religions conceive the human being as consisting of three parts: the
physical body, the soul, and the spirit. Hinduism calls the spirit
"Brahman" or "Atman" (or absolute self or
metaphysical self), and the soul "Jiva," or miniature self.
Buddhism calls the spirit "true heart," or "Buddha
heart," and the soul "earthly heart," or "illusory
heart." Taoism calls the spirit "god's heart," which is
absolute, and the soul "regular heart," which is relative,
variable. Islam calls the spirit "Naf-matmainnah," which means
supernatural, and the soul "lawwama," which means regular. In
Christianity, Saint Paul recommends: "May your whole spirit, soul,
and body be kept blameless at the coming of our lord Jesus Christ."
Vietnamese people call the spirit "linh hon" (sacred spirit)
and the soul "tam hon" (emotional soul).
to CaoDai, the Supreme Being is called "Dai Linh Quang" (Great
Sacred Light). A human being's spirit derives from the Supreme Being,
and is called "Tieu Linh Quang" (Little Sacred Light).
"Dai Linh Quang" and "Tieu Linh Quang" have the same
property, which is nameless, formless, omnipotent, omnipresent and
everlasting. Human beings are visible and have different personalities,
emotions and desires as a result of a physical body and a soul, which
are created by the Mother Goddess.
the Creator, Christianity says: 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. (John 1:1-3)
is light and in Him is no darkness at all. (John 1:4)
says: Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. (Koran)
says: He is the one light that gives light to all. (Katha
energy is Brahman.That Brahman is beginningless, transcendant, eternal.
says: God, being truth, is the one light of all. (Adi Granth)
common Buddhist conception is that the Creator and living beings came
from the nothingness: There is an unborn, not become, not made,
unmanifest. (Samyutta- Nikaya of Theravada Buddhism)
calls the Creator the Tao:
Tao begot one,
the one, two.
two begot three,
three, all else. (Tao Te Ching, 42)
the Tao is nothing but the nothingness:
was something nebulous
before the heaven and earth,
alone, altering not,
cyclically without being exhausted,
may be called the mother of all under heaven. (Tao Te Ching, 25)
Native American Faith (Lakotah) says:
Light of Wakantanka is upon my people. (Song of Kablaya)
Bailey, a well-known modern theosophical writer, believes that the
Supreme Being is nothing but a source of energy. She wrote: "Energy
is all there is... but is not known."
may say that religions agree very much with each other that the Supreme
Being is an unfathomable source of energy in the nothingness from which
the universe and human beings were created. Since human beings bear the
coat of physical body and soul, the sacred spirit which is omnipotent,
omnipresent and everlasting becomes completely covered and hidden by
this coat. In order to rediscover their spirit or miraculous Little
Sacred Light, human beings have to see beyond their coat of physical
body and soul by means of spiritual self-cultivation. The physical body
of human beings possesses six senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste,
touch, and thought. Each of these gives a different type of perception.
Man has a tendency to pursue the gratification of each perception by
possessing anything that pleases his senses. The soul or earthly heart
of man is the origin of all this tendency in making the physical body
work, strive and fight for endless acquisition of things. This is the
origin of emotions: one's happiness is dependent on the attainment of
physical and emotional pleasure and the avoidance of physical and
emotional pain. Anger, hate, jealousy, sadness, joy, etcetera, all stem
from a myriad of situations related to the perceptions of the six senses
of the physical body. All these adverse emotions, together with desires
and greed make the physical body and soul of man heavy, vibrating at a
very low frequency. They constantly create obstacles, preventing man
from realizing his Little Sacred Light, also called his inner self,
which is always with him and in him. Although his inner self
continuously gives him messages of what he needs to do to acquire wisdom
and to be unified with his inner self, these messages are emitted at too
high a frequency, so that his physical body and soul, being too heavy
and vibrating at a much lower frequency, can not understand and perceive
them. CaoDai meditation consists of helping one's physical body and soul
eliminate desire, greed and adverse emotions, and become purer and
lighter--and thus be able to attune the physical vibration with the
spirit's and reach self-realization. CaoDai believes in the law of
justice, or karma, which means that any current situation is the result
of past good or bad deeds; and therefore believes that the human soul
evolves continuously according to this karmic law through many physical
lives to become progressively
purer, ultimately to unify with the Supreme Being (in Heaven).
law is also observed in other faiths: Hinduism: "This body is
called the Field, because a man sows seeds of
action in it, and reaps their fruits." (Bhagavad Gita)
" Even an evildoer sees happiness so long as his evil deed does not
ripen; but when his evil deed ripens, then does the evildoer sees
a good man sees evil days so long as his good deed does not ripen; but
when his good deed ripens, then does the good man sees good
"Those who do evil in the open light of day---men will punish them.
