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So, there you are, enlightened…

by / Tuesday, 10 June 2008 / Published in Uncategorized

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.

Pretty cool, huh? Everything is perfect. Good/bad, having/not having, healthy/unhealthy, alive/dead, whatever–from this perspective, the universe is dancing along in a perfect way, and you are that dance. There’s nothing outside of you, so what could you possibly fear? There’s also nothing to get, because your experience is one of completeness. Since nothing is outside of you, what would you get–and where would you get it? There’s nowhere to go, because you’re everywhere.

In addition to being everything and everywhere, you’re also everyWHEN, because it’s obvious from this perspective that time is an illusion–or, more properly, nonsensical. It’s always NOW, and it will always be now. Even “now” doesn’t make sense, because now only exists or makes sense in relation to not-now, and there’s nothing from this perspective that’s not-now.

This is Eckhart Tolle’s now moment, the presence, except you don’t have to do anything to get yourself there. In fact, it’s not a matter of getting there or not getting there. It isn’t that there is a you that then experiences it. You are IT. Your experience of life isn’t some thing or some place to get to, but rather WHO YOU ARE.

When “you” act, it’s obvious that it’s the entire universe acting, not some separate person or separate ego. All divisions are seen for what they are–ideas, an artificial and arbitrary mental chopping of the One into pieces. No division is real, other than in the mind.

This is, to be sure, a tremendously great experience (especially at first, because of the contrast with what it felt like to be–supposedly–separate). After a while, you integrate the experience, and it isn’t so novel anymore. At that point it feels more “ordinary,” but as I said in my last post (quoting D.T. Suzuki), it’s like normal life, but about two inches off the ground.

So what’s missing from this place, the Third Rank of Tozan, where you’re everything, everywhere, everywhen? Heart, for one thing. Though at this stage you see the suffering of humanity, and you feel compassion for all those who are caught in it, you can’t help thinking that if people would just wake up to who they really are they could step out of it, just as you have. You certainly feel tremendous love for humanity–in fact, for everything–but you are, to a certain extent, detached from it all. So in one sense you do have heart, but it’s a detached heart, you might say.

Many great teachers live at the Third Rank. A person at this stage has tremendous charisma, and what Eastern mystical schools call “shakti,” divine power or energy. Others, if they have enough sensitivity, can “feel” you. They sense your power, your centeredness, your equanimity, that you are somehow above it all and not caught in the same bullshit everyone else seems to be caught in.

In the 60s and 70s we used to say that you could get a “contact high” from being around such a person. Because of this contact high, this vicarious taste of the transcendent, and the clear and potent teaching of someone at this stage, students typically love (and flock to) teachers who are at the Third Rank.

Even though the Third Rank is such a great place to be, it’s considered in Zen to be another place of stuckness. Just as you can be stuck in the relative world (as most people are), you can also be stuck in the transcendent. In Zen they say, “Enlightenment is delusion.” There are Zen stories where a disciple in the Third Rank says to the Master, “The geese and the mountains and the wind are all the Tao, aren’t they, Master?” and the Master says, “Yes, but it disgusts me to hear you say so.” At a certain point a Zen teacher may begin to tell his enlightened student that he “stinks of Zen.”

This happens partly because the teacher sees that the student, though “enlightened” in the sense that he is established in the transcendent, is, to a degree, lacking heart. The Third Rank is, by its very nature, impersonal. Though its perspective is one of seeing and encompassing all connections, all relationships–everything–the person at this stage doesn’t really FEEL those relationships. There is a denial, or perhaps you could say a distancing from, or an impersonality toward, the suffering of the world.

At the Third Rank you’re on the mountain top, and everything below you in the valley seems far away. From the mountain top it seems as if everything is perfect (which, in a sense, it actually is), including the suffering in the world. “God is playing all the parts. He who suffers and he who inflicts the suffering are both God in disguise.” In one sense this is true. However, there is a lack of personal connection to that suffering. “If only I could help other beings wake up, they would see the perfection I see, and they, too, would be out of the world of suffering and impermanence.”

I asked Genpo Roshi for his thoughts on this, and on the next step, the Fourth Rank, which he describes as a fall from grace. Here is a summary of what he told me:

When we have the experience of Great Death and Great Liberation (taking us to the Third Rank), the ego attaches to the “non-experience experience” of enlightenment and appropriates it. The ego becomes inflated and ignores cause and effect. It seems as if there is no ego, but there is. The ego is denying the ego in order to co-opt the enlightenment experience as its own. Karma, however, inevitably accumulates (in other words, cause and effect continue to work). Eventually the ego balloon pops from its own inflation. When this happens, there is a fall from grace–and in that fall from grace (which is the Fourth Rank) the relative world and all its suffering can no longer be denied and comes back with full force.

Where the Third Rank was impersonal, the Fourth Rank is very personal, and very humbling. In the Third Rank you thought you were beyond the world of suffering, that you had escaped from the vicissitudes and problems of the human condition. Now, having fallen, you’re up to your neck in personal problems, personal suffering, and the human condition. In fact, it seems worse than before. Everything is personal, and everything is relational. You feel your own suffering, plus that of all the others who suffer. And, having fallen from so high, you are humbled. In the Third Rank you felt quite extraordinary. Now you realize that you’re incredibly and totally ordinary.

And, in the Fourth Rank, you FEEL. You feel everything. Before the First Rank, back in pre-stage one, you were subject to the world of human suffering, but this time it’s different. In pre-stage one you were unaware, unconscious, unawake. Now you’re very awake, very conscious. And, because you are so conscious, so aware, you feel everything.

In the Third Rank you were “one with the universe”–but you were detached from the human aspect. You saw the suffering and even felt compassion about it. Perhaps you worked to help others wake up, to help others out of their suffering, but you weren’t really FEELING it. Now you are. You’re really one with everything now, including all the suffering. And, it hurts.

This is, however, not the same as it was when you were just another unconscious human being, before your “enlightenment” experience. Without having the experience of the first three Ranks you wouldn’t be able to handle what you’re feeling and experiencing in the Fourth Rank. In pre-stage one you had many defenses and ways of avoiding. You were able to repress, ignore, project, and otherwise delude yourself. You had “great hope” for something better in the future, some heaven or some better state or situation to hope for and anticipate.

Having experienced Great Doubt, though (part of the transition to the Third Rank), and having the awareness to clearly see reality for what it is, you now KNOW that there’s no escape. And, there’s no going back to your previous pre-stage one delusional state–or, to the delusion of the Third Rank. You’ll never again be able to feel that you’re above it all–that you’re divorced from the world, from suffering, from the human condition, and from cause and effect.

The Fourth Rank shatters the ego in the sense that from this point on delusion becomes very difficult. You know too much to be deluded by the Relative–and you also know too much to be deluded by the Transcendent. All the pain of being human, you discover, is real, and there’s no escape from it.

One famous Buddhist teaching is that of Buddha’s Four Noble Truths. The first Truth is that all life is suffering. This is so because everything is in time, everything is transient. Sometimes we get what we don’t want, which creates suffering. Sometimes we don’t get what we do want, which also creates suffering. And even when we get what we want, we still suffer because when we get what we want it still exists in time and eventually passes away. Whatever we get we eventually lose because all things, at least in the relative world, have a beginning and an ending.

The second Truth is that suffering is caused by our attachment to things being a certain way–especially our attachment to life, to the idea that we must go on living.

The third Truth is that suffering can be ended by giving up attachment, and the fourth Truth is the method for doing that. (We could go much more deeply into the Four Noble Truths, but I won’t do that now because I’m introducing them just to make a particular point, which is…)

In the Third Rank, we think that we’ve given up attachment, and therefore ended suffering, but we haven’t. When you’re in the Third Rank it certainly seems like it, because everything feels perfect. Everything is flowing effortlessly and you’re continuously happy. However, the truth is that you’ve just found something else to be attached to (the transcendent) and another (and much more elegant) way to delude yourself about what it means to be human (what a bummer, huh?). You’ve stepped out of the relative entirely, as if it didn’t really exist.

In the Fourth Rank you find that the relative is real, and you can’t avoid it. You discover that cause and effect are all too real. As long as you’re here, in a body, being human, cause and effect will hunt you down, and there’s no avoiding it. The Fourth Rank is painful—and Genpo Roshi tells me that it took him years to recover from his fall from grace.

So what does it take to get out of the Fourth Rank? And what is the Fifth Rank all about? The Fifth Rank is the integration of the relative and the transcendent. I’ve referred to it in other things I’ve written as knowing who you really are (ultimately, that you are the transcendent, the entire going on of it all, Big Mind, beyond all beginnings, beyond all endings, and without boundaries or limits) but also knowing that you are expressing That from the perspective of a limited human being, living in time, subject to the laws of cause and effect, subject to karma.

Genpo Roshi sometimes calls someone in the Fifth Rank the one who chooses to be a human being. Knowing what you know, being unable to delude yourself anymore about who you really are, and what is really real, you choose to be here, you choose to be human.

(This is, in fact, the only stage at which you actually could choose to be a human being, where you really have the ability to make a conscious choice. Before this stage, you wouldn’t make this choice. At previous stages you either don’t know enough to choose (you don’t really see things the way they are). And, if you did know enough, you wouldn’t make this particular choice. You wouldn’t be strong enough, aware enough, wise enough, or compassionate enough.

In a sense the Fifth Rank involves another, and even deeper, surrender than that which you went through in the Second Rank, because now you really feel the reality of the relative and KNOW that there is no escape (at least as long as you’re a living human being). In the Fifth Rank you surrender to what is in a whole new way, because for the first time you really know what is.

This is not unlike the story of Jesus, who is seen as being the Son of God (in other words, the transcendent), yet takes the form of a human being, despite the suffering involved in being human. There is a famous passage in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Phillippeans which describes this choice to be a human being:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippeans 2:5)

When you consciously choose to be a human being, fully knowing what is involved, and being totally awake to (and fully feeling) your own suffering and the enormity of the suffering of all of humanity–while also knowing at the same time that you are simultaneously the unborn, undying transcendent–something remarkable happens. Having REALLY surrendered to what is, you’re free.

Freedom, in this case, however, doesn’t mean freedom from suffering. It means the freedom to CHOOSE. In surrendering you don’t remove yourself from cause and effect, or from the fact that human bodies and psyches are sensitive and therefore subject to both pleasure and pain. At the Fifth Rank, however, you can choose your suffering.

What do I mean by that? You may have heard me describe The Game of Black and White, where we divide the world into two piles, the desirable (White) pile and the undesirable (Black) pile. Then, we add the rule that White Must Win. Since White and Black GO TOGETHER and define each other (and are really just ideas about reality, anyway–not reality itself), White can’t win, any more than up could win over down. In playing this game we put ourselves in a double-bind, an unwinable situation.

To be here, to be human, you have to play the game of Black and White at least a little bit. You can’t be human without becoming attached to something. Without desire you wouldn’t eat or come in out of the cold. Without desire, we wouldn’t procreate, and humanity would cease to exist. The unconscious person, however, plays the Game of Black and White without knowing that it’s an unwinable game. The unconscious person creates one kind of suffering after another by playing a hard and serious version of the Game of Black and White, desperately trying to get White to win.

The enlightened person, the person at the Fifth Rank–the one who consciously chooses to be a human being–chooses when and how he plays. He plays with full awareness of the karma he is creating, with full awareness of how cause and effect works. Though he is, relative to other unconscious and unaware people, unattached to life, he still chooses, for instance, to be attached, to some degree, to his children, his spouse, his friends, his motorcycle, his body, his life–or whatever.

Since he is very aware that everything is in time, he knows that whatever he becomes attached to will eventually pass away, and that becoming attached to anything has consequences. But the Fifth Rank human being doesn’t become attached unconsciously, like other humans. He chooses, and he chooses knowing full well what the consequences are. And, moment by moment, he surrenders to those consequences. The surrendering of the one who chooses to be a human being therefore isn’t a one-time event, but rather ongoing, in each moment. And, in being fully aware of the consequences of his actions, the one who chooses to be a human being avoids all sorts of unconscious suffering common to most human beings.

Genpo Roshi uses a triangle to describe the integration of relative and transcendent, self and no-self, mind and no-mind. The lower left corner of the triangle represents the relative, the world of the mind, the separate self. The lower right represents the transcendent, Big Mind, the world of no-self or no-mind.

The apex of the triangle represents the integration of the relative and the transcendent, the place where one has transcended and included both. The only way to really be in the world and be fully aware–and fully human–is to integrate both mind and no-mind, relative and transcendent, to transcend and include both. This is what Jesus meant by “being in the world, but not of it.”

Genpo Roshi also refers to the one who chooses to be a human being as “the Master.” When you integrate relative and transcendent, you become the master of your life. You are subject to cause and effect, and the impermanence of the relative world, but you have mastered life by fully (and continually) surrendering to the fact that this is the way things are. You have mastered life, not by defeating Black, as others try to do in playing the Game of Black and White, but rather by embracing Black and White–ending resistance to Black while also surrendering to the impermanence of White–and then, transcending them both.

A person at the Fifth Rank lives spontaneously. He is completely alive, completely comfortable in his own skin, and completely comfortable being a human being.

And that is a rare event.


A few announcements before I let you go.

1. I want to urge you once again to come and experience Genpo Roshi (and me) in person at our New York workshop, June 28-29. I promise that it WILL change your life. Just go to to register. There are a FEW spots left. Since every workshop so far has sold out, if you’re interested in attending NOW is the time to decide to go and sign up. You’ll be VERY glad you did. I look forward to meeting you in person.

