If Truth is not in words, why does the teacher speak?

Acharya Prashant
7 min readOct 25, 2021

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

Questioner: Acharya Ji Namaskar! Is there anything more futile than words? At times I feel beautiful and cry out of joy. Or feel like bursting into tears but words fail me. Other times, I do not feel much but can perfectly articulate it into words. For instance, I write poems, and readers often gravitate towards them.

The irony is that deep down, I know that the poem did not come from the bottom of my heart. And when it does come from there, then the readers enjoy it in their own version, not mine. That makes me question the very process of communication. Can a teacher and a student ever be on the same plane, especially if the mode of communication is words or letters? If not, is it not futile listening to words or reading letters of Truth?

Acharya Prashant (AP): So, I may not speak and just keep sipping tea. But then you would not listen. I have said that many times, that I speak just so that you can be near me. I speak, not so that you listen to me, but so that you just listen. Nearness is important. Listening is important. And nearness really has no object. If I say, you are near to something, then I am merely roaming around in the physical realm. If I say you are listening to somebody, then I am merely talking of bodies.

Truly, nearness and listening are not physical in nature. Nearness and listening relate to the mind coming near to its own source and listening to the great eminent silence. You have picked it up rather wisely, that words are such inferior, incapable carriers of Truth. Why does the teacher speak then? The teacher speaks to engage you, not to educate you. Words are a means to keep you engaged. You are being kept engaged so that in the meanwhile, a possibility of nearness is created.

A little child has to be injected with some medicine, and he fears the very sight of the injection, the needle, and everything. So he’s told a story, and the story is captivating. And the story has a song and a dance; a princess and a demon. And of course, a valiant prince. And the child is lost listening to the story. And then when the child is fully engrossed in the story, from behind on his butt, the injection is silently, secretly, administered.