Debate and questioning has a long and noble tradition in Buddhism. For instance, in Tibetan Buddhism philosophical debate is considered an essential part of monastic studies deepening understanding, sharpening the mind, and developing wisdom and attainment. In Zen the process of asking questions is a fundamental part of the teacher and disciple relationship and Zen masters have warned that one should never stop thinking and Master Huineng said “to keep the mind still to contemplate silence and quiet is a disease rather than Zen” and it part of the path is Great Questioning (疑情) and doubt. After all it is well established that asking questions leads to deep understanding (Brill, 2002) (Alda 2012).
Debating philosophical topics is in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha, who said we should analyze the teachings before accepting them, just like we would analyze the purity and quality of gold before buying any. As the ancient Chinese proverb said, “He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” And as is well know geniuses of the modern age have shown the transformatitive value of questioning the most basic established truths and wisdom such as when it was asked: * “Why does an apple fall from a tree but, why does the moon not fall into the Earth?” (Newton) * “Why do the Galapagos Islands have so many species not found elsewhere?” (Darwin) * “What would the universe look like if I rode through it on a beam of light?” (Einstein)
Thi practice it the essential, ancient and thrilling Buddhist tradition of questioning (疑情) and debate.
Alda A (2012), Science. 2012 Mar 2; 335(6072):1019.Brill, Yarden (2002), Learning biology through research papers: a stimulus for question-asking by high-school students, Cell Biol Educ. Winter; 2(4):266-74.