When someone needs my help, I try to answer their questions as best as I can. Sometimes, the questions make no sense (from my perspective) and from there I struggle. For some things, the person is just too far away to get it.

Sometimes I come up with great metaphors, simple explanations for complex situations, but unfortunately this doesn't always happen. What am I supposed to do when it does not happen, when I know what to reply, but that would be too much for the person to understand? Should I just ignore them?

  • Are you asking about what might be "wise behaviour" on this site, or person-to-person in real life? For what reason or in what way is the person "too far way to get it"? Also "I know what to reply, but that would be too much for the person to understand" is a contradiction in terms, isn't it (because if an answer is too much to understand then perhaps it isn't the right reply)? It might clarify this question if you'd illustrate it with a specific example (of a question that you can't answer, and what you think the answer is that wouldn't be understood).
    – ChrisW
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 12:46
  • @ChrisW Yes it wouldn't be the correct reply. No, it would be the correct reply and also neither is the correct reply.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented May 20, 2017 at 19:57
  • Refer them to a wise person, or a relevant sutta. But don't intervene if a wise person has answered them. Know when to stop answering someone.
    – user2341
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 13:55

2 Answers 2


It is for this reason that upaya, skillful means, exists. Sometimes you have to trick people onto the right path by appealing to what makes sense in their subjective universe. Perception is subjective (~illusory), so creating the right perception can be very effective. This is the true meaning of the "rainbow body".

  • 1
    Not even the Buddha was able to do so in every case, how could others? How could you possible create my perception? Such is not possible and not Dhamma, Andrei. If there is a will, another could guide "take this as minds object, take that..."
    – user11235
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 15:26
  • 2
    Not in every case, and we never have full control - but we can try. It all depends on how much compassion you have - and how clever you can be operating inside other person's mental universe.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 15:35
  • to add to @Andrej 's comment: if you extend the interaction between asker and answerer over the current and single situation of the asking-of-the-question towards a line of longer interaction (in compassion) you might be able to positively change perception - this is also the well known case with education given by the parents to the child. For the single situation between an adult person and a teacher this might appear too in the talk when the teacher is able to (understandably) reflect to given knowledge at the person and to thinkable perspectives, opening this way access to understanding Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 14:08
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    (...continued) One can see such discourses with the Buddha in many sutras in the PK when he opens his explanations with questions about some prerequisite in the memory of the asker and asks for yes or no before he really tells how the buddha's dharma itself is related to the question/reflects it and provides an answer. Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 14:12

If really knowing, Cosmicmath, the teaching about the three kinds of sick people might give good advice.

And, you have neither a need or duty to answer, so good to think about, "Why I am so desiring to answer" :-) What "trick" keeps me caught in this kind of livelihood (entertaining the mind for some amount of pleasure feelings to survive).

[Note: this answer is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for commercial purpose or other wordily gains.]

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