CaoDai, a faith of unity

This week, the Faith Column explores CaoDai. Hum D. Bui starts the series with a look at its history

In order to relieve humankind’s religious crisis, in 1926, via spiritism, the Supreme Being founded an innovative faith called CaoDai in Vietnam, with the principle that all religions are one, have the same origin and principle, and are just different manifestations of the same truth.

Because of human conflict, God has come to offer a way to bring people and religions together in harmony. CaoDai the Supreme Being said: "Formerly, people lacked transportation, and therefore did not know each other. Thus, I founded at different epochs and in different areas, five branches of the Great Way: the way of humanism, the way of Genii (or of Angels), the way of Saints, the way of Immortals, and the way of Buddhas, each based on the customs of the race. Today, 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 these religions. This is why I have decided to unite all these religions into one to bring them to the primordial unity.”

In 1920, CaoDai revealed Himself to Ngo Van Chieu, the then-governor of PhuQuoc, a beautiful island in the Gulf of Siam. CaoDai informed Ngo that all the world’s religions should return to the One from which they originally sprang. This message was to be delivered to the world. Ngo asked CaoDai for permission to worship Him under a visible form. He then had a vision of the All-Seeing Eye and was subsequently ordered to use it as the symbol of CaoDai.

In mid 1925, three minor civil officials in Saigon – CaoQuynhCu, PhamCongTac, and CaoHoaiSang – were practising spiritism. One spirit contacted was unique for His outstanding virtue and knowledge. He introduced Himself as AAA. On Christmas Eve of 1925, AAA revealed that He was the Supreme Being, coming under the name of CaoDai, to teach the Way. He said: “Rejoice this day, it is the anniversary of My coming to the West to teach the Way (God came to the Middle East in the form of Yeshua - Jesus – Christ to found Christianity). This house will be filled with blessings. You will see more miracles which will lead you to further belief. For some time now, I have used the symbol AAA to lead you to religious life. You are soon to found a unique religion under My instructions.”
CaoDai structure consists of spiritual and earthly powers.

The spiritual power is the Bat Quai Dai (Eight Trigram Palace), headed by CaoDai the Supreme Being who gives orders and messages to the earth via spiritism.

The earthly power is the Cuu Trung Dai (The Nine Sphere Palace), the executive body which consists of nine ranks:
1- One Giao Tong (Pope)
2- Three Chuong Phap (Legislative Cardinals)
3- Three Dau Su (Cardinals)
4- Thirty six Phoi Su (Archbishops)
5- Seventy two Giao Su (Bishops)
6- Three thousand Giao Huu (Priests)
7- Le Sanh (Student priests)
8- Chuc Viec (Sub- Dignitaries)
9- Disciples

Besides, the Hiep Thien Dai (Heavenly Union Palace), or the legislative body has the role of mediumship communicating the Spiritual Power and the Cuu Trung Dai. It consists of:
The Ho Phap (Law Protector), head of the Hiep Thien Dai
The Thuong Pham (Head of Religious Affairs)
The Thuong Sanh (Head of Secular Affairs)

Under each of them there are four Zodiac Dignitaries for the total of 12 Zodiacal Dignitaries who can all have the ability of mediumship in the spiritism seances.

The Hiep Thien Dai is the sacred place where the Supreme Being manifests to give spiritual direction to the Cuu Trung Dai, and is also a place where the Giao Tong communicates with the Superior Spirits to ask for the salvation of humanity, and is entrusted with the maintenance and application of religious rules and laws.

Hum D. Bui, M.D. was born in Vietnam in 1943. He is a CaoDai scholar working with CaoDai Overseas that is in charge of spreading the faith.
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Want to send a positive Brexit message to Europe? Back Arsene Wenger for England manager

Boris Johnson could make a gesture of goodwill. 

It is hard not to feel some sympathy for Sam Allardyce, who coveted the England job for so many years, before losing it after playing just a single match. Yet Allardyce has only himself to blame and the Football Association were right to move quickly to end his tenure.

