The basis of I-Kuan Tao is rooted in Chinese traditions, with teachings emphasizing traditional values such as family, honor, respect and moderation. It is no exaggeration to call I-Kuan Tao the definitive and authentic Chinese form of spirituality.
The appeal of I-Kuan Tao is not limited to the Chinese. The movement is open to everyone regardless of ethnicity. Many people in the West have already experienced the warmth and acceptance of Tao practitioners. They have also discovered, within I-Kuan Tao, progressive teachings that resonate with the Western mind.
The Taoist part of the I-Kuan Tao heritage is by far the oldest, going back at least to the time of Huang-ti, the legendary emperor who lived over 4,500 years ago.
About two thousand years after this ancient beginning, Lao Tzu came along to summarize Taoist beliefs and concepts into the classic Tao Te Ching. Another sage, Chuang Tzu, expanded upon these beliefs and concepts with stories, metaphors and a unique sense of humor.
Today, 2,500 years later, the teachings about the Tao have become the central tenets of I-Kuan Tao. These teachings describe the Tao as the ultimate principle beyond all principles and the ultimate power beyond all powers.
I-Kuan Tao asserts that the Tao is the essence and the spiritual truth behind all religions, philosophies, and schools of thought. It is also the source of everything, the driving mechanism of evolution, and the life force of the universe. The specialized name for this concept is Lao Mu, the personified manifestation of the nurturing, life-affirming, and creative power of the universe.
At about the same time as Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, other sages were also developing their own perspectives on life and spirituality. Confucius became renowned as a great teacher and scholar as he codified social customs and ethics. To the south of China, the Buddha taught his followers the path toward enlightenment.
Confucian teachings and Buddhist thoughts both had profound impact on Chinese culture. I-Kuan Tao recognizes their value, and integrates their teachings into the core of the belief system.
It is the nature of I-Kuan Tao to be open and receptive to different perspectives. The Tao goes beyond superficial, stylistic differences, and great wisdom should be treasured and cherished regardless of its source. By seeking commonalities among different traditions, I-Kuan Tao can move closer to the true essence, and perhaps avoid inflexible dogma.
Five hundred years after the time of Lao Tzu, another remarkable teacher came into the world. His name was Jesus. He left a legacy that would come to serve as the foremost foundation of spirituality in the West.
With the same openness and receptivity that it has for all beliefs, I-Kuan Tao embra`@ces and incorporates Christian teachings. Many Tao practitioners respect and study the Bible, again seeking the common thread of truth and wisdom that can bring the different beliefs closer to oneness.
In terms of formal lineage, I-Kuan Tao traces back to Bodhidharma, the Indian monk who visited China and originated Zen Buddhism. I-Kuan Tao reveres Bodhidharma as the first patriarch, or spiritual ancestor.
The lineage founded by Bodhidharma passed down through the generations to Hui Neng, the sixth patriarch of Zen Buddhism. Hui Neng's deep insights and powerful intuition, as recorded in The Platform Sutra, became central elements of Tao cultivation.
The lineage continued on after Hui Neng, generation after generation. The last patriarch of the lineage was the eighteenth. This final position was shared by two individuals that Tao practitioners call Shi Zueng (literally "teacher-reverend") and Shi Mu (literally "teacher-mother").
In 1930, Shi Zueng and Shi Mu
started their practice of I-Kuan Tao in Chi Nan City, Shang-Dong Province. Their work
spread by word of mouth, and by 1946 I-Kuan Tao became prevalent among 36 provinces of