Con đường thiêng liêng hằng sống

Bài bộc lộ về “Con Đường Thiêng Liêng Hằng Sống” của Đức Hộ Pháp Phạm Công Tắc trên Australia.

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Vào ngày 7/12/ 2017 trên Trường Đại Học Notre Dame nước Australia vào Họp Báo Hội nghị Thường Niên của The Australian Association for the Study of Religion AARS “Hội Nghiên Cứu Tôn Giáo Úc Châu” Tiến Sĩ Christopher Hartney, Giáo Sư Tôn Giáo Học trực thuộc Trường Đại Học Sydney sẽ diễn tả về đề bài “Con Đường Thiêng Liêng Hằng Sống”.

Đức Hộ Pháp Phạm Công Tắc là một trong những trong số những chi phí bối của Đạo Cao Đài. Ngài mở đầu Hiệp Thiên Đài, vốn được coi như như thay mặt đến ý thức của đạo (Cửu Trùng Đài thay mặt thân xác, Bát Quái Đài thay mặt linch hồn) và sau khi Đức Quyền Giáo Tông Lê Văn Trung mất thì Ngài cố quyền cả Hiệp Thiên Đài với Cửu Trùng Đài. Ngài là vị tiền bối Cao Đài có số bài xích tmáu đạo nhiều duy nhất. Phần to các bài tngày tiết đạo này được Ban Tốc Ký Toà Thánh Tây Ninh khắc ghi và đã được Hội Thánh Cao Đài phát hành nội bộ.

Trong số phần đa bài bác tmáu đạo của Ngài, rất nổi bật là nhì chủ đề “Con Đường Thiêng Liêng Hằng Sống” cùng “Bí Pháp”. Đây là triết lý mấu chốt của Cao Đài Giáo cùng rất có thể coi như một trong số những bộ thánh kinh đặc trưng của Cao Đài Giáo.

Được biết thêm Tiến Sĩ Christopher Hartney đang nhiều năm nghiên cứu và phân tích về Cao Đài Giáo. Luận án Tiến Sĩ của ông là: A strange peace: Đạo Cao Đài & its manifestation in Sydney.

cũng có thể coi đây là lần biểu hiện trước tiên về chủ thể này vì một học giả Úc tiến hành trước một cử toạ trí thức.

Sau đó là hình Tiến Sĩ Christopher Hartney đang trình bày với toàn văn bài xích trình diễn của ông.

How Heaven Operates:

The Divine Path khổng lồ Eternal Life

by Phạm Công Tắc (1948-1949)

Christopher Hartney

Studies in Religion

University of Sydney

In this presentation, I provide an assessment of a phối of Vietnamese sermons from 1948. The sermons were delivered by Phạm Công Tắc (1890-1959), one of the most influential religious leaders in Vietnam giới during the twentieth century. His work in spiritism và séance in the lead up khổng lồ 1925 resulted in the development of Caodaism, presently the largest indigenous faith system in Vietnam. He worked as the religion’s chief medium, conveying numerous spiritual voices from heaven until the Vichy French took control of Indochina at the start of World War II. Phạm Công Tắc was exiled lớn Madagascar in 1941. Upon his return in 1946, the medium had changed into an esoteric visionary. He began a series of sermon-lượt thích accounts khổng lồ the Caodẻo faithful of his astral travels throughout the various levels, offices, và palaces of heaven. His words were transcribed & published by his followers into lớn a book Con Đường Thiêng Liêng Hằng Sống, which I have translated as The Divine Path khổng lồ Eternal Life. Working over several years with colleagues Đào Công Tâm and Từ Crộng (Nguyễn vnạp năng lượng Dũng), I hope lớn provide in this session the first academic assessment of this work. In demonstrating how heaven operated & how souls were created & saved or damned, Phạm Công Tắc sought to show his followers what they must bởi to access the inner workings of paradise và achieve full spiritual realisation. This text is thus essential for understanding key aspects of modern Vietnamese soteriology.

What is Caodaism?

