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Skillful Means: The Heart of Buddhist Compassion

John W. Schroeder (Author) Buddhist Tradition Series

This book analyzes one of the most important ideas in Buddhist philosophy: the doctrine of “skilful means.” John Schroeder presents a fresh analysis of a familiar subject, thus providing a new way of understanding Buddhist thought. He argues that Buddhism is best understood as Philosophy of practice- or a “metapraxis”-and that terms such as “emptiness,” “non-self,” and “nirvana” refer less to metaphysical principles than to skilful teachings that help people cultivate compassion and mindfulness. He begins by examining the unique teaching styles of the historical Buddha and then charts the idea of “skilful means” through early Buddhist texts, the Mahayana sutras, the famous Madyamika philosopher Nagarjuna, and the Ch’an and Pure Land traditions of East Asia. Each section of the book focuses on a debate over philosophical justification and the problem of trying to establish a fixed doctrine in Buddhism and reveals an on-going debate that is central to the various Buddhist traditions throughout Asia.

Skillful Means investigates both the philosophical and religions dimensions of Buddhism. It explores the role of meditation and spiritual methodology in the various schools of Buddhism and offers a critical, philosophical analysis of how liberation is conceived by important Buddhist thinkers. It is therefore useful not only for Buddhist scholars, but also for students enrolled in course in Buddhist philosophy and religion.

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About the author

John W. Schroeder

John Schroeder was born in Los Angeles and received his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 1996. He held the Purna Rao Raju Chair of East-West Philosophy at the College of Wooster in 1995, and is currently an assistant professor of philosophy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland where he teaches South Asian Philosophies and religions, comparative philosophy, and Buddhist thought. He has traveled throughout South and South East Asia, and has done research on Buddhist and Hindu philosophy in Bodh Gaya, Banares, and Dharmashala, India. He has also published in Philosophy East and West.

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Bibliographic information

Title Skillful Means: The Heart of Buddhist Compassion
Format Hardcover
Date published: 31.12.2004
Edition 1st. ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788120819993
length 193p., 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch