THE FIVE DEGREES OF TOZAN The Five Degrees of Tozan, also known as the Five Ranks of Tozan, are different levels of Realization formulated by Zen master Tozan Ryokai, known as Tung-shan Liang-chieh in Chinese (806-869). * The Apparent within the Real: Coming within the Absolute [sho-chu-hen] * The Real within the Apparent: Arriving within the Relative [hen-chu-sho] * The Coming from within the Real: The Relative within the Absolute [sho-chu-rai] * The Arrival at Mutual Integration: The Absolute within the Relative [ken-chu-shi] * Unity Attained: Arrival within Both at the Once [ken-chu-to] I. The Apparent within the Real: Coming within the Absolute [sho-chu-hen] The rank of "The Apparent within the Real" denotes the rank of the Absolute, the rank in which one experiences the Great Death, shouts "KA!" sees Tao, and enters into the Principle. When the true practitioner, filled with power from his secret study, meritorious achievements, and hidden practices, suddenly bursts through into this rank, " the empty sky vanishes and the iron mountain crumbles." "Above, there is not a tile to cover his head; below, there is not an inch of ground for him to stand on." The delusive passions are non-existent, Enlightenment is non-existent, Samsara is non-existent, Nirvana is non-existent. This is the state of total empty solidity, without sound and without odor, like a bottomless clear pool. It is as if every fleck of cloud had been wiped from the vast sky. Too often the disciple, considering that his attainment of this rank is the end of the Great Matter and his discernment of the Buddha-way complete, clings to it to the death and will not let go of it. Such as this is called it stagnant water " Zen; such a man is called " an evil spirit who keeps watch over the corpse in the coffin." Even though he remains absorbed in this state for thirty or forty years, he will never get out of the cave of the self-complacency and inferior fruits of the Pratyeka-buddha. Therefore it is said: "He whose activity does not leave this rank sinks into the poisonous sea." He is the man that Shakyamuni Buddha called " the fool who gets his realization in the rank of the Real." Therefore, though as long as he remains in this hiding place of quietude, passivity and vacantness, inside and outside are transparent and his understanding perfectly clear, the moment the bright insight [he has thus far gained through his practice] comes into contact with differentiation's defiling conditions of turmoil and confusion, agitation and vexation, love and hate, he will find himself utterly helpless before them, and all the miseries of existence will press in upon him. It was in order to save him from this serious illness that the rank of " The Real within the Apparent " was established as an expedient. II. The Real within the Apparent: Arriving within the Relative [hen-chu-sho] If the disciple had remained in the rank of "The Apparent within the Real," his judgment would always have been vacillating and his view prejudiced. Therefore, the bodhisattva of superior capacity invariably leads his daily life in the realm of the [six] dusts, the realm of all kinds of ever-changing differentiation. All the myriad phenomena before his eyes-the old and the young, the honorable and the base, halls and pavilions, verandahs and corridors, plants and trees, mountains and rivers-he regards as his own original, true, and pure aspect. It is just like looking into a bright mirror and seeing his own face in it. If he continues for a long time to observe everything everywhere with this radiant insight, all appearances of themselves become the jeweled mirror of his own house, and he becomes the jeweled mirror of their houses as well. Dogen Zenji has said: "The experiencing of the manifold dharmas through using oneself is delusion; the experiencing of oneself through the coming of the manifold dharmas is Satori." This is just what I have been saying. This is the state of " mind and body discarded, discarded mind and body." It is like two mirrors mutually reflecting one another without even the shadow of an image between. Mind and the objects of mind are one and the same; things and oneself are not two. " A white horse enters the reed flowers snow is piled up in a silver bowl." This is what is known as the jeweled-mirror Samadhi. This is what the Nirvana Sutra is speaking about when it says: "The Tathagata sees the Buddha-nature with his own eyes." When you have entered this samadhi," though you push the great white ox, he does not go away"; the Universal Nature Wisdom manifests itself before your very eyes. This is what is meant by the expressions, "There exists only one Vehicle," "the Middle Path," " the True Form," " the Supreme Truth." But, if the student, having reached this state, were to be satisfied with it, then, as before, he would be living in the deep pit of " fixation in a lesser rank of bodhisattvahood." Why is this so? Because he is neither conversant with the deportment of the bodhisattva, nor does he understand the causal conditions for a Buddha-land. Although he has a clear understanding of the Universal and True Wisdom, he cannot cause to shine forth the Marvelous Wisdom that comprehends the unobstructed interpenetration of the manifold dharmas. The patriarchs, in order to save him from this calamity, have provided the rank of "The Coming from within the Real." III. The Coming from within the Real: The Relative within the Absolute [sho-chu-rai] In this rank, the Mahayana bodhisattva does not remain in the state of attainment that he has realized, but from the midst of the sea of effortlessness he lets his great uncaused compassion shine forth. Standing upon the Four Bodhisattva Vows, he lashes forward the Dharma-wheel of " seeking Bodhi above and saving sentient beings below." This is the so-called "coming-from within