In modern world it's often regarded as "poor" if asking questions. "What, you don't know?", others would fast lower others, yet forgeting that they have been given before as well.

It is also the subtil fear to be obligated, fall into debt, that people "force" not to ask or on wrong places, wrong people and so the tendency goes in direction "steal" thinking not causing debts.

The times of google and more or lesser anonymos exchange places make it even more common that people seek, if even, for places to gain, where they believe not to accumulate debts.

It's not seldom, out of this, that "asking questions" is estimated as childish, the way "unwise" and "poor", "people of less skill" come to gain Dhamma.

What do you think, is there an adult way that replaces questioning? Is asking questions, asking for things childish?

(A maybe useful reflection that might make some parts understandable for answering the question: Giving, taking and the "new" world - "Labour makes (you) free!?")

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gain by means of trade and exchange]


4 Answers 4


Is asking questions, asking for things childish?

Asking question is something that children do, but adults can do it too.

If I'm working with someone and (for example because I have worked there longer) if I know more about our work than they do, or if I know something about our work that they don't know but should know, then I want them to ask me questions. I want them to have good judgement (skill) too, in deciding how much to ask and how often, I expect us to weigh and find a balance between their spending too long (too much of their own time) trying to figure everything out for themselves, when instead I could have told them easily; or on the other extreme, their asking me too many questions (taking too much of my time), instead of reading the answers for themselves.

I am not a formal teacher, teaching someone else would be a part-time job for me, and the subject (which is, knowledge of the software that I might develop with co-workers) doesn't have a specific curriculum. But in general it's good if someone asks me questions: it's easier for me (and better for everyone) if they tell me they don't know something, than for me to have to supervise them and for me to have to try to guess at what they don't know. Also I distinguish between things they ought to know already compared with things they couldn't know already.

Anyway for these kinds of reasons (i.e. my experience at work) I think it's normal for adults to ask questions.

Children do sometimes ask questions to avoid work (for example, asking questions instead of putting on their shoes to go to school). It's a bit irksome when an adult asks insincere or unnecessary, unhelpful questions ... On this site I'm grateful that people are willing to reply to my questions. I usually try not to waste their time, and try to only ask questions which will help to me, and whose answers I can't easily discover by a little work of my own (research and reading already-existing text). The purpose of this site isn't to be a question-factory, keeping people busy answering endless unbeneficial questions.

What do you think, is there an adult way that replaces questioning?

At university we had lectures, with hundreds of students in the room. The lecturer would talk, students couldn't ask questions, we had books to read ... and some individual tutors/tuition, perhaps an hour a week, to talk about home-work.

Or sometimes there's learning by following (emulating) other people; or waiting to be told.

Comments on the paper you referenced in the OP.

So there was a neighbour who was hardly ever able to accept a gift, for example some fruits from the garden.

In the society I live in now I've never known anyone refuse such a (small) gift.

The benefactor, "the mother", is little by little devoured

Apparently that can happen in abusive (so-called codependent) relationships.

Everything is easier nowadays

People have been saying this kind of thing since ancient Greek and Roman times, at least: especially, saying that the younger generation is lacking in courtesy.

We cringe, usually, when we hear someone say "Labour makes (you) free"

I was amazed to read "Arbeit macht frei" as the title of the page. Because of the phrase's historical usage I consider it a phrase which "no longer means what you think it means" i.e. it has (historical) "meaning" that's not evident from its overt form. It's not the plain meaning I cringe from but the association with Auschwitz et. al., which makes it difficult for me to even consider the phrase, which evokes horror (or pity for the victims, to whom the phrase was a lie) as soon as I read it.

Anyway this was kind of a vague answer, I'm not sure whether it answered your question (because I don't understand the intent or motive behind your question).

If you refer to the suttas you can see that it's full of questions and answers: students asking question (which teachers answer), and teachers asking Socratic questions.

  • The last passage actually carries most in regard of the question in relation with Dhamma, the rest is merely if talking about current common sense and opinions, Nyom @ChrisW . Maybe he likes to put effort into the answer and put it under a more Dhammic point of view, where he actually is not unskilled normally. Just a suggestion.
    – user11235
    Oct 15, 2017 at 9:32
  • At least Nyom Chris is a «leader" of a question&answer undertaking under Dhammas-flag, so it might be thought that there are more thoughts about it, more in the sphere of what is the Dhammikas standard.
    – user11235
    Oct 15, 2017 at 9:40
  • "because I don't understand the intent or motive behind your question" the thought "I will remove the arrow only if I know who shot, which clan, what material..." might be a hindrence also to assume an intent. Better to simply relay on what is there. No matter who, and why it came to be. Simply guess it is an "skillful intent". That makes it easier.
    – user11235
    Oct 15, 2017 at 9:44
  • The parable of the arrow says to avoid asking silly questions about the Tathagata (the "surgeon") instead of concentrating on the Dhamma and the Way. But it might be important on this site to understand something of the OP's intent, the motive behind the question: it's better treatment (a better answer) if whoever tries to answer can perceive or understand the wound (the pain or motive for the question) -- see also dhamma about what makes a good patient: they can accurately describe their disease...
    – ChrisW
    Oct 15, 2017 at 10:23

Shoshin, "beginner's mind" (aka "child mind") is an important concept in Zen in particular. "Child's mind is Bhudda's mind", as they say.

Adults often don't like to ask question because it displays ignorance, but Socrates, considered most wise, said that he himself was only wise in knowing he knew nothing. Fear of looking unwise is rooted in the ego, and is an obstacle to advancement.

Which finding answers can be useful, one only find answers by asking questions.

  • In my experience, the best teachers don't provide answers, but guide the pupil toward asking the right questions

Questions of Skill

The Buddha wasn't the sort of teacher who simply answered questions. He also taught which questions to ask. He understood the power of questions: that they give shape to the holes in your knowledge and force that shape — valid or not — onto the answers you hope will fill up those holes. Even if you use right information to answer a wrong question, it can take on the wrong shape. If you then use that answer as a tool, you're sure to apply it to the wrong situations and end up with the wrong results.

That's why the Buddha was careful to map out a science of questions, showing which questions — in what order — lead to freedom, and which ones don't. At the same time, he gave his talks in a question-and-answer format, to make perfectly clear the shape of the questions he was answering.


...The only remaining questions are bonus ones: how best to take whatever skills you've developed along the way and use them purely for the benefit of the world.

And what more could you possibly ask?

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange.]


The best way to ask a question in "Childish" way. Why?

  1. It's a philanthropist way to convey things to lower knowledgeable person to higher knowledgeable person.

  2. It's a best way to make comfort both parties questioner and answerer bring into one place. So that the both easily get done their work.

  3. If we wants to get the best answer also better way to ask that question in a childish way.

  4. People may think or look at different way. Who cares if i want to succeed it should be in my way.

  5. Also it shows the questioner's simplicity. I have seen lot of eminent scholars asked questions for the sake of others in a childish way by keeping his scholarliness aside. Why they know well if they asked the same question using his knowledge no one may understand it.

  6. We cannot stop others thinking pattern. This is comparative world. the Best thing is to sort out our matter by asking it in a simple childish way.

  7. Your Question 100% perfect. Because All in Lord buddha's questions and answers in a very simple way that can understand everybody. Even a small child. But he is the one and only supreme Mundane Wisdom intellectual in this world who follows this.

You must log in to answer this question.