I'd like to ask something like the following question on the main site. Is this a good and acceptable question? Should it be edited in some way? Are the tags correct? Should we also add the tag?

(Please don't try to answer the following question here -- this meta-question is about whether the question is acceptable and can be moved to the main site to be asked and answered there.)

Title: Explanations of Buddhist "thought-provoking dissonance" in dialectics?

Zen question-and-answers and talks like the ones described here (also mentioned in books like this one) don't seem like orthodox 'right speech'; yet, they are believed or intended to trigger spiritual progress.

  • What's the mechanism by which such interactions are beneficial (for example is it meant to be thought-provoking dissonance and anger, therefore ultimately dissatisfaction with conventionally-held positions)?

    If used on a site like this one, such interactions might attract down-voting and deletion, etc.

  • Can you recommend any writings or talks, by relatively recent (say in the last 50 years) Buddhist teachers, about such interactions?

  • Have the teachers specified how to distinguish or identify such dissonance-causing dialectics, as opposed to gratuitously-offensive "wrong speech"?

This was partially a question about asking questions on this site: but I am more interested in asking it as a question about Buddhist dialectics in the real world.


  • Please consider deleting this question here, as I have posted an edited version of this (after considering suggestions of Chris and Robin) on the main forum. I trust this will not be taken amiss. Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 20:00
  • We've no policy which encourages deleting answered questions from meta. I think it might as well as stay as one of the innumerable specific-question topics. After you accepted an upvoted answer this question is unlikely to attract further activity (further answers). FYI when you ask questions on the main site, unless you're ultimately satisfied with an answer you could refrain from "accepting" it for a few days, leave the question without any accepted answer for few days as a signal that you're still soliciting answers, and finally accept the most satisfying answer a few days later.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 2:23
  • 1
    @ChrisW - Thanks for that tip. Will be slower on the "accept" button in future. Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 14:40

2 Answers 2


This seems overall a genuine question to gain understanding of how such speech is used and why.

There is one suggestion I would make and that is to remove the line that says, "If used on a site like this one, such interactions might attract down-voting and deletion, etc."

That line detracts from your genuine inquiry and shifts your post to yet another criticism of the site. The site is as it is; a community of people interested in Buddhism in one aspect or another who graciously answer questions asked.

If you genuinely care for guidance in understanding such things as the main topic of your post; it may be best to stick to the question without additional commentary which critiques the site. Be well.

  • Your point is well made. And I think ChrisW also has suggested some alternative ways. I will apply my mind to both of your points and criticisms, and try again tomorrow. Maybe I will divide it into two or three smaller and simpler questions. Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 20:59

I don't think this will make a good question, for several reasons:

  1. It is three different questions in one. This has been your pattern all along, asking a number of questions under a heading - which is not the preferred format for this site.
  2. The first subquestion, about the mechanism, has already been addressed by me in the original question about humor.
  3. Recommending resources (writings or talks) is explicitly off-topic on most StackExchange sites, I don't think this one should be an exception.
  4. The last part is a question about teachers' methodology - not something they easily share with students or share at all - which will make the answers rather speculative and opinion-based.

Perhaps the question can be saved by rephrasing it to say something like:

"If Mahayana teachers are allowed to break the precepts for the benefit of their students, why is that not appropriate for students themselves?" -- still sounds too opinionated to me, so no.


"What are the main Zen and Mahayana techniques for murdering the ego?" -- survey-type questions are not a good fit for this site, so no again.

The fact that the questions you ask end up being either off-based or too broad usually means that you have not done sufficient homework before asking them.

I suppose what would work better is for you to spend some time learning about Buddhism off the site, let's say for a month, and then to come back with more specific and relevant questions.

  • The first of those questions is a result of my rephrasing the original post, to re-cast some speculation (it said, "... progress, possibly by creating thought-provoking dissonance etc.") as a question. Might it be answerable if the first question (i.e. the first list item) were removed, or if my edit were reversed?
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 11:40
  • Perhaps when editing questions we should boil them down to a single point, instead of exploding? Could mess up the OP intent though...
    – Andriy Volkov Mod
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 11:49
  • The tag wiki for reference-request says, "A question asking for a single text or a set of texts. This can be from a general request on a subject area or (etc.)": so, recommending resources might be on-topic (I don't remember that's it's actually ever been used for a "general request"; or actually I do, sometimes Yuttadhammo used to allow such a question as 'community wiki', which implied they were on-topic, though I think that this topic is so narrow/specialized that it shouldn't be CW, i.e. this question would be lucky to get even one or two good answers).
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 11:55
  • For me reference-request is different, that's asking for the source of a quote or a specific idea... I don't think it should be used for general requests for broad areas.
    – Andriy Volkov Mod
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 11:59
  • a) Re-reading the original version of the OP, the whole possibly by creating thought-provoking dissonance etc. clause seems a discursive aside i.e. inessential and could be dropped without changing the literal questions which follow. b) I agree that "source of a quote or a specific idea" is the usual use of reference-request (that's why I looked at the tag wiki to see whether it was meant to have "general request on a subject area" as a secondary use). That could be a separate meta-topic, I guess. Re this specific question, in summary I think you're not keen on it nor on any variety of it.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 12:05
  • You're right, I'm not too keen on it and I'm trying to be polite.
    – Andriy Volkov Mod
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 12:42
  • There is an interesting question here in that Zen tradition sometimes holds 10 precepts, multiple of which concern right speech and one concerning anger and yet the responses of Zen teachers can seem harsh or provocative and seemingly not in keeping with the precepts to outsiders. It was my assumption that this is where the question was leading. But maybe it's too broad as written?
    – Robin111
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 13:24
  • 1
    IMO a key clause from Andrei's answer (which this question was quoting) was, if a Zen master notices that his student lost his fundamental sanity and has "gotten drunk on the shravaka wine" to use Dogen's parable. Texts returned by a Google search for e.g. Dogen sravaka wine suggest the context in which that type of speech was used (i.e. the context to which that speech might be an antidote). Given that context it might be obvious that's it's likely to be more effective if and because it's from a teacher.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 13:43

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