The real meaning of help || IIT Kharagpur (2022)

May 22, 2022 | Acharya Prashant

Questioner (Q): I have discovered that being a little altruistic, a little selfless makes me feel that I am elevating my consciousness. That is what works for me. But one problem associated with this is the problem of the violation of boundaries. So, suppose I want to help a person and put in the effort to help that person. It is inherently linked with the sense of guilt that I would feel at a later time if I choose to not help that person. This leads to me violating my own interests at times and makes me feel guilty when I say no to others. How should we deal with this? How should we define our boundaries when it comes to sacrificing our time for others?

Acharya Prashant (AP): See, altruistic behavior or helpfulness, these are not ends in themselves. However, they are often recommended or taught because mostly they go hand-in-hand with an elevated state of consciousness—mostly but not always. You have to remember what is the end and what is just a medium. Helpfulness is a medium, not an end in itself. You have to ask: Is the helpfulness really delivering what anything is supposed to deliver, what anything must deliver to be of any worth? If helpfulness is delivering that, only then what you are doing can be called as help in the real sense of the word. Otherwise, it is not help.

Somebody comes begging to you, “Help me, help me! Please give me some cocaine! Please help me!” And he is desperate, he is crying, he is begging. The only help he seeks from you is the powder that he wants. Now, here you have to be very clear about the real meaning of the word ‘help’. Now, in this instance, help, as we usually know it, is not aligned with elevation of consciousness. As we normally use the word ‘help’, help is about giving something to the one


Acharya Prashant is an emerging champion of socio-spiritual awakening in the world today. An alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad, and a former Civil Services officer, Acharya Prashant is an acclaimed Speaker, Vedanta Teacher and author of over 50 books. Apart from that he wears various hats: a veganism promoter, an environmental activist, a science activist, a campaigner against superstition, and a champion of essential human freedom. Know More