In order to attain the bhumis a person needs to enter somewhere so my question is pretty important in the way of the Bodhisattva. How does a person enter the 1st Bhumi?

  • Check out Daniel Ingram's Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha (integrateddanie.info/book -- also as PDF); at pg. 290 he discusses the bhumis, saying the 1st bhumi clearly equates with the stream-entry of the Theravada classification and that mapping the other ones to traditional theravada stages being more difficult. There is a number of entries in the index under bhumi as well.
    – eudoxos
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 13:33
  • 1
    find a lama ? would be my advice, anyway
    – user2512
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 17:01

7 Answers 7


It seems that one can enter the Bodhisattva way more easily than trying to attain the bhumis. Too much can be made of attaining, while not enough of serving others. I find the Dalai Lama's Book THE OPEN HEART to be a wonderful introduction to the Bodhisattva way. It is a book not only of words but pointing to action to free all sentient beings.

If you want more info on bhumis you will find it in this article that even describes the bhumis as "hyperbolic". Perhaps that is a hint that we should stick more to basics and keep things simple. The Buddha gave us an example of a simple life. Some of those that followed tried to make it more complicated than it was. Remember the Flower Sermon. The Buddha holds up a flower and smiles. That is the whole sermon.


The bodhisattva path (with its descriptions of bhumis so hyperbolic that they always amount to "there's work to do" no matter your attainments, even if you're an arhat! gplus.wallez.name/2Q5j3jM1oGC) is bringing back ethics into a practical approach: you're not perfect, there's work to do, what matters is how hard you try and cultivate qualities…

Life is dukkha (1st noble truth), this is true even for ethical people (monastic or lay): failures will arise. What matters is to continue cultivating! The Mahayana approach sets extremely ambitious goals (when described with the bhumis) and doesn't consider small failures as easily acceptable (a small moral failure might cancel eons of merit!), but it doesn't forget that even if the human birth is the most promising for Awakening, we cannot reasonably expect humans not to make mistakes! This is not about 'forgiving' lightly; instead, this is about accepting that amends (i.e. continued cultivation) are more important than snap judgements. If you did wrong, don't ignore it, what do you plan to do to fix the situation, how do you take responsibility for it? This is, of course, perfectly aligned with the focus on emptiness, and on compassion as the root-quality giving rise to bodhicitta.

  • My favorite Sermon. There are flowers everywhere I look.
    – user2341
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 13:29

Short answer: you make a vow to become enlightened.

Long answer: I presume you are referring to the 10 Bhumis, as described in the Daśabhūmika, which is also the 26th Chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra, which you can get on Amazon in ebook format, also bootleg versions exist in PDF format on the internet.

The Dasabhumika is interesting in the Avatamsaka Sutra because it has a lot of actionable advice-- much of the rest of the Avatamsaka Sutra has good stuff, but it isn't specific advice about what to do.

The titles of the Bhumis, I find generally perplexing, I think they were intended to describe the consequences of achieving the Bhumi, not thing you do to achieve the Bhumi. The first is "Extreme Joy".

Like everything in the Avatamaska Sutra, the First Bhumi has 10 parts, and I paraphrase:

  1. Vow to make offerings to all Buddhas.
  2. Vow to maintain the teachings of all Buddhas
  3. Vow to go to all worlds where Buddhas appear
  4. Vow to teach (many aspects of Buddhism)
  5. Vow to develop all beings (towards enlightenment)
  6. Vow to comprehend directly all the worlds
  7. Vow to show all beings the pure lands (I think, the phrasing isn't clear)
  8. Vow to develop a number of talents of use in bringing other to enlightenment
  9. Vow to be a diligent teacher
  10. Vow to attain enlightenment

The sutra mentions many other common Buddhist themes for this Bhumi, such as achieving realizations about charity, desire, compassion, sunyata, etc.

I can't find the quote, but I've seen the 1st Bhumi as equated to Bodhicitta-- developing the enthusiasm and will (or vow) to become enlightened. Since the 1st Bhumi is being described as a series of vows, I guess that makes sense.

And for extra credit, the 2nd Bhumi mentions the 10 precepts. The 4th Bhumi mentions the 8 fold path. The 5th Bhumi mentions Bodhisattvas should learn and apply math, science, medicine, the arts, civil engineering and so on to be of use to all creatures. It's these pieces of this-worldly, highly actionable advice that make me like this chapter of the Avatamsaka.

When reading on the internet the various summations of the Bhumis, keep in mind that each Bhumi is described over several pages of text that defy quick summation.

Here is an outline of the Avatamasaka in general.

