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The Goddess and the Left Eye of God: Vietnamese Mysticism comes to California(reply : edit : del)
Posted by hum bui on 6/24/2005 4:30 PM
Professor Janet Hoskins of the USC and Doctor Hum D. Bui of CaoDai have had a presentation on CaoDai at the University of Claremont on 6-18-2005.


3:30 – 5:00 p.m. Panel 7 on The Goddess and the Left Eye of God: Vietnamese Mysticism comes to California

Panel Chair/Discussant: Janet Hoskins (University of Southern California)

Panel Room Location: Burkle 12

1. Hum Bui, (Cao Dai Faith) – “Cao Dai Spiritism: The Mother Goddess in a new Vietnamese Religion”

2. Janet Hoskins, (University of Southern California) – “From Kwan Yin to Joan of Arc: Iconography and Gender in Cao Dai Temples”


The program is at this following link:
http://mcel.pacificu.edu/aspac/aspac2005/Program/program.html


Cao Dai Spiritism: The Mother Goddess in a new Vietnamese Religion.

The most lovely, gentle, protective and dearest sound in any situation is always the sound of mother, whether it is the mother of individual’s physical body or the mother of the universe.

CaoDai believes that God is the origin of every thing and the Mother Goddess is the mother creating every thing.

CaoDai is a novel faith founded by the Supreme Being via spiritism in the 1920s believing that religions have the same origin which is God although being called by numerous different names, have the same ethic based on Love and Justice, and are just diverse manifestations of the same truth.

On the altar of CaoDai, there are pictures of many deities representing diverse religions from East to West, Sakya Muni the Gautama, Lao Tse, Confucius, Kwan Yin, Li Po, Kwan Kung, Jesus Christ, and Khuong Thai Cong. This denotes the universal embracement of all religions in CaoDai.

Spiritism is not new. Spiritism, or the doctrine and practices of spiritualism, has existed in one form or another since the dawn of history, and has been defined as, "the belief or doctrine that the spirits of the dead, surviving after mortal life, can and do communicate with the living, esp. through a person (a medium) particularly susceptible to their influence." (The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition Unabridged, 1983).

Human beings have long believed in the existence of a spiritual dimension, from which spirits can take care of human beings by guiding them to a better and safer life. Many times, after receiving guidance from the spiritual world, humans established religious organizations in order to guide people to a happy and peaceful physical and spiritual life.

In Asia, even before the time of the Buddha (about 5,000 years B.C.), the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, the Vedas, were channeled poetic hymns from the Gods, which were heard by the sages. Hinduism was then founded teaching that the Supreme Being, the Initial Light, is the creator of the universe and all beings; and humans are a part of the Initial Light will return to be united to God.

Then, in 2,300 B.C, according to the Old Testament, Abraham received a direct message from God. The Lord said to Abraham: "Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you." And Abraham left and set out for the land of Canaan. Genesis 12:1-6.

In the 14th to 13th century B.C., Moses received instructions directly from God on Horeb, the mountain of God, to guide the Israelites out of Egypt. (Exodus 3: 6-11). Judaism, which also believes in the existence of a Supreme Being, was then founded with establishment of religious rules for humans to follow.

Later, Jesus went up to the mountain to commune with Moses and Elias. (Doyle, M.D.: The History of Spiritualism. Arno Press. 1975). Jesus, after being baptized by St John the Baptist, heard the voices of God descending to him as a light: "this is My Son, whom I love." (Matthew 3:17).

In 610 A.D. Muhammad received messages from Allah to found Islam for the Arab people. The Angel Gabriel appeared before him and ordered him to read: "Recite [Actual translation of the Arabic verb "Iqra'"]: in the name of thy Lord who createth man from a clot. Recite: And it is thy Lord the most bountiful who teacheth by the pen. Teacheth man that which he knew not." Surah 9: 1-5.

Then, in the 14th century, Joan of Arc (1412-1431) followed the instructions of the voices from Saints and Angels and successfully defeated the English forces restoring the King of France, Charles VII to the throne. Joan of Arc was sentenced to be burned as a heretic by the English dominated church court in 1431. Later in CaoDai, she manifested as the 6th female fairy, helping the Mother Goddess in the mission of saving humanity.

In 19th century, Victor Hugo (1802 - 1884) was also interested in spiritism, had received many spiritual messages from the spiritual realm. Later in CaoDai, his spirit appeared under the name Nguyeät Taâm Chôn Nhôn as in charge of the foreign mission of CaoDai. He gave the following teaching about life:

The universe is a school for spirits

Who attend it to increase their erudition

Those who often play truant

Must take the year again.

Gobron, History and Philosophy of CaoDaism, 1950, p. 57

In 1892, through Nao Deguchi, an illiterate Japanese woman, the deity Ushitora no Konjin gave the scriptures of Oomoto by means of the Ofudesaki (the tip of the writing brush). Deity Ushitora no Konjin is believed to be the spirit of Ly Thai Bach, the famous Chinese poet LiPo of the Tang dynasty, and the spiritual Giao Tong of CaoDai. Nao Deguchi was ordered to write thousands of pages of messages that she has never been able to read, and then to found the Oomoto Foundation (the great origin), and to look for CaoDai in Vietnam for cooperation.

In 1926, CaoDai, a novel faith in Vietnam with the goal to bring harmony to religions and subsequently peace to humanity, was founded by direct instruction from God. The Supreme Being said: "Formerly, people lacked transportation and therefore did not know each other, I then founded at different epochs and in different areas, five branches of the Great Way: Confucianism, Geniism, Christianity, Taoism and Buddhism, each based on the customs of the race. In present days, transportation has been improved, and people have come to know each other better. But people do not always live in harmony because of the very multiplicity of those religions. That is why I have decided to unite all those religions into one to return them to primordial unity." (Hum D. Bui, M.D.: CaoDai, Faith of Unity. Emerald Wave. 2000)

In 1925, the spiritism seance with the table tipping was very popular in the South of Vietnam. Initially, in 1925, three Vietnamese workers of the French colonial government began to explore the table tipping about which they had read in Western spiritual books. They were Cao Quynh Cu, his nephew Cao Hoai Sang (who worked in the customs department), and Pham Cong Tac (1893 - 1958), who was a clerk in the customs office. Mrs. Cao Quynh Cu also participated and had the role of secretary. On July 25,1925, they sat around a four-legged table, their hands resting on its surface, and prayed. When spirits came, the table shook and knocked on the floor. Each successive rap indicated a letter of Vietnamese alphabet. At midnight, a spirit came and gave a poem:

“When I left this world I was about more than fifty years,

And you were only ten.

You should remember with perseverance my counsels

To try to promote love in life.

I have been teasing you some times during your dream,

But now forever, I am free in the immortality.

I am still sorry for my gentle wife, old and weak,

These are just some words for our meeting today!”

signed Cao Quyønh Tuaân


Ly traàn tuoåi ñaõ quaù naêm möôi,

Mi môùi vöøa leân öôùc ñaëng möôøi.

Toång meán lôøi khuyeân beàn moä cheùp,

Tình thöông caên daën gaéng taâm ñôøi.

Beân maøn ñoâi luùc treâu hoàn phaùch,

Coõi thoï nhieàu phen ñaëng thaûnh thôi.

Xoùt noãi vôï hieàn coøn luïm cuïm,

Gaëp nhau nhaén nhuû moät ñoâi lôøi.


Mr. Cao Quynh Tuan was the father of Cao Quynh Cu, who had died more than twenty years previously, when Cao Quynh Cu was about ten. In reading the 7th sentence, Mr. Cao Quynh Cu was so touched, he wept. He invited the spirit to return the following night for him to show his devotion. The spirit knocked twice on the floor as sign of agreement. (Cao Quynh Cu, a Biography compiled by Hum D. Bui, M.D.)

On July 30, 1925 (the 10th of the 6th month of the year At Suu), the trio got together at Mr. Cao Hoai Sang’s house for a seance. A female spirit gave a poem:


“To whom may I confide my heart?

I have left this world young wasting all my talent and beauty!

I thought I was married to a noble gentleman,
But I died early instead.

I have not paid all hard works of my parents for raising me,

I could not keep my marriage promise either,

I kept bearing all those sentiments on my shoulder,

To whom may I confide my heart?”


Noãi mình taâm söï ngoû cuøng ai?

Maïng baïc coøn xuaân uoång saéc taøi.

Nhöõng ngôõ trao duyeân vaøo ngoïc caùc,

Naøo deø phuûi nôï xuoáng tuyeàn ñaøi.

Döôõng sinh cam loãi tình soâng nuùi,

Tô toùc thoâi roài nghóa truùc mai.

Doàn daäp töông tö quaèn moät gaùnh,

Noãi mình taâm söï ngoû cuøng ai?


Signed Doan Ngoc Que


Doan Ngoc Que is only her pen name. Her real name was Vuong Thi Le.

The next day, according to her instruction, the trio found her tomb, which strengthened more their trust. They continued to communicate with Vuong Thi Le via the table tipping and were informed more about the spiritual world. They later adopted her as their sister. Cao Quynh Cu was the eldest brother. Pham Cong Tac was the second. Cao Hoai Sang was the third brother, and she was the 4th sister.


On 8-18-1925, during a seance, they asked Vuong Thi Le to invite her other friends to come to teach them poetry. She responded: “Sister Hon Lien Bach, the sixth lady, the first lady are very good poets” and she added “but you have to be vegetarian in order to evoke them.”


On 8-25-1925 (the 8th of the 8th month of the year At Suu), a spirit identified as A-A-A (the three first letters of Vietnamese alphabet) came and instructed them to set up a vegetarian banquet on the 15th of the 8th month to welcome the Mother Goddess and the nine female Immortals of the Dieu Tri Palace (Jasper Pond Palace).

On the 15th day of the 8th month of the year At Suu, at Cao Quyønh Cö’s residence at 134 Bourdais, Saigon, they set up an altar with beautiful and fragrant flowers in the middle of the house. They burned incenses all day long. They wore national costumes, kneeled in front of the altar and prayed to the Mother Goddess and the nine female Immortals. After the prayers, Mrs. Nguyen Thi Hieu (Cao Quynh Cu’s wife) served foods on the altar and on the table.

After the banquet, they set up the seance, the Mother Goddess and the nine female Immortals came and each gave them a poem. This banquet became historic, and later every year, the Holy See at Tayninh celebrates the banquet on the 15th of the 8th month which is called the banquet of the Dieu Tri Palace, and during which the poems given by each spirit were sung.

Later, thanks to the friendship, the 6th lady revealed that Vuong Thi Le is the 7th female Immortal of the Dieu Tri Palace, and herself is the spirit of St. Joan of Arc.

The news on the table tipping expanded to the public. By curiosity, lots of people came to challenge the seance.

On 11-14-1925, Mr. Nguyen Trung Hau, who was a famous poet with the pen name Thuan Duc (which was unknown to the trio), wanted to know the truth, came to challenge the seance. He received a poem from spirit A-A-A in which his pen name was spelled out:

“Your talent with your fine writing and kind virtue
Was famous in the poetry society.

If you want to leave your name as a hero of the country.

You have to wait for the right time.”



THUAÀN vaên chaát ÑÖÙC vôùi taøi cao,

Teân tuoåi laøng thô ñaõ ñöùng vaøo.

Non nöôùc muoán neâu danh tuaán kieät,

Gaëp thôøi buùa Vieät, giuïc côø Mao.


Not quite convinced, he asked the spirit A-A-A- to give a paralleled sentence that no one has ever been able to do before. He read out loud the sentence:

Ngoài yeân ngöïa ñöøng boø con ngheù.

The spirit of A-A-A immediately gave the paralleled sentence:

Côõi löng traâu chôù khæ thaèng teâ.


Sitting on saddle of horse, don’t crawl (cow) dear child (baby buffalo)

Riding on back of buffalo, don’t tease (monkey) that lad (rhinoceros)

In the parallel sentences, words correspond to each other as noun to noun, verb to verb, word with double meaning to the like.

The word “boø” has two meaning, a cow and to crawl. The paralleled word “khæ” has also two meaning, a monkey and to tease. “Con ngheù” have also two meaning, dear child and baby buffalo, and the paralleled words “thaèng teâ” have also two meanings, that lad and rhinoceros.

The French government was also aware of the events and suspected that there was a revolutional movement agaisnt the government. It sent an undercovered person to participate to the many seances. He witnessed everythings that happened and was not convinced himself. One day, he went to a seance, knelt in front of the table with a poem in his pocket. The seance came up with the following poem:

“It’s the Jade Emperor (Asian culture uses Jade Emperor as God’s name) who is answering to your poem,

Immortals and Buddhas are now coming to earth.

To awaken and guide living beings to the right path.

It’s the Jade Emperor who is coming to save all humanity.”


Ñaùp ñaëng lôøi thô thaät Ngoïc Hoaøng.

Ñôøi cuøng Tieân Phaät giaùng traàn gian.

Giaùc meâ sanh chuùng veà ñuoøng chaùnh,

Ñoä taän toaøn linh chính Ngoïc Hoaøng

Then people saw the person prostrating three times to the seance and asked to be converted.

