1. In Chinese Buddhism, 方便 is used to translate the word/concept Upāya. Was 方便 an existing Chinese word that already meant "convenient" (or something else) and then given this technical meaning for translations? Or was it created as a technical Buddhist term and later took on the common everyday meaning it now has? Please cite sources (preferably that quote from ancient texts) in your answer, or I'm not likely to accept it.
  2. If it was a borrowing, could it be described as a calque? Or would it just be a translation without any particular parallel morphological structure?
  • 1
    According to this article nccur.lib.nccu.edu.tw/bitstream/140.119/33549/7/56011207.pdf Scholars are still debating is the term 方便 an imported phrase or it existed before Buddhism. One thing is certain-- the phrase 方便 in Buddhism carries different meanings from the one used by the general public today, which is simply 'convenient'
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 4 '17 at 1:49
  • also note:婉辞。 大小便:我要方便一下 (euphemism) to relieve oneself
    – user6065
    Jul 4 '17 at 10:18

The meaning of 方便 (In the viewpoint of Buddhism)



清末民初《丁福保 佛學大辭典》

The above content is translated in 《Soothill-Hodous Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms》 as follows.

方便 upāya
Convenient to the place, or situation, suited to the condition, opportune, appropriate; but 方 is interpreted as 方法 method, mode, plan, and 便 as 便用 convenient for use, i. e. a convenient or expedient method; also 方 as 方正 and 便 as 巧妙, which implies strategically correct.
The meaning is-- teaching according to the capacity of the hearer, by any suitable method, including that of device or stratagem, but expedience beneficial to the recipient is understood.

Who came first?

One argument is shown below.


第二段第一行 The first line of the second paragraph:


"方便" is derived from Buddhist sutras. Its original meaning refers to the various methods and means used during the Buddha's salvation.

最後一段第一行 The first line of the last paragraph:


The purpose and the result of the method, the means and the action are to give convenience to people or to make people comfortable. Therefore, 方便 is extended to convenient, comfortable or appropriate.

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