Five paths

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The five paths (pañcamārga, T. lam lnga; C. wuwei; J. goi) are stages in the spiritual path that are identified in the Sanskrit tradition.[1] These stages were first presented in the Sarvastivada Abhidharma texts, and then further developed in Sanskrit Mahayana texts associated with Yogacara school.[1]

Early Sanskrit tradition

The five paths are identified in the Sarvastivada Abhidharma texts.[1] In this context, highest level of the path is the state of Arhat.[2] From the Mahayana point of view, the realization of an Arhat is more limited than that of a buddha.

Sanskrit Mahayana tradition

A Mahayana explanation of the five paths is presented in Sanskrit Mayahana texts associated with the Yogacara school. In this context, the five paths are presented in the context of the path of the bodhisattva, as follows:[3]

  1. The path of accumulation (saṃbhāra-mārga, Wylie Tibetan: tshogs lam). Persons on this Path:
    1. Possess a strong desire to overcome suffering, either their own or others;
    2. Renounce the worldly life.[3]
  2. The path of preparation or application (prayoga-mārga, Wylie Tibetan: sbyor lam). Persons on this Path:
    1. Start practicing meditation;
    2. Have analytical knowledge of emptiness.[3]
  3. The path of seeing (darśana-mārga, Wylie Tibetan: mthong lam). Persons on this Path:
    1. Practice profound concentration meditation on the nature of reality;
    2. Realize the emptiness of reality.[3]
  4. The path of meditation (bhāvanā-mārga, Wylie Tibetan: sgom lam). Persons on this path purify themselves and accumulate wisdom.[3]
  5. The path of no more learning or consummation (aśaikṣā-mārga, Wylie Tibetan: mi slob pa’i lam or thar phyin pa'i lam). Persons on this Path have completely purified themselves.[3]

The ten grounds of the bodhisattva are grouped within last three paths:

  1. Bhūmi 1: The path of seeing
  2. Bhūmi 2-7: The path of meditation
  3. Bhūmi 8-10: The path of no more learning

In terms of the "two obstructions" (Wylie: sgrib gnyis):[4]

  1. The "emotional obscurations" (Sanskrit: kleśa-varaṇa, Wylie: nyon-mongs-pa'i sgrib-ma) are overcome at the attainment of the path of seeing
  2. The "cognitive obscurations" (Sanskrit: jñeyāvaraṇa, Wylie: shes-bya'i sgrib-ma). are overcome over the course of the path of meditation

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Princeton Dict icon 166px.png Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. pañcamārga
  2. MAV notes.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Losang Samten, Introduction to the Buddhist Path
  4. Dorje, Jikdrel Yeshe (Dudjom Rinpoche, author), translated and edited: Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (1991). The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: Its Fundamentals and History. Boston, USA: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-199-8, p. 107(Enumerations).

External links