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Saṃbhāra-mārga

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saṃbhāra-mārga (T. tshogs lam ཚོགས་ལམ་; C. ziliang dao) is translated as "path of accumulation," "path of equipment," etc. It is the first of the five paths in the Sanskrit tradition. It is divided into greater, intermediate and lesser stages.

Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions states:

The path of accumulation (sambhāramārga) is a clear realization of the doctrine—the words of the scriptures. It is called “accumulation” because at this stage practitioners accumulate great learning of the doctrine and begin accumulating the merit and wisdom leading to the goal of their chosen vehicle. Śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas enter the path of accumulation of their vehicles when they have, day and night, the determination to be free from saṃsāra. Bodhisattvas enter their path of accumulation when they have genuine bodhicitta in addition to the determination to be free from saṃsāra.[1]

The Rangjung Yeshe Dharma Dictionary states:

[The path of accumulation is] the first of the five paths which forms the foundation for the journey towards liberation and involves gathering a vast accumulation of merit dedicated towards this attainment. On this path one gains an intellectual and conceptual understanding of egolessness through learning and reflection. By means of cultivating the four applications of mindfulness, the four right endeavors, and the four legs of miraculous action, one succeeds in eliminating the gross defilements that cause samsaric suffering and in attaining the virtuous qualities of the superknowledges and the 'samadhi of the stream of Dharma' leading to the path of joining.[2]

Patrul Rinpoche states:

It is called the path of accumulation because it is the stage at which one makes a special effort to gather the accumulation of merit, and also because it marks the beginning of many incalculable aeons of gathering the accumulations.
The path of accumulation is divided into lesser, intermediate and greater stages.
On the lesser path of accumulation it is uncertain when one will reach the path of joining. On the intermediate path of accumulation it is certain that one will reach the path of joining in the very next lifetime. On the greater path of accumulation it is certain that one will reach the path of joining within that very same lifetime.[3]

Three stages

Regarding the three stages:[3]

Distinctions between different vehicles

On the path of accumulation, those following the sravakayana:[4]

  • have the motivation of the sravaka - to liberate oneself from cyclic existence (samsara)
  • follow the texts of the sravakayana
  • maintain the vows of the sravakayana

Those following the bodhisattvayana:

  • have the motivation of the bodhisattva - to attain buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings
  • follow the texts of the bodhisattvayana (aka Mahayana)
  • maintain the vows of the bodhisattva

Alternate translations

  • path of accumulation
  • path of equipment
  • path of preparation (Walpola Rahula, Abhidharmasamuccaya)

Notes


Sources