Love: An I – thou Relationship.


Love is a ladder, a ladder of three rungs. The lowest rung is SEX, the middle is LOVE, and the highest is PRAYER. Because of these three rungs there are a thousand and one combinations possible. Real compassion appears only at the third rung when sex energy becomes prayer — the compassion of a buddha, the compassion Atisha is talking about. When passion has been transformed so totally, so utterly that it is no more passion at all, then compassion appears. Real compassion appears only when your sex energy has become prayer.

But compassion can appear on the second rung too, and compassion can appear on the first rung also. Hence there are so many different compassions.

For example, if compassion appears on the first rung, when you are living at the lowest level of love-energy, sex, then compassion will be just an EGO trip. Then compassion will be very egotistic: you will enjoy the idea of being compassionate. You will really enjoy the other’s suffering, because it is the other’s suffering that is giving you the opportunity to be compassionate. Somebody has fallen in the river and is drowning. The sexual person can jump in and save him, but his joy is that he was so good, that he did something beautiful, something great. He will talk about it with pride, he will brag about it. Compassion on the lowest rung, that of sex, will appear only as an ego trip. That’s what millions of missionaries all over the world are doing — serving the poor, serving the ill, serving the uneducated aboriginals, primitives. But the whole joy is that, “I am doing something great.” The ‘I’ is strengthened. That is an ugly form of compassion. It is called duty. Duty is a four-letter dirty word.

The second kind of compassion appears when love has arrived. Then compassion is SYMPATHY: you feel, you really feel for the other. You fall into a harmony with the other, the other’s suffering stirs you. It is not something to brag about. On the second rung, you will never talk about your compassion, never; it is not something to be talked about. In fact you will never feel that you have done anything special, you will simply feel you have done whatsoever was to be done. You will see that it was human to do it. There is nothing special in it, nothing extraordinary; you have not attained some spiritual merit in doing it. There is nothing like merit in it: it was natural, spontaneous. Then compassion is becoming more soft, more beautiful.

At the third rung, where sex energy becomes prayer, compassion appears as EMPATHY — not even sympathy, but empathy. Sympathy means feeling the other’s suffering, but you are still at a distance; empathy means becoming one with the other’s suffering — not only feeling it but suffering it, actually going into it.

If somebody is crying, sympathy means you feel for the one who is crying, empathy means you start crying. You are not only in a feeling space, you become attuned, you become really one: at-one-ment happens…

Compassion can have these three categories, and love also has three categories. First, sex. Sex simply means: “Give me — give me more and more!” It is exploitation, it is what Martin Buber calls the I-it relationship: “You are a thing and I want to use you.” The man uses the woman, the woman uses the man, the parents use the children and the children use parents, friends use friends. They say, “A friend is a friend only; a friend in need is a friend indeed.” Use, reduce the other into a commodity.

To live in the I-it world is to miss the whole wonder of existence. Then you are surrounded by things — not by persons, not by people, not by life, but just material things. The poorest man in the world is one who lives in the I-it relationship. Sex is exploitation.

Love is totally different. Love is not exploitation. Love is not an I-it relationship, it is an I-thou relationship. The other is respected as a person in his own right; the other is not a thing to be used, to be possessed, to be manipulated. The other is an independent person, a freedom. The other has to be communicated with, not exploited. Love is a communication of energies.

Sex is only “Give me, give me, give me more!” Hence the sexual relationship is continuously that of war, conflict, because the other also says “Give me!” Both want more and more, and nobody is ready to give. Hence the conflict, the tug-of-war. And of course whosoever proves more strong will exploit the other. Because man has been muscularly stronger than woman, he has exploited, he has reduced women to utter nonentities; he has destroyed the soul of women. And it was easier for him if the soul was completely destroyed.

For centuries women were not allowed to read; in many religions women were not allowed to go to the temple, women were not allowed to become priests. Women were not allowed any public life, any social life. They were imprisoned in the houses; they were cheap labor, the whole day working, working, working. And they were reduced to sex objects. There has not been much difference between prostitutes and wives in the past. The wife was reduced into a permanent prostitute, that’s all. The relationship was not a relationship, it was an ownership.

Love respects the other. It is a give-and-take relationship. Love enjoys giving, and love enjoys taking. It is a sharing, it is a communication. Both are equal in love; in a sexual relationship both are not equal. Love has a totally different beauty to it.

It happened in Ramakrishna’s life. And I take Ramakrishna’s story because others are very ancient, maybe just parables. Ramakrishna’s was just in the last century. And there were hundreds of eyewitnesses, reports and not a single denial of the fact, what had happened.

Ramakrishna was going in the Ganges in a boat to the other side – a few disciples were with him. Suddenly he started saying, ”Don’t beat me, don’t beat me, it hurts! I say don’t beat me!” And tears started coming to his eyes. And the disciples said, ”But nobody is beating you. Is this a new game you are playing? We have seen many things you have done, but this is absolutely new.”

