The Five Ranks – Lesson 14 – Free Online Course: Classic Teachings of Zen Buddhism

The Five Ranks – Lesson 14 – Free Online Course: Classic Teachings of Zen Buddhism

[Link to Lesson 1] [Link to Lesson 2] [Link to Lesson 3] [Link to Lesson 4] [Link to Lesson 5] [Link to Lesson 6] [Link to Lesson 7] [Link to Lesson 8] [Lesson 9] [Lesson 10] [Lesson 11] [Lesson 12] [Lesson 13] [Lesson 14]

Zen Practice Zen Enlightenment: A free course on the essential doctrines and methods of Zen Buddhism.

The goal of this course is to provide a comprehensive presentation of the essential doctrines and methods of Zen Buddhism. To provide the most reliable account possible this course appeals to the greatest authority available; the genuine teachings of the classic Zen masters.

In the interest of maintaining a logical structure and systematic advance, each lesson introduces a specific topic by opening with a brief excerpt from The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing: The Second Ancestor of Zen in the West. This is followed with a selection of related passages from the classic literature of Zen Buddhism.

The passages of each lesson offer an array of perspectives from a variety of classic Zen records. This provides a well rounded presentation of the specific subject and introduces the diverse teaching styles of the Zen records that serve as the foundation of Zen Buddhism. The selected passages also present various levels of difficulty. The easier, more accessible passages serve to illumine and bring into relief the significance of the more difficult expressions, while the latter serve to suggest the more subtle implications of the former.

Each lesson is designed to furnish two primary approaches of study; one basic, the other more involved. The basic approach can be followed by applying oneself to the lesson for about 20 minutes or less. The more involved approach will include additional material and references to both online and traditional resources allowing for expanded study suited to individual interests.

While some comment may be offered were clarification seems in order, in attempting to let the Zen masters “speak for themselves” every effort to refrain from “interpretative” commentary will be made. Any interpretive commentary that does seem appropriate will, as far as possible be confined to the “comment” field following each lesson. Please use this “comment” field to offer comments, questions, or suggestions.

Any and all constructive feedback is greatly encouraged and appreciated. If you have a comment, question, or suggestion you want to keep private, please email me at: tedbiringer@flatbedsutra.com

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The Five Ranks – Lesson 14

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Introduction from The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing: The Second Ancestor of Zen in the West

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The teaching of the Five Ranks is one of the most essential doctrines of Zen. Hakuin Zenji considered the realization of the Five Ranks indispensable to authentic Zen practice and enlightenment. He believed that the teaching of the Five Ranks was expounded to awaken students to the Four Prajnas of Buddhahood. The importance that he placed on the Five Ranks is evidenced by his inclusion of them as the completion of his systematic approach to koan-introspection…

Good friends, the essence of what the Five Ranks represents has always been an integral aspect of Mahayana Buddhism, including Zen. However, the presentation of it by Tozan, further refined by Sozan, marks the point at which it reaches the level of true Zen expression…

True Zen expression is so direct it is immediate. I am using the term “expression” here in its highest, most inclusive sense; to communicate, manifest, depict, convey, squeeze out, disclose, implicate, expose, and indicate. This is the realm of Zen’s mind-to-mind transmission. The wisdom of enlightenment, prajna paramita, is transmitted through expression and realization. Like Zen koans, The Five Ranks is one way that this wisdom is transmitted. True Zen expressions are direct expressions of wisdom, which can only be realized by wisdom…

Good friends, each of the five ranks, like each koan, is unique; each expression transmits a particular aspect of wisdom. For those who would set out to realize authentic Zen practice and enlightenment, wholehearted dedication and long-term commitment is necessary. The resolution of the one great matter of life and death is no easy task; yet, there is no task as worthwhile…

Dogen frequently points out that this transmission only occurs from Buddha to Buddha. For, if we do not receive it with our buddha-mind, we do not receive it at all. Zen expression comes from buddha-mind and goes to buddha-mind. Buddha expresses Buddha, and thereby realizes Buddha. Buddha awakens Buddha…

