Q1 Please tell me more about the Forum (Discuss and Discover)!
A : Sure! Discuss & Discover is the formal name of this Forum, created by Venerable Sujato as a companion site to SuttaCentral.com. It was originally conceived as a place for the translators and programmers of SuttaCentral to share their understanding of the texts they were working on. Over time, it has evolved into a site for serious practitioners, both lay as well as monastic, to discuss their understanding of the Early Buddhist Texts (EBT) as well as their application to Life.
Q2 EBT? What’s that?
A : The Early Buddhist Texts (EBT) are some of the earliest Buddhist teachings and form the core upon which later traditions have been built. They have been defined as :
“Texts spoken by the historical Buddha and his contemporary disciples. These are the bulk of the Suttas in the main four Pali Nikāyas and parallel Āgama literature in Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit, and other Indian dialects; the Pātimokkhas and some Vinaya material from the Khandhakas; a small portion of the Khuddaka Nikāya, consisting of significant parts of the Sutta Nipāta, Udāna, Itivuttaka, Dhammapada, and Thera- and Therī Gāthā.”
From : ‘The Authenticity of the early Buddhist Texts’, Bhikkhu Sujato & Bhikkhu Brahmali, 2015
Our mother siteSuttaCentral.net hosts translations of such texts in over thirty languages! For more information, please read the detailed introduction to the EBT on SuttaCentral.
Q3 How is this forum different from other Buddhist discussion groups?
A : This forum is focused on discussing the meaning, translation, interpretations and historical context of the Early Buddhist Texts. We seek to explore how these teachings evolved and relate to later traditions, and try to understand how their wisdom may be applied to present day modern world issues such as climate, society, political systems, economics etc. Other texts and traditions may be drawn upon for purposes of comparison and elucidation, but are not the prime focus of this forum.
Q4 Right speech vs Free speech… what’s the difference?
A : As a private Buddhist site, we practice Right speech rather than Free speech. For Buddhists, using Right Speech involves taking care to speak/write only what one believes to be true without gossiping and speaking/writing with kindness, relevance and patience. Buddhists do not subscribe totally to Free Speech as an ideal. Rather, Buddhists believe that speech and actions have consequences both for one’s own self as well as for others, and that we are responsible for the consequences of what we speak/write. So, while participating in this Forum please exercise due discretion in what you post.
Q5 What kind of content can I submit?
A : We prefer content that focuses on the EBT. However, we do not tolerate anyone who advocates patriarchal, misogynist, sexist, racist or homophobic views even if such advocacy is couched in terms of ‘discussing the texts’ or ‘maintaining tradition’. Do keep in mind that the forum viewership is diverse, consisting of monastics as well as laypeople. Don’t post content which you would hesitate to talk about in a public place or in the presence of your family and friends. Don’t post anything obscene or sexually explicit.
Q6 What if I find some content on site offensive?
A : The texts we are discussing are over 2500 years old and may contain material which can be interpreted as patriarchal, misogynist, sexist or offensive. Please bear in mind that these are ancient, traditional views which may clash with modern sensibilities. Due discretion is advised when posting and discussing such content. Offensive material will be immediately deleted wherever found. That said, moderators don’t preview new posts in any way; the moderators and site operators take no responsibility for any content posted by the community.
Q7 I found some content which is undoubtedly offensive to any reasonable person. What should I do?
A : Just flag it. If enough flags accrue, action will be taken, either automatically or by moderator intervention. If you like, you can also send a PM to
@moderators, mentioning what you find offensive in the content.
Q8 Why don’t you allow discussion of Personal practice, personal problems or diet and medical issues?
A : This forum is not a support group. Moderators cannot ensure that your personal revelations will be well received by the community. It is not possible to render meaningful assistance on such issues through the modality of an anonymous Internet forum! If it is really necessary to discuss such topics, it should be done with reference to generalities, such as would be found in a book or in a Dhamma talk. Alternatively, those interested in such conversation can use the Personal Message (PM) feature to discuss among themselves.
The internet should not be anyone’s prime source of information or advice. Apparently simple life hacks such as diet, exercise and meditation can often produce adverse effects, and sometimes even be life-threatening. Users should always contact their own doctors, dietitians, therapists and spiritual advisors before embarking on any course of action which could potentially be hazardous to their physical or mental health.
Q9 What’s a PM?
A : PM is the short form for “Personal Message”. You can use this feature to communicate directly with the person/s of your choice, much like Email. To access the feature, click on the username of the person you want to send the PM to. Then click on the message tab.
