But it is true that a man like Friedrich Nietzsche, reaching to the very heights of understanding, became mad. The reason is not his insight. The reason is that his insight remained only intellectual. He had no foundation in meditation, he never heard of the word.
If Friedrich Nietzsche had been born in the East he would have been another Gautam Buddha, nothing less – perhaps more. But in the West, intellect seems to be all. So he came to conclusions logically – beautiful conclusions, and then he tried to live according to those intellectual conclusions for which there was no meditative foundation. He fell apart. He had a nervous breakdown. He tried to reach where only meditators are allowed; and naturally he had to fall from those heights, and he suffered multiple fractures.
His genius was absolutely certain, but his genius led him into madness; that too is certain.
In the East it has never happened. One should look into it. In the West it has always happened: whenever there was a man of great genius, sooner or later there was a nervous breakdown, as if he had seen so much that he could not absorb it. He had not enough wings, but still he had taken a long flight into the sky – tired, tattered, he fell down.
In the East it has never happened, because we never begin with insights. First we make certain that you have a foundation. We make your wings stronger. We don’t care about flights; we care about your wings.
You cannot conceive a Gautam Buddha, a Bodhidharma, a Mahakashyapa – even to conceive that these people can be mad is impossible. Their sanity is so perfect, and their sanity is rooted in their meditativeness, in their silence, in their peace, in their grounding in their own being. Because they have roots deep down into the earth, they are capable of sending their branches high to have a dialogue with the stars. Their flowers can go high in the sky to release the perfume.
You must remember one fact: a tree grows only proportionately. It can go only to a certain height if it has a certain strength, a depth to its roots.
In Japan there is an old art. I don’t call it “art,” but they call it art. I call it murder. But people go to see it from all over the world because there are only a few trees…five hundred years old and six inches in height! You can see that, although it is just six inches high, the tree is old. Its bark is old, its leaves are old; just its tallness has somehow been prevented.
And the strategy is that in the pots in which those trees are put there is no dirt in the bottom. So the gardeners, from generation to generation – because the tree is five hundred years old; many generations of the family that owns the tree have passed – they go on cutting the roots, they don’t allow the roots to grow. The pot has no dirt in the bottom, otherwise the roots will find their way into the earth. The roots go on becoming older, the tree goes on becoming older, but because the roots cannot spread, cannot go deep into the earth, the tree cannot go high into the sky.