I-Qi Zongzhu (一氣宗主) is Xiao Changming’s (蕭昌明) religious title. Xiao Changming is the founder of Tian De Jiao (天德教
). Qi (氣) is the fundamental material or vital energy in Chinese cultural. Daoists think that the whole universe comes from the primal qi. Simply, I-qi is the same as the primal qi. The disciples of Tian De Jiao said the I-qi Master is equal to the Formless Primal Buddha (無形古佛) who is not recorded in Chinese Buddhist scriptures. In other words, the I-Qi Master and the Formless Primal Buddha are folk invented ideas.
According to the very rare records, Xiao Changming was born in 1894, a small village in Le Zhi county, Si Chuan Province (四川省樂至縣). It is said that when Xiao Chang-ming was six years old, he had been undergone a near death experience. After this trauma, he seemed to become another person as if he were an adult. He was always preaching some moral or profound dogma to people and asking them to save the world. He left his homeland when he was a teenager at one night and did not leave any message. Some said that he was conducted by a stranger. He had been backed to his homeland briefly and enlisted himself in military service after a while. In the army, he made a friend with a first-degree military scholar (武舉人) whose name is Zou Yun-long (鄒雲龍). Zou influenced Xiao’s religious idea in some aspect. However, the detail is unknown. Then Xiao left army and retreated to western Hunan province (湖南) for years. During this period, he chanted the Scripture of Jade Emperor’s heart seal (玉皇心印妙經) million times. After that, he was enlightened in some mystical experience and founded Tian De Jiao. Then Xiao Chang-ming wrote a moral book, A guide to People’s life
(人生指南) and organized some groups and associations in Nanking, 1930. There he met a secretary serving in the Ministry of Finance (財政部) whose name is Lee Yu-jie (李玉階
). Lee Yu-jie became Xiao’s disciple later. After 1949, Lee followed KMT government came to Taiwan and became a Legislator. He kept on preaching Xiao’s teaching in Taiwan and finally he founded a cult, Tien Ti Jiao (天帝教
). After 1937, Tian De Jiao ‘s disciples get their own scripture by way of spirit writing (扶鸞). Some Scriptures were published such as the De-jiao Chan-wei (德教闡微), De yan (德言),Fa-yan hui-yao (法言匯要) etc. 1937, Xiao set Tian De Jiao ‘s headquarter at Mountain Huang (黃山) where he died in 1942.
In Taiwan, there are two cults of Tian De Jiao. One is still keeping the same name. Another one is Tien Ti Jiao. The head quarter of Tian De Jiao is at Taipei and has overt ten branches in Taiwan. Tien Ti Jiao has over fifty bracnes and departments in Taiwan, Japan and The U.S. Both of them claim same slogans and claim on Qi Gong and the syncretism of world religions.
Keywords: I-Qi Zongzhu, Xiao Changming, Tian De Jiao, Tien Ti Jiao, religious syncretism