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An experience we will never forget
March 24, 2012

Tay Ninh Holy See


Caodaism is a popular religion in South Vietnam, born in 1926. Cao means "high" and Đài means "dais, as in a platform or altar raised above the surrounding level to give prominence to the person on it." Figuratively, it means that highest spiritual place where God reigns.


The Tay Ninh Holy See is the centre and also the symbol of Caodaism in Vietnam. The temple draws huge crowd of visitors for its unique architecture and decorations, and especially for its noon praying ceremony.

 


According to Caodaiists, the full title was purposefully chosen by God because within it are representations of the Three Teachings: Saint, Sage and Buddha. Caodaiists credit God as the religion's founder. They believe the teachings, symbolism and organization were communicated directly from God. Even the construction of the Tây Ninh Holy See is claimed to have had divine guidance.


According to the Cao Đài myth of creation, before God existed, there was the Tao, the nameless, formless, unchanging, eternal source referenced in the Tao Te Ching. Then a Big Bang occurred, out of which God was born (emanationism). The universe could not yet be formed and to do so, God created yin and yang. He took control of yang and shed a part of himself, creating the Goddess to preside over yin. In the presence of yin and yang, the universe was materialized. The Goddess is, literally, the mother of the myriad of things in the Universe.


Caodaiists worship not only God the father, but also the Holy Mother, literally referred to as the Mother Buddha. Its three Teachings represent hierarchical levels of spiritual attainment, with buddha as the highest. Caodaiism's various stages of spiritual development from human on up are: Thần (angel), Thánh (saint), Tiên (sage), and Phật (buddha). Angels, saints and sages may have, accordingly, extremely long lives in the realms of heaven, but only buddhas are free from the cycle of birth and death.


Visiting the Tay Ninh Holy See, you will realise that the Cao Dai worship many saints from very different backgrounds as Buddha, Lao Tzu, Victor Hugo, Churchill, the Vietnamese scholar Nguyen Binh Khiem and Russian revolutionary Lenin. A tour to Tay Ninh Holy See is ideally combined with Cu Chi Tunnel as a round trip from Ho Chi Minh City.
 

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