2. I’ve just launched a free online course about the work of Eckhart Tolle, featuring several awakened teachers: Genpo Roshi, Ken Wilber, Saniel Bonder and Linda-Groves Bonder, Diane Hamilton, Sally Kempton, and me. If you’ve been captivated by Eckhart Tolle, his books, and the lessons he’s been teaching through Oprah, and want to learn more of the power of Now and how to awaken to who you really are, go enroll in this free course I’ve put together for you. Just go to

Next, I think I’ll write something about Holosync, but I’ll also tie in many of the other topics you’ve asked me to write about. Thank you so much for your suggestions and your other posts. Do let me know what you think about this one–I really want your feedback. Also DO tell others about this blog, please.

Be well.


(click the player above to listen to this post)

113 Responses to “So, there you are, enlightened…”

  1. Chris says :

    wow. Just, WOW!

  2. Bob says :

    bloody good that

    well done!

  3. Terry HS says :

    Nice work Bill. Informative, engaging and insightful. Thank you.


  4. Kevin says :

    Very interesting article. Maybe in the future you could try a synthesis of Susan Cook-Greuter’s stages and the Five Ranks of Tozan. It could be a comparison of Eastern/Western ways of developmental thought. This could be interesting because some people seem to gain similar wisdom despite having different experiences and disciplines.

    I have a difficult time imagining from the perspective of these advanced stages you describe. Are there varying degrees of unattachment? I mean, it is one thing to prefer that a deli offers a ham sandwhich instead of a bologna sandwhich, but quite another thing to prefer the happines of loved ones to their suffering. Does it take more effort, even in these advanced stages, to be unattached to certain situations?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    FROM BILL: Who would put forth this effort, since the separate self is an illusion, just an idea? Who would prefer this over that? Who would be attached? The separate self is an illusion, and so are the separate things you might become attached to.

  5. Tim says :

    Gulp! I found “myself” becoming very, very uncomfortable as I read this post. I started thinking “Fuck that, if that’s what I have to look forward to!” The descriptions of the 4th and 5th ranks are very disturbing to me. Here I am, essentially at the 1st Rank, just starting to be able to have more and more experiences of the transcendent, feeling better and better about my life, and starting to work my way through the 2nd Rank, thinking that the 3rd Rank sounds like a great place to be. Now I learn that the 3rd Rank is just another trap, and the 4th and 5th ranks seem really painful and hard to achieve. I’m now questioning everything! Is my spiritual seeking really to my benefit? What have I been searching for all my life, if all I have to look forward to is more pain, more human suffering? Obviously, I’m coming from a lower perspective, and don’t really know what these higher ranks will be like; I’m just now questioning whether I even really want to move forward. All I’ve really wanted for many years was to to get my relative world stable enough to find some sort of happiness, some kind of acceptance of myself and life, some kind of ease with the world. Now, what I’m reading scares me, and I find myself (sorry to keep repeating myself) questioning everything I’ve done up to now on my spiritual quest!

    FROM BILL: The reality is that you’ll never get your relative world stable. It will always be changing because everything is in time and ultimately passes away, falls apart. It’s surrendering to the fact that this is so that gives you the kind of freedom a Genpo Roshi experiences (and believe me, it’s better than what you have now).

    You’re really considering the difference between being conscious, aware, awakened, on one hand, and being unconscious, unaware, and unawake, on the other. The unawakened, unconscious person CREATES tons of additional suffering because he can’t see all the suffering he creates through his own resistance to “what is.” The awakened person sees things the way they are. This causes him to experience only the suffering he CHOOSES to participate in. In other words, he chooses what he becomes attached to (since you have to become attached to some things to be here–your children, your body, for instance).

    What the awakened person can’t avoid is the fact that all things are in time and ultimately pass away (including his children, his body, etc). That, he surrenders to. In this way, he achieves a profound inner peace, plus am experiential knowledge that he is not his IDEA of himself, he is not the ego, he is not the separate self. What he truly is is beyond all of that, unborn and undying.

    The pain I spoke of comes from seeing the full reality of the impermanence of life (which the average, unaware person deludes himself about by living for a hopefully better future–and missing NOW), and also because he sees all those who are caught in the suffering of the world. By the time you get there, you have the ability to hold it all. It’s not that you go around in huge pain. Trust me, Genpo Roshi is in significantly less pain than you are. However, part of the awakening is realizing that there is inherent pain in being here as a body, and you can’t get away from that.

  6. Peggy Winkler says :

    Dear Bill,

    These are wonderful posts!

    My experience has been that “Masters” and all the rest of us who live in the awareness of our transcendent AND relative existences, are not only enmeshed in the sorrows and joys of this world, but realize that differnt aspects of ourselves are at different levels of development. Kind of like Ken Wilber’s idea that there are “lines of development”, and not all of these lines develop at the same rate and to the same level as other ones, WITHIN the same person. So, I guess my point is that so-called “enlightened” beings not only experience pain, sorrow and joy, but must also continue to struggle with their own personal “demons” and unconscious (or conscious!) areas in their lives that they need to “work” on so to speak. With a transformed perspective, including both the transcendent and the relative – we choose to work and expose and love and . . . be in every way we can more fully human. And isn’t that where Holosync is so powerful?

    Thanks so much,

  7. marnie ryan says :

    Wahoo, I feel that I am just being and it is so good.

  8. Max Tobin says :

    Choice, choose and choose again. No snoozing, this is in deed the paradox embraced. A delightful space, being more nor less than Hu man is not possible if that is our choice within the divine co creative soup (and it has been OUR choice!). All this is true, but then it isnt.

    There is a place where the darkness is embraced rather than ‘not resisted’; ahhh now that is an interesting place, the suffering and the grace. But not really, it is a mixed bag playing as we do within a co created reality with the many and varying degrees of awakened beings focused as they are within the separation field . Try telling a mass murderer that he is not awake to what truly is (George the fool on the Hill for example)!!! We did just that and spoke to his ‘over soul’; now that produced some interesting information. Ritual abuse has an interesting impact upon the psych/consciousness.

    How do you see all of this dialogue fitting with the timings of the divine plan of unfolding enfoldment and return to grace space (for there is in deed a greater harmony possible). The Mayan Calendar provides a wonderful insight into the pulsing inspiration of the Universal Center and the evolution of consciousness. Can you sense the ‘water fall of grace’ that is within time and space acting as the ‘eye’ of the needle through which we all may choose to pass into the unity field of consciousness manifesting in the sacred now.

    I AM looking forward to the rest of your current project/sharing with these other enlightened ones you speak with, funny how we require this in words to play when there is nothing about IT we can really say.

    I think/feel that it is time to celebrate the grand home coming.

    Blessed Be.

  9. Lyall says :

    So does this mean that Eckhart Tolle has to come back down to earth with a thud?? His teachings say that there is no need to suffer anymore; it’s a choice. Why would one want to get to the third level where everything is so great and then come crashing back to earth with a thud? As one mystic said: Doh!

    Any feedback welcomed.

    FROM BILL: When Tolle talks about suffering he means the kind you create yourself by resisting what is. When the enlightened person CHOOSES to be a human being, he also chooses to be subject to cause and effect, to the fact that all things are impermanent in the relative world. In that sense, there is suffering buit in to being human, which is why the Buddha’s first Noble Truth is that all life is suffering. The idea is to not create more of it by resisting life, by unconsciously invoking situations where you get on the wrong side of cause and effect by by becoming attached to things being a certain way.

    It’s very likely that Tolle is at the Fifth Rank and has already been through the fall from grace. If not, he will fall, unless he dies first. The reason you fall is because disowning the relative isn’t really possible. You can switch your focus to the transcendent, and it SEEMS like the relative is gone, but it isn’t, and eventually karma (cause and effect) catches up with you. Then, boom, you fall, and in doing so you have to deal with it. The only way to deal with it is to find a way to integrate both relative and transcendent, which is what the Fifth Rank is.

  10. Greetings Bill,

    Thanks for putting holosync, this blog, and the mastering the power of now content out there. I’d like to speak with you about the distribution of the content and provide some offline feedback.


    Siri Dhyan

  11. Cindy Radtke says :

    Bill, I’ve enjoyed enormously each of your Blogs, but I have to tweak your nose a little when you describe these as “short” posts. I know they akin to essays with no extraneous words, but I wouldn’t call any of your blogs “short.” Informative, educational, mind-expanding, provocative, thought-provoking and entertaining — all true — but, short?

    I love your comments about awakening. It’s hard to express these ideas in accessible language, and you have put it as simply and directly as I have ever seen.

    One element I have not seen you discuss (in depth), however, is the relation of forgiveness to finding peace and happiness. I enjoyed your recent discussion with Ken Wilbur in your “Mastering the Power of Now” series in which he described the “shadow” which lives in the UNaware part of us (and has its way with us). Having done a lot of work myself in this area to illuminate and cleanse many of my own shadows, I appreciate the marriage between forgiveness and finding some measure of peace. What I am enjoying with Holosync is the promise of further growth along a spiritual path — I like who I am becoming.

    FROM BILL: Foregiveness is a lack of resistance to what is. It is a stop to the Game of Black and White, where White Must Win, around a certain person.

    Keep the surprises coming!

  12. daniel says :

    they that know do not speak

    they that speak do not know. Lao Tzu

    All things have Buddha nature ( the Buddha )

    All things are Buddha nature ( Dogen )

    That’s all you need to know about Zen

    FROM BILL: Yes, and Lao Tzu then wrote 82 verses about what he said could not be said. Teaching about it isn’t it, but it can be an aid to finding “it.”

  13. Vicki says :

    Thank you Bill X:-) It is NO co-incidence that my husband and l read this post today… Wonderfully insightful and beautifully clear and simple Namaste my friend

  14. Jamie says :

    Wow, so powerful and thought-provoking to read all of that, but still the nagging thought of “When do I get to be happy all the time? Stage 3 sounded pretty damn good!” I must admit, at my current stage of consciousness I’m much happier bowing down to Jesus than finding the balls to step up to his level. I’m so very attached to things going well, being a “good boy”, succeeding, and the last eight years have been all about getting me over that. How can we be happy in the midst of these periods of growth? (I must admit I sometimes overdose on Making Change Easy when my teeth are chattering with anxiety. I’ll put that sucker on repeat and do and hour to an hour and a half if I have time.

    FROM BILL: You never will be happy all the time. Even in the Third Rank you can’t do that because the Third Rank is eventually destroyed by karma, by cause and effect. You can, however, be peaceful and awake. Being human happens in time, which means all things come into being and pass away. You can surrender to that FACT, which brings peace (and perhaps a kind of happiness), but cause and effect, and impermanence, will always be there. The cure for everything is awareness. Watch, watch, watch, without an agenda, and everything will sort itself out.

  15. Ruth Adams says :

    Levels of enlightenment: Isn’t there some hunger in us all for the ability to still the waves of involvment pounding against our inner identity? Where me starts and the whole world in relation to me evolves to make some sense? Could it be the outward focus toward a world to somehow reflect back to me the perfection I so crave could recreate the kaos I so long to avoid?
    I once discovered I had three things wrong with my vision while searching for a help for a relative who went partially blind from a stroke–from that I discovered I needed help and needed to get my eyes aligned that my brain was getting two signals instead of one from my eyes–as I was getting cured–part way thru I got very aggitated and upset–mind you this was about month 4 and a half–my therapist told me I was on the verge of a great shift in my vision that my brain could see that something was wrong and that it was seeing now both ways and that I was getting ready to get better and better that it was a good sign.
    I have felt that way about my growth thru out my life–wanting to hold on to some fragment of the past familiar life–yet knowing that there was more for me out there and the more I reached for something more the more I’d be letting go of something I needed to be free of.
    Some say Bigger than life–that some people are like that–is that true or were they able to tap into a bigger view of life and because of that were open to avenues in life that they were willing to be open to experience and grow thru.
    To me this CD series is one of many choices I am making and involved in currently. I use to want to have someone to blame for my own lack of success–owning my responsibility empowers me–I am not using this as another shelter for failure–with what I call the third eye looking for reasons why this won’t work–when I was bullied as a child I had that eye–looking for someone to hurt me and I got what I saw–
    Now I have learned that I can’t let other people effect me like they use to–“They have a problem and I can’t let their problem become my problem.” Or as a person I saw once on Kandid Camera said; “I don’t let anyone rent space in my head.”
    Being that I had a reading problem for 48 years–sometimes it’s hard to get all the ideas in my head however–I’m learning that that too is ok–it’s not a perfectionist journey I’m on–it’s a vibrant alive one–so if some of youir ideas resonate within me and open me to accept some of the sadness I feel when others aren’t where I am. I’ve come to realize that it’s ok and that I can learn more and perhaps help others by getting out of their way and focus more on where I want to be than get lost in trying to fix others who need to empower themselves as well–
    So basically when all is said and done–I read your blog–and will reread it a few times and then let it go–I personally want to be enlightened but feel the only way it will happen is if I remain open to ideas and don’t force it and don’t berate myself for each slip into the old way that I let the vibrations come to me by seeking the way the only way I choose and letting that be ok–your thoughts on resistance facinate me but that’s another blog–I know that there is power in the energy of this program-even when I wasn’t ready for a change it has changed me to look beyond reacting to think out the situation and act–and that’s a better place to be. Thanks.

  16. Jacki says :


    Thank you, very well put.

    Love Jacki

  17. Wow – thank you Bill and way to go Tozan! It’s the first time I feel like I am finally getting it! What power and liberation – in theory. Now, to actually GET THERE!

    FROM BILL: Come to NY to the workshop I’m doing with Genpo Roshi and get it there!

