The cause of inappropriate answers on Q&A

Inappropriate answers result from an unawareness of the environment from a Buddhist point of view, instead based on the household equanimity of unknowing, which is a sense of wellbeing based on ignorance. Answers motivated this way are characterized by a lack of specificness in addressing the question. This results from immersion in the multiplicity of experience of the home life as opposed to the singleness of one-pointed concentration practice, and beyond that the undiffusedness of nibbana, the unconditioned element. Such respondents lack the breadth of perception to go beyond the immediate object, and this is a deficiency in mindfulness, where memory of dhamma principles is brought to bear on present events:

"And what are the six kinds of household equanimity? The equanimity that arises when a foolish, deluded person — a run-of-the-mill, untaught person who has not conquered his limitations or the results of action & who is blind to danger — sees a form with the eye. Such equanimity does not go beyond the form, which is why it is called household equanimity. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

"And what are the six kinds of renunciation equanimity? The equanimity that arises when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — one sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change: This equanimity goes beyond form, which is why it is called renunciation equanimity. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)”——MN 137 (Thanissaro)

“the main role of right mindfulness here
is to remember to provide a solid framework for observing the activity of
fabrication. At the same time, it remembers lessons drawn from right view in the
past—both lessons from reading and listening to the Dhamma, as well as lessons
from reading the results of your own actions”—“Right Mindfulness,” Thanissaro

Indeed :smiley: and such a fun and rewarding part of practice, leading to freedom :balloon::sunflower::smiley:


How did you come to know all this information about the personal lives people who give (you?) innapropriate answers? How did you come to be able to diagnose them at a spooky distance?

Was there a specific “inappropriate answer” that inspired this thread?


What question(s) on Buddhism or EBTs you respond to?


My post is concerned with different aspects of equanimity, and the memory aspect of mindfulness. MN 137 describes “equanimity coming from multiplicity (meaning detachment from sense experiences), and equanimity coming from singleness” (meaning the immaterial jhanas). Below those is the household equanimity of being in thrall of sense objects. The focus is on a progression from household equanimity to equanimity of multiplicity.

Interesting! It rhymes with a question I have been pondering over for the last few days:-

“Concerning Right Speech and Right Action, where does Reactivity end and Responsivity begin?”

To elucidate, what is the difference between blindly reacting to environmental stimulus (something someone said/ something I saw/ felt) and a more considered ‘wise response’? How does one know the difference in ‘real time’?

For example, my colleague proposes a certain course of action. I might feel it’s not the right way to proceed and might point out the pitfalls (in a nice way!)… causing my colleague to feel bad (can’t ever predict how people will feel!), which then makes me feel bad, because that was not the intention. On reflection, one can see that actually, its impossible to know what is the best course of action in relation to anything, as the future is always uncertain!
Perhaps the colleague was right and I was wrong? So, should one respond at all? Or should there be no response ever…that doesn’t feel right too- if I say nothing and the colleague turns out wrong, he could well turn around and say ‘Well, why didn’t you warn me?’

To do or not to do…that is the question… :thinking:


Yes, there are two responses to any question, an immediate called a ‘gut’ response in the vernacular, and a considered one. The first is invariably driven by defilements which act unrestrained, the second slower response allows time to dodge defilements and for the arising of a ‘pure’ response which issues from the unconscious mind itself without manipulation by ego. The second is an acquired skill dependent on patience, and is identical with mindfulness and when it is driven by path factors becomes right mindfulness. It takes practice to be confronted with a question and then remain silent waiting for the answer to arise, but knowing the action of cause and effect firms resolve, that is knowing the second response leads to a harmonious outcome. It is sometime difficult for westerners to realize the Buddhist idea of morality is one of harmony here and now, ‘skillful’ in the artisan sense of creating a psychological reality.

“The English word “morality” and its derivatives suggest a sense of obligation and constraint quite foreign to the Buddhist conception of sila; this connotation probably enters from the theistic background to Western ethics. Buddhism, with its non-theistic framework, grounds its ethics, not on the notion of obedience, but on that of harmony. In fact, the commentaries explain the word sila by another word, samadhana, meaning “harmony” or “coordination.”—“The Noble Eightfold Path”, Bikkhu Bodhi.


Ony two, and only one considered? In the EBTs, multiple similies or explanations to the same questions might be offered, perhaps for the benefit of the many listeners (and reciters and now, readers).
It’s a very chilling thing to developing and refining Right Speech, to think there is only one considered response possible.
The Buddha offered lists of Bests among his Noble followers. So - perhaps variations are recognized as a goodness by the Buddha?


I feel that even when it comes to a offering a wise, considered response, its difficult to know how the other person will react. Its really a matter of chance that what you say/do will trigger the other person’s Shenpa

Even the Buddha could not forsee how those he spoke to might react.