He showed to people at the seance the poem that he hid in his pocket and that the seance had given the answer to his poem with another poem with the same rhyme. Here is his poem:

“I am angry and come here to asked the Jade Emperor

Are there real Immortals and Buddhas coming to earth?

Or just evils that cheat people?

If you are able to answer to my poem, you would be the real Jade Emperor!”


Uaát öùc neân ñaây vaán Ngoïc Hoaøng!

Coù ñaâu Tieân Phaät giaùng traàn gian?

Baøy troø meâ tín löøa daânchuùng.

Ñaùp ñaëng thô ñaây môùi Ngoïc Hoaøng.

The news of the coming of the Jade Emperor was spread widely to the public, a head of the province, a catholic friend of Cao Quynh Cu, asked him to let him come to the seance for challenges. He asked the permission to put a picture of Jesus and a cross on the table, if it was really God who had come, God would come again, otherwise if it were evils, they would be scared and would not come. Then they started the seance as usual, the spirit of Saint Peter came and gave this following poem:

“I have been keeping the gate of heaven in the West sky,

To spread the Tao to humanity.

I have been saving humanity for almost two thousand years,

Now Cao Dai has entrusted me the mission to guide you all.”


“Thieân ñaøng giöõ cöûa goùc trôøi Taây

Truyeàn ñaïo cho daân bieát maët Thaày

Cöùu chuoäc ñaõ hai ngaøn tuoåi leû

Cao Ñaøi phoù thaùc daét dìu baây.”

Then Cao Dai came with the following message:

“Do you know who was Jesus? I have shed my blood to humanity because of love. Now I have come to save humanity also because of love. Have you ever loved Me that much? Repent in order to save yourself.”

When the declaration of CaoDai was sent to Governor Le Fol, he and his wife visited Mr. Ngo Van Chieu to learn about the new faith (Mr. Ngo Van Chieu was another person who has communicated with God by spiritism and was taught about CaoDai meditation). Knowing that the Supreme Being founded CaoDai by spiritism, he asked to be a medium. Both Mr. and Mrs. Le Fol were in a trance during the séance and received a poem in French predicting the family sad news from France in one month. Exactly one month later, they received the news of death of a family member.

Thanks to this seance, CaoDai became less harassed by the French.

Because people are still puzzled about the relationship between CaoDai and deities of other religions, God gave this following message:

Nhien Dang (Dipankara) Buddha is Me,

Sakya Muni (Gautama Buddha) is Me,

Thai Thuong Nguon Thi (Lao Tse) is Me,

Who is CaoDai.


Nhieân Ñaêng Coå Phaät thò ngaõ,

Thích Ca Maâu Ni thi ngaõ.

Thaùi Thuoïng Nguôn Thæ thò ngaõ.

Kim Vieát Cao Ñaøi.

Thaùnh Ngoân Hieäp Tuyeån 1972, p. 12


The Supreme Being clearly confirmed that God is unique and is just called differently by temporary worldly names by humanity:


Names are just continuously unreal in life,

I incarnated, and incarnated into the world,

Even the name "Jade Emperor" has changed many times.

Once under the name of CaoDai,

Once under the name of Christ, once of Buddha,

Many times under the name of Boddhisattva,

Confucius, Mencius were all Me.


Teân laø caùi giaû trieàn mieân trong ñôøi

Xuoáng leân, leân xuoáng luaân hoài

Ñeán teân Ngoïc Ñeá maáy hoài ñoåi thay

Khi xöng Giaùo Chuû Cao Ñaøi

Khi xöng Thieân Chuùa khi khai Di Ñaø

Laém hoài Boà Taùt Ma Ha

Bao laàn Khoång Maïnh cuõng Giaø naøy nay.



“Buddha, God; God, Buddha are Me,

Although different, all branches belong to one same trunk (family),

Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity are in My hands,

Because of love, I come to save humanity for the 3rd time.”


Phaät Trôøi, Trôøi Phaät cuõng laø Ta.

Nhaùnh nhoùc chia ba cuõng moät gia.

Thích Ñaïo Gia Toâ tay chuoûng quaûn,

Thöông daân xuoáng theá ñoä laàn ba.

Ñoã Vaïng Lyù: Tìm hieåu ñaïo Cao Ñaøi 1989, p. 31



The Supreme Being also taught about the divine origin of humans: “God is the Great Sacred Light, You, My children are the little sacred light,” and the oneness between humans and God: “I, your Master, are you; and you, My children are Me” exactly as noted in Christianity “I am one with My Father” or in Buddhism “The heart is Buddha, Buddha is the heart.”

For further understanding this notion of oneness, CaoDai explained about the creation in which the role of the Mother Goddess is essential.

Before the creation of the heavens and the universe, the cosmic ether was still, quiet, and void; and at the same time a kind of primordial chaos, indistinct and shadowy with mixtures of density (which we call "the Tao" or pre-creation ether). In this cosmic ether appeared a great source of Divine Light called "Thai Cuc" (Monad) or the Supreme Being. The Monad then divided itself into Yin and Yang, the two opposite logos: "Am Quang" (Yin Darkness) and "Duong Quang" (Yang Energy). Yin is heavy, dark, cold, dense, negative, inactive… while Yang is clear, bright, warm, pure, positive, active… Yin and Yang interacted with each other to form heavens and universes, with Yang being the origin of the invisible, spiritual aspect, and Yin being the mother of all visible, physical manifestations. While the Supreme Being is holding the Yang energy, the Mother Goddess is the master of Yin energy and responsible for the creation of the universe.

Everything in this universe are from Yin and Yang. The proportion of Yin and Yang would dictate the properties of each dimension. More advanced souls would enter a dimension which has a higher proportion of Yang and would be lighter, brighter, calmer, more beautiful, and may be called heavens. Less advanced souls enter a dimension which has a higher proportion of Yin, and would be heavier, darker, more burdensome with many cruel souls.

The Supreme Being also taught: "After creating the universe, I divided My spirit and with it made all creatures, plants and materials. Everything in this universe comes from My spirit, and therefore has a life. Where there is life, there is Myself even in materials and plants. I am each of you and you are Me.”

Thanh Ngon Hiep Tuyen 1972, p. 170

Spiritually, everything in the universe shares a part of the Supreme Being's spirit, which is called Conscience or soul in human beings.

Physically, everything in the universe has a visible body consisting of a mixture of Yin and Yang, which is well demonstrated by science under the form of electrons and protons in atoms, the basic common elements of all physical reality including materials, plants, animals, and human beings.


