From I explain why I prefer discuss Buddhism intellectually but others don't seem to accept my point. Why is that?, I get that Buddhist goal is not only to get wisdom, but as a practice for "understanding suffering, the causes of suffering, the ending of suffering and the path leading to it. Everything else goes beyond the point."

This explains why others miss my point. It is more of Daoism I think, in which sufferings are not meant to be cessated, but to be transformed into something more useful. It's like saying "hey, sufferings are fun. Please give me more". This attitude makes sufferings not sufferings anymore, although technically you are suffering.

I think every Buddhist aware of the importance of intellect. Yet, when I especially ask for an analysis they still focus on the core goal, thus missing my point. For example, this person stops replying after I explain the Daoist point. Another example is my very previous question. At first the titular question asked for "what to do" , but then all answers focused on the reason, forcing me to change the title to "why is that" (ChrisW's answer is an exception). (Nevertheless this has a good side, as it tells me that I am missing Buddhist points too.)

There are two advantages if I can ask other Buddhists to do analysis with me:

  • My understanding can be refined, and my wrongs can be corrected
  • If the other person doesn't seem to understand the teachings properly, but dismiss any analysis because they misinterpret that Buddhism advocates to abandon reasoning completely, then this will be beneficial for them (cf. the snake sutta, the raft sutta)

So, why does it hard to ask other Buddhists to do analysis, rather than advising me to stop analyzing?

FWIW, my though is said to be interesting if the readers are in analytic mode.
Related: Why does Buddhism seem to have an anti-thought bias?

  • 1
    This is a question which should possibly asked on meta . Here I'd vote to close. Feb 21, 2019 at 17:55
  • Yes. I thought it wasn't intended as a meta-question (it was originally asking about the OP's experience on reddit) but I answered it based on my experience of this site so it seems like a meta-topic now,
    – ChrisW
    Feb 21, 2019 at 18:25

7 Answers 7


Yes puthujjanas crave intellectualism, building fantasies, speculating, building a system of thoughts, classifying ideas, creating ideas, searching for definitions, and they always invent a story where they are good people for spending their day doing philosophy. Always claiming that their speculation ''makes things clearer''. It is completely normal.

And, when they hear that the only good use of mano in the dhamma is to judge the thoughts and sanna and vedanna, and select only the good ones, in order to purify mano to the point where mano has piti, just before the jhanas, they get disappointed to see that they are not as righteous, with respect to the dhamma, as they thought they where in their intellectual bubble.

Then, like you said, some puthujjanas even manage to say that dukkha can be good. They try to salvage dukkha, because that's all they have in their life. It's like some people claiming that pain has meaning, pain can be useful, creates a person because it would strengthen a person and the person would learn something valuable from pain.

The whole point of the buddha is that there is nothing behind dukkha. Dukkha is just dukkha and is never ever worth it. There is no deep meaning with dukkha. There is no hidden purpose tied to dukkha. Dukkha is purely meaningless. There is no exploration of dukkha that is worth it. But puthujjanas manage to fall in love with their aggregates, and then they claim that dukkha can be skillful. This unconditional love, the clinging to this love by the puthujjanas is pure insanity.

  • 2
    Pain can be useful. Thich Nhat Hanh who is a very pure being said that suffering and happiness is one. I 100% agree your views about non-meditator puthujjannas but just don't alienate meditators because meditators can be wonderful beings with effort and skillness
    – Murathan1
    Feb 19, 2019 at 18:40
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – ChrisW
    Feb 21, 2019 at 10:52
  • This doesn't seem to address the OP's question. He's talking about analysis, not building fantasies and idly speculating.
    – user14119
    Nov 7, 2019 at 13:25
  • @PeterJ I understand this question as "any analysis is building fantasy". I think this question doesn't answer how to do that, but still a good reminder for me for why people don't accept doing that
    – Ooker
    Nov 8, 2019 at 8:57
  • @Ooker - Oh okay. Fair enough. Maybe you're right about the OP. But it seems to me fantasies usually depend on not doing any analysis. .
    – user14119
    Nov 8, 2019 at 12:18

Here are some guidelines, which might help with asking questions ("please help me analyse X?") on this site:

  • Optionally use a label like -- see the "Minimizing controversy" topics in this summary of site policies -- doing that will help to avoid the "that's a wrong question" kind of answer.

    That kind of non-answer is already not ideal -- see e.g. Answers vs Advice -- but a lot of users don't know all the site policies.

    And moderators are a bit inhibited about deleting "answers which don't answer the question" -- if you do add a tag (e.g. a school-specific tag) to the topic then that makes it easier or perhaps less merely-subjective to detect if an answer is off-topic.

  • Avoid asking "comparative religion" questions (e.g. Daoism). They are or have been allowed, however reluctantly, if e.g. the question is more about Buddhism than about the other, and if the topic isn't too broad (such as "what are the differences between Christianity and Buddhism?").

    Also avoid questions like, "Which is better: Theravada or Mahayana?"

  • Avoid using this site to push your own views -- a question like, "I have such-and-such a view -- and I'm right, aren't I?", is not very welcome.

    That makes it a bit difficult to post the kind of question you wanted to ask.

  • Question about Buddhist doctrine are definitely on-topic. "I'm reading X, written by Y. It says Z. What does that mean? How is that useful? Does it contradict Q which I read previously elsewhere?"

  • Don't assume that Buddhism is very concise or that everyone knows what "it" is. You might get better answers if you ask more focused, specific questions, about some specific aspect (e.g. of doctrine and/or of practice).

  • If you want to ask about a view of your own, be careful to ensure it is a question, perhaps something like, "I read X and so I think Y -- but I don't know, maybe not, because of Z1 and Z2?" I think that's better than posting "I think Y" and expecting people to agree or disagree with that.