But he was really crying and weeping and shouting, ”Help me, save me! They will kill me!” The disciples said, ”But what should we do? Because nobody is beating you, nobody is killing you.”

When they reached the other shore, they found a sudra – one of the untouchables, the lowest Hindu category of people, who are not treated like human beings – was being beaten by his master, by his owner, because he had made some mistake. That man was half nude, and there was blood on his back and lines from the lashes.

Ramakrishna’s people suddenly took away his shirt, and they could not believe it – the backs were both exactly the same: blood oozing… And Ramakrishna said, ”I was telling you, but you did not listen. They were beating me.”

Then they looked at that man who was lying almost unconscious. He was a sudra but for Ramakrishna this stupid and criminal categorization of society did not exist. That sudra used to come to Ramakrishna, he was one of his devotees. Even Ramakrishna’s own people used to say, ”This sudra should not be allowed.”

Ramakrishna said, ”Then I should not be allowed either, because I don’t see any difference. Everybody is born a sudra. Then if he becomes enlightened he can be a brahmin. If he becomes a warrior, he can be a chhatriya. If he becomes a businessman, he can be a vaishya. And if he remains in the lower kind of work – shoemaker, butcher, fisherman – then he should be a sudra. But as far as birth is concerned, everybody is born a sudra. It is the lifestyle and the raising of consciousness that can make a difference.”

There was so much disturbance that Ramakrishna told the sudra, ”When nobody is there… By the evening all these people go away” – he used to live outside Calcutta, near the Ganges – ”and you can come then. You live on the other side, so if you cannot come, I can come. We can have a little chit-chat. And you play the flute so beautifully… you can play the flute.”

The man was immensely in love with Ramakrishna and Ramakrishna showered his whole heart on him. What happened on that day was empathy: so much at-oneness that the same experience starts happening to both persons. That’s why I say, theoretically it is possible. And once in a while it has happened, not because consciously enlightened people take other people’s sicknesses and diseases on themselves, but accidentally, just like in the case of Ramakrishna.

The reality is that the enlightened person is somehow pulling together his body. He has lost all desires, all ambitions. He has no impetus for tomorrow. Even to breathe one more breath he has no reason for. So a great gap goes on growing. Awareness becomes more and more clean and clear, he can witness his own body from inside, but a witness is only a witness; he cannot do anything.

The world is slowly slowly moving towards love relationships; hence there is great turmoil. All the old institutions are disappearing — they have to disappear, because they were based on the I-it relationship. New ways of communication, new ways of sharing are bound to be discovered. They will have a different flavor, the flavor of love, of sharing. Nonpossessive they will be; there will be no owner.

Then the highest state of love is prayer. In prayer there is communion.

In sex there is the I-it relationship, in love the I-thou relationship. Martin Buber stops there; his Judaic tradition won’t allow him to go further. But one step more has to be taken: that is “neither I nor thou” — a relationship where I and thou disappear, a relationship where two persons no more function as two but function as one. A tremendous unity, a harmony, a deep accord, two bodies but one soul. That is the highest quality of love: I call it PRAYER. Love has these three stages, and compassion accordingly has three stages, and both can exist in different combinations.

Hence, there are so many kinds of love and so many kinds of compassion. But the basic, the most fundamental, is to understand this three-rung ladder of love. That will help you, that will give you an insight into where you are, what kind of love you are living in and what kind of compassion is happening to you. Watch. Beware not to remain caught in it. There are higher realms, heights to be climbed, peaks to be attained.

Osho: The Book of Wisdom: Chapter#19: Chapter title: The three rung ladder of love (Excerpts)
Osho: Hari Om Tat Sat: CHAPTER 16. NO MASTER CAN BETRAY LOVE Q 2. (Excerpts).

Someone very close to me reminded this ghazal in a very timely and situational manner…Shayar nudges us to climb the ladder from the lowest rung of sex to the higher ones even if it would take some time. He says….

जिस्म की बात नहीं थी उनके दिल तक जाना था
लम्बी दूरी तय करने में, वक़्त तो लगता है

Jism ki baat nahin thi unke dil tak jaana tha
lambi doori tay karne me, waqt to lagta hai.

I was to transcend the body and reach the heart
it takes time to cover such a long distance.

Please listen to each couplet as its a very heart warming ghazal sung by Jagjit Singh that I love so very much. I hope you too will like it…

Book : Kuchh Aur Tarah Se Bhi (Gazal) (Pg. 91) Author : Hastimal Hasti Publication : Vani Prakashan (2005)

Jagjit Singh Live – Pyar Ka Pehla Khat – YouTube

5 thoughts on “Love: An I – thou Relationship.”

  1. Mind-blowing. I am in transition phase. You altogether changed my orbit.
    Thank you very much.
    I owe you party for my transition. Milan Bhujbal

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