Ten bhumis

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Bodhisattva sangha from the Longchen Nyingtik Field of Merit

Ten bhumis (Skt. daśabhūmi; Tib. ས་བཅུ་, sa chu, Wyl. sa bcu) — ten stages or ‘grounds’ used in the Mahayana to describe the progression of a practitioner on the path to enlightenment. They are:

  1. Perfect Joy (Skt. pramuditābhūmi; Tib. རབ་ཏུ་དགའ་བ་, rabtu gawa, Wyl. rab tu dga’ ba)
  2. Immaculate / Stainless (Skt. vimalābhūmi; Tib. དྲི་མ་མེད་པ་, drima mepa, Wyl. dri ma med pa)
  3. Luminous / Illuminating (Skt. prabhākarībhūmi; Tib. འོད་བྱེད་པ་, ö jepa, Wyl. ‘od byed pa)
  4. Radiant (Skt. arciṣmatībhūmi; Tib. འོད་འཕྲོ་ཅན་, ö tro chen, Wyl. ‘od ‘phro can)
  5. Hard to Keep / Hard to Conquer (Skt. sudurjayābhūmi; Tib. ཤིན་ཏུ་སྦྱང་དཀའ་བ་, shintu jankawa, Wyl. shin tu sbyang dka’ ba)
  6. Clearly Manifest (Skt. abhimukhībhūmi; Tib. མངོན་དུ་གྱུར་བ་, ngöntu gyurpa, Wyl. mngon du gyur ba)
  7. Far Progressed (Skt. duraṅgamabhūmi; Tib. རིང་དུ་སོང་བ་, ringtu songwa, Wyl. ring du song ba)
  8. Immovable (Skt. acālabhūmi; Tib. མི་གཡོ་བ་, miyowa, Wyl. mi g.yo ba)
  9. Perfect Intellect (Skt. sādhuṃatībhūmi; Tib. ལེགས་པའི་བློ་གྲོས་, lekpé lodrö, Wyl. legs pa’i blo gros)
  10. Cloud of Dharma (Skt. dharmameghaābhūmi; Tib. ཆོས་ཀྱི་སྤྲིན་, chökyi trin, Wyl. chos kyi sprin)

The eleventh bhumi, Universal Radiance (Tib. ཀུན་ཏུ་འོད་, kuntu ö, Wyl. kun tu 'od), is buddhahood according to the sutra system.

Progression on the Ten Bhumis According to the Mahayana Tradition

The progression on the ten bhumis cover the path of arya bodhisattvas, from the path of seeing onwards. Complete enlightenment occurs following the end of the tenth bhumi, and is therefore known as the eleventh bhumi of Universal Radiance.

There is no difference in terms of the state of meditative equipoise for bodhisattvas on these bhumis. It is the qualities during the state of post-meditation that vary from one bhumi to the next. On the first bhumi, for example, there are twelve sets of one hundred qualities described in the Avatamsaka Sutra[1]. These qualities increase in magnitude as each bhumi is traversed.

The ten bhumis are also related to the ten paramitas. For example, the first paramita of generosity is emphasized on the first bhumi, the second paramita of discipline is emphasized on the second bhumi, and so on.

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

bhumi qualities/realisation abandonment perfecting the paramita of
1. Perfect Joy Realisation of both the selflessness of the individual and the phenomena; becoming and arya bodhisattva. Perfecting the seven elements for enlightenment. At this stage, a bodhisattva can take birth as a ruler over Jambudvipa. generosity
2. Immaculate The bodhisattva can take birth as a ruler over the four continents. discipline
3. Luminous The bodhisattva can take birth a ruler over the Heaven of Thirty-three, like Indra. patience
4. Radiant The bodhisattva can take birth as a ruler of the House of Gemini (Skt. Parākrama). diligence
5. Hard to Keep The bodhisattva can take birth as a ruler of Enjoying Emanations. meditative concentration
6. Clearly Manifest The bodhisattva can take birth as a ruler of Tushita. wisdom, prajña
7. Far Progressed The bodhisattva can take birth as a ruler of 'Controlling Others’. skilful means
8. Immovable The bodhisattva can take birth as a ruler over a first-order universe of a thousand realms. strength
9. Perfect Intellect The bodhisattva can take birth as Brahma, the ruler over a second-order universe of one thousand times one thousand worlds. aspiration prayers
10. Cloud of Dharma The bodhisattva can take birth as the ruler of the gods of a pure realm. They serve as the regent of a buddha and bring benefit to others on a vast scale. primordial wisdom, jñana

Related to the Subtle Body

There are twenty-two knots between the central channel and the two lateral channels. As they become freed, pair by pair, the meditator attains the successive bhumis, from the first to the eleventh, up to buddhahood.[3]

Canonical Literature

Sutras

Shastras

Further Reading

  • Appendix 12, 'The Bodhisattva Bhumis' pp.201-205 in The Light of Wisdom Volume 1. Root text by Padmasambhava and commentary by Jamgön Kongtrül the Great (Boudhanath, Hong Kong: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1999)

Alternative Translations

  • Ten levels
  • Ten grounds
  • Ten stages

References

  1. They are able to: enter into and arise from one hundred samadhi meditations in a single instant; see one hundred buddhas face to face, and receive their blessings; travel to one hundred buddha realms; cause one hundred world systems to shake; illuminate one hundred world systems; bring one hundred beings to complete maturity; manifest in one hundred aeons in a single instant; know one hundred aeons in the past and one hundred aeons in the future; open one hundred doors to the Dharma; manifest one hundred emanations, and for each of these bodies, manifest one hundred attendants. Source: Patrul Rinpoche, A Brief Guide to the Stages and Paths of the Bodhisattvas (Lotsawa House)
  2. Sources: Patrul Rinpoche, A Brief Guide to the Stages and Paths of the Bodhisattvas (Lotsawa House); Philippe Cornu, Manuel de bouddhisme — Philosophie, pratique et histoire. Tome II, Bouddhisme Mahāyāna (Editions Rangdröl, 2019), pages 47-50.
  3. From the notes to Retreat at the Hermit's Cave in the Life of Shabkar.

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