In a nutshell Caodaism is a syncretic faith system that revivifies the religious life of South Vietphái mạnh (the Indochinese Province of Cochinchina) from 1925 using influences from the Tam giáo or three traditions of Đài Loan Trung Quốc (Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism) together with a Catholic monotheism, Kardecian spiritism, và the universalism of French masonry. Adherents numbered in the millions as World War II approached, & today after the tragedy of the American War and the spread of Vietnamese over the world, Sydney has one of the most vibrant diaspora communities amongst the Caodaists and (almost) two very beautiful temples.

The Importance of Scripture in Caodaism

Through a “Protestant” paradigm of examination, where the scholar focuses on authoritative sầu texts we might say Caodaism has three ‘canonical’ texts and a near-canonical explanation text, the first three written by heaven or by committee và authorised by heaven, the fourth being a very well corrected text by the founders of the faith. These are (1) A series of divine messages, The Thánh Ngôn Hiệp Tuyển.<1> (2) The constitution of the religion, the Pháp Chánh Truyền (3) The laws of the new religion: The Tân Luật & (4) a more narrative of the religion and its doctrines called the Giáo Lý by Trương Vnạp năng lượng Tràng. If we examine the use of texts through the paradigm of a “lived” religion – we see two texts that are most often used in the faith as part of community & ritual life và discussion. There are (1) Kinc Thiên Đạo Và Thế Đạo (Prayers for Heavenly và Earthly Paths), and (2) Con Đường Thiêng Liêng Hằng Sống (Divine Path khổng lồ Eternal Life). The prayers were in some instances communicated by heaven and, in other instances developed from earlier religious traditions in Vietnam. The Divine Path, however, is the only text in this menu that comes from one specific personal voice and the text is spoken entirely from this man’s perspective.<2> Essentially it is experiences of journeying inlớn the heavens, and its matter concerns what happens lớn each soul after death. It is read intensely by adepts of the religion wishing lớn understvà the operation of the afterworld. So whilst we may want lớn identify “authoritative” texts in this religion when we construct our history of the faith, the scholar immured in inside a Caodaist community will quickly see that these other texts that are far more utilised by the community than the authoritative texts noted above và noted also by standard-issue historians of the faith.<3>

Who was Phm Công Tc?

Born in 1890, Phạm Công Tắc was one of an exceedingly intelligent cadre of young Vietnamese who were selected and shepherded by the Colonialists through an intensive sầu French education system to enable the operation of the Indochinese bureaucracy. This student ended up working in the customs department in Saigon. The bi-lingualism that the system encouraged broke these men in two. Vietnamese in cultural outlook, they were nevertheless trained lớn think lượt thích Frenchmen at work. By 1925, Phạm Công Tắc had formed an after-work drinking and poetry circle where patriotic songs were sung & news explaining the new craze in the West for Kardecian-inspired table-tipping và séance was eagerly consumed và acted on. The group started khổng lồ be contacted by increasingly powerful heavenly voices, until on Christmas Eve sầu 1925 the voice of God came to announce the start of a whole new religion. Very soon thousands of people were flocking lớn participate in the séances and join the new faith. Only 35 when the new faith began, Phạm Công Tắc working in the religion as its chief medium, whilst more senior and well-known Vietnamese figures led the administration of the faith, such as colonial senator Lê Văn Trung who worked as Acting Pope of the new faith until 1934 when he died. It was at this point that Phạm Công Tắc took over completely and continued with policies to lớn turn the new headquarters of the religion at Tây Ninc, 90 kilometers outside of Saigon, into lớn an independent religious fief. The Third French Republic administrators of Indochimãng cầu worked with the new religion, but in 1940 the Vichy French took over và declared the religion a social aberration.<4> In 1941, Phạm Công Tắc was sent into exile to Madagascar. He did not return until 1946, but when he did, he found that Caodaist officials had worked with Japanese forces lớn train a vast religious army. The head of Caodaism was now the leader of one of the most powerful social organisations in Vietphái mạnh.