You can then enter your message in the window that appears and it will be sent across to that person by the system.
If you want to share that message with multiple people, you can add their username in the composition window. You can also add or remove people in an existing PM thread by clicking on the “Add or remove button”.
The ‘Closed Envelope’ icon in the upper left corner indicates that this is a PM and not a public thread.
To access the PM you have sent/ received, click on your user icon (top right) and select the Messages (closed envelope) tab.
Please note that PMs are not completely private! However, they are not moderated, and replying to your PM is the prerogative of the user you contact. Please do not use the PM feature to harass or spam any other forum member. Abuse of the PM feature will result in a permanent suspension from the forum.
Q10 Why can’t I tell others about my attainments?
A : Whether you are a monastic or layperson, please do not make personal claims of path attainments, meditative attainments or supernatural powers on this forum. This could appear to be boasting. Those who are faithful have no need for proof, those who have no faith will not believe you.
Q11 Can I use the Forum to gather support for XYZ cause?
A : Please do not post content soliciting donations, directly or indirectly asking for financial or material assistance for any country, cause, organization or person without the express prior written permission of the Moderators/ Site Admin.
Q12 I know about an interesting book/ Dhamma course/ Retreat. Can I post information about it on the Forum?
A : Public announcements concerning upcoming Dhamma courses, retreats or newly published Buddhist books etc are permitted in the appropriate section of the Forum.
Q13 I have a copy of an interesting book/ other media which I would like to share with others. Can I post the file/ link on the forum?
A : Only if it’s not Copyright!! Copyright is a complex issue which differs from country to country. Normally short quotes and the like are fine, but full texts and other material can only be posted with the proper licensing permission. Make sure that the terms of any license are clear, either by including them in the post, or providing a link. In general, it is fine to post content which has been marked by the author as ‘for free distribution’. If on the other hand there is any doubt about the licensing or copyright of the content, you are better off just citing the title/author/publisher. Readers can usually find such content online themselves if they wish. You should not post descriptions of, links to, or methods for stealing copyrighted intellectual property (text, software, video, audio, images), or for breaking any other law. The moderators reserve the right to delete any suspect material or links on sight.
Q14 I believe that my Teacher is truly enlightened. Can I share his Teachings on the Forum?
A : Within the bounds of reason, yes. Do keep in mind that there are a large number of very good teachers out there. There are also teachers whose teachings are considered controversial by some. While you have faith, others might not. Proselytizing for any particular sect/ teacher is not allowed on the forum.
Q15 But, But, But… I know about these secret teachings and I want to share them with everyone! They have been hidden for so long!
A : How likely is that? Generally such views blithely reject well-established facts. Ideas that there are ‘Secret Teachings’, ‘Hidden Manuscripts’, ‘conspiracies of the clergy’ etc always turn out to be delusional on close examination. Such views seem like an innocuous theory, but they often aim at creating a nationalist, sectarian fundamentalism.
Anyone advocating extremist or conspiracy theory views will be warned, and if they persist, banned. Examples of such views include ‘The Buddha was born in Sri Lanka’, ‘Anicca doesn’t mean impermanence’, ‘The original Pali manuscripts at Aluvihara exist’, ‘Chinese texts are all Mahayana’, ‘Mahayana texts are fake’ etc. We treat views that go against mainstream science such as ‘Climate change is not real’, ‘COVID is just the flu’ etc, in exactly the same way.
Q16 I’m so angry! I want to expose the wrong doing of that Teacher, those Monastics and their Tradition.
A : While we understand your situation, we regret that this forum is not the place to express your angst. Every Teacher and Tradition has their plus and minus points. The approach that is best for one person may feel unduly restrictive to another. If you feel that there was some genuine wrongdoing, you should contact the appropriate authorities. Please do not level unsubstantiated allegations against any Teacher, Monastic or Tradition on this forum.
Q17 Since the Buddha was the original ‘Aryan’, what is wrong with my espousing such traditional philosophy?
A : Remember that some words mean more than you think they do, or imply something worse than they say! Think before you post. Be civil. Don’t post anything that a reasonable person would consider offensive, abusive, or hate speech. Anyone advocating hateful views will be banned without warning. We have a zero tolerance approach to misogyny, sexism, homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, pro-Nazism… in short, any kind of -ism or any kind of speech espousing anger, hate or violence towards any group. Making insinuations against any particular group (eg women) in a way that seeks to deny their equal status, (even if couched in apparently polite terms or as espousing traditional views) is strictly forbidden.
