Respect that precludes closeness is not Love, and not even Respect || Acharya Prashant (2015)

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Question: With me, I see that whenever there is respect, there is a separation. Respect creates a distance. And with closeness, there is loss of respect. You have earlier said that respect and love are essentially the same. How do these two go together?

Speaker: What you call as ‘respect’ is just an assertion of authority. Authority thrives on separation. Authority means – If I have to show myself as higher than you, obviously I cannot show myself to be same as you. To be higher than you, I have to be separate from you. Authority thrives on separation. That is the only definition of ‘respect’ that you have been told, and every child has been told.

Whenever we are told about ‘respect’ as kids, and even as adults, all that the word implies is, subjugation to a kind of fear. It is a particular code of conduct, to behave in a particular way. What else is implied when you tell a kid to behave respectfully? In fact, respect is nothing other than behavior; the way we know ‘respect’. Adhere to certain protocols of behavior and you will be called as ‘respectful’.

Now such respect obviously lives on separation. So there is no wonder when you say that whenever there is respect, there is a separation. And neither is there any wonder when you say that in closeness the respect reduces. With closeness, authority reduces, so respect also reduces. Hence one of the monstrous things about the concept of ‘respect’ that kids are implanted with, is that they cannot not come close to anything, especially not to the ‘respected’ ones. Because if they come close, then the respected ones would not remain the ‘respected’ ones anymore. So to preserve respectability, both sides would want that there is no closeness.

The respected one would say, “Don’t come close to me,” because he knows that if the fellow comes too close, then the respect would vanish. And the kid would also know that no one likes to lose his respect, so he would dare not go close. That way we have built and perpetuated a system that is against love, because without closeness how can there be love.

Remember, I am talking about our notion of respect, and what I am saying is that if you respect somebody, you cannot love him. And there are lots of respected people in your life, right? Think of all the people you respect so much. I am very brazenly claiming, and claiming with complete assurance, that you do not love the ones you respect. You may keep saying, “I respect the elderly ones in my home, and at the same time I love them”; impossible.

Given the flaws of your concept of ‘respect’, love and respect cannot go together. If you respect somebody, you cannot love him. You cannot love him. I am repeating: if you respect somebody you cannot love him. And that is the reason why so many of you have no relation with me, because your attitude and relationship with me is governed by your foolish protocols of respect.


You see, there was a new entrant to Advait recently; a brash youngster. And he would take liberties. The old timers in Advait started feeling uneasy. They said to me, “Sir, he is using such kind of language and such jokes in your presence. He does not respect you. He is sending out the wrong signals.” The fact is, only that fellow can get close to me, precisely because he does not wear that fake, rotten appearance of respectfulness. And there are many who show that they are quite respectful. And of course respect is just a show business, it is by definition just a show business, you have to show respect. So there are many here, who would show a lot of respect, and they have spent years and years here, and there is no intimacy between me and them. But there is a lot of respect.

All you have is respect, because that is what you have been taught. And you have still not been able to defeat the powers that infantilized you. Do you understand ‘infantilization’? You have been kept infants. You are still going out by the same rules that you were taught when you were three years of age. Why don’t you recognize that? You have not been able to grow. You were told that when Uncle Ji comes, show him a Namaste, and you are still doing that. You don’t even know how deeply it has penetrated your psyche, and this is respect. And if you don’t do that, you feel bad about yourself. “You know, I should have been more respectful towards Uncle Ji.”

Have you seen how your mind changes the moment you see silver hair? “Oh! Uncle Ji.” And you cannot forget the lashing you got when you were four years old, and Uncle Ji came, and you did not address him properly. And you cannot forget the scolding you got when Aunty Ji came and she said, “You know, your son, your daughter, they are not very cultured. They do not show enough respect,” and you got a scolding. You have not been able to get over that scolding, even today. You don’t know that. You are still Mumma’s baby, and you will die an infant. That is the tragedy of the whole thing.

Your body may have become that of a man or a woman, but here (pointing at the head), you are still an infant, unable to grow out of your notions. And you have co-opted me as well. But it is quite a joke, the kind of respect you display. And it is quite a tragedy, the kind of lovelessness you have. And your respect and your lovelessness go together. It is because you are so full of etiquette and manners, it is because you are so very civilized, that you have no love. No love at all. You are not real at all. How can you have love, when you are not real? Respect is a mask. That’s all you have; a mask.

Listener 1: Sir does it mean that because we don’t love someone, that is why we respect him, and if we love someone, then it doesn’t mean we disrespect him?

Speaker: When you love someone, then love is respect. Then you don’t need respect, or disrespect. When you love someone, then love is the only and the highest respect possible. What you have is respect and disrespect, in a dualistic framework. One particular way of behaving; you call as ‘respectful’, the opposite way of behaving; you call as ‘disrespectful’. This duality you call as ‘civilization’ or ‘lack of it’.

Real respect is non-dual. It is love itself, it is understanding itself. But it is very-very difficult for you to really come to a point where love and respect are one. It is so difficult for you. If you tell your mothers that you respect you babies, they will say, “We love them. But to respect a six months old baby is so difficult.” That only proves that even the love is not real. If there is separation between love and respect, even the love is not real. And then there are presidents and prime ministers, so you claim that you respect. But there is no love there. If respect is without love, then respect is not real.

Love without respect, and respect without love, neither is real. Love and respect both are one. To separate these two, to compartmentalize these two, is the biggest flaw. To separate these two is to separate the Heart from the mind.

Love and Respect

When you do not want to unprotect yourself, when you are deeply attached to your ego, then you do not want to come close to the Truth. Coming close to the Truth would mean your annihilation. Then you use ‘respect’ as an excuse. You say, “How can I go close? I respect him so much.” You do not respect me; you are just conspiring against yourself. The respect that you display to me is just conspiracy against me, and even before me, against yourself.

Truth does not want your behavioral patterns. The Truth is the Truth. It knows the Truth. Will you deceive the Truth by showing it the false? Will you deceive the Truth by showing it a particular behavior? Will you? The Truth wants your Heart, and that is the only respect you can offer. But you are so smart that even to the Truth, you offer the false. Do not show your respect to God, show him your reality. Do not show your face to God, show him your Heart. Getting it?

Listener 2: Sir, I have observed that I am always very respectful. For you also, I see that I do a lot of things respectfully. But now I see for quite a long time that this is a hindrance. What is the way out?

Speaker: Do not fight against it, just keep an eye on it. Understand what it is all about. Fighting against it will not be possible. The same center from where you would want to get energy for the fight, the same center also feeds that fake sense of respect. So you won’t win this fight. Don’t fight, just understand what is happening. And when you will understand, then you will not display fakeness.

Respect is nothing but the absence of fakeness. Don’t be fake. This is the highest respect.


Listener 2:  Sir, it is like that you know that you are faking, but you are so attuned to it that you cannot go back.

Speaker: Put your foot down, even if it becomes a little embarrassing. And the fight against fakeness, yes, do fight. There you must fight, with all your energy. Even if it becomes awkward, there you must fight.

~ Excerpts from a Shabd-Yog session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: Prashant Tripathi: Respect that precludes closeness is not Love, and not even Respect

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