who has spent much time helping with preaching Caodaism and with winning public admiration.
A President, a Prime Minister or a great philanthropist, who is ready to contribute to the religious and humanitarian cause.
4. PHU TỬ: Requirements for a Phu Tử are:
A Đại Phu, who is ethical enough and who has greatly contributed to the national politics.
A great person who has suffered many hardships in publicizing Caodaiism in one or several countries.
3. SELECTION and ORDINATION:
a) Hiền Tài's are selected and ordained by the Sacerdotal Council of Hiệp Thiên Đài.
b) Quốc Sĩ, Ðại Phu, Phu Tử's are selected by the Sacerdotal Council of Hiệp Thiên Đài and presented to Divine Authority.
Chapter II: Organization
The Department of Secular Dignitaries is headquartered in Tây Ninh Temple. There are also local branches in other districts and provinces.
The Headquarter is under the Department of Thế, Sacerdotal Council of Hiệp Thiên Đài.
In other districts or provinces, a local Management is established and controlled by the Central Management. The local Management closely cooperates with local Caodai Dignitaries.
Chapter III: Vestments
- Hiền Tài: White áo dài. Black khăn đóng (i.e. Vietnamese traditional clothing). Chest badge of Cổ Pháp Giáo Tông and the word HIỀN TÀI. Position in a rite: behind Giáo Hữu, in front of Lễ Sanh.
- Quốc Sĩ: The same as Hiền Tài. Chest badge of Cổ pháp and the word QUỐC SĨ. Position in a rite: behind Giáo Sư, in front of Giáo Hữu.
- Ðại Phu: The same as Quốc Sĩ. Nine- layer khăn đóng. Chest badge of Cổ Pháp and the word ÐẠI PHU. Position in a rite: behind Phối Sư, in front of Giáo Sư.
- Phu Tử: The same as Ðại Phu. Chest badge of Cổ pháp and the word PHU TỬ. Position in a rite: behind Đầu Sư, in front of Phối Sư.
Female vestments are the same as male without khăn đóng.
The dignitaries on a special assignment of the Sacerdotal Council of Hiệp Thiên Đài are allowed to wear six-button áo dài like a Hiệp Thiên Đài dignitary.
Chapter IV: Transfer to Regular Dignitaries.
The dignitaries, who want to change their status into regular dignitaries of Cửu Trùng Đài or Hiệp Thiên Đài have to submit:
Candidates will then be presented to Divine Authority for consideration.
Under Hộ Pháp's Decree 49, July 4th 1951, a Hiền Tài with five-year experience can request a transfer to Hiệp Thiên Đài or Cữu Trùng Đài dignitaries after a complete investigation by Bộ Pháp Chánh.
A promotion to Quốc Sĩ, Ðại Phu and Phu Tử is also decided by Divine Authority.
After the transfer, the new dignitaries have no more responsibility with the Department of Secular Dignitaries and have to obey the New Canonical Codes and the Religious Constitution of Caodaism.
In the future, this Constitution can be supplemented or modified to suit human social needs.
This Constitution was edited by the Sacerdotal Council of Hiệp Thiên Đài, Certified Report 10/VB, July 19th 1969, and approved by Hộ Pháp, August 16th 1969.
From March 3rd 1965 to August 15th 1973, 706 Hiền Tài were ordained. Since 1975, no ordinations for Secular Dignitaries have been organized.
The Committee of Four Affairs.
This four-grouped committee established in a local Thánh Thất (Holy House) to take care of all religious activities.
This is one of the four committees selected for detailed discussions in a Hội Nhơn Sanh (Caodai General Convention).
A committee of the selected members and representatives of Phước Thiện (Caodai Philanthropic Body) in a district to attend the General Convention of Phước Thiện.
According to Chinese myth, Bàn Cổ was the human ancestor like Adam from the Book of Genesis.
An enigmatic game of Chinese chess.
This game was created by Hộ Pháp as a riddle in 1947. It was solved by Hiền Tài Lê văn Thuộc (religious name: Chơn Ðăng) and ancient published by Phạm Môn in 1971.
