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In the context of the Buddha's Ball of Honey discourse, is there any justification for a true Buddhist to say, "This man angers/offends me with his questions: therefore silence him and/or delete his questions, and/or modify his questions so that they no longer offend me"?

Does intolerance for questions (or, for that matter, answers and comments) on a forum that is expressly meant for questions and discussion, serve to defend and strengthen faith among believers? Or does it undermine their faith?

Are questions that are perceived as hostile by many individuals necessarily so? Or is such a perception (and reactions proceeding from such a perception) a trap to be avoided, as per the teachings of The Buddha?

If the core values of the Buddha's teachings (which I am paraphrasing as, "the illusory nature of worldly proceedings, and the imperative to detach from worldly proceedings") are not imbibed, is there much spiritual benefit to be had from discussions?

I posted this in Meta because it is a question about questioning, or a discussion about discussing on this forum.

  • Here is an actual Buddhism debate forum: community.beliefnet.com/go/forum/view/43861/71359/… Did you read the answers in here? I thought they were very enlightening myself. – Lowbrow Sep 18 '15 at 15:16
  • Consider closing the question here, as a version of this question was posted on the main forum, and has attracted some answers. – Krishnaraj Rao Sep 19 '15 at 20:02
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I have voted to close this question, as its another divisevly phrased and loaded statement. The way it is currently worded is tantamount to " either everyone here should submit to however I feel like speaking to them, or they are not a "true buddhist"."

This is a community for Buddhism, which happens to have Buddhist members. It's not a Buddhist community.

Furthermore, the rules and trespasses you've stepped on have nothing to do with Buddhism; these are basic core principles of stack exchange.

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Buddha's teaching is meant to be applied to oneself, not to measure others.

Buddha's definition of Right Speech is:

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

So the question you should ask yourself is, are the questions you ask fall into any of these categories: especially into divisive or abusive speech. Divisive speech is anything that for whatever reason -- objective or subjective -- provokes emotionally charged debates and confrontation:

Abandoning divisive speech he abstains from divisive speech. What he has heard here he does not tell there to break those people apart from these people here. What he has heard there he does not tell here to break these people apart from those people there. Thus reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united, he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord.

Abusive speech is anything that for whatever reason -- objective or subjective -- hurts people's feelings and angers them:

Abandoning abusive speech, he abstains from abusive speech. He speaks words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing & pleasing to people at large.

What you are basically saying, is that you would like to engage into divisive and abusive speech, contrary to Buddha's recommendation, because you think that as per the Honeyball Sutta "a true Buddhist" should be absolutely open-minded and unattached -- and therefore not to perceive any speech as divisive/abusive, should easily tolerate a wide range of topics and tones.

This may be so, especially for more advanced practitioners. However, the reason Buddha recommended avoiding speech that may be subjectively perceived as divisive/abusive is because it objectively leads to schisms, arguments, conflicts, and suffering - because most people (including "true Buddhists") are NOT enlightened Buddhas YET and their brains work in certain ways.

Do you understand? It is not enough for you to be objectively right. In order to work with real people you need to understand their subjective biases, weaknesses, hot buttons - and be able to work with them, not against them. To be objectively right while ignoring the objectively existing factors (people's subjective biases) is to be objectively wrong. This is known as to be attached to an abstract idea while ignoring the situation on the field.

  • Even when the Buddha knew that somebody just approaches to offend, he took this occation to teach. Now, would you even know that somebody simply likes to offend or is it merely "i feel offended" althought not even the first would be a justification for unskilful deeds like censure, delet, suppressing and other means often called "moderation" for low aims. – Samana Johann Apr 27 '17 at 8:56
  • Note that this answer does not judge a certain case and yes, even to receive such deletings, takings and killing have their causes, especially when not remembering that you must have done first. The question is, do you like to continue this battle or simple start to develope some faith in virtue and take it as an absolute means above anything else? – Samana Johann Apr 27 '17 at 8:56
  • When you believe that you can judge or know others and not really having gained such super natural powers, beware that you do not kill an Arahant or harm worthy people one day. Some kinds of expersiances one better does not make but put faith into "hot" and simply stay with precepts at first hand. – Samana Johann Apr 27 '17 at 8:59
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is there any justification for a true Buddhist to say, "... silence him and/or delete his questions, and/or modify his questions so that they no longer offend me"?

