Chapter 4: Earth and Sky Apart
The first question:
Why did Van Gogh kill himself? Why did Hemingway put a shotgun in his mouth and blow the top of his head off? Why do they poison their rivers, their air and their own food? Why do they justify it all with their reasoning, psychology and laws? Why do they come here for a couple of months, and why do you have so much compassion for them? I am sick and tired of them!
The question is from Prageet.
First, there are suicides and suicides. Each suicide has something unique about it - as each life has something unique about it. Your life is yours and your death is also going to be yours. Sometimes it is possible that your life may not be yours, but it is not possible that your death may not be yours.
Life can be anonymous. If you live with others, you can compromise too much, you can imitate - but death is always unique because death is alone. You die alone. There is no society. They don’t exist in your death. The crowd, the mass, is there when you are alive, but when you die you die absolutely alone, utterly alone.
Death has a quality.
So sometimes it happens that a man may commit suicide because he has become tired of the anonymous existence. He has become tired of all the compromises that one has to make in order to live. That’s why van Gogh committed suicide - he was a rare man, one of the greatest painters ever. But he had to make compromises every moment of his life. He got tired of those compromises; he could no longer tolerate being part of the crowd mind. He killed himself in order to be himself. He was only thirty-three or something when he killed himself. If he had been in the East there would have been another alternative: suicide or sannyas. These are the two alternatives which every man who has some sense of life, of individuality, has to choose between.
In the West nothing like sannyas has been in existence. If you become a Christian monk that is again a compromise; you still remain part of the society. Even if you go out of the society you remain part of it. The society goes on controlling you - it has a remote control system. It does not allow you to really go out of it. You remain a Christian, you remain a Catholic, even when you have moved to a monastery. It does not make much difference.