About Skillful Means

Three Levels of Skillful Means

In the book Skillful Means, Rinpoche describes the first level of Skillful Means as knowledge of strengths and weaknesses with respect to body, speech, and mind. Skillful Means encourages us to observe ourselves with caring attention, wanting to know, wishing to learn. There is no room for judgment, guilt or even fear. Without love, caring for your well-being, it is hard to make any genuine progress. Increasing awareness and self-knowledge are parts of the first level of Skillful Means.

As described in Rinpoche’s foreword in MasterWork, the second level of Skillful Means is to be ‘in.’ We can increase our level of participation by being in communications, in planning, in the actual work we are doing, culminating by being in time. When we are ‘in,’ we will know what is important, what needs to be done, now. Being in time results in embodying time, the project, and the people, simultaneously. Knowing joins in, energies merge, and time will be on our side. This changes everything. We move from being outsiders or bystanders to participating wholeheartedly, as the work itself begins to communicate with us. As we learn to be ‘in’ time, time also begins to inform our work, our mind, our actions; ‘when’ is it the right time for ‘what’.

As Rinpoche writes in Mastering Successful Work, if you wish to learn a still deeper, more advanced level of Skillful Means, it is best to work with time – uniting awareness with time When working with time, we discover the third level of Skillful Means—'the experience of working well’.

In ‘the experience of working well’, talents are being exercised, dormant qualities are called forth, there is an abundance of energy, while riding the crest of caring and creativity. In this flow, you are much less likely to make mistakes. Increasingly, you will be at your inborn best.

Undoubtedly a thoroughly joyful experience, when caring, creativity, and knowing merge —love is in the air. Major elements of ‘the experience of working’ well seem to be the wholehearted “yes” of the participants, the power of being in time, and the collective embrace of a meaningful deadline. ‘The experience of working well’ always seems to lead to results beyond our imagination.