The relationship of Phạm Công Tắc’s years of exile, his return in triumph, và his new khung of Scripture delivery in the khung of astral-travelling visions of heaven needs lớn be investigated further, but I suppose here that exile did much to change the way he would move away from group séance at this point and speak not as a mere mortal, but as a personality infused into lớn the existence of Hộ Pháp – or the one who protects the dharma.<5>

Mode of Delivery

Phạm Công Tắc began preaching this cycle of sermons on the night of the 16th September, 1948 (13th Day of the 8th Lunar Month, year of the Mouse) và continued through lớn the 27th April, 1949 (30th Day of the 3rd month, year of the Buffalo). This is about seven months in duration và in the first sermons he makes it clear that they size part of a single explanation on the afterworld. In analysing this collection, however, we first have lớn grtáo with these sermons not as texts but as a performances. They took place immediately after Đại Lễ ceremonies. These were great ceremonies of chanting và music that would go for hours và start at midnight. After hours of intense ritual and in the middle of the night, I would suggest that the words of the sermon were able to invoke a deep và even dreamlượt thích state of the imagination in the listeners of each sermon. At a more esoteric level, one can assess the yin/yang energy levels of this time of night, và even at the times of the lunar month when the sermons were given. But after considering how these texts were given their original performance, we need lớn consider their authentiđô thị. In the first sertháng, Phạm Công Tắc notes that short-hvà stenographers are present to lớn write down his words. But this was not a simple process of rejection and audience reception. Mr Trần Vnạp năng lượng Rạng was the first to write a small essay on the Sermons và in his explanatory note suggests:

In the Cao-Đài religion there is a school of five sầu levels: Nhơn Đạo (The Way of Humanity), Thần Đạo (The Way of Geniism), Thánh Đạo (The Way of Saints), Tiên Đạo (The Way of Immortals) & Phật Đạo (The Way of Buddhas). The stenographers and the general audience of believers were only at the level of geniism (that is, on an earthly plane) which made it difficult for them to really hear và underst& this higher process of cultivation. The dignitaries of the religion who were present và who already practised the Way of Cửu Phđộ ẩm Thần Tiên (those in the executive sầu toàn thân of the religion) didn’t yet understvà the profound nature of the various terminologies of the higher realm.

In the translation I am debuting & discussing today, most of the basic work was done by Mr Đào Công Tâm & myself. Brother Tâm is a former student of Mr Trần Văn Rạng (who I just quoted) & more recently we worked with Từ Crộng /(Mr Nguyễn văn uống Dũng). Mr Nguyễn’s father was one of the stenographers present at these sermons và we were able khổng lồ consult the father’s notebooks when a few passages we were working on seemed particularly obscure.

So, returning to the text, not only are there possible transliteration problems, possible problems that arise from unfamiliarity with the terms presented, but also, there are serious problems caused for the modern reader in the various languages used.

Phạm Công Tắc is more than able lớn slip into French và use French religious terminology, but, in consideration of his audience, rural Vietnamese of various generations, he does this very rarely. But what the translator of these text discovers is that the speaker deploys many arcane forms of Vietnamese, and he is happy using a range of Sino-Vietnamese religious terms. These include Vietnamese transliterations of Sanskrit words describing Buddhist technical terms and brief references lớn long và once well-known Confucian stories regarding government service & filial piety, & references to the Analects. As I move on lớn providing one example before I conclude, if there is one thing that makes access lớn these texts simple and helpful, is the vast range of architectural & spatial explanations that size the backbone of these texts và support their emotional impact.

One Example

Out of 35 sermons, Sertháng 5 is a good example of patterns và themes in the collection. I will base the remainder of this discussion on this sermon. This is the complete text of the sermon:

Sermon 5

The paradise of extreme joy & the image of the divine mother


Đào Công Tâm

Christopher Hartney

Từ Chơn

Delivered in the Tây Ninh Holy See on the 21st October 1948; Lunar Calendar 19th Day of the 9th month, year of the Mouse.

Tonight we should encourage each other khổng lồ make further progress on the path to lớn eternal life. My friends, previously Bần Đạo (“poor monk” – how Phạm Công Tắc refers khổng lồ himself) accompanied you to lớn the Bát Quái Đài (the altar area of the Caodaist main temple) along with evil souls (quỉ vị; demons) & original souls (who thử nghiệm the deceased at each level of the Cửu Trùng đài). We met many friends who showed us love sầu, và who are very dear to lớn us. But then, as we leave sầu Bát Quái Đài our bodies are no longer dirty; we have discarded the seven elements that khung our physical body. I have explained that on the sacred path that takes us through the Bát Quái Đài, there is no difference between male & female. Our physical forms will be destroyed by the mysterious mechanism of that place and we will become a divine aura. And, I know, as we look bachồng, we will realise that our bodies are just dust & wind. We shan’t even have sầu the remnants of clothing as we pass into the aura of the divine; the aura will cover us.

