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Chapter 34: To Relate with Non-Sannyasins Is Bound to Be Difficult

Vincent van Gogh.just a few days ago I saw a copy of one of his paintings in which he makes his stars like spirals. Nobody has painted stars like spirals - you don’t see them as spirals. He was condemned even by the painters of his day. All the critics were against him; all the painters thought that he was crazy. Every night you can see the stars, but have you ever seen spirals?

It was just a few months ago that astronomers came to realize that every star is a spiral. The distance is so much - that’s why we cannot see the spiral. But it is strange how Vincent van Gogh got the idea. He was not a physicist - he had no instruments.

It took one hundred years for scientists to develop delicate instruments, sensitive instruments which can see stars as they actually are. But he had painted them a hundred years ago exactly as they are finding them now. Their photographs and Vincent van Gogh’s paintings are exactly the same!

But the poor fellow was not understood at all. He was turned out of his home because his parents were poor, and they said, “We cannot afford to keep you. You are now grown up. We have given you all the education that we could manage - now you can become a priest in a church. We cannot afford for you to be a painter.”

His father was working in a coal mine; his parents were really poor, and you cannot say anything against them. And Vincent van Gogh’s first works are just coal sketches - but they are tremendously beautiful. Now even those coal sketches have a value of millions of dollars. But his parents would not give him money for paints, for canvases, and finally they had to turn him out.

One of his friends took pity on van Gogh and asked him to stay with him until he got some employment. And he fell in love with the sister of the friend - just love at first sight. The first day in the house of the friend, he proposed to the girl. The girl simply laughed; they were more comfortably-off people - better educated, middle class, higher than Vincent van Gogh and his family.

She could not believe that this poor beggar could even dare to ask her. Jokingly, she said, “Can you give me any proof of your love? Can you put your hand on this candle?” - it was burning by their side.

He said, “Yes!” and he kept his hand on the burning candle. His whole hand was burnt. The woman got frightened: this man seems to be mad also! She pulled his hand away, but he said, “Why are you pulling it away? Let me keep it there until you say yes.”

The whole family gathered there. They pulled him away from the candle - he had burned his hand for his whole life - and he was turned out of the house the next day.

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