the going-to, the going-to within the coming-from." Moreover, he must know the moment of [the meeting of] the paired opposites, brightness and darkness. Therefore the rank of " The Arrival at Mutual Integration " has been set up. IV. The Arrival at Mutual Integration: The Absolute within the Relative [ken-chu-shi] In this rank, the bodhisattva of indomitable spirit turns the Dharma-wheel of the non-duality of brightness and darkness, hence Dark Luminosity. He stands in the midst of the filth of the world, "his head covered with dust and his face streaked with dirt." He moves through the confusion of sound and sensual pleasure, buffeted this way and buffeted that. He is like the fire-blooming lotus, that, on encountering the flames, becomes still brighter in color and purer in fragrance. " He enters the market place with empty hands," yet others receive benefit from him. This is what is called to be on the road, yet not to have left the house; to have left the house, yet not to be on the road." Is he an ordinary man? Is he a sage? The evil ones and the heretics cannot discern him. Even the buddhas and the patriarchs cannot lay their hands upon him. Were anyone to try to indicate his mind, [it would be no more there than] the horns of a rabbit or the hairs of a tortoise that have gone beyond the farthest mountain. Still, he must not consider this state to be his final resting-place. Therefore it is said, "Such a man has in and of himself a heaven-soaring spirit." What must he do in the end? He must know that there is one more rank, the rank of " Unity Attained." Caoshan (S˘zan Honjaku, also: Ts'ao Shan Pen Chi, 840-901) called the Relative the world of myriad forms and the Absolute the realm of emptiness; the relative is also called the phenomenal, and the absolute the principle. The Third Rank, Relative within the Absolute, is realization of the emptiness of mind, whereby all things are emptied - thus it is the relative absolute containing the absolute relative. The Absolute within the Relative, the Fourth Rank, is the mirror awareness which is revealed by cleaning and polishing the mind by cessation and emptiness; at this point, the focus of concentration can make anything fill the universe, or make the universe into one point of awareness. Relative and absolute depend on each other, so two elements make three, adding their mutual intermingling, the source of the two. The absolute is always being expressed in the relative - this is the true absolute, but it is not always seen. Perfect comprehension of the relative grounded on experience of the absolute culminates in simultaneous realization of knowledge and complete peace and calm. At this point, Dongshan (Dong Shan Liang Chieh, also: Tozan Ryokai, 806-869) said: "One 'comes back to sit among the ashes/ living this life as a wayfarer, expressing one's solidarity with the world in the vow to realize perfect Enlightenment with all beings. The five flavored herb and diamond thunderbolt are images of five in one; these so-called ranks or positions, the set of five being the ultimate paradigm of dialectic and an illustration of meditational stages, are all from the same source, hence the association of five in one." Above quotes translated by Thomas Cleary in Timeless Spring: A Soto Zen Anthology V. Unity Attained: Arrival within Both at the Once [ken-chu-to] The Master's verse-comment says: How many times has Tokuun, the idle old gimlet, Not come down from the Marvelous Peak! He hires foolish wise men to bring snow, And he and they together fill up the well. The student who wishes to pass through Tozan's rank of " Unity Attained " should first study this verse. It is of the utmost importance to study and pass through the Five Ranks, to attain penetrating insight into them, and to be totally without fixation or hesitation. But, though your own personal study of the Five Ranks comes to an end, the Buddha-way stretches endlessly and there are no tarrying places on it. The Gates of Dharma are manifold. KEN-CHU-SHI & KEN-CHU-TO: A MATTER OF DEGREES Ken means "both" -- meaning the indepth realization of how both sho and hen are NOT separate, but actually fully integrated-interdefused aspects of the same single, non-dual phenomenon. For example, albeit simply put, the interdefused non-dualism of say hot and cold. On the surface most people would argue that they are seemingly different, but in actuality, both are interrelated aspects of the same single non-dual temperature spectrum (i.e., both the freezing point of water and the boiling point of the same water can be shown on one single thermometer). Thus then, it can be seen the replacement in use of the word ken, which is the realization of both hen and sho totally intermingling and interdiffused, in lieu of the word hen --- as say in ken-chu-shi rather than hen-chu-shi in the Fourth Degree --- carries within it's scope a much deeper meaning than merely a simple syntax variance or first letter change. A fairly good example of that subtle letter change can be found in ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, wherein the Wanderling writes of his Mentor: "...ken-chu-shi was graciously accorded me by the person from which I sought guidence; he himself, having experienced full realization under the grace and light of Sri Ramana Maharshi some thirty-nine years earlier..." Notice his Mentor specifically selected ken-chu-shi over hen-chu-shi, meaning he felt in the nunances of it all a deeper level of understanding was attained than what hen-chu-shi offered. However, notice as well his Mentor DID NOT grace him with hen-chu-to, and most significantly NOT ken-chu-to, apparently indicating in both cases that although the Wanderling's attainment was deep, it was, at least at that time, not total.
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds
THE FIVE DEGREES OF TOZAN