Grounds and Paths of the Bodhisattva

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Praise of the Element of Qualities (Dharmadhatu-stotra) says:

Just as the crescent moon
Is seen to increase day by day,
Similarly, those abiding on the grounds also
Are seen to increase in stages.
On the fifteenth day of the waxing moon
The moon becomes complete.
Similarly, on the completion of the grounds
The Truth Body is fully manifest.

Access here two series of teachings on the grounds and paths of a bodhisattva—the presentation of what is to be practiced and what is to be abandoned along the bodhisattva’s path to full awakening. These genre of teachings, known as salam in Tibetan, finds its scriptural source in the Sutra of the Ten Grounds.

Teachers and their teaching

Venerable Thubten Chodron

During 2011-2012, Venerable Thubten Chodron gave taught extensively on the grounds and paths of the bodhisattva according to the Prasangika Madhyamaka tenet system. She utilized Jetsun Lobsang Dadrin’s (1867-1937) root text, A Brief Presentation of the Grounds and Paths of the Perfection Vehicle, Essence of the Ocean of Profound Meaning.

Topics covered in this series include:

  • Fundamental vehicle grounds and paths

  • The five Mahayana paths: path of accumulation, preparation, seeing, meditation and no more learning

  • Qualities of the ten bodhisattva grounds

  • Attaining Buddhahood: the four buddha bodies

Jetsun Lobsang Dadrin

Jetsun Lobsang Dadrin was a Mongolian Buddhist monk, scholar and yogi who wrote widely on Buddhist astrology, vinaya, tenets and grounds and paths. Jetsun Lobsang Dadrin’s text is unique because it teaches the grounds and paths according to the Prasangika Madhyamaka tenet system—the highest tenet system of Buddhist philosophy. Texts of this genre are normally presented according to the Svatantrika Madnyamaka tenet system.

When visiting Sravasti Abbey in 2006, 104th Gaden Tripa Lobsang Tenzin Rinpoche gave a short explanation of grounds and paths according to the Yogacara Svatantrika Madhyamaka tenet system. Rinpoche covered topics such as:

  • Relating to our spiritual teacher

  • Delineating the three vehicles of hearers, solitary realizers and bodhisattvas

  • Path of seeing for the three vehicles

  • The ten grounds (bhumis) for the three vehicles

  • Objects of abandonment and practices of the 10 grounds (bhumis)

  • The qualities of a buddha

Rinpoche obtained his Geshe Lharampa degree from Sera Je monastery in 1979. In 1985 he was appointed abbot of Gyume Tantric University, a position he held for 6 years. Since then he has taught extensively in India and the West.

Who it’s for

This series would appeal to those interested and committed to the Mahayana path—the path leading one to attain full awakening for the benefit of all beings. These teachings lay out in detail the step-by-step process by which bodhisattvas abandon all defilements and cultivate all good qualities in order to attain the final good of Buddhahood.

Resources

The audio and video recordings of Venerable Thubten Chodron’s 47-part presentation of grounds and paths according to the Prasangika Madhyamaka tenet system here. This series also includes quiz questions and guided reviews by Sravasti Abbey monastics:

Access the audio recordings of Jangtse Choje Lobsang Tenzin Rinpoche’s 5-part series on grounds and paths according to the Yogacarya tenet system here.

Sutra [on the Ten Grounds] says-

Like the sun in the sky where clouds are seen,
Even you Superiors who have the pure eyes of intelligence
Are of partial intelligence. You do not see all.
You Blessed Ones however, who have the Truth Body
Of limitless intelligence, see all the limitless objects
Of knowledge pervading the expanse of space.