Answer the questioner, not the question

Acharya Prashant
4 min readJul 17, 2021

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): In daily routine life, sometimes we say we should speak the truth, and truth only, and avoid speaking lies. But once you are speaking the truth, you are more relaxed and you don’t have to think every time what the lie was. So, should we speak the truth all the time?

Acharya Prashant (AP): No No, see, first of all, what you are calling truth is just facts. You are asking whether you should be stating facts to someone all the time.

Q: If the people usually lie all the time…

AP: When somebody asks you, he or she expects facts, right? If the fellow is really looking for the facts and you do not give to him facts then it is a disservice. But, there are times when both of you are just playing roles, the fellow is asking you something but not at all sincerely expecting a sincere answer. Now if you are giving a sincere answer, you are destroying the role play. Are you getting it?

There are times when the other fellow really wants the facts and then it is your duty to provide the fact, and then there are times when all the other fellow wants is some answer. And now if you are intent upon giving the facts, you are spoiling the occasion. Are you getting it?

Why do you want to spoil the occasion? You must have the presence to know what the other one is really asking for.

When you ask me a question, I do not give you the same reply as I would to some other questioner asking the same question. I have to look at what you are really asking for. Are you asking for the fact? Is your inquiry deeper than the fact? Or, are you someone who is just looking for consolations? There are people who come looking for consolations. I don’t feel obliged to give them even the facts. They come looking for consolations, I give them a joke, entertain them.

You have come asking for little, you have displayed your capacity only for the little. The size of your container is this (small) much. Now, even if all the cloud in the world rain upon you, they would only be wasting their water. So, why must I rain the truth upon you? You have come with the intention of only this much (little), I’ll only give you this much. Why…