Vincent van Gogh - Sun Flower Painting
Osho on Vincent van Gogh
Osho - You will see the mediocre person becoming the president of a country, the prime minister of a country; becoming the richest man in the country, becoming the pope, becoming the head of a religion. But these are all mediocre people; their only qualification is their mediocrity. They are third rate and basically they are schizophrenic. They have divided their life in two parts: ends and means.
My approach is totally different: To make you one single whole. So I want you to live just for life's sake. The poets have defined art as for its own sake, there is nothing else beyond it: art for art's sake. It will not appeal to the mediocre at all because he counts things in terms of money, position, power. Is your poetry going to make you the prime minister of the country? -- then it is meaningful. But in fact your poetry may make you just a beggar, because who is going to purchase your poetry?
I am acquainted with many kinds of geniuses who are living like beggars for the simple reason that they did not accept the mediocre way of life, and they did not allow themselves to become schizophrenic. They are living -- of course they have a joy which no politician can ever know, they have a certain radiance which no billionaire is going to know. They have a certain rhythm to their heart of which these so-called religious people have no idea. But as far as their outside is concerned, they have been reduced by the society to live like beggars.
I would like you to remember one great, perhaps the greatest, Dutch painter: Vincent van Gogh. His father wanted him to become a religious minister, to live a life of respect -- comfortable, convenient -- and not only in this world, in the other world after death too. But Vincent van Gogh wanted to become a painter. His father said, "You are mad!"
He said, "That may be. To me, you are mad. I don't see any significance in becoming a minister because all I would be saying would be nothing but lies. I don't know God. I don't know whether there is any heaven or hell. I don't know whether man survives after death or not. I will be continually telling lies. Of course it is respectable, but that kind of respect is not for me; I will not be rejoicing in it. It will be a torture to my soul." The father threw him out.
He started painting -- he is the first modern painter. You can draw a line at Vincent van Gogh: before him painting was ordinary. Even the greatest painters, like Michelangelo, are of minor importance compared to Vincent van Gogh, because what they were painting was ordinary. Their painting was for the marketplace.
Michelangelo was painting for the churches his whole life; painting on church walls and church ceilings. He broke his backbone painting church ceilings, because to paint a ceiling you have to lie down on a high stool while you paint. It is a very uncomfortable position, and for days together, months together.... But he was earning money, and he was earning respect. He was painting angels, Christ, God creating the world. His famous painting is God creating the world.
Vincent van Gogh starts a totally new dimension. He could not sell a single painting in his whole life. Now, who will say that his painting has any point? Not a single person could see that there was anything in his paintings. His younger brother used to send him money; enough so that he did not die of starvation, just enough for seven days' food every week -- because if he gave him enough for a whole month he would finish it within two or three days, and the remaining days he would be starving. Every week he would send money to him.
And what Vincent van Gogh was doing was for four days he would eat, and for the three days in between those four days he was saving money for paints, canvasses. This is something totally different from Michelangelo, who earned enough money, who became a rich person. He sold all his paintings. They were made to be sold, it was business. Of course he was a great painter, so even paintings that were going to be sold came out beautifully. But if he had had the guts of a Vincent van Gogh, he would have enriched the whole world.
Three days starving, and van Gogh would purchase the paints and canvasses. His younger brother, hearing that not a single painting had sold, gave some money to a man -- a friend of his not known to Vincent van Gogh -- and told him to go and purchase at least one painting: "That will give him some satisfaction. The poor man is dying; the whole day he is painting, starving for painting but nobody is ready to purchase his painting -- nobody sees anything in it." Because to see something in Vincent van Gogh's painting you need the eye of a painter of the caliber of van Gogh; less than that will not do. His paintings will seem strange to you.
His trees are painted so high that they go above the stars; stars are left far behind. Now, you will think that this man is mad... trees going up higher than the stars? Have you seen such trees anywhere? When Vincent van Gogh was asked, "Your trees always go beyond the stars...?" he said, "Yes, because I understand trees. I have felt always that trees are the ambition of the earth to reach the stars. Otherwise why? To touch the stars, to feel the stars, to go beyond the stars -- this is the desire of the earth. The earth tries hard, but cannot fulfill the desire. I can do it. The earth will understand my paintings, and I don't care about you, whether you understand or not."
Now, this kind of paintings you cannot sell. The man his brother had sent came. Van Gogh was very happy: at last somebody had come to purchase. But soon his happiness turned into despair because the man looked around, picked one painting and gave the money.
Vincent van Gogh said, "But do you understand the
painting? You have picked it up so casually, you have not looked; I have
hundreds of paintings. You have not even bothered to look around; you
have simply picked one that was accidentally in front of you. I suspect
that you are sent by my brother. Put the painting back, take your money.
I will not sell the painting to a man who has no eyes for painting. And
tell my brother never to do such a thing again."
