Chapter 2: I Call It Reverence for Life
Once in a while I would meet a group of hunters, special people. I was surprised to know one thing, that these hunters were violent people, but very loving, very friendly. I have lived with nonviolent people who are never loving, never friendly. The contrast was such that I started to look deeper into it: what was the matter? I made friends with great hunters of India, kings, princes - and in India there were so many maharajas and so many princes, and they were all hunters. If you go into a maharaja’s palace you will find out how many lions he has killed; they are all on exhibition. The whole house is full of dead animals, preserved, stuffed. And that is their pride.
I started making friends with these people and what I found was that they were all very nice, very loving, very simple and very innocent people. The man may have killed one hundred lions, but he himself is very childlike. He has not that arrogant, egoistic attitude of a non-violent Jaina or a non-violent Gandhian. He is a simple man, a simple human being. He knows he is not a saint. But these people who believe in nonviolence automatically start believing they are saints, superior beings, higher than everybody else. In their egoistic attitude there is more violence than there may be in the whole life of a hunter who has killed many animals.
The nonviolent believer does no violence to you physically, but psychologically he is very violent. Psychologically he will try to prove his superiority in every possible way. And one thing more: whatsoever violence he has prevented reaching others has not simply disappeared; things don’t disappear like that. The violent mind is inside. If you don’t allow it to express its violence on others, it is going to turn upon itself
So, nonviolent people have been torturing themselves in every possible way. They are very inventive in finding new methods of torturing themselves. The violence has not disappeared; it has only taken a roundabout turn. Gandhi was very violent to himself - just any excuse and he would go on a fast. Fasting is violence. If you keep somebody else starving it is violence. And if you keep yourself starving, isn’t it violence? Do you have double standards?
Whether I keep you starving or I keep myself starving, it is the same; the same principle and the same standard should be applied: I am a violent man, if not to your body, then to my own body. And in being violent with you, there was a possibility that you may have retaliated - you may have stopped me being violent to you. But to be violent with your own body is the easiest thing in the world. What can your body do? It cannot retaliate, it cannot prevent you. It has no defense against you. So the person who is violent to others, at least is violent to someone who has the right to defend himself and can be violent in return. But the person who is violent with himself is really cunning, very cunning. He has found the most innocent victim in the world, defenseless. You can do anything you want to your own body.