Q18 Can you help me understand how to improve the quality of my posts?
A : One should aim to make the forum a joyful place for discussion by improving the conversation in any way, however small. Your post should contain your own thoughts and observations and not just be a copy-paste of someone else’s content! If you are not sure your post adds something meaningful, reflect on what you want to say and how you want to say it. Feel free to browse through the site, you can always contribute later. It is good practice to back your writing up with references and citations wherever possible (ie say where your information comes from and provide a hyperlink, or the writer’s name, and the title of an article/book/journal as appropriate). You should definitely try to format your text for easy readability using the built in formatting tools. A guide for new users is available here.
Q19 How do I find the right discussion to contribute to?
A : Many interesting discussions exist on the Forum! The latest discussions are displayed on your home page. You can also use the search function to help you browse through existing topics here and spend some time reading these conversations before replying or starting your own. This way you’ll have a better chance of meeting others who share your interests. If you find some conversations to be boring, distasteful or triggering, you can avoid being notified of such threads by using the ‘Muted’ option.
Q20 What are ‘Categories’?
A : They are a method to group similar discussion topics. You should choose the appropriate category when starting a fresh discussion, as described in Categories - Discuss & Discover , or ask
@moderators for assistance. For more details see here
Q21 My friends tell me I have a razor sharp wit. Surely no one could object to a few jokes or sarcasm?
A : As already described, Right Speech is defined in the Early Buddhist Texts as refraining from speech that is false, malicious, harsh or gossiping (AN 10.176). Why is the Buddha’s speech so persuasive? It’s because he always spoke clearly, kindly, and rationally. If you do the same, you’ll find that people will be much more open to your ideas. This forum draws participants from many different countries, many of whom count English as a second language and who have a wide range of sensitivity and vulnerability. It may be better to avoid sarcasm or jokes which can be misconstrued as a result of differences in cultural context.
Q22 Yes, I understand Right Speech. But what if I deeply disagree with what someone has posted? Surely I should be able to let them know that what they are saying is wrong?
A : It’s fine if you do wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it: the Buddha said we should praise what should be praised, and criticize what should be criticized. But remember the advice of the Araṇavibhaṅga Sutta (MN 139): Criticize ideas, not people. Directing criticism at another poster’s character or motivations (an Ad hominem in modern parlance), their personality traits, their attitude, their way of life, choice of teachers, texts, method and place of worship, their personal approach to Buddhism or the type of practice they choose to follow is not permitted. Instead, try to analyze the issue logically and state your reasons calmly, preferably using references in support.
Q23 What should I do if debate turns into disagreement? How can I avoid getting into an online quarrel?
A : Rigorous debate can be an important part of Dhamma inquiry and many debates are recorded in the Early Buddhist Texts. However, it’s even more important to recognize the difference between a debate and a quarrel. Be respectful of the topics and the people discussing them, even if you disagree with what is being said. Step away from discussions that become combative. In general, if you have replied twice to another poster and they haven’t got your point, they likely won’t! It is better to let such discussions go. Agreeing to disagree or simply disagreeing silently and moving on are mature methods of handling such an impasse.
Q24 I don’t care! I’m going to tell that %$@#*% what’s what!!
A : Please remain calm and avoid name calling. Calling other posters by abusive epithets or accusing them of trolling, being Trolls etc is frowned upon. If you feel that another user is ‘crossing the line’, simply stop engaging and notify the moderators.
Q25 Did you read what that person did/ posted? Surely they are going to burn in Hell forever. At the least they will be reborn as an animal.
A : Please avoid any direct or indirect references to Kammic retribution. Better to flag it and move on.
Q26 My post got flagged! What should I do/not do?
A : If your post gets flagged, do take the time to understand why the community has found your post objectionable. Most flags occur because the poster has not understood their audience. Imagine yourself in the Park or the Mall on a lovely evening. Your audience might consist of some working people, some young professionals, a few grouchy professor types, retired folks and the odd monastic. Would what you have to say be suitable? That is how it is online too! There are very real people behind the computer screens. If in doubt, you can contact
@moderators by PM for advice. Please also see the Sutta Central Guide to Flagging.
The moderators want to be as fair to you as possible. Responding well to admonition is regarded as a basic sign of integrity in Dhamma communication. If you respond with anger, insults or by attacking anyone at all, in the public threads or by PM, expect to find yourself permanently banned.
Q27 You mentioned inappropriate online strategies such as spamming, sock puppeting, trolling, sealioning, gaslighting, gish galloping, dogpiling, doxing etc. What are these?
A : We are referring to any behavior which could reasonably be construed as unsocial, unwelcome, insulting or as intentional harassment or bullying of any other forum user. Common examples of inappropriate online strategies are:
Spamming : Posting commercial messages or links to drive traffic to commercial websites, no content posts, repetitive posts etc.
Sockpuppeting : Making multiple accounts with different usernames for any purpose whatsoever without the prior permission of the Site admin/ Moderators. If multiple accounts are detected, all accounts of that user will be immediately suspended.
Trolling : Making rude, inflammatory or emotionally upsetting statements so as to elicit strong emotional responses in others, steer the conversation off topic or disrupt the forum.
Sealioning : Repeatedly asking the same questions, recurrently requesting evidence or inviting others to debate in bad faith with or without maintaining a pretense of civility and sincerity.
Gaslighting : Presenting false information or a false narrative with the intention of having others question their own experience, perception or knowledge.
Gish galloping : Derailing a conversation with a flood of falsehoods and tiny arguments that focus on nitpicking or minor unrelated details, each loaded with implied accusations.
Dogpiling : Forming a formal or informal group on the forum to shame, harass, humiliate or discredit any other user or group.
Doxxing : Attacking, harassing or unfairly targeting anyone, impersonating other people, or exposing their private information.
Internet harassment is a crime. The moderators are empowered to immediately suspend users who persist in such tactics.
Q28 The Moderators deleted my content. How dare they!
A : The Moderators are empowered to do their best to keep the forum functioning smoothly. They may do this in a variety of ways, including
- editing titles, tags or contents
- removing content
- hiding posts
- moving posts to a new topic
- imposing restrictions on the frequency of posting to particular threads
- temporarily or permanently closing threads
- or any other modality deemed prudent by the Moderator Team
The moderators’ primary duty is to maintain a safe, kind environment for all users and they must use their discretion to this end. They want to be as fair to you as possible, but keep in mind that they are often acting on behalf of other users who have raised flags or submitted grievances and they need to balance everyone’s interest.
Q29 I still don’t think it was fair. What are my avenues for redressal?
A : If you feel a particular decision was unfair, you can represent your side of things in a friendly, constructive manner to
@moderators. Decisions in such cases are made by group consensus and it will usually take a few days to reach a final decision on a particular issue. Please do not send repeated messages asking for immediate action. Abusing the moderators or criticizing moderator actions on the forum will not be tolerated.
Q30 I complained to the moderators about another forum user. I would like to know what action was taken.
A : All moderation is kept private. The moderators will not disclose the details of discussions had with you in private to other users. In turn, please don’t ask us to tell you how we’ve moderated others.
Q31 I’m confused! How likely am I to be admonished/warned/suspended?
A : This depends on things like how serious the matter is, whether it is a new matter or part of a pattern of behaviour, as well as on whether you are a new or established user, and the general quality of your earlier posts. However, you can take the following table as a guide:
|Type of Behaviour
|expressing hateful views – spamming – sock-puppeting – advocating an extremist view after one warning
||immediate permanent suspension
|expressing anger towards, insulting or attacking users or staff – persistent arguing with the mods about an admonition – receiving two warnings after returning from a suspension
|a third warning – arguing with the mods about an admonition
|an action that contravenes the Guidelines & these FAQs that hasn't been resolved through discussion with the Mods
|an action that contravenes the Guidelines & these FAQs
||letter on behalf of the Mod Team
|an indication that you don't understand something in the Guidelines or these FAQs
||letter from a moderator
Q32 I would like to leave the forum. What should I do?
A : To terminate your account, simply turn off notifications and discontinue posting.
Q33 How do I delete my content?
A : Previously contributed content forms part of a public archive indexed by Search engines and hence cannot be deleted.
Q34 I’m actually rather embarrassed by some of the things I posted in the past. I would like a fresh start.
A : You can have your username changed or suspended or your past content anonymized. Please contact the moderators who will assist on a case by case basis.
Q35 I’m impressed. How do you manage to keep the forum running?
A : The forum runs on the voluntary contributions of ordinary people such as You! Please see this page if you would like to make a donation, however small.
Q36 You’ve inspired me. I’d like to volunteer my services.
A : That’s great!
If you would like to volunteer as a Moderator, please PM
If you would like to volunteer as a coder or translator, please contact Venerable
Q37 None of these FAQ address my query! What should I do?
A : PM
@moderators with your query and we will get back to you with an answer!