Exploring skillful means and paternalism in Mahayana Buddhism
Doug's Dharma

Exploring skillful means and paternalism in Mahayana Buddhism

In this talk about the “Paternalism” of skillful means in , delves into the evolution of skillful means in Buddhism, particularly during the period and as depicted in the .

Initially, skillful means referred to the ’s ability to teach effectively without lying, focusing on reducing craving and leading followers to .

However, during the Mahayana period, the concept evolved to include the use of deception, exemplified by the parable of the burning house, where a father deceives his children to save them, representing the Buddha’s potential use of deception to guide individuals toward Enlightenment.

Doug discusses the Parable of the Three Vehicles and the term “hinayana,” which contrasts the Mahayana vehicle with earlier .

Scholar Asaf Federman suggests that this parable functions as a hermeneutical device, reinterpreting early teachings as simpler and intended for less capable audiences.

Doug emphasizes the necessity of distinguishing between legitimate historicism and illegitimate conceit when interpreting , noting that some texts may claim superiority and create divisions among practitioners.

Doug encourages practitioners to be aware of these issues and references a book by Analayo on the topic of superiority conceit in traditions.

References

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Jamyang London Buddhist Centre
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