On Advaita Vedanta: Truth will not answer the false, but the Guru will

Acharya Prashant
8 min readApr 19, 2022

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

Questioner (Q): Wherever I find myself entering into conversations with people, I am often asked questions such as ‘How are you?’, ‘How was your day?’, ‘Where are you from?’, ‘What are your hobbies and interests?’. Any answer that I give I know to be ultimately false. Answers such as ‘I am not good, not bad’ etc. emerge, and I find myself uninterested in asking the same questions back because I don’t want to encourage the other to weave stories about themselves either.

At the same time, I understand that people just want to come close and relate, and they may not know any other way to do that than to ask questions that invite me into a dance of mutual story-telling as a means of gaining intimacy. However, none of the answers I give them will tell them anything about me nor give them that which they truly want. How to navigate through this situation?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Come on. You are saying people come over to you, they ask you how are you, how was your day, how is life, and you are saying, “Well, any answer that I give to them would ultimately not be truthful, so I don’t want to engage them, I don’t want to give them any response.” At the same time, you very well know, as you say, that probably the one who is asking you these questions knows no other way to relate to you. So, you do have to engage him, you do have to respond, and you are asking how to navigate this.

How do I navigate your questions? You are befuddled when you see the basic questions like ‘Hey, all good?’, ‘Having a nice day?’, ‘How do you do?’, ‘How is life?’; you see the falseness in these questions, right? And then you are perplexed. You are saying, “Acharya Ji, these questions are false! And if I respond to them, am I not participating in the false?” What about the questions that you keep asking me? How true are they?

Just as from your vantage position you see the falseness of questions like ‘Who are you?’, ‘Where are you going?’, ‘How do you do?’, I too see the falseness of the questions that I answer every day. Now, what to do? Should I declare all these questions false? That is such a tempting thought… You shouldn’t have brought me to this! It…