upāya-pāramitā (T. thabs kyi pha rol tu phyin pa ཐབས་ཀྱི་ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པ་; C. 方便到彼岸) is translated as "perfection of skillful means," etc. It is the seventh of the ten paramitas of the Sanskrit tradition, which is mastered on the seventh bodhisattva ground (dūraṅgamā-bhūmi) of the bodhisattva path.
One Teacher, Many Traditions states:
- Skillful means indicates the way in which buddhas and bodhisattvas, motivated by compassion, explain the teachings and adapt their behavior to best communicate with sentient beings, who have unique needs and capacities. Skillful means also includes bodhisattvas’ ability to see all phenomena as empty without abandoning sentient beings, and to their ability to abide in deep states of concentration without being hindered by attachment to rebirth in the material and immaterial realms.
- The Bodhisattvabhūmi describes two sets of skillful means. Regarding the first, accomplishing all the qualities of a buddha within themselves, bodhisattvas practice looking upon all sentient beings with compassion, taking rebirth in saṃsāra due to compassion and wisdom, knowing the ultimate nature of phenomena, not abandoning beings in saṃsāra, desiring the exalted wisdom of unsurpassed awakening, and spurring their enthusiasm with bodhicitta.
- Regarding the second, ripening all other living beings, bodhisattvas cultivate the ability to teach sentient beings how to transform small actions into great virtue, cause them to accomplish great roots of virtue without hardship, eliminate anger in those who dislike the Buddha’s doctrine, encourage those with a neutral attitude to enter into the Buddha’s doctrine, ripen the mindstreams of those who have entered into the Dharma, and cause mature sentient beings to attain liberation.
- A Brief Guide to the Stages and Paths of the Bodhisattvas
- Dalai Lama & Thubten Chodron 2014, s.v. Chapter 13, section "Perfections of Skillful Means, Power, and Exalted Wisdom".