Tag Archives: skillful means

Towards a Psychology of the Māras, Part II

Māras in the Sutrayana 

Lotus Sutra 

The Lotus Sutra’s interpretation of Māra is similar to his portrayal in the Pali Canon. He is an evil deva who occupies a prominent place in the Cosmos and who seeks to wreck-havoc on those who adhere to the Buddhadharma. read more

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The Hidden Elixir That Heals All Woes

Chapters 13-21 addresses the spiritual careers of bodhisattvas accompanied with prescriptions for right conduct and proper ways in which to reverence the Lotus Sutra. Chapter 16 is unique on its own since it focuses on the vast spiritual career of Śākyamuni, one that stretches across endless eons. It’s in this chapter that he declares that his supreme awakening beneath the Bodhi-Tree during this present life-cycle was not the first such instance, as the original occasion took place inconceivable kalpas ago. Ever since that time he has been present in our saha-world teaching the Buddhadharma; what’s even more remarkable in all of this is that such passages infer that he is still present even now, not only in our own particular realm but in countless others as well, in his Sambhogakāyic-form. In light of this it’s apparent that his Supreme Teaching Career will be a Spiritually-Perpetual One, stating, “I abide forever with you without entering parinirvana.” He also points out that his awakening and apparent entry into nirvana was essentially all skillful means at his disposal in order to encourage an awakening in the Mind of all living beings who hunger for the Buddhadharma. Take a moment and absorb this spiritual-realization. Śākyamuni’s Spirit is with us even now, in Sambhogakāyic-form. This would be equivalent in Western Spirituality of Jesus still being present to devotees in the mode of the Holy Spirit. Hence, Śākyamuni is still present both in Sambhogakāyic and in Dharmakāyic (Absolute Dharma-Body of Perfect Suchness) Realizations. Of course, deluded people (those still not awakened to their own Buddha-nature) will not be aware of his ever-abiding presence. In order to counteract this, the Blessed One supplied the following parable as the prescription against the disease of avidya: read more

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The pettiness of it all

The Buddha addressed the monks, saying: “Once upon a time, immeasurable, limitless, inconceivable, incalculable kalpas ago, there was a Buddha called Mahābhijnājnānābhibhū Tathāgata, an Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat. His land was called Susabhavā in the kalpa called Mahārūpa.  read more

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A Fiery Situation

Chapter 3 includes perhaps the most famous of all Buddhist Parables, The Burning House:

Then the Buddha said to Śāriputra: “Did I not previously tell you that all the Buddha Bhagavats explain the Dharma with various explanations and illustrations using skillful means, all for the sake of highest, complete enlightenment!? All of these teachings are for leading and inspiring the bodhisattvas.
“Moreover, Śāriputra, I will now clarify what I mean with illustrations. Those with wisdom will be able to understand through these illustrations.
“O Śāriputra! Suppose there were an aged and extremely affluent man, either in a town, city, or country, who has immeasurable wealth, abundant estates, mansions, and servants. He has a spacious house, yet it only has a single entrance. Suppose many people live there, as many as one, two, or even five hundred people. The buildings are in poor repair, the fences and walls are crumbling, the pillar bases are rotten, and the beams and framework are dangerously tilted.
“Suddenly and unexpectedly, fires break out everywhere, setting the house swiftly aflame. The children of this man, ten, twenty, or thirty in number are in the house.
“The affluent man, seeing the fire breaking out everywhere, becomes alarmed and terrified. He thinks:
I am capable of escaping through the burning entrance in safety, but my children are absorbed in play within the burning house and are not aware [of the fire], do not know, are not alarmed or terrified, and the fire is approaching them! They are not troubled about their suffering nor do they intend to leave the house.
“O Śāriputra, this affluent man thought:
Since I am still physically strong I could take the children out of the house in the folds of my garment or on top of a desk.
“He further thought:
There is only one entrance to this house and it is very narrow. The children, who are immature and still unaware, are attached to their place of play. They may fall into danger and be burned by the fire. I should now tell them of the danger; this house is already burning! They must escape as quickly as they can to avoid being burned by the fire!
“After considering this he urged the children according to his thought: Children! Run out immediately!
“Although their father in his concern has given them the proper advice, the children are immersed in their play and do not accept it; they are neither alarmed nor afraid and have no intention of leaving [the burning house]. Moreover, they do not even know what a fire is, the condition of the house, or what they may lose. They merely run about, back and forth, looking at their father.
“Thereupon the affluent man thought:
This house is already engulfed in flames. If my children and I do not get out, we shall perish in the fire. I will now use skillful means to help my children escape from this disaster.
“Since the father already knew that his children were attached to various rare toys and unusual things that each of them liked, he said to them: The toys you are fond of are rare and hard to obtain. If you do not take them you will certainly regret it later. Right now, outside the house, there are three kinds of carts. One is yoked to a sheep, one to a deer, and one to an ox. Go play with them. Children! Run out of this burning house immediately and I will give you whatever you want!
“The children, hearing what their father had said about the rare toys, became excited and, in their eagerness to get to them they pushed each other out of the way in a mad rush out of the burning house.
“Then the affluent man saw that his children had got out safely and were sitting unharmed in an open area at a crossroad. He was relieved, happy, and joyful. The children said to their father:
Father, please give us the toys you promised: those [three] carts, one yoked to a sheep, one to a deer, and one to an ox!
“O Śāriputra, the affluent man then gave each child the same kind of large cart. These carts were tall and spacious, adorned with various jewels, and encircled with railings full of hanging bells. On the tops of the carts were canopies also decorated with various kinds of jewels. These carts were draped with jeweled cords and hung with flower garlands. They were thickly piled with fabrics, and red pillows had been placed about. These carts were each yoked to an ox with a spotlessly white hide. These oxen had beautiful bodies with powerful muscles, even gaits, and were as swift as the wind; and there were many attendants guarding them. Why did the affluent man give these carts? Because the man had great and immeasurable wealth and his abundant storehouses were full. He thus thought further:
Since my treasure has no limit, I should not give my children inferior carts. These are my children and I love them all equally. I have an immeasurable number of large carts such as these, decorated with the seven treasures. I should equally distribute them to each child without discrimination. Why is this? Even if I gave carts like these to everyone in the country, their number would not be exhausted. Why should I not give them to my own children?
“At that time, the children each climbed into a great cart and had an unprecedented experience, one beyond their original expectations.” read more

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The One Vehicle

The Buddha addressed Śāriputra, saying: “The Buddha Tathāgatas lead and inspire only bodhisattvas. All the acts of a buddha are always for one purpose. The buddhas manifest their wisdom and insight solely to inspire sentient beings to enlightenment. read more

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Expedient Revelations

“O Śāriputra! After attaining buddhahood I expounded the teaching extensively with various explanations and illustrations, and with skillful means (upāya) led sentient beings to rid themselves of their attachments. Why is this? Because all the Tathāgatas have attained perfect mastery of skillful means, wisdom, and insight. read more

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