Question – When i am writing a book, i am full of flowing energy and delight. But, when i have finished, i am so empty and dead that i can hardly bear to live. Now i am must starting to write, but though i can get into the pleasure while i am working, during the meditations i get overwhelmed with fear of the emptiness which i expect months from now.
Osho – This is from Pankaja; she is a novelist. I have gone through her novels, and they are beautiful. She has the knack of it: how to tell a story beautifully, how to weave a story. And this experience is not only hers, it is of almost everybody who is in any way creative. But still, the interpretation is wrong, and much depends on the interpretation.
When a woman carries a child, she is full. Of course, when the child is born, she will feel empty. She will miss the new life that was throbbing and kicking in her womb. The child has gone out; she will feel empty for a few days. But she can love the child, and she can forget her emptiness in loving the child and helping the child to grow. For an artist, even that is not possible. You paint, or you write a poem or a novel; once it is finished you feel deep emptiness. And what can you do with the book now? So the artist is in an even more difficult situation than a mother. Once a book is finished, it is finished. Now it needs no help, no love; it is not going to grow. It is perfect, it is born grown-up. A painting is finished, it is finished. an artist feels very empty. But, one has to look into this emptiness. Don’t say that you are exhausted; rather, say that you are spent. Don’t say that you are empty, because each emptiness also has a fullness in it. You are looking from the wrong end.
You come into a room: there is furniture, pictures on the walls and things. Then those things and the pictures are removed and you come into the room: now what will you say? Will you call it empty, or will you call it a full room?’Room’ means emptiness;’room’ means space. With the furniture removed, the room is full. When furniture was there the room was not full; much of it was missing because of the furniture. Now the room is complete, the emptiness is total.
You can look from two ends. If you are too furniture-oriented, so that you can only look at the chairs and tables and the sofa and you cannot see the roominess of the room, then it will feel empty. But if you know, and you can see emptiness directly, you will feel a tremendous freedom which was not there before because the room was missing; you could not move in it. Go on filling it with furniture, and there will come a point when you cannot move because the whole room is gone.
Once I stayed in a very rich man’s house. He was very rich, but had no taste. His house was so full that it was not a house at all. You could not move, and you were always afraid to move because he had precious antiques. He himself was afraid to move. The servants were constantly worried. He gave me the best, the most beautiful room in his house. And I told him,’This is not a room, it is a museum. Please give me something where I can move, then it will be a room. This is not a room. The room has almost disappeared.’ The room means: the freedom that space gives you.
When you are working, creating, your mind is full of many things. The mind is occupied. Writing a novel the mind is occupied; writing a poem the mind is occupied; there is too much furniture in it — the furniture of the mind: thoughts, feelings, characters. Then the book is finished. Suddenly, the furniture is gone. You feel empty. But there is no need to become sad. If you look at it rightly — this is what Buddha called right-vision, SAMYAK DRASTHI — if you look rightly, you will feel freed of an obsession, of an occupation. You will feel clean again, unburdened. Those characters of the novel are no longer moving there. Those guests are gone and the host is totally at ease. Enjoy it. Your wrong interpretation is creating sadness for you, and fear. Enjoy it. Have you never observed that when a guest comes you feel good; when he goes you feel even better? He leaves you alone, and now you have your own space.
To write a novel is maddening because so many characters become guests, and each character has his own way. It is not always that he listens to the writer, not always. Sometimes he has his own way, and he forces the writer in a certain direction. The writer starts the novel, but never ends it. Then those characters end it by themselves.
It is just like giving birth to a child. You can give birth to a child, but then the child starts moving on his own. The mother may have been thinking that the child would become a doctor, and he becomes a hobo. What can you do? You try-hard, but he becomes a hobo.
The same happens when you write a novel: you start with & character — you were going to make a saint out of him, and he becomes a sinner. And I tell you, it is exactly as it happens to a child: the mother is worried; the novelist is worried. He wanted him to become a saint and he is becoming a sinner, and nothing can be done. He feels almost helpless, almost used by these characters. They are his fantasies, but once you cooperate with them they become almost real. And unless you get rid of them, you will never be at peace. If you have a book in your mind, it has to be written to get rid of it. It is a catharsis, it is unburdening yourself.
That’s why creative people almost always go mad. Mediocrities never go mad — they have nothing to go mad over, they have nothing maddening in their lives. Creators almost always go mad. A Van Gogh will go mad, a Nijinsky will go mad, a Nietsche will go mad. Why does it happen that they go mad? — because they are so occupied; so many things are happening in the mind. They don’t have a space of their own within themselves. So many people are staying there, coming and going. It is almost as if they are sitting on a road and the traffic continues. Each artist has to pay for it.
Remember, when a book is finished and a child is born, feel happy, enjoy that space, because sooner or later a new book will arise. As leaves come out of trees, as flowers come out of trees — exactly like that, poems come out of a poet, novels come out of a novelist, paintings come out of a painter, songs are born out of a singer. Nothing can be done; they are natural.
So sometimes in the fall when the leaves have fallen and the tree stands alone without leaves against the sky, enjoy it. Don’t call it emptiness, call it a new type of fullness — full with yourself. There is nobody to interfere; you are resting in yourself. That period of rest is needed for every artist; it is a natural process. Each mother’s body needs a little rest. One child is born and another is conceived it used to happen, it used to happen in the East, and in India it still continues: a woman is almost old by the age of thirty, continuously giving birth to children with no gap to recuperate, to rejuvenate her being, to be alone. She is exhausted, tired. Her youth, her freshness, her beauty, are gone. A rest period is needed when you give birth to a child. You need a rest period. And if the child is going to be a lion, then a long rest period is needed. And a lion only gives birth to one child, because the whole being is involved in it. And then there is a rest period, a long rest period to recupe, to regain the energy that you have given to the child, to regain yourself again so that something can be born out of you.
When you write a novel, if it has been really a great piece of art, then you will feel empty. If it has been just a sort of journalism that you have made for money because some publisher has made a contract with you, then, then it is not very deep. You will not feel empty after it, you will remain the same. The deeper your creation, the greater will be your emptiness afterwards, The greater the storm, the greater will be the silence that comes in its wake. Enjoy it. The storm is good, enjoy it; and the silence that follows it is also good. The day is beautiful, full of activity; night is also very beautiful, full of inactivity, passivity, emptiness. One sleeps. In the morning you are again back in the world with full energy to work, to act.
Don’t be afraid of the night. Many people are. There is one sannyasin, I have given her the name Nisha.’Nisha’ means: the night. She comes to me again and again, and she says,’Please change my name.”Why?’ She says,’I am afraid of night. Why have you given me, out of so many names, just this name? Change it.’ But I am not going to change it. I have given it to her knowingly, because of her fear — her fear of darkness, her fear of passivity, her fear of relaxation, her fear of surrender. That is all indicated in the word’night’, nisha.
One has to accept the night part also. Only then do you become complete, full, whole. So Pankaja, don’t take it amiss. That emptiness is beautiful, more beautiful than the days of creativity, because that creativity comes out of emptiness, those flowers come out of emptiness. enjoy that emptiness, feel blissful and blessed. Accept it, welcome it like a benediction, and soon you will see that you are again full of activity, and a greater book is going to be born again. Don’t be worried about it. There is no need to worry. It