The real meaning of ‘God helps those who help themselves’

Acharya Prashant
10 min readJun 30, 2022

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

Questioner (Q): ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ Is there something that I can do? Do I have any responsibility towards helping myself? Is not the act of helping myself against surrender?

Acharya Prashant (AP): A few things need to be clear in this regard. It says, ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ What is coming first here, your attempt to help yourself or the help of God?

Listener (L): Your attempt to help yourself.

AP: That is the misconception! It is usually construed that when we help ourselves, then God will come to help us. We have then put the action of God within a cause-effect limit. Effectively, we have built a handle upon God. We have said, “I know how to switch on the act of God. I know how to make ‘Him’ help me.” How to switch Him on? “Start helping yourself, and then He will come to help you.”

Now that makes it very easy; it is programmed and mechanical.

This is precisely how the ego operates. It thinks, it seriously thinks, that it can have a handle upon God as well. It seriously thinks that the beyond will operate as per its wishes. “I will help myself and thereby make Him help me.” Now reread this whole thing.

‘God helps those who help themselves.’ Can it be read in a different light? The whole game of wisdom and spiritual statements is that you must read them correctly. Otherwise, everything gets inverted. Not only misplaced, displaced, or removed a little, but it takes a meaning that is totally opposite of the intended meaning. That is what we have done to all the wisdom sayings and holy scriptures throughout the centuries: we have read them via the ego. We do not know any other means of operating. After all, we cannot suddenly be a changed mind!

When I go to a holy book, after all, I am the same man who went to the market, who went to the office, who went to the brothel. Or am I a different one? My underlying tendencies are the same, and I am carrying them everywhere, and with those same tendencies, I approach the holy book as well. I may pretend to be clean. I may say, “No, this is a very important moment and a very auspicious…

Acharya Prashant