Cao Dai Practices

Cao Dai draws upon occult practices from Taoism and includes communication with the dead in séances. This has been outlawed by the Vietnamese government, but Cao Dai leaders also say that it is no longer necessary. "We don't see the necessity to have séance any more because we have direct communication from the Supreme Being to people by returning inside to our heart to see the Supreme Being in there."[#1101]

Cao Dai encourages obedience to the three duties (between king and citizen, father and child, husband and wife), and five virtues (humanity, obligation, civility, knowledge, reliability) of Confucianism.

Cao Dai's organization is patterned after that of Roman Catholicism, with nine levels of hierarchy including a pope, cardinals, and archbishops.

Worship involves group prayer in the temple, elaborate rituals and festivals.

Similar to the division in Theravada Buddhism between lay Buddhists and monks, Cao Dai offers two ways of practice to its adherents. Esoterism focuses on meditation, with the goal "to progressively eradicate the inferior self and develop the divine element within the self, reaching toward oneness with the Supreme Being." These are priests of Cao Dai, which can be men and women.

Exoterism is the form available to laypersons living a normal family life. These are expected to:

  • cultivate the Confucian duties and virtues
  • practice good and avoid evil
  • observe five Precepts: do not kill, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not get drunk, do not sin by word.
  • practice vegetarianism at least ten days per month, to purify one's body and spirit and to avoiding killing living beings
  • participate in worship to the Supreme Being through four daily ceremonies, at 6:00 a.m., noon, 6:00 p.m., and midnight, with at least one ceremony per day at home