The Third Stage
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 fifth 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. Prior to these ten stages, and similar to how the Theravada Eight-fold Path had the gotrabhu (becoming of the lineage), some texts define two preliminary stages that were explained in Part 1 of this series. 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. 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 third stage of the 10 Stages of the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path.
Stage 3. The stage of Illumination (Prabhakari bhumi)
The third stage is called Illumination, because the Bodhisattva’s lucid perfection of patience and tolerance (ksanti paramita) where rage and anger have subsided. The Bodhisattva has completed the four meditative absorptions (dhyana) and the four immeasurable qualities (apramana) [loving kindness, sympathetic joy, compassion, equanimity] and attained the five supernormal knowledges (abhijna). The Bodhisattva is now free from lust (raga), anger (dvesa) and delusion (moha).
A Bodhisattva, who practiced and attained the second stage, now aims for the third stage, where one develops these ten intentions of the mind: purity, steadfast, aversion to the world [of suffering], unattached, forsaking [final Nirvana], firm, energized, insatiable, subliminal, and greatness.
- The mind intention of purity means to cleanse the mind from unwholesome attachments to internal and external hindrances.
- The mind intention of steadfast means to apply urgency and dedication to one’s practice.
- The mind intention of aversion to the world [of suffering] means to consider the material world as not pleasant and something to not cling to.
- The mind intention of unattached means to not attach to either the material world of suffering nor the mere apprehension of Nirvana alone.
- The mind intention of forsaking final Nirvana means to come back into rebirth to continue the Bodhisattva work to help others sentient beings reach Enlightenment.
- The mind intention of firm requires a strong intention in practice without distractions.
- The mind intention of energized means enthusiasm and willingness to continue the Bodhisattva stage.
- The mind intention of insatiable shows the eagerness and desire applied to in meditation and helping others.
- The mind intention of subliminal means to have an exalted mind.
- The mind intention of greatness means to have a pure and virtuous mind.
When these mind intentions are well developed and come to fruition, the Bodhisattva establishes oneself in the third stage.
One of the realizations of the Bodhisattva that is encountered during this stage, is that name-labels that are perceived as real and material forms that are experienced as solid—are impermanent, are suffering, are impermanent and subject to arising and ceasing, have no discoverable start nor end, are mere transformations—and are subject to what the Buddha teaches as the doctrine of dependent origination. The Bodhisattva sees, with clarity and vision, the resulting effects of suffering and delusion when one’s perception of name-and-forms lead to attachment to conditioned reality. As an antidote, the Bodhisattva visualizes and practices the attainment of ‘seeing the Buddha’, and absorb it’s qualities that are immeasurable and surpassing suffering.
Along the path in this stage, the Bodhisattva continues to help other sentient beings and aim for their highest possible positive outcome in their spiritual journey. One of the direct ways to do this, is to teach the Dharma to them, and ensure that as many as possible feel the benefit from hearing the Dharma, seeing the Dharma in action through the Bodhisattva, and realizing the Dharma for oneself.
In this stage, the Bodhisattva fully develops and completes the fruits of the following intentions: patience and gentleness, unhindered tenderness, cannot be disturbed by outside factors [e.g., getting angry], without agitation or getting upset, not seeking pleasure or fame, not looking for material rewards, free from deceit, and not grasping at objects and imagined realities.
Out of the qualities to bring people onto the Mahayana path, the Bodhisattva sees great improvement in the quality of one’s actions that benefit others.
The prajna-paramita abhi-samaya-lankara text adds five items that a Bodhisattva should develop in a resolute fashion:
In the next article, I’ll be discussing The Fourth Stage of the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path in full detail.
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.