WHY I CHOSE THE PATH OF THE DAO
By MIKE NALLY
I was raised in a very large Irish Catholic family (three brothers, seven sisters). My father was Catholic newspaper editor in Ohio. He knew many Priests, Bishops, even Cardinals of the Church.
The Mass – the liturgy of the church, it’s beautiful and rich rituals with candles, incense the statues of Jesus, the Holy Mother, and all the Saints were very appealing to me.
As a youth, I walked miles to the local Church everyday to serve as an altar boy and kneed close to the gold tabernacle and the body of God. Oh, how I loved the Mass, the liturgy, the prayers, serving the people with the Priest and bringing them to good news that God was close to them!
My very pious mother also encouraged me to read the lives of the brave and noble saints like Joan of Arc. I also read stories by the great French author Victor Hugo.
Now as a boy, I did not know much about a small, suffering country on the other side of the world called Viet Nam.
But some things came together in my life to put me on a course with what was and still is to become my destiny: my mission as an “ OÂng Myõ “ or Westerner to help all peoples of the world under banner of the Cao Dai!
First, I was born in a very French city – Quebec City, Canada on the first day of spring (March 20th) in the year of the Dog. France was – for better or worse _ to have a profound influence on the country of Viet Nam. So I had this connection from the start of my life.
Second, my father’s favorite painting was of Joan of Arc statue in Quebec City. This great French saint and liberator are also esteemed by the Cao Dai and her statue is in the Holy See at Tay Ninh.
Third, my Godfather at my Baptism at the Sacred Heart church in Quebec was a very famous Catholic teacher and philosopher, Dr. De Konich. He was an expert at the great Second Vatican Council in Rome and knew the Popes. He wrote many books on the Holy Mother Virgin Mary and Inscribed to me the quote: “Michel (Michael) – may you always seek the truth “
Little did know my life long search for the truth as a teacher, journalist and writer, and world traveler would one day lead me to Vietnam. In 1994 (while still Catholic) visited Vietnam. My stop included three day in Hanoi. One night a light rain fell, and a cycle driver drove me around Restored Lake near the city center. As the light rain fell, I fell very alone but calm and I heard a voice, a medium, and a spirit speaking to me. “I will show you the way of the Dao “
Now this puzzled me. I did not know what this instruction meant at that time. I knew very a little of the Cao Dai faith back then. I knew of the great temple at Tay ninh but I had never visited it. Nor did I meet – that I knew of back then – any Cao Dai Priests. My trip to Vietnam lasted ten days.
But when I returned to Orange County, I felt moved in my heart to become more involved in the Vietnamese community in Little Saigon. I joined the Vietnamese Chamber. I eventually became a member of the board, and still am, and try to serve the community. I also began writing many articles about the Vietnamese American community for all the paper here that I had an English section – Nguoi Viet, Viet Tide, Vietnam Economic News, the Register. . . .
At the restaurant in 2004, I happened to meet some members of the Cao Dai temple here. They were kind to take me there on Chestnut Street in Westminster, and introduce me to Hien Tai Pham van Kham.
Rev. Pham was very gracious to me and explained the beliefs and doctrines of the Cao Dai and right away I felt and I had found a second home. I wrote my first article on the Cao Dai for newspapers, and I became more and more intrigued as I learned about Cao Dai beliefs. I was also very impressed by the warm and loving spirit of service by fellow Cao Dai brothers and sisters. They shared their hospitality and vegetarian meal with me and make me feel part of a loving, bonded family.
I asked Rev. Pham if I could still hold onto my Catholic roots and yet follow the way of the Dao. He said I could since the Cao Dai embraces all religions and that Cao Dai itself is based on three pluralist religions: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. For many weeks Rev. Pham was my teacher and gave me many booklets in English on the tenets of the Cao Dai.
I studied all these booklets faithfully and attended temple. A few months ago in 2005, I was initiated as a follower of the Cao Dai in solemn ceremony at the Temple on Chestnut Street.
Why did I take this Dramatic step and make a pledge to help spread the Cao Dai faith? Why have I become a Catholic Cao Dai?
The word “Catholic” means “Universal” and holy. The message of the Cao Dai is also a universal one. God wants all of us to be one! To live in harmony as brothers and sisters and not let religion divide us! What could be a more timely message on this era of terrorism?
I believe God chose the small suffering country of Vietnam which has known so much was, pain, and tears and blood-to let the rest of the word know in this day and this age, that He is now speaking directly to us. This is a great beautifully Mystery! We must do our duty now!
Cao Dai refers to God the Father, the Supreme Creator of the Universal. The official name of Cao Dai is Dai Dao Tam Ky Pho Do or the Third Great Universal Religious Amnesty. My brothers and sisters – were living in this last great time!
The Cao Dai faith has been given first to the Vietnamese people but it is truly a gift to all men and women – the gift of salvation! The Cao Dai mission is unity of all religion ! This is why I choose the way of the Dao. Is Yes I am white by race, yes I am was born in the Catholic faith, yes my cultural roots are Western but now out of the East has come the greatest gift to mankind, the gift and blessing of the Cao Dai religion.
In the past and throughout history of God, the Creator has given mankind different faiths and many prophets to help with his healing message. But now in the present Age, He has now come to speak directly to humanity – to bring real and genuine peace and to bring all religions back into primordial unity.
Imagine – East and West connected! Heave and Earth linked! All this if we gratefully accept the Third Amnesty that God has granted us, and which He announced to the humble nation of the Vietnam back in 1926.
The mission of the Cao Dai is to guide humanity into the way of the Dao and this Third Universal Amnesty of God. Inside every Cao Dai temple is a representation of this Divide Contract (written in French: Dieu et Humanite’, Armour et Justice) meaning: “God and Humanity, Love and Justice!”
Back on Christmas Eve 1925, God let himself be known to the first group of Caodist mediums. These great souls helped the faith to grow. Now I believe their spirit speaking to me-help spead the message of the Cao Dai faith. My promise is to do so through writing, to speak to any group, especially our youth who need to hear the message of healing and salvation in a splintered world.
Is it both my prayer and hope that the message of the Cao Dai will continue to spread across the world and that more Cao Dai Temples of worships will be constructed.
The disciples of Cao Dai, unified and strong, will build a great city of God here on earth to demonstrate the power of Universal Love!
And my deepest prayer in that in time, people practice the way of the Dao, and with God’s blessing, Caodism will become the national religion of Vietnam. May this article I have written on this day of July 17th, touch the hearts of people who read it, and bring them closer to salvation!
By Mike Nally