Sometimes, a lay person would approach the Buddha and ask a question, such as, "If I earn all of the money in the world, will she like me?" to which the Buddha would reply, "It does not further". As the answer would not further his ultimate purpose, which is to give. (The question frames the asker as a 'taker', or 'possessor', or 'manipulator', etc.).

Does the answer to the question, "What are the pitfalls to improvement?", further my purpose to improve?

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    I think the Buddha says he knows two things, that there is suffering, and then he knows how to prevent suffering (the eightfold path). Now questions which lie outside these two will not tend to edify. So he wants us to think about these two things, "these things I know". Other questions he is not concerned to answer and pursuing them might even lead us further astray.
    – Gordon
    Jul 2, 2018 at 23:16
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    We have a Buddhism SE, they can probably give a better and more complete answer than I have given.
    – Gordon
    Jul 2, 2018 at 23:21
  • better to ask on buddhism SE. but to answer, the only pitfall to improvement is your own mind. Jul 3, 2018 at 6:41
  • I've never come across such an exchange and it seems untypical, but it is well-known that the Buddha generally avoids questions that are not helpful to furthering the progress of the practitioner. Here the 'pitfall to improvement' is wasting ones time with damn-fool questions. Just another example of the mind's ability to take up our time with trivia.
    – user20253
    Jul 3, 2018 at 10:23
  • @PeterJ That's funny. Here the OP is a fool that does not know whether it is a damn-fool question. Jul 3, 2018 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


Buddhist thought advises against various topics of thought, such as the Four Imponderables and the Ten Indeterminate Questions, and the Fourteen Unanswered Qurstions https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acinteyya

Note the way the Buddha defended this, against a monk who refused to continue practicing without answers to these, in https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Poisoned_Arrow The business of Buddhism is suffering, the causes 9f suffering, the ending of suffering, and the path to that. Not how to get a girl to like you, or some other concern or 'measure of improvement' which is not allied to this.


Although the answer to the question might be a list of pitfalls, it will not further your purpose, if you do nothing useful with it! In other words, asking for advice will do you no good - if you don't follow it.

  • You have not made clear that in Buddhism 'useful' meabs directed toward ending suffering.
    – CriglCragl
    Jul 12, 2018 at 10:11
  • I purposely left it ambiguous ("useful"), so as not to involve any religion, or impose any bias. I left it to the individual to decide what is useful to him/her.
    – Guill
    Jul 13, 2018 at 17:08

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