Five Paths of the Bodhisattva
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The Bodhisattva Yana has Five Paths and Ten Stages. There are Five Paths on which a Bodhisattva develops in succession.
This is a very long journey, because one has to earn lots of merits and purify a lot of bad karma. It is said that an individual can spend countless aeons to become Bodhisattva.
The Path of Accumulation
The first path starts at the moment when we really wish, from the bottom of our heart, that other sentient beings might become Buddhas and to engage ourselves in a practice for this to happen. This intention, this aspiration is called Bodhicitta.
The Path of Preparation
After having accumulated lots of merits for a long time, there comes a time when one really gets close to seeing the ultimate nature of things, the truth. It is a very short stage. Just after getting that warmth, or feeling of delight, we get a glimpse of the actual reality or truth.
The Path of Seeing
This glimpse of the Buddha Nature, or of Shunyata, is called the third path or path of insight. We have now seen the truth, but we still have many subtle obscurations that are still to be purified before we can fully attain enlightenment.
The Path of Meditation
This Path corresponds to the ten bhumis of the Bodhisattvas which are called:
1. the very joyous 2. the stainless 3. the luminous 4. the radiant 5. the difficult to overcome 6. the approaching 7. the gone-afar 8. the immovable 9. the good intelligence 10. the clouds of dharma
Up to the seventh stage, two kinds of obscurations remain to be removed before getting to enlightenment. The first kind is what we call the mind-poisons: attachment, aversion, ignorance and their combinations. The second kind is the obscuration of knowledge, which means that very subtle dualistic concepts are still present in the mind. The first type of obscuration is totally purified, wiped out, at the seventh stage, and the last three stages purify the second type of obscuration.
The Path of No-More Learning
Having travelled the four previous paths successfully, we attain Buddhahood or complete enlightenment.
The whole path towards enlightenment is included in these 5 paths and 10 stages.
When we become a Buddha, we have not only cleared away all the obscurations, but also gained all the positive accumulations.
To become a Buddha, the seed of Buddhahood must have been present from the start. This seed of Buddhahood is always present in all sentient beings although it is not visible at present, because it has been obscured by different kinds of defilements.