T 1670B Nāgasena Bhikṣu Sūtra

Part 2: Dialogues

2.2. Methods of Discussion

The king asked, “Venerable Nāgasena, will you discuss the doctrine with me?”

Nāgasena said, “If your majesty would discuss with me as a wise man, yes, I can. But if your majesty would discuss with me as a king, no, I cannot.”

“What does it mean to ‘discuss as a wise man’?”

When the wise converses, they question one another, solve problems together, agree on and turn down a point together. Winners or losers, they know right and wrong, and they themselves know what is right and what is wrong. That is the highest wisdom. The wise would never have anger or hate. Thus do wise men discuss.”

“And how do kings debate?” asked the king.

“When a king, your majesty, discusses a matter, he speaks in an unbridled fashion. He advances a point and if anyone disagrees with him and is unwilling to do as the king wishes, then the king will punish or even kill that person. Thus your majesty, do kings discuss.”

Then the king said, “I would like to talk as a wise man (pandit), not as a king. You should not talk to me as you would talk to a king, you should talk to me as if you are talking to those sramanas, your disciples, those upasakas, or even the attendants of those sramanas. You should also not have fear and be calm in your mind. Our talk should aim at enlightening each other.”

“Excellent, your majesty,” said Nāgasena.