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If Truth is not in words, why does the teacher speak? || (2018)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
10 min
21 reads

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 are often gravitated 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: 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.

You can just perceive me telling you stories. That is a testimony to my process and my success. I engage you with my words, with my stories, and you don’t even come to know when the shot has been delivered on your butt. Now don’t start feeling there. Hold your hand.

Words are very much needed. Not to deliver the Truth to you, but to just satisfy your curious mind. You need to be engaged. You have so many questions. The questions demand answers. The child is asking so many questions and you can give him very interesting answers. And that engrosses the child. The child is now lost in the Q&A session. And behind his back, the doctor is doing his job.

So in one dimension, words are absolutely useless. Because they cannot convey the real thing. But it is equally true that without words the real thing cannot be conveyed. That does not mean that words will convey the real thing. Words will just take you away and in the meanwhile, the real thing can be done. Understand this.

You are a barrier against understanding. Who are you? You are an unnecessary guard. You guard the entrance to yourself. Nothing real can enter you because you’re yourself standing at the door, guarding the door. Words are needed to entertain you. To attract you, to just possess you. And when you are possessed, then the guard lets down his defense. The guard is busy watching the song and the dance, and he has kept his gun down. Now is the time to furtively enter the door.

Words are needed so that your defenses come down a little. And that is all that is needed. Nothing needs to actually enter you. All that is needed is that your defenses are lowered. Once your defenses are lowered, everything is alright. So, can words communicate the Truth? No, they cannot. Now, can the Truth be communicated without words? No, it cannot be. I’ll repeat, can words communicate the Truth? No, they cannot. But can Truth be communicated without words? That too is quite difficult.

If not words, then some other ploy will be needed. Because the guard needs to be somehow distracted. It is quite curious, the words of the Guru are actually a distraction. But who are they seeking to distract? That robe and needless guard. He needs to be distracted because if he is very adamant on his duty, if he is concentrating on his self-assigned duty, then you will be impenetrable. The teacher will not be able to penetrate you. The guard will come in between. The guard needs to be very tactfully removed.

Words are that tact. If not words, then some other tact, some other method will be needed to remove that guard. We are not innocent beings, you see. We don’t just fall silent. We require something to happen to fall silent. My words are that happening. Even as you are busy focusing on my words, the real action is happening somewhere else. And I’m glad you are concentrating just on my words, so your absence is allowing the real action to happen where it must happen.

I’ve just taken you away from the real place. Because if the unreal one is present at the real place, then he is a nuisance. He is just a troublemaker. You are the unreal one. Words help to take the unreal one away. That’s why it is sometimes said that it is not the words but the underlying silence that teaches. Would you sit like this had I not been speaking? It is not what you are hearing that is important. What is important is the fact that you were sitting like this near to me. This nearness, this intimacy is important. So I speak.

Speaking, it’s just a means. You can even call it a trick. You may even go on to say that you are being duped, but that is needed. Otherwise, you won’t sit like this. If I say I won’t talk, as I said at the beginning of my response, I would just keep sipping my tea. Would you still listen to me? You won’t. Because given how you are, always in need of objects, words, I can be with you wordlessly as well, but you would run away. Because you are the kid who needs a toy to play with. So if I want you to be with me, I must give you a toy. My words are that toy. The kid wants the toy, and I want the kid to be near me. Cool, I lure the kid with the toy. The kid gets the toy, I get the kid.

You are that kid and the words are toys. You come to me thinking that I am speaking. It’s not so. Look at yourself. When do you connect to me? Only when someone announces that a session is going to happen. So you connect to me only when you know that I am going to speak. Otherwise, you disconnect. That is why it is important that I speak. Otherwise, you won’t connect to me.

Could you connect to me even when I was not speaking? I wouldn’t have been forced to speak and I would’ve saved a lot of my energy. But you are such a stubborn kid. You won’t come to me unless I tempt you with a toy. You won’t login unless someone announces that a session is going to take place. An entire formal procedure has to be completed. And then you feel something important is going to happen. You enroll in the program. And then dates are announced. And then messages are sent. And then you login. And then you connect to me.

Now, all this process is junk. You could’ve simply connected to me. Wordlessly, processlessly. But you won’t do that. The kid wants the toy. So I have no option but to give you the toy. And then all this formality has to be gone through. The camera has to be set. The Internet connection has to be checked. I have to come over in a Kurta. The poor T-shirt has to be dropped. And then you say, “Now, I will listen.”

I wish you would listen without props. I wish you could listen without words. I know for sure that I am more eloquent when I am not speaking. But do you listen to me then? You don’t. When I am not speaking, you stop listening to me. So I will keep speaking till the moment when you are able to hear me even when I am not speaking. A point will come when I would not be speaking and you would still be listening. That would be the point of my personal freedom. Then I would be liberated from you.

Then I will have no need to sit down like this, foolishly in this chair, holding this cup of tea as a prop for you and teaching you in a formal way. All this is quite stupid. I am waiting for my personal freedom to arrive. I am waiting for that day to arrive when I would be able to connect to you wordlessly. Unfortunately, it seems that, that day is not very near. So I am fated to keep communicating in words. And keep coming up with more and more songs and stories.

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