A quick overview with some correspondence to Tozan’s five ranks and the path(s) as outlined by western mystics.

  1. Duality
    View is dualistic, and identity is exclusively with the human self. “I” am this human self.

  2. Detaching I
    Detaching from dual view and exclusive identity with the human self.
    Tozan’s second rank. Dark night of the senses.

  3. Absolute
    Deepening transdual view and identity as Big Mind/Heart and the absolute. “I” am the absolute.
    Tozan’s third rank. The brilliant sun of enlightenment.

  4. Detaching II
    Detaching from habitual transdual view and exclusive identity as the absolute.
    Tozan’s fourth rank. Dark night of the soul. Fall from grace.

  5. Integration
    Deepening integration of the absolute and the relative, Big Mind/Heart and the human self. Increased fluidity. No exclusive or habitual identification. There is no fixed “I” anywhere.
    Tozan’s fifth rank. The hazy moon of enlightenment. Integrated free functioning human being. The unitive life.

This seems to be the general outline, and it is of course possible to refine it and add phases – such as one between 1 and 2 which is the initial glimpse, to wet the appetite (Tozan’s first rank). Phase two involves submission, either to a teacher or to God/Christ.

The transitions from the two phases of detachment to the following ones may come to an end when we are ready to embrace the pain in it. When we can fully accept and melt into whatever we are experiencing.

In my experience, phase two was more of a sense of being pulled apart and put together again in a new way – with a good deal of awakenings and illumination mixed in. Phase four was one of being completely ground to dust – on a very human level, with a sense of a complete abandonment of the absolute and of being completely abandoned by God (Buddha Mind). During the early integration phase, the absolute returns although now in a way that seems completely ordinary and unremarkable.

Looking at it this way, the process makes a good deal of sense – although probably most often recognized only in hindsight.

First, there is an exclusive identification with the relative. Then, a detachment of this identification. This is followed by an exclusive identification with the absolute (and a sense of “I” having attained it), and later by a detachment of this identification. After this tour of the relative and the absolute, we are ready to integrate both in a more grounded and ordinary way.

Or even briefer:

  1. Predual
  2. (a) Dual, (b) Detach I.
  3. (a) Nondual, (b) Detach II.
  4. Transdual.

And this whole cycle may of course repeat several times over a lifetime in various ways and intensities, and the phases may not neccesarily come up in order either.

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