A Caodaist Village Administrative Unit.
The basic religious management group, whose job is to regulate all religious activities in a village or a small town. This unit operates under the Sacerdotal Council of Cữu Trùng Đài. It is led by a Chánh Trị Sự (Chief Administrator), who is assisted by several Phó Trị Sự (Administrative Assistant ) and Thông Sự (Religious Law Assistant). These dignitaries are selected through a local general election for a five-year term.
The collection of Divine Messages: Each human being is composed of two parts. One is the physical body and the other is the spiritual one. The spiritual body originating in the physical one is half matter, half spirit, so it is both visible and invisible.
False doctrine, false religion.
The Collection of Divine Messages:
"When Bạch Ngọc Kinh and Lôi Âm Tự legislated for the Third Amnesty Period, the Devil started to hinder the true religion. He even borrowed My name (i.e. God). However, he dared not sit on My throne. He knew for sure that I used this magic (spiritualism) to preach, so, in the same way, he changed his Tam Thập Lục Động into Tam Thập Lục Thiên, and impersonated other Angels, Saints, Immortals and Buddhas to establish a false religion."
Note: "Any schismatic groups, which are based on Caodaism, but operate without obeying the Caodaist Sacerdotal Council, are not considered God's religion. They have to be considered false religions by true Caodaists." The Eighth Religious Decree, signed by Giáo Tông and Hộ Pháp, August 25th 1934.
The Gratitude House.
A house built to show respect to the great contributors to Caodai in the pioneering days.
There have been two Gratitude Houses, one of which is in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and the other is in Trí Giác Cung, Tây Ninh, Việt Nam.
The Gratitude Temple.
A temple with the same function as that of Báo Ân Đường(Gratitude House). There is such a temple near Caodai Temple in Tây Ninh, Việt Nam, which is temporarily used to worship Phật Mẫu (God the Mother). The Main Temple for Phật Mẫu will be built in the future.
The Vietnamese Pantheon.
A temple built in honor of all Vietnamese heroes or gods. The temple was built in the middle of the road to Long Hoa Market.
The phrase implies retribution is inevitable under the Natural Principle of Causality and the result can happen right in your lifetime.
1. Chinese: 保 - Protect, preserve.
2. Chinese: 寶 - Precious, invaluable. (Also BỬU.)
This is a high-ranking dignitary, one of the Twelve Time Seniors, who works under the Department of Đạo (Religion), Sacerdotal Council of Hiệp Thiên Đài.
Mr Ca Minh Chương was ordained as the first Bảo Đạo on February 13th 1927. Mr Hồ Tấn Khoa was ordained as the second Bảo Đạo on February 15th 1954.
To protect, to preserve, to support, to keep.
To assure, to confirm.
This is a high-ranking dignitary, one of the Twelve Time Seniors, who works under the Department of Pháp (Law), Sacerdotal Council of Hiệp Thiên Đài.
Mr Nguyễn Trung Hậu was ordained as Bảo Pháp on February 13th 1927.
This is a senior dignitary in the Caodaist Academy, whose membership is composed of twelve Bảo Quân. This organization's function is to preserve and develop Caodaist culture.
One of the twelve Bảo Quân, who is in charge of public relief.
In 1930, Dr Lê Văn Hoạch was ordained as Bảo Sanh Quân.
Protector of Temporal Life.
One of the Twelve Time Seniors, Hiệp Thiên Đài. On February 13th 1927 Mr Lê Thiện Phước was ordained as Bảo Thế.
Chinese: 保體 - 聖衛
Holy Guard, an organization with the same function as the police, is divided into two divisions:
· Bảo Thể protects religious buildings, temples, houses, etc.
· Thánh Vệ regulates the traffic in the area of Tây Ninh Temple.
Guardian of Arts and Literature.
One of the twelve Guardians of the Caodaist Academy, whose job is to promote religious arts, literature, music and rituals. Mr Cao Quỳnh Diêu was ordained as Bảo Văn Pháp Quân in 1930.