Consider this exchange (AN3.128):

While the Buddha was walking for alms near the cow-hitching place at the wavy leaf fig, he saw a disgruntled monk who was looking for pleasure in external things, unmindful, without situational awareness or immersion, with straying mind and undisciplined faculties.

The Buddha said to him, “Monk, don’t be bitter. If you’re bitter, corrupted by the stench of rotting flesh, flies will, without a doubt, plague and infest you.”

Hearing this advice of the Buddha, that monk was struck with a sense of urgency. Then, after the meal, on his return from alms-round, the Buddha told the mendicants what had happened. …

Here we see that the Buddha’s words did indeed have the desired effect on the recipient.

But then consider this from MN87:

The Buddha said to him, “Householder, you look like someone who’s not in their right mind; your faculties have deteriorated.”

“And how, sir, could my faculties not have deteriorated? For my dear and beloved only child has passed away. Since their death I haven’t felt like working or eating. I go to the cemetery and wail: ‘Where are you, my only child? Where are you, my only child?’”

“That’s so true, householder! That’s so true, householder! For our loved ones are a source of sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress.”

“Sir, who on earth could ever think such a thing! For our loved ones are a source of joy and happiness.” Disagreeing with the Buddha’s statement, rejecting it, he got up from his seat and left.

And not just rejected- this householder went about tom-tomming it all over Savatthi, so much so that the royal household had to seek clarification on the alleged statement from the Buddha!

Lest one think that it was only lay-people who reacted inappropriately, let us not forget the rude response of the Bhikkhus of Kosambi when the Buddha asked them to settle their differences.

And a third time the Lord spoke thus to these monks: “Enough, monks; no strife, no quarrels, no contention, no disputing.” And a third time that monk who spoke what was not dhamma spoke thus to the Lord: “Lord, let the Lord, the dhamma -master, wait; Lord, let the Lord, unconcerned, live intent on abiding in ease here and now; we will be (held) accountable for this strife, quarrel, contention, disputing.” Then the Lord, thinking: “These foolish men are as though infatuate; it is not easy to persuade them,” rising up from his seat, departed.

What stands out throughout the texts is that the Buddha always acted appropriately with respect to the situation, despite the (sometimes inappropriate) reactions of the other party. He was always equanimous, he offered his inputs in an appropriate way, and if the other person wasn’t willing to accept that input, the Buddha simply let it go, no worries … :pray::pray::pray:

Now, if only I could be as equanimous in my own dealings with others:thinking::grimacing:


A happy response cannot always be expected, it depends if the time is ripe for the recipient to receive the information. If they are at a intermediate stage then there will be a response which reflects incompleteness. The dhamma is a law, and everybody is at different stages of accepting it. The first stage is recognition of suffering, the duty attached to the first noble truth, and the understanding that we are alone in the world, and that many of the props we are accustomed to are delusions, does not come without pain, which is a necessary foundation of the path. The first response can be like a wild animal restrained by a rope, it will not be happy. The Buddha often used the analogy of taming an animal.

" This is the noble truth of stress…This noble truth of stress is to be comprehended…"—SN 56.11

Skill in questions:

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Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

These are truly wonderful resources, from which much can be learnt!

As I see it, the pivot point in any dialog comes at the Accepted/ not Accepted stage.
Being a good and moral person, I would hesitate to speak at all if it wasn’t True & Beneficial. This hopefully, is something which I can influence.
Whether it will be accepted by the other person or not is completely out of my control, nor can I forsee their reaction.
So my best bet is to tentatively test the waters by offering up what I see as True and Beneficial… and then watch and wait to see the reaction and proceed accordingly.
Something akin to what our wonderful Moderators do… :pray::grin::pray:

Now I’m wondering how often I may have been at the receiving end of something True and Beneficial and chose not to accept those answers due to my own inner incompleteness/ distorted perceptions… :thinking::thinking::thinking:


Here’s another good one imo.



:star_struck: I really like that one, thanks :smiley:
The ‘I’ in ‘think’ could also stand for ‘intention’, ie what is the intention in posting - to prove one is right? to be helpful? Does it come from ill will or greed for recognition? Or is it from compassion, metta, and being a kalyanamitta (friend in the dhamma) by sharing? This is part of the practice of right speech and understanding ones own defilements and fetters.

My 2 cents worth of opinion :slight_smile:
As such, I believe that if all these aspects are met, there is no ‘inappropriate answer’, just answers that vary depending on the causes and conditions of the individual. It is only as one progresses along the path (in terms of lifetimes not just this life) and delusion and the fetters fall away and wisdom develops, only then do answers start to reflect things as they truly are. But that doesn’t mean that anything less is inappropriate, just less skilled.

But by applying the ‘THINK’ method, it helps development of right speech >sila > wisdom. So go ahead and answer, and receive answers, just remember not to be attached to views :smiley: