Five paths

From Rigpa Wiki
(Redirected from Five Paths)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Bodhisattva sangha from the Longchen Nyingtik Field of Merit

Five paths (Skt. pañcamārga; Tib. ལམ་ལྔ་, lam nga, Wyl. lam lnga) — a succession of five stages or paths describing the entire spiritual journey towards liberation. They appear with similar names in both the Basic yana (Sarvastivadin and Sautrantika schools) and Mahayana, but their interpretation is considerably different.[1]

They are:

  1. the path of accumulation (Skt. sambhāramārga)
  2. the path of joining (also called 'engagement' or 'junction') (Skt. prayogamārga)
  3. the path of seeing (or 'insight') (Skt. darśanamārga)
  4. the path of meditation (or 'cultivation') (Skt. bhāvanāmārga)
  5. the path of no-more-learning (Skt. aśaikṣamārga)

Progression on the Five Paths According to the Mahayana Tradition

In the Mahayana, the five paths describe the entire spiritual journey, from its very beginnings with the taking of the bodhisattva vow and the generation of relative bodhichitta, up until its culmination at the stage of complete enlightenment.

Along the first four of the five paths, the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment are undertaken and perfected, and present thereafter as qualities of enlightenment.

There is also a correspondence between the five paths and the ten bhumis.

The chart below summarizes the details of this progression and its various correspondences.[2]

paths progress subdivisions factors of enlightenment bhumis
1. accumulation taking the bodhisattva vow; generating relative bodhichitta in both aspiration and action; aspiring towards the absolute bodhichitta; special effort to gather the accumulation of merit lesser meditating mainly on the four applications of mindfulness stage of aspiring conduct; bodhisattva who is still an ordinary being (Skt. pṛthagjana)
intermediate chiefly practising the four genuine restraints
greater practising the four bases of miraculous powers
2. joining increase of wisdom (prajña) warmth cultivating the five powers
acceptance the five powers 'become' the five strengths
supreme attribute
3. seeing direct realisation of absolute bodhicitta seven elements for enlightenment first bhumi; becoming an arya bodhisattva
4. meditation meditating on, and gaining familiarity with, the truth realized on the path of seeing; according to the tradition of Asanga, there are four hundred and fourteen discards to be relinquished on this path noble eightfold path second to tenth bhumis
5. no-more-learning complete enlightenment is reached when the most subtle cognitive obscurations are overcome by means of what is called the “vajra-like samadhi”; omniscience of a samyaksam-buddha complete Enlightenment, eleventh bhumi

It is said in the pith instructions that the path of accumulation is the stage of understanding, the path of joining is the stage of experience, and the path of seeing is the stage of realization.[3]

Canonical Literature



Further Reading


  1. Philippe Cornu, Dictionnaire encyclopédique du bouddhisme (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2001), page 708.
  2. Sources: Zindri, pages 229-330; individual wiki articles on each of the five paths; A Brief Guide to the Stages and Paths of the Bodhisattvas by Patrul Rinpoche (Lotsawa House); Philippe Cornu, Manuel de bouddhisme — Philosophie, pratique et histoire. Tome II, Bouddhisme Mahāyāna (Editions Rangdröl, 2019), pages 44-46.
  3. Source needed.