There can be many different approaches on how to raise (enhance) spiritual rank.
It is no exaggeration to say that various religions since ancient times and even spiritualism in recent years have, in a sense, preached how to raise one’s spiritual rank.
Even in Christianity, where there is a sense of separation between God and man, there is a denomination that holds to the idea of “theosis” (Eastern Orthodox Church).
God became man so that man might become God (Athanasios of Alexandria)
In Christianity, Jesus is sometimes described as the “Son of God,” but by the doctrine of the Trinity, Jesus is understood to be “God himself.
And the understanding is that Jesus incarnated and “became a man” in order to preach God’s justice in the world and to “become God’s custodian” of those who know it.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:4)
Also, according to Christian Gnosticism, which is now considered heretical, the idea is that “one can approach God through gnosis (knowledge and perception).
Now, I have gotten a bit religious in my preface.
First of all, I would like to discuss the principle of spiritual rank improvement, starting with the question, “What is spiritual rank in the first place?
What is spiritual rank in the first place?
In order to talk about how to raise one’s spiritual rank, we must first clarify what “spiritual rank” is.
Spiritual rank is written as “spiritual/rank”. So the word itself contains the idea that there are different ranks of spirits.
And given that the essence of the human being is spiritual existence, it seems possible to think of spiritual rank as being as close to “personality” as possible.
Human beings, and not only human beings, but all kinds of beings, are after all the energetic differentiation of the divine reality, and on the other hand, they have the nature of “being differentiated and yet coming closer to the divine reality. It is like the salmon’s migration.
Raising, improving, or enhancing one’s spiritual rank… means that “there is a destination to be raised (elevated),” so what that “destination” is can be thought of as corresponding to “God” in the religious sense.
Not only religions, but also various philosophies and Confucianism preach how to “improve oneself,” so Neo Buddhism calls the ultimate existence of such spiritual rank improvement “divine reality.
So, to raise one’s spiritual rank is to draw closer to the divine reality, and to draw closer is, in other words, to “become like the divine reality.
In short, spiritual rank can be defined as “the various stages of how one resembles divine reality.
What are the various stages of spiritual rank?
Now, since spiritual rank is a ladder of approaching divine reality, it literally means that there are various ladders and stages.
The dichotomy of “enlightened” and “unenlightened” is often used in Buddhism and other religions, but in reality this is just a convenient way of saying that there is an endless analogous ladder to becoming a Buddha (even in Buddhism).
However, if we go through with the analogue, we will lose the merkmal, so for now, the various stages of enlightenment are preached as a marker to say, “I am enlightened up to this point,” right?
In fact, compared to other religions and spiritualism, Buddhism preaches the stages of enlightenment in considerable detail, so let’s use Buddhism as a base for this overview of the ladder of “rising spiritual rank.
I believe that the ten realms theory preached by the great master Tiantai Chih-hui during the Sui Dynasty in China is the most comprehensive, so I will introduce it below.
- Hell Realm
- Hungry Ghost Realm
- Beasts Realm
- Asuras Realm
- Humans Realm
- Lastly Heaven Realm
- Śrāvaka Realm
- Pratyekabuddha Realm
- Bodhisattva Realm
- Buddha Realm
Please refer to the various articles that explain each of these stages. Two reference articles are listed below.
The point is that the essence of man is spiritual existence, and the body is only a temporary form.
Each spiritual entity emits a certain vibration. Those with similar vibrations are naturally attracted to each other and create their own “world(Realm).
Therefore, the closer the content of the vibration is to God and Buddha, the more likely it is to return to the higher spiritual world.
For example, a soul that leaves this world with the average vibration of “anger” in its heart will go to the world of “Asuras Realm” one of the above ten realms.
Those with similar vibration of “anger” gather together and fight each other in the Asuras Realm.
The more exquisite the vibration, the more it can return to the world above. This is really the very law of physics.
So you can see how important it is to attune the mind.
Of the above ten realms, the first six are called the “six paths. The average human being reincarnates in these six worlds as if driven by karma.
However, by knowing the truth, one can also attain a state of “voluntary” reincarnation.
These are the four realms of the ten realms, from four to one. These four are collectively called the ” Four Sacred Realms (the four noble worlds).
Neo Buddhism recommends a course that leads from Śrāvaka Realm to Bodhisattva Realm.
Śrāvaka Realm is the world to which those whose “concern for the truth” has become the average of their mind will return.
And the Bodhisattva Realm is the world to which those who not only learn the knowledge of truth but also engage in activities to spread that knowledge for the salvation of many people will return.
The bodhisattva realm is, in Christian terms, the angelic realm.
By refining the mind (i.e., making the vibration exquisite), a human being can become a bodhisattva or an angel.
No matter how much prosperity you achieve in this world, it will eventually pass away with death. Nutritional prosperity in this world is a fleeting success.
It is like building a sand castle on the beach. Eventually, the castle is taken by the waves of impermanence and broken.
On the other hand, mastering the Four Sacred Realms is an eternal success that penetrates this world and the next.
Which would you choose, success limited to this world or success eternal?
Methodology for raising (enhancing) spiritual rank
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, in a sense, all correct religions or philosophies and ideas preach the principle of spiritual rank improvement.
Even if the goal is the same, there are various ways to reach it. In the end, the articles on this site (Neo Buddhism) also discuss the methodology to reach such a goal (=enlightenment).
