Excerpt from The Art of Living
The first form of violence, the first dimension, its first rule, is very deep; let us start from there. The first violence begins whenever one considers the other as the other. As soon I say that you are the other, I have become violent towards you. Actually it is impossible to be non-violent towards the other. We can only be non-violent towards ourselves; such is nature. We can only be non-violent towards ourselves; we simply cannot be non-violent towards another. The question itself does not arise, because violence begins with the very perception of the other as the other. It is very subtle; it is very deep.
Sartre’s dictum is: the other is hell; whoever is the other is hell. I am in agreement with this statement of Sartre up to a point. His understanding is deep. He is correct in saying that the other is hell. But his understanding is also incomplete. The other is not hell. Seeing the other as the other is hell. That is why whatever few moments of bliss we experience, we get them when we accept the other as ourselves. This is what we call love.
If I consider someone to be my own self in some moment, then in that moment the stream that flows between him and me is one of non-violence; it cannot remain one of violence. That moment of seeing someone as our own self is a moment of love. But the one that we have considered our own remains the other deep inside. Calling someone else our own is just a recognition of the fact that you are another, but we consider you to be one with us.
Hence somewhere in the depths of what we call love, there is violence. Hence the flame of love, the fire of love, keeps waxing and waning. Sometimes the other becomes the other; sometimes he is one with us. In twenty-four hours, this change may happen several times. When someone goes a little too far and appears as the other, then violence comes in between. When someone comes a little closer and begins to appear as our own self, then the violence will diminish. But the one we call our own is also the other. The wife is also the other, however much she is ours. The son is also the other, however much he is our own. The husband is also the other. The feeling of the other is always present, even when calling someone our own. That is why love cannot be completely non-violent. Love has its own ways of violence.
Love commits violence in its own way; it commits violence lovingly. The wife tortures the husband in a loving manner. The husband tortures the wife in a loving manner. The father tortures the son in a loving manner. And when the torture is loving, it becomes very secure, then to torture becomes easy because violence has put on the masks of non-violence. The teacher tortures the student and says, “I am torturing you for your own good.”
When we torture someone else for their own benefit the torturing is very easy. It becomes glorified and virtuous. So remember – when torturing others our faces are without masks – but when torturing those we call our own, our faces are never clear, they are masked. And the greatest violence committed in the world is not against others; it is against those we call our own.
The truth is that before making anyone an enemy, first it is essential to make him a friend. To make someone a friend, it is not a compulsory condition to first make him an enemy; there is no condition at all. But to make an enemy, it is first necessary to make him a friend. Without making a friend, an enemy cannot be made. Yes, a friend can be made without making an enemy, but friendship always precedes enmity.
The most profound veneer of non-violence occurs when we are being violent towards our own people. So, one who wants to become aware of his own violence will first have to become aware of the violence that he has towards his own people.
But as I have said, in certain moments, when we are becoming very close, the other appears to be our own self. This becoming close and becoming distant is very fluid. It keeps changing all the time. So we are never in love with someone for twenty-four hours a day. There are only moments of love. There are no hours of love, there are no days of love. There are no years of love, only moments. But from these moments the illusion of permanence arises – then the violence begins. If I love someone then it is a matter of the moment. I may also love in the next moment, but this is not a certainty. But if I have promised to keep loving into the next moment too, then when the next moment comes and we have moved apart and violence has come between us in that time, then that violence will take the facade, the appearance of love. That is why all the institutions in the world created to possess the other are violent. No institution has committed more violence than the institution called the family, but its violence is very subtle.