Eight different sounds produced by eight kinds of Chinese musical instruments.
The eight tools of power used by Eight Legendary Chinese Immortals.
In Tây Ninh Temple, on both sides of the eighth level, those tools of power are displayed oppositely. It is believed that they have the power to expel evil.
The eight- scenery palace.
A large house with eight compartments which represents the power of God the Mother.
The Eighth Religious Decree.
This decree was approved by both Giáo Tông and Hộ Pháp on August 25 th 1934. In accordance with the Divine Messages, such action is considered equal to God's power and results in a Heavenly Act.
THE EIGHTH RELIGIOUS DECREE
Pursuant to the Religious Constitution of Caodaism,
Pursuant to God's Messages,
For the reason that there is only one Caodaism.
IT IS DECREED THAT
Article 1: Any schismatic groups, which are based on Caodaism, but operate without obeying the Caodaist Sacerdotal Council, are not considered God's religion. They have to be considered false religions by true Caodaists.
Article 2: The religions which want to join the official religion of Caodaism have to be approved by God and the General Convention of Caodaists.
This decree is prepared in the Temple of Caodaism, Tây Ninh on August 25 th 1934.
|HỘ PHÁP||GIÁO TÔNG|
|Phạm công Tắc||Lý thái Bạch|
Eight levels of spirits or souls.
All spirits in the universe evolve through an eight-level scale:
Spirit of stone is the lowest and spirit of buddha is the highest level.
The Eighth Female Buddha.
One of the nine Female Buddhas who assist God the Mother.
It is said that Bát Nương once incarnated as a woman named Bạch Liên (White Lotus) in China. In the Third Amnesty, Bát Nương was very instrumental in instructing the first Caodai disciples such as Hộ Pháp Phạm Công Tắc, Thượng Phẩm Cao Quỳnh Cư, Thượng Sanh Cao Hoài Sang, and Quyền Giáo Tông Lê Văn Trung. Especially, Bát Nương taught Hiền Tài Nguyễn văn Mới Caodai's Esotericism. That is the first time the most detailed explanation of Caodai's Esotericism has been given.
The Eight Symbols or the Eight Trigrams
The Bát Quái are eight trigrams used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts. Each consists of three lines, each line either "broken" or "unbroken," representing yin or yang, respectively. Due to their tripartite structure, they are often referred to as "trigrams" in English.
The ancient Chinese classic I Ching consists of the 64 possible pairs of trigrams (called "hexagrams") and commentary on them.
Caodaism maintains there are three Bát Quái for three amnesties:
1. The first Amnesty: King Fuxi (2852-2737 B.C.) invented Bát quái to explain the formation of the universe. It is called Tiên Thiên Bát quái (Earlier Heaven Bagua).
2. The second Amnesty: King Wen (1136-1122 B.C.) invented Bát Quái to explain the formation of things. It is called Hậu Thiên Bát quái (Later Heaven Bagua).
3. The Third Amnesty: Ðức Chí Tôn (God) taught Caodaism and invented another Bagua called Caodaist Bagua.
The Octagonal Tower.
Caodaism comprises three parts called Đài (Tower).
1. Cửu Trùng Ðài (Nine- Level Tower) is the material part or the Executive Body, led by Giáo Tông.
2. Hiệp Thiên Ðài (Communion Tower) is the mind or the Judiciary Body, led by Hộ Pháp.
3. Bát Quái Ðài (Octagonal Tower) is the spirit or the Divine Body, led by God.
Human bodies can communicate with spirits thanks to minds. In the same way, Cửu Trùng Đài can communicate with Bát Quái Đài through Hiệp Thiên Đài - in other words Hiệp Thiên Đài works as a medium to help Bát Quái Đài control Cửu Trùng Đài.
In the sermons on the Divine Path to Eternal Life, Hộ Pháp preached:
"Bát Quái Đài, an octagonal tower, is too miraculous for people to describe in worldly languages. There are eight entrances in which everything in the universe emerges in bright haloes. Eight beams of bright light, like bridges, span a vast blue rough ocean. The beam on which humans go to and fro is the most crowded.