  18. Beth T says :

    For forty years, I’ve been exposed to Eastern spiritual traditions but never was attracted enough to take up a discipline in any of those paths. Your latest post identified the stumbling block for me: the lack of heart that seemed to pervade what was thought to be the ultimate stage. Although I’m just entering the 1st rank, I now fully realize that there is no final rank or stage, even if fully stages haven’t been identified and described.

    I have been listening to Holosync since Nov 2007 and just began The Accelerated Change Maximizer course. With these and the posts on human development and The Power of Now, I find myself recently making great leaps in reconciling the Eastern and Western views of God, a conundrum I have puzzled over for a few decades.

    “Thank you” doesn’t seem enough, but it’s all the language has. Thank you.

  19. Bob Hughes says :

    I’m very simple minded.
    I get confused by ranks, phases, levels, stages, classes, etc.
    As a high-school freshman, I can remember being very excited;
    as a sophomore I wanted to study hard;
    as a junior I wanted to achieve;
    as a senior I was bored.
    I never worried too much about those in the other classes.

    So to hear that spiritual development has Five Ranks makes me uneasy.
    Ken Wilbur’s stages of development likewise makes me uneasy.
    and I never did catch on to Maslow’s hierarchies,
    much less the those of Carl Jung.
    (I didn’t even get Zen’s 10 Oxherding pictures)

    Now the phase transitions of thermodynamics do make some sense to me: ice melts to water, water boils to vapor.

    Not that I understand anything that Ilya Progogine studied
    about thermodynamics, chaos and uncertainty
    ( see Prigogine, “The End of Certainty.”)
    Something about not being able to solve dynamical problems in terms of single trajectories, but in terms of probabilities of large, open ensembles?
    Phase transitions are meaningful only at the level of populations.

    Monk Dogen thought well of Tung-shan (Tozan). He studied his koans carefully. (see Kim, “Dogen Kigen; Mystical Realist” and “Dogen on Meditation and Thinking.”)

    But Dogen was my kind of guy.
    He distrusted Five Houses, Three Mysteries, Three Essentials, Four Arrrangements, Fourfold Precedence, Three Phases, the Three Ages, and of course, the “goi,” Tung-shan’s Five Ranks.

    Genpo also realizes that you have to live with all three points of the triangle.
    In this vein a monastic asked Tozan,
    “When cold and heat come, how shall I escape them?”
    “Why don’t you go to a place where there are no cold or heat,” replied the teacher Tozan.
    “Where is such a place?”
    The teachers answer: “When it is cold, it is exceedingly cold;
    when it is hot, exceedingly hot.”

    Dogen commented on this koan,
    While living in the cold,
    the enlightened person lives cold totally in absolute freedom.

    So maybe it doesn’t matter what Rank you’re living at,
    as long as you totally live wherever you’re at in absolute freedom.

    Is this a single trajectory analysis or probabilities?

    So even if I missed your point, Bill, by skimming quickly over this blog, even my wrong view is thoroughly a “misguided striving for reason.”

    Just a dumb freshman for whom ignorance is bliss.


    FROM BILL: Ranks and levels are just descriptions of patterns that people have identified. They are as unreal–and as useful–as all other mental divisions. The problem isn’t making divisions, but but rather forgetting that they are mental tools. So sorry that you are confused by these tools.

  20. Beth T says :

    Opps. In the last sentence of the firt paragraph, please replace “fully” with “later”.

  21. Jason says :

    This is fantastic! I really like the idea of ‘choosing to be a human being’ and I am wondering if you think this is as simple as surrendering to the way things are. Most of the time I want out of here and go to the right side of the triangle, this is the reason I persue enlightenment as a means to end suffering and at times I can feel quite detached from other peoples pain. There is something so comforting about this idea of ‘choosing to be a human’ as if at last I could be free from resisting what is…. to fully accept and own this experience. If I am not at a later rank, how would you suggest we move forward?
    Keep up the great work Bill.
    You Rock!

  22. Santiago Jimenez says :

    Wonderful Bill, its true that it would be very difficult (if not impossible) to get this information the way you put it out to us from any other source, bless you for giving us this knowledge.

    I have a question about the role of intention in an awakened person, I often hear you say that we can become anything we want in the world if we learn to focus our mind in the right manner (specially in your masters of the secret series), I understand now (at least intellectually, and sometimes experientially) that life is really JUST A GAME and shouldn’t be taken so seriously, that way we can act and create the life of our dreams because is NOT REAL anyway, so it’s the same to be wealthy than poor, loved than hated, etc. is just more PREFERABLE to be a certain way.

    I remember your conversations with the teachers form “the secret” and how you said that this is an intention driven universe and that our thoughts and feelings create our reality, and recommended techniques like visualization, affirmation, etc.

    Does an awakened person use any of this tools ? I guess that an awakened person’s intention would be very powerful, I just wonder if he uses it at all (for instance to cure himself from disease like they show in “the secret”)

    I’ll see ya in Big Mind in NY, will be coming all the way from Bogota, Colombia. I’m so exited to meet you and Genpo, I hope this event will make things even clearer for me.

    Thank you so so much, you are really making a difference, lots of love.


  23. Jim says :

    Hi Bill,

    So now I’m wondering…what’s the Sixth Rank? The best expose’ on “enlightenment” I’ve seen so far is Jed McKenna’s trilogy starting with “Spiritual Enlightenment…The Damndest Thing” ( In that first book he emphasizes the concept of “further” (the name on the front of Ken Kesey’s bus)

    I’m a current user of your Holosync Purification Level 2, and experiencing all kinds of new realizations! Interacting/processing as Robert Anton Wilson would say…

    “Discordians don’t have dogmas, which are absolute beliefs…we have catmas which are relative metabeliefs. The central Discordian catma is ‘any affirmation is true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense. And if you repeat this 666 times you will achieve supreme enlightenment…in some sense.’ ”


  24. Henry says :

    an entry that I can come back to several times just to re-learn

  25. Micah Blumberg says :

    This seems similar to THE PATH OF THE HUMAN BEING by Zen Master Genpo Roshi,

    are you a student of his? What stage are you at?

    aren’t the five stages repeatable, I mean, don’t we go through them repeatedly again and again, isn’t it called the wheel of the mind for that reason.

    I think your saying that people in higher stages can relieve pain faster by shifting perspectives, changing focus, and spinning the wheel of the mind so that they can more quickly focus on what is useful,

    and that act of changing perpectives, in all the spectrum from big to detailed, from voices within the self, to no mind, to big mind or big heart, this change is what relieves most of the pain,

    isn’t it true that the wheel made up of these stages causes suffering when people are stuck / attached to something from inside one of these stages, and that once they learn to let go, they begin to move through reality with less suffering,

    and that’s what this is all about, more of what we want, by focusing on what we want, and less of what we don’t want, by letting go of our mental attachments and allowing the wheel of the mind to spin, changing our perspective, to allow us to find again what it is that we want, and so on and so on?

    lastly I think Ken Wilber is wrong to say Atheism/Rationalims is a middle ground between pre/post conventionalism.

    Stage 4, 5 indicate that the existential perspective or what you call the casual changing side of reality is in fact a parallel development, it is post transrationalism if that makes sense, and I guess it doesn’t,

    what I mean is that scientists without religious belief, like Richard Dawkins, or hard head ego lovers like Ayn Rand really are one corner of this triangle you speak of, and the whole of Zen, Christian, Hindu, and Plato derived philosophy is the other part of the triangle the inner world, or the world of the mind,

    I mean am I kind of right about any of this do you think? What is superior then, does existence exist and have primacy over consciousness? as Ayn Rand would say. Is it true that this whole Zen/Buddhist/Christian/Mystic/GodHead stuff is really about freeing the mind from it’s attachment to certain ways of thinking, or from stuck ways of understanding?

    I appreciate the course, what you do here is terrific, it’s great to see centerpointe grow. I’m really impressed by your blog post, and the courses, I just finished course 2, and I’ve got to say Bill this is all grade AAA high quality material that you offer.

    I really look forward to reading what you blog about next, and I hope you don’t mind that I threw such weight into scrutinizing your blog post. Actually I think you would probably get over it the blink of an eyelid anyway.

    Have fun!

  26. Indra Saptayana says :

    Reading your Five ranks of enlightenment of life, I feel it is very great step of human endeavour to be enlightened. I, myself don’t know to what rank is I am. As you say, that time is just illusion, so I agree to do what we can do just now. I always keep on training and practice meditation, kundalini just for now, never think of tomorrow lets alone yesterday. Just practice now, day by day.
    Thank you so much for your writing of Tozan ranks.

  27. David says :

    Fantastic Bill :O) that’s all I have to say about that haha well actually a bit more, it’s a very precious and beautiful thing this human life. The ability to understand what you’re explaining and all the things coinciding to bring me to have an interest in it. Fascinating! I already said that but it bears repeating.

    Thanks so much for your feeling for all of us out here and the care you show in “catalysing” our growth processes… now that’s true spirituality.

    Warm regards,
    David :O)

  28. michael redpath says :

    Hi Bill, I really enjoyed this blog.One question comes to me and that is–if the assended master decides to be human and lives that way what is the master if the master decides not to be human?I gusss there may be many answers to this question, however I should very much like to hear what you think.all the best and be well yourself, Mike.

  29. Julie says :


    Well what a brilliant piece of written work thus far describing the ups and downs of the spiritual path.

    This particular bog hit home for me after many years of arriving at various stages and thinking I had actually done enough and wanted to rest in the big hammock in the sky-)

    The choices and the knowing of my choices and consequences mixed with desires (for whatever reasons I provide myself) is the hardest for me yet.

    It’s like seeing everything all at the same time, what may happen, what’s in your control and what is not. How others will play their part and which will affects your own desires, your path and ultimately theirs.

    And in all this doing having a heart for what others also desire from their own process.

    I am still not at the stage where I can say I want to be human despite being quite comfortable with whatever is the real.

    Maybe in another few hundred years time LOL -)

  30. GERTRUDE says :

    Thanks for explaining me further. It exactly describes how i relate to my children. From choosing to relate. I was confused, believing i might be wrong, i might lack feeling deep love because i comes from choice. Even their creation came from choice. As my last/past marriage did. Would love to again feel fully to have an open heart, as i did before my brutal divorce. I can see though that the marriage taught me humanness.

    Exhilirating to just let go of worrying about the above, and seeing it as my journey.

  31. Peter says :

    Wow! :))

  32. Jinki says :

    This is very interesting, for as we evolve so do those around us. As a Spiritualist I believe in Natural Law and the Law of Vibration as does this article speak of. I really enjoyed the article and the concept very much for God is within us and we are one, we shall love our lives accordingly. As we are making our own Heaven or Hell depending on which stage we are in. I choose to make my own heaven and live my life in stage 5 only for the HIGHEST and BEST for ALL concerned. Knowing that thoughts are things and what i put out there better be good thoughts for if not it comes back at me 3 fold, Choose the higher road and let the God within you shine.
    Great articles Thank you for sharing, I look forward to the next.
    Love and Light for only the Highest and Best.

  33. Eric Dujardin says :

    Thank You Bill.

    It’s really inspiring and a great thing to be able to spot “oneself” on the path to nowhere.
    You go up and down these stages, again and again, comparing them with another, which sort of discloses some kind of a stepless ladder.

    It really brightens the day, listening to Your podcasts. I like to put on the headphones, lie back in my easy chair, feet up, plaid over, staring out the window, at the trees, at the ever changing sky. There’s the chrystal ball right there on the table, one meter away, but this view just takes the cake.

    The things You say, the universal concepts, the vibrations in the voice, melt into the scenery in one big facsimile. I find it a much better experience listening to the podcasts than reading them on the screen.

    The podcast-days are different, they add a certain quality.
    Thank You so much.


  34. federico pachecoi says :

    Hi! I read a long time ago about a thing called unitary perception. I’m pretty sure you have heard of it. How this UP relates to what you have been talking about. It seems to me that the transcendant is reached or experienced by the so called UP. It also seems to me that the old adage “All roads go to Rome” fits perfectly here. I believe that the transcendant is not something to be reached but rather acknowledged and lived as it permeates everything whether you believe or not. Letting go of attachments (one of the Noble Truths) is the hardest part of it as we grow being taught to make the statue adding more marble. Be well

  35. Jacki says :


    This is wonderful information, but I’m writing to bring up another subject. I was wondering if you have ever been in the presence of Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. He teaches the process called Ho’oponopono. I am not going to go into the details in case you know of him. I will just say that this process is very transformational. By working only on yourself, other people are healed, (and yourself to boot). It is truly miraculous.
    Thank you, Love you

  36. David says :

    Thanks again Bill. This really clarifies many things I’ve read or heard about since I became interested in working towards enlightenment. One such thing is a statement Ken Wilber made in a Q&A session. I cannot quote him exactly from memory but essentially he said that as you grow into enlightenment you suffer more not less but the increase in your capacity to handle suffering far outstrips the increase in the suffering you must endure.

  37. Doug says :

    Hi Bill,

    It has been an Experience to listen to your blog posts, your Mastering of The Power of Now sessions with Masters, and to Oprah’s podcasts of Mr. Tolle. Thank you for the abundance of wisdom that you’ve shared with us.

    As a practicing Buddhist who loves Christianity, I’ve appreciated hearing the words of Jesus, Buddha, Christian Saints and Zen Masters included as a part of your writings (and in Mr. Tolle’s writings and spoken words as well). They are providing helpful “hooks” for me as I listen and read.

    My experience with Buddhism has been primarily through Tibetan schools. As you likely know, His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks of the importance of compassion and altruism when addressing general audiences, and more specificaly about bodhichitta with audiences who know a bit about Buddhism. I’ve encountered several definitions of bodhichitta, such as “the mind set upon reaching enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.” It encompasses the desire to be of supreme effectiveness in helping all beings escape pain and suffering and the great love that wishes to see them be happy, plus the great determination to act to accomplish those ends. The Dalai Lama speaks of going beyond personal liberation (stage 3?) to attaining Buddhahood, where all mental obscurations and karmic obstacles are cleared away. The benefit of attaining this stage for others is that in Buddhahood, one can most supremely and skillfully teach others according to their developmental level.

