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