There is an oneness between the Supreme Being, the universe, human beings and every thing. The only difference is that the Supreme Being is absolutely pure, absolutely good, absolutely Yang.
Human beings, not withstanding the spiritual part from the Supreme Being, which as noted is absolutely pure and absolutely good, (and which is called Conscience), have a physical body, which is a mixture of Yin and Yang, and which human beings must cultivate in order to become more and more Yang; clearer, better, purer in thought and physically, thereby drawing closer to the Supreme Being, finally become unified with the Supreme Being.

Here is the most important role of the Mother Goddess, creating the universe from Yin and Yang energies, guiding humanity in their cultivation and leading them to the unification with the Supreme Being.


At the Tao Hoa Thien (Creating and Nurturing Heaven), reigns the miraculous Supreme Goddess,

Who holds the Dieu Tri Palace (Jasper Pond Palace) and is called Kim Ban Phat Mau (Mother Buddha of the Golden Palace)

Governing the five spiritual levels, mankind, Angels, Saints, Immortals, and Buddhas.

With the fluid of vitality, she raised all her children.

Creating them by uniting the spirit (from the Supreme Being) and the physical body.

From this heaven, is created everything (man, animals, plants, materials) by uniting Yin and Yang.

The Mother Goddess determines spirits' incarnation based on Karmic law.

She holds Dao Tien (Sacred peach which contains all the vital fluid) and allows man to try to understand what eternal life is.

Her great task is to bring spirits back to their origin.

As the Master of the Am Quang (Darkness energy),
She guides all spirits back home.

The true prayer to the Mother Goddess



Creating and sending humans to the earth, the Mother Goddess is expecting them to return home. However, humans have been attracted by many secular materialistic seductions and became lost in their path to the unification with God. And now the most important role of the Mother Goddess is to save all her children. The nine female fairies, in assisting the Mother Goddess in this essential mission, are responsible for guiding humanity in the nine dimensions of creating and nurturing.

In a spiritual message received at the meditation hall Ngoïc Minh Ñaøi on 5 - 11 - 1968, the Mother Goddess had called all children to return home:

“Dear children! The earth is only a temporary place,

You have to return home.

Why do you avoid me, by choosing another road?

And then have to endure all misery.”


Con hôõi traàn gian coõi taïm chung,

Ñeán ñaây roài haõy trôû veà cuøng;

Sao con laùnh meï ñi ñöôøng khaùc,

Ñeán noãi tang thöông chòu naõo nuøng?”

Loøng Töø Maãu p. 104
The other deities such as the Buddha, Lao Tse, Confucius, Jesus, Ly Thai Bach, Kwan Yin, Victor Hugo etc... have the role of teaching and administration following the order of the Supreme Being.

In CaoDai, females may reach the rank of Dau Su (Cardinal). They were encouraged to be more active. In a spiritual message regarding the role of female, CaoDai said: “Lady Duong (Duong was a female disciple), I, your Master, assign you to establish the female College. Your gender alone does not condemn you to the kitchen. At this 3rd salvation, there will be much hard work for everyone. Male and female are of equal number. Not only do males work to become Immortals and Buddhas. As I have said, at the Bach Ngoc Kinh (White Pearl Palace), there are both male and female, and frequently, females are predominant.
So follow My order to establish the female college.”
Thaùnh Ngoân Hieäp Tuyeån 1972, p. 25



In summary, life on this world is created by the Mother Goddess. She guides all humanity step by step in their journey back to divine home from having a comfortable and happy physical body to finding peace in side without forgetting that:

• Religions are just diverse physical manifestations of one same truth

• God is unique for the universe and all humans

• Essence and ethics of religions are the same of which LOVE and JUSTICE are the essentials

• All religions have the same goal: people live in harmony with each other with peace within and without.



Abstract:


The most lovely, gentle, protective and dearest sound in any situation is always the sound of mother, whether it is the mother of individual’s physical body or the mother of the universe.

CaoDai believes that God is the origin of every thing and the Mother Goddess is the mother creating every thing.

CaoDai is a novel faith founded by the Supreme Being via spiritism in the 1920s in Vietnam believing that religions have the same origin which is God although being called by numerous different names, have the same ethic based on Love and Justice, and are just diverse manifestations of the same truth.

Like a mother of the physical body, the Mother Goddess, not withstanding the role of creating the universe, raises, comforts, teaches, helps, and guides step by step all her humans children in their spiritual journey to the divine home, unified with God.


From Kuan Yin to Joan of Arc:
Iconography and Gender in Cao Dai Temples



Janet Hoskins

Department of Anthropology

University of Southern California



July 17-19, 2005

Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast Conference

School of Religion, Claremont Graduate University



Scholars of Vietnamese religion have often described two parallel traditions, one identified with goddesses, spirit mediums and indigenous forms of worship, and another identified with Confucianism and Taoism, literate religions brought to Vietnam during the thousand year period of Chinese domination. Buddhism, which was introduced to Vietnam in the 4th century BC, is practiced primarily in its Mahayana forms, better known to Americans as the Zen tradition, and because of its longer history it has tended to be less identified with Chinese domination, although most forms of Vietnamese Buddhism are heavily influenced by Chinese culture.

Caodaism is a new religion, born in 1926 in Saigon, which presents an Asian synthesis of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, but also includes Judeo-Christian figures such as Jesus Christ and Moses, and integrates the veneration of spirits of nature and great heroes. The Mother Goddess of Caodai is addressed with the name Dieu Tri Kim Mau, the Golden Mother of the Jasper Pond, and her lineage is in many ways recognizeably Chinese, since she represents the forces of yin or female energy in opposition to those of yang. But the Mother Goddess is also a figure who draws on indigenous traditions, who works to save human beings not through the administrative hierarchy of the church but through acts of compassion and mercy. She calls many of her followers to her directly, and her festival falls in the mid-autumn harvest season, in a splendid carnival with dragon dances and colorful costumes similar in many ways to the American Halloween.

What is the relationship between the goddess and the left eye of God? How does a Holy Mother who incarnates fleshy suffering and a warm heart relate to the occult mysteries represented by Taoist spiritist techniques and Confucian hierarchies? Are the blendings of Caodai cosmology an instance of what Clifford Geertz has called “un syncretisme a l’outrance”----an excessive, even transgressive mixture of East and West, the traditional and the modern---or is the relationship between the female goddess and the male god a model of gendered duality and cosmological balance that we would do well to learn from?

This paper explores the representation of feminine spirituality in a new religious movement which gathered several million followers in the first few decades of its emergence, and still has about four million disciples worldwide, now spread through a vast diaspora that runs from Saigon and Phnom Penh to Paris and Montreal, including a splendid new temple in Sydney, Australia and a great many different congregations in California, which has the largest Caodai overseas community. It makes what are, in effect, two separate arguments about goddesses in Caodai:


(1) The first is that the Caodai concept of a female co-Creator of the universe draws on indigenous traditions of Dao Mau, a goddess-centered faith which is often represented as the oldest and original faith of the Vietnamese, before domination by China. Goddesses like Holy Mother and Quan Am are popular for being close to individuals with the least social power and interceding for them to the highest level of Heaven. They serve a function similar to that of the Virgin Mary in Catholicism, and Caodaist churches in the US have also received spirit messages from the Virgin Mary herself.


