If you have Eyes, Look

Osho on French Painter Cezanne

Born on 19 January 1839, Paul Cezanne was a French painter whose work inspired the modern concept of art at the beginning of the 20th century. He is said to have led the shift from the Impressionism style of art to Cubism, focusing on the composition of the painting rather than the object. His style of painting was originally discredited but, eventually, his perseverance was rewarded to the point where Picasso and Matisse referred to him as “the father of us all”. Cezanne’s unconventional Cubism style is easily distinguishable, featuring small brushstrokes in a vast plane of color.

Cezanne initially went to law school to grow his career but shifted to painting after two years of struggle. He moved to Paris and his different periods of paintings began, starting from his “Dark Period”. His painting ‘The Murder’ is a prominent piece from the same, initiating the Post-Impressionism era.  Some of his other notable works include L’Estagque Melting Snow, The Boy In The Red Vest, The Basket Of Apples, and The Pyramid of Skulls. His last painting called The Bathers is one of his masterpieces, acting as an inspiration for modern artists to break away from tradition.

Osho mentions Cezanne while talking about Zen in the West, “The western painting has become illogical. You can see it in Picasso, Dali, Cezanne and other painters: the painting has become absolutely illogical, absurd. The poetry has become illogical — Ezra Pound and others. You can read it, but you will not find any meaning in it. The novels, the plays, all other art forms have taken a turn; they have become very illogical. This illogicalness is the outcome of two thousand years of logical effort which has completely failed: it has not provided any significance and meaning to man’s life.

In the same flood of illogicalness, Zen also has become influential, but the reasons for its influence are totally different. It is not that the West has experienced meditation — it is simply a reaction against logic that Zen has become a great appeal. The absurd anecdotes, the absurd lives of the Zen Masters — seems to be appealing because it has no logical construction.

Osho Says……


Some basic things first; then you can do this technique. We look at things always with old eyes. You come to your home; you look at it without looking at it. You know it — there is no need to look at it. You have entered it again and again for years together. You go to the door, you enter the door; you may unlock the door. But there is no need to look. This whole process goes on robot-like, mechanically, unconsciously. If something goes wrong, only if your key is not fitting into the lock, then you look at the lock. If the key fits, you never look at the lock. Because of mechanical habits, repeatedly doing the same thing again and again, you lose the capacity to look; you lose the freshness to look. Really, you lose the function of your eyes — remember this. You become basically blind, because eyes are not needed.

Remember the last time you looked at your wife. The last time you looked at your wife or at your husband may have been years ago. For how many years have you not looked? You just pass, giving a casual glimpse, but not a look. Go again and look at your wife or at your husband as if you were looking for the first time. Why? Because if you are looking for the first time, your eyes will be filled with a freshness. They will become alive. You are passing through a street, and a beautiful woman passes. Your eyes become alive — lighted. A sudden flame comes to them. This woman may be a wife to someone. He will not look at her; he may become as blind as you have become seeing your wife. Why? For the first time eyes are needed, the second time not so much, and the third time they are not needed. After a few repetitions you become blind. We live blindly.

Be aware. When you meet your children, are you looking at them? You are not looking at them. This habit kills the eyes; the eyes become bored — repeatedly there is the old again and again. And nothing is old really, it is just that your habit makes you feel that it is so. Your wife is not the same as she was yesterday, she cannot be; otherwise she is a miracle.

Nothing can be the same the next moment. Life is flux, everything is flowing, nothing is the same. The same sunrise will not happen again. In a sense also, the sun is not the same. Every day it is new; basic changes have occurred. And the sky will not be the same again; this morning is not going to come again. Every morning has its own individuality, and the sky and the colors, they will not gather in the same pattern again. But you go on moving as if everything is just the same.

They say nothing is new under the sky. Really, nothing is old under the sky. Only the eyes become old, accustomed to things; then nothing is new. For children everything is new: that is why everything gives them excitement. Even a colored stone on a beach, and they become so excited. You will not be excited even seeing God himself coming to your house.

You will not be so excited! You will say, “I know him, I have read about him.” Children are so excited because their eyes are new and fresh, and everything is a new world, a new dimension. Look at children’s eyes — at the freshness, the radiant aliveness, the vitality. They look mirror-like, silent, but penetrating. Only such eyes can reach within.

So this technique says, SEE AS IF FOR THE FIRST TIME A BEAUTEOUS PERSON OR AN ORDINARY OBJECT. Anything will do. Look at your shoes. You have been using them for years, but look as if for the first time and see the difference: the quality of your consciousness suddenly changes. I wonder whether you have seen Van Gogh’s painting of his shoe. It is one of the rarest things. There is just an old shoe — tired, sad, as if just on the verge of death. It is just an old shoe, but look at it, feel it, and you will feel what a long, boring life this shoe must have passed through. It is so sad, just praying to be taken away from life, tired completely, every nerve broken, just an old man, an old shoe. It is one of the most original paintings. But how could Van Gogh see it?

