LA Fridays with Bob and Tom: Cao Dai Temple

LA Fridays with Bob and Tom

 Week 25.  Cao Dai Temple

This week we visit the Vietnamese Cao Dai Temple on 3456 Glenmark Drive, in Hacienda Heights. Cao Dai (Caodaism) is a Vietnamese syncretic religious movement which draws upon ethical precepts from Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Catholicism. The term Cao Dai literally means “High Tower or Palace,” the place where God reigns over the Universe. The fundamental objective is the unity of all religions. Inside every Cao Dai Temple is a representation of The Divine Contract of the Third Amnesty. This contract between Heaven and Earth is written and presented to humanity by the Venerable Saints, including Victor Hugo, Sun Yet Sen, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ and Joan of Arc, to name a few.

The Temple courtyard is lined with various Buddhas with written descriptions of who they are and what they represent. The main shrine is for prayer and meditation. When we entered several people were lighting incense and making offerings. Local members of the Temple were friendly and helpful in explaining the religion and its symbols. We were informed that the Eye is a universal potent symbol of the Divine. For each Caodaist, the eye represents our universal heart.

By offering a way of life that concentrates on the harmony of all religions, Caodaism offers harmony to a troubled world, providing spiritual solutions for significant world problems such as racism, intolerance and ignorance.

 The Temple offers a vegetarian buffet, free parking, and another worldly spiritual experience for all visitors and religions.




Robert (Bob) is a PhD physicist whose career has spanned academia, government and private industry. As a faculty member of the Department of Physics at the University of Tennessee, a Branch Chief at the United States Department of Energy and Vice President of an American International Group Company, his scientific endeavors include radiation physics, environmental research, environmental insurance and nanotechnology.

Originally from the East Coast, Bob was seduced by his sons and their families (and the California weather) to leave Washington, DC after retiring in 2010. While recovering from culture shock, Bob found many outlets to reconcile his eclectic interests. As a member of Senior Scholars for over six years he continues to take courses in a myriad of subjects ranging from film to art history to brain science and finds great intellectual and social rewards in Senior Scholars and the Plato Society.

As a latent artist, he sketches scenes about town once a week with an artist friend from his college days and is attempting to learn to play the electric guitar.

On moving to Los Angeles, he found Tom Jacobson, another recent transplant. They became great friends and decided to explore their new town together leading to over 113 sites in our city. Dubbed “LA Fridays with Bob and Tom” they are happy to share their experiences with others.

Bob lives in Brentwood with Phyllis, his wife of 56 years, an education policy executive. They have two sons and four grandchildren, one of whom plays a guitar a lot better than Bob.




Thomas (Tom) is an attorney who practiced trial and constitutional law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Born in 1938 in Bamberg Germany, he was one of the youngest passengers on the ill-fated voyage of the Damned, the SS St. Louis, turned away from Cuba in 1939.

Tom represented local civil rights activists and Dick Gregory and twice argued cases successfully in the United States Supreme Court. In 1970 he was the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General.

Retiring in 2008, he and wife, Peggy, moved to California to join their two sons and four grandchildren, and enjoy the warm weather.

Tom has kept busy as a member of Senior Scholars and Plato for the last six years keeping his brain stimulated and active. Yoga and swimming have kept his body in shape.