Most of us take pleasure in violence, in disliking somebody, hating a particular race or group of people, having antagonistic feelings towards others. So can we go to the very root of violence and be free from it? Otherwise we shall live everlastingly in battle with each other. If we know how to look at violence, not only outwardly in society-the wars, the riots, the national antagonisms, and class conflicts-but also in ourselves, then perhaps we shall be able to go beyond it.
Is this problem of violence out there or here? Do you want to solve the problem in the outside world, or are you questioning violence itself as it is in you? If you are free of violence in yourself, the question is: ‘How am I to live in a world full of violence, acquisitiveness, greed, envy, brutality? Will I not be destroyed?’ That is the inevitable question which is invariably asked. When you ask such a question, it seems to me you are not actually living peacefully. If you live peacefully, you will have no problem at all.
Now, it must be obvious to me that I am a violent human being. I have experienced violence in anger, violence in hatred, creating enmity, violence in jealousy, and so on. I have experienced it, I have known it, and I say to myself, ‘I want to understand this whole problem, not just one fragment of it expressed in war, but this aggression in man which also exists in the animals and of which I am a part.’
Violence is not merely killing another. It is violence when we use a sharp word, when we make a gesture to brush away a person, when we obey because there is fear. So violence isn’t merely organised butchery in the name of God, in the name of society or country. Violence is much more subtle, much deeper. When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.
Now, there are two primary schools of thought with regard to violence, one which says, ‘Violence is innate in man’ and the other which says, ‘Violence is the result of the social and cultural heritage in which man lives.’ We are not concerned with which school we belong to. What is important is the fact that we are violent, not the reason for it.
Here I am, a violent human being, whether I am black, brown, white or purple. I am not concerned with whether I have inherited this violence or whether society has produced it in me; all I am concerned with is whether it is at all possible to be free from it. To be free from violence means everything to me. It is more important to me than, food, position, for this thing is corrupting me. It is destroying me and destroying the world, and I want to understand it, I want to be beyond it. I feel responsible for all this violence in the world. I feel responsible-it isn’t just a lot of words-and I say to myself, ‘I can do something only if I am beyond anger myself, beyond violence, beyond nationality.’
And this feeling I have, that I must understand the violence in myself, brings tremendous vitality and passion to find out.