He committed suicide at the age of thirty-three. Just after his release from the madhouse, he painted only one painting, which they had prevented him from painting in the madhouse. He wanted to paint the sun. It took him one year. He lost his eyes… The burning sun, the hot sun, and the whole day long he would be watching all the colors, from the morning till the evening, from the sunrise to the sunset. He wanted the painting to contain everything about the sun, the whole biography of the sun.
Everybody who was sympathetic to him told him, “This is too much. Just studying it one day is enough; it is the same sun.”
Van Gogh said, “You don’t know. It is never the same. You have never looked at it. I have never seen the same sunrise twice, never seen the same sunset again. And I want my painting to be a biography.”
One year, the whole day watching the sun. He lost his eyes, but he painted. And when the painting was complete, he wrote a small letter to his brother: “I am not committing suicide out of any despair – because I am one of the most successful men in the world. I have done whatever I wanted to do in spite of the whole world condemning me. And this was my last wish, to paint the whole biography of the sun in one painting. It is completed today. I am immensely joyful, and now there is no need to live. I was living to paint; painting was my life, not breathing.” And he shot himself dead.
You cannot categorize him with ordinary suicides. It is not a suicide out of despair, out of sadness, out of failure – no. Out of immense success, out of total fulfillment; seeing that now, why unnecessarily go on living and waiting for death? “I have done the work that I wanted to do.”
Every creative artist has to understand this: the moment people start thinking about him that he is a little bit off center, that something is loose in his head, he should rejoice that he has crossed the boundary of the mundane and the mediocre. Now he has grown the wings which others don’t have. And I can see in you the possibility, the potential. Meditate, and let music become your meditation. Sing and let singing become your life, your very breathing, your very heartbeat.
A very stupid idea has prevailed in the world, that only saints are religious. In fact, almost 99.9 percent of saints are not religious. The real religious people will be found in creative dimensions – dancers, poets, painters, singers, musicians, sculptors. The future belongs to the creative man.
The past belonged to the uncreative saints. They have not created anything; their only quality was self-torture. They were really all masochists. In a better world they would have been treated, not worshipped. They were not saints, they were psychologically sick. But because the uncreative was on the heights, was dominant, creative people suffered very much. They were thought to be sick. The future is going to be totally different. Now nobody can be a saint just because he is capable of torturing himself. He may be good in a circus…
There is a beautiful story by Turgenev: