Today, I want to spend an entire blog post on a stop that probably only took 30 minutes. Outside of Saigon (AKA Ho Chi Minh) there is The Great Temple of the Cao Dai religion. Cao Dai is one of the more interesting religions that I've come across in my travels. It combines elements of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and even Catholicism, melding together to form a uniquely Vietnamese experience. Central to the religion is the presence of vibrant colors, which you will see from my pictures.
Having studied the basics of all of the religions involved, it was fascinating to watch the Cao Dai service unfold, picking out the contributions from each, but, as a religion rather than an intelectual exercise, I found Cao Dai to be a bit hard to wrap my mind around. I couldn't (and still can't) fully fathom how people could be so devoted to a religion that was willing to glean what it liked from any religion that came into contact with it. I can understand a lifestyle that would do that, but a religion? If the point of religion is to acknowledge something higher than the worshiper, wouldn't bringing in elements of the worshiper's own design be counter-productive? Can you be fully devoted to a religion that isn't fully devoted to its own traditions? I'm not sure; but these things were all on my mind as I photographed the temple.