Chapter 14: Of the Way of the Creator
The herd is going to say to any creator, “He who seeks may easily get lost himself. Don’t move away from the crowd.”
The voice of the herd will still ring within you. And when you say: “We have no longer the same conscience, you and I,” it will be a lament and a grief.
The creator has to depart.
One great Dutch painter, van Gogh, wanted to be a painter. He belonged to a poor family. The family said, “We cannot afford it.” The father worked in a coal mine. But van Gogh was absolutely certain that that was his destiny; it was not a question of affording or not affording - he was going to be a painter. The family renounced him. His younger brother would pay him just enough for seven days, every Sunday, to eat and to find a shelter. Three days he would fast, and four days he would eat. He had to fast three days to purchase paints, canvasses, for his paintings.
His paintings were so ahead of time - the genius is always ahead of time - that in his whole life not a single painting was sold. Now only two hundred paintings have survived, and each painting is worth more than one million dollars - and the man lived in utter poverty, just like a beggar.
His brother thought that he must be suffering deeply a great pain and agony, that nobody understands his painting. People laughed at his paintings. He was a new beginning in the world of paintings - a pioneer. And the pioneer is always laughed at; a creator who is not repeating the past, but bringing in the future, is bound to be misunderstood.
His brother told a friend, “I will give you the money; at least purchase one of his paintings. He will feel happy that at least one person understands his paintings.” The man had no sense about paintings, but he went. Van Gogh was very happy, and showed him this painting, that painting, but the man said, “Any will do. Don’t waste my time; here is the money.” It was a shock. The man did not even look at the paintings: “Any painting will do - you just take the money and give me the painting.”
Van Gogh said, “These paintings are not for sale, and tell my brother not to waste money unnecessarily. This is not your money, because I can see you don’t have any sensitivity. You have been sent by my brother just to give me some consolation. Just get out of this place! My satisfaction is not in my paintings being sold; I am utterly content in creating them.”
The creator’s joy is in creation itself; there is no other reward. And the moment you start thinking of any reward beyond your act, you are only a technician, not a creator.