Posted by: Soh
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). Tung-shan Liang-chieh (Chinese: 洞山良价; pinyin: Dòngshān Liángjiè; Japanese: Tōzan Ryōkai) (806-869) was an ancient Chinese Ch'an (Zen, Jap.) master who is the credited founder of the Tsao-tung Cha'n lineage, also known as Soto Zen which was brought to Japan by Dogen Zenji. He was the dharma successor of Ungan Donjo (781? - 841). He is said to have attained enlightenment when, wading a river, he glimpsed his reflection in the water. He appears in Case 43 of the Blue Cliff Record.

The comments and introduction was written by Hakuin Zenji. Hakuin is often considered the father of modern Rinzai Zen. He was one of the most influential figures in Japanese Zen Buddhism. He revived the Rinzai school from a moribund period of stagnation, refocusing it on its traditionally rigorous training methods integrating meditation and koan practice. Hakuin's influence was such that all Rinzai Zen masters today trace their lineage through him, and all modern practitioners of Rinzai Zen use practices directly derived from his teachings. (Also see and
Following article's source:

The Keiso dokuzi

Hakuin Zenji

Keiso dokuzui
The Five, Ranks of The Apparent and the Real:
The Orally Transmitted Secret Teachings
of the [Monk] Who Lived on Mount To

