Five paths

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The five paths (Skt. pañcamārga, T. lam lnga ལམ་ལྔ་; C. wuwei; J. goi) are stages in the spiritual path that are identified in the Sanskrit tradition.[1]

The five paths are:

  1. The path of accumulation (saṃbhāra-mārga)
  2. The path of preparation or application (prayoga-mārga)
  3. The path of seeing (darśana-mārga)
  4. The path of meditation (bhāvanā-mārga)
  5. The path of no more learning or consummation (aśaikṣā-mārga)

Distinctions between different vehicles

These paths are presented from both the Sravakayana and Mahayana points of view. The key distinctions between these two presentations of the five paths are:

  • on the Sravakayana level:
    • the practitioner is motivated by the desire to liberate oneself from cyclic existence (samsara)
    • the endpoint of the path is the realization of selflessness (anātman) and the attainment of arhathood
  • on the Mahayana level:
    • the practitioner is motivated by the wish to free all sentient beings from from cyclic existence (samsara)
    • the endpoint of the path is the realization of emptiness (sunyata) -- specifically the two-fold emptiness of self and other -- and the attainment of buddhahood

From the Mahayana point of view, the motivation and the realization of the Sravaka are inferior:

  • the Sravaka motivation is liberation for the self alone, which is inferior to the Mahayana motivation to benefit all beings
  • the realization of the Sravaka (anatman) is equivalent to the realization of selflessness of person (pudgalanairātmya), which is inferior to the realization of the two-fold emptiness of self and other

Mahayana tradition

Paths and bhumis

In the Mahayana, five paths are related to the ten bhumis as follows:

Paths and obscurations

The Mahayana also makes a distinction between emotional obscurations and cognitive obscruations.

In terms of the "two obscurations" (āvaraṇa):[2]

  • The "emotional obscurations" (kleśā-varaṇa) are overcome at the attainment of the path of seeing
  • The "cognitive obscurations" (jñeyā-varaṇa) are overcome over the course of the path of meditation

Textual origins

These stages were first presented in the Sarvastivada Abhidharma texts, and then further developed in Sanskrit Mahayana texts associated with Yogacara school.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. pañcamārga.
  2. Jikdrel Yeshe Dorje 1991, p. 107.


Sources

Further reading

  • Brunnhölzl, Karl (2011), Gone Beyond: The Prajnaparamita Sutras, The Ornament of Clear Realization, and Its Commentaries in the Tibetan Kagyu Tradition, Volume One, Snow Lion 
  • Book icoline.svg Gethin, Rupert (1998), Foundations of Buddhism (Kindle ed.), Oxford University Press , "Chapter 7, Section: The scheme of the five paths"
  • Book icoline.svg Harvey, Peter (2013), An Introduction to Buddhism (Second ed.), Cambridge University Press , "Chapter 11"

External links