How is Vedanta different from self-help? || (2020)

Acharya Prashant
4 min readApr 30, 2024

Questioner: Pranam Acharya Ji! I am working with home ministry, the government of India. My question is, there are hundreds of self-help books published every year telling us how to live in a better way. What makes Vedantic teachings distinct from those self-help books?

Acharya Prashant: Self-help books in general, want to help the self without investigating into what the self really is. So, in the name of self-help, what is usually advised is gratification of the self. The self is taken as a fundamental and unchangeable entity not to be questioned. And the entire purpose of the book then is to remove the obstacles in the path of gratification of that self that has been turned into a sacred entity.

So, the self has certain desires, and the book will tell you how to fulfill all your desires and dreams. And you’ll say — “Yes, this is what I want and the book is telling me how to get that thing.” The book will never or rarely ask you — “What is it that you want? Where are your wants coming from? Are your desires even yours?” Now, these are tough questions; these are unsettling questions. People don’t want to go into them because if you go into these questions, then your basic identity is challenged. Your very sense of existence is then interrogated. And we don’t like that because it disturbs.