In the Pinyin romanization
system, I-Kuan Tao is written as Yi Guan Dao. This
matches the way it is pronounced in Chinese. Yi means
one, Guan means through, and Dao means the
path. Together, I-Kuan Tao is the spiritual tradition
focusing on the one true Tao that unites (goes through) all
明明上帝 Ming Ming Shang Di
means clarity. Repeating the character twice emphasizes and
amplifies its meaning from clarity to enlightenment.
Shang means the utmost, the ultimate, or the highest.
Di means ruler. Together, Ming Ming Shang Di can
be translated as the Highest Ruler of Enlightenment. This is
a reference to the Tao being the natural laws of the
universe and the ultimate principle governing everything.
means ancient. Mu is the Chinese character for mother
turned sideways, indicating the Universal Female Essence
that gave birth to the totality of existence as the supreme
miracle of creation. Together, Lao Mu is another name
for the Tao, focusing on its nurturing and life-giving
aspects as the ultimate source of everything. The terms
Ming Ming Shang Di, Lao Mu and the Tao are all
synonymous with one another.
三曹 Three Realms
The Three Realms are: Heaven,
inhabited by divine beings; the material world, inhabited by
mortals; Hell, inhabited by ghosts. The ideal of I-Kuan Tao
is to spread the spiritual teaching and salvation of the Tao
to all sentient beings whether they are in Heaven, Hell, or
the material world between the two.
五教 Five Religions
The Five Religions are often
misunderstood as Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism,
Christianity and Islam. In actuality, "Five" in this context
means multitude rather than a literal count of five. Thus,
Five Religions point to the most significant traditions of
the world that uplift and inspire people.
師尊 Shi Zuen
means teacher and Zuen means reverence. Together,
this term denotes I-Kuan Tao's most revered teacher, Zhang
Tian Ran (張天然, 1889-1947), who along with Shi Mu served as
spiritual leaders of the I-Kuan Tao movement in the modern
era, as well as the Eighteenth Patriarch of the Zen
tradition that began with Bodhidharma. I-Kuan Tao followers
recognize him as the reincarnation of the Ji Gong Living
Buddha, and also know him by the name of Tian Ran Ancient
師母 Shi Mu
means teacher and Mu means mother. Together, this
term refers to Sun Su Zhen (孫素真, 1895-1975), the great
teacher of I-Kuan Tao who not only taught her followers the
spiritual path, but also nurtured them as a maternal
presence. Today, she is also known to I-Kuan Tao followers
as the Divine Mother of China and the Yueh Huei Bodhisattva.
道長 Tao Zhang
Several advanced Tao cultivators assisted Shi Zuen and
Shi Mu when they began their work decades ago. These
individuals were all the more remarkable because the
teachings of I-Kuan Tao were not at all well known back
then. They achieved mastery of the Tao, and are therefore
known as "Tao Zhang" collectively.
老前人 Lao Chien Ren
Within a division in I-Kuan
Tao, Lao Chien Ren holds the highest position of spiritual
leadership. This position, like other positions in I-Kuan
Tao, may be occupied by either a man or a woman.
前人 Chien Ren
Chien Ren is the position below Lao Chien Ren and above the
Lao Dien Chuan Shi.
老點傳師 Lao Dien Chuan Shi
Lao Dien Chuan Shi is the
position below Chien Ren and above the Master.
This is known as Dien
Chuan Shi in Chinese. Dien means to point, as in
pointing to the Great Truth. Chuan means to transmit,
as in transmitting the Great Tao. Shi means teacher.
Together, these three characters denote an ordained Master
of I-Kuan Tao who has been charged with the Heavenly Decree
(天命) to spread the message of the Tao far and wide.
An Introducer is a Tao
practitioner who introduces a Seeker of spirituality to
I-Kuan Tao, and leads him or her into initiation.
A Guarantor is a Tao
practitioner who guarantees the good character of someone
who seeks initiation into I-Kuan Tao.
功德費 Token of Merit
The typical I-Kuan Tao temple
never engages in regular solicitations of donations. Masters
often support temples financially instead of drawing salary
as ordained clergy often do in most traditions. They are
able to sustain this long-term because they have mastered
positive karma, so that the more they give, the more
abundantly they receive. The requirement to collect the
Token of Merit in the Initiation Ritual is a way to
introduce new followers to the same karmic mechanism, which
may seem inexplicable, but is quite real and has the power
to benefit everyone.
壇主 Shrine Owner
A high-level cultivator of the Tao may decide to take the
step to become the owner of an I-Kuan Tao shrine (壇).
This ownership comes with the responsibility to serve as an
example to others, and is therefore charged with two
requirements not imposed on the typical Tao cultivator. The
first is the total willingness to practice the rituals every
day as specified in this handbook. The second requirement is
the Cleansing Ritual (清口) where one takes a vow to become a
vegetarian and to refrain from telling untruths. The
discipline of Shrine Owners makes them respected and
important figures within the Tao Community.
this context is the same character as the one in Lao Mu.
Also known as the Buddha Light (佛燈), this is the central and
most important element of the I-Kuan Tao shrine. Because the
Tao is the ultimate force and principle rather than a
human-like deity, it should be depicted with the energy of a
flame rather than any sort of human likeness. The Mu Light
is backed by a metal plate inscribed with the characters Wu
Ji (無極), meaning without boundary or unbounded. When the
Mu Light is lit, it shines through these characters,
representing the way reality itself reflects the brilliance
of light shining from the Tao.
道場 Tao Community
A community of the Tao exists
whenever two or more Tao cultivators come together in a
spirit of harmony and mutual respect. This can range from
the formal setting of a temple to a small group of
individuals working together informally to share the
teachings of the Tao with the world.