The Ten Stages of the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path

in #mindfulness6 years ago (edited)

The Fifth Stage

Part 7


Stages of the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path are similar to the Theravada idea of the Noble Eight-fold Path, although not the same in the order of the stages, as well as the aim of the various stages that comprise the total trajectory that the Bodhisattva has to traverse. The idea of the Bodhisattva path is linked to the idea of bodhicitta, the aspiration of becoming enlightened, and this aim is for the benefit of all sentient beings—when compared to the Arahant idea it is distinguished by the fact, that the Bodhisattva holds off on attaining final non-returning Nirvana until all sentient beings are brought along the journey of the Bodhisattva path towards Enlightenment.


Various Mahayana texts discuss the stages of the path in varying detail and order. For this seventh article in the series, I’ve mainly followed the stages of the Path as explained in the Dasa Bhumika Sutra. Dasa bhumika in Sanskrit means ten stages. I’ve also consulted the abhidharmsamuccaya text of Asanga and the prajna-paramita abhi-samaya-lankara, that provide additional information for the stages, as well as the Mahayana-sutralamkara text. The Avatamsaka Sutra (Flower Ornament Scripture) has great details on the 10 stages of the path as well, including the Gandavyuha commentary. For cross-reference purposes I’ve used the yogacarabhumi text, which incorporates the bodhisattva stages into an even greater 17 stages, to verify Sanskrit terminology.

In this article, I’ll cover the fifth stage of the 10 Stages of the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path.


5. The stage that is Hard to Surpass (sudurjaya bhumi)

The fifth stage is considered Hard to Surpass, because of the Bodhisattva’s requirement to practice the difficulties and intricacies of deep meditation (dhyana) and mind concentration (samadhi). The development of Buddhist wisdom (prajna) is transformative for the Bodhisattva, as well as realizing the four noble truths (aryasatya) in both the conventional (samvrti) and ultimate sense (paramartha).

In detail

After completing the first fourth stages, the Bodhisattva continues the fourth type of purification and perfection. In the first stage, determination was purified, in the second stage discipline and moral virtue was purified, in the third stage concentration was purified, and in the fourth and fifth stage onward the purification and perfection of insight is practiced.

Various types / levels of ignorance have been purified in the first four stages, and in each subsequent stage the ignorance that is to be purified is more subtle and difficult to address than in the previous stage.

  • In the first stage, the ignorance of clinging to person and things, and the ignorance of the defilement of wrong tendencies and actions have been purified.
  • In the second stage, the ignorance of minute errors and transgressions, and the ignorance of what various actions lead to have been purified.
  • In the third stage, the ignorance of greed, and the ignorance of complete mental control to retain what is learned have been purified.
  • In the fourth stage, the Bodhisattva will address the ignorance of attachment to attainments in concentration, and the ignorance of attachment to religion.
  • In the fifth stage, the Bodhisattva will address the ignorance of one-sided thought rejecting life and death, and the ignorance of one-sided thought heading for nirvana.

In the fifth stage, a Bodhisattva develops and purifies his resolute intentions concerning safe-guarding the Buddhist teachings, mental maturity and disciple, the dissipation of wrong views and destruction of doubt, knowledge of what is the noble path and what is not the noble path, practice of the 37 aids to Enlightenment, and the task of helping other sentient beings in the Buddhist virtues. This stage is called Hard to Surpass, because in this stage the Bodhisattva takes on the difficult task of the vanquishing of suffering, as well as the ripening of other sentient beings while protecting his own mind.

The Bodhisattva acquires strong understanding of the following ten realizations:

1. The conventional truth of giving when it comes to helping sentient beings, in that it is still tied to the notion of the giver, the receiver, and the gift.

2. The ultimate truth on account of following only one path, and not being distracted by other paths.

3. The true nature of signs, by realizing the conventional and detailed characteristics of material objects and mind-objects.

4. The truth of understanding proper analysis, by knowing the various sections of dharmas.

5. The truth of managing to complete the understanding of the real conditioned nature of the aggregates, the elements, and the sense-fields.

6. The truth of objectively existing things by subjecting the body and mind to pain and suffering.

7. The truth of origination, arising, and cessation related to birth, death, and transmigration.

8. The truth of extinction and exhaustion related to the complete eradication of all suffering.

9. The truth of the knowledge of the path, concerning the emptiness of persons and the emptiness of all dharmas.

10. The truth of the origin of supreme knowledge attained through practicing the Mahayana Bodhisattva Stages.

Practitioners enter this stage by impartial attention to purity of the teachings of past, present, and future buddhas; to purity of conduct, to purity of mind; to purity of removal of opinion, doubt, uncertainty, and perplexity; to purity of knowledge of what to apply and what to relinquish; to purity of the final discernment and realization of all the elements of enlightenment; and to purity of perfecting all people. They attain unwavering attention and become familiar with both conventional and ultimate truths. As they meditate on all truths, practitioners also develop skills in practical arts and sciences, according to the needs of the people of the time.