When we exit Bát Quái Đài we feel indescribable joy. Is this where we achieve sầu our holy body? When we have our holy form we look like an immortal, as the Buddhists say. When we leave Bát Quái Đài, everyone is our frikết thúc and soon these souls will be our relatives. Brothers và sisters, in time we will experience three special joys—a three-fold special happiness which we can never experience in the earthly realm. As we hurry further along this holy path, we realise we must not stop. Also as we travel, we realise we have sầu not seen anyone evil in Bát Quái Đài. Whether we know them or not, when we are in this realm everyone is familiar to lớn us, we are all the same. In the Bát Quái Đài we are surrounded by our relatives.

One surprise is the way our progress along the holy path allows us khổng lồ meet beings who may have sầu been indifferent to lớn each other on earth, but now welcome everyone with warmth. These beings are not as perfect as those who have sầu walked through Bát Quái Đài. When we think of the beings we see that they welcome us with tears in their eyes, as though they were our family. In the palace of welcome, our reception is so blissful and so gracious that it is beyond anything experienced on earth by even the greathử nghiệm monarch.

Xem thêm: Những Cách Làm Xương Quai Hàm Nhỏ Lại Không Cần Phẫu Thuật, Cách Thu Nhỏ Xương Quai Hàm Ngay Tại Nhà

We understand that the spiritual realm of eternal life is not only a place lớn welcome the divine beings but also a sacred realm. If we know how to practice a religion and liberate ourselves from the karmic cycle, we can attain our true spiritual self. We shouldn’t imagine that the beings are jealous of us. We will carry the same amount of honour as they do, sharing it with them. When we pass beyond the holy door, there is no jealousy; no-one bears us a grudge. This is the realm where we enjoy our happiness together. We see that even animals have sầu great affection for us. It is impossible lớn describe this love and high regard; birds, animals and plants all nội dung a special affinity with us. I can surely say that no handsome man or beautiful woman on earth can compare with the spirits in this great, sacred realm where everyone is beautiful. There is no need for make-up & fine clothing. Whatever you want—anything that comes inlớn your mind—is there. Any beautiful things you want are given to lớn you. Especially you girls—whatever you want is yours. A lifetime in this earthly realm is nothing but illusion. It is wonderful that the poor in this world can attain Buddhahood (immortality) & have sầu unbounded happiness.

As we proceed, we see xanh sky opening around us and find ourselves moving towards the Vân Động ; a great tunnel of cloud which rises up & towers over us. It is indescribable, unlimited and wondrous & moves as though it has great affection for us.

In the distance we can see cây pphía flapping in the wind. It radiates with the divine aura so the colour of the banner brightens as it flies. We realise that this banner is very familiar; our affection for it is like seeing an old friover.

I want lớn make this comparison. Some of you may have sầu lived in Tây Ninh, but left the country for a long time. On the way home as you passed Trảng Bàng<6> you turned to see Núi Bà Đen . Your heart was flooded with memories as you recognised something very familiar. When we see this banner our affection for it overwhelms us and we are filled with love. We want lớn run faster so we can arrive as quickly as possible (just lượt thích in Tây Ninh) to lớn see the magnificent palace that is about khổng lồ appear.

The scene changes in innumerable ways. If a professional architect were to think about how it might change, they would be joyful & confused; no drawing can capture it. As we move sầu into lớn the new scene we see that there is no dirt or svà at our feet, but we are stepping on the divine aura. As we enter the palace we see a different kind of soul; those whom we have met previously—perhaps lifetimes ago.

I don’t need to talk about this as we all know it already. This just shows us the scene; we will meet our closest friends with no shyness between males và females. Then we will meet our best friover, và see that there is no longer any hesitation; our deep love sầu will be reborn. Even the love between brothers và sisters by birth can’t compare with such a scene.

