CaoDai shows the path to harmony

CaoDai serves to remind humanity that all religions are of the same origin and principle, only that

Along with materialism, differences in religions have brought conflicts to people resulting in many wars all over the world. CaoDai, a new faith founded in Vietnam in 1926 by the Supreme Being via spiritism, with the principle that all religions are of one same origin (which is God, although called by various names or no name), having the same teachings based on Love and Justice, and are just diverse manifestations of the same truth.

CaoDai embraces all religions ranging from what is termed the way of humanity (Confucianism), the way of genies (geniism, or shintoism, or the veneration of ancestors), the way of Saints (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), the way of Immortals (Taoism), and the way of Buddhas (Hinduism, Buddhism). Although they have different physical manifestations, all religions have the same ethical teaching based on Love and Justice: Love being unconditional and without desire, and Justice being equated with the Golden Rule: “Do not do to others what you do not want done to you.”

Besides these teachings, there are other similarities among religions; the conception of God is one example.

CaoDai believes that the Supreme Being is from the “Hu Vo” (the nothingness or cosmic ether). In the cosmic ether, appeared a great source of Divine Light called “Thai Cuc” (Monad) or the Supreme Being. The Monad then created Yin and Yang energies, the two opposite logos, the interaction of which led to the formation of the universe. The Supreme Being, in giving the following message, confirmed that God’s energy had manifested through different prophets in the world:

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 third time.

With the same conception that the Nothingness is the origin of everything, in the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tse says:

There was something nebulous,
Existing before heaven and earth,
Silent, empty, standing alone, altering not,
Moving cyclically without being exhausted,
Which may be called the mother of all under heaven.
I do not know its name; therefore, call it the Tao.

A similar conception that God is the Nothingness is found in Buddhism: “There is an unborn, not become, not made, unmanifest, which is called Brahmakaya or Sunyata, the Void, or the Nothingness.”

Sadly, it was because of this conception that Buddhism was misunderstood as not believing in the existence of “God.”

In the same light, Confucius says that God has done nothing but created everything:

Does Heaven ever speak?
The four seasons come and go,
And all creatures thrive and grow.
Does Heaven ever speak?

Judaism believes that God or Elohim is a state of consciousness that pertains neither to perception nor to non-perception; or, in other words, the state of consciousness perceiving Nothingness, which comes from the chaos.

Christianity believes that God is the Word: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things are made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.”

Not only religions but science theorizes that the universe came from the nothingness. Modern science has conceptualized the void, which, according to field theory, is far from empty, but on the contrary, contains an unlimited number of particles which come into being and vanish without end.

Isn't it wondrous, how much religions and even science have in common? If an individual takes time to study others' religions, one would realize that they are but one unified truth which has been expressed in different ways.

At this moment, in this current situation of the world, CaoDai’s purpose is to remind humanity and all religions that all religions are of the same origin and principle, and are just different manifestations of the same truth.

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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A swimming pool and a bleeding toe put my medical competency in doubt

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Sometimes the search engine wins. 

The brutal heatwave affecting southern Europe this summer has become known among locals as “Lucifer”. Having just returned from Italy, I fully understand the nickname. An early excursion caused the beginnings of sunstroke, so we abandoned plans to explore the cultural heritage of the Amalfi region and strayed no further than five metres from the hotel pool for the rest of the week.

The children were delighted, particularly my 12-year-old stepdaughter, Gracie, who proceeded to spend hours at a time playing in the water. Towelling herself after one long session, she noticed something odd.

“What’s happened there?” she asked, holding her foot aloft in front of my face.

I inspected the proffered appendage: on the underside of her big toe was an oblong area of glistening red flesh that looked like a chunk of raw steak.

“Did you injure it?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t hurt at all.”

I shrugged and said she must have grazed it. She wasn’t convinced, pointing out that she would remember if she had done that. She has great faith in plasters, though, and once it was dressed she forgot all about it. I dismissed it, too, assuming it was one of those things.

By the end of the next day, the pulp on the underside of all of her toes looked the same. As the doctor in the family, I felt under some pressure to come up with an explanation. I made up something about burns from the hot paving slabs around the pool. Gracie didn’t say as much, but her look suggested a dawning scepticism over my claims to hold a medical degree.

The next day, Gracie and her new-found holiday playmate, Eve, abruptly terminated a marathon piggy-in-the-middle session in the pool with Eve’s dad. “Our feet are bleeding,” they announced, somewhat incredulously. Sure enough, bright-red blood was flowing, apparently painlessly, from the bottoms of their big toes.

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Often, what patients discover on the internet causes them undue alarm, and our role is to provide context and reassurance. But not infrequently, people come across information that outstrips our knowledge. On my return from our room with fresh supplies of plasters, my wife looked up from her sun lounger with an air of quiet amusement.

“It’s called ‘pool toe’,” she said, handing me her iPhone. The page she had tracked down described the girls’ situation exactly: friction burns, most commonly seen in children, caused by repetitive hopping about on the abrasive floors of swimming pools. Doctors practising in hot countries must see it all the time. I doubt it presents often to British GPs.

I remained puzzled about the lack of pain. The injuries looked bad, but neither Gracie nor Eve was particularly bothered. Here the internet drew a blank, but I suspect it has to do with the “pruning” of our skin that we’re all familiar with after a soak in the bath. This only occurs over the pulps of our fingers and toes. It was once thought to be caused by water diffusing into skin cells, making them swell, but the truth is far more fascinating.

The wrinkling is an active process, triggered by immersion, in which the blood supply to the pulp regions is switched off, causing the skin there to shrink and pucker. This creates the biological equivalent of tyre treads on our fingers and toes and markedly improves our grip – of great evolutionary advantage when grasping slippery fish in a river, or if trying to maintain balance on slick wet rocks.

The flip side of this is much greater friction, leading to abrasion of the skin through repeated micro-trauma. And the lack of blood flow causes nerves to shut down, depriving us of the pain that would otherwise alert us to the ongoing tissue damage. An adaptation that helped our ancestors hunt in rivers proves considerably less use on a modern summer holiday.

I may not have seen much of the local heritage, but the trip to Italy taught me something new all the same. 

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear