What is Cao Daism all about?

1 Dec

A few days ago I visited the quite incredible Cao Dai Great Temple which is situated a few hours drive away from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).  This incredible temple pays host each day to four separate prayer sessions attended by the Cao Daiists.  They wear white clothing and women enter via one door and men via another.

I’ve been keen to learn about this “new” religion which was founded in 1926 so have been reading up about it.

It’s a fusion of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, native Vietnamese spiritualism, Christianity and Islam.  It has perhaps 2 million followers worldwide. Here is what their website says:-

CaoDai is a universal faith with the principle that all religions have one same divine origin, which is God, or Allah, or the Tao, or the Nothingness, one same ethic based on LOVE and JUSTICE, and are just different manifestations of one same TRUTH.


Humans shall observe LOVE and JUSTICE in order to be unified with GOD.

During the Vietnam War they formed their own army and having refused to support the Viet Cong they had their land confiscated by the new communist government.  In 1985 their temples were returned to them.

To practise Cao Daism it’s necessary to:-

  • be dutiful in all dealings with others
  • practise good and avoid evil
  • kindness to all beings
  • no killing, stealing, adultery, drunkenness or bad words
  • to be vegetarian 10 days a month
  • to participate in the 4 daily prayer sessions.

The aim is to avoid reincarnation by following the principles set out above.

The temple itself is incredible.

“Like a gingerbread house” was how one of my friends described it. The followers, all dressed alike, mingle about outside greeting each other before the prayers begin.  The prayers sound very musical and are punctuated by the followers bowing to the floor.  Tourists mingle around but are not allowed into the praying area while prayers are taking place.

Part of the “voyager’s Prayer”-

“As I brave the thorns and brambles,
May I set out safe and return sane.

In all, the temple is a fascinating place to visit and observe the followers and see the devotion in their faces.

And as I drift to sleep in my hotel in Saigon I ponder the “Sleeper’s Prayer”
“All material desires consume me by day,
Leading my mind and my actions astray.
Holy One, I am prostrating here to pray
That your lovingness will cause my mind to stay
Focused and clear on Your Divinity,
Taking no actions toward infidelity.
During my sleep, when my soul is at rest,
Superior Spirits, please guide me to what is best.
Toward my home in your Sacred Nirvana I yearn
So teach me the lesson which I need to learn.”


7 Responses to “What is Cao Daism all about?”

  1. 1cruzdelsur December 2, 2011 at 12:47 am #

    Un post muy instructivo, lugares lejanos donde tú eres los ojos de muchos que te siguen en tu viaje, hoy te conocí, que bueno¡

    • angiemain December 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

      ES MUY INTERESANTE Y UN POCO RARO! Me gusta mucha tus fotos en ti blog! Muy impressionante. Me encanta de bariloche!

    • angiemain January 15, 2012 at 5:31 am #

      Gracias ! Muy interssante pero muy differente. es la vida de viaje de abrir los ojos !

  2. Julie December 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    Love the photos, you little bantering genius! Did you join the Cao Daists? You would look nice with a shaved head 🙂

    • angiemain January 15, 2012 at 5:30 am #

      Yes I did joing. Now just travelling to recruit other followers. I have changed their clothing to baggy traveller trousers and a vest though! Modernisation never did any religion any harm after all! How are you my blogging friend? xx

  3. Kate Anthony January 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    Wonderful post and great photos!

    • angiemain January 15, 2012 at 5:29 am #

      Why thank you! Amazing religion. Very intriguing!

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