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The first [of the five vows of Patanjali] is ahimsa, nonviolence.
People have used it to cut themselves from life because they think if you are in life there will be some violence or other. There are Jains in India; they believe in nonviolence. That is their whole religion. You see a Jain monk: he escapes from everything because everywhere he finds there is a possibility of violence. Jains stopped cultivation — gardening, farming — because if you are doing farming, gardening, cultivating, then there will be violence because you will have to cut many plants and every plant has a life. So Jains completely dropped but of agriculture.
There are Jain monks who are even afraid to breathe because in breathing many lives are killed. Very small lives are moving in the air. It is full of germs, very minute germs; you cannot see them with the naked eye. When you breathe in, they die; when you breathe out, your hot air coming out kills them. So they have even become afraid of breathing. They cannot walk in the night because maybe some insect in the dark; then there is violence. They cannot move in the rainy season because in the rainy season many insects and many flies, many ants, are born, and everywhere life is alive. If you move on wet ground there is a possibility.... It is said that a Jain monk should not even turn his side in the night while asleep, because if you turn your side too many times you may kill a few insects; you should remain on one side.
This is moving to the extreme. This is moving to absurdity. So remember, people have used nonviolence against life. And nonviolence means such a deep love of life that you cannot kill: you love life so much that you will not like to hurt anybody. It is deep love, not rejection.
Of course, in being alive a little violence is a must, but that is not violence, because you are not doing it willfully. So remember, only that is violence which you do willfully. If I am breathing, I am not breathing willfully. Breathing is going automatically — you are not breathing; you are not the doer. You try to stop it and then you will know. Just for a single second you can stop, and it comes rushing out or rushing in. It happens you are not responsible for it. Food, you will have to eat. Whatsoever you eat will be a sort of violence. Even if you pluck fruits from the trees you are hurting the trees.
You can stretch a principle to absurdity: and then there is only one possibility: commit suicide. But that too is violent: you arc killing yourself. Not only yourself, in your bloodstream there are seven million germs; they will be killed if you commit suicide. So nowhere to go; not even suicide is possible.
This will become a very absurd life, worried, tense. And you were in search of a relaxed, calm and quiet life; and this life will become so tense and such anguish....
You can see: go, look at Jain monks’ faces. You will never find their faces blissful — impossible. If you live in such total fear that everything seems to be wrong, you are surrounded by guilt and guilt and nothing else, and whatsoever you do is sin more or less.... Even to speak a word is to commit sin because when you speak, more hot air comes out of the mouth: it kills thousands of small microbes. You drink water and you kill; you cannot avoid. Then what to do?
Patanjali is not against life; he is a lover. Nobody who knows is against life. Then nonviolence simply means love life so much — to me, nonviolence is love...love life so much that you would not like to hurt anybody, that’s all. But in sheer living many things will happen which you cannot help. Don’t be worried about them; otherwise you will go mad. Don’t be worried about them. Remember only one thing: that you have not been killing anybody willfully. Even if you have to harm somebody unwillfully, you have a feeling of love.
Go to the tree, and if you have to pluck the fruit because you are hungry and you will die if you don’t pluck the fruit, then thank the tree. First ask the permission of the tree: “I am going to take this fruit. This is a trespass, but I am dying and I have to do it. But I will serve you in many ways. I will pay it back. I will give you more water; I will take more care of you. So whatsoever I am taking, I will give you back...even more than that.” To love life, to help life. to be beneficial to life — to everything that is alive, be a blessing. If you have to do something which you feel could be avoided, first, avoid it; if it cannot be avoided then try to repay it.
There is a difference. Now even scientists say there is a difference. If you go to the tree and ask the permission, the tree doesn’t feel hurt. It is no longer a trespass; the permission has been asked. The tree in fact feels good that you came. The tree feels happy that she could help somebody in need. The tree is richer because you came and the tree could share. The fruits were going to fall anyhow. The tree could share with somebody — you not only helped yourself, you have helped the tree to grow in consciousness.
To be nonviolent means to be beneficial, to be helpful to everybody — to yourself and to others also. This is the first yam; the first self-discipline is love. Nonviolence means love. If you love then everything is okayed. If you don’t love, even if you become nonviolent it is useless.
Why does Patanjali make it the first yam, first discipline? Love is the first discipline, the very base. If a trace remains in you to hurt others, when you will become powerful you will become dangerous. That trace will become the danger. Not a single trace should remain in you “to hurt”; and it is there in everybody.
You hurt in millions of ways, and you hurt in such ways that nobody can defend themselves from you. Sometimes you hurt in “good” ways, with good reasons, rationalizations. You say something to a person which may be true, and you say, “I am saying the truth,” but deep down the desire is to hurt the man by saying the truth. Then the truth is worse than a lie; it should not be told. If you can’t make your truth sweet and nice and beautiful, better not to say it.
And always look within for what you are saying it. What is the deep desire? Do you want to hurt the other in the name of truth? Then your truth is poisoned already: it is no longer religious, it is no longer moral — it is already immoral. Drop that truth. I tell you, even a lie is good if it is spoken out of love, and a truth is bad it is spoken just to hurt.
These are not dead principles. You have to understand them, and you have to understand the knack of using them. I have seen people using good principles for bad reasons, living a good life for bad reasons. You can be very pious just to feel egoistic: then your piousness is a sin. You can be a man of character just to feel proud that you arc a man of character. Better it was that you were a man of no character; at least this ego would not have been there. If the character is only feeding the ego, it is worse than characterlessness. So always look deep down. Always be a depth-searcher into your own being: what you are doing, why you are doing. And don’t be satisfied with superficial rationalizations — they are thousands and you can convince yourself that you were right.
Nonviolence is the first; love is always the first. And if you learn how to love, you learn everything. By and by the very phenomenon of love becomes an environ around you: wherever you move, a grace moves with you, wherever you go, you go with gifts, you share your being. Nonviolence is not a negative thing; it is a positive feeling of love. The word nonviolence is negative. The word is negative because people are violent, and violence has become such a positive force in their being that a negative word is needed to negate it. Only the word is negative: the phenomenon is positive: it is love.
Osho, Yoga: the Alpha and Omega , Talk #7
Next Week: The Second of the Five Vows
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