In my last post, I took you through the first three parts of what are called the Five Ranks of Tozan. Tozan was a Zen master who lived about 1200 years ago, and his description of the stages of enlightenment are very well-respected and have stood the test of time for twelve centuries. To fully understand this post, I strongly suggest that you read my last post before you read this one, since this is the second of two parts.
So, in our last episode, we left our hero in the third of the Five Ranks, established in the transcendent. This Third Rank is what most people would consider “enlightenment.” In this stage one’s center is no longer a separate self, a separate ego, a separate, agentic “doer.” Instead, one’s center is experienced as being everywhere, and the only doer is the entire universe, the Tao, the entire going on of it all. In the Third Rank there are no boundaries, no beginning, no end. You are birthless and deathless. This is Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind.
In this place all opposites are clearly and obviously one thing. And, you ARE that one thing. You are the background, the ground of being, the awareness out of which everything comes and into which everything dissolves. You are pure awareness, awareness without content. Good and evil, life and death, me and not me, and all other supposed opposites have collapsed into just being–not being something, but just being.
The experience is one of peace…flowing…perfection…oneness. (For a more extensive description of the transcendent, you might want to read my post about the Unitive level of development, two posts back.)
At any rate, there you are–enlightened. (more…)