The 42 Stages to Enlightenment


The Forty-Two Stages to Enlightenment

First there are the forty stages on the path of Bodhisattva development
     The ten abodes of inspiration
     The ten practices of virtue
     The ten transfers of merit
     The ten groundings of enlightenment

Lastly there are the two levels of Enlightenment
     The manifestation of the Buddha
     The original, eternal Buddha

The 42 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet represent the 42 stages on the path to enlightenment. These letters represented the provisional path to enlightenment much the same way that words represent reality. The 42 stages represent the steps on the way to the ultimate realization, which is beyond letters or words.

Here is a picture of the 42 Siddham letters with their correspondind Chinese characters.


The 40 Stages of the Bodhisattva Path

A. The Ten Abodes (Stations) of Inspiration:
Opening up
an understanding of enlightenment
#1-#4 are entry into the womb of enlightenment, #5-#8 are its gestation, #9 is its birth and #10 is its consecration


The Inspiration of the Mind: Being resolved with determination to realize the wisdom that is difficult to attain and so broadening one’s understanding of the Buddha’s teaching (Dharma).


Preparing the Ground: Inspiring the state of mind towards living beings that develops greatness of compassion.


Cultivating the Practice: Observing all things spiritual with the practice of meditation in order to make one’s wisdom and insight turn clear and penetrating.


The Precious Life: Studying and learning the Noble Doctrine and realizing all things spiritual in order to make progress in the understanding of the equality or consistency of the mind throughout the past, the present and the future.


Perfection of the Ways & Means: Cultivating good spiritual qualities (roots) in order to progress in the mastery of non-attachment.


The Straight Mind: Having a mind that is steadfast and unshaken in order to make progress in the attainment of non-regression and endurance in that which is without birth.


Non-Regression: Having a mind that is solid and strong and never turns and retreats in order to progress in attaining equanimity in all things spiritual.


The Child of the Truth: Abiding in the making of karmic deeds that foster progress in skillful application of the teachings.


Prince of the Dharma: Skillfully recognizing spiritual things that foster progress in the non-obstruction of the mind


Consecration: Attaining the realization of wisdom in one’s life and one’s deeds, in spiritual penetration and transformation, in the wisdom of the past, the present and the future, as well as the realization of the spiritual land of the Buddhas and the sphere of all the spiritual realms of the mind that are impossible to know. Even the Bodhisattva that is the Prince of the Dharma is not able to recognize this. This is to foster progress in the Wisdom of All Kinds


The Ten Practices of Virtue; The Ten Paramitas - The Bodhisattva practices that earn spiritual merit.
Revealing spiritual enlightenment in one's life.


The Practice that bestows joyfulness to living beings: This is the perfection of generosity (dana paramita), charity, and giving of oneself.


The Practice that abundantly benefits living beings: With the perfection of morality (sila paramita), there are the blessings of moral virtue and obedience to the precepts or rules of proper conduct


The Practice without agitation: This is the perfection of endurance, forbearance, & patience (ksanti paramita)


The Practice that is irrepressible: This is the perfection of diligence , vitality & energy. (virya paramita)


The Practice without confusion: This is meditation, samadhi, calm, serenity, and mental concentration (dhyana paramita)


The Practice of spiritual presence: This spiritual insight , penetrating observation (prajna paramita)


The Practice without attachments: This is skillfulness in the ways & means of non-attachment and its use as a means of salvation.(upaya paramita)


The Practice that is difficult to attain: This is spiritual vows, resolve, and the determination to save. (pranidhana paramita)


The Practice of manifesting the Dharma: This is spiritual power (bala paramita)


The Practice of absolute reality: This is spiritual wisdom (jnana paramita).


The Ten Components of Imparting of Spiritual Merit - 'Turning It Over' - Parinamana
Enlightenment in Others
The bestowal of enlightenment; The turning over of spiritual merits & virtues from one to another. There are two aspects:

Turning It Over & Leaving: Turning over spiritual merits to others so that they may attain enlightenment, and then leaving and entering into Pure Land of Nirvana. This is the lineage of the revealed body of enlightenment in this world (Nirmanakaya).
Turning It Over & Returning: Returning to this world from the Pure Land to enlighten living beings. This is the glorified body of enlightenment that is worshipped (Sambhogakaya). By turning oneself over to the Buddhas or Bodhisattvas in the Pure Land, one receives their spiritual merits because of the power of their original vows. 


Rescuing and protecting all living beings but free from the appearance of doing so


Indestructible faith


Being the equal of the Buddhas


Reaching everywhere


The inexhaustible treasury of merits & virtues


Strengthening and firming up of good spiritual roots


Universally adapting to all living beings


The aspect of the absolute as it is


The liberated understanding that is without binds or attachments


Entering into the limitless spiritual realms


The Ten Groundings - The Ten Bhumis: The one enlightenment is in reality beyond self & other
Entry into the realm of spiritual enlightenment - The Realm of the Buddhas


Joyfulness (Pramudita)


Freedom from Defilement (Vimala)


The Emitting of the Light (Prabhakari)


Blazing Insight (Arcismati)


Overcoming Difficulties (Sudurjaya)


Manifesting Before All (Abhimukhi)


Far Reaching (Duramgama)


Unshaken (Acala)


Skillful Insight (Sadhumati)


The Cloud of Dharma (Dharmamegha)


Finally there are the two stages of the Buddha's Enlightenment

The Two Levels of Enlightenment (the provisional and the real):


The Universal Awakening (Samyak Sambodhi) The Manifestation of the Buddha in the World


The Wonderful Awakening (Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi) The Original or Eternal Buddha


Teachings          Home


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  Since July 9, 2001

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