  • so it seems i need more merit for this ... seems like the best answer. Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 7:07
  • Interesting comment. I guess it does involve finding confidence that you can do it, or faith that the system might work. Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 15:13
  • yes i was reading words of perfect teacher again.. it seems to help .. Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 18:54
  • It sounds like the idea might be: "The road is very, very long, so don't rest on your laurels or think that you have arrived."
    – user2341
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 13:34

I don’t know if this will help, but I’ll give a little thought. Entering any Bhumi requires a shock. The first Bhumi may be entered when you finally give up and look directly at what is in front of you. That means for a second or more, halting the constant flow of ideas and emotions - and opening your heart to what seems like outside you. Awe is a terrific tool. So is total empathy. It’s a shock because life generally doesn’t demand that level of open, but it’s really familiar once done. Your despair is actually a very good tool, too. Maybe you will get so fed up that you actually throw in the towel. Then you can see what is left. I don’t think the opportunity is infrequent at all. Be ready to be curious once done. Most people don’t notice it and go right back into ideas and emotions. I hope this helps.


In Tibetan Buddhism, the Salam texts are texts that describe grounds and path. This chart is very useful. You also find explanations of grounds and paths scattered between Lam Rim texts, Lojong texts (such as Shantideva's Bodhisattvacharyavatara, Asanga's Bodhisattvabhumi, etc) as well as in Tenet texts and Abhidharma texts.

To put things simply:

  • The generation of effortless bodhicitta is the entry gate to the Mahayana, the small path of accumulation.
  • The first union of calm abiding and special insight conceptually realizing emptiness is the first level of the path of preparation.
  • The first wisdom directly realizing emptiness [in the continuum of a bodhisattva] is the entry to the Mahayana Path of seeing, and it is also the entry to the first bhumi. The first bhumi includes: (1) an uninterrupted path, a wisdom directly realizing emptiness and acting as an antidote (2) a path of release, a true cessation, (3) a subsequent attainment cultivating the perfection of generosity, and (4) the uninterrupted path prior the path of release that will be the entry to the 2nd bhumi.

So, to answer your question: one needs to cultivate the union of calm abiding and special insight on emptiness (the wisdom side) conjointly to bodhicitta (part of the method side). The first time a bodhisattva realizes emptiness directly, he enters the 1st bhumi.

  • 1
    perfect answer, better than I could ever explain
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 18:34

Can I recommend the book Record of an Awakening by David Smith. It is a detailed and compelling account of David Smith's spiritual journey from been a gardener in London to his awakening in Sri Lanka. He writes about his experiences in the context of the bhumis from the 1st through to the 7th and gives a very good account of the experience.

According to David Smith on the way to the 1st bhumi there is equanimity

Slowly the mind understands the true nature of itself and is no long deceived and driven by the nature of the self

then after two weeks of equanimity the consciousness 'winks out' for a moment

there was a sudden heightened awareness about a few thoughts [...] and suddenly consciousness in its entirety vanished [briefly]


the tap root of ignorance [...] is broken. [...] Ignorance can appear to recover. But even if it takes a few lifetimes it will inevitably cease.

It is a very personal account and the experiences where mapped onto the bhumis afterwards so one could quibble with the interpretation - I'm certainly no expert. However it's a short book and well worth your time and a quick read of it may illuminate and help with the 1st bhumi.

  • ya great thanks for the replies... im just gonna sit zazen now.. Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 2:01
  • Well it looks like after reading some stuff its probably not gonna happen. Commented May 2, 2015 at 16:39
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    @ChrisDennisDionisiosStefani Apologies if you read this book and found it discouraging. It is (meant to be) the memoirs of a spiritual journey - and because a gardener from East London achieved it it points to the fact that it is possible for anyone to achieve it. If you read other stuff it seems as if it is for Bodhaisattvas after many eons - at least it only took this man a few years. Good luck though - don't be discouraged or feel disempowered by this. The Bodhisattva way can be very vast and cosmic - too vast perhaps Commented May 4, 2015 at 16:54
  • ohh sorry to appear to be so desponded. I was reading some accounts of 1st level Bhumis and how it takes eons of good merit and lifetimes to accomplish entering the 11 Bhumis at all... so it may happen but probably not in this lifetime ! Commented May 4, 2015 at 17:15
  • "Do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to play the piano!?" "The same age as if you don't."
    – user2341
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 13:38

The first Bhumi is the first step towards enlightenment, an initial awakening. There is actually something you can do in order to make this happen. It has to do with investigating your perception of the self. The are many ways to do this but the most explicit and easiest to grasp I find to be a two-part formula where you alternate between very egocentric view of yourself compared to a more relaxed way of being that does not involve fixating on your thoughts/desires/fears/etc. You can find the instuctions here: http://www.en.openheart.fi/113

Take a look at what Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo has to say about the method: http://openheartopenheart.blogspot.fi/2017/08/tenzin-palmo-pema-rinpoche-on.html

Once you get this initial spark (awakening/1st Bhumi), it becomes so much more easier to work on the Boddhisatva path as you are not se easily derailed by your own emotions and interpretations.


I believe that you are asking the first step to be a bodhisattva. It is a very strong beleif and promise that a person keep in his mind for very long period of time. In many lifes they sacrifice the nibbana as they neef to be budhdha and help numerous beings to get rid of sansara. It is very norbal wish one can have. When this person passing many lives with having this wish the first step they come to the being bodisatta is getting a confirmation from a Budhdha. This is called Niyatha Vivarana. From then onwards that norble person called as a bodhisattva.

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