Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter, born on 30th of march who become posthumously the most popular and influential figure in the history of western art. In a decade he created 2100 art works with 860 oil paintings. They include landscapes, still lifes, portraits and self-portraits, and are characterised by bold colour and dramatic, impulsive and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art. Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime, and he was considered a madman and a failure. He became famous after his suicide and exists in the public imagination as a misunderstood genius.
Osho says, Vincent Van Gogh was kept for one year in a madhouse; and I don’t think he was mad, he was painting things the way we don’t know things are. During that one year in the madhouse he had painted his best paintings. And that is proof that he was perhaps in a higher state than the ordinary mind. Perhaps he had reached the super-conscious. In that one year he painted one painting in which the stars are spirals. And everybody laughed, “This is absolutely mad! Who has seen stars as spirals?” And just recently, a few days ago, physics has come to the same conclusion, that stars are spirals. It is because of the distance that we cannot see it. A hundred years after Van Gogh…
It is up to you to make each moment a deep contentment, a profound silence, a joyful dance… an eternity of rejoicing, a fragrance that is not of this world… that is not of time and space but belongs to the beyond. And as I see it, you are growing on the right path with a sincere heart…
I have been listening to your songs; they have a sweet pain, a heartfelt thankfulness. Sweet because nothing can be sweeter than to come in contact with the immortal, timeless, deathless source of life. To be in touch with a master is, in an indirect way, to be in touch with the godliness of existence.
There is sweetness in your songs, and there is a certain pain too. Pain because whatever you want to express, words are impotent to express it. What you want to sing… your heart is overflowing with it, but the language is not capable of translating it. Your musical instruments, howsoever refined, are not able to bring the music of silence into the world of sound. They are two diametrically opposite dimensions.
But your pain does not destroy the beauty of your sweetness; it makes it even more beautiful, gives it depth. It shows your experience and at the same time the inability to express it.
That which can be expressed is mundane.
That which cannot be expressed is sacred.
And every artist — musician or poet, painter or dancer — all have been trying in different ways for millions of years to give expression to the inexpressible. Even if they can give an indirect hint, just a finger pointing to the moon, that is success enough.And you are successful. Sing without any hesitation, without being worried that you will be thought crazy. Unless a singer is thought by the world to be insane, he is not a singer at all; if a dancer is not forced into a madhouse, the world has not given him the certificate. All geniuses are bound to be thought of by the world in this way… “Something has gone wrong with these poor people.”
Vincent Van Gogh, one of the Dutch painters, could not sell a single painting in his whole life. Now only two hundred paintings have survived out of thousands that he painted, because nobody took care of them. He was simply distributing them to friends; nobody would purchase them. People were afraid even to hang his paintings in their sitting rooms because whoever would see them would think that they were crazy: what kind of painting are you hanging here? People were taking them — not to hurt him — thanking him, and throwing his paintings into their basements so nobody would see. Now each of his paintings is worth a million dollars. What happened in one hundred years? The man himself was forced into a mad asylum when he was only thirty-two. And he was forced because of his painting — he was not harmful, he was not violent, he was not doing anything to anybody. But anybody who looked at his paintings was absolutely certain that this man was mad and unreliable. He should be put in a madhouse. If he could paint these things, he might do anything….” For example, he always painted stars as spirals. Even other painters told him, “Stars are not spirals!”
He said, “I also see the stars. I see that they are not spirals, but the moment I start painting them something in me says so strongly that they are spirals. The distance is so vast… that’s why your eyes cannot see exactly what their shape is. And the voice is so strong. I am simply unable to do anything else but what my inner being says to do.”
And now physicists have discovered that stars are spirals. It has gone like a shock throughout the world of painters, that only one painter in the whole history of man had some inner contact and communication with the stars — and that was a man who was thought to be mad. And because he was thought to be mad, nobody was ready to give him any service. Every week, his brother used to give him enough money to last for seven days. And he was fasting three days in a week and eating four days — because that was the only way to purchase canvas and colors and brushes to paint. Painting was more important than life. He committed suicide at the age of thirty -three. Just after his release from the madhouse, he painted only one painting, which they had prevented him from painting in the madhouse. He wanted to paint the sun. It took him one year. He lost his eyes… the burning sun, the hot sun, and the whole day long he would be watching all the colors, from the morning till the evening, from the sunrise to the sunset. He wanted the painting to contain everything about the sun, the whole biography of the sun. Everybody who was sympathetic to him told him, “This is too much. Just studying it one day is enough; it is the same sun.”
Van Gogh said, “You don’t know. It is never the same. You have never looked at it. I have never seen the same sunrise twice, never seen the same sunset again. And I want my painting to be a biography.” One year… the whole day watching the sun… He lost his eyes, but he painted. And when the painting was complete, he wrote a small letter to his brother: “I am not committing suicide out of any despair — because I am one of the most successful men in the world. I have done whatever I wanted to do in spite of the whole world condemning me. But this was my last wish, to paint the whole biography of the sun in one painting. It is completed today. I am immensely joyful, and now there is no need to live. I was living to paint; painting was my life, not breathing.” And he shot himself dead. You cannot categorize him with ordinary suicides. It is not a suicide — out of despair, out of sadness, out of failure — no. Out of immense success, out of total fulfillment, seeing that now, why unnecessarily go on living and waiting for death?… “I have done the work that I wanted to do.” Every creative artist has to understand this: the moment people start thinking about him that he is a little bit off center, that something is loose in his head, he should rejoice that he has crossed the boundary of the mundane and the mediocre. Now he has grown the wings which others don’t have.
And I can see in you the possibility, the potential. Meditate, and let music become your meditation. Sing and let singing become your life, your very breathing, your very heartbeat. A very stupid idea has prevailed in the world, that only saints are religious. In fact, almost 99.9 percent of saints are not religious. The real religious people will be found in creative dimensions — dancers, poets, painters, singers, musicians, sculptors. The future belongs to the creative man.
The past belonged to the uncreative saints. They have not created anything; their only quality was self torture. They were really all masochists. In a better world they would have been treated, not worshipped. They were not saints, they were psychologically sick. But because the uncreative was on the heights, was dominant, creative people suffered very much. They were thought to be sick. The future is going to be totally different. Now nobody can be a saint just because he is capable of torturing himself. He may be good in a circus…
I want my sannyasins to be saints with a new quality: the quality that serves life, the quality that nourishes life, affirms life, that makes life a little more beautiful, brings a few more flowers to it. Meditation in the past has been life negative: renounce life and everything that makes life worth living. To me, meditation is just the opposite of what it has been up to now. Meditation is a silent heart, a peaceful mind which can make life more lovable, more livable, which can make life richer in every dimension. I don’t want you to renounce anything. I want you to rejoice in everything, whatever you are doing.You are a musician. Let music be your meditation. This is your religion — not Mohammedanism, not Hinduism, not Christianity. Music is your religion. If you are a dancer, then dancing is your religion.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Chapter title: The future belongs to the creative man
21 October 1986 pm in
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:
- Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 1, 2
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 9
- Beyond Psychology
- Come Follow to You Vol.1-4
- Sermons in Stones
- The Last Testament, Vol 2, 3
- The Book of Wisdom
- Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2
- A Sudden Clash of Thunder
- From the False to the Truth
- From Ignorance to Innocence
- From Bondage to Freedom
- Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance