Based on Love, the effort of Cao Dai is to unite all of humanity through a common vision of the Supreme Being. Whatever our minor differences may be, it’s aim is to promote peace and understanding throughout the world.
Cao Dai does not seek to create a gray world, where all religions are exactly the same, but only to create a more tolerant world. A world where all can see each other as sisters and brothers from a common divine source reaching out to a common divine destiny realizing peace within and without.
Cao Dai was established in southern Vietnam in 1926. It teaches that the religious founders and other great figures of the past represent two earlier eras of divine communication with the world. Today we are living within the 3rd Era. In this, the Third Era of Salvation, world religions are united in the worship of the Supreme Being, and there is communication with the spirit world once again.
The awareness of the Third Era was revealed to a vietnamese civil servant, when he was contacted by a great, infinite being named Cao Dai during a seance. The name means Roofless tower, and refers to the Supreme Being, God, or Universal Spirit of Oneness. Believers also fully respect esoteric sources of information, such as channeling spirits or connection with the Supreme Being through meditation.
For example, one such spirit is that of the french author Victor Hugo, who is thought to have been one of the Supreme Being’s messengers to the Western world. Clergy of this faith are divided into three subgroups representing Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. They are organized along a structure borrowed from Roman Catholicism, though without a Pope.
The Supreme being is symbolized as a left eye, called the Celestial or Divine Eye, which represents God. It is a left eye because the left eye is linked to the right brain, and the right brain is synced with the infinite universe. In the pupil of the eye is always a Yin-Yang symbol.
Adherents believe in karma, and seek merit through religious practice and service to society to escape the cycle of reincarnation.
Cao Dai represents a modernizing synthesis that began appealing to educated Vietnamese living under colonial rule. This modern perspective includes the emphasis on spirit contact, since Western spiritualist phenomena have been regarded in some circles as scientific.
In 1943 a Cao Dai army was established during the Japanese occupation of Indochina. After the war the Cao Dai was an effective force in national politics. The army was disbanded in 1956 by the Premier at the time, and the Cao Dai pope was sent into exile. After the communist takeover in 1975, the Cao Dai faith was repressed by the government, and legalized again 10 years later. Today there are roughly 6 million followers of the Faith.