His brother loved him very much, and he felt deep compassion for him; he was not harming anybody. Still, everybody seemed to be against him. The only thing that he was doing was not following the crowd. His father wanted him to go to a Christian seminary where he could learn to be a Christian priest, and he said, “Priest? I want to be a painter. I am not mad enough to be a priest.” His father was ready to give him money to be a priest, but he was not ready to give him money to be a painter or to send him to a painting school. His brother felt deeply for him. He asked a prostitute, “In his whole life” – Van Gogh was thirty – “he has never known love. It would be very kind of you…I will give you the money…you pretend to love him.” The prostitute was willing; it was her profession, and there was no problem. She met him as if by accident and started talking to him about his paintings, saying they were great…”And by the way,” she said, “you are so beautiful.” Nobody had ever said that. Van Gogh said, “What do you think is beautiful in me?” Even the prostitute was in difficulty to say what was beautiful in him – Van Gogh was not a very beautiful man. She said, “I love your ears” – finding nothing else.
In the middle of the night, van Gogh came with both his ears – he had cut them off and put them in a packet – and offered those two ears to the woman, and he said, “In my whole life somebody has loved something in me. I want to offer them to you; you can have them.” Blood was coming from both the ears…the woman freaked out. She thought that he was really mad. What more proof do you need?
He was forced into a madhouse where he lived for one year. But the paintings that he did in the madhouse are his best, because there was no question of food, shelter, clothes; everything was provided by the madhouse. Those are the two hundred paintings that have survived.
The psychiatrist and other experts in the madhouse found that he was not mad; he was simply not normal. The whole day he would paint, from morning till evening – not even a coffee break, and he would eat at night. They said, “He was a little abnormal, but not dangerous to anybody.” He was released, and after a few days he committed suicide; but it was not a suicide. He wrote a letter to his brother: “The painting I wanted to paint, I have painted.”
He wanted to paint the sun as nobody had ever painted it. For one year continuously he painted, painting only the sun in all its moods, in all its different colors – in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, at sunset – hundreds of paintings. And when he was satisfied that he had done what he wanted to do, then there was no need to live. His life was to create something that he had created – now he was utterly fulfilled. “So please don’t think of it as a suicide. It is not a suicide. Just, now I don’t have any reason to live. Forgive me, I am not part of the crowd where people go on living for no reason at all.”
If you think about it yourself, you will find his point significant: Are you living for some meaning? Are you living for some creativity? Are you living to make life more beautiful? Are you going to contribute something to existence? If not, then why go on unnecessarily burdening the earth?
It was not a suicide; it was a great insight of a creator who could not live without creating. Creating was his life, and because it was fulfilled, life had no more meaning for him.
Naturally, such people live with a great affliction.
But you want to go the way of your affliction…
…still, they want to go to the way of their affliction…
…which is the way to yourself?