    My question for a possible future blog post is what do you see as the role of compassion (and / or bodhichitta) in the process of becoming enlightened? From a more Christian perspective, what about the role of Love? Loving your neighbor as yourself; God is Love (according to 1st John, chapter 4)?

    Just a “short,” “off the top of my head” question. :-)

    Thank you!

  38. Colin says :

    Bill, Thank You so much for these posts. This map has ended years of misunderstanding certain experiences. It also explains the futility of my attempting to return to previous states because of flawed teachings and the stages of friends & community.

    I understand that the map is not the reality, but it sure is handy to have one!

    Looking forward to your posts on Holosync. I’m interested in your advice to let whatever happens be OK. These past posts have shed some light on that, but understanding and living through it all are two very different things at times.


  39. Alicia Irwin says :

    I am on Purification level and with that, and much time spent reading and meditating these last few years, most of the time I know how far I have come in my awareness. Other times, I completely forget until a friend comments on how much I have changed. Reading this blog about the Five Levels of Tozan blew my mind because, surely, I cannot be at Level Five. There is no way. Yet, that is where I am based on the descriptions – currently realizing how very ordinary I am, nothing special – having passed through the “if only the others would wake up” stage. Tra la la. Feeling the suffering, knowing the suffering, but not Suffering. I can see “who” is suffering – it is separate, yet real. I am glad I “fell from grace” because I did not like it there. It was too removed, too superior feeling. I still go back and forth, but less and less. It’s all very interesting…..

    FROM BILL: It is unlikely, though possible, to attain the Fifth Rank without the help of a teacher.

  40. Didi Wang says :

    Hi Bill,
    I think I know about the “Fall from Grace” from the third rank and thought or am thinking that it has turned my life upside down. I sometimes thought that this fall from grace is similar to the original fall from grace out of the Garden of Eden. At least I am thinking of it more as I am experiencing changes. Thanks for helping me understand more about growth.

  41. Linda says :

    I am so grateful for your putting yourself, your product, and your world view out there, available to all. I just finished listening to the first Mastering the Power of Now. Absolutely amazing! I look forward to the rest of the interviews and hope that this will not stop with those you have listed. I am at the end of Awakening I and find more joy and gratitude my life. It has jump started a wonderful, expanding journey of self discovery, self empowerment and peace. Words fail me. I just want to thank you and keep it up. We can make the world a better place, and as a child of the 60’s, I’d almost lost hope!


  42. ed says :

    To Bill or staff:

    I am attending the workshop in New York the end of the month. Would purchasing the “Big Mind” DVD set and going through them before the workshop be recommended, or do you think it matters one way or the other?


    FROM BILL: It’s certainly not necessary to get the Big Mind DVD set in order to benefit from the NY workshop. We’re assuming that those who attend have not done any Big Mind prior to the workshop. However, I do think that the more experience you have with Big Mind, the more you’ll get out of it. And, for that matter, the more times you do the process, the deeper the realizations and the deeper your ability to access transcendent states. I would get it, both to get the basics before the workshop and to have it to use regularly–but it isn’t something you have to do. You will benefit greatly even if you don’t get it. If you read the posts from people who went to the LA and Seattle workshops, people described their experience as the most amazing of their lives, and I don’t think any of them had done Big Mind before they came.

  43. Dear Bill, Thank you for the time you take to share your insights via your blog, courses and holosync technology. I have followed these processes you explain for quite a few years and appreciate the growth that results. I have never find you write drivel or mere theory. The endless learning process available to us gives life purpose and pleasure. It’s good to know some others share the same drive to learn and grow from the teachings of many other wise people (for example, I felt so pleased recently when you referred to Joel Goldsmith as a favourite writer, as I have many of his books and wish I knew people to share them with). As to levels of enlightenment, we are where we are; however they form an interesting post and I look forward to your future contributions. Margaret

  44. Chris Boulanger says :

    All these stages of development that Bill has described represent something tremendously important for each human being to be aware of. My question is: is one more prone than others to advance through these stages or put another way: are some people born to remain unconscious all their lives whereas others seem to naturally seek out enlightenment? Can anyone, once aware that these stages exist, get unstuck from his/her present level and continue to progress to eventually reach those higher levels or were you destined to stay stuck at a certain level whether conscious or unconscious?

  45. Julius Ko says :

    Hey Bill,

    Is there any way to ‘test’ to see what rank one is one? I know there’s tests for the Suzanne stages; but the ranks of Tozan?

    But; if a person were truly embodying in that stage; they wouldn’t need a test would they? They’ll just know it; feeling the ever-present witness at each and every moment; and yet; embracing the evident pain that exists by having an ego + body in this world; and being able to switch btwn those two worlds via focus..

    But; that being said; there’s still shadow work and perhaps developmental/cognitive work that could be done?

    ie. One could still have projections; and still work on aspects of the self that ‘annoys’ them?

    And as for developmental work; possible to have a 5th rank; (using Wilber terms); in the ethno-centric world view? So they still also discriminate and possibly reject others?

    So I guess the point I’m trying to make; is although the 5th rank person might have ‘transcended’ the ‘world of the ego’; they still have their issues; problems; etc.. and even possibly deeper than before; .. that in the deepest levels; they realize that they’re not better than anyone else?…. which is in a strange reason how they are ‘better’ (as in just more capable of dealing with more; in the world).

    Am I getting it? am I making sense?

    – Julius from Toronto.

    FROM BILL: The only way I know of to “know” what Rank you are at is to have a Zen master affirm that you are at a certain rank. Only a highly conscious person at a higher rank would be able to tell. Nearly everyone thinks they are considerably higher than they are. And, finally, WHO IS ASKING? The big ah-ha at the Third Rank is that there is no one there, that the separate self is a complete fiction.

  46. Carey says :

    I guess this is what U. G. Krishnamurti may have been referring to when he said that if people understood what true enlightenment entailed they wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot barge pole (I’m sure I’ve butchered this quote).
    It’s interesting how congruent stages 4 and 5 are with the story of Jesus.
    I’m curious where teachers like Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj or Ramana Maharshi might fall on this scale seeing as though they are not Buddhist and seem to exemplify stage three. And yet I can think of few teachings that have struck me as deeply.
    Any thoughts on this Bill?
    Great post!

  47. Hello Bill,

    Have enjoyed your writings. Integration, the constant and undeniable truth of “being human”.

    It’s been a long and wonderful ride through the recess of the mind, through the 18,000 veils that obscure the reality of,” that which is”

    Since the beginning, back in 1988, with Rashell-lei and “the cracking of the ego egg” so to speak. I realized then, that I was a nothing and a nobody, and after many years of having to live in the “three zeros”, i.e. no family, no friends, and no money, some light began to return through years of spiritual practice, and spiritual pilgrimages all over the world.

    The first experience of the “transcendent” or ‘epiphany” came to me while I was living in Hawaii after a journey to India and at the time reading the teachings of Swami Ramamanda and practicing his meditative technique of deep contemplation on the “I” thought, the nature of the true self, “who am I”.

    During a meditation I experienced a shift of energy from my normal third eye focus point to the heart, from there I can only describe the experience as “other worldly” as consciousness exploded into a very alive field of light and music. After returning to the relative I was ecstatic to say the least and certainly walking a couple of inches off the ground.

    Shortly after this experience I realized the meaning of after “enlightenment” you still chop wood and carry water, life goes on and for me it has continue to progress through “the stages'”.

    Not sure where i am at presently, but I seem very comfortable with everything that you have describe about fifth level realities; however I would not for a moment try and delude myself into thinking that I have anything ‘to show” for it other than a peaceful surrender to what is, or perhaps I could actually be moving into a level four reality check with a subsequent reordering to come.

    Appreciate any feedback.

    All the best,

  48. Dr. Alan Hakes says :

    Hi Bill:
    Very informative. I wonder why Adi Da Samraj is never quoted nor mentioned in your work. Here is a being who has enormous “transmission” coming through his bodymind, is abundantly published, and FULLY articulates the 7 stages of life in great detail. No mention.

    It is very interesting that both Ken Wilber and Saniel Bonder know much about Adi Da Samraj. Saniel Bonder was an editor for many of Adi Da’s books and a long-time devotee.

    Lastly, I have not been in the community of Adi Da Samraj since 1999. I have found Eckhart Tolle to be soooooo…. capable of expressing the most profound in the most easily understood way.
    Keep up the good work, Bill. I am a fan of yours as well.
    Blessings, Alan Hakes

  49. Maggie says :

    I’m attached to spiritual development. I can’t let go of this path, as I somehow know is “righteous” and resigning from it from my perspective seems to be imposible. What’s very disturbing is the actualizing information I continue to recive that often make me even more overwhelmed (weighed down) by this path. As I feel myself in a way constantly suffering (trying to find at least one non-relative thing that I coul rest on, a kind of asylum), reading about future stages makes me sometimes even more discouraged.

    Having put SO much energy, so much time and effort to grow, it is really ‘down-putting’ to realize that despite finally finding the equilibrium I may be so confused at the long last enlightened stage (I’m speaking of the third level), optimistically assuming that I will ever get there in this life. At the moment I really wish I could be at the lower level to make sense of life in a lineary, ‘non-problem’ way with set rules and characters (good or bad). Not being able to do this any longer, I find it very hard to get by in my environment with other people (as I simoultaneously care not to take them for worse or less perspicatious). I wish benevolent God could help ;)

    It won’t be a novelty to you if I say that I find your posts extremely mind-opening and unique but I belive it’s worthy saying anyway. Keep up sharing with us this excellent stuff.


  50. Roger says :

    Bill are you sure you know what you’re talking about…….
    You’re trying to describe enlightenment (second hand at that ) to the masses. And 99.9 % of the masses won’t even get half way there ?
    I’ll give you credit, you might not have enlightenment, but
    you have balls !!!

    yours trudie Roger !!!

  51. Sean says :

    Thank you so much, Bill, for the last two blog entries on Tozan’s five ranks. Reading this last entry was especially exciting and delightful for me, because it’s giving voice to a vision of spiritual realization and awakening that is more grounded, more human, and more mature than, IMHO, the great majority of what is being offered today. I will share this with my friends.

    With Deep Gratitude,

  52. Micah Blumberg says :

    ok, this is my second comment.

    Doesn’t any experience of big heart, or big connection to all life count as a stage 4 experience?

    I mean I have grieved for my parents generation, as the majority of them watch their friends die, and more than that they watch their entire culture, the so called golden age of television vanish from it’s glory into something that is no more than a doodle in the makeup of history.

    Isnt it enough to feel big heart from a GREEN development level, pre-enlightenment?

    Centerpointe taught me how to rethink my mind, perhaps the most valuable lesson ever, but those of us at lower developments have been to the fifth stage many a time.

    I have been to the bring of despair, fear, suicide, and the choice to live, the choice to choose my existence. and based on your earlier writings Bill about your own troubled years as an drug seeking young man I think you would agree?

    the downfall of man, his shame for error, his nakedness in sin, all of it is cyclical right?

    So what’s the difference then with a post enlightenment fall?

    I’m only asking because what I want to hear is some practical sense about how stage four & five can benefit myself, my family, and this world that we, you Bill, and I live in.

    How can we in a practical sense, make this world a more intelligent, respectful, and kind place for life forms like us?

    I know this is a stretch, but your centerpointe audio technology is special, and you have felt the effects longer than most. Do you personally see any problems with Tozan’s five ranks?

    What do you think is the practical value of knowing it?

  53. Aisjah says :

    Dear Bill,
    This last blog is truly inspiring. There is a part of me that gets it. I don’t know how because enlightenment is not my state. But somehow I feel the truth of it. It rings true.
    It’s quite interesting to know that certain stages of enlightenment are not The end. That there is more to being a Human Being than we barely know. I didn’t realize that enlightened humans can get stuck on certain levels (that of the shining ones who attract many) Somehow the 4th stage of Falling off the Mountain rings very true. And really feeling the suffering and the doubts and being part of this world but not of it..helps us to want to be of service to others but not attached to it. I experience many stages but cannot stay there. There are wonderful glimpses. I have just recently ordered the BigMind BigHeart DVD’s and when viewing them experienced the state of the voices of the True Human BEing. It felt quite profound in that I had the experience of the voices before the group talked from the voices in those states or chapters. It was a gift. Was it because I was in touch with Genpo Roshi in the Spiritual state viewing the DVD’s… or was it because we can all have these experiences if we want to when we know we can?
    I’m very happy of the direction that you are taking us on our Holosync trail… is it spontaneous or planned from the beginning? Best everything, Aisjah

  54. Steve says :

    Thanks Bill,
    You really have a great talent at communicating highly esoteric ideas in a way that makes them very understable. I’ve always thought that the 3rd rank would be such a ‘cool’ state to be in, and wondered how or why someone leaves it. Your blog has really given me an insight into this, and the danger of the ego becomming attached to the transcendent. We live in a most enlightened age. Web sites like yours really demonstrate the power of the Internet and the digital age to communicate ideas to people, and I get to choose what I download. I could choose to download porn sites or other distractions, or I can choose to download material that elevates my thoughts toward a higher state of being. Just keep on writing and we’ll keep reading.

    Steve Edwards

    FROM BILL: The Third Rank IS a cool place to be. It’s just that it is a place that denies cause and effect, the world of the relative. After a while that catches up with you. It might take many years, as it did for Genpo Roshi, or only several months, as it was for me, but eventually the relative world intrudes into your delusion and brings you down to earth. At that point, you have to integrate both transcendent and relative, which could also take many years.

  55. John says :

    Thanks Bill, I really enjoyed this particular post of yours.

    I have often been bemused at Dr David Hawkins’ assertion that one should seek to remove all notions of causality from one’s thinking, because this seems to me to be somewhat at odds with the concept of Karma. Reading your post, therefore, it seems that, assuming he is ‘enlightened’ in any sense of the word, Dr Hawkins may be at the Third Rank.

    Irrespective of this particular point, I found your post very interesting (I suppose that simply means my ego found it worthy of attention! ;-)

    Many thanks.


  56. Chris Zourides says :

    Great article! I attended Genpo’s 2 day talk in NY a few months ago and heard him give this teaching on the 3rd, 4th (fall) and 5th stage of enlightenment. I wonder if it’s possible to not “fall” so hard from stage 3 if one is conceptually aware of what they are experiencing; i.e. if/when one of us reading this article “attains” stage 3, will we expect to “fall” and not feel too much pain when we do? Will we pay more attention to human suffering? I’d imagine so….I hope so. But Bill, as you wrote when addressing Tim’s comments (near top), Genpo is suffering far less than we are…..encouraging!

    -Chris Z


    Generally the experience of the Third Rank is so incredible, and so much supercedes an ideas you have about the process (which you ditched during the Big Doubt aspect of the Second Rank, anyway), that you become totally absorbed in the transcendent. This absorbtion is so vast, so complete, that you can’t imagine a fall, or even not being in that place. Unfortunately, it is an illusion, at least in the sense that you are beyond cause and effect (which is what it seems like), and this eventually creates a fall where you discover that karma continues to function.

  57. Dimitri says :

    I have been lucky (privelaged) to have had several moments of sartori – each moment was so perfect, everything was just right, just marvellous. It is only now that I realize that these moments were probably 3rd rank types. Because at the time, even suffering seamed ok! I have much to learn! Thanks…


    A “moment” of satori is the First Rank. The Third Rank is when you are in satori continuously.

  58. David says :

    Hi Bill

    Want to let you know that I absolutely loved your last postings on the 5 ranks. I find it highly pertinent and useful, actually more so than the previous developmental stuff, though that was also important.

    I would love to hear more about holosync, particularly, how it connectsto enlightenment, and the stuff you have already been writing about such as the 5 ranks.

    I assume that as one meditates for more and more time, one spontaneoulsy will grow into the deeper stages of enlightenment.

    So it seems that a spteady practice of meditation with holosync can take you to the higher levels of conciousness.

    interestingly, you mentioned the process of doubting. I have had that continually with holosync, doubting the process. So that information really helped me.

    once again, I would love to hear more about holosync and how holosync can help me become morea live and happy, more enlightened and truly peaceful, while at the same time, helping me to become more able to be functional. Which I feel is what you experienced.

    There are many great meditation tools out there which help someone to relax very deeply, though they do not do anything to develop the mind to be able to to become more effective in the world (something I really need in my job and in this fast paced world). This is why i chose holosync as it seems to be able to help me cope better with my job, as it helps me to concentrate, while at the same time, it is meant to develop deep relaxation. though so far, my meditations have been quite uncomfortable due to the strength of teh stimulis so afr.



  59. Will says :


    I can relate to msg 5 from Tim.

    In Wilbers book One Taste pg29 ‘Who Actually Wants to Transform?’ he says

    I once asked Katagiri Roshi how many truly great Ch’an and Zen masters ther have historically been. Without hesitating, he said, ‘maybe one thousand altogether’. I asked another Zen master how many truly enlightened–deeply enlightened–Japanese zen masters were alive today,and he said ‘Not more than a dozen’.

    So when you say ‘And that is a rare event’ at the end of your post, is this how rare it is?

    The possibility of getting to rank 3 seems daunting enough. 500,000,000 Buddhists alive today and the planet obviously is’nt weighed down with Enlightened people.

    Could it not be the case that people like yourself,Genpo,Tolle,Adi da,Andrew cohen are but ‘the few of a generation’ whatever tools and techniques are involved?

    I look forward to your interview with the Bonder,s as they seem to have a track record of taking people to a certain realization which is encouraging.




    I may be misquoting the exact details here, but I have heard that the Buddha once said to his close deciples that the proportion of those who achieve the first Rank (though this was before Tozan he was referring to what Tozan decribes as the First Rank) compared to the great mass of humanity was like a handful of sand from the banks of the Ganges River compared to all the grains of sand along its banks from its beginnings in the Himalayas to where it flows into the ocean.

    Then he took a pinch of sand between his forefinger and thumb and said that this was the the proportionate number of those who attain the Third Rank. Then he sprinkled a few grains from that pinch onto the back of his thumbnail, and said that this was the proportionate number who fully wake up.

    There are several people who posted comments assuming that they are in this rank or that, and though anything is possible, and they might be right, I tend to doubt their personal assessment–partly because attaining even the First Rank is rare, and attaining the others are REALLY rare. Unless a person works with a teacher who has attained himself (or herself), getting past the First Rank is unlikely–possible, but unlikely.

    Having said that, we are in a new era in the sense that the number of people who are privy to information that could help them wake up is much greater, and we have media (internet, etc.) that allows a teacher to be in conact with many more people. On the other hand, most of these people are not living a life where they can really focus on spiritual practice. Most of the beings who have awakened have living a life consisting mostly if not entirely of spiritual practice. They were not living a typical 21st century Western life. I see things like Holosync and Big Mind taking up the slack to some extent, but if a person really wants to awaken in the profound sense I’m writing about here, it’s probably not going to happen from doing some sort of practice an hour a day.

  60. Lewi says :

    Hello Bill,

    thank you for your insightful post.

    A few revealing questions I’m curious about…

    1) What is a human being?

    I may look like a “human being” but aren’t I really just made up of “semi-conscious, self-cohesive dust”?

    2) Why more titles… “Master”?

    Isn’t the implication of arriving at “Master”, a self-diluting proposition of supposed ego? Is it even possible to arrive at something that is forever fleeting?

    3) Why the distinction of ranks? It seems that I experience various aspects of each of the ranks you describe within moments of one another, and have since I was very young yet could never anchor it to anything in the causal world. Your teaching of subjugation here is helpful, but I believe the 5 ranks are occuring simultaneously (which really means they aren’t happening at all), and since time is an illusion why even consider time as a component of the supposed rank’s dynamics?

    4) Why reference to an ego that doesn’t exist?

    Aren’t we projecting the illusion that Freud’s imposed structural model of the psyche is in fact “real” and not just “make believe”, yet is taught in every college on the planet as “ho-hum”… acceptable fact?

    The last time I looked for my ego, I couldn’t find one.

    To the essence of what simply is, all these “things” seem to clutter the simplicity of what is being taught here.

    Why is it that “human beings” perpetually attempt to define that which cannot be defined… isn’t it all just “relative” to commerce?

    One last comment, Genpo’s use of the triangle closely resembles…

    left brain+right brain = more integrated brain

    Your curious friend and student,


    The Zen community has titles. I didn’t create them. And, I’ll say that if a person gets to the point where a Zen master declares that he, too (or she), is a Zen master, that person HAS attained something. This is not something very many humans ever do, and they don’t declare just anyone to be a Zen master.

    It seems like “tit;es” or achievements may represent a shadow part of you. What is wrong with acknowledging attainment of something?

    In this case, I suspect that you are referring to my comment that Genpo Roshi calls “the one who chooses to be a human being” the Master. In this case, he means the master of his own life, not the master of someone else. In fact, even a Zen master isn’t considered to be the master of other people, though others may certainly have such great respect and reverence for him that they look to him as an authority and as a mentor or even a parental figure. But so what? People at that level of consciousness are not into being “better” than others. They are more likely to have realized how incredibly ordinary they are.

  61. Het-Heru says :

    I want to say thanks for clearing that up. I’ve been at the 3rd, now in the 4th making way to the 5th. I was a bit confuse about my stage of development. “How can I come so far only to sink again but did I really sink?”, was the question for me.

    Be balance,

  62. Will says :

    And thanks for the reply to my post (a few msg above) even if it was somewhat distresssing.

    So we can assume that anyone reading this is rank1 or below. We visit the transcendant with holosync or a technique Tolle has instructed. We just might be in the handful of sand from the Ganges river bank as you say.

    Rank 2 you seem to suggest is only usually possible by devoting your life to spiritual practice and is not going to happen doing a practice 1hr aday. And you will probably need an enlightened teacher (thin on the ground round these parts) to surrender and submit to before stepping off the 100FT pole. For those of us who are seeking rank3 this IS news we can use.

    Adyashanti,whos from a Zen background, remarks that in his experience that however much you practiced there was still an undercurrent in Zen that you just were not going to get Enlightened which he found impossible to handle and eventually led to, yes you guessed it, a Spontaneous Awakening. Choosing a teacher or a Guru seems a hard call.

    And of course dont forget to become a multi-millionaire and keep the wife and kids.

    Maybe Tolle got it right with ‘introducing’ people to inviting prescence into their daily lives, thus maybe visiting the transcendant. As trying to ‘live’ in the transcendant would seem to entail his multitude of readers packing a bag and tracking down Adi da or someone.

    What are your thoughts about the future of the the internet and how it could be used as teacher/Guru? Digital Darshan? Transmission through Technology?(Trade mark:)) Exciting possibilities though none of us are getting any younger!

    Thanks once again for the posts, they are worth reading again and again.



    I’m not saying that a person cannot go through these stages without a teacher, or even that some people reading these posts might not already be at one of these stages. However, it is rare. The world pulls at most people’s attention in such a way that only now and then are they willing or able to observe and live from the place Tolle (for instance) talks about. The rest of the time they are lost in the world created by their own mind, the world of past and future, the world of wanting this and avoiding that, the world of the supposed separate self–thinking that all of it is real. It takes quite a bit to disengage from all of that–and then, to find your way back into the relative, but without becoming lost again. I’ve just found that most people overestimate where they are in this process–which is ego. Or, they feel as if the whole thing is impossible, which actually is also ego.

    There are many ways to wake up. I managed to do so by diving into Hinduism (in my 20s and 30s), then through a lot of Holosync use (in my thirties and forties), and then into Buddhism, but without ever really having a true allegience to any particular tradition or having one particular teacher (until now, with Genpo Roshi, who is part teacher and part colleague). Most people aren’t as committed and disciplined as I am, and waking up without one on one help is less likely (though possible). For some reason I tend to be pretty good, for whatever reason, at going it on my own. I do think the path of having an awakened teacher (such as Genpo Roshi) is much easier and faster, but then you have the problem of finding such a person, and trusting them. And, you still have to be disciplined and committed.

    And, even with all of this, there are no guarantees. As Ken Wilber has said, “Enlightenment is an accident. Meditation just happens to make you more accident prone.” Awakening isn’t something you can DO, because there is no separate doer. That is one of the main illusions that awakening dispels. Without a doer, who would awaken, or do this or that in order to awaken? Awakening happens as part of the unfolding of the universe. Whatever I did to awaken might have seemed like “I” was doing it, but it was really the universe as a whole doing its thing.

  63. R A Andrew says :

    Just finished reading your post. I am at a place where I can intellectualize the concepts presented regarding the Five Ranks of Tozan – even have an awareness of where I might be. Unless one is fortunate enough to spontaneously become enlightened, the amount of work to be done is almost daunting!

  64. Balu S Nair says :

    The five stages you mentioned are the same ones in reverse with the exception of ‘being’.It also reflects the cosmic law (if i may say so!) that opposites are the same but of different polarity,just as we say that love and hate are not opposites in the sense of the word.Its something like the return of the native, much humbler than ever before, indeed acceptance takes a new meaning here., all the same of being aware of the ‘doing’ that needs to be ‘done’.Truly .. relative ! I guess this is at best experienced rather than being spoken or written though the written lends itself to expression better !

  65. John says :

    Fascinating. I feel like I’ve just toured the all time & the universe. I was brought up in a strict religious family & I later rejected religion. However my need to be “right” has affected / limited many parts of my life – from dismissing others points of view because I was right – to undervaluing myself or failing to challenge myself because I wasn’t sure what was right.
    I’ve been searching for a bigger picture and you’ve tied together so many of my experiences, thoughts and issues (or should I say sufferings) that I now am more peaceful with what is. I was really looking forward to Stage 5 being even “better” (no such thing eh) than stage 4 but it’s fantastic to know that what is – is and we should experience it fully. I’ve also been a school teacher – again wanting to be right most of the time. It’s a misnomer really – we are taught to limit our students ability to learn more openly- and the experience puts so many children off learning as a life long process! What a pity your training isn’t a compulsory part of our teacher training process. When are you & Genpo coming to Australia?

  66. Patrick says :

    Bill, what about important physical limitations? Do you feel your customers should know about the calcification of the Pineal gland from fluoride or disassociative neurotoxins like aspartame that work directly against feeling the oneness. I find that certain nootropics have accelerated my progress. How is your third eye? What is your opinion on this gland? Thanks IA
    Oh yeah, how can one jump to deeper levels of holosync at the retreat? I love your program and do not intend to sound rude. Thanks.

  67. John Arbogast says :

    Thank you, Bill. Even though we don’t know each other, I feel as though this post was written directly to me. This was exactly what I needed right now.

  68. Julia says :

    It seems to me that the triangle symbolism is similar to the Holy Trinity from Catholicism– “relative, mind, seperate self” is the Son Jesus…”transcendant, Big Mind, no-self” is the Holy Spirit… and “integration of relative and transcendant” is God the Father. HMM??!!

