The Initiation Ritual
In Chinese, this is known as the Qiu Dao ritual. Qiu (pronounced
like chio) means request, and Dao is simply the Pinyin
transliteration of Tao. Together, these characters denote a ritual
where the seeker requests the Tao, which is then transmitted by the
ordained Master of I-Kuan Tao. The ordained Master (Dian Chuan Shi),
is someone who has received the Heavenly Decree (Tian Ming) to
perform this ritual and carry out the sacred task of Tao
Are there any vows associated with joining I-Kuan Tao?
In the initiation ritual, you have to affirm that you seek the Tao
of your own sincere free will - i.e. you are not being forced into
it, have not been brainwashed into it, and you are not harboring
deception or hidden agenda. You also affirm your intention to be
respectful of the teachings and the avatars of the Tao (Buddhas,
Taoist immortals, etc.).
What are the further instructions initiates receive and how do
they receive them?
They receive the Three Treasures of I-Kuan Tao during the initiation
ritual. These are powerful tools to help you with your own spiritual
cultivation. The ordained Master perform the ritual of transmission
of these Treasures, then either the Master or a lecturer will
explain their meaning and help you practice them a few times so you
can start applying them in your life as soon as possible.
More information is available here: http://taoism.net/ikuantao/treasures.htm
Please note that the details of the Three Treasures are reserved for
the initiates, and therefore not completely spelled out in the
Do I-Kuan Tao members have scriptures or books other than TTC?
One of the central ideas in I-Kuan Tao is that the Tao is not a
religion. The Tao is the driving force behind all things - including
all religions. There is definitely something that compels so many
people to delve into Christianity or Islam or Buddhism or other
religious practices; we can call that something the way (the Tao) of
This being the case, someone who is aligned with the Tao would feel
quite comfortable in studying scriptures and books from any and all
spiritual traditions. So while there is such a thing as a Taoist
canon in religious Taoism, there isn't in I-Kuan Tao. Or, you can
say that the I-Kuan Tao canon covers all books that are sincere
attempts to approach the divine. In the mindset of the Tao, there is
no "us versus them" or distinctions in terms of "these are mine,
those are yours."
Thus, most I-Kuan Tao practitioners study from a wide variety of
sources, but since they are mostly Chinese, the books they choose to
study tend to be from Chinese culture. Other than TTC, many also
study Chuang Tzu, I Ching, the Analects, the Heart Sutra, the
Diamond Sutra, the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, etc. Some
also study the Christian Bible. I haven't heard of anyone studying
the Koran, but that's because historically Islam has not been as
influential on the Chinese as Christianity, relatively speaking.
There would certainly be nothing to stop anyone who takes an
interest on the subject.
I would like to know if there is any literature available on I-Kuan
There is, both printed and online. I am familiar with most of them,
but I'm afraid there isn't much written in English that I would
describe as a reasonable reflection of reality. The sources that I
can comfortably recommend are limited to the following:
1) Learn Chinese and study the authentic stuff. I realize for many
people this is simply not a practical plan.
2) Ask people who are actually involved with the practice and can
communicate with you in English. In this regard I would humbly
submit myself and Bill Bunting for your consideration.
3) Read up on the I-Kuan Tao information at http://taoism.net/ikuantao/home.htm
4) Consider participating in the Sunday meetings via Internet audio
conference. It's available to anyone who has a broadband connection
(DSL or cable modem) and you sure can't beat the price ($0).
Are there prerequisites and/or period of time an initiate must
complete before initiation into I-Kuan Tao?
The short answer is no. The long answer is that karmic affinity is
the only requirement. One can cultivate or study the Tao with or
without the initiation, so it's not some sort of obligation that
anyone has to fulfill.
Suppose you are at the temple and you feel the initiation is
something you should do, then I would encourage you to go with that
feeling. The ritual can be conducted for you right away. There is no
waiting period necessary.
What if you wish to go through initiation but you are far away from
the temple? If you have a powerful affinity to the Tao, you'll find
yourself at the temple one way or another. If you cannot be at the
temple, then it may simply be that the time isn't right yet. My
suggestion would be to wait for the right time. There is no need to
Chinese people have a term for karmic affinity: yuan. Someone who
has no yuan with the temple would feel nothing but discomfort even
just thinking about initiation. I have seen this happen a few times,
particularly when the person has yet to work through deep-seated
personal issues like closed-mindedness - and sometimes intellectual
arrogance as well.
I understand that the only way to receive the Three Treasures is
through initiation into I-Kuan Tao and by an ordained Master. At the
same time, I also understand that the Tao is all-inclusive and
all-providing. TTC 5 speaks of heaven, earth and sages being
impartial and treating all as straw dogs... Is this a paradox or is
there an explanation as to why the gifts are exclusively for I-Kuan
The Three Treasures are congruent with the Tao for the simple reason
that the opportunity to go through initiation is open to everyone.
All seekers of the Tao have the potential to receive the Three
Treasures no matter who they are. In that sense, they are indeed all
straw dogs in the impartial eyes of the Tao.
Think about the healthful benefits of moderate exercise. We know
those who exercise moderately will gain the benefits and those who
do not won't. But wait a minute - doesn't the impartiality of the
Tao mean that the healthful benefits should be freely given to
everyone whether they exercise or not? Why should the gift of these
benefits be exclusively limited to the fitness buffs?
We can see that life doesn't work that way, and reality is not a
free-for-all. The Tao of fitness is absolutely impartial in that the
possibility to engage in exercise is available to all. What people
do with the possibility is another matter entirely. It is no
different with the Three Treasures.