And every artist: musician or poet, painter or dancer, all have been trying in different ways for millions of years to give expression to the inexpressible – even if they can give an indirect hint, just a finger pointing to the moon, that is success enough. And you are successful.
Sing without any hesitation, without being worried that you will be thought crazy. Unless a singer is thought by the world to be insane, he is not a singer at all; if a dancer is not forced into a madhouse, the world has not given him the certificate. All geniuses are bound to be thought of in this way by the world: “Something has gone wrong with these poor people.”
Vincent Van Gogh, one of the Dutch painters, could not sell a single painting in his whole life. Now only two hundred paintings have survived out of thousands that he painted, because nobody took care of them. He was simply distributing them to friends; nobody would purchase them. People were afraid even to hang his paintings in their sitting rooms because whoever saw them would think that they were crazy: what kind of painting are you hanging here? People were taking them – not to hurt him – thanking him, and throwing his paintings into their basements so nobody would see them.
Now each of his paintings is worth a million dollars. What happened in one hundred years?
The man himself was forced into a mad asylum when he was only thirty-two. And he was forced because of his painting; he was not harmful, he was not violent, he was not doing anything to anybody. But anybody who looked at his paintings was absolutely certain that this man was mad and unreliable. He should be put in a madhouse. If he could paint these things, he might do anything.”
For example, he always painted stars as spirals. Even other painters told him, “Stars are not spirals!”
He said, “I also see the stars. I see that they are not spirals, but the moment I start painting them something in me says so strongly that they are spirals. The distance is so vast; that’s why your eyes cannot see exactly what their shape is. And the voice is so strong. I am simply unable to do anything else but what my inner being says to do.”
And now physicists have discovered that stars are spirals. It has gone like a shock throughout the world of painters, that only one painter in the whole history of man had some inner contact and communication with the stars – and that was a man who was thought to be mad. And because he was thought to be mad, nobody was ready to give him any service. Every week, his brother used to give him enough money to last for seven days. And he was fasting three days in a week and eating four days, because that was the only way to purchase canvas and colors and brushes to paint with. Painting was more important than life.