five paths (panca-marga, lam nga): In the Mahayana tradition these are held to be
1) the path of accumulation (sambhara-marga), which emphasizes purifying one’s obscurations and accumulating merit;
2) the path of junction or application (preparation or prayoga-marga), in which one develops profound understanding of the four noble truths and cuts the root to the desire realm;
3) the path of insight or seeing (darsana-marga) where one develops greater insight and enters the first bodhisattva level;
4) the path of cultivation or meditation (bhavana-marga), in which one cultivates insight in the second through tenth bodhisattva levels; and
5) the path of no further learning or fulfillment (asaiksa-marga), which is the complete attainment of Buddhahood.
Traditionally, these are the five stages that one goes through or paths taken to enlightenment, but are defined somewhat differently in the hinayana and vajrayana traditions. S
These five paths incorporate the entire spiritual journey, as described in the Mahayana, from its very beginnings with the taking of the bodhisattva vow and the generation of relative bodhichitta, up until its culmination at the stage of complete enlightenment.
It is said in the pith instructions that the path of accumulation is the stage of understanding, the path of joining is the stage of experience, and the path of seeing is the stage of realization.
The five realms or worlds into which living beings are born in accord with the law of causality. Their good or bad deeds in this life determine the realm of their rebirth. The five realms correspond to five of the Ten Worlds: the realms of hell, hungry spirits, animals, human beings, and heavenly beings. As such, they can also be interpreted as states or conditions of life. With the realm of asuras they constitute the six paths.