by Rev. Koshin Schomberg

The Five Ranks: Help and Need

Supreme Mind in words can never be expressed,
And yet to all the trainee's needs It does respond.

--Great Master Tozan
"The Most Excellent Mirror, Samadhi" (Hokyozammai)

Another Perspective on the Five Ranks

Throughout these Reflections I have often referred to the "Help of the Eternal" in relationship to our "spiritual need." What do the Five Ranks look like when we replace the terms "Host" and "guest" with "Help" and "need?"

Here are the two versions for comparison:

The Host invites the guest.
The guest turns toward the Host.
The Host in rightful position.
The guest in rightful position.
Host and guest in undifferentiated oneness.

Help beckons to need.
Need turns toward Help.
Help flows to need.
Need is enlightened.
Converted need is one with Help.

Need and Help in Oneness

The Fifth Rank in the second of the above two versions of the Five Ranks is expressed as "Converted need is one with Help."

When spiritual need is enlightened, it does not just vanish. Rather, it re-manifests in converted form. The Eternal can then use this converted form of spiritual need to benefit others. Thus, need does indeed become one with the Help of the Eternal.

This transformation of need to Help is made use of by the Eternal during the lifetime of the trainee; and it is made use of by the Eternal after the death of the trainee. The on-going flow of the merit of training is the Bodhisattvic stream of karma.

The Wheel of the Dharma

The Five Ranks are as the five spokes of a revolving wheel: there is no static state. Thus, it is possible to rotate through all five of the Ranks and then start all over again with the revelation of a new layer of need. Then the merit of all the training we have done can be used by the Eternal to help the exposed need. Thus we walk hand in hand with our own wonderful True Nature. To follow where It leads, no matter what the cost, is to live the Perfection of Zen which Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett so magnificently and so humanly exemplified.


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