Furthermore, in the fifth stage, the Bodhisattva should avoid ten dharmas. They are:

1a. He avoids intimacy with householders, i.e. he passes on from Buddha-field to Buddha-field, is reborn in apparitional fashion, and appears with the shaven head, yellow robe, and upper garment of a monk.

1b. He avoids intimacy with nuns, i.e. he does not stay with a nun even for the time of a finger snap, and yet does not feel troubled on that account.

2. A Bodhisattva avoids jealousy about the families of the faithful when he thinks to himself, "I should bestow on beings all that makes them happy. But if those beings are at their ease simply by their own merits, then I should not grudge them that."

3. His avoidance of the places where one meets society consists in that a Bodhisattva will not stay with people who talk as the Disciples and Solitary Buddhas do, and who may give rise to thoughts connected with them.

4. He avoids self-exaltation by the non-reviewing of inward dharmas.

5. He avoids the depreciation of others by the non-reviewing of outward dharmas.

6. He should avoid the ten ways of unwholesome action because they cause obstacles to a happy destiny, how much more so to the holy Path and to full enlightenment.

7a. He avoids conceit because he does not review any dharma, how much less its superiority which could make him feel conceited.

7b. He avoids arrogance because he does not review that entity with regard to which arrogance could arise.

8. He avoids perverted views through his non-apprehension of all entities.

9. He avoids doubt because he reviews all dharmas free from the doubts engendered by the view of individuality.

10. He avoids the toleration of greed, hate, and delusion because he reviews no objective cause for greed, hate, and delusion.

In the next article, I’ll be discussing The Sixth Stage of the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path in full detail.

Pictures From Pixabay

  • The Ten Stages of the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path-The Two Preliminary Stages-Part 1
  • The Ten Stages of the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path-The Two Preliminary Stages-Part 2
  • The Ten Stages of the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path-The Two Preliminary Stages-Part 3
  • The Ten Stages of the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path-The Two Preliminary Stages-Part 4
  • The Ten Stages of the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path-The Two Preliminary Stages-Part 5
  • The Ten Stages of the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path-The Two Preliminary Stages-Part 6/a>
  • The Deathless In Buddhism
  • The "Timeless" Teaching-Being Beyond Temporality

  • The Nine Successive Cessations In buddhist Meditations - Part 1
  • The Nine Successive Cessations In buddhist Meditations - Part 2
  • The Nine Successive Cessations In buddhist Meditations - Part 3

  • The Twelve Links Of Dependent Origination


  • The First Noble Truth
  • The Second Noble Truth
  • The Third Noble Truth
  • The Fourth Noble Truth

  • 10 Fold Path Series


  • I will flag comment spam at 1% strength. If you keep on spamming my post, I will flag you at 100%. I don't care if you have limited English abilities, write a couple of sentences about this article, no copy-paste, please. I will flag: one sentence comments, links to your blog and begging for up-votes and follows. Also, I will flag comments that have nothing to do with my blog's article. I will also check your comment section to see if you have been comment spamming on other blogs.

    Pictures From Pixabay

    some_text A link to My Blog


    a Sufi through maqam (stages) through the point of a teacher called Mursyid, by murshid, this disciple is guided in his life, I also have a murshid, but I am a stubborn student, ha ha ha ,,
    so until now I have not succeeded through a single stage ,,
    in the teachings of Buddha, besides the Buddha himself is appointed a teacher?

    It is to find an exact balance between body and soul; the soul nourishes the body, the body encourages the soul. At that precise moment, you will feel a warm breeze on your feet and you will not feel the weight of your body. For you, it will be an instant, but for others, it will be hours; that is, when you reach that point of equilibrium, hours have passed physically, but spiritually it is a radiant instant.

    thank you for your additional explanation @amigoponc, are you a Buddhist too?

    No, I'm not even close. I am a simple mortal who spent 11 years in captivity, and meditation was my support, meditation was my nourishment and made me unwavering.

    Buddha had many teachers who taught him meditation. However he saw through purifying his mind that the meditation taught by his teacher would not free him from the rounds of rebirth. He practiced austerities and found that starving the body would not free him from rebirth, he found the Jhanas would not free him from rebirth. he almost died from not eating and a little girl found him and brought Buddha food until he regained his strength. Buddha made a vow he would sit beneath the Bodhi Tree until he finally broke the chains of suffering. That is when he discovered that taking insight (vipassana) meditation coupled with the Jhanas completely freed him...

    There was no teachers to appoint him a Buddha because he found what had been lost for a long time...A Samma Sambuddha

    A Samma Sambuddha, or Universal Buddha, is the highest level of Buddhahood. He attains Enlightenment, by his own efforts, at a time when the teaching is not known in the world. He has the greatest and most extensive powers, teaches the Dhamma and goes on to establish a Buddha Sasana or Community.

    a great spiritual journey

    After reading the ten dharmas, it sounds like the person is a monk and does not marry. it makes you wonder how it is continued through the next generations if they cannot marry. I apologize if i do not understand. I do believe that meditation is good and healthy. Thanks @reddust.

    A Buddha isn't produced through procreation but through one's own effort. A Buddha is very

    Once you are on the path of a Buddhisattva you give up your earthly family and join the spiritual family...Bodhisattva takes up the homeless life and becomes wayfarer.

