Friday, October 21, 2005

Vincent Van Gogh

Portrait : Vincent Van Gogh

Excerpt from Osho Books:

Nobody purchased Vincent van Gogh's paintings. During his whole life not a single painting was sold, but that didn't matter; he enjoyed himself. If they sold, good; if they did not sell, good. The real prize was not in their being sold and appreciated, the real prize was in the painter's creating of them. In that very creation he has attained his goal. In the moment of creation he becomes divine. You become God whenever you create.You have heard it said again and again that God created the world. I tell you one thing more: whenever YOU create something you become a small God in your own right. If God is the creator then to be creative is the only way to reach him. Then you become a participant, then you are no more a spectator.
Van Gogh, appreciated or not, lived a tremendously beautiful life in his inner world -- very colourful. The real prize is not when a painting is sold and critics appreciate it all over the world -- that is just a booby prize. The real prize is when the painter is creating it, when the painter is lost in his painting, when the dancer has dissolved into his dance, when the singer has forgotten who he is and the song throbs. THERE is the real prize, THERE is the attainment.In the outside world you depend on others. In the public life, in the political life, you depend on others, you are a slave. In the private life you start becoming a master of your own being.
The Art of Dying, Ch. 9

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.
Beyond Enlightenment, Ch. 19

The first book today is Irving Stone's LUST FOR LIFE. It is a novel based on the life of Vincent van Gogh. Stone has done such a tremendous work that I don't remember anybody else doing the same. Nobody has written so intimately about somebody else, as if he is writing from his very own being.LUST FOR LIFE is not just a novel, it is a spiritual book. It is spiritual in my sense, because to me all dimensions of life have to be incorporated into a single synthesis; only then one is spiritual. The book is written so beautifully that the possibility that even Irving Stone will be able to transcend it is remote.After that book he wrote many others, and my second book today is also by Irving Stone. I count it second because it is secondary, not of the quality of LUST FOR LIFE. It is THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY, again based on another life in the same way. Perhaps Stone was thinking that he would be able to create another LUST FOR LIFE, but he failed. Although he failed, the book stands second -- not to any other but to his own. There are hundreds of novels written on the lives of artists, poets, painters, but none of them reaches even to the height of the second book, what to say of the first. Both are beautiful, but the first is of transcendental beauty.
Books I have loved, Ch. 13

Recommended Book :


Jasjit Purewal said...


Your site is powerful. It reveals the seeker who has tagged his journey and connected the dots insightfully. You bring powerful messengers together and harmonize the whole well. Many blessings to you.

Your choice of Vincent the 'gandharva' messiah is metaphoric of the manifold ways in which Grace lends its light to the world. Bogged down as the modern mind is, with trying to sift the spiritual from the mundane Vincent points to the cauldron of a simmering soul as one such gate where light awaits its requisite channel. And rightly so 'Lust for Life' is a Bible of sorts for all those who want to peer deep into that soul and find themslves reflected. Van Gogh was a man posessed with the power of his vision/truth and Irving Stone immortalized that truth for all who can resonate with it. And yes The Agony and Ecstacy is another powerful second. Almost as if this man entered the skins of Van Gogh and Micheal Angelo.
When I was young and intensity was my only reason for being, these two books became my raison d'etre. Today when I hear others speak about how they were moved by them I too see a certain kind of passion in the souls who gravitate to these books. The dots are quite a pattern.

Thank You for your great site.

Starfire said...

Thank you for this reminder of the greatness of Van Gogh's luminous life and that the narrow-mindedness of his peers stopped them from sharing in the joy he offered them. What a task, to have a biography of the sun! Surely, the creative artist, finding new things for us all, is as as great as a man reaching the moon.

Here is a candle to all those who didn't quite fit in, but were all the better for it.