Those who can stand on the light bridge can enter Bát Quái Đài. On the light bridge, you will become too weak to walk. Then the bridge moves you forward. The ones who have committed a lot of sins in their lifetime or are ineligible for a heavenly status will fall into the ocean below. In the blue ocean your appearances become too ugly like a barbarian."
DESCRIPTION OF BÁT QUÁI ĐÀI IN TÂY NINH TEMPLE :
It is a twelve-step octagonal floor, on the top of which The Eight Trigrams are carved. In the center rises a column that supports Quả Càn Khôn (the Universe Sphere). The sky-blue Universe Sphere is 3,333 meters in diameter and displays 3072 stars, symbolizing the material universe. Its facade shows the Divine Eye on Ursa Major. Below the Universe Sphere is the altar.
This cap is worn by Đầu Sư and Phối Sư, the two Cửu Trùng Đài dignitaries in major ceremonies. The cap is eight-sided with eight Chinese characters: Càn, Khảm, Cấn, Chấn, Tốn, Ly, Khôn, Ðài. The yellow caps are for the branch of Buddhism, the azure for Taoism and the red for Confucianism.
The eight Legendary Chinese Immortals.
They are worshiped inside the Tây Ninh Caodai Temple.
The begging bowl.
According to Chinese legend, when the Fifth Patriarch, Hongren made his disciple, Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch, he passed the robe and begging bowl as the symbol of Dharma Seal to Huineng. The robe and begging bowl are believed to have been Buddha's belongings and were passed down to Huineng, who was the last Patriarch to keep them. Therefore, Caodaism uses the begging bowl as the symbol of Buddhism.
Request for a spirit's elevation.
Caodaists, who have had vegetarian diet less than ten days a month, who have broken Caodaist codes and who have not attended the entry rite, can have Bạt Tiến, a special funeral rite, performed by local dignitaries. This performance is like a formal request to the divine authority for the spirit to go to Heaven. Their family, however, has to be vegetarian during the rite.
Bạt Tiến is mainly the same as a regular funeral rite except:
The seven sin-causing ties.
These invisible ties connect a human body and his spirit. Through these ties, information on the body's needs is transmitted to the spirit, who will decide what to do in order to satisfy the material body. Body's satisfaction often causes a person to commit sins. That is why Caodaism calls them sin-causing ties.
When a person dies, these ties keep holding the spirit, preventing it from going to Heaven. In a funeral rite, Caodaist dignitaries perform Phép Đoạn Căn (the Cutting Sacrament) to free the spirit.
The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove.
A group of Chinese scholars, writers, and musicians of the 3rd century CE.
The seven pieces of music.
The seven pieces of Vietnamese traditional music played in a major Caodaist ceremony.
Seven thrones in the Nine-Level Tower
There are seven thrones for senior dignitaries of Cửu Trùng Đài in Tây Ninh Temple. One for Giáo Tông, three for Chưởng Pháp and three for Đầu Sư. They are placed in front of the altar, facing the main door. However, they are only symbolic, having never been sat on ever since.
The Collection of Divine Messages: "Kiệt, you have to help Thơ construct the Holy House. Have a carpenter make seven thrones, the biggest of which is for Giáo Tông, three more for Chưởng Pháp and the rest for Đầu Sư. Especially, the one for Giáo Tông should have the sculpted Four Holy Beasts (dragon, qilin, turtle and phoenix) and two sculpted dragons on the arms."
Pole Star or North Star
A pole star is a visible star, preferably a prominent one, that is approximately aligned with the Earth's axis of rotation; that is, a star whose apparent position is close to one of the celestial poles, and which lies approximately directly overhead when viewed from the Earth's North Pole or South Pole. A similar concept also applies to other planets than the Earth. In practice, the term pole star usually refers to Polaris, which is the current northern pole star, also known as the North Star.
