I have been trying to swallow the elephant that is the history of Buddhism and keep running into this- everything is someone's interpretation of what someone else said, even the "original texts" (which I couldn't read without an interpretation of what the words meant) https://twitter.com/DRMacIver/status/1362380148075544577
it was obvious at the outset that I was not in search of a synthesis of "what Buddhism actually is" or "what the Buddha actually taught" since I was aware that there were large doctrinal differences between different schools of thought...
but solving this problem by saying "well, I'll just learn what it is that each of the schools thought and compare them to each other" is... the same problem over again except now for every school
I think the concept of "upaya" or "skillful means" gets at this at two levels. Buddhism 101 (in three different introductory accounts I read) illustrates this using the Parable of the Burning House from the Lotus Sutra
the story is that a rich man has a bunch of kids in a burning house that refuse to come out because they don't understand they are in danger. he then tells them he has goat-carts, deer-carts and ox-carts for them, since he knows they like those...
but when they come out of the burning house, he doesn't have those carts at all, but a totally different one (decked out with jewels).

Is the man guilty of falsehood? The answer as presented in the sutra is no: he used skillful means to save the kids when they wouldn't listen
In other words: it is canon that the scripture is lying to you for your own good. This is one level
The other level is that "skillful means" as a concept is introduced as being one of the distinguishing factors between the Mahayana ("the Great Vehicle") and the Hinayana ("the Lesser Vehicle"- afaict an insult used by Mahayanists to denote everyone else)
this is odd because I assume the idea of upaya is in some sense correct- good teachers adapt their teaching. but its doctrinal basis here is probably made up after the fact to try to make a coherent picture of everything in other texts
so in the context of @DRMacIver's original post, this would fall under "lies told by managers"- what about "lies told to managers"?
. @danlistensto argues in this thread that Buddhist teachings were about overturning entrenched Brahminical orthodoxy, but needed to get this message across without getting punished https://twitter.com/danlistensto/status/1379799432405819399?s=20
I find this appealing- since I don't care about rebirth and never have, it would be nice if in fact the teachings about breaking the cycle of rebirth were skillful means to communicate that rebirth is fake. But it also seems possible to read in any meaning you want at that point
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