Twenty-two types of bodhicitta

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Twenty-two types of bodhicitta are identified in the Ornament of Clear Realization (Abhisamayalankara). Later writers such as Arya Vimuktisena and Haribhadra correlated each type of bodhicitta with the stages of the bodhisattva path.[1]

The 14th Dalai Lama states:

By comparing the bodhicitta found on the successive levels of the path to various pure or lovely things around us, we can see how bodhicitta spreads joy to sentient beings and acts as the source of all of a buddha’s realizations. Contemplating these poetic similes of twenty-two types of bodhicitta from the Ornament of Clear Realizations gives us a vision of the qualities we can develop and realizations we can gain by generating bodhicitta in our hearts and minds and living our lives according to it. Each type of bodhicitta is correlated with a level of the bodhisattva path and has an accompanying feature that enhances it. All twenty-two types of bodhicitta have the same object — sentient beings — and aspect — the wish to protect them from all saṃsāric duḥkha.[2]

The Jewel Ornament of Liberation states:

Bodhicitta was classified through examples ranging from ordinary beings to Buddhahood by Arya Maitreya in the Ornament of Clear Realization:
Earth, gold, moon, fire,
Treasure, jewel mine, ocean,
Vajra, mountain, medicine, spiritual master,
Wish-fulfilling jewel, sun, melody,
King, treasury, highway,
Conveyance, well,
Elegant sound, river, and cloud.
These are the twenty-two similes.
These twenty-two similes range from sincere aspiration to realization of the Dharmakaya. Furthermore, they will be related to the five paths.
(1) Earnest desire to achieve enlightenment is like the earth because it is the basis for all virtuous qualities.
(2) A general intention to achieve enlightenment is like gold; it never changes until one achieves enlightenment.
(3) Possessing altruistic thought is like the waxing moon which increases all the virtues.
These three comprise the ordinary level, the path of accumulation of the small, mediocre, and great.
(4) Possessing earnest application is like fire because it burns away the fuel for the obscurations to the three forms of omniscience.
This comprises the path of application.
(5) Possessing the perfection of generosity is like a treasure that satisfies all sentient beings.
(6) Possessing moral ethics is like a jewel mine because it is the source of all the precious qualities.
(7) Possessing patience is like the ocean, which is not disturbed even when undesirable conditions fall on it.
(8) Possessing perseverance is like a vajra, which is so solid it cannot be destroyed by any means.
(9) Possessing meditative concentration (Skt. samadhi) is like Mount Meru, the king of mountains; it is not scattered by projected thoughts.
(10) Possessing discriminating wisdom is like medicine which heals the illnesses of afflicting emotions and subtle obscurations to enlightenment.
(11) Possessing skillful means is like a spiritual master who never forsakes benefitting all the sentient beings in all times.
(12) Possessing aspiration prayer is like a wish-fulfilling jewel that accomplishes all aspirations. tions.
(13) Possessing strength is like the sun, which fully ripens the trainees.
(14) Possessing primordial wisdom is like the melodious sound of the Dharma, giving teachings in order to inspire the trainees.
Thus, these ten respectively comprise the ten bhumis, beginning with the Great joy, and are the subjects for the path of insight and the path of meditation.
(15) Possessing special clairvoyance accompanied by great wisdom is like a great king who can benefit other sentient beings without any restriction.
(16) Possessing merit and perfect wisdom is like a treasury, a storehouse of many virtuous accumulations.
(17) Possessing the branches of enlightenment is like a highway which the Noble Ones followed and which will be followed by others.
(18) Possessing compassion passion and special insight is like a conveyance on which one can smoothly proceed without deviating into samsara or nirvana.
(19) Possessing the power of complete recollection and confidence is like the water of a well; without exhaustion, it holds the Dharma that one has heard and not heard.
These five comprise the special path of a Bodhisattva.
(20) Possessing the "grove of the Dharma" is like hearing elegant sounds that proclaim a beautiful song to trainees who wish to achieve liberation.
(21) Possessing the "path of one direction" is like the current rent of a river, benefitting others without being diverted from its path.
(22) Possessing Dharmakaya is like a cloud, manifesting abiding in the Tushita heaven and so forth, on which all benefit for sentient beings depends.
These three comprise the Buddha's level.
Thus, these twenty-two similes encompass everything from the ordinary dinary level to the Buddha's state.[3]


  1. Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. bodhicitta.
  2. Dalai Lama & Thubten Chodron 2020, s.v. Chapter 5: Becoming a Bodhisattva.
  3. Gampopa 1998, Chapter 9: Cultivation of Bodhicitta.


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