What matters more: the action or the actor?

Acharya Prashant
4 min readSep 10, 2021

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

Questioner: At one place you say, “To know your intentions watch your actions”. But at some other place you say, “Action does not matter, the actor does.” I see a contradiction here. Kindly clarify.

Acharya Prashant: When I say, “To know your intentions watch your actions”, I want you to be guarded against the hypocrisy of the Ego.

The Ego loves to carry images of everything, it lives in imaginations. It has no truth therefore all that it has is images. So it has images of everything, and obviously, it has an image of itself as well. So the Ego thinks: “This is how I am, this is what I want”, and it obviously carries a self-concept that is conducive to its own survival. That’s all the Ego wants. It wants to keep fattening. It wants to continue in time — survival is its aim.

So the Ego carries an image, and obviously, it’s a false self-image. How do we challenge this image? How do we know that this image is false? By seeing what is it that we are actually doing, how is it that we are actually living. And there we would usually find a gap, a dissonance.

We might keep thinking to ourselves that we are quite brave but then, we are forced to look at our life, our decisions, that is when we discover that there is hardly any bravery evident in our actions, in our choices. If you do not look at your life, you can happily keep imagining, for a long time, that you are the bravest one on the earth.

How do I discover that the Ego is living in deliberate falseness about itself? By seeing my choices, my actions. So I say, “Watch your actions.” That is where you will discover that you are living in falseness. Or you will discover that all is well about you. Fine! And then when I say that, “Actions do not matter, the actor does” what I mean to say is that when you are to decide upon an action, you have to be very careful about where the action is coming from. The action comes from the actor.

Why do we have to be mindful of the actor rather than the action? Because we are the actor. Because it is the actor that feels and suffers. The action is just a manifestation of the actor. The actor is the real thing. Why is the actor the real…

Acharya Prashant