Introduction to the Five Ranks

We do not know by whom the Jeweled-mirror Samadhi was composed. From Sekito Osho, Yakusan Osho, and Ungan Osho, it was transmitted from master to master and handed down within the secret room. Never have [its teachings] been willingly disclosed until now. After it had been transmitted to Tozan Osho, he made clear the gradations of the Five Ranks within it, and composed a verse for each rank, in order to bring out the main principle of Buddhism. Surely the Five Ranks is a torch on the midnight road, a ferry boat at the riverside when one has lost one's way!
But alas! The Zen gardens of recent times are desolate and barren. "Directly-pointing-to-the-ultimate" Zen is regarded as nothing but benightedness and foolishness; and that supreme treasure of the Mahayana, the Jeweled Mirror Samadhi's Five Ranks of the Apparent and the Real, is considered to be only the old and broken vessel of an antiquated house. No one pays any attention to it. [Today's students] are like blind men who have thrown away their staffs, calling them useless baggage. Of themselves they stumble and fall into the mud of heterodox views and cannot get out until death overtakes them. They never know that the Five Ranks is the ship that carries them across the poisonous sea surrounding the rank o f the Real, the precious wheel that demolishes the impregnable prison-house of the two voids. They do not know the important road of progressive practice; they are not versed in the secret meaning within this teaching. Therefore they sink into the stagnant water of sravaka-hood or pratyeka-buddhahood. They fall into the black pit of withered sprouts and decayed seeds. Even the hand of Buddha would find it difficult to save them.
That into which I was initiated forty years ago in the room of Shoju I shall now dispense as the alms giving of Dharma. When I find a superior person who is studying the true and profound teaching and has experienced the Great Death, I shall give this secret transmission to him, since it was not designed for men of medium and lesser ability. Take heed and do not treat it lightly!
How vast is the expanse of the sea of the doctrine, how manifold are the gates of the teaching! Among these, to be sure, are a number of doctrines and orally transmitted secret teachings, yet never have I seen anything to equal the perversion of the Five Ranks, the carping criticism, the tortuous explanations, the adding of branch to branch, the piling up of entanglement upon entanglement. The truth is that the teachers who are guilty of this do not know for what principle the Five Ranks was instituted. Hence they confuse and bewilder their students to the point that even a Sariputra or an Ananda would find it difficult to judge correctly.
Or, could it be that our patriarchs delivered themselves of these absurdi ties in order to harass their posterity unnecessarily? For a long time I wondered about this. But, when I came to enter the room of Shoju, the rhinoceros of my previous doubt suddenly fell down dead... Do not look with suspicion upon the Five Ranks, saying that it is not the directly transmitted oral teaching of the Tozan line. You should know that it was only after he had completed his investigation of Tozan's Verses that Shoju gave his acknowledgment to the Five Ranks
After I had entered Shoju's room and received transmission from him, I was quite was satisfied. But, though I was satisfied, I still regretted that all teachers had not yet clearly explained the meaning of " the reciprocal interpenetration of the Apparent and the Real." They seemed to have discarded the words "reciprocal interpenetration," and to pay no attention whatsoever to them. Thereupon the rhinoceros of doubt once more raised its head.
In the summer of the first year of the Kan'en era (1748-1751), in the midst of my meditation, suddenly the mystery of "the reciprocal interpenetration of the Apparent and the Real " became perfectly clear. It was just like looking at the palm of my own hand. The rhinoceros of doubt instantly fell down dead, and I could scarcely bear the joy of it. Though I wished to hand it on to others, I was ashamed to squeeze out my old woman's stinking milk and soil the monk's mouths with it.
All of you who wish to plumb this deep source must make the investigation in secret with your entire body. My own toil has extended over these thirty years. Do not take this to be an easy task! Even if you should happen to break up the family and scatter the household, do not consider this enough. You must vow to pass through seven, or eight, or even nine thickets of brambles. And, when you have passed through the thickets of brambles, still do not consider this to be enough. Vow to investigate the secret teachings of the Five Ranks to the end.
For the past eight or nine years or more, I have been trying to incite all of you who boil your daily gruel over the same fire with me to study this great matter thoroughly, but more often than not you have taken it to be the doctrine of another house, and remained indifferent to it. Only a few among you have attained understanding of it. How deeply this grieves me! Have you never heard: " The Gates of Dharma are manifold; I vow to enter them all?" How much the more should this be true for the main principle of Buddhism and the essential road of sanzen!
Shoju Rojin has said: "In order to provide a means wher eby students might directly experience the Four Wisdom's, the patriarchs, in their compassion and with their skill in devising expedients, first instituted the Five Ranks." What are the so-called Four Wisdom's? They are the Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom, the Universal Nature Wisdom, the Marvelous Observing Wisdom, and the Perfecting-of-Action Wisdom.
Followers of the Way, even though you may have pursued your studies in the Threefold Learning continuously through many kalpas, if you have not directly experienced the Four Wisdoms, you are not permitted to call yourselves true sons of Buddha.
Followers of the way, if your investigation has been correct and complete, at the moment you smash open the dark cave of the eighth or Alaya consciousness, the precious light of the Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom instantly shines forth. But, strange to say, the light of the Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom is black like lacquer. This is what is called the rank of " The Apparent within the Real."
Having attained the Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom, you now enter the rank of "The Real within the Apparent." When you have accomplished your long practice of the jeweled-mirror Samadhi, you directly realize the Universal Nature Wisdom and for the first time enter the state of the unobstructed inter-penetration of Noumenon and phenomena.
But the disciple must not be satisfied here. He himself must enter into intimate acquaintance with the rank of " The Coming from within the Real." After that, by depending upon the rank of " The Arrival at Mutual Integration," he will completely prove the Marvelous Observing Wisdom and the Perfecting-of-Action Wisdom. At last he reaches the rank of " Unity Attained," and, after all, comes back to sit among the coals and ashes."
Do you know why? Pure gold that has gone through a thousand smeltings does not become ore a second time. My only fear is that a little gain will suffice you. How priceless is the merit gained through the step-by-step practice of the Five Ranks of the Apparent and the Real! By this practice you not only attain the Four Wisdoms, but you personally prove that the Three Bodies also are wholly embraced within your own body. Have you not read in the Daijo shogongyo ron: "When the eight consciousnesses are inverted, the Four Wisdoms are produced; when the Four Wisdoms are bound together, the Three Bodies are perfected?" Therefore Sokei Daishi composed this verse:
"Your own nature is provided
With the Three Bodies;
When its brightness is manifested,
The Four Wisdoms are attained."
He also said: "The pure Dharmakaya is your nature; the perfect Sambhogakaya is your wisdom; the myriad Nirmanakayas are your activities."
The Apparent within the Real:
In the third watch of the night
Before the moon appears,
No wonder when we meet
There is no recognition!
Still cherished in my heart
Is the beauty of earlier days.
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 pratyeka-buddhahood. Therefore it is said: "He whose activity does not leave this rank sinks into the poisonous sea." He is the man whom 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.
The Real within the Apparent:
A sleepy-eyed grandam
Encounters herself in an old mirror.
Clearly she sees a face,
But it doesn't resemble her at all.
Too bad, with a muddled head,
She tries to recognize her reflection!
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. Eihei 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 i t 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."
The Coming from within the Real:
Within nothingness there is a path
Leading away from the dusts of the world.
Even if you observe the taboo
On the present emperor's name,
You will surpass that eloquent one of yore
Who silenced every tongue.
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 pure and great Universal 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.
The Arrival at Mutual Integration:
When two blades cross points,
There's no need to withdraw.
The master swordsman
Is like the lotus blooming in the fire.
Such a man has in and of himself
A heaven-soaring spirit.
In this rank, the bodhisattva of indomitable spirit turns the Dharma-wheel of the non-duality of brightness and darkness. 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 f lames, 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."
Unity Attained:
Who dares to equal him
Who falls into neither being nor non-being!
All men want to leave
The current of ordinary life,
But he, after all, comes back
To sit among the coals and ashes.
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.
Posted by: Soh
Thusness's reply to Longchen at

Also see a newer post in this blog of Longchen's realisation of Emptiness, The non-solidity of existence
Originally posted by longchen:
In my case, nondual is easier to experience when there are bodily movement. This is when i am walking or eating. The mind rest and just feeling the sensations.
However, when thinking kicks in... it is not so easy. This can be liken to a dog trying to bite its own tail. The habitual tendency to let go of these thoughts becomes the arising of the dualistic perception. 'Let go' becomes the very effort. and a loop cycle ensues. However, there are also time when the 'let go effort' drops and restfulness follows. ... and one wonders just how silly the 'let go' effort is. LOL.
The guess is that one must sustain a 'deeper' level of 'knowing' non-efforting.... that cannot be sought after.
Precisely so and well experienced!

