The Ten Bhumis
The Stages of Bodhisattvahood
- The first stage is called in Sanskrit Pramudita, or Very Happy. Bhumi means stage
or ground. From the position of Bodhisattva to become a Buddha, one must go
through the ten Bhumis, the ten stages or stations. The first is called the Very Happy
station because in this first stage the Bodhisattva has recognized the Sunyata not only
by thinking or just by visualization, but he has exactly and truly realized the Sunyata.
Because he recognized the Sunyata, he is in another world, a world of Sunyata, not
a world of ignorance or selfishness. So he feels very happy, and feels joy at having
overcome the former difficulties. So it is called the Very Happy Station.
- The second bhumi is Vimala or Renounce the Defilement because as a Bodhisattva
he knows how to get the Sunyata and abide in the Sunyata more and more. Within the
Sunyata he knows everything is pure, while outside everything is defiled. Actually
it may seem that the Renounce the Defilement stage should be even before the first
bhumi, but here Renounce the Defilement means the very subtle, not the gross one.
So the second bhumi is the stage of purity when the Bodhisattva experiences freedom
from all possible defilement.
- The third bhumi is called Prabhakari or Shines Light Stage because as the
Bodhisattva's meditation goes deep, his Samadhi shines light, so this is called the
Shines Light or Enlightened Stage or Eminate Stage because a lot of light shines out
from his Samadhi.
- The fourth bhumi is Arcismati or Burning Wisdom. The Bodhisattva has burned
up all sorrows in the fire of wisdom so this is called the burning or glowing wisdom
- The fifth bhumi is Sudurjaya or Very Difficult to be Victorious by Others. That
means that few others can suffer such a difficult practice and get to this victory stage.
It indicates mastery of utmost or final difficulties.
- The sixth bhumi is called Abhimukhi or Appearance Stage. The appearance
referred to is not something very common but something very special which appears:
It is the Sunyata itself. You know there is Sunyata conception, Sunyata thoughts,
Sunyata visualization, Sunyata of Happiness, there is Sunyata of Light, of Sun, of
Fire, but here is the Sunyata itself which appears in its very embodiment. This means
from an abstract idea comes a concrete countenance.
- The seventh bhumi is the Far from the World Journey Stage or Duramgama. This
means the Bodhisattva keeps going further, far from the habitual karma, far from
sentient beings, far from the Bodhisattva of the sixth stage. He is getting above ideas
of self in order to save others.
- The eighth bhumi is called Acala, or No Moving Stage. Such a Bodhisattva cannot
be moved by any kind of sorrow, by any kind of false view, by any kind of love of
money, of fame, or reputation, by anything, good or bad; he cannot be moved and is
calm and undisturbed.
- The ninth stage is Sadhumati or Very Good Wisdom Stage because whereas in the
fourth stage he attained wisdom of fire, here the Bodhisattva has the wisdom of
goodness also which means he can speak very well, he can promote the Dharma very
well and can get very wide wisdom. In the Chinese language "Fa-Shih" means a
teacher of Dharma who should reach this stage. When a Bodhisattva gets the
goodness wisdom, the ninth stage, then he can begin to talk with others and give
lectures for he then has obtained the finest discriminatory wisdom and knows where
and how to save others.
- The tenth bhumi is called Dharmamegha or Dharma Cloud. At this stage a
Bodhisattva is not only able to talk to promote the Dharma but really can make
Dharma rain, so this is the tenth bhumi's name.