His trees are painted so high that they go above the stars; stars are left far behind. Now, you will think that this man is mad: trees going up higher than the stars? Have you seen such trees anywhere? When Vincent van Gogh was asked, “Your trees always go beyond the stars…?” he said, “Yes, because I understand trees. I have felt always that trees are the ambition of the earth to reach the stars. Otherwise why? To touch the stars, to feel the stars, to go beyond the stars – this is the desire of the earth. The earth tries hard, but cannot fulfill the desire. I can do it. The earth will understand my paintings, and I don’t care about you, whether you understand or not.”
Now, you cannot sell this kind of painting. The man his brother had sent came. Van Gogh was very happy: at last somebody had come to purchase. But soon his happiness turned into despair because the man looked around, picked one painting and gave the money.
Vincent van Gogh said, “But do you understand the painting? You have picked it up so casually, you have not looked; I have hundreds of paintings. You have not even bothered to look around; you have simply picked one that was accidentally in front of you. I suspect that you are sent by my brother. Put the painting back, take your money. I will not sell the painting to a man who has no eyes for painting. And tell my brother never to do such a thing again.”
The man was puzzled how he managed to figure it out. He said, “You don’t know me, how did you figure it out?”
He said, “That’s too simple. I know my brother wants me to feel some consolation. He must have manipulated you – and this money belongs to him – because I can see that you are blind as far as paintings are concerned. And I am not one to sell paintings to blind people; I cannot exploit a blind man and sell him a painting. What will he do with it? And tell my brother also that he also does not understand painting, otherwise he would not have sent you.”
When the brother came to know, he came to apologize. He said, “Instead of giving you a little consolation, I have wounded you. I will never do such a thing again.”
His whole life van Gogh was just giving his paintings to friends: to the hotel where he used to eat four days a week he would present a painting, or to a prostitute who had said once to him that he was not a beautiful man. To be absolutely factual, he was ugly. No woman ever fell in love with him, it was impossible.
This prostitute out of compassion – and sometimes prostitutes have more compassion than your so-called ladies, they understand men more – just out of compassion she said, “I like you very much.” He had never heard this. Love was a far away thing. Even liking…
He said, “Really, you like me? What do you like in me?” Now, the woman was at a loss.
She said, “I like your ears. Your ears are beautiful.” And you will be surprised that van Gogh went home, cut off his ears with a razor, packed them beautifully, went to the prostitute and gave his ears to her. And blood was flowing…
She said, “What have you done?”
He said, “Nobody ever liked anything in me. And I am a poor man, how can I thank you? You liked my ears; I have presented them to you. If you had liked my eyes, I would have presented my eyes to you. If you had liked me, I would have died for you.”