There are many candidates for the job. The experience of Alan Pardew and the potential of Eddie Howe make them strong contenders. The FA's reported interest in Ralf Rangner sent most of us scurrying to Google to find out who the little known Leipzig manager is. But the standout contender is Arsenal's French boss Arsene Wenger, 

Would England fans accept a foreign manager? The experience of Sven Goran-Eriksson suggests so, especially when the results are good. Nobody complained about having a Swede in charge the night that England won 5-1 in Munich, though Sven's sides never won the glittering prizes, the Swede proving perhaps too rigidly English in his commitment to the 4-4-2 formation.

Fabio Capello's brief stint was less successful. He never seemed happy in the English game, preferring to give interviews in Italian. That perhaps contributed to his abrupt departure, falling out with his FA bosses after he seemed unable to understand why allegations of racial abuse by the England captain had to be taken seriously by the governing body.

Arsene Wenger could not be more different. Almost unknown when he arrived to "Arsene Who?" headlines two decades ago, he became as much part of North London folklore as all-time great Arsenal and Spurs bosses, Herbert Chapman or Bill Nicholson, his own Invicibles once dominating the premier league without losing a game all season. There has been more frustration since the move from Highbury to the Emirates, but Wenger's track record means he ranks among the greatest managers of the last hundred years - and he could surely do a job for England.

Arsene is a European Anglophile. While the media debate whether or not the FA Cup has lost its place in our hearts, Wenger has no doubt that its magic still matters, which may be why his Arsenal sides have kept on winning it so often. Wenger manages a multinational team but England's football traditions have certainly got under his skin. The Arsenal boss has changed his mind about emulating the continental innovation of a winter break. "I would cry if you changed that", he has said, citing his love of Boxing Day football as part of the popular tradition of English football.

Obviously, the FA must make this decision on football grounds. It is an important one to get right. Fifty years of hurt still haven't stopped us dreaming, but losing to Iceland this summer while watching Wales march to the semi-finals certainly tested any lingering optimism. Wenger was as gutted as anybody. "This is my second country. I was absolutely on my knees when we lost to Iceland. I couldn't believe it" he said.

The man to turn things around must clearly be chosen on merit. But I wonder if our new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - albeit more of a rugger man himself - might be tempted to quietly  suggest in the corridors of footballing power that the appointment could play an unlikely role in helping to get the mood music in place which would help to secure the best Brexit deal for Britain, and for Europe too.

Johnson does have one serious bit of unfinished business from the referendum campaign: to persuade his new boss Theresa May that the commitments made to European nationals in Britain must be honoured in full.  The government should speed up its response and put that guarantee in place. 

Nor should that commitment to 3m of our neighbours and friends be made grudgingly.

So Boris should also come out and back Arsene for the England job, as a very good symbolic way to show that we will continue to celebrate the Europeans here who contribute so much to our society.

British negotiators will be watching the twists and turns of the battle for the Elysee Palace, to see whether Alain Juppe, Nicolas Sarkozy end up as President. It is a reminder that other countries face domestic pressures over the negotiations to come too. So the political negotiations will be tough - but we should make sure our social and cultural relations with Europe remain warm.

More than half of Britons voted to leave the political structures of the European Union in June. Most voters on both sides of the referendum had little love of the Brussels institutions, or indeed any understanding of what they do.

But how can we ensure that our European neighbours and friends understand and hear that this was no rejection of them - and that so many of the ways that we engage with our fellow Europeans rom family ties to foreign holidays, the European contributions to making our society that bit better - the baguettes and cappuccinos, cultural links and sporting heroes remain as much loved as ever.

We will see that this weekend when nobody in the golf clubs will be asking who voted Remain and who voted Leave as we cheer on our European team - seven Brits playing in the twelve-strong side, alongside their Spanish, Belgian, German, Irish and Swedish team-mates.

And now another important opportunity to get that message across suddenly presents itself.

Wenger for England. What better post-Brexit commitment to a new Entente Cordiale could we possibly make?

Sunder Katwala is director of British Future and former general secretary of the Fabian Society.