Nickerson St. Zendo (101 Nickerson Street, Suite 130, Seattle, WA, 98109) (
Skillful Means and the Lotus Sutra
Dogen considered the Lotus Sutra so important that he included it in the Ten Names of Buddha (making a total of eleven) that we chant during our formal meals and at other ceremonies. Whole schools of Buddhism have been based on it. The second chapter of this sutra, entitled “Skillful Means” or “Expedient Means,” is often cited as the sutra’s most important statement of teaching. In this class, we will use this chapter as an exploration of some of the most important teachings of Mahayana Buddhism and as a window into a key moment in the historical development of our tradition.
This chapter forms the basis for many of the teachings that remain a central part of our 21st Century Zen practice, including:
- The exercise of compassion is the exercise of “skillful means.” Skillful means are those practices that actually help others, regardless of ideological content. Of course, this leads straight to the question of what does it mean to actually “help.”
- Only a Buddha together with another Buddha can realize the truth. Our practice is one of opening to the minds of others and of letting go of any notions that we are in possession of the complete truth.
- We all have the capacity for Buddhahood. Manifesting our Buddhahood is only a matter of practice.
The study of important Mahayana Sutras is not just a scholarly exercise. We will be looking at core teachings and investigating how they are relevant to our lives today.
Please join us. Copies of important texts will be made available.