    Buddha was a prince, he was married, and had one child but that wasn't enough for him when he saw all the misery in his kingdom. He left his kingdom and started searching for a way to stop the rounds of rebirth, endless rounds of birth, illness and death, to be free of this earthly body.

    I read about that honorable story a long time ago, it was considered a legend, but the story, embodied from generation to generation, confirmed that it was true. These are the stories that gratify the soul. An example worth following. Thank you, friend @reddust, for your dedication to the subject.

    learning something new is the most challenging thing, I feel how difficult it is to understand every word for word from the teachings of buddhas, but I can understand it in general from the teachings of buddhas, generally easy to understand because there are similarities in Sufi teachings, we are now in the moon Ramdhan, we are required to fast from morning till night, for the fasting Sufis are their daily routines, although not in Ramadan, the purpose of fasting is to cleanse the soul, to increase compassion toward others, and to control anger and emotion,
    Have you ever tried fasting and meditation? (done simultaneously). ,,

    Fasting, as in limiting food intake is normal at retreat. Too much food makes one sleepy and lethargic. But fasting to the point of hurting oneself is not part of Buddhist practice. When I go to retreat we only eat two meals a day breakfast and lunch.

    really food makes us want to sleep and lethargy, I feel with fasting (12 hours) do not eat and drink makes me more understand the meaning of life

    With the permission of our friend @reddust, I have had that experience, that of fasting and meditating. It is a rewarding experience if done out of conviction and with an objective in mind. I spent a lot of time in forced fasting (that is a long story that I will soon detail), and after that imposition, I found in meditation to overcome that forced fasting and for about ten years, the fast imposed by the authorities became my ally along with meditation, so I could overcome that time of torment... Our friend @reddust, you know what I mean.

    how i wish leaders in africa can practice avoiding the dharmas then i think this continent will improve. indeed buddha is rich in principles that help self decipline and growth.
    As a student this fifth stage is important to me i.e deep meditation and mind did help me to be focused.
    A nice post well fully presented with captivating pictures.

    It is odd but there are not many African or African American's that find Buddhism attractive. I know of several Buddhist centers in Africa but I haven't met many African Americans that are interested in Buddhism.

    what would you say is the reason why buddhism hasnt flourish in africa?

    I don't know @makovicloyal, I don't know that much about Africa, but I have some Buddhist Monk friends that manage a Buddhist Monastery in South Africa. Maybe because the Christian and Muslim faiths are so strong there is no room for Buddhism to take root.

    okay i think buddha has a rich tradition that if when apply practically will solve man's so called daily problem. it is a religion that support the mind and its products.

    There are practices for the lay people that can free one from suffering and rebirth but they will not lead to the Bodhisattva and Samma Sambuddha attainments.

    Thanks to your early attention @reddust. Buddha teachings most powerful and introduced some contents very deserve to current society. Lot of peoples going backwards some passions. It's not valid for next soul. Everyone need to find Nirvana path. Buddha already found that way and introduced to humanity. Its being yet our society.

    Even on a mundane level practicing being kind and understanding oneself can help our community.

    After several times I read your post, I just understand that this is the teachings of Buddha to do meditation.
    It is a very difficult road in the pass,
    After undergoing this meditas whether to be a monk or the other ??

    Hi @adson, you can be a layperson or a monastic.

    always enjoy reading it , i feel like flowers bloom inside my soul. I've been following all the series.
    Thank you for taking your time to write all this and post it for us.

    When I read your posts, they way I use for understanding them is not the meaning of the words, but the feeling they cause on me. What I feel is the attempt of overcoming the limitations of the physical body. Please let me know if I am right.

    It isn't the body that limits us, it is our conditioning towards the body as self that limits us...

    So our body is not an individual entity. It is part of a larger construct. Am I correct in interpreting what you just wrote?

    The body is made up of billions of cells and bacteria...which cell is you or are all the cells and bacteria you? What happens to you when cells die and are replaced by new cells?

    So the body is billions and one at the same time.

    Have you checked out were the self is located?

    I have not checked out the answer to that question myself. Some say that self is in the frontal cerebral cortex, however, others say that the limbic system contains our deepest instincts and emotions. Some even say that the celiac plexus in the gut has some consciousness. What would be your answer to that question?

    What is always subject to change is not a lasting self...all those systems, the cells and gut bacteria are constantly dying and being replaced, I have found no self in the flux of phenomena

    Reaching this level is a real metamorphosis, and preserving this new look must be even more difficult.

    To arrive at this state is not to be oneself; it is like being the free air on the planet; it is like being drinking water, clean and transparent; it is like being the sunlight, dosed, lukewarm, that breaks the slightest darkness... In short, it is like the earth, full of all the resources we need to live in peace and harmony.

    Nature teaches us how to dissolve one's life for others.

    Coin Marketplace

    STEEM 0.20
    TRX 0.13
    JST 0.029
    BTC 65791.75
    ETH 3465.64
    USDT 1.00
    SBD 2.68