The Grounds of Bodhisattvas

Source: fodian.net
Source: fodian.net

As a part of visiting India I want to learn more about Buddhism. I have been attending a Buddhist study group in New York for a couple of months. I plan on sharing some of these teachings whenever I come across something interesting.

Ten Grounds
There are Ten Grounds of Bodhisattvas, these Grounds are the paths within Buddhism from an ordinary being to a sublime person. I will focus on the first two Grounds, assuming that most of us are not beyond these Grounds. You won’t achieve any of these Grounds without practice, patience and meditation.

Before a bodhisattva arrives at the first Ground, he or she first must travel the first two of the five paths:

1. The path of accumulation
2. The path of preparation

The ten Grounds of the bodhisattva then can be grouped into the next three paths

bhūmi 1:- the path of insight
bhūmis 2-7:- the path of meditation
bhūmis 8-10:- the path of no more learning

Ground one
The first ground is: very Joyful. When you are on the first Ground of Bodhisattvas, you have seen the new truth in reality for the first time. This is eye opening and intriguing, thus the stage is called ‘Very Joyful’, because one will be full of joy after learning this new reality.

Ground two
After the first Ground, the next grounds all involve more meditation. To go from the first to the second Ground you must go to understanding emptiness and reality, without making mistakes. There can be slight slip-ups with your thoughts during daily life and meditation, once you stop making these mistakes, you will go to the second Ground.

Where are we?
How do I interpret this for as a new student of Buddhism? Am I even on Ground one? Understanding emptiness is a difficult one, partly because in our lives we have been taught ‘cause and effect’: when we knock a glass of water over, it will fall and the water will spill out. How do we go from understanding this frankness to understanding ‘emptiness’? It is all a process, and being on Ground one, the ‘very Joyful’ ground is a pleasant beginning where we still make mistakes.

Grounds 3 through 10
3. Luminous
4. Radiant
5. Difficult training
6. Manifest
7. Gone afar
8. Immovable
9. Good Intelligence
10. Cloud of Dharma

Source: Rinpoche, Khenchen Thrangu. Essential Practice, Lectures on Kamalashila’s Stages of Meditation in the Middle Way School. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 2002.

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