(2) The second is that the introduction of French heroines into Caodaism, specifically Joan of Arc, is part of a gesture of encompassment and inclusion that builds on elements of Vietnamese heritage and their western analogues. The veneration of women warriors like the first century century Trung sisters and the 3rd century Lady Trieu , who fought to drive back Chinese, laid the groundwork for Caodaist recognition of a French saint who was inspired by spirit messages to defend her homeland. Other great figures from French history---like the 19th century literary giant Victor Hugo, a spiritist with a strong interest in Asian religions, have also been incorporated as saints the Caodai pantheon. The spirit of Victor Hugo is the head of the overseas mission for Tay Ninh, the largest denomination, and he is joined by Louis Pasteur, La Fontaine, Aristide Briand, and Vladimir Lenin. But Asian figures like by Li Bái, the Chinese Taoist poet, remain more important than any European spirit. Li Bái serves as the Invisible Pope of Caodaism, and most of his spiritual advisors are associated with Buddhism and Taoism, not western humanism.


Introduction to Caodai History:


Caodaism’s highly developed literary sensibility emerged in the context of a spiritual crisis in the largest French colony in Asia, where teachings about democratic ideals clashed with the experience of colonial authority. The first disciple of Caodai was Ngo Minh Chieu, an official of the French colonial administration, who combined interest in meditation, asceticism and Chinese Taoist classics with readings in European spiritism. Chieu had a vision of the left eye of God, circled in light and rising up over the stars, moon and rising sun, which became the sign of God worshipped on Caodaist altars. Soon he met other spiritists in Saigon who had made contact with a supreme spirit identified with the first letters of the new romanised Vietnamese alphabet, and they combined forces when they realized they were receiving messages from the same Supreme Being.


On 18 November 1926 the religion declared its official birth in a dramatic ceremony that drew some fifty thousand people. Though resisted by Buddhists, Catholics and French officials, who feared the political potential of a “Vietnamese national religion”, the faith was soon a phenomenal mass movement. By 1930 it numbered a half million by conservative estimate, and soon had garnered several million followers, embracing at least one-eighth of the population in what was to become South Vietnam. Its eclectic mixture of “the gods of Europe” and “the gods of Asia” drew the support of French-educated intellectuals, peasants and landlords, who yearned for an immediate contact with spirituality, presented as hybrid of indigenous traditions and modern democratic ideals. Caodaism filled a spiritual void for a people for whom Catholicism was identified with alien colonizers, Buddhism was idealistic but passively amorphous, and Confucianism was tied to an older hierarchy already eclipsed by colonial dislocations.
Later spirit messages described an elaborate religious organization which featured a system of ranks similar to that of the Vatican (a Pope, female and male Cardinals, Bishops and Priests) and mandated the construction of a Holy See with the Gothic towers of a Catholic cathedral and a colorful interior filled with dragons, phoenixes, nagas, and unicorns. Led first by Pope Le Van Trung and then by the charismatic spirit medium Pham Cong Tac, the religion established its headquarters in Tay Ninh and quickly became the third religion of Vietnam, building 1300 temples throughout the south and central region of the nation. Caodai disciples dress in white robes to pray, but the higher ranking dignitaries wear saffron (for Buddhism), turquoise (for Taoism) and cardinal red (for Confucianism and Catholicism). Caodaists pray four times a day to altars in the home, usually featuring photographs of ancestors as well as the image of the Eye of God, and meet on the new moon and full moon for more elaborate ceremonies at the temple. Rituals involve prayer, chanting, and offerings of fruits and flowers, incense, tea, and wine presented in an intricately stylized ceremony accompanied by sacred music. Séances are held separately, usually at midnight, and may be restricted to mediums who are part of the official hierarchy (especially at Tay Ninh).


A dozen other denominations of Caodaism developed in the years 1934-1964, spreading its influence throughout the Mekong delta and up into the area around Danang and Hue. While the Tay Ninh Church was involved in political struggle against French colonialism and massive ritual ceremonies, the smaller groups stressed meditation, mysticism and intimate spirit séances. New religious innovations, often inspired by séance communications from other mediums, produced a constantly expanding body of spirit messages, creating a theology which grew with the times until 1975, when the communist take-over of South Vietnam closed most of its temples for about twenty years.


In 1997, as part of a policy of renovation and opening up to the rest of the world, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam recognized Caodaism and re-opened many of its temples, although they must operate under strict government supervision. Spirit séances are strictly forbidden, and the divinely mandated religious organization has been modified. Although Caodaism is deliberately universal and tolerant of other beliefs, it has suffered a history of political persecution and repression by both the French colonial administration and the communist government of Vietnam. With many thousands of Caodaists now living overseas in immigrant communities in the US, Australia, France and Canada, it is now expanding its presence in exile, turning the Caodaists who were forced to leave their country into the teachers of a new generation of religious leaders and dignitaries of all nationalities. Worldwide followers of the “Great Way of Caodai of the Third Universal Salvation” number somewhere between three and six million, and new temples are being built both in Vietnam and the diaspora.


The Goddess and the Left Eye of God

The image of the Mother Goddess represented at her temple in Tay Ninh is based on the story of her apparition to the Han Emperor Han Vu De (141-87 BC) of China, who prayed for her to appear on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, the autumn equinox. The goddess blessed his sincerity by appearing and granting him holy peaches of immortality. Since that miracle, many other people have prayed to her, and she has shown them love and compassion whatever their social position.


The left eye does not represent, as Americans might believe, the female side of divinity but the male side. The left is the side that looks towards the rising sun, and it is the side of positive, male energy, and of growth, forcefulness and passion, The right, by a similar oppositional logic, is the side of the setting sun, and it is passive, female energy, and of darkness, weakness and softness.


The origin of human beings comes from the Goddess Dieu Tri, who is the source of the first sexual fluid or tinh, which is also the name for the sexual fluids produced in men’s bodies as semen (ngon tinh) and in women’s bodies as the ovum (am tinh). When an individual receives a spark of the divine light, that individual’s spirit is incarnated and the body comes to life.

Human beings, unlike plants and animals, have intelligence, souls and spirits, so they can aspire to unit the three treasures and achieve unification with God. These three elements have their origin in the primordial unity of the world before the division of heaven and earth, a state of being described as the “world before heaven”. But since we live in the world after heaven, our spirits have been contaminated by worldly desires and sufferings, and we need to purify them through spiritual discipline to reach a higher state of enlightenment and eventual transcendence.