Good friends, it is vital to follow through completely if we are to realize the freedom to respond equally in every direction. The Five Ranks are among the best Zen methods of progressive transcendence. Nevertheless, each rank, if not fully penetrated and transcended, can become a bond or a sticking point itself…

Like the best koans, the Five Ranks contain layers and layers of wisdom, we will find, like Gutei (Chu-chih) did with his “one finger Zen,” we can use them our whole life but we will never use them up…

The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing: The Second Ancestor of Zen in the West

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Turning Words from the Classic Records of Zen


The Five Ranks of Tung-shan

First Rank: Phenomena Within the Real:  (the relative absolute)

 At the beginning of the night’s third watch, before there is moonlight,

Don’t be surprised to meet yet not recognize

What is surely a familiar face from the past.

The Record of Tung-shan, William Powell 

 The Record of Tung-Shan (Classics in East Asian Buddhism)

Second Rank: The Real Within Phenomena:  (the absolute relative)

 An old crone, having just awakened, comes upon an ancient mirror:

That which is clearly reflected in front of her face is none other than her own likeness.

Don’t lose sight of your face again and go chasing your shadow.

The Record of Tung-shan, William Powell

 The Record of Tung-Shan (Classics in East Asian Buddhism)

Third Rank: Coming from Within the Real:  (coming from within the absolute)

Amidst nothingness there is a road far from the dust.

If you are simply able to avoid the reigning monarch’s personal name,

Then you will still surpass the eloquence of previous dynasties.

The Record of Tung-shan, William Powell

  The Record of Tung-Shan (Classics in East Asian Buddhism)

Fourth Rank: Going Within Together:  (arriving in both)

 Two crossed swords, neither permitting retreat:

Dexterously wielded, like a lotus amidst fire.

Similarly, there is a natural determination to ascend the heavens.

The Record of Tung-shan, William Powell

  The Record of Tung-Shan (Classics in East Asian Buddhism)

Fifth Rank: Arriving Within Together:  (attainment in both)

Falling into neither existence nor nonexistence, who dares harmonize?

People fully desire to exit the constant flux;

But after bending and fitting, in the end still return to sit in the warmth of the coals.

The Record of Tung-shan, William Powell

  The Record of Tung-Shan (Classics in East Asian Buddhism)

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Caoshan (Ts’ao-shan) On the Five Ranks

 

The Relative Within The Absolute: A piece of emptiness pervading everywhere, all senses silent.

The Absolute Within The Relative: The moon in the water, the image in the mirror—fundamentally without origin or extinction, how could any traces remain.

Coming From Within The Absolute: The whole body revealed, unique; the root source of all things, in it there is neither praise nor blame.

Arriving  Within The Relative: Going along with things and beings without hindrance, a wooden boat empty inside, getting through freely by being empty.

Arrival In Both At Once: The absolute is not necessarily void, the relative is not necessary ac­tual; there is neither turning away nor turning to.

When mental activity sinks away and both the material world and emptiness are forgotten, there is no more concealment—the whole thing is revealed; this is the relative within the absolute.

Mountains are mountains, rivers are rivers—no one establishes the names, nothing can be compared; this is the absolute within the rela­tive.

Clean and naked, bare and free, the visage is in full majesty— throughout all heaven and earth, the sole honored one, without any other; this is coming from the absolute.

Just as the emperor in his realm does not rely upon the ordinances of wise kings and emperors of the past, the eye sees and the ear hears without using any other power.

As the ear does not enter sound, and sound does not block up the ear, the moment you turn therein, there have never been any names fixed in the world. This is called arrival within both at once. This is not mind or objects, not phenomena or principle; it has always been beyond name or description. Naturally real, forgetting essence and appearance, this is called simultaneous realization of both relative and absolute.

Timeless Spring, Thomas Cleary

  Timeless Spring: A Soto Zen Anthology

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Hakuin: On the Five Ranks

The valuable thing about the Five Ranks, of relative and ab­solute, and of achievement and attainment, is that you thereby not only realize the four cognitions but also complete the three bodies in your being.

