t.k. speaking to a small group of zen students of another sangha in 1993. One fellow had asked something about hierarchies and higher and lower students, teachers, and stages. This is a small excerpt from t.k's response which mentions the 'true man of no rank'.
Lin-chi said: " 'on your lump of red flesh is a true man without rank who is always going in and out of the face of every one of you. Those who have not yet proved him, look, look!"
Come to understand this and you can relinquish the childish silliness of ranking which is so ingrained in the human psyche. When mind moves as radiant clarity it instantly crosses the non dimensionality of the unborn giving birth to the expanse of appearing. Then all appearance, including the cognizing activity embodied and enworlded as a nexus of body in place – is known as a singularity, an effulgence of Buddha Nature. In this knowing there is tender hearted affection and compassion for all beings – a disposition incapable of value oriented comparison and ranking. Buddha has no notion of “a Buddha” or ‘sentient beings’ or the action of ‘saving sentient beings’ – in fact it is precisely because the sage is free from such notions that they are a sage who can save sentient beings.
The singularity that is Buddha Nature is a meaning saturated field whose deep is unspeakable purity and whose expressiveness is unutterable wonderment. One who has followed Buddha’s path realizes this and abides as this. When mind has gone to rest as purity’s expanse and body inheres as the unborn’s radiance then all comparison and hierarchy is made obsolete. In that realization of perfect equality the true man of no rank is discovered …… and what is discovered is that ‘oneself’ is not that – what is discovered is that, in the absence of the confusion called self, every so called thing is not ‘other’ than that.. Including this walking bag of dirt speaking now. The unborn is the only ‘true man of no rank.’ And, in truth, everything abides in and as exactly that. The unborn hears through your ears perfectly right now and trips off my tongue as words.
Appearance itself does not deny the unborn it only denies birth. That true man of no rank moves through your eyes and senses ….. but even more, that true man of no rank inheres as the seeming fabric of your own, and all, appearance. This fact, realized – made real as the continuum of body, speech and mind - is the end of rank and ranking …. that activity born of Being’s inherent insecurity. Insecure - why? Because even the infinity of Being is an illusory gesture of misunderstanding and the whole human realm with all its hierarchy and comparison and ranking is built from the anxiety Being and Non-being. Luckily the unborn is beyond all such catagories.
When cognizing mind rests in the unborn then there is not even the slightest possibility that one appearance will, or can, be held over and against another in terms of intrinsic value and meaning. The expanse of purity is pervasive of whatever seems to have appeared, is appearing or ever will appear. Not pervasive in the manner wetness pervades a sock dipped in water but pervasive in the manner that wetness pervades a drop of water. When mind does not rest in the unborn, but strays in deluded conceptuality, this does not alter the equality nature of all seeming phenomena - it only alters that equality’s recognition. Sadly non-recognition shapes the actions of embodiment, and enworldment, in patterns of suffering.
In short: when mind rests in the knowing of intrinsic purity then the sage knows they are nothing, and this nothingness is knows no higher, lower, hierarchy of Buddhas and beings or ranking of anything else. When mind moves as radiance it manifests as tender hearted love and a fullness in which all appearance is a single body. In other words it/the sage knows itself as ‘all’ - and again there can be no hierarchy of singleness, no ranking of non-duality. When the shoe fits the foot is forgotten. In meditation realizing reality’s purity and spontaneity, the 8 worldly concerns are forgotten.
It is my wish here tonight to speak to you directly without reference to anything so that I might communicate simply and clearly what I have known. Buddhas and sages of the past have never withheld anything needed and have, in fact, assured you that everything needed is right there between the top of your own head and the soles of your own feet. Rouse great sincerity and earnestness and look into this matter for yourselves without regard to any silliness such as rankings. You here have all received extensive teachings and the truth is that there is not so very much to teach or say …… rather you must place your trust within your fierce yearning to know and application to the way.