  69. Hilary says :

    Hi Bill, Many thanks for each of your overviews into stages of development. I have just been working on a spreadsheet looking at the turning points of my life in relation to Spiral Dynamics, Western approaches to developmental stages and the 5 Ranks of Tozan. It explains why much of my journey of late has been a little lonely. I perceive things differently. I hestitate to post the following because it might just be that I’ve completely misunderstood your intention, but bear with me as I’ve got a point at the end.

    Back in 1983 I started meditating and could instantly access the transcendant at will. I couldn’t understand why others couldn’t and, or, weren’t interested or believed it possible. At that stage I was still at the Individualist stage. In 1985 my illness became critical and with no hope of recovery went into a period of total surrender, stepped out into the void and doubted everything and it was OK. It was a pivotal time in my life and life has not been the same since. Your description of Tozan stages 2 and 3 fitted my experience of that time except that I didn’t have any recognition from society of my development and insights. Perhaps that was because I still had a lot of shadow work to do. I recovered in 40 days and consolidated over the next years. If I read you as you intended I immediately dropped into the Strategist stage. Then after a period of stabilisation and formal education I moved into the Fourth Rank (and Magician stage) where I FELT and pain and suffering was the norm. Your description of my last decade was so accurate. I had never seen any description of it anywhere before. I had just made the decision a month or so ago to drop back into surrender and submission. And was mildly amused to find that is the way to go into the Fifth Rank.
    I guess the point of this is that it might not be necessary to be in Magician stage to be at Rank one of Tozan. Life might drop us into it without us being “ready” for it in the Western developmental sense. I think I still moved through the Western stages of development in order, and through the Tozan ranks in parallel rather than consecutively.
    I would be interested in your comments and would be happy to correspond if you would like further clarification.

  70. John Arbogast says :

    P.S. One minor criticism that I have of your posts and of Wilber’s ‘Sex, Ecology, Spirituality’ is a certain lack of precision in the use of such concepts as “oneness” and “unity” with all things, a lack of precision that can lead scientific empiricists to disregard mysticism altogether as nonsense.

    Absolute oneness with everything would imply telepathy, and I know that this isn’t what you or Wilber mean to say. Individual human beings who meditate don’t literally feel all of the feelings of every entity in the universe. Ken Wilber doesn’t know what’s going on in the minds of every human being on the planet or in the minds of intelligent beings in other star systems. And you don’t literally feel how everything in the world is actually interconnected. If you did, we could tell all of the scientists to quit their empirical investigations and instead just meditate alone in their rooms in order to figure out how the whole physical, biological, and social worlds work, which is essentially what philosophical rationalists thought that they could do in the ancient, medieval, and early modern periods. Modern empiricism is the belief that the actual workings of the world cannot be comprehended through meditative contemplation alone. I know that both you and Wilber are very much of the empirical mindset, but I think that you need to be clearer in the way that you talk about unity and plurality, time and eternity, in order to avoid some serious misconception about what kind of experience you think that meditation can provide.

    Individual human beings only experience a small part of external things, and it is those small parts that are literally one with our own being. My consciousness includes small parts of the experience of many physical entities, and out of these many parts my consciousness constructs one whole world. That whole world is me. I and my world are not two—nondual. But I/my-world am only a small part of the whole world, or, more precisely, I am a synthesis of small aspects of the many perspectives that together constitute the whole world. Another way of saying this is that I am a perspective on the whole world. Any perspective on the whole world necessarily includes all of space and all of time in the abstract but not in the concrete. I.e., I experience space and time as infinite from my perspective, but I do not experience every other perspective that actually constitutes all of space and time. Every perspective is a perspective on one and the same whole world, but there are many perspectives, not just one. Thus, the world is both a multiplicity and a unity—many perspectives on one space-time continuum.

    As you suggest, every perspective is relative—to every other perspective. There are various forms of relations among perspectives. Alfred North Whitehead argued that there are both internal and external relations among perspectives and both positive and negative prehensions by one perspective of other perspectives. Perspectives that are in the past relative to the present perspective are internal to the present perspective, and perspectives that are in the future relative to the present perspective are external to the present perspective. Also, Some parts of perspectives that are internal to/in the past of the present perspective are prehended positively, while other parts of perspectives that are internal to/in the past of the present perspective are prehended negatively. Thus I only positively prehend a very small part of the totality of world history, even of the world history that is internal to the present moment. And future moments in world history are altogether external to the present moment, though the present moment will be internal to those future moments.

    It is the synthesis of many past perspectives in the unity of the present perspective that gives rise to the illusion of an enduring personal identity (ego). And it is the anticipation of the arising of future perspectives that will include the present perspective that introduces desire into the present moment. “I” am a series of momentary perspectives, and in each and every moment “I” construct “myself” out of the series of momentary perspectives and consider future perspectives that will include the present perspective as part of the “I” to be concerned about. While in a sense it is true that in each moment there is just that moment, it is also true that the past moments were real moments in their own right, and there will be future moments that will be real moments in their own right and that will include some part of the present moment.

    I apologize if this is all a bit of jumble. I think that ultimately I’m agreeing with you: there is a transcendental perspective from which all is one, but it is also the case that any experience of the transcendental unity of the world is always within one of many relative perspectives. There is no way out of the everlasting process of perspectives within perspectives within perspectives that constitutes the ongoingness of time. Nirvana is within samsara. I think that it’s important to keep clear about the relationship between time and eternity. It is possible for any momentary, temporal perspective to experience eternity/nirvana, but it is important to note that the eternal that is being experienced in the momentary is the empty ground of pure potentiality of the universe—not the totality of all actual perspectives that constitute the world. The totality of actuality is never, never, never experienced by any actuality (not even God), because there is always another moment of actuality after that actuality and hence a new totality—which means that whatever was experienced before was not really the totality of actuality. What can be experienced by a momentary perspective is the totality of pure potentiality, which is empty of all actuality, and which is always and everywhere the same for all perspectives.

    The most precise explanation that I’ve ever seen of all of this is in A.N. Whitehead’s ‘Process and Reality.’ This is a very opaque book, so I would recommend starting with Donald Sherburne’s ‘Key to Whitehead’s “Process and Reality”‘ and then reading PR along with Elizabeth Kraus’ ‘The Metaphysics of Experience: A Companion to Whitehead’s “Process and Reality”‘. You could also discuss it with Ken Wilber. I know from ‘Sex, Ecology, Spirituality’ that he’s familiar with Whitehead, though I find that he doesn’t make nearly enough use of him.

  71. Balu S Nair says :

    Frankly with due respect i feel we need not get too much obsessed with the ‘ranks’ . Its too easy to mistake the path for the goal. Peace. :)

  72. Sean Arnold says :

    Hi Bill,

    I’m wondering if you have any thoughts to share about how the realization Saniel and Linda Bonder are living and transmitting (the “second birth”) relates, or doesn’t, to the 5 Ranks. I’ve been participating in the Waking Down in Mutuality work and communty (founded by Saniel) for five years now, and the Waking Down “map” of awakening and the 5 Ranks seem to me to have some similarities (for instance, stage 5 and the second birth are both realizations that include impersonal and the personal dimensions of identity simultaneously). I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject, if you have any to share.

    Thanks so much,

    FROM BILL: Why not ask Saniel? He is familar with the Five Ranks, and certainly more familiar than I am with his own work (though he is a good friend and I love his work).

  73. Sean Arnold says :

    Thanks for the suggestion, Bill. I’ll do that.


  74. Bob says :

    i think yes it probably was a rare event 2600-2000-1500-1200 even 100 years, and yes probably even 30 years ago for people to become “enlightened” or “awakened” or whatever you wish to call the state of mind some of us BEings are begining to feel grow within us, but if the path of the universe/life…us……is to evolve, then surely its what will happen (unless we manage to grow another arm) from our little perspective it could be another 1000 years before we notice considerable change but change is afoot i think we can all agree on that!

  75. John Arbogast says :


    I thought I would share this exchange I had with Carey Yost, as it might help to clarify my earlier comment:

    Carey quoted this portion of my earlier comment: “While in a sense it is true that in each moment there is just that moment, it is also true that the past moments were real moments in their own right, and there will be future moments that will be real moments in their own right and that will include some part of the present moment.”


    “I realize I chose the part of your comment that was more contemplation than argument but it seemed to reveal something interesting.

    “If there are a collection of moments as you say can we quantify them? How many are there and how are they subdivided? Is it possible there is only one?

    “I apologize in advance for sounding like a new age or meditation proselytizer but here goes:

    “The reason emphasis is given on the present moment is because it is the only thing we have direct experience of. In some cases there may be records however the viewing of these would still be an activity taking place in the present. In fact ALL past and future scenario “moments” and are simply memories and projections taking place in the present.

    “Is it correct to conclude then that past and present have no existence outside of mind?

    “What is the mind and is it even remotely qualified to discern reality given its limitations?”


    There are many moments of experience. Each one is a perspective on the entire space-time continuum.

    Start here: Imagine person A and person B. Each person is a conscious perspective. Say that A and B are looking at each other. That means that A is a perspective on the whole space-time continuum, which involves a certain aspect of B; and B is a perspective on the whole space-time continuum, which involves a certain aspect of A. Each perspective includes only an aspect of the other. A includes only part of B, and B includes only part of A. This partial mutual inclusion is what makes both A and B parts of one and the same world, but the partiality of the inclusion is what makes A and B two distinct perspectives, not just one perspective. There is one world but many perspectives on it, perspectives that include only parts of the other perspectives, not the whole of other perspectives.

    To verify that what I’m saying is correct, examine your consciousness and notice whether your consciousness includes anyone else’s complete consciousness. It doesn’t. At most your consciousness includes only a small slice of others’ consciousness. You see the world through your eyes. You don’t see the world as it appears through my eyes. My perspective is separate and distinct from yours, therefore they are two separate and distinct perspectives on one and the same world.

    Time works the same way. Each moment in life is a perspective on the entire space-time continuum. John at time 2 is a perspective on John at time 1, which is a perspective on John at time 0, and so on. John t2 includes John t1, but John t1 did not include John t2, nor does John t2 include John t3 or John t4. (John t2, which includes most of John t1, also includes a small sliver of Carey t1, Bill t1, Kevin t1, etc., but only small slivers, which is what makes us all separate though interconnected people/perspectives.)

    Each perspective is a moment and each moment is a perspective, all on one and the same space-time continuum. All perspective-moments are interconnected, i.e., each one includes parts of all of the others that are in its past, and each one will also be included as parts of all of those that will be in its future. But the multiplicity of perspective-moments is real. My consciousness is different from your consciousness. My consciousness now is different from my consciousness in the past and from my consciousness in the future.

    This irreducible multiplicity of temporal and spatial relations is what leads inevitably from stage 3 to stage 4, as Bill describes it, the fall from grace. It appears in stage 3 that everything is ultimately one in a transcendent sense, but in stage 4 one realizes that multiplicity, temporality, and spatiality are quite real and unavoidable. It is only in stage 5 that one can integrate the transcendental unity with the pluralistic relativity. This is the balanced view of unity and multiplicity, time and eternity, that I was trying to help Bill clarify.

    Let me respond directly to a few questions you asked:

    “If there are a collection of moments as you say can we quantify them? How many are there and how are they subdivided? Is it possible there is only one?”

    There are an infinite number of moments. There was no first moment, and there will be no last moment. Moments themselves are not subdivided. Each moment is a discrete entity, indivisible. As explained above, it is not possible that there is only one.

    “In fact ALL past and future scenario ‘moments’ and are simply memories and projections taking place in the present.”

    No, the reason that we experience memory is that there really were distinct, past moments, parts of which are included in the present moment, and the reason that we anticipate the future is that there really will be distinct, future moments that will include part of the present moment.

    “Is it correct to conclude then that past and present have no existence outside of mind?”

    There is nothing but mind. Mind is experience. Each moment of mind is a picture of the world, of the entire space-time continuum. The world is nothing but pictures within pictures within pictures, like pointing a live video camera at a television screen displaying its own image. The picture is just the TV within the TV within the TV, all the way down to infinity. That’s what the world is: minds within minds within minds, pictures within pictures within pictures of the whole space-time continuum, perspectives within perspectives within perspectives, moments within moments within moments—all the way down to infinity. And it just keeps recreating itself moment after moment after moment, for all eternity, without beginning or end, never exactly the same picture twice. There are many momentary perspectives on one world.

    FROM BILL: And…every moment is absolutely necessary for every other moment..and every perspective is absolutely necessary for every other perspective. Without each, this universe could not, would not, be. The universe totally depends on THIS moment, and every other, and it depends on YOU, and depended upon you before you were born. A billion years ago, the universe depended upon the fact that YOU would be here, now, and a billion years from now it will depend upon the fact that you WERE here. And this goes for every other atom in the universe, too.

  76. John Arbogast says :

    “A billion years ago, the universe depended upon the fact that YOU would be here, now, and a billion years from now it will depend upon the fact that you WERE here.”

    Yes. It’s important, though, to remember that there’s an asymmetry involved in the relation between past and future. The past and the future depended and will depend upon the present in different senses. Moment-perspectives a billion years ago were what they were in part because of their anticipation of a being like me existing now, but what I am now was not fully determinate then. That is, there is a degree of freedom in each present moment relative to the past. What I am now was to some extent anticipated by past moments, but also to some extent indeterminate for those past moments, whereas for future moments what I am now will be fully determinate, a settled, stubborn matter of fact. For the moments preceding this moment, this moment was partially indeterminate, but for the moments succeeding this moment, this moment will be fully determinate.