I don't know how/whether this generalises to other sites.

This site might be unusual, e.g. the Tour says ...

This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat.

... so it's set up for question-and-answer -- answers to specific questions -- rather than "discussions".


From my perspective of watching Buddhist teacher(s) at work, I think they get weary of student having too many ideas, pushing these thoughts forward, wanting to discuss them etc. From teacher's perspective it is like: "dear student, would you stop talking about your ideas for a moment and listen to the framework I'm trying to give you?"

Therefore this attitude of, "Buddhism is not intellectual, it is about practice" etc. Which is really a misrepresentation of reality. In fact, Buddhism has always been very intellectual throughout its history, with thousands of treatises written that go pretty deep down the rabbit's hole. However, from the perspective of traditional teacher, the student's job is to listen and absorb, and try to reconstruct the conceptual framework the teacher is trying to give, then practice in accordance with that framework - as opposed to trying to reconcile this with 100 other frameworks, which would take a very long time. Especially, imagine a teacher working with 10-100 students. It must be really annoying to listen to everyone's ideas about The Meaning of Life, The Universe and Everything.

Now, leaving the teachers aside, from the perspective of fellow students, not everyone has interest or patience for philosophical analysis. Some people are into that, and some are not - whether because they had bad experience with it in the past, or because they are not really capable, or just think it is a waste of time, or don't feel like doing it particularly with you - there can be a bunch of different reasons.

In Mahayana we say, every student is unique and so needs an individual approach. Some require lots of deep logical explanations and some need a bucket of cold water over their head. So we are advised to not try and push the same method on all students, but approach each according to their natural inclinations. In Mahayana we use the student's natural inertia to lead them along, we don't go against it.

So with the above in mind, perhaps analysis is not as universally useful as you assumed.

  • What do you mean about cold water? And if my inclination is analyzing everything, then how to find suitable teachers/fellows? Assuming this is Mahayana, but any school is welcomed.
    – Ooker
    Feb 22, 2019 at 16:38
  • 1
    Cold water is a metaphor for a shocking insight. If your inclination is analysis, you should go to Gelug (Gelugpa) branch of Tibetan Mahayana, they are famous for this kind of stuff and are very good at it.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Feb 22, 2019 at 18:45
  • I know that cold water is meant for something shocking; I just don't know what kind of shocking insight is here. Is it koan, leaving the students confusing trying to answer it? Also, I don't talk about the meaning of life or quantum physics, but just cognitive linguistics. I wonder why they don't feel curious about it, so that they can actually read the post carefully.
    – Ooker
    Feb 24, 2019 at 5:45
  • Fabulous answer.
    – user14119
    Nov 7, 2019 at 13:29

If you're practicing within a tradition that eschews intellectualism and analysis then go for it, Rinzai Zen e.g.. But there are very many traditions that do not do this.

A lot of energy has gone into the scholastic analysis of the abhidharma.

Hua-yen Buddhists texts ask the reader to "ponder this", not forget it.

And there have been many Buddhist philosophers, not mere exegetes, names like Vasubandhu, Darmakriti, Dignaga, Nagarjuna.


Analysis is useful and valuable, and the Budha himself suggest that we indulge in it if we are sceptical of the doctrine. God gave us an intellect so we might as well use it.

It was analysis and nothing else that brought me to Buddhism, (as the only -philosophy that stands up to analysis), so I wouldn't want to devalue it.

Like you I'm baffled when anyone suggest we should avoid analysis or ignore its results.

  • I wonder if it (i.e. resembling an "avoid analysis!" imperative) is related to doctrine about "stilling" what's sometimes called "discursive thinking" in English, e.g. this description of the second jhana.
    – ChrisW
    Feb 25, 2019 at 11:29
  • @ChrisW - Yes, I imagine this is exactly the problem. It is often a cause of misunderstandings. Someone once objected to me that Buddhism requires us to stop thinking, and as he thought this was a bad idea he dismissed Buddhism. Some people do the same for the whole of mysticism on the grounds that it ignores analysis and the use of reason. A daft idea, but quite common. .
    – user14119
    Feb 25, 2019 at 11:52

Since you're a fan of daoism, keep that aphorism from the daode in mind: "The master has one attitude for all things." That attitude is as slippery as wet ice, and impossible to express in words, but... You can think of Buddhist practice as pointing you in its direction.

The problem with intellect in general is that intellect is intrinsically aggressive and combative. It splits things up and breaks things down; it creates oppositions. You can see this in your question, above, where you say:

  • My understanding can be refined, and my wrongs can be corrected
  • If the other person doesn't seem to understand the teachings properly, but dismiss any analysis because they misinterpret that
    Buddhism advocates to abandon reasoning completely, then this will be beneficial for them

In this you've explicitly set up a range of oppositions — right vs wrong, me vs him/her/them, knowledge vs ignorance — and then implicitly insisted on a hierarchy, trying to distinguish who has the more desirable qualities. Even if you are engaging intellect here with the best intentions (as I'm sure you are), it is still divisive and combative. A lot of people on the path (and particularly those who are farther along), aren't going to want to engage on this divisive level. They're not going to see those distinctions as important or useful.

If you're going to work the intellectual side of the path, you need to be aware of those divine tendencies, otherwise you risk pulling yourself and others away from the thing you're trying to understand.


Asking the right and how and whom is is skill, so maybe listen and read those who are, rather to seek for food for defilment and "intellectual sex", coupling for the sake of becoming.

Questions of Skill.

Noble Conversation - A Study Guide

After all, better before, it's needed to leave house and come to a borderland, there is no connection to the Noble domain on your drifting away island build of conceit.

When one is born in outer regions and not to forget the duties of a learner.

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