Caodai altars, in each temple and indeed even in each home, represent these three treasures with flowers (for the regenerative, sexual energy of tinh), alcohol (for the breath or vital energy of khi) and tea (for the spiritual energy of than). One glass represents the sky with its sun, moon and stars, another the earth with its waters, fire and wind, and the last represents the human being, with its sexual fluids, breath and spirit. Spiritual discipline applies to the third glass, the crucible of forces at work within the body of each human being.

The Great Mother is also called Duc Me, the Holy Mother, since she is the Mother of all living creatures. When she makes contact with her disciples in seances, she calls them children (cac con), and can help to heal them or relieve their misery.

Quan Am is a female Boddhisattva, an enlightened being who assumes the form of a gentle goddess to help the living . Her counterpart is Quan Cong, a monstrous-looking male general, who is a fierce controller of homeless demons. The peaceful, white clad Quan Am is balanced by the ferocious red-faced Quan Cong, so that her power to rescue those in suffering or peril is accompanied by his power to repel danger and protect his followers. In Caodai temples, an image of Quan Am is often found on the right side of the Eye of God, facing the door where female disciples enter, while an image of Quan Cong is found on the left side of the eye of God, facing the door where the male disciples enter.

Many Vietnamese ethnologists and folklorists have argued that goddess worship is a survival of a primitive or matriarchal period in Vietnam’s history (Ngo Duc Thinh 1996, 1999, 2004). Consist with the evolutionary scheme described by Engels, they see the mother goddess as a form of popular religion which ahs outlasted foreign and elite traditions such as Confucianism. The cult of spirits (dao tho than) and especially goddesses was considered to be “authentic Vietnamese religion”, with the goddesses resident in the Sam mountain (the Lady of the Realm) and Ba Den, the Black Lady of Tay Ninh, as among the most important entities venerated in Vietnam’s traditional culture. Festivals devoted to mother goddesses, and particularly the Mid-Autumn festival when the Mother goddess is worshipped and celebrated all over Vietnam, were sometimes seen as opportunities for young people to meet and for the sanctioned breaking of taboos (Taylor 2004: 50). These festivals were seen as forces to integrate Vietnamese culture, uniting disparate sectors of society and preserving a communal spirit through time.

The Mother Goddess in Caodaism combines the attributes of these indigenous goddesses with a universal, multi-racial pantheon that includes European writers, philosophers and humanists as well as Asian ones. Through seances, the Mother Goddess has personally called many people who might have strayed from their own heritage with the reminder that they should return to her as the primordial mother of all the Vietnamese. Do Vang Ly, the former Vietnamese ambassador to the United States during the Kennedy presidency, was called personally by the Mother Goddess upon his return to Vietnam in 1963. After spending more than twenty years overseas, her voice was the first spiritual contact he had with his homeland, and she was the spirit he first venerated when he decided to devote himself to building up Caodaism as a Vietnamese national religion (quoc dao) which could also be a means for the salvation of the rest of the Background to the Veneration of Saint Joan

Joan of Arc came into the Caodai pantheon as part of a spiritual campaign to heal the wounds of colonialism and absorb European spirits into an Asian pantheon. French colonial authorities imposed a series of official holidays that celebrated France and the Catholic Church. These included the July 14 Bastille Day, May 11 for Saint Joan of Arc, Easter Monday, Ascension, Pentecost, All Saints’ Day, Christmas and and New Years. There was not a single holiday associated with Buddhism, Confucianism or Taoism, although the Vietnamese did get two days off for the Tet New Year festivities. In 1929, a special celebration was held to commemorate the five hundredth anniversary of the triumph of Joan of Arc at Orléans, which to Vietnamese brought up thoughts of the Trung sisters, their own female military heroines. On May 5. 1930, one student newspaper urged people to boycott the Joan of Arc festivities: “The French nationalists suck our blood; they shoot us to death; they bend our head down; they strangle us; they steal our money to celebrate the memory of Joan of Arc while forbidding us to commemorate our own ancestors. That’s really cruel, uncivilized. That’s a real shame for us. We must unite our efforts. We must stand up to protest against the irrational prodigality of the French imperialists. We must demand our liberties, our freedom to form associations, the liberty to commemorate those who have served well our poor and miserable people…We should definitely not participate in the festivities of 11 May, showing plainly that we can no longer tolerate our shame” (Lam 2000: 65).
Controversies about whether the people of Indochina should join the French in the cult of Saint Joan or reject it in the spirit of nationalism filled the headlines of the Vietnamese language papers in the early 1930s. A resolution to these debates appeared within Caodaism through the intervention of Joan’s spirit in a séance. Noting that she, like them, was once a young girl whose spirit messages were misunderstood, Joan of Arc came to join the new religion and support its efforts to achieve national recognition.
“The deliverance of France by an ignorant peasant girl would have been impossible without God, but it was considered in its time as a horrible heresy, isn’t that so? And yet, the English invaders were driven out of France. Do you think it is possible to defeat brutal force by moral force alone? If so, how should we answer this question?
“When a people achieves consciousness of itself and finds its own force in this self consciousness, this is already a weapon that no one can defeat. Millennial Annam under foreign domination, China in the past and France now, has become wiser because of its sufferings and its oppression, already building up a national consciousness which can be put into action to respond to any reactionary movements.” (message received Feb 24, 1934 in Tay Ninh, cf. Les Messages Spirites)
At this point in the séance. Mr. Truyen, who had come to ask about the difference between materialism and spiritism, asked “Isn’t that true of any form of social agitation?” The spirit of Joan of Arc answered him:
“You must work first to consolidate and fortify this consciousness, so that deliverance will be possible. Be patient, since there is a great force latent in the soul of your people. You need to know how to use it. Do not expect anything from foreign countries. Communism is only a bluff. It is a great exploitation of the credulity of oppressed people. It is an ointment that calms their pain but does not cure it. And as for the Internationalist An? What advantage comes to nationalist politics from internationalism? Is Wilson satisfied? The creation of the League of Nations comes from internationalism, but what results can it give us? If not, then internationalism is just a holding line for the capitalist armies. It is all bluff.” (message received Feb 24, 1934 in Tay Ninh, cf. Les Messages Spirites).
The spirit of Saint Joan not only offered advice on politics, but also on personal matters. Latapie, a Frenchman who was appointed a Caodaist bishop (Giao Su) came to a séance to resolve his ambivalent feelings about a woman named Sau, who was unfaithful to him (It is unclear whether this was a sexual betrayal or a political one). Saint Joan counseled him to forgive, and promised to help her to heal from what seems to have been a serious illness:

