Can you please say something about violence as the expression of rebellion?
Violence can never be a part of the rebellious spirit for the simple reason that violence is the whole past of humanity – and the rebel wants to discontinue with the past. Violence has been the way of life for millennia. Directly or indirectly we have lived under violence. Our armies, our police, our jails, our judges, our wars, our so-called great religions, all have lived in violence. And violence, reduced to its essentials, is irreverent towards life.
To me the religious man, the religious consciousness, is nothing but a deep reverence for life itself, because there is no God beyond life, there is no paradise beyond consciousness. Violence is a violation of both life and consciousness – it is destructive.
The rebel is a creator; his whole philosophy is that of creativity. We have lived in destructiveness far too long, and what is the achievement? That’s why I have made a clear-cut distinction between the rebel and the reactionary. I have also made a distinction between the rebel and the revolutionary.
The reactionary is the lowest category. He can never disconnect himself from the past. The past is his orientation, he reacts against it. But whether you are for it or against it, it remains your reference, your context.
The revolutionary is a little higher than the reactionary. He does not only react, he also has dreams of the future, he has his utopias. But as far as violence is concerned, the revolutionary down the ages has thought that right ends can be attained through wrong means.
I refute that contention. Right ends can be achieved only through right means. Through violence you cannot achieve a peaceful, silent, loving humanity. The violence will be in the roots, it will poison your whole superstructure.
The rebel has to be nonviolent out of sheer necessity. Unless he is nonviolent, he cannot be the vehicle of a peaceful, warless, classless humanity.
If you sow the seeds of violence, you cannot expect and hope that the flowers will not be affected by violence. Those flowers will come out of the seeds you have sown. So each violent revolution has created another violent society, another violent culture. It is disgraceful to see that we still need armies, that we still need nuclear weapons. It is undignified to see that we need the policeman, the court and the jail. A better humanity, a more conscious man, will get rid of all this nonsense that surrounds us and pollutes our whole being.
The rebel cannot be half-hearted. He cannot be a chooser; he cannot choose a few things from the past, and not choose a few other things. Past as a whole has to be completely denied. Only then can we get rid of barbarousness in humanity – cruelty, violence and a deep-rooted disrespect for life and existence.
My approach is that of reverence for life.