Why and Why Not to Question/Inquire

“…what is the benefit that Master Gotama lives for? … the Tathagata lives for the benefit and fruit of true knowledge and liberation.”

SN 46.6: Kuṇḍaliya —Translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi

A few reasons — some simple, some setting a very high bar — I’ve noticed in myself and others on perhaps why to inquire, and mostly why not to inquire and ask questions:

  1. First and foremost obviously, zero harming
  2. Not for denigration; to invalidate and/or say something is being done wrong
  3. Not to challenge anyone’s knowledge
  4. Not to discredit anyone or anything
  5. Not to challenge authority
  6. Not to promote one viewpoint over another
  7. Not to upset the (surrounding) status quo and certainly not to divide
  8. Not to test
  9. Not for domination
  10. Not for control
  11. Not for distraction
  12. Not for delay
  13. Not to mislead or misguide
  14. Not to disrupt
  15. Not for uneasiness
  16. Not to enact any agendas, known, unknown, or otherwise (other than valid reasons to inquire/question)
  17. Not for grandstanding, gaining favor, merit, credit, or brownie points
  18. Not to impress
  19. Not to destroy
  20. Not to uphold
  21. Not to rebuild or reconstruct (from a place of loss or defeat)
  22. Not for any specific changes
  23. Not to prove who’s right and who’s wrong from a place of righteousness
  24. Not in order to prove one’s doubt
  25. Not for the requirement to receive an answer
  26. Not for any unskillful, unwise, unwholesome reasons associated with modern day schooling systems aka educational institutions
  27. Not to nitpick and get lost in the weeds
  28. Not to leave others behind
  29. Not to patronize and/or speak down to anybody
  30. Not to dumb down oneself for a better chance to be under/overstood
  31. Not to ask one thing but mean another
  32. Not to personally prove oneself
  33. Not to suggest preferences or desired outcomes without clearly stating them
  34. Not to ask because one can
  35. Not to be seen and/or heard (in order to be heard and/or seen)
  36. Not for mere curiosity

Perhaps inquire, assess and question with intent to lead toward true knowledge, liberation and the (long-term) well-being of all

Ven. Sāriputta said: “All those who ask questions of another do so from any one of five motivations. Which five?

“One asks a question of another through stupidity & bewilderment. One asks a question of another through evil desires & overwhelmed with greed. One asks a question of another through contempt. One asks a question of another when desiring knowledge. Or one asks a question with this thought,1 ‘If, when asked, he answers correctly, well & good. If not, then I will answer correctly (for him).’

On Asking Questions
Pañhapucchā Sutta  (AN 5:165)

Published by josh dippold


4 thoughts on “Why and Why Not to Question/Inquire

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