Everyone is familiar with the Illuminati’s icon, an eye framed by a triangle, but it seems the prominent symbol of the Vietnamese religion Caodaism isn’t quite as well known — despite it having the same design.
Caodaism is the third most widely practiced religion in Vietnam. It is an indigenous religion that is the combination of a wide range of other religions, such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and etc. Caodaism emerged in the 1920s in Southern Vietnam and was officially established as a religion in the city of Tây Ninh.
Followers of this faith believe in a supreme being named Cao Đài (meaning Highest Lord), who created the universe and distributed his spirit to animals, humans, plants, and other materials alike. Caodaists believe in distinct features from different religions. They believe in kharma, yin and yang, and reincarnation. They also believe that animals and humans are comprised of a body (the physical), a spirit (Cao Đài’s spirit), and a soul (their emotions and personality).
The primary message of Caodaism is to unite religions and to bring humanity together. Caodaism strives to create a universal family, and thus create universal peace.
Caodaists practice their faith through prayer and meditation. On a day-to-day basis, Caodaists try to avoid committing evil. They show kindness towards humans, animals, and plants alike, and they follow Confucian practices as well. Daily prayer is essential to a Caodaist’s daily ritual, and they are expected to eat a vegetarian diet ten days each month.
Followers of the Cao Dai faith practice four daily rituals, either at a temple or at a home altar. Once every year, Caodaists hold a ceremony where they pray to Cao Đài, the Holy Mother, the founders of the five major world religions, and the founders of Caodaism. They also have monthly rituals that take place at midnight on the first and fifteenth days of each lunar month.
The symbol of their faith is Cao Đài’s Divine Eye, which is often framed by a triangle. His left eye serves as a reminder for Caodaists that the Supreme Being is omnipresent. In addition to worshiping a supreme deity, Caodaists also worship other spirits and their ancestors.
An interesting aspect of the Caodaist faith is the wide range of different gods they worship. In addition the their Supreme Being Cao Đài, they also worship figures from Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Geniism. Caodaism prefers to stretch its reaches towards all other religions by incorporating them into their faith, rather than trying to convince other that their faith is the one and only way to live.
Caodaism is one in hundreds of thousands of religions practiced in Asia. In Vietnam alone, there are 7-8 million followers. Worldwide, there are around 30,000 more followers.
Caodaism has an interesting approach to dealing with those of differing faith. Rather than trying to reign supreme over all other faiths, Caodaism tries to unite them. Rather than trying to eradicate all other faiths, Caodaism embraces them.
With news and media being filled with discriminatory and outright hateful content about different beliefs, races, and political views, there is something to be learned from the relatively young religion of Caodaism. Caodaism emphasizes the importance of unity and acceptance. It teaches its followers to embrace others even if their views are different from theirs, and perhaps it’s time we learned a thing or two from the Cao Dai faith?
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