Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
“There are these four ways of answering questions. Which four? There are questions that should be answered categorically [straightforwardly yes, no, this, or that]. There are questions that should be answered with an analytical (qualified) answer [defining or redefining the terms]. There are questions that should be answered with a counter-question. There are questions that should be put aside. These are the four ways of answering questions.”
First the categorical answer,
then the qualified,
third, the type to be counter-questioned,
and fourth, the one to be set aside.
Any monk who knows which is which,
in line with the Dhamma,
is said to be skilled
in the four types of questions:
hard to overcome, hard to beat,
profound, hard to defeat.
He knows what’s worthwhile
and what’s not,
proficient in recognizing both,
he rejects the worthless,
grasps the worthwhile.
He’s called one who has broken through
to what’s worthwhile,
prudent, and wise.