I have said that the law of love as it appears is a human law. Those who can truly see great love in this world realise the happiness và joy it contains; they will develop this love in their environment. We can never experience such feelings on earth; there is an unlimited power we vị not have sầu here. For example, after living in exile I was warmly received with deep emotions; everyone was cheerful và welcoming; in this realm we can immediately have sầu whatever we want. If we imagine seeing an old friover, they appear immediately!

When you return khổng lồ the spiritual realm, harbour no regrets as husbvà and wife. If you agree or disagree vày so only because of your personality, making incorrect decisions. If you bởi vì, then when you go back to this realm you will have sầu regrets.

One moment, please! I can’t describe this scene because I am overwhelmed by this love sầu which is wonderful and passionate. Happiness on earth is fleeting; it is easy to lớn start crying from pain. Tears stream down our face. Life may only last a hundred years, but in this realm life is eternal. When we arrive & enter the door, the divine beings will guide us further and we will feel joy enter our bodies. We don’t know why this joy pervades our being; perhaps it is because we have passed the threshold into the Way.

I can’t see any realm that is better than this. It is what the Buddha called Cực-Lạc Thế -Giới .

As we pass inside we see a throne. As we approach this honourable seat we look up & see a venerable being, we might describe her as describe an old woman. If we imagine a female immortal, then there is a female immortal before us; if we want to lớn see her as old, she is old, but if we want khổng lồ see her as young she is young. This is very mysterious. When we enter this area, we see our own mother! If a grandfather looks up, he will see his mother; if a grandchild looks up he also will see his own mother. Our personal love sầu will be directed towards this complete love sầu. On earth, mothers often scold, but when we return to this realm our heavenly mother is filled with love sầu. This mother doesn’t behave sầu like mothers on earth.

When we see her, all our past love sầu returns. It is indescribable; even those who are hard-hearted will become emotional & burst into lớn tears when they see the noble love embodied in this great mother. Many people who believe in and understvà the Way vì chưng not realise this. Even Đức Phật Di-Lạc who holds a high và honourable position as the head of many heavens is still his mother’s child. But the Buddha mother at Tạo Hóa Heaven is our true mother. This is difficult khổng lồ explain. If you want khổng lồ know about the love of the mother for her child, look at the statue of the Buddha mother. Can you see how Maitreya Buddha kneels behind her in deep respect. I don’t need to lớn describe the relationship of the Buddha mother và Maitreya Buddha; all of you can see how self-evident the power of mother and child can be.

Even though I hold a high position in this religion, I must still place filial piety first. The excellence of motherhood will always endure.

A very nascent forerunner to lớn the matter of this text can be found in a series of poems written by Phạm Công Tắc and called Thiên Tnhì Kiến Diện, A Visit To Heaven (1927). This text is archived at: and here I provide a translation of the first poem…

Thiên Tnhị Kiến Diện:Ngoài áng đào nguim sấn lao vào,Thiên Thai tiên cảnh trước cao cao.Mây lành lấp rượu cồn có tác dụng khuôn cửa,Tòng rậm bao cung giống như khía cạnh rào.Hạc Đạo đón đưa cất cánh xạo xự,Nai tăng tiếp rước chạy lao xao.Từng ttách lửng đửng nđần độn muôn kẻ,Cười nói mừng vui đến mồm chào.

To visit Paradise

Overwhelmed, I enter this astounding realm.

The view of it shakes me to my core – it is so fine.

Gorgeous clouds obscure its entrance, but then

Mighty pines, I see, surrounding immortal gardens.

Sacred cranes fly through its skies và sacred deer

Roam about nội dung as people gather,

Lots of people – waiting for some great reception.

They greet each other with true warmth, laugh in amazement.