This prostitute out of compassion -- and sometimes
prostitutes have more compassion than your so-called ladies, they
understand men more -- just out of compassion she said, "I like you very
much." He had never heard this. Love was a far away thing. Even
Only in ancient Hindu scriptures on sexology: the Kamasutras of Vatsayana.... That is the only book I have been able to find that can be connected to this incident five thousand years afterwards with Vincent van Gogh, because only Vatsayana says, "Very few people are aware that ear lobes are tremendously sexual and sensitive points in the body. And lovers should play with each other's ear lobes" -- and this is a fact, although unknown.
If you start playing with the ear lobes of your lover, she or he may think that you are a little crazy -- what are you doing? Because people have become fixed on certain ideas: kissing is okay.... But there are tribes where nobody has ever heard about kissing; they rub noses with each other, and that is thought to be the most loving gesture. Certainly it is more hygienic, far more medically supportable than the French kiss.
Those people who rub noses think of people giving French kisses to each other as just dirty, simply dirty. But this prostitute perhaps was aware... because prostitutes become aware of many things which ordinary women and men don't become aware of, because they come in contact with so many people. Perhaps she was aware that ears have a sexual significance. They certainly have. Vatsayana is one of the greatest experts. Freud and Havelock Ellis and other sexologists are just pygmies before Vatsayana. And when he says something, he means it.
Van Gogh lived his whole life in poverty. He died painting. Before dying he went mad, because for one year continually he was painting the sun: hundreds of paintings, but nothing was coming to the point he wanted. But the whole day standing in the hottest place in France, in Arles, with the sun on the head -- because without the experience how can you paint? He painted the final painting, but he went mad. Just the heat, the hunger... but he was immensely happy; even in madness he was painting. And those paintings which he did in the madhouse are now worth millions.
He committed suicide for the simple reason that he had painted everything that he wanted to paint. Now painting was finished; he had come to a dead end. There was nothing more to do. Now to go on living was occupying space, somebody's place; that was ugly to him.
That's what he wrote in his letters to his brother: "My work is done. I have lived tremendously -- the way I wanted to live. I have painted what I wanted to paint. My last painting I have done today, and now I am taking a jump from this life into the unknown, whatever it is, because this life no longer contains anything for me."
Will you consider this man a genius? Will you consider this man intelligent, wise? No, ordinarily you would think he is simply mad. But I cannot say that. His living and his painting were not two things: painting was his living, that was his life. So to the whole world it seems suicide -- not to me. To me it simply seems a natural end. The painting is completed. Life is fulfilled. There was no other goal; whether he receives the Nobel prize, whether anybody appreciates his painting....
In his life nobody appreciated his work. In his life no art gallery accepted his paintings, even free. After he died, slowly, slowly, because of his sacrifice, painting changed its whole flavor. There would have been no Picasso without Vincent van Gogh. All the painters that have come after Vincent van Gogh are indebted to him, incalculably, because that man changed the whole direction. Slowly, slowly, as the direction changed, his paintings were discovered. A great search was made.
People had thrown his paintings in their empty houses, or in their basements, thinking that they were useless. They rushed to their basements, discovered his paintings, cleaned them. Even faked paintings came onto the market as authentic van Gogh. Now there are only two hundred paintings; he must have painted thousands. But any art gallery that has a Vincent van Gogh is proud, because the man poured his whole life in his paintings. They were not painted by color, but by blood, by breath -- his heartbeat is there.
Don't ask such a man, "Is there any meaning in your painting?" He is there in his painting, and you are asking, "Is there any meaning in your painting?" If you cannot see the meaning, you are responsible for it.
The higher a thing rises, the fewer the people who
will recognize it. When something reaches to the highest point, it is
very difficult to find even a few people to recognize it.
That's why a Buddha has to declare himself that he is enlightened. Nobody else can recognize it, because to recognize it, you will have to have some taste of it. Otherwise, how can you recognize it? No recognition is possible because the point is so high.
But what is the meaning of Buddhahood? What is the meaning of becoming enlightened? What is the point? If you ask about the point, there is none. It itself is enough. It needs nothing else to make it significant.
That's what I mean when I say that the really valuable things in life are not divided into ends and means. There is no division between ends and means. Ends are the means, means are the ends -- perhaps two sides of the same coin inseparably joined together -- in fact, they are a oneness, a wholeness.
You ask me, "Is there any point in life, in living?" I
am afraid that if I say there is no point in living, you will think that
means you have to commit suicide, because if there is no point in
living, then what else to do? -- commit suicide! I am not saying commit
suicide, because in committing suicide also there is no point.
Source - Osho Book "From Ignorance to Innocence"
Osho on famous people: Annie Besant, Alan Watts, Albert Einstein, Adolf Hitler, Confucius, Friedrich Nietzsche, George Santayana, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Machiavelli, Madame Blavatsky, Mahatma Gandhi, Marilyn Monroe, Martin Buber, Mother Teresa, Nijinsky, Shakuntala Devi, Somerset Maugham, Soren Kierkegaard, Subhash Chandra Bose, Vinoba Bhave