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From Cao Đài’s Divine Path to Eternal Life, Chapter 1    
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Over 80 years ago, a new religion was founded with the name Cao Đài in the country of Âu Lạc (Vietnam) and has quickly grown to become the third largest religion in this country. Cao Đài recognizes that the ultimate goal of all true religions is the same; to teach humankind to live peacefully and compassionately with all sentient beings, and to realize our divine origin.

The term Cao Đài literally means "Supreme Palace," referring to the place where God reigns over the universe, and was also the name God used to impart Hiers divine instructions in the creation of Cao Đài. Followers of Cao Đài believe that Venerable Ngô Minh Chiêu was chosen by God to establish the Cao Đài religion. It was believed that God directly transmitted the teachings and method of practice to Venerable Ngô Minh Chiêu until he attained the ultimate self-realization. Today we present to you excerpts from Cao Đài’s holy book, Divine Path to Eternal Life.

Thank you, kindhearted viewers, for your company for today’s episode of Between Master and Disciples here on Supreme Master Television. Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants is up next after Noteworthy News. May your life be endowed with God’s blessings, love and light.
Chapter 1: What is the Divine Path to Eternal Life?

From tonight I would like to speak to you about the most important of topics. I am doing this to make an essential and precious gift for the children of the Supreme Being – a cherished secret for them to keep at hand. With this you may, one day, find out how to attain the Way. Tonight’s topic is: the Divine Path to Eternal Life.

What is this “Divine Path”? If our understanding is based on the true dharma of the Supreme Being, the “Divine Path to Eternal Life” is that path reserved for true souls to travel after they have left their physical bodies. By this path they make their way back towards the “Ultimate.” These true souls shall return to their spiritual domain, rising higher, or falling lower as their previous life’s merit dictates. If we wish to understand this path according to the Way of the Buddha, then the Divine Path to Eternal Life is known as the path of reincarnation. This is a very difficult topic to speak about. If all the Children of the Supreme Being were to understand this path completely, a massive book would need to be written. Such a tome would comprise several thousand pages!

The Path that takes you back to Heaven is not an easy path to travel, and your return will not be instant. As we desire to travel home to the Supreme Being, we must pass through many temples, many palaces. In each temple we will be confronted by strange things. In each palace we will face a different mystery. Yet we must struggle to understand them and pass beyond them. Only by desiring spiritual evolution can we progress along this Path to the Eternal – and return home to the Supreme Being! There is no happiness equal to this. Even after a lifetime of cultivating the way, there is no guarantee that a soul will return. Over ten thousand years and a thousand lives if a soul never cultivates the Way it can never return.

Brothers and Sisters, you must try to remember this. What is cultivation? The Cao Đài religion has already explained cultivation to you. I have already spoken of it a great deal. You must uphold the virtues (Lập Đức), do good works (Lập Công) and speak the words of the Great Way (Lập Ngôn). Now I return to the topic of how we can, by desiring spiritual evolution, progress along the Divine Path to Eternal Life. A little while ago I mentioned that, by the special grace of the Supreme Being, I was granted the favor of an audience with God. Before this audience I was able to meet the Divine Beings in the realm of Eternal Life. From tonight I am not really teaching you, I am only recounting what I have seen, heard and learnt when meeting the Divine Beings in the Spiritual Realm. Telling you this is also a way of allowing the children of the Supreme Being to visualize the spiritual realm in advance.

This will save your soul from confusion in the event of your return. As I talk, the Children of God must listen and imagine that you have a guide. Wherever you go the guide will explain the scene to you. For example, when a foreigner comes to Âu Lạc (Vietnam), the visitor is provided with a guide to help explain the scenery. Each soul on this planet, when leaving the physical body, must gather here at this Great Divine Temple, you must go from inside this building in order to reach other realms. Why must you enter this Great Divine Temple and not other temples? This Great Temple is a great examination center. Just as every year the Government holds the baccalaureate, the location of your soul's elevation has already been decided. You must come here if you want to be qualified or valued.

It is this Great Divine Temple that the Supreme Being has made for His children to do good works, uphold virtues, speak the words of the Great Way and prove worthy of their return. To enter the Great Divine Temple means entering the Temple of the Divine Alliance (or the Heavenly-Union Palace), and moving from there to the Religious Palace. In order to reach the Religious Palace you must make your way along the Temple of Nine Degrees of Evolution (or Nine Spheres Palace). At each of the nine levels of the Temple of Nine Degrees of Evolution your soul will be confronted and tested by the Divine Beings. Also, on each step, one of the Nine Female Buddhas will appear to offer mercy and guide the soul who begs for salvation.

If you are not sure, Children of the Supreme Being, read again the prayers from the Đệ Nhứt Cửu Prayer (chanted nine days after death) then read all the prayers until the Đệ Cửu Cửu Prayer (the last prayer in a cycle of nine prayer days which take place once every nine days), and Tiểu Tường Prayer (said 281 days after death) to Đại Tường Prayers (said 581 days after death). In the Cao Đài religion there are three methods of returning to the Supreme Being, and gaining a position in the spiritual hierarchy. The first method is for the soul to manifest inside a physical body that must follow the ranking of the Masters, Divine Beings of the nine Heavens, or following the Sacerdotal Council or the Temple of Nine Degrees of Evolution.

This method requires you to use your talents and abilities to contribute to the Religion (and thus to humanity) as a path for attaining the Way. This path leads from a normal believer, to Student-Priest, and from Priest to Bishop and so on… On this path you must serve from novitiate to intermediate and then to superior, these categories include practicing vegetarianism from six days a month to ten days a month and then full time, respectively. One must cultivate the way firstly within oneself, then within the family and the country, and finally for all humanity. When you follow the ranking of the Masters, Divine Beings of the nine Heavens your soul must have confidence in its own spiritual direction so that you can lead others towards their salvation.

This is what makes the Cao Đài religion different from others. You must save yourself, your family, people outside your family, only then you can save all humanity. One must study in order to understand the Way. When you understand you must teach your family, but not just your family, you must teach the whole of humanity. One studies in order to understand the Way and this is to uphold virtues, to teach the Way to one's family, this is to do good works, to save the whole of humanity, this is to speak the words of the Great Way. These three duties must be fulfilled in order for one to return to the Supreme Being along the path of the Masters, Divine Beings of the nine Heavens.

The second method: To gain a ranking in the spiritual hierarchy by following the Twelve Spiritual Levels means that you must follow the Charity Body. Here, besides practicing a vegetarian diet, following the religious laws, and also the true teachings of God the Father, one must use virtue to rise to a position. In order to uphold virtues one must start and serve from Bright Virtue, New Citizen, Hear Only Good Things, Do Good, Teach Only Good Things, Perfection, Dharma Being, Saintly Being, Virtuous and Talented Being, Saint, Saint-Teacher, Buddhist.

What is “upholding virtue”? It is using love in order to save humanity, as God said "love is the key that opens the door of the Jade Palace." Souls incarnate through life on this planet over the turbulent waves of the suffering that Buddha spoke of in the Four Noble Truths. In order to escape from suffering one must first endure suffering. By enduring suffering one can triumph over suffering. One who follows the Twelve Spiritual Levels shows others how to endure suffering in order to triumph over suffering. To show people how to endure suffering, firstly we must endure suffering ourselves.

When you want to endure suffering there is nothing better than by using the virtue of love: therefore the first level of the twelve spiritual levels is Bright Virtue. Love enables one to endure suffering. Loving your parents means that you must suffer as you serve and protect them in their old age. Loving your children means that you must work hard to take care of them as they grow. Loving the disabled and the destitute means trying to find a way to help them, finding this way also means suffering. To endure suffering allows you to overcome it; but not just for one day, you must do this right to the end.

For example you must look after your parents throughout their old age, and your children until they grow up. Yet these two things are easy when compared with the task of helping the whole community. When you look after the whole community suffering, never stop. When you are finished taking care of one person, there are always others that you must deal with. This continues until the end of your life. By doing this, one can overcome suffering, and in doing this you will be able to return to the Supreme Being by way of the Twelve Spiritual Levels. The third method: “Tu Chơn” or “Tịnh Luyện” styles of meditation comprise the third method.

Those who have followed the path of the nine spiritual levels or the path of the Twelve Spiritual Levels and feel that they have fulfilled the upholding of virtues, doing good works, spreading the words of the Great Way, or feel that they have already endured and overcome suffering, and still feel able to progress in their spiritual quest, they can enter a meditation center for the practice of mystical meditation. At the meditation center adepts will learn the method of: refine the essence and convert it into energy, purify energy and convert it into spirit, refine the spirit and return it to nothingness.

This is the unity of the three treasures, that is a returning to the void. Now we return back to our discussion of the Divine Path to Eternal Life. When we pass through the Temple of Nine Degrees of Evolution (or Nine Spheres Palace) and enter the Religious Palace suddenly we look up, we will no longer see the Council of the Great Spirits (which heads the Eight States of Soul, the Eight-sided Palace of God's presence, the Eight Trigrams Palace), but the vast sea, which is so great, it is unimaginable. At this point we begin to walk the Divine Path to Eternal Life.

If you follow the path of the Masters, Divine Beings of the nine Heavens or the Twelve Spiritual Levels you will wait until the end of your life before returning to God the Father and return with both your perispirit and your soul. However, today we can travel back to the Supreme Being by the perispirit or by a special favor of God. I have been permitted to travel by this shorter way. We look up to see a vast sea, but in fact this is the sky of the universe, and there in the distance, sometimes visible, sometimes not, you can see a magnificent and beautiful palace. The moment you see it you want to rush toward it.

But you realize that you don't know how to move, it is then that you realize that your astral body is attracted to this palace by an incredible force. You do not propel yourself yet you come, you move fast as though flying in an aeroplane. When you arrive, you see innumerable beings, human beings, coming and going – there are too many to count. The crowd is silent, very ordered and secure. This palace is called the Cung Thánh (the palace of heavenly arrival or departure), that is, the place where souls leave the spiritual realm to journey back for reincarnation. It is also the place where souls are welcomed back after they have left their physical body. It looks like an airport or a railway station, people are coming and going at an uncountable rate. Departing is sad, coming home is joyful, but the face of each soul, whether they are coming or going, carries the strain of a common worry.

Those going down are worried, wondering if they can carry out the duties of the assignment given to them by the Supreme Being. Those coming home are also worried because they do not know if they have retained or lost their position in the hierarchy of the spiritual realm. They worry too much, so much worry, everybody is worried. Next time, Bần Đạo will preach on the subjects of the Cung Thánh (the palace of heavenly arrival or departure) and the Cung Thừa Thiên Hành Hóa (Palace of Divine Beings who missionize the Way at the Command of Heaven).
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