Travel, Spatial Awareness, Body Awareness, Architecture and Emotion

At close inspection, patterns emerge in this sertháng that are indicative of the entire text/set of sermons. Travel và the emotions of travel are foremost in the mô tả tìm kiếm of the journey taken by Phạm Công Tắc và he ushers the believer along with him. He gives a powerful explanation of the experience of what it must be lượt thích lớn travel as an aura & how one sheds one’s toàn thân. He takes points of familiar geography & known buildings including the structure of The Divine Temple in Tây Ninh (the Bát Quái Đài, the Cửu Trùng đài) và local sites such as the impressive Núi Bà Đen to lớn provide us with poetic metaphors of our journey. He uses Buddhist terminology, the significant example here being Cực Lạc Thế Giới . Through his words this becomes an actual place on a very long pilgrimage of other places, palaces và courts that make up the machinery of heaven. But he is diligent in placing this within a series of wider cosmological structures. He is very careful khổng lồ bít tất tay that these realms are not strange to lớn us – as beings who have reincarnated numerous times, he is merely reawakening in us the memory of these places. A memory that is obliterated each time we reincarnate bachồng inkhổng lồ the earthly worlds. But he does this not through an manifestly Buddhist cosmology, but through an Imperial one. The heaven that his audience might already have sầu in their minds is one of a celestial palace where the Jade Emperor dwells. This ikhuyễn mãi giảm giá of heaven is based partly on Chinese folk religion iđơn hàng & Confucian iđơn hàng. Heaven is in fact a great imperial bureaucracy that operates the mysterious mechanisms of karma & reincarnation, enlightenment, and rebirth. But his conclusion in this is, ultimately, a powerfully Confucian ending. Using a register that is highly poetic and deeply imaginative, our heavenly guide ushers us towards the throne of the Divine Mother. We may think we are meeting another figure involved in the operation of this vast bureaucracy. But no. He tells us that when we look at her, we see the face of our own mothers. It is an intensely touching scene, và Phạm Công Tắc underscores the potency of the scene by suggesting that even a buddha as great as Maitreya is still only his mother’s child. The message here is certainly not about Buddhist non-attachment, but 孝 . And it is in this conclusion that we can begin lớn build a picture of who he assumed he was addressing as an audience.


Caodaism is, in many ways, a vast social machine for revivifying & amplifying traditional Vietnamese culture through the portal of Modernity as represented by the colonialism, the educational processes, và the religious life of the Third French Republic. Con Đường Thiêng Liêng Hằng Sống is a fascinating text representing the full force of a transnational, modernistic, re-imagining of tradition. It is delivered khổng lồ its audience at a point of high suggestibility, in the early hours of the morning after hours of ritual chanting in what must have sầu been a powerful visualisation session. When we focus on the matter of the sermons, at first glimpse this text seems very traditional. Buddhist ideas seem lớn vie with Confucian and Folk Religion thematics. But the world of the heavens built by Phạm Công Tắc in these sermons is also an embodied one, one based on an individuals travel abroad, a travel infused with the delights of returning trang chính to Tây Ninch. In these sermons profound religious emotions are given an architectural & spatial structure. The modernist nature of these sermons rests literally in their construction. The world is brought together and the experience of dying is described as a great supra-global journey, but at the heart of Sertháng 5, and many others in this collection, is the pride of place given lớn 孝. It is not seen here as a technical Confucian term, rather it is described as a basic & natural function of human existence (i.e. motherhood itself). And by inference, lượt thích the powerful universality of motherhood, so too is the rest of the other worlds that Phạm Công Tắc describes in these sermons both necessary và essential khổng lồ the human condition.

<1> See, Christopher Hartney, “The Thánh Ngôn Hiệp Tuyển: Introducing the Central Scripture of Caodaism as a Paradigmatic Explanation of Vietnamese Modernism,” in New Religious Movements in Modern Asian History (Leiden: Brill, 2017).

<2> A very nascent forerunner to the matter of this text can be found in a series of poems written by Phạm Công Tắc và called Thiên Tnhị Kiến Din, A Visit To Heaven (1927). This text is archived at:

<3> Serguei A. Blagov, Caodaism: Vietnamese Traditionalism và Its Leap inlớn Modernity (Huntington, N.Y: Nova Science Publishers, 2001).

<4> Like other pro-Nazi organisations, they approached anything that seemed Masonic with extreme hostility.

<5> In Sanskrit a “dharmapāla” – a vengeful spirit in Buddhism who ferociously protects the dharma or the law.