Chapter 19: The Ten Bodhisattva Bhumis

Dharma Lord Gampopa systematically describes the ten bhumis in a brief, yet very precise, way.

The moment one accomplishes the third path, Insight, and actualizes the complete nature of the unfabricated mind free from boundary, it is called the first bhumi.

But just realizing emptiness is not the ultimate realization. If phenomena were merely empty of inherent existence, then there would be no further to go after the moment you achieved this. Since they are not merely empty, there is a need for more training and further development of qualities. All these trainings are undertaken on the second through tenth bhumis.

Thus, bodhisattvas go through training in the ten paramitas of generosity, moral ethics, patience, perseverance, meditative concentration, wisdom awareness, skillful means, aspiration, strength, and primordial wisdom.

When one achieves the first bhumi, during meditative equipoise one experiences all-pervading emptiness, like the nature of space. But in the post-meditative state, one still perceives duality because of the cohesion of habitual tendencies.

From the second to tenth bhumis, this cohesion of habitual tendencies is purified as are the obscurations associated with afflicting emotions and the subtle obscurations.

The two accumulations of merit and wisdom are not fully developed until attainment of the tenth bhumi, which is the level next to Buddhahood and the final level of bodhisattvas.

A tenth-level bodhisattva has great power to effortlessly manifest activities that benefit countless sentient beings. That bodhisattva’s mind is completely dominated by unconditional, nonobjectified compassion and great wisdom.

Such a being is free from all fear and doubt, and has the indomitable courage and skill to benefit sentient beings until the end of samsara.

Source: Gampopa, Dharma Lord. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation: The Wish-fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings. Translated by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche. Edited by Ani K. Trinlay Chodron. Boulder, Colorado: Snow Lion, 1998.