Hakuin, The Five Ranks, Thomas Cleary

Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 1: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyBuddhism Books)
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 2: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyBuddhism Books)
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 3: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyBuddhism Books)
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 4: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyZen Philosophy Books)
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 5: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyBuddhism Books)

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Fa-tsang: The Interchangeable Function

Just as one body has the interchangeable function of the ten bodies, each hair pore, each physical member, each joint, all have the interchangeable function of the ten bodies. Sometimes one uses the medium of the eye to perform ear-media Buddha work, sometimes one uses the medium of the ear to perform eye-media Buddha work—nose, tongue, body, and mind are also like this.

Fa-tsang, Return To The Source, Entry Into The Inconceivable, Thomas Cleary

 Entry Into the Inconceivable: An Introduction to Hua-Yen Buddhism

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Tung-shan: Everywhere I meet him

Earnestly avoid seeking without,

Lest it recede far from you.

Today I am walking alone,

Yet everywhere I meet him.

He is now no other than myself,

But I am not now him.

It must be understood in this way

In order to merge with Suchness.

The Record of Tung-shan, William F. Powell

  The Record of Tung-Shan (Classics in East Asian Buddhism)

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Hakuin: Not Yet, Not Yet Enough

If learners who have reached this state (the Second Rank – TB) consider it enough, then as enlightening beings (Bodhisattvas) they still fall at the peak into a deep pit. Why? They do not know the conduct of enlightening beings, and do not understand the conditions for a Buddha land. It was in order to rem­edy this problem that the masters went on to define the rank of com­ing from within the absolute.

Hakuin, The Five Ranks, Thomas Cleary

Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 1: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyBuddhism Books)
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 2: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyBuddhism Books)
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 3: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyBuddhism Books)
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 4: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyZen Philosophy Books)
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 5: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyBuddhism Books)

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Yuanwu: Progressive Transcendence

To transcend emotion, detach from views, remove bonds, and dissolve sticking points, bring up the Zen methods of progressive transcendence, and support the treasury of eyes of truth, one must respond equally in all directions, every facet crystal clear, to directly reach such a state. But tell me, are there any who share the same attainment, the same realization, the same death, and the same life?

Blue Cliff Record,Yuanwu’s Introduction to case 91, Thomas Cleary

The Blue Cliff RecordZen Books)(Thomas Cleary & J.C. Cleary)

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Dogen: The Myriad Particular Forms of the One

You should know that the sky is one plant. This sky inevitably flowers, just as all plants flower.

Shobogenzo, Kuge, Thomas Cleary

Shobogenzo.:Zen Essays by Dogen (Selected Translations by Thomas Cleary)

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Skin, Flesh, Bone, and Marrow – Four Ranks of Bodhidharma’s One Body-Mind

After nine years had passed, the Master wished to return to the western land of India. He said to his disciples, “The time has come [for me to go back home]. I want each of you to show your understanding.”

One disciple, Tao Fu, answered, “According to what I understand, function of the Tao cannot be grasped through literal knowledge, nor is it apart from literal knowledge.”

The Master remarked, “You have gained my skin!”

A nun, Tsung Ch’ih, said, “What I understand now is like Ananda’s glimpse of the realm of Aksobhya Buddha. It may be seen in oneness, but never in duality.”

The Master said, “You have gained my flesh!”

Tao Yu said, “The four great [elements] are originally empty, the five aggregates (physical form, sensation, perception, impulse, and thought) do not exist, and in my comprehension there is not a single thing to be found.”

The Master declared, “You have gained my bone!”

Finally Hui K’o bowed, and remained standing at his seat.

The Master said, “You have gained my marrow!”

The Transmission Of The Lamp, Sohaku Ogata

The Transmission of the Lamp: Early Masters

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Cheng Kuan – When One side is illumined, the Other side is dark

On the eighth date of a [lunar] month, half of the moon is bright and the other half dark; the very appearance of the bright part, [the disclosed] affirms but does not negate the existence of the hidden part. Likewise, the manifestation of something always implies the existence of the unmanifested or concealed part of the same thing. At the moment when the bright part of the moon is disclosed, the dark part also “secretly” establishes itself. This is the reason behind the so-called simultaneous establishment of concealment and disclosure in secrecy.

Ch’eng Kuan, A Prologue to Hwa Yen, The Buddhist Teaching of Totality, Garma C.C. Chang

The Buddhist Teaching of Totality: The Philosophy of Hwa Yen Buddhism

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Tung-shan: Hearing with the Eye

Tung-shan asked, “In which sutra is it taught that nonsentient beings expound the Dharma?”

Yun-yen replied, “Haven’t you seen it? In the Amitabha Sutra it says, ‘Water birds, tree groves, all without exception recite the Buddha’s name, recite the Dharma.’”

Reflecting on this, Tung-shan composed the following gatha:

How amazing, how amazing!

Hard to comprehend that nonsentient beings expound the Dharma.

It simply cannot be heard with the ear,

But when sound is heard with the eye, then it is understood.

The Record of Tung-shan, William F. Powell

  The Record of Tung-Shan (Classics in East Asian Buddhism)

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Tu Shun: The Identity of Li and Shih

If a Li is true, it should not be outside Shih. There are two reasons for this. First, because of the principle of dharmanairatmya [the emptiness-of-the-selfhood-of-dharmas]. Second, because Shih must depend on Li, [Shih] itself is but hollow without any substance. Therefore, only if Li is identical with Shih through and through can it be considered to be the true Li. [Taking again the parable of water and waves:] since the water is waves themselves, no motion can be excluded from wetness. That is why we say that the water itself is the waves.

Tu Shun, Meditation on the Dharmadhatu, The Buddhist Teaching of Totality, Garma C.C. Chang

 The Buddhist Teaching of Totality: The Philosophy of Hwa Yen Buddhism

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Dogen: The One Expressed by the Particular is the One Expressed by the One

The Dharma-nature expressed by Baso is the Dharma-nature expressed by the Dharma-nature. It experiences the same state as Baso, and he is in the same state as the Dharma-nature.

Shobogenzo, Hossho, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo: Book 1 (Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross)

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Joshu On the One and the Many

A monk asked Joshu, “When all things return to the one, where does the one return?”

Joshu said, “When I was in Ch’ing Chou I made a cloth shirt. It weighed seven pounds.”

Blue Cliff Record, Case 45

The Blue Cliff RecordZen Books)(Thomas Cleary & J.C. Cleary)

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Supplemental Instructions For Advanced Study

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Hakuin on the Fifth Rank

If learners want to pass through Tozan’s rank of attainment in both, you should first study the following verse:

That idle old awl Cloud of Virtue—

how many times has he come down

from the peak of wonder!

He helps other foolish sages

hauling snow to fill a well.

Hakuin, The Five Ranks, Thomas Cleary

Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 1: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyBuddhism Books)
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 2: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyBuddhism Books)
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 3: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyBuddhism Books)
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 4: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyZen Philosophy Books)
Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 5: The Collected Translations of Thomas ClearyBuddhism Books)

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Jewel Mirror Samadhi

The Dharma of Suchness, directly transmitted by buddhas and patriarchs,

Today is yours; preserve it carefully.

It is like a silver bowl heaped with snow and the bright moon concealing herons—

When classified they differ, but lumped together their where­abouts is known.

The Mind, not resting in words, accommodates what arises;

Tremble and it becomes a pitfall; missing, one falls into fretful hesitations.

Neither ignore nor confront what is like a great ball of flame.

Giving it literary form, immediately defiles it.

Clearly illuminated just at the middle of the night, it does not appear in the morning light;

It is a standard for all beings, used to extricate them from all suffering.

Although it takes no action, it is not without words.

Like gazing into the jewel mirror, form and reflection view each other;

You are not him, but he is clearly you.

Just as in the common infant, the five characteristics are com­plete;

No going, no coming, no arising, no abiding,

Ba-ba wa-wa, speaking without speaking;

In the end, things are not gotten at, because the words are still not correct.

In the six lines of the doubled li hexagram, Phenomena and the Real interact;

Piled up to become three, each transformed makes five.

Like the taste of the [five-flavored] chih grass, like the [five-pronged] vajra;

Secretly held within the Real, rhythm and song arise together.

Penetration to the source, penetration of the byways,

Grasping the connecting link, grasping the route.

Acting with circumspection is auspicious; there is no contra­diction.

Innately pure, moreover subtle, no connection with delusion or enlightenment.

According to time and circumstance, it quietly illuminates.

Fine enough to penetrate where there is no space, large enough to transcend its boundaries.

Being off by the fraction of a hairsbreadth, the attunement of major and minor keys is lost.

Now there is sudden and gradual because principles and approaches have been set up;

With the distinction of principles and approaches, standards arise.

Even if one penetrates the principle and masters the approach, the true constant continues as a [defiled] outflow.

Externally calm, internally shaking, like a tethered charger or a hiding rat;

The former sages, having compassion for such people, made a gift of the Dharma.

In their topsy-turvy state, people take black for white.

But when their topsy-turvy thinking is destroyed, the acquies­cent mind is self-acknowledged.

If you wish to conform with ancient tracks, please consider the ancients:

The Buddha, on the verge of accomplishing the Way, spent ten kalpas beneath the tree of contemplation;

Like the tiger which leaves some remains of its prey, and like the charger whose left hind leg has whitened.

For the benefit of those with inferior ability, there is a jeweled footrest and brocade robes;

For the benefit of those capable of wonder, a wildcat or white ox.

Yi used his skill [as an archer], and there was the bowman who pierced the target at one hundred paces.

Two arrowpoints meeting head-on,—how is such great skill attained?

The wooden man begins to sing, and the stone woman rises to dance;

It is not attained in thought or feeling, so why reflect upon it?

A vassal serves his lord, and a child obeys its father;

It is unfilial not to obey, improper not to serve.

Working unobserved, functioning secretly, appearing dull, seemingly stupid—

If one can simply persist in that, it is called the host’s view of the host.

The Roaring Stream: A New Zen Reader (Ecco Companions)

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For a while try to visualize whether or not there is the whole being, the whole world apart from the present time. …Trying to escape by claiming that oneself is not the sixteen foot tall golden body is also itself bits of being time; it is the looking of those who have not yet verified it.

Shobogenzo, Uji, Thomas Cleary

Shobogenzo.:Zen Essays by Dogen (Selected Translations by Thomas Cleary)

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A monk asked Haryo, “What is the razor-sharp sword?”

Haryo said, “Each branch of coral supports the moon.”

Blue Cliff Record, Case 100

The Blue Cliff RecordZen Books)(Thomas Cleary & J.C. Cleary)

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Nan-yuan said, “Make a thorough study of the Buddha Dharma, and broadly benefit the world.”

The Master said, “I have no question about studying the Buddha Dharma, but what is it to broadly benefit the world?”

Nan-yuan said, “Not to disregard a single being.”

The Record of Tung-shan, William Powell

 The Record of Tung-Shan (Classics in East Asian Buddhism)

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[When] the Flower of Dharma just now is the Flower of Dharma, it is neither sensed nor recognized, and at the same time it is beyond knowing and beyond understanding. This being so, five hundred [ink] drop [kalpas] are a brief thousandth [of an instant] of turning the Flower of Dharma; they are the Buddha’s lifetime being proclaimed by each moment of red mind.

Shobogenzo, Hokke Ten Hokke, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo: Book 1 (Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross)

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Resources For Advanced Study

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Bamboo In The Wind (Online resources on the Five Ranks)

The Go-i Koans (A website with texts and links related to the Five Ranks)

Chan and Zen Buddhism – Reference material, Sutras (Buddhist Scriptures), Writings of the Chan (Zen) Ancestors, and Original Articles – Compiled by Dr. Ron Epstein, Philosophy Dept. San Francisco State University

BuddhaNet’s Web Links – BuddhaNet™ is a non-sectarian on-line cyber sangha committed to facilitate a significant Buddhist presence in the ever-expanding realm of computer communications technology, applying this technology to helping make the Buddha’s teachings freely available to all.

The Zen Site (Massive Zen/Buddhism Resource Site – Bookmark It!

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[Link to Lesson 1] [Link to Lesson 2] [Link to Lesson 3] [Link to Lesson 4] [Link to Lesson 5] [Link to Lesson 6] [Link to Lesson 7] [Link to Lesson 8] [Lesson 9] [Lesson 10] [Lesson 11] [Lesson 12] [Lesson 13] [Lesson 14]