Those who do evil in secret---God will punish them." "Today
too many men: Care for no one other than themselves; seem to seek
injustice; are boastful braggards. These characteristics lead to death.
The man who is compassionate, just, humble, knows these vitues lead to
wise man knows the more he gives to others, the more he has left for
"Sow in righteousness, reap in mercy." (Hos. 10:12)
merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth
his own flesh... to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth,
that shall he also reap." (Gal.6:7)
carefully to what you hear. In the measure you give you shall
receive." (Mark 4:24)
"Whatever good you do for others, you send it before your own souls
and find it with Allah who sees all you do." (Koran 2:104)
soul will be rewarded according to its merit." (Koran 3:182)
law, or justice, is the divine law, the absolute law that is applied to
all souls and that chains men to rebirth; or in other words, it requires
that a man make payment for transgressions if not in the present life,
then in another. Anyone who does anything--whether it be good or
evil--receives its result, either in this life or in the next. No one
escapes this law. Otherwise, there would be no justice. This law
explains reincarnation as the spiritual evolution of all souls.
is well accepted in Eastern culture. The scriptures of Hinduism clearly
support it: "If a man fail to attain
Bramahn before he casts off his body, he must again put on a body in the
world of created things. (Katha Upanishad) Just as the dweller in this
body passes through childhood, youth and old age, so at death he merely
passes into another kind of body... Bodies are said to die but that which
posseses the body is eternal...
shed by the body:
shed by the dweller
bodies are donned
the dweller, like garments. (Bhagavad Gita)
according to the Gita, the cycle of rebirth or Karma can be ended by
has similar conception: "Him I called a Brahmana who knows the
mystery of death and rebirth of all beings, who is free from attachment,
who is happy within himself and enlightened.... Him I call a Brahmana
who knows his former lives, who knows heaven and hell, who has reached
the end of births, who is a sage of perfect knowledge and who has
accomplished all that has to be accomplished." (Dhammapada)
writes the following: "There was a beginning before the beginning.
There was a beginning previous to that beginning. Death and life are not
far apart. When I look for their origin, it goes back to infinity; when
I look for their end, it proceeds without termination. Life is the
follower of death, and death is the predecessor of life. What we can
point to are the burnt ends that have been consumed, but the fire is
"Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations... Thou
turnest man to destruction; and sayest, 'Return, ye children of men.'
For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past,
and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood;
they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth
up. In the morning it florisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is
cut down, and withereth."?
denies reincarnation. There are, however, a number of passages in the
New Testament of the Bible that have been cited as supporting
reincarnation. Several statements by Jesus to the effect that John the
Baptist was a reincarnation of the Old Testament prophet Elijah or
Elias: "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a
greater than John the Baptist... For all the prophets and the law
prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, it is Elias, which was
to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Matt. 11:11-15)
again, later in Matthew (17:10-13): "His disciples asked him,
saying, `Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?'
And Jesus answered and said unto them, `Elias truly shall first come,
and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias is come already,
and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.
Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.' Then the
disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist."
John 9:1-3: "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind
from his birth. And his disciples asked him saying, `Master, who did
sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus
answered, `Neither hath this man sin nor his parents: but that the works
of God should be made manifest in him.
How could the man have sinned prior to being born blind unless he had
lived before? [Actually, the Christian answer, although independent of
this passage, would probably be that his sin would have derived from
John 3:13 Jesus states: "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he
that came down from Heaven." This declares preexistence
before physical birth.
there is Karma law, or the Justice, with reincarnation as the result
then what is the purpose of life?
accepting the Karma law and reincarnation, then life on this earth is
just a place for the souls to pay back (to reap) the deed that they have
caused (sowed), in order to progress spiritually. CaoDai believes that
with meditation, one would become progressively detached from all
secular distractions, and therefore free from the effect of the Karma
law and able to avoid reincarnation, and ultimately become one with the
D. Bui, M.D.