It says first bhumi and it means the first bhumi. However, the five paths system is not used but the 52 stages. That means, for instance, that the buddha-nature is realised on the level of faith (first ten of the 52) in Zongmi's interpretation, or on the level of dwelling (second ten) in Li Tongxuan's version. A description of the arousal of bodhicitta, following Zongmi's teachings, is explained in Peixiu's "Exhortation to Resolve on Buddhahood" translated by Ven. Dharmamitra and is available on his website.No, it is a Huayen view of the initial production of bodhicitta, which is the entrance to the path of accumulation.
That's the point, it is not treated the same way. Here's Buswell's summary based on Tongxuan's work:No, since the ten stages are treated the same way. In Chinese Buddhism they are merely encased within an alternate scheme, but when I say first bhumi, I mean the first bodhisattva bhumi as described in the Dasabhumika sutra.
"The ten bhumis are the original foundation of all dharmas. Here the bodhisattva pervades all dharmas, all directions, and all positions simultaneously. Development before this stage involved some measure of effort and entailed as well the progressive development of meritorious practices. By the time the bodhisattva has reached the ten bhumis, however, he has nothing left to practice and nothing left to achieve. It is a kind of "firming-up" stage at which all the qualities and achievements attained throughout the previous levels are matured and allowed to infuse his entire being. He merges with all dharmas without, however, losing his own identity in the process. This is the stage of the unimpeded interpenetration of all phenomena- the highest expression of spiritual attainment in the Avatamsaka Sutra and, by implication, in all the Buddhist scriptures."