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The Examination Of The Notion Of Self
The belief in immortality is based on the strong instinct of ...

Scripture Is No More Than Waste Paper
[FN#107] Zen is not based on any particular sutra, either of...

Life And Change
Transformation and change are the essential features of life;...

Zen Is Iconoclastic
For the followers of Bodhidharma, however, this conception of...

Each Smile A Hymn Each Kindly Word A Prayer
The glorious sun of Buddha-nature shines in the zenith of Enl...

Zen And Nirvana
The beatitude of Zen is Nirvana, not in the Hinayanistic sens...

Nature Favours Nothing In Particular
There is another point of view of life, which gave the presen...

The Four Alternatives And The Five Categories
There are, according to Zen, the four classes of religious an...

A Sutra Equal In Size To The Whole World
The holy writ that Zen masters admire is not one of parchment...

Difficulties Are No Match For The Optimist
How can we suppose that we, the children of Buddha, are put a...

Life Change And Hope
The doctrine of Transcience never drives us to the pessimisti...

Shakya Muni And The Prodigal Son
A great trouble with us is that we do not believe in half the...

The Mystery Of Life
Thus far we have pointed out the inevitable conflictions in l...

The Law Of Balance
Nature governs the world with her law of balance. She puts t...

There Is No Mortal Who Is Purely Moral
By nature man should be either good or bad; or he should be g...

The Beatitude Of Zen
We are far from denying, as already shown in the foregoing ch...

Hinayanism And Its Doctrine
The doctrine of Transience was the first entrance gate of Hin...

Missionary Activity Of The Sixth Patriarch
As we have seen above, the Sixth Patriarch was a great genius...

The Next Step In The Mental Training
In the next place we have to strive to be the master of our b...

Idealism Is A Potent Medicine For Self-created Mental Disease
In so far as Buddhist idealism refers to the world of sense, ...

The Five Ranks Of Merit

Thus far we have stated how to train our body and mind according to
the general rules and customs established by Zenists. And here we
shall describe the different stages of mental uplifting through which
the student of Zen has to go. They are technically called 'The Five
Ranks of Merit.'[FN#269] The first stage is called the Rank of
Turning,[FN#270] in which the student 'turns' his mind from the
external objects of sense towards the inner Enlightened
Consciousness. He gives up all mean desires and aspires to spiritual
elevation. He becomes aware that he is not doomed to be the slave of
material things, and strives to conquer over them. Enlightened
Consciousness is likened to the King, and it is called the Mind-King,
while the student who now turns towards the King is likened to common
people. Therefore in this first stage the student is in the rank of
common people.

[FN#269] Ko-kun-go-i. For further details, see So-to-ni-shi-roku.

[FN#268] Ko in Japanese.

The second stage is called the Rank of Service,[FN#271] in which the
student distinguishes himself by his loyalty to the Mind-King, and
becomes a courtier to 'serve' him. He is in constant 'service' to
the King, attending him with obedience and love, and always fearing
to offend him. Thus the student in this stage is ever careful not to
neglect rules and precepts laid down by the sages, and endeavours to
uplift himself in spirituality by his fidelity.
The third stage is called the Rank of Merit,[FN#272] in which the
student distinguishes himself by his 'meritorious' acts of conquering
over the rebel army of passion which rises against the Mind-King.
Now, his rank is not the rank of a courtier, but the rank of a
general. In other words, his duty is not only to keep rules and
instructions of the sages, but to subjugate his own passion and
establish moral order in the mental kingdom.

[FN#271] Bu in Japanese.

[FN#272] Ko in Japanese.

The fourth stage is called the Rank of Co-operative Merit,[FN#273] in
which the student 'co-operates' with other persons in order to
complete his merit. Now, he is not compared with a general who
conquers his foe, but with the prime-minister who co-operates with
other officials to the benefit of the people. Thus the student in
this stage is not satisfied with his own conquest of passion, but
seeks after spiritual uplifting by means of extending his kindness
and sympathy to his fellow-men.

[FN#273] Gu-ko in Japanese.

The fifth stage is called the Rank of Merit-over-Merit,[FN#274] which
means the rank of meritless-merit. This is the rank of the King
himself. The King does nothing meritorious, because all the
governmental works are done by his ministers and subjects. All that
he has to do is to keep his inborn dignity and sit high on his
throne. Therefore his conduct is meritless, but all the meritorious
acts of his subjects are done through his authority. Doing nothing,
he does everything. Without any merit, he gets all merits. Thus the
student in this stage no more strives to keep precepts, but his
doings are naturally in accord with them. No more he aspires for
spiritual elevation, but his, heart is naturally pure from material
desires. No more he makes an effort to vanquish his passion, but no
passion disturbs him. No more he feels it his duty to do good to
others, but he is naturally good and merciful. No more he sits in
Dhyana, but he naturally lives in Dhyana at all times. It is in this
fifth stage that the student is enabled to identify his Self with the
Mind-King or Enlightened Consciousness, and to abide in perfect bliss.

[FN#274] Ko-ko in Japanese.

Next: The Ten Pictures Of The Cowherd

Previous: Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts

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