Non-dual brings u out of the mental loop, directly experiencing whatever touched, sensed, seen as IT. Before perception intervenes, it is thoroughly experienced. Non-dual eliminates the constant need of falling back to a source and see manifestation as source.

However in a practical world, there is no way we can avoid dirtying our hands and remain free from conceptualization; we have to face 'thinking'. It seems that whenever thinking steps in, the 'sense of self' surfaces and division is again experienced. The ‘background’, the ‘ultimate source’ will arise and there is no way of getting rid of this split for this is the nature of dualism. Every time we recall or think there will always be a division; the background, the source will surface. And as long as our fundamental way of analyzing and thinking rest on a subject-object paradigm, there will always be a mismatch between non-dual experience and the 'views' for a non-dualist.

Although non-dual insight eliminates the split between the observer and observed experientially, it does not dissolve the deeply rooted dualistic framework. We continue to think and analyze using a subject/object dichotomy. Even though there is sufficient non-dual experiences, when attempting to orientate in terms of ‘views’, a non-dualist can still be confused himself and at times appears incoherent. This is the de-synchronization between views and meditative experiences.

In Buddhism there is a complete system of thought to orientate ourselves non-dually, that is, the viewless-view of Emptiness. It is a raft but it is the antidote for the conventional mind to orientate itself in a non-dual and non-local context. It also led to the amazing insight that ‘duality’ is really the result of seeing and taking things ‘inherently’ (You may want to the take up the challenge of re-engaging in thoughts penetrating this viewless view of Emptiness and thoroughly understand how this affect us into seeing things dualistically).

At present, we experience our world through the lens of seeing things as existing dualistically and inherently. We deeply believe that entity possesses certain form of attributes. Deep in us we believe that ‘redness’ belongs to the flower and ‘blueness’ belongs to the sky. We were trained to see things not only dualistically but also objects consisting of attributes and functions. But in truth, there is no such ‘redness’ that belongs to the ‘flower’. There is no the ‘redness’ outside, nor inside us. There is no properties 'inherently' attached or attributed to any objects. The formation of the 'center' and the tendency to grasp is not just the problem of seeing things 'dualistically' but also 'inherently'. When we see in this way, all 'letting go' are mere illusions; For we are really 'holding' in our deep most consciousness and so the 'letting go' is only superficial. When we see things inherently, whatever state, whatever experience, no matter how profound, how blissful, how vivid, how mystical, will be objectify into an object for seeking; the tendency operates subtly. It is similar to how the experience of the Source "I AM" is distorted and later non-dual insight that sees the fundamental problem of the source.

Lastly, as stated in the Bahiya Sutta,

In seeing, (there is always) just the seen.
In hearing, (there is always) just sound.

The seen, sound are the non-dual luminous experience; but direct experience of non-dual luminosity is not sufficient. Though perfectly clear and vividly present as in non-dual experience, the 'seen' is radically different from the 'sound' -- this is its emptiness nature. This viewless view must be fused into our non-dual insight. When views are firmly established and non-dual experience thoroughly authenticated, a practitioner will see everything as Awareness without conflict in both views and experiences. Not bounded within an inherent and dualistic paradigm, he will not be confused. When the real cause and the empty nature of our pristine awareness are understood, this ‘Emptiness’ view too must be discarded.

Happy CNY!


Update - Comments by Thusness:

Blogger PasserBy said...
The reply to Longchen may sound confusing but it is a reflection of the journey I have gone through.

After the experience of anatta, there is a period of desync between what is experienced and the existing paradigm we used to orientate the world. That is, a practitioner will find great difficulties when trying to express the experience based on a subject/object dichotomy. It can be quite frustrating and the practitioner may get himself confused during the process.

It is not uncommon to find practitioners totally giving up this attempt to synchronize "views" and experience and conclude that it is an absolute futile endeavor to do that. They prefer to rest fully in naked awareness.

By doing so, the practitioner will miss something valuable -- the insight of the importance of "non inherent existence".

In fact, dualistic view is merely a subset of seeing things 'inherently'. Further understanding will also reveal that the bad habit of 'searching' is the result of seeing things 'inherently'. Our inability to sustain a non-dual experience is also the result of it. The formation of a 'center' that we are so unwilling to give up is merely a natural phenomenon of our deeply held 'inherent' views.

When the view and experience are harmonized, the practitioner can then progress further. He rest neither in concepts nor non-conceptuality. He frees himself from erroneous views like "I am You and You are me". He sees “Everything as Awareness” but that is because in the world of Empty Luminosity, the practitioner is not bounded in a subject/object or object/attributes paradigm. “Awareness as Everything” should never be understood from a dualistic perspective.

Lastly whatever said is really “already is”.

In seeing, there is always only the seen. In hearing there is always only the sound. Never was there a seer or hearer.

All “already is”. Anatta is truly a seal. How amazing!

Homage to Buddha.

PS: Modified a lil from Bahiya Sutta
February 5, 2008 10:07 AM