Yes, I think perhaps the Buddha's doctrine at the begining of that sutta, where he says,

The sort of doctrine, friend, where one does not keep quarreling with anyone

Does intolerance for questions (or for that matter, answers and comments) on a forum that is expressly meant for questions and discussion, serve to defend and strengthen faith among believers? Or does it undermine their faith?

A couple of answers:

  1. This site is expressly not meant for discussion. It's meant for Q+A. You keep seem to want a discussion or an argument. This isn't the right site for that.
  2. When you ask questions of the form "Is it this, or is it that?" then the answer is sometimes, "no, it's neither"; or, "yes, it's both". In this case IMO it doesn't "strengthen faith" and doesn't "undermine faith".

Are questions that are perceived as hostile by many individuals necessarily so? Or is such a perception (and reactions proceeding from such a perception) a trap to be avoided, as per the teachings of The Buddha?

Do you want to define "hostile"? My personal perception is that you're trying to practise verbal sparring in the way that someone might try to practice karate. But this is the wrong site for that.

If the core values of The Buddha's teachings (which I am paraphrasing as, "the illusory nature of worldly proceedings, and the imperative to detach from worldly proceedings") are not imbibed, is there much spiritual benefit to be had from discussions?

Worldly proceedings aren't "illusory", are they? There's ignorance and attachment (not to mention aversion) in the world, and Buddhism is maybe meant to help people escape from that. I don't think you can help people to escape ignorance by adding more ignorance to the equation, nor anger by adding anger, etc.

Your claim that the "worldly proceedings are illusory" reminds me of this story: Nothing Exists

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I think it's possible to raise questions on the Buddha's teachings without offending. I've myself done it several times if you read my past.

I strongly recommend reading the whole discourse by following the link.

(Extracted from) Discourse on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a Snake

There are always some people who do not understand the letter or the spirit of a teaching and, in fact, take it the opposite way of what was intended, whether the teachings are offered in the form of verse or prose, predictions, verse summaries, interdependent origination, similes, spontaneous utterances, quotations, stories of previous births, wonderful occurrences, detailed commentaries, or clarifications with definitions. There are always some people who study only to satisfy their curiosity or win arguments, and not for the sake of liberation. With such a motivation, they miss the true spirit of the teaching. They may go through much hardship, endure difficulties that are not of much benefit, and eventually exhaust themselves.

“Bhikshus, a person who studies that way can be compared to a man trying to catch a poisonous snake in the wild. If he reaches out his hand, the snake may bite his hand, leg, or some other part of his body. Trying to catch a snake that way has no advantages and can only create suffering. “Bhikshus, understanding my teaching in the wrong way is the same. If you do not practice the Dharma correctly, you may come to understand it as the opposite of what was intended. But if you practice intelligently, you will understand both the letter and the spirit of the teachings and will be able to explain them correctly. Do not practice just to show off or argue with others. Practice to attain liberation, and if you do, you will have little pain or exhaustion.

“Bhikshus, an intelligent student of the Dharma is like a man who uses a forked stick to catch a snake. When he sees a poisonous snake in the wild, he places the stick right below the head of the snake and grabs the snake’s neck with his hand. Even if the snake winds itself around the man’s hand, leg, or another part of his body, it will not bite him. This is the better way to catch a snake, and it will not lead to pain or exhaustion. “Bhikshus, a son or daughter of good family who studies the Dharma needs to apply the utmost skill to understanding the letter and the spirit of the teachings. He or she should not study with the aim of boasting, debating, or arguing, but only to attain liberation. Studying in this way, with intelligence, he or she will have little pain or exhaustion. {Bell}

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