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Buddhism

Pessimistic View Of The Ancient Hindus
In addition to this, the new theory of matter has entirely ov...

Zen In The Dark Age
The latter half of the Ashikaga period was the age of arms an...

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

Zazen And The Forgetting Of Self
Zazen is a most effectual means of destroying selfishness, th...

The Disciples Under The Sixth Patriarch
Some time after this the Sixth Patriarch settled himself down...

Zen After The Downfall Of The Ho-jo Regency
Towards the end of the Ho-Jo period, and after the downfall o...

Man Is Neither Good-natured Nor Bad-natured According To Su Shi
(So-shoku). The difficulty may be avoided by a theory given ...

Change As Seen By Zen
Zen, like Hinayanism, does not deny the doctrine of Transienc...

Zen And The Regent Generals Of The Ho-jo Period
No wonder, then, that the representatives of the Samurai clas...

Everything Is Living According To Zen
Everything alive has a strong innate tendency to preserve its...

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

The Introduction Of The So-to School Of Zen
This school was started by Tsing-Yuen (Sei-gen), an emine...

Enlightened Consciousness Is Not An Intellectual Insight
Enlightened Consciousness is not a bare intellectual insight,...

Universal Life Is Universal Spirit
These considerations naturally lead us to see that Universal ...

The Courage And The Composure Of Mind Of The Zen Monk And Of The Samurai
Fourthly, our Samurai encountered death, as is well known, wi...

All The Worlds In Ten Directions Are Buddha's Holy Land
We are to resume this problem in the following chapter. Suff...

Calmness Of Mind
The Yogi breathing above mentioned is fit rather for physical...

Buddha The Universal Life
Zen conceives Buddha as a Being, who moves, stirs, inspires, ...

Man Is Not Good-natured Nor Bad-natured But Buddha-natured
We have had already occasion to observe that Zen teaches Bud...

The Usual Explanation Of The Canon
An eminent Chinese Buddhist scholar, well known as Ten Dai Da...




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.' The first stage is called the Rank of
Turning, 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.


Ko-kun-go-i. For further details, see So-to-ni-shi-roku.

Ko in Japanese.



The second stage is called the Rank of Service, 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, 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.


Bu in Japanese.

Ko in Japanese.


The fourth stage is called the Rank of Co-operative Merit, 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.


Gu-ko in Japanese.


The fifth stage is called the Rank of Merit-over-Merit, 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.


Ko-ko in Japanese.






Next: The Ten Pictures Of The Cowherd

Previous: Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts



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