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Chapter 16: Emptiness Has Its Own Fullness

So many have come, so many have gone, and this has been one of the basic reasons: they became so much fascinated with their own idea of me that I became secondary. Their idea of me became primary - and that too, old, dated. I am with them fresh and young, but I became secondary. If there was any conflict between their idea and my reality, they went with their idea - even to the point of becoming enemies to me, telling people that I am no longer the same, I am no longer the person I used to be; they have worshipped a great saint, but I am no longer the same person. They will keep their memory of me deep in their heart, but it is simply a photograph. Photographs don’t change.

Once it happened:

One of my friends was collecting photographs of me from my childhood - from wherever he could get them. He had made a big album, and he was showing me. He had done a great deal of work; he had gone to many places, to many people. Wherever he heard that somebody had a picture of me he went there, either to get the original or a copy of it. But while he was showing them to me he felt I was not interested.

He stopped and said to me, “You don’t seem to be interested.”

I said, “I don’t seem to be interested because none of these photographs represent me; they only represent that which is dead. The photograph can only represent that which is dead. A photograph is always of the dead; you cannot find a photograph which is of the living.”

In Picasso’s home there used to be a portrait, a self-portrait of Picasso. He never sold it, at any price; that was the only picture he insisted on not selling. And the more he insisted on not selling, the more and more people were coming with bigger and bigger offers for the picture. It became a challenge for art collectors.

One beautiful woman had come with the same idea, to purchase the picture. Whatever the price she was ready to pay; she was rich enough. She said to Picasso, “I am willing to pay you as much as you want for your portrait.”

Picasso said, “People are mad. For a dead thing they go on harassing me. You can have it without any price, but remember, it is not me.”

The woman looked puzzled. She said, “It is not you? What do you mean?”

He said, “If it were me it would have kissed you by now! It does not speak, it does not love, it does not sing, it does not dance. Such a beautiful woman is standing before it and the idiot is not even kissing. You can just take it. It is dead. Remove it from here - it is not me!”

People get fixed ideas - and very soon. Ordinarily it goes perfectly well, because you meet only dead people who are not changing, who go on saying the same thing their whole life just like a parrot. They are consistent people; they have all your respect.

I seem to you self-contradictory, inconsistent, for the simple reason that I have decided not to die before I die. I am going to live to the very last breath, so you cannot be certain about me till my last breath. After that you can make any image of me and be satisfied with it. But remember, it will not be me.

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