On the Universe Sphere in Tây Ninh Temple, in accordance with God's Messages, the Divine Eye is painted on the Pole Start.
The northern entrance.
Legend has it that this golden entrance leads to Linh Tiêu Điện, where King of Heaven (God) reins with His court.
On the cover of Minh Sư holy book, which was handed down from China to Vietnam, there is a prophetic couplet:
Being reluctant to do something.
A Vietnamese senior priest, especially a religious leader, usually calls himself/herself bần đạo to show his/her modesty. This is an admirable way of addressing in Vietnam.
The same as bần đạo, but used mainly for Buddhists.
Unchanged, unvaried, fixed.
Chinese: 不可知, 不可議
Incomprehensible and beyond human logic.
Inharmonious, not get along with someone.
Without stopping, incessantly.
The holy gourd.
According to Chinese legend, immortals often carry gourds filled with holy water or holy wine, which can save people's souls. The term is used to refer to a doctrine.
The trap of temptation.
The phrase implies earthly temptation such as fame, benefit, power, money and sex, which cause people to commit sins. As soon as you are fond of them, you are trapped for good.
To find fault with, denounce, or criticize.
Chinese: 閉道 & 開道
Đạo is closed - Đạo is open.
Caodaism maintains that Đạo had been closed before 1926, that is to say, other doctrines, which are also God's messages, had been gradually embellished so much that it had been hard to understand or practice them. Therefore, it had been impossible for religious believers to achieve their goal.
Then, in 1926, God came via magical tools, spiritualism, to preach the true doctrine by combining and refining the old doctrines. That way, God saves all souls in the Third Amnesty and transfer them to the Ethical Cycle. As a result, the holy path is said to have been open again.
This is a dishonest strategy in business, in which the businessmen, in partnership with authorities, ban rice exports to raise the price. Then, they sell their rice to get profits.
The grieving riverbank and the hallucinating river (literally), that is, the sorrow of life on earth. This phrase is the same as bến khổ, bến mê, sông mê, biển khổ, bến tục, bến trần.
Chinese: 悲 - 智 - 勇
Compassion, wisdom and courage (three necessary qualities of a priest).
Chinese: 秘法 - 體法
Bí Pháp - Esoteric Dharma, Esoteric Doctrine or Esotericism.
Thể Pháp - Exoteric Dharma, Exoteric Doctrine or Exoterism.
Exoteric Dharma (Thể Pháp) and Esoteric Dharma (Bí Pháp) are two umbrella terms and have a dualistic relation (i.e. meaningful only in coexistence). Some of their definitions have been suggested for this complex relationship:
Exoteric Dharma is appearances while Esoteric Dharma is deeper hidden implications.
Exoteric Dharma is the material universe itself. Esoteric Dharma is the power keeping it functional.
Exoteric Dharma includes what can be shown to the public, for example the scriptures, the temples, the organization, etc. Esoteric Dharma, on the other hand, is the philosophy.
Exoteric Dharma is the strategy of practicing a religion for most ordinary disciples. Diversely, Esoteric Dharma is for a few selected disciples.
CAODAIST EXOTERIC DHARMA
In His sermon, Hộ Pháp affirmed that Caodai Exoteric Dharma is humanitarianism. To achieve their religious goals, Caodaists devote themselves to the cause by joining three Caodai organizations: Cữu Trùng Đài (Executive Body), Hiệp Thiên Đài (Judiciary Body) or Phước Thiện (Philanthropic Body).
Joining Cữu Trùng Đài and Hiệp Thiên Đài, they enter the priesthood, preaching God's teachings wherever they are assigned to. In Phước Thiện, they do charity work as well as support all Caodaist religious organizations. These two kinds of religious practice are dubbed the First and the Second Path of Caodaism, respectively.
CAODAIST ESOTERIC DHARMA
According to Hộ Pháp's sermons, Caodaist Esoteric Dharma is never controlled by any human beings. God Himself controls it, so it is powerful enough to save all souls in the Third Amnesty. It is called the Third Path of Caodaism.
