Initiation Ritual
Q&A

by Derek Lin

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 transmission.

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 article above.

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 rush.

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 Tao?

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.