These question show up on forums too-- something along the sort, of I'm shopping for a religion/I'm on an atheist mission

This one here and here

Worth closing. These are not really questions.

They can't have a canonical answer. There isn't a factual problem to be solved. The answer that works for one person is unless to the next. People's belief systems are generally pretty stable, so even if one thinks it's useful to encourage someone to try out/believe in Buddhism, the odds are low that we'll fix them here. (Might be find for a forum or twitter or facebook chat)

  • 1
    Why the rush to close? I think we should be more worried about the coming close rush and subsequent demoralization than the mild uncertainty of keeping an opinion-based question open that may actually get a good answer and thus make the Internet a better place :) Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 2:31
  • 2
    I have the other fear, that this will become Buddha-fight club, where there are about 20 high volume posters who can stomach the the dialectical process (or verbal iron knuckles). The SE format is all about discouraging that (what ever it's benefits might be) and encouraging a just-the-facts environment. Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 11:59
  • Maybe the best way to handle that will be on a case-by-case basis; if a question appears to be cultivating violence, we can close it. Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 16:58
  • I think your concern is valid, but I don't see either of those posts as being examples of it. They both look like reasonable questions to me. The first is probably a reflection of Buddhism being non-theistic (in the western sense), so it's perfectly reasonable to then ask how come it's useful. The second is so foundational, I just don't understand why it's being criticised.
    – tkp
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 21:48

1 Answer 1


Some of the most memorable stories of Buddhism come from outsiders questioning monks or teachers (be it in hostility or out of a genuine spirit of curiosity), and these stories are often used as teaching tools. Buddhists, especially in Zen, have a strong tradition of dealing with such questions, even when they seem too broad or require an indirect answer that relies on analogy.

We would all be much the poorer if "Why did the ancestral founder come from the west?" had been closed as "too broad" before Zhaozhou could answer.

For this reason, I think we should use a lighter hand than usual when considering closing questions like those you point out. In both the examples you point out, I can imagine the existence of an answer that's both concise and satisfying, and I think such an answer would really help the site.

Even so, I'm not suggesting we should just allow anything. In particular, I think we have to match this attitude with a ruthlessness about duplicates. A hundred questions of the form "does X have Buddha-nature?" wouldn't help anyone. Just remember that closing a question prevents it from being answered, so a vote to close represents a belief that any answer to the question would harm the site.

  • 2
    Koans seem like bad question for the Q&A format. Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 0:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .