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Sutras Used By Zen Masters
Ten Dai failed to explain away the discrepancies and contradi...

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

The First Step In The Mental Training
Some of the old Zen masters are said to have attained to supr...

Poetical Intuition And Zen
Since Universal Life or Spirit permeates the universe, the po...

The Social State Of Japan When Zen Was Established By Ei-sai And Do-gen
Now we have to observe the condition of the country when Zen ...

Where Then Does The Error Lie?
Where, then, does the error lie in the four possible proposit...

Our Conception Of Buddha Is Not Final
Has, then, the divine nature of Universal Spirit been complet...

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

The Fourth Patriarch And The Emperor Tai Tsung Tai-so
The Third Patriarch was succeeded by Tao Sin (Do-shin), who ...

The Parable Of A Drunkard
Now the question arises, If all human beings are endowed with...

Buddha Is Unnamable
Give a definite name to Deity, He would be no more than what ...

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

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

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

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

Man Is Bad-natured According To Siun Tsz Jun-shi
The weaknesses of Mencius's theory are fully exposed by anoth...

Buddha Dwelling In The Individual Mind
Enlightened Consciousness in the individual mind acquires for...

The Great Person And Small Person
For these reasons Zen proposes to call man Buddha-natured or ...

Introduction Of Zen Into China By Bodhidharma
An epoch-making event took place in the Buddhist history of C...

The Five Ranks Of Merit
Thus far we have stated how to train our body and mind accord...




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.






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Previous: Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts



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