We took a call on our radio show last week from a woman asking about a ceremony known as “Receiving the Tao.” She claimed to know someone who had been involved in this. Because I had not heard of this before, I promised to do some research for her on what this might be. What I found is disturbing, especially for Catholics who may be getting involved in this.
“Receiving the tao” is an initiation ceremony conducted by followers of I-Kuan Tao. According to the Buddhist dictionary, I-Kuan Tao is described as “a syncretic folk Buddhist organization in China whose name translates roughly as ‘the Way of Unity’. Formally founded in 1928 by Chang T’ien-jan (1889-1947), it is an offshoot of the older Lo-chiao tradition that believed in a deity called the Unborn Venerable Mother (Wu-sheng Lao-mu), and divided human history into three epochs, during each of which the Mother sent an emissary to call an errant humankind home (in the case of I-kuan Tao, these are three successive Buddhas, the last of whom, Maitreya, has yet to come and effect final salvation). Thus, while incorporating elements of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam, the religion has its own distinctive worldview under which these other religions are subsumed and understood.”
Even though it was once repressed by the communist regime of China, I-Kuan Tao may have survived by splintering into a number of separate branches after the death of T’ien-jan in 1947. It now has an estimated two million followers worldwide who believe that by combining elements of various religions they can uncover a set of universal truths that will enable all people to live together in harmony. It is now actively and successfully proselytizing among Chinese populations in Southeast Asia, Australia, North America, and Europe.
The Tao is popular among people of all faiths because it seems to be more of a philosophy based on maintaining harmony with the “natural flow” of the universe than a religion.
“To Taoists, nature is synonymous with the Tao — which makes up the entire universe; it is elusive, hidden, mysterious,” explains the Christian Research Institute. “The Tao, in turn, is divided into two forces called yin and yang. Yin and yang represent the negative and positive aspects of the universe, each flowing into one another in a continuous cycle of change. Taoist philosophy sees the universe as a balance between these two inseparable, opposing forces. All manifestations of the Tao, and all changes in nature, are believed to be generated by the dynamic interplay of these two polar forces.”
Because of the peaceful nature of Taoism, and its ethical teachings that are very similar to Christianity, many Christians are also being drawn into it, especially when it is presented as being non-religious in nature. But this is a deception. The Tao and Yahweh are very different. As Catholic Answers explains: “Taoism does not admit a Creator who is conscious and personal or who strives for us. Neither does Taoism admit original sin, though it recognizes destructive behavior. In Taoism there is no need for salvation, only enlightenment.”
New Agers are attracted to it because, according to New Age guru Wayne Dwyer, “The Tao has no rules. When you run your life by rules, you’ve left the Tao. . . . We need to lead by an inner kind of law that connects us to the source of all things. We are all pieces of God. We have to find the highest place within ourselves that wants to give. The Tao says that Source wants us to allow things to be.”
People who seek the Tao make a serious commitment to do so, part of which involves an initiation ceremony. A recent participant in an I-Kuan Tao ceremony of initiation described it as taking place in a temple. Conducted by monks, participants were made to bow before a shrine or altar full of food and “statues of divine persons” while incense was offered.
Participants were made to bow numerous times before this altar with their hands clasped over their hearts. They were then told to kneel on a stool and one of the monks “blessed” them by touching their foreheads to supposedly open their “third eyes.” (The third eye is believed to be a spot on the forehead through which the soul enters and leaves the body and which serves as a kind of gateway into higher levels of consciousness, psychic abilities, etc.) Several people who received the opening of the third eye remarked about how it left them permanently changed afterward – saying they could somehow see things more clearly, etc.
After this point in the ceremony, the participants were given three treasures which were to be kept secret and not repeated to anyone else. (Of course, various versions of the three secrets are all over the internet.)
The first treasure is called the Mystic Portal, which refers to the opening of the third eye. The second treasure is the True Sutra. “It consists of sounds without words, so it is also known as the Wordless Sutra,” writes one recipient of the three treasures named Derek Lin. “It is a mantra of power that resonates at a level beyond the sound waves and writings of the material world.”
Lin goes on to describe the third treasure as the Hand Seal. “The central meaning of this treasure is nurturing love. It is a gesture where one hand holds the other in a symbolic representation of the tender loving care that you feel when you hold an infant in your arms.”
I could go on and on, but I think you’ve probably heard enough to realize the grave dangers for Catholics who become involved with “receiving the Tao,” not least of which is participating in a ceremony that involves bowing to an altar decorated with statues of false gods.