This is from T263, the Lotus Sūtra, eight groups of 4 characters:

如來所詔 常以知時 為其眾生 而行智慧 || 以何方便 而受道法 何因令獲 從佛經教

Does 何, particularly in 以何方便, mean that there is a question being asked here? Or is it simply the word "which"? How does 以 interact with 何 here?

  • q being asked: cf. 未婚男友如果淫欲心炽盛,应以何方便令其离欲?(转载) see 便 bkrs:II (1) 有利于; 有益于 [go a long way in; go far towards; be of value to; serve the interests of] 以便事也。 --《吕氏春秋·忠廉》 便国不必法古。 --《商君书·更法》 (2) 又如: 便地(有利的地形地势); 便家(富翁); 便会(有利时机); 便风(顺风)。。。 (6) 使, 让 [cause; make] 。。。how (in what way) should practice his 离欲 (buddhism term 佛教语。绝离贪、淫等欲念,离欲随观 one 0f 16 forms of meditation))
    – user6065
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 11:51
  • so there is no reasonable way that this is not phrased as a question? I ask because the Sanskrit doesn't have a question. The Chinese might be phrased differently, though. But I am wondering if there is any way this can be not a question.
    – Caoimhghin
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 11:56
  • could it not be a rhetorical question, how does it continue?
    – user6065
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 12:01
  • That is the end of the sentence. It is the last sentence of the Tathāgatāyuṣpramāṇaparivartaḥ (如來壽限章) Ch 15 of the Lotus Sūtra in the version translated by the venerable Dharmarakṣa. The 如來壽限 chapter is usually 16 but it is 15 in Ven Dharmarakṣa's.
    – Caoimhghin
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 12:16

3 Answers 3


"以何" was used in classical chinese roughly as "by (以) which / what (何)".

eg 禮記﹒問喪




though, it's not 100%, most of this usages were questions.

the verses "以何方便 而受道法 何因令獲 從佛經教" is from 正法華經 卷第七


in which 方便 is upāya-mukha (方便門), since there're many ways to learn buddhism, "以何方便" in this context means by (以) which [one] (何) of the ways (方便).

about the question mark, it depends on the version of translation. here's one that text are punctuated with dot only.

enter image description here


以何 can be found in the Chinese to French Grand Ricci dictionary as follows:


yǐ hé

Avec quoi? par quel moyen?

Which roughly translates as:

With what? In what way? By what means?

  • 以 = by / with / based on

  • 何 = what / who / how, etc.

Here’s a slightly more modern day example from Oxford:


what do you do for a living?

and another from New Century English-Chinese

他们想要了解的是, 我们究竟要以何种基本策略来改善这个国家的状况并使其再度向前发展。

What they want is the meat and potatoes of how we're going to improve this country and get our country moving again.

It’s not technically a word or word-phrase but you might see it together every now and then.


Let me quote more sentences so that we can know the whole story.



If it is not easy to understand these, we can take a look other translations. Another version of the same sutra was translated by one of the best translators in the history.



The last line shows the following meaning.

I myself often have the following thought. I should use what methods to make all sentient beings to get the supreme Wisdom and to become Buddhas quickly.

Therefore, 以何方便 means to use (以) what (何) methods (方便).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.