So there are so many principles of spiritual rank improvement that it is difficult to talk about them all, but in this article I would like to approach them from the perspective of “love and responsibility.
love and spiritual rank
The word “love” seems to be more focused on “how much you can get from others,” as in “how much he (or she) loves you. This is usually the case in lyrics of popular songs.
However, love does not stop at that stage in the process of spiritual rank improvement, that is, in the process of moving closer to the divine reality.
The love of receiving is a facet of love, but love is not satisfied with that stage.
The ultimate divine reality is a being who, like the sun, radiates light that nourishes all phenomena and all things without charge.
As defined earlier, if spiritual rank improvement is a process of “becoming more like the divine reality,” then naturally love is also a process that is both proactive and infinitely expanding in the scope of giving.
First of all, we must shift from dependent love, in which we receive love, to “proactive love,” in which we actively serve others.
Only when the soul is able to do this, at a minimum, can it return to the heavenly realm. In the ten realms theory, this is the upper stage of the “human realm.
For now, it is a love that proactively loves oneself and those close to one’s immediate surroundings. When we are able to do this, we will receive the reputation of a “good person” in the eyes of the world.
Next, love moves to a more social stage, not just toward those around us.
It is the love of contributing to society with one’s own knowledge and skills, usually through work or volunteer work.
When one is able to do this, it corresponds to the love of the “heavenly realms” in the ten realms theory. After death, such a person will return to the Lastly Heaven Realm, a higher level of heaven.
Now, there are various stages in the heavenly realm as well.
There comes a point when we realize that even as we serve people, there is a difference in the quality of how we serve them.
If the essence of human nature is spiritual existence, it is even better when we are able to contribute to others in the spiritual realm, in matters of the soul.
Thus, when one goes to the upper levels of the Lastly Heaven Realm and reaches the “Śrāvaka Realm” one begins to seek “truth. That truth is the knowledge of the soul and the origin of the world, the knowledge of divine reality.
So those who have made the average of their mind to be interested in knowledge in these areas will return to the Śrāvaka Realm after death.
Next to the Śrāvaka Realm, there is “Pratyekabuddha Realm”. This is not so much above koei hearsay, but rather refers to those who seek truth in a different way than Śrāvaka.
Simply summarized, the difference between the two is as follows.
- Śrāvaka : Follow a teacher or mentor (usually a bodhisattva) to learn the truth
- Pratyekabuddha : Self-reliance, self-study of the truth, and reaching a certain state of being
However, since self-study often unintentionally takes you in a crooked direction, Neo Buddhism recommends that you opt for Śrāvaka.
To summarize, there is the stage where one is able to practice independent love (the upper stage of the Humans Realm), then one leads others with knowledge and skills (the Lastly Heaven Realm), and then one begins to realize and learn that “the quality of service is enhanced by concern for the soul” (the Śrāvaka Realm). This means that there is a process to further increase both the quantity and quality of love based on the previous world.
Śrāvaka focuses once on “learning the truth,” but now comes to the next stage of using what has been learned to serve others, the world, and God.
Such a person is actually a “bodhisattva. Such a person will return to the Bodhisattva realm. And in fact, they are in the mind of a Bodhisattva while they are still in this world.
As I mentioned earlier, true success is not limited to this world, but is an eternal spiritual success that extends from the present to the future.
*Reference article: Meaning and Mission of Life – What is the Most Winning Theory of Success?
responsibility and spiritual rank
Spiritual rank can also speak in terms of “responsibility.”
Humans have free will. We are given a myriad of choices at each moment, and we independently choose our own answers each time.
And as is often said, with freedom comes responsibility.
Therefore, the first step is to be able to take responsibility for oneself, which is naturally the starting point for improving one’s spiritual rank.
From this perspective, it can be said that hell is actually the world where those who cannot even take responsibility for themselves go after death.
At a minimum, a person who can take responsibility for himself or herself is a requirement for returning to heaven.
In this world, as adults, we are expected to be responsible for ourselves and our families.
Those who can take responsibility for themselves, their families, and those who should be interested in them can return to the heavenly realm (the upper stage of the Humans Realm).
In the Lastly Heaven Realm, the sense of responsibility is even more expansive.
For example, a good entrepreneur feels responsible for the lives of tens or tens of thousands of employees.
Thus, a person who feels responsibility for numerous people in his or her field of expertise and uses it to guide his or her actions will return to the Heavenly Realm.
And when one reaches the upper levels of the Heavenly Realm, one begins to realize that “there are different qualities of responsibility.
As I mentioned earlier in the section on love, if human nature is spiritual existence, it is even better if we can take responsibility for the souls and hearts of people.
The world to which those who realize this and begin to “learn the truth” and further average their minds will return is the Śrāvaka Realm.
The bodhisattva realm people above them are the ones who are in the business of “saving the souls” of numerous (usually tens of thousands or more) people with their knowledge of truth. And they actually feel responsible for that work.
The various Tathāgata living in the Buddha Realm feel interest in and responsibility for events on a global scale. The Earth Gods are literally responsible for the entire planet.
In the end, we can say that “expanding the scope of responsibility” is the way to raise one’s spiritual rank.
In this way, “love and responsibility” are closer than one might think. This is because proactive love is proactive and therefore comes with responsibility.
From the perspective of love and responsibility, let us consider “where we are now and what we want to do in the future as a spiritual being.