You have even more old shoes with you — more tired, more dead, more sad, depressed, but you have never looked at them, at what you have done to them, how you have behaved with them. They tell a life story about you because they are your shoes. They can say everything about you. If they could write, they would write a most authentic biography of the person they had to live with — every mood, every face. When their owner was in love he behaved differently with the shoes, when he was angry he behaved differently. And the shoes were not concerned at all, and everything has left a mark.

Look at Van Gogh’s painting, and then you will see what he could see in the shoes. Everything is there — a whole biography of the person who was using them. But how could he see? To be a painter, one has to regain the child’s look, the freshness. He can look at everything — at most ordinary things even. He can look!

Cezanne has painted a chair, just an ordinary chair, and you may even wonder… why paint a chair? There is no need. But he worked on that painting for months together. You may have stopped for a single moment to look at it, and he worked for months on it because he could look at a chair.

A chair has its own spirit, its own story, its own miseries and happinesses. It has lived! It has passed through life! It has its own experiences, memories. They are all revealed in Cezanne’s painting. But do you look at your chair? No one looks at it, no one feels it.

Any object will do. This technique is just to make your eyes fresh — so fresh, alive, radiantly vital, that they can move within and you can have a look at your inner self. SEE AS IF FOR THE FIRST TIME.

Make it a point to see everything as if for the first time, and sometime, suddenly, you will be surprised at what a beautiful world you have been missing.

Suddenly become aware and look at your wife as if for the first time. And it will be no wonder if you feel again the same love you felt the first time, the same surge of energy, the same attraction in its fullest. But look as if for the first time at a BEAUTEOUS PERSON OR AN ORDINARY OBJECT. What will happen? You will regain your eyesight. You are blind. Just now, as you are, you are blind. And this blindness is more fatal than physical blindness, because you have eyes and still you cannot look.

Jesus says many times, “Those who have eyes, let them see. Those who have ears, let them hear.” It seems that he was talking to blind men or to deaf men. But he goes on repeating it What was he – a superintendent in some institute for the blind ? He goes on repeating, “If you have eyes, look.” He must be talking with ordinary men who have eyes. But why this insistence on, “If you have eyes, look”? He is talking about the eyes which this technique can give you.

Look at everything you pass as if for the first time. Make it a continuous attitude. Touch everything as if for the first time. What will happen? If you can do this, you will be freed from your past. The burden, the depth, the dirtiness, the accumulated experiences – you will be freed from them.

Every moment, move from the past. Do not allow it to enter within you; do not allow it to be carried — leave it. Look at everything as if for the first time. This is a great technique to help you to be freed from the past. Then you are constantly in the present, and by and by you will have an affinity with the present. Then everything will be new. Then you will be able to understand Heraclitus’ saying that you cannot step twice in the same river. You cannot see a person twice – the same person — because nothing is static. Everything is river-like, flowing and flowing and flowing. If you are freed from the past and you have a look which can see the present, you will enter the existence. And this entry will be double: you will enter into everything, into its spirit, and you will enter into yourself also because the present is the door. All meditations in one way or the other try to get you to live in the present.

So this technique is one of the most beautiful techniques — and easy. You can try it, and without any danger.

If you are looking afresh even when passing through the same street again, it is a new street. Meeting the same friend as if he is a stranger, looking at your wife as you looked for the first time when she was a stranger, can you really say that he or she is not still a stranger? You may have lived for twenty years or thirty years or forty years with your wife, but can you say that you are acquainted with her? She is still a stranger: you are two strangers living together. You know the outer habits of each other, the outer reactions, but the inner core of the being is unknown, untouched. Look freshly again, as if for the first time, and you will see the same stranger. Nothing, nothing, has become old; everything is new. This will give a freshness to your look. Your eyes will become innocent. Those innocent eyes can see. Those innocent eyes can enter into the inner world.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1

Chapter #21

Chapter title: Three looking techniques

14 December 1972 pm in Woodlands, Bombay


Osho has spoken on many painters and artists like Picasso, Michaelangelo, Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Cezanne and many more in the course of His talks. More on this subject can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:

  1. Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 1, 2
  2. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 9
  3. Beyond Psychology
  4. Come Follow to You Vol.1-4
  5. Sermons in Stones
  6. The Last Testament, Vol 2, 3
  7. The Book of Wisdom
  8. Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2
  9. A Sudden Clash of Thunder
  10. From the False to the Truth
  11. From Ignorance to Innocence
  12. From Bondage to Freedom
  13. Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
Spread the love

Leave a comment