Respect that precludes closeness is not Love, and not even Respect

Acharya Prashant
7 min readNov 8, 2020

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

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

Acharya Prashant (AP): What you call ‘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 the 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 ‘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 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.