In reality, Hộ Pháp, under God's instructions, had a Meditation House named Trí Huệ Cung built in 1951. Another Meditation House called Vạn Pháp Cung was said to be built in the future although there is now (that is, 2015) an unofficial Vạn Pháp Cung at the site.
According to Caodaist Constitution, selected believers can enter these Meditation Houses to practice Esoteric Dharma. Scriptures for the performance, however, are still more ambiguous compared to Exoteric Dharma. It has been claimed by many groups of believers that they have the strategy of performance though the Sacerdotal Council have released no official materials on it up to date. Among those current controversial and confusing books on this issue, the Teachings of the Eight Female Buddha on Esoteric Dharma has been the most practical and comprehensible so far. This instructional book is claimed to have been given to Hiền Tài Nguyễn văn Mới, a stenographer of Hộ Pháp. In reality, no Caodaists have entered a Meditation House.
Hộ Pháp, under God's order, taught some dignitaries seven sacraments:
Chinese: 彼 岸
The other riverbank.
According to Buddhism, human life is considered a river (or ocean) of sorrow. Humans are in complete confusion on this side of the river. Only when they have crossed the river to the other bank will they become awakened, that is, attain enlightenment.
To find fault with, to blame, to criticize.
Finishing chanting a prayer.
Tụng nhứt thiên biến: Chanting a prayer 1000 times.
Tụng đắc nhứt vạn biến: Chanting a prayer 10,000 times.
To reproduce, to create.
To debase, to degrade, to cheapen.
Thánh Ngôn Hiệp Tuyển:
Le Christ est venu parmi vous. Il versait son Saint sang pour la Rédemption. Quel profit avez- vous pendant presque deux mille ans de son absence? Vous préchez son Évangile sans même le comprendre. Vous dénaturez la signification de sa sainte doctrine. L’humanité souffre des vicissitudes de tous ses apôtres. Ils n’ont pas su suivre le même chemin du calvaire de leur Maitre.
Chúa Cứu Thế đã đến với các con. Người đã phải chịu đổ máu Thánh để chuộc tội cho loài người. Trong 2000 năm vắng mặt Người, các con đã làm gì hữu ích? Các con truyền bá đạo Người, nhưng chính các con cũng không hiểu chi cả. Các con lại làm sai lạc bản chất tôn chỉ của nền Thánh giáo. Nhân loại phải chịu đau khổ vì sự biến thể của các Thánh Tông Ðồ.
Jesus Christ came to you and sacrificed His saintly blood for the redemption of mankind. For two thousand years without Him, what have you done? You have preached His teachings, which you yourselves don't understand at all. You have also ruined Christianity. Mankind has to suffer because His disciples have debased the teachings.
The mandarinate, the working environment of senior officials in the past.
This phrase refers to the hardship an intellectual had to deal with when he worked as a mandarin in the past, especially in China and Vietnam.
The ocean of human sorrow.
Hộ Pháp's Sermon:
"Looking back, we see an extremely immense ocean with huge blue waves, each of which represents a deep sadness. The waves show the human suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death. Great great sorrows! Our sadness is as enormous as that ocean!"
Chief of choirboys or choirgirls.
Working under Giáo Nhi, a Biện Nhi conducts choirboys and choirgirls in chanting the prayers at a Holy House. Giáo Nhi (Choirmaster) is qualified by a training course.
Be out of sight and no more bones intact (literally) - that is, having been dead for ages.
Day and night - that is to say, time flies.
The shade of a pine tree - (i.e. a husband).
Bodhi (Sanskrit: बोधि; and Pali) in Buddhism is the understanding possessed by a Buddha regarding the true nature of things.
The Bodhi Tree was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree (Ficus religiosa) in Bodh Gaya, India. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment under this tree.
On June 25th 1953, Venerable Narada Maha Theran from Sri Lanka presented a bodhi tree and Buddha's relics to Tây Ninh Temple. The Bodhi Tree, which is said to have been a transplant from the original Indian one, was planted in front of Caodaist Temple under Hộ Pháp's order.
