Caodism Beliefs and Practices: Saints

The Divine EyeWhile God is represented as the Divine Eye, there are various other saints that are looked upon for guidance throughout the Cao Dai religion. Some may surprise you, such as Victor Hugo, while others are clearer, like the inclusion of Buddha, from which many practices and beliefs of Buddhism are incorporated into Caodism. 


God and Other Saints Within the Cao Dai Religion


Within Cao Dai, God is represented as the Divine Eye, which symbol is an eye inside of a triangle. This symbol may be encountered on the outside of various sect temples, as well as on the exterior and interior of the homes of temple members. In regards to the eye, it is the left that portrays God, which also is a representation of the Yang, which is located on the left side. Inside the temples, followers honor their ancestors, as well as a variety of saints connected to the religion. The list of honored saints is a rather assorted bunch, taken from a wide-range of cultures, such as:


Joan of Arc: French saint and national heroine from the early 1400s. She is well-known for hearing the word of God and telling what she believed to be the truth to the very end, in which, she was punished by being burned at the stake.


Buddha: meaning “enlightened one,” it is the title given to the founder of Buddhism


Confucius: Chinese philosopher and sage


Muhammad: Seen as God’s final prophet (within Islamic and Muslim cultures)


Pericles: Athenian statesman, who is known for promoting literature and the arts in Greece.


Julius Caesar: Roman statesman and general, who is best known for being a great military leader and political figure. Many literary works have been completed on Caesar, who was assassinated by those he knew.


Victor Hugo: Human rights campaigner, statesman, as well as seen as the most influential Romantic writer of the 19th century. He is responsible for penning such great works like “Les Miserables.”


Sun Yat-sen: Chinese revolutionary, from the late 1800s to early 1900s.


Cao Dai Beliefs Regarding the Purpose of Life & the Afterlife


The religion believes that the purpose of life is that each individual is able to find peace and harmony in the world. The goals of Cao Dai followers are to obtain religious merit through good deeds and to avoid bad karma as much as possible. In regards to the afterlife, Cao Dai takes from the Buddhism way of thinking. They believe that those individuals, who have accumulated too much bad karma over the course of their life, will be reincarnated into a negative situation.  Associated with this belief is the fact that the individual may have to experience a period of rebirth where they are sent to a darker world after reincarnation. The accumulation of good karma results in the rebirth of an individual into a better position while on earth. Within Cao Dai, salvation is expressed through the achievement of freedom from rebirth, as well as attaining nirvana or a place in heaven.