J’y suis en effet, cher frère Latapie I am here now dear brother Latapie
A qui puis-je donner une nouvelle vie. To whom I would give a new life
Assoifé de toute trendresse Thirsting for all tenderness
Vous vous trouvez dans une réelle faiblesse You find yourself feeling great
weakness
Avec votre infidèle Sau With Sau who has betrayed you
Vous l’encouragiez à vous trahir You encouraged her to betray you
Elle est maintenant condamné avec sévérité Now she has been severely
condemned
A des souffrances morales parmi les pires. To moral sufferings among the worst
Elle n’obtiendra son salut que par vous. Only you can save her now
Aidez-moi donc dans vos prières et je pourrai tout. Help me now with your prayers and
I can be capable of anything
Soyez fidèle à notre Maître Divin Be faithful to our Divine Master
Faites avec dévouement votre devoir de Saint Carry out your duties as a Saint
Nous sommes là pour vous aider We are here to help you out
Et faciliter votre tache, il faut y penser And make your job easier, if you
think
Un corps d’Esprits européens est à ce jour A group of European spirits is
constitué assembled on this day
Ils travailleront avec vous en communauté They will work with you as a
community
Soyez donc vaillant So be brave now
La granduer d’âme française en dépend. The greatness of the French soul
depends on it.
Au revoir. See you later.
(Phnom-Penh, on February 17 1933 at 2:15 in the morning)
In all of these instances, the French heroine helps to define a form of salvation that should speak to both Asians and Europeans, that is global and cosmopolitan rather than narrow and exclusive. As Caodaism emerged at the same time as the women’s suffrage movement, its gender politics were also articulated in terms of the struggle for female emancipation.
Speaking to a Frenchwoman, Mme. Perreux, as well as various dignitaries, Saint Joan explicitly highlighted the gender parity of Caodaism: “Yes, this is the only religion which grants to women a spiritual power which is virtually equal to that of men. This will show a kind of justice that Christianity has for a long time denied women.” (Seance at Tay Ninh on September 22 1934). Women in Caodaism can hold the ranks of cardinals and archbishops, and the first female cardinal, Lam Huong Thanh, is represented on the front of the Tay Ninh Holy See, above the door entered by female disciples, while the first Caodaist temporal Pope, Le Van Trung, is above the door entered by male disciples.
There are no representations of Joan of Arc inside the Holy See at Tay Ninh, but Caodai festivals have featured floats and displays which have celebrated her at the mid Autumn celebrations of the Mother Goddess. These images were taken in the 1940s by the French photographer and Caodaist Marguerite Gobron, who came to visit Vietnam after the death of her husband, Gabriel Gobron, whose book on Caodai history and philosophy was the first account by a French disciple. The photograph shows Saint Joan on a white horse wearing white armor, dressed more or less like a Caodaist herself, leading both Vietnamese and French people to self-determination.
Caodaists give Joan of Arc a place as the sixth female goddess among the nine goddesses (or immortals, tien) who are responsible of helping the Mother Goddess in saving humanity. There are nine spiritual dimensions (nine heavens) that are governed by the nine female goddesses. Therefore there are nine sessions of requiem (nine cuu) , one every nine days after death for praying for the soul to transcend the nine heavens in order to reach unification with God. Each female goddess helps the soul to go through her dimension into the next one. These goddesses or female immortals are also often called angels (tien). In the Caodaist hierarchy of spiritual achievement, the highest rank is attained by those--like Kuan Yin---who become living Buddhas. The second rank is attained by archangels or immortals (tien), the third by saints (thanh), the fourth by spirits (sometimes called genies, than), and the fifth by sages or humanists (nhon). Joan of Arc is a saint in the Catholic system, but in Caodaism she has been given a promotion to occupy the rank of a female immortal (tien).

Conclusions: From Iconography to Belief and Practice

Although Caodaists have become famous by innovating in having female Cardinals and religions dignitaries, the emphasis on liberation has been more focused on national and religious goals than on sexual equality. The tensions between hierarchy and egalitarianism were evident from the syncretistic beginnings of this religious movement. Its Confucian elements celebrated the literary achievements of an elite, its Taoist occult practices focused more on the relation of man to nature rather than to society, and its esoteric tradition was primarily Buddhist in inspiration. What was novel about Caodaism, however, was that in contrast to all three of Vietnam’s “great teachings”, it fostered a more personal and direct contact with God.
While Confucianism can be described as an ethical system, Taoism as a metaphysical one and Buddhism as a philosophy of self-realization, what Caodai added to the mix was a more personal form of monotheism or polytheism. Caodai spirit mediums could have direct conversations with God and the various saints, and the goal of Caodai meditation exercises was to study directly from the spiritual entities themselves. Caodai, as the Supreme Being, spoke directly to his disciples, and encouraged them also to communicate with the other great spiritual leaders of history. In this way, the “personal relationship with Jesus” which is advocated by some Protestant groups was expanded to include a much wider Asian pantheon of spirits, and a more cosmopolitan spirituality was born.
This more personal, direct and activist form of religious communication influenced the new religion’s orientation to the world and to sexual politics. Both men and women have served as spirit mediums, and one particular method ---the am/duong or yin/yang method, involved a male and female spirit medium relating the same message in turns. Caodai prophecies contain millenarian elements which challenge the powers that exist today, at the same time that they show respect for many forms of occult knowledge that go back for centuries. The Tan Luan or New Code of Conduct is Confucian in its prescriptions for women to honor their fathers, husbands and sons, and also in its tolerance for divorce or a husband’s taking a second wife if his wife has not produced a male descendant. But Caodai is unusual in world religions in seeking parity---equal numbers of male and female dignitaries---and in allowing women to hold high-ranking positions.
Because the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has not allowed spirit séances to ordain new religious officers in Tay Ninh, the leadership of Caodaism’s largest denomination is “decapitated”----an aging group of dignitaries who are forced to administer their religion not according to its own constitution but according to the rules of a communist-appointed management committee. Women’s greater longevity and many years of service in the religion (uninterrupted by military service or prison camp) has often made them the only guardians of Caodai temples during stressful times. Membership in many denominations has been “feminized”, with many more women attending ceremonies than men, perhaps because they are less likely to suffer the social censure that being religious may bring to professionals and civil servants in Vietnam today. This reverses certain hierarchical relationships between the Holy Sees in Vietnam and the diasporic communities in the United States and elsewhere, and it creates a series of new problems of religious inspiration and invention.
In the overseas community, deference to the holy centers in Vietnam has also prevented the emergence of a separate official hierarchy, although there is a new generation of leaders who have proved themselves quite dynamic and effective as web masters, religious teachers and writers, even if they do not formally hold high religious office. The highest ranking Caodai dignitary at a 2004 retreat in San Martin, California was a female archbishop Ngoc Tuyet Tien, and temple Thien Ly Buu Toa was founded by her and the female spirit medium Bach Dien Hoa as one of the earliest Caodai temples in the United States, and the only one to receive and distribute spirit messages since 1977.
The Confucian elements of Caodaism’s “Code of Conduct’ or Tan Luat have been particularly challenged in California. Veneration of the Mother Goddess and of female saints and deities like Quan Am, Joan of Arc, and the Virgin Mary appeal to followers of feminist spirituality, but rules pertaining to marriage, divorce and the family have seemed to re-assert traditional sex roles rather than displacing them. Divorce can be requested by a woman only in cases of desertion, offending the in-laws, or infertility, but in practice many allowances have been made for different cultural contexts and standards. Women are active in California temples in fund raising, organizing youth groups, hosting religious ceremonies with good food, and attending international conferences. Caodai’s innovation in defining a new way to “live a religious life” (song tu) not only in the monastery but also in the family home has certainly opened doorways to greater female participation in religious leadership than was the norm in Buddhism or Roman Catholicism.







References


Blagov, Sergei 2001. Caodaism: Vietnamese Traditionalism and its Leap into Modernity. New York: Nova.
Bui, Hum Dac, with Ngasha Beck 2000 CaoDai: Faith of Unity. Fayetteville, AR: Emerald Wave Press.
Fjelstad, Karen 1995 Tu Phu Gong Dong: Vietnamese Women and Spirit Possession in the San Francisco Bay Area. PhD dissertation in Anthropology, University of Hawaii.
Lam, Truong Buu 2000 Colonialism Experienced: Vietnamese Writings on Colonialism, 1900-1931. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Ngo Duc Thinh 1999 “The Pantheon for the Cult of Holy Mothers”, Vietnamese Studies 131: 20-35.
Ngo Duc Thinh, ed. 1996 Dao Mau o Viet Nam . Ha Noi: Nha Xuat Ban Van Hoa Thong Tin.
Ngo Duc Thinh 2004 Paper for “Mother Goddess Religion in Vietnam” conference at
UCLA.
Oliver, Victor L. 1976. Caodai Spiritism: A Study of Religion in Vietnamese Society. Leiden: E.J. Brill.
Taylor, Phillip 2004 Goddess on the Rise; Pilgrimage and popular Religion in Vietnam. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Werner, Jayne Susan 1981. Peasant Politics and Religious Sectarianism: Peasant and
Priest in the Cao Dai in Viet Nam. New Haven: Yale University Press.
















Appendix: Prayer to the Mother Goddess (translated by Hum Bui)

Following is the prayer for the Mother Goddess given by her at Phnom Penh temple (Time not determined):

At the Tao Hoa Thien (The Creation and Transformation Heaven) reigns the miraculous Supreme Goddess,
Who holds the Dieu Tri Palace and is called Kim Ban Phat Mau, (Mother Goddess governing the five spiritual levels: Mankind, Angels, Saints, Immortals, and Buddhas)
With the fluid of vitality, she raised all her children
Creating them by uniting the spirit (coming from the Supreme Being) and the physical body.
From this heaven is created everything (man, animal, plant and material)
By uniting The Yin and the Yang.
The Mother Goddess gave rise to the physical realm,
The eight spiritual levels (material, plant, animal, human being, Genie, Saint, Immortal, Buddha) form the eight levels of beings.
Assembling the spirits of all sentient beings, taking that as her major responsibility, she opened a path in which all spirits assist each other in spiritual progress.
The sky, the earth, and man have their destiny drawn by the Mother Goddess.
Based on the karmic law, the Mother Goddess determines the evolution of all spirits.
Using the Nil to install the eight trigrams, the Mother Goddess brings spirits back to their origin (God).
The Mother Goddess determines spirits' incarnation based on Karmic law.
She holds Dao Tien (Sacred peach which contains all the vital fluid) and allows man to try to understand what eternal life is.
Her great task is to bring spirits back to their origin.
As the Master of the Am Quang (Darkness energy),
She guides all spirits back home.
If the spirits are to ascend to heaven, they will use the Phung Lien chariot to open the gate.
When back to the celestial country, Cao Dai will call their name.
At this era, the Supreme being comes to teach all beings.
At the Long Hoa (Dragon Flower) Convention, a general amnesty will occur for all regardless race or creed.
The third amnesty begins just as predetermined
To lead the chosen to Buddhahood.
The Mother Goddess guided the Bat Nha boat (boat of salvation) to save humankind out of the Ocean of sufferings,
To liberate them from their Karmic obligations,
To guide their spirits from hell to heaven.
With the assistance of the nine fairies, The Kim Ban Mother Goddess governed the Yin energy,
Combining the ten celestial properties and the twelve zodiacs to form the universe
And to create the path
For all spirits, regardless of their level, heavy and dark, Genies, Saints, Immortals, or Buddhas, to return to their original abode (heaven)
Laws regulated, illumination or not,
The Mother Goddess worked in eliminating punishment and hell.
The Supreme Being granted a general amnesty to bring all humanity to the unity with Him.
The gentle Mother Goddess received order to lift old and young from all directions South, North, East, and West.
Establishing the amnesty, abolishing the evils,
to teach and guide humanity to the universal life.
Unifying the world into one family.
Establishing strategies to bring humanity back to the good.
Bringing Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism to the primordial unified truth.
Guiding people back to their buddhahood,
Educating people toward felicity.
Sequestring demons,
Opening the gate to heaven, realizing justice for all.
The Mother, under order from the Supreme Being, came and saved all,
Creating and upbringing.
What an immense work!
RE: The Goddess and the Left Eye of God: Vietnamese Mysticism comes to California(reply : edit : del)
Posted by Sheena Harden on 3/23/2006 9:36 AM
"CaoDai believes that God is the origin of every thing and the Mother Goddess is the mother creating every thing."

Can you expound on this a bit? I am a Wiccan interested in learning more about CaoDai. In Wicca we believe that all Gods are one God. On the highest level of Allmighty there is one universal supreme force which is no gender and yet all genders. It manifests as both male and female in nature.

In our view it is the male god-force or the Lord which is the outer, manifest world and the female god-force or Lady who is the inner, spiritual world. They are equal and necessary to one another.

Your writings seem to indicate that there is a male god from whom the Mother Goddess emanates and she is in your writing, the manifest world. Saying that she is the left eye of God seems to indicate a lesser status, a small part.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts on the differences between this and the Wiccan view.

Thank you and many blessings.
Sheena
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