A willow, representing a woman.
According to Buddhism, a bodhisattva (Sanskrit: बोधिसत्त्व bodhisattva; Pali: बोधिसत्त bodhisatta) is an enlightened (bodhi) person (sattva). Traditionally, a bodhisattva is someone, who, motivated by great compassion, has generated a spontaneous wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all human beings.
MSanskrit महासत्त्व (mahāsattva, “a great creature, great being”).
A bodhisattva who attains a high degree on the path of enlightenment.
Tân Luật: Phần Thế Luật, Ðiều 7: Tám ngày trước Lễ Sính, chủ hôn trai phải dán bố cáo nơi Thánh Thất sở tại cho trong bổn đạo hay, sau khỏi điều trắc trở.
New Canonical Codes: Secular Law, Article 7: 8 days before the wedding ceremony, the groom's father has to post an announcement at the local Holy House in case there are any problems.
To preach, to teach a doctrine.
Caodaist Act the Year of Tiger (1938): "The relief from Caodaist Philanthropic Body should be provided regardless of whether the victims are Caodaists or not. Whenever there are disasters, Caodaist philanthropists should not only provide relief but also comfort the victims."
To have a plan to do something.
A round piece of cloth with an embroidered Divine Eye or the words "Ðại Ðạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Ðộ", which is attached to the formal vestments of senior dignitaries of the Caodaist Executive Body.
To bless, to grant favor.
The register of merits.
Caodaism maintains that, in the third Amnesty, God has made Phật Di-Lạc (Maitreya) the Chief Judge. As a result, Maitreya has a merit register for humans, which will determine their heavenly status.
Caodaist Department of Music.
The Caodaist Central Conservatory was inaugurated on December 14th 1968 to train musicians for Caodaist Ceremonies as well as to conserve Vietnamese traditional music.
Caodaist Deparment of Justice (also Caodaist Court)
Caodaist Court was established under the Religious Act 1938 (the Year of Tiger) to deal with Caodaist law breakers. Then it was changed into the Department of Justice on November 27 1947. This Department is led by a Time Senior, Branch Pháp, the Caodai Judiciary Body.
The Department of Justice have three main responsibilities:
1. Protection of Caodaist Canonical Codes.
2. Establishment of Religious Courts to punish the followers or dignitaries who violate Caodaist Canonical Codes.
3. Investigation of how well a dignitary has worked for his/her promotion.
Register of tools and equipment.
To pursue (fortune and power).
The representatives of a congregation.
The origin, the root, the nature.
Chinese: 蓬瀛 - 蓬島 - 蓬萊
Heaven, Paradise, Nirvana.
The riverbank of enlightenment.
Buddhism considers human life a river of sorrow where people join a rat race without escaping. Buddhism provides them with prajna (wisdom) so that they can go to the bank, where they attain enlightenment.
Rubbish of sadness, sorrow, or pain.
Spiritualist's pen (or tool).
The pen or some special tool used by a spiritualist to connect the supernatural world.
The term "Bình", which is intentionally mispronounced to rhyme with another term in a Vietnamese poem, meaning "peaceful".
The main worshiping hall in a temple.
In Tây Ninh Temple, the official seances are held in Cung Ðạo (the space right in front of the main altar).
Precious Dharma. The term can refer to the sacraments or the esoteric practice in Caodaism.
Caodaist New Canonical Codes, Chapter II, Article 13:
The ordinary followers, who are vegetarian for at least 10 days a month, are taught the Precious Dharma, i.e. taught how to perform esotericism."
Precious Towers or Tomb Towers.
They are tombs for Caodaist high-ranking dignitaries. Behind Caodai Temple is Quyền Giáo Tông Lê Văn Trung's Tomb Tower. In front of the Temple, near the main entrance are three other Tomb Towers of Hộ Pháp, Thượng Phẩm and Thượng Sanh.
The precious lotus throne. The term refers to the throne of God.
Precious tea or wine, used in religious ceremonies.