    The present involves an anticipation of the future in the mode of real potentiality, whereas the experience of the past by the present is in the mode of fully determinate, settled actuality. The future is not a settled actuality for the present; it is merely a real potentiality. Each present moment is always to some degree self-determining, though dependent upon the settled past that it synthesizes. Hence there is freedom in dependent origination.

    Real potentiality is to be distinguished from pure potentiality, which is the primordial divine nature experienced in the low causal stage of development. Pure potentiality refers to the experience of the space-time continuum in a pure, empty state, unpopulated by any actual, particular, temporal perspectives. This pure potentiality can be experienced by particular temporal actualities, but those particular actualities remain temporal, relative perspectives. Hence the inevitable fall from stage 3 to stage 4.

    FROM BILL: You’re getting a little bit too intellectual for me. Beware the mistaking of ideas for reality.

  77. John Arbogast says :

    I just realized that I didn’t complete that last thought: “Real potentiality is to be distinguished from pure potentiality… Pure potentiality refers to the experience of the space-time continuum in a pure, empty state, unpopulated by any actual, particular, temporal perspectives.” Real potentiality, on the other hand, is what really might happen, given what has already actually occurred. Real potentiality is a synthesis of actuality and potentiality.

  78. Elise says :

    You are a wonderful teacher and I appreciate the time and energy you give to all of us.

    Clarifying questions: When the human being/entity (to distinguish from “I” – ego) descends from the mountain and begins to integrate relative and transcendent, are you saying they take on/choose an ego perspective that causes them to experience personal karma? Or is this karma they experience the result of the sum total of everyone’s karma , the shared karma and the total suffering of every”one”?

    Who is there to do the choosing to be human at that point?

    Are you familiar with Dr. David Hawkins? I would love it if you could ever interview him in the context of these discussions.

    You mention that most don’t ascend to the higher stages/states without a teacher/master. I would love if you could at a later post describe what the role of a teacher might look like. One-on-one coaching may be tough if the teacher is no longer in the body… or if their life so busy they don’t have time to work on a personal level or if you don’t yet have the resources to pay for their time.

    Thanks again for presenting ‘pointers’ to these stages/states.

  79. Mandyjane says :

    Bill and Genpo together make great teachers. Will you both bring Big Mind down to Sydney Australia!!! I know there would be many who would love to attend and can’t make it to the U.S. to do so.

  80. Angela Horne says :

    This post and the previous one were just what I needed to read today. I have been meditating with Holosync for over 7 months now. I have experienced many minor well-being issues for the past 6 months including a recent bout of chicken pox with current post-viral fatigue. However, I accept this is the clearing out process of unconscious toxic limiting beliefs.

    I am indeed very fortunate in that I have a spiritual master. The main reason I use Holosync is to strengthen my ability to receive her wisdom and in turn benefit humanity by completing an inspirational novel.

    Thank you for writing these posts so clearly. I learned of a new deeper aspect of surrender and submission.

    With gratitude and best wishes to you and the Centerpointe team

  81. Ilias says :

    Hi Bill, I haven’t been to the Centerpointe Blog for a while, and I’m glad I happened by.

    I’ve enjoyed your post. Recently, I read an article in Light Of Consciousness called ‘Param Para’ by Swami Amar Jyoti about the Chakras. It’s written in a question/answer style and explores the levels of consciousness associated with each Chakra. Swamiji describes the spiritual essence and paths associated with each Chakra, and offers insight into the awakenings humans experience when transiting each Chakra.

    I noticed some parallels when reading your posts about the 5 Ranks of Tozan, and how one is able to ascend within each Rank.

    I’m curious to learn what your thoughts are on what Swamiji describes about the 4th Chakra and how/where it might relate to the 5 Ranks of Tozan.

    I’ll do my best to summarize the evolutionary stages of what Swamiji offers leading up to the 4th Chakra to ask my question…

    First Chakra: the base
    Second Chakra: animal nature
    Third Chakra: human being
    Fourth Chakra: we become a higher being, a statesman, a poet, social reformer, dancer, musician, but not of an ordinary type… someone who has a major effect on the human family that may influence a shift in human consciousness.

    My question is, in the 5 Ranks of Tozan, how could one consider an individual who is able to illuminate humanity through their works, for example the impact Martin Luther King, Jr. had on the world? What rank might this individual be in while they’re ascending a rank?

    My personal view of the 5 Ranks at this stage in my awareness is that I haven’t a clue where I am in it, and for now I’m content in not-knowing.

    If I may share a brief story I meditated on recently…

    The 10th century teacher Ti-tsang asked the wandering monk Fa-yen where he was going. Fa-yen answered that he was on a pilgrimage, going wherever his feet would carry him.

    Ti-tsang asked, “What do you expect from pilgrimage?”
    Fa-yen said, “I don’t know.”
    Ti-tsang then replied, “Ah, not-knowing is most intimate.”

    Thanks Bill,

    FROM BILL: All this wondering about “where you are” in the 5 Ranks is coming from the ego. Not only is it useless, if you are wondering you probably aren’t any further than the first rank, or perhaps “pre-first rank.”

  82. Ilias says :

    Hi Bill, thank you very much for your feedback. Yes, I do agree after going back and reading about pre-stage one and stage one that I am able to visit the transcendent, but do not remain there all together. I understand what you mean about my ego’s projections of wondering of what is, or what is not which can be accompanied by self-doubt which are all distractions of a transcendent experience and an active ego.

    In terms of being able to “relate” to a transcendent experience, I am a survivor of two-open heart surgeries, where a patient is induced “as deep as 100 levels of unconsciousness” as my first anesthesiologist put it.

    In that state one’s mind is like a cold black void and there is nothing, and I am able to look into that void of memory at will. So I do agree that all this wondering is useless, because from that perspective of unconsciousness, the perceived mind of the physical world is “virtually” non-existent.

    Ironically, that nameless state of unconsciousness is also very peaceful and I am quite often pulled back to that state of nothingness which sometimes relieves my plight into ego.

    Your feedback has been very helpful because now it gives me an idea as to where I can focus to advance my practice to attain a fuller embodiment of the first rank.

    Thank you BIll!

  83. mj bernard says :

    an egg in each hand
    alive moving thrilling
    dreams and rain sing
    answers like roses

    i am a hummingbird
    thankyou for the nectar

  84. Chris says :

    Just wondering…

    You don’t talk much of the “ego” at this stage. Does the “ego” balloon truely pop at the 4th stage, or does transcending both the relative and transcendent involve the ego. Does the ego never truely go away?

    FROM BILL: The ego is just your idea of who you are, nothing more. It is your conceptualization of yourself, and just as your conceptualization of Disneyland isn’t Disneyland, your concept of yourself isn’t you. What’s more, the ego, being an IDEA, can’t do anything. Can “3” do anything? Can you wrap up a package with the equator? No, because both are ideas, abstractions. The ego never goes away because your mind automatically creates conceptualizations until you drop dead someday. What happens, if you evolve far enough, is that you see the ego for what it is (and I don’t mean intellectually understand, I mean experience). When this happens your “center” moves from being what you always thought it was–the separate self, the ego, the “me”–to being all the relationships between your “vehicle”–as the Buddhists call it (the organism, the body)–and everything else. You stop mistaking the map (your idea of “you”) for the territory. When I say that the ego balloon pops in the Fourth Rank I’m saying that cause and effect, which SEEMS to have been transcended in the Third Rank, comes back with a vengence. You have pushed away the relative, and you can only do that (or delude yourself into thinking you have done it) for so long.

  85. Alice says :

    I have just joined and read this first blog. Have no explanation but I feel at home. Thank you, Alice

  86. Erik says :

    I’ve had a glimpse of the third rank two years ago. I knew I was going to save the whole world with my unlimited love and carisma ;). I suffered alot from compasion when I realised that I couldn’t help people who didn’t asked for help. I’ve been pondering about that ever since. Now I ain’t so much. Your description was spot on!

    Thank you for telling me that was not the highest wiew of enlightement. I still wounder why a man at the third rank may loose his charisma mooving forward to the fifth rank? Any idea?

    Be blessed.

    FROM BILL: Read the post more carefully. The answer to your question is there.

  87. Oana Nastase says :

    I’m Oana Nastase, from Bucharest – Romania; I was supposed to attend your work-shop in New York last weekend (28-29 of June). Though I have the impression that my level of awareness is increasing, I was sufficiently unconscious to remember that my USA visa has expired. Fact is that I missed your work shop and the plane ticket though they were both paid long time in advance.
    I have written to Centerpoint to kindly request another seminar/work shop registration, on same already paid fee. I was request to write to you and subscribe to this blog, so here I am.

    Moreover and surpassing the logistic issues, I have some questions, though I think they are rhetoric (I started to learn that the answer is to be found in the question itself): I started to be interested and practice self development programs in the last 8 years. Of course, I had many breakthroughs as I had many breakdowns; Buddhism and Zen is rather something I read than I train myself into. I have been attending to the last workshop of Genpo Roshi in Barcelona, this year at the end of May (it was fantastic, very efficient, easy, clear, simple to “get” it, easy to assimilate it). Having said this, my lately concern is: is the spiritual development direct proportional or correlated with the amount of suffering I experience? Step by step I experience more awareness, more compassion, less attachment to things, social status or given rules; I understand all kind of human behavior, I find myself able to generate love consciously, as a way of being not as a condition to something or somebody; and yet, I experience a deeper suffering, a more emotional way of being, my life experience has a larger amplitude up – is higher , down-is deeper; I understand from your blog that this is a life time learning-experiencing-development process; what I wonder is: entering the path of wisdom is walking on my life path lonelier? “Acceptance” makes “needing” vanish; “giving up attachment” makes relations able to exist from the distance; somehow, every step I make farther, surpassing my own mind and hearth limits, I position myself outside most people I know preoccupations, I find myself in a no men’s land; what I find myself into is either a spiritual love-acceptance-peaceful state of mind or a sad-scared-lonely one: it is a new “black and white” game, it is a new set of emotions. And I’m not looking to win or avoid losing (in my beginner level)… I’m looking to share my life and myself with persons who are interested into “being human” and “getting conscious” process.
    …Being aware of my human nature: should I give up my need of relative human experience, relative couple relation? Can I live for real with people interested to remain in a ego-centered, unaware stage of life? Once one is scratching the surface of “enlightenment” there is no way back, just forward and most likely alone?

  88. Richard says :


    One thing I don’t get is how can someone really experience being “birthless and deathless” when you can only experience it while you’re awake i.e. you don’t experience anything while you’re sleeping or if you fell unconscious? Surely this means that Big Mind depends on a human mind in the waking state to manifest?

    So “presence” only exists in an alive person who’s not in the sleeping state, and so “dies” as far as we’re concerned when we fall asleep / get knocked out / die?


    FROM BILL: Not at all. An awakened person is aware during sleep. Maharishi used to call it “body asleep, mind awake.” This is misleading to a degree, though, because he didn’t mean that you are thinking. He meant that you are pure awareness–awareness without content–even while asleep.

    When Budhhists use the term “unborn” or “undying” they aren’t referring to your body being born or dying. They are referring to what they call the emptiness of everything, the fact that everything depends upon everything else and therefore has no qualities, no existence, by itself. This is a rather deep philosophical question, since it refers to something beyond duality and therefore cannot be describe using language. I certainly don’t have time here to take a shot at explaining, as best as can be done, what it means. Perhaps I will in a future post.

  89. Sam says :

    I’d like to thank you for these tools outlined in your blog post, and what you’re providing with your series regarding “mastering the power of now”. As a result of my participating in these programs I have a much better idea of where I’m at regarding this stuff which, up until now, I’ve been trying to “figure out” all on my own and getting frustrated over the fact that I couldn’t create something to explain the unexplainable. It seems that with what you provide I can experience what is and then put a framework with it, rather than trying to find the right framework into which I might fit all of experience; I didn’t get that the experience of life, rather than the framework into which life should be stuffed into, is the crucial bit.

    I personally don’t believe that we need any of this stuff to become enlightened or, in other words, to fully experience life for what it is and how much we have to offer with respect to it. I find now that I can read or listen to your blog posts and get a better idea of where I’m at, and this is very reassuring because there is a sort of reference point to compare what I’m experiencing against, however I’m no longer looking for that certain state or stage or rank which will make the experience complete. Now that I have this information I can more readily interpret my experience and share it with others, and it’s fun to all of a sudden be in an experience and have something come up from your blog posts; it’s as if all of a sudden I go “ahah, I’m right on with my experience, and Bill’s right on, and I feel so wonderful, and what’s next” and there’s no questioning whether or not it’s right because it just “is”. This is very difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t get it–I wouldn’t have understood it when I was (and still am at times) there–however the reassurance that such is possible is very encouraging, and when you do get it you’ll want to smack yourself upside the head and go “but this is what it’s been all along” and then the only thing to do is have a good laugh; isn’t that what a Zen master said once (I surely know nothing about such masters)?

    Once again I’d like to say how much I appreciate what you’re doing with your blog and other related work, because you’re doing so much for us personally and for the community at large. I believe that what you and others are doing is one of the key turning-points which will bring about a new-age of wisdom and sharing, and I believe that such work is just what this world needs if we’re going to bring the chaos around us back into a balanced and harmonic state. Not many people are sharing this type of information–information which helps you understand your own life from your own creative potential–and what you’re doing to get this into the hands of as many seakers as you can is simply incredible! And what’s more the fact that you’re giving it away, as rightly such charitable work should be given, is a further testament for your willingness to help us all and a great example of where we’re headed. I look forward to where we go from here, and I can’t wait for the next shift. Until then, please be well.

    PS: I really do hear what you’re seeing, and it’s awesome; who ever thought I could hear so much from silence? With the big mind process there really is no silence anymore, but I digress for now. You might want to edit this last part…

  90. Lewi says :

    Hi Bill,

    I’m writing in an attempt to own up to some harsh words I posted about a week ago. It was in response to my post above when I received a bruised ego from your reply to my first post. Of course my second post was moderated and wasn’t allowed on the blog.

    First, I’d like to thank you for replying to my first post at all because I know you’re very busy and you don’t have the time to reply to everyone’s post. I view that now as a direct contact in that you were helping me, but I went unconscious and wasn’t open to your help at the time. I am very grateful for your help because the reality is that you were right on about my shadow stuff regarding money and success, authority figures, and the issue I have with titles. It seems as they say in Zen… I’m riding the razor’s edge and you were right there to guide me.

    So I want to apologize to you with my heart felt appreciation. I consider you to be a mentor indirectly since we’ve never met or spoken person to person. I sincerely feel love for you and the Centerpointe team, especially Nancy who I’ve talked to a few times.

    I’m just now reading the last chapter of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power Of Now, and in a sense I am surrending to this moment. Yes, I went out and bought his book and while I was at the book store I also bought Genpo’s Big Mind/Big Heart, which I’m about to begin in the next day or two.

    It was kind of funny, because I was actually looking for a book on the Five Ranks Of Tozan. I asked one of the clerks in the book store and they searched their data base and nothing came up. So as I set off to search in the Zen/Buddhism section, I turned the corner around one the oak bookshelves, and there was Genpo’s face staring right at me.

    In the past week a door has been opening for me which has been a long time coming, and I have you to thank for it in part.

    That’s all, I’m going to go now and feel my humility fully.

    Thank you teacher.

    With Love,


    Apology accepted and appreciated. No problem. We all have shadow stuff, and if we accepted it when it was first pointed out, it wouldn’t be shadow stuff. There really isn’t anything written about the Five Ranks of Tozan that is any good, or comprehensible. This is why I have been so blown away by Genpo Roshi’s teaching of it–I really meant it when I said that you can’t get this anywhere else, from anyone else. What you find on the internet makes you say, “Huh? What?” Genpo tells me that those who know (which isn’t very many) leave out the most important stuff, and most who have written about it don’t know what they are talking about.

  91. Anthony says :

    Excellent. This is by far the best explanation of nonduality I have seen from you, Bill. Very helpful.


  92. Nikita says :

    I find your article and Holosync very helpful in dealing with the emotions surrounding the war in Iraq. While I am not there, I feel the enormous weight of suffering the current US administration has created in Iraq. It is difficult to sort out the relative peace around me and the mental images I have about the American soldiers there and the innocent Iraqi civilians who have been killed by the 100s of thousands and injured in the millions. Holosync has enabled me to be active in striving for peace while not succumbing to the sadness and horror of what has happened over there due to this administration’s actions. It is helpful to stay active and not give in to depression or hopelessness and Holosync helps accomplish this.

  93. Kylie says :

    Dear Bill

    Your post is very interesting. I try to put it in terms of my own experience and to be honest, I don’t know what rank I am at, it’s hard to judge. I do know though that the a year on now in Holosync, I seem to have fallen off the Holosync “high”… I see things differently and decision I make about life are very different, before I thought life happened to me, now I know I have a consious choice in each part of it and it goes on regardless of my choice to participate or not in that moment.

    I do struggle with detachment though, it would seem to me that to be detached as to not feel so much suffereing, you would need to be very inward focused, all about self? Perhaps it is about balance? I know I am my own worst enemy now when it comes to suffering, because I attach and want to give so much of myself and also help others, I am at a loss how to change that, where do I focus, if it is within, does that make me selfish? Detach to me kind of means not care so much, not give so much and my question to you would be, how do you do that? How does the thinking need to change?

    Not sure if this makes any sense but look forward to your response.

    Thanks for sharing.


  94. Nora Hagemeijer says :

    Hi Bill,

    Another very interesting information. This fourth rank business makes things very clear to me. So far I lacked that info which I think to be crucial for anybody working on him or herself. Not knowing about it might well ruin the whole process. Thank you so much!

  95. Connie says :

    Bill, This was a very important summary of what enlightenment should mean to everyone. I believe that every human that lives on this planet has their own cross to bear. The Karma of cause and effect is put there in front of us for a reason it is so important to become aware it. How you sift through these problems that you create for yourself is the important part of letting go. You find yourself in another level of getting to the enlightened stage and then it gets so much easier as you go through the cause and effect. As you become much more aware of who you are all the fear of the unknown leaves you. It is like stepping through a doorway into darkness and not caring about what lies ahead of you.

  96. Kathleen says :

    when you complete the programme (Holysync) do you have to do any maintenance to maintain the effect? Will the effect last forever.?
    many thanks.

  97. Lad says :

    I remember my old TM teachings where the higher stages of “God Consciousness” and then “Unity Consciousness” were revealed beyond the primary “Cosmic Consciousness.” Then, there were intimations of a “Brahman Consciousness” above all that. But I can’t exactly trace an exact correspondance of all of them with the 5 stages discussed here.

    In Buddhism, I think the 5th stage would traditionally be turning from simply enjoying Nirvana to instead become a compassionate Bodhisattva. My guess is that this stage traditionally always involved some religious/devotional/Diety aspects.

    There are some buddhist rituals to “purify karma” – perhaps to circumvent the “cause and effect” suffering due in this life. There is also a broader application of “Tantra” in where you turn everyday desires, tasks and actions (like dishwashing, NOT just sex!) to a purifying, compassionate or devotional aspect.

  98. Bill,

    I have read several books on Zen and I must say that you have a remarkable way of explaining and vulgarizing these complex concepts.

    Very inspiring and clarifying.

    Thank you

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  100. Does Ken Wilber’s statement that only “3% of the population are conscious” mean that only when you’re stable at stage 5 are you “conscious”? I have touched the waters of all 5 stages at the “state” place and have found that it’s cyclic, like a spiral, that I return to the first state and do it all over again, but at a much deeper place of understanding. I would hope that when I’m able to stay at the 3rd stage that I would have enough consciousness not to get so intoxicated that I would get stuck there, or I would have someone close to me with enough consciousness, bring me back down to earth. Is this possible?

    FROM BILL: “Conscious” is pretty vague. Since it’s a continuum, where does not-conscious leave off and conscious begin? Both are ideas, concepts. If this really is a precise quote from Ken, he probably means that very few people have awakened, or perhaps are at the higher developmental levels he describes.

  101. ??? says :

    interesting info. care to share more of it??

  102. Granite Care says :

    Nice to see you posting on this topic, I need to book mark this site. Keep up the good work.

  103. glenn k says :

    Interesting blog, look forward to more.

  104. Duff says :

    Thanks, Bill. While I have qualms with your marketing, I enjoy your clear articulate writing.

    Having done Big Mind with Genpo at an ILP seminar a few years ago, this was helpful to understanding more about the 5 Ranks and where I might be in terms of them.

    May all beings be happy,

  105. Matt says :

    “The separate self is an illusion.”

    Yes, but it disgusts me to hear you say it.

    FROM BILL: Impersonating a Zen master?

  106. Matt says :

    Channeling – Which presupposes I understand what he meant. Or borrowing. Otherwise, how else would I have made the statement.

    AsSuMiNg an impersonation may be useful to you – and that’s fine by me – but it’s not useful to me.

    If you disagree with the assessment, I respect that.

  107. Natasha says :

    Hello Mr. Harris,
    unfortunately my personal experience has been a bit uncomfortable.

    (just to let you know) I have been meditating with holosync for a year and a half now and have seen great positive changes in me so far and for that I thank you deeply. I would also like to tell you that based on your developmental levels analysis in previous blogs, I believe myself to be mostly on the narcissistic level slowly working myself upwards, though I have a long way to go.

    A few days ago, as I was sitting in my bed thinking, I asked myself a question, and then heard no reply. I wondered who was it that would reply back to me, and was that actually me? and then something amazing happened. For a few minutes then I felt this place of stillness Mr.Tolle and you talk about. I don’t know if that was a moment of enlightenment but it was peaceful, just being, no time, no form, out of this world really, felt like one with the universe. It felt like consciousness. And it felt like home.

    I ‘came back’ after a few minutes, and sat down to do some work. Talked on the phone, listened to some music. But as time went by I felt all the more my egotistic self. And it kept strengthening as time went by. I felt more narcissistic. More self centered. And my thinking was narcissistic as well. And that was awful. I thought to myself that maybe that is my ego trying to fight back and it used up all of its tools. So I thought I’d just watch.

    And then I started crying, endlessly. The pain was so much. I felt all the pain of my ego all at once. Not just a little bit of loneliness here and a little bit of despair there, but it was like I felt ALL the pain of my life all over my body. And then I was crying and saying “why come back? WHY COME BACK TO MY EGO?”
    And then for the first time in my life I felt I wanted to commit suicide. Never felt that before. Just the occasional thought everyone has I guess, but not the actual feeling. And I kept thinking “why come back? after all its not me thats dying”.

    Then I thought to myself that that is my ego talking (I think) and after a while I calmed down. But I was so scared of myself. And then, I felt like a door opened to my subconscious, (like when I do holosync and stuff come out of there) and I kept seeing terrifying things. I saw awful faces with blood and accidents and horrible things I cannot even describe. I felt so scared. So scared I was trembling. I phoned a friend and went over and slept there.

    The next day, my mind was thinking endlessly (also making insanely fast new interpretations of the world and how I see reality) and I had blocked all of my feelings really. I realised that after many hours and I decided to feel myself again a little bit. And then something happened. I felt so much pain all over my body and started crying endlessly again. I was thinking of humanity and the suffering we go through and the pain, and what we do to one another with our egos, and the pain was too deep. It wasn’t just a thought. This thing where we all tell one another “oh we burn forests or we start wars, how wrong of us…” I felt the actual feeling all over me. And it hurt so bad. I blocked my feelings again immediately.

    And then the following day, I went to the park -which I never do- but felt this sudden innate need to ‘go home to the trees’ and just sit there on the grass being with them. And then I saw a little child and started crying again and felt the same pain all over my body. It felt like pain for humanity.

    And today, as I’m writing this, I have still blocked my feeling body, and I hope in days to come I will be able to integrate emotionally what happened to me, and maybe evolve a little bit. The impact of those few minutes was tremendous for me. Maybe others who are at a higher emotional level can handle it better than I and won’t go through what I did.

    I guess I just wanted to share this with all of you as there is noone in my environment who I could share it with. I don’t know what question to ask you Mr. Harris -to be honest. But I think any reply from you will be comforting.

    Thank you,

    FROM BILL: First, I think the experience you described at the beginning of your post was a transcendent experience. Second, I don’t hink you are still at that narcissistic stage. We all have some narcissistic ways of being, no matter what our developmental level, because “it’s all about me” is part of being human. You seem to feel a lot of empathy for the suffering in the world, and that isn’t narcissism.

    I’d also don’t think you are as blocked as you think about your feelings. This transcendent experience you had seems to have opened you to a lot of feeling. This is a good thing, because you have likely repressed or disowned a lot of this pain. When you do that, it comes out anyway, but it comes out in immature and not-resourceful ways (in fact, narcissistic ways). When you begin to consciously feel it, when you begin to become truly aware of it, and let yourself feel it, the way you express it matures. This is why your pain, though still about what happened to you, is also now about the problems and suffering in the world.

    When a person is traumatized during childhood, as I think you were, they often relive intense feelings from that trauma. Someone or something reminds you of your past, and the pain you felt, and you transplant that old feeling into the now moment. You saw that child, and your own childhood feelings came back. If a person was traumatized by their father yelling at them, they might feel the same helpless feelings when another authority figure–a boss, perhaps–yells at them, despite the fact that they aren’t a helpless little girl any more.

    What I’m getting at is that what happen is that the past can influence the present, but ONLY if you are unconscious about it. If you can observe your reaction to an authoritarian boss, for instance, and see what you are doing, as you do it, you won’t be able to keep doing it. What matters is what you do NOW, not what happened in the past. What you do now will be automatic if you are unaware, but if you are aware you can CHOOSE what you do now–you can choose your reaction to a boss who yells at you.

    So, the pain you have from the past is real pain, but the attaching it to what happens in the present isn’t necessary or inevitable. You WILL attach it to what happens now if you remain unaware, but you’ll stop doing that the more awareness you have. This is one of the huge benefits of Holosync–it creates tremendous amounts of awareness, making it easier to quit doing things unconsciously and automatically, based on the past.

  108. Natasha says :

    Dear Mr.Harris,

    I waited for a few days before I’d reply back to you,
    so that I could see how I’m doing.

    Your reply was very helpful to me, I thank you deeply
    for your immediate response. It is true that I have
    been traumatised emotionally when I was a child
    and that I did project my pain onto the child I saw
    in the park.
    I am much calmer now, and are trying to feel
    my pain consciously.

    My personal goal in life is to feel love,
    which I was so deprived of when I was a child.
    Aside from the love we feel in our everyday life,
    when we selflessly care for another, or for our society,
    (and holosync has greatly enhanced that in me)
    I thought that true love is to feel the spiritual unity of all life,
    that we are all one,
    but after this transcendent experience, I now think that true love for me
    is yes to go there but then come back. And participate. And help others.
    So, I feel secure now. And grateful for what I experienced.

    Now, I feel great respect for all the people who stayed there for a while
    and then chose to come back.

    Thank you again for all the help and guidance you offering to all of us.


  109. ross says :

    Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  110. alexkent says :

    I really liked your article. Very informative. Keep up the good work.

  111. liz thwaite says :

    wow what a collection of great info how long did it take to put together? are you on twitter?

  112. superman says :

    Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.