The One Vehicle and the Skillful Means

In the last article we’ve talked about the “Parable of the Burning House” and its basic implications: the Buddha is like this father, the little cards were the lesser vehicles that were preached before and that the Mahayana is the real teaching of the Buddha.

The One Vehicle: The Real Teaching

In the text, many concepts are elaborated that are important for us to notice. First of all, the story says that this card, the Mahayana, is the one great vehicle, the real teaching of the Buddha. All those other teachings that came before are preliminary exercises that are meant to get a person started on the path to salvation, but are not meant to constitute the Buddha’s final teaching.

One of the most important doctrines in the Lotus Sutra is the doctrine of the One Vehicle, the Buddha teaches in the end one particular way to salvation.

Skillful Means

Another concept that is important here that runs all the way through the Mahayana tradition is the concept of Skillful Means. It raises the question about whether the Buddha lies to people by presenting these preliminary teachings. Did the father lie to the children? The answer that the text gives is that is not really a falsehood to skillfully lure someone along the way to salvation.

This is called Skillful Means. It has to do with the ability of creatively using the categories of this world to move along the way to salvation.

Return from The One Vehicle and the Skillful Means to Mahayana Buddhism

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