Chapter 27: The Other Is Hell
But there is a gap between you and the cloud, between you and the falling leaves, between you and the stars. Howsoever close you come, there is still a gap. The very word closeness means two people, two things, not one. The gap is there, howsoever close. You come closest in a love affair with a person, perhaps for a few moments - I will not say for a few hours, a few days - perhaps for a few moments you come closest to a person, but still.there is a gap. You can shout, but your sound will not reach. You can spread your hands, but you cannot touch. The gap, howsoever small, is still big enough to keep you two separate entities.
You would like to become one, and that’s the misery of all lovers and the reason why all love affairs fail. They are bound to because they are trying to do the impossible. It is nobody’s fault. They come close.the moment of closeness is so beautiful that they would like to come even closer, but there comes a limit. Where is the limitation? The other is other, and there is no way that you two can become one.
Jean-Paul Sartre says, “The other is hell.” This man is not a psychoanalyst, but it has happened often that painters, poets, novelists, dramatists, artists, have come to discover something which the so-called experts, who are supposed to discover it, go on and on and never find. Now, Freud never found out that the other is the hell - neither did Jung, nor Adler, nor the whole company that has followed them. Jean-Paul Sartre, in this small statement, says something so tremendously deep and profound, that it is a revelation - the other is hell. Why? - because you want to merge, melt, so that the two-ness disappears and you become one, unified.so that you can see out of the eyes of your beloved, and you can smell, and you can taste, and you can hear, not as a separate being, but as one with the person you love.so that both your centers jump into each other and become one center.
That is where Sartre’s profound insight comes in. He said, “The other is hell.” There is no way. The other remains the other, continues to remain the other. Whatsoever you do, everything fails. And it is not the fault of the other. The other is also trying to do everything possible, but you remain the other. Both are trying, but they are going to fail because what they are desiring is impossible. Their alonenesses are their very being.
No trespass is possible, you cannot trespass on the being of another person. And it is good, because if people were able to trespass other people’s beings, then there would be no hope for humanity. Then there would be no hope for real freedom to exist, ever; because why should only one person trespass? - many can trespass you. Once it is possible, then many people can trespass on you. Your purity, your sanctity, your individuality, will lose all meaning.
Sartre is right. He has understood the point, that the other is going to remain the other, and the loving heart wants to become one with the beloved. It is going to fail. And that is the misery of lovers. Nobody knows misery more than lovers. Nobody knows suffering more than lovers.
So when he says the other is hell, he is saying many things. He is saying there is no other hell - only that one experience: when you come so close, where you feel just one step more and the paradise is yours, but that one step you cannot cross.