Archive for August 1st, 2015

August 1, 2015

Upaya

upaya social ventures

Audience analysis

Upaya [oo-pah-yuh] (Sanskrit: ‘expedient means’) is a term used in Buddhism to refer to an aspect of guidance along the Buddhist Paths to liberation where a conscious, voluntary action is driven by an incomplete reasoning around its direction. Upaya is often combined with ‘kaushalya’ (‘cleverness’) to form ‘upaya-kaushalya’ meaning ‘skill in means,’ a concept emphasizing that practitioners may use their own specific methods or techniques that fit the situation in order to gain enlightenment. The implication is that even if a technique, view, etc., is not ultimately ‘true’ in the highest sense, it may still be an expedient practice to perform or view to hold; i.e., it may bring the practitioner closer to the true realization in a similar way.

The exercise of skill to which it refers, the ability to adapt one’s message to the audience, is of enormous importance in the ‘Pali Canon’ (some of the oldest texts in Buddhism). The most important concept in ‘skill in means’ is the use, guided by wisdom and compassion, of a specific teaching (means) geared to the particular audience taught. Edward Conze, in ‘A Short History Of Buddhism,’ says ”Skill in means’ is the ability to bring out the spiritual potentialities of different people by statements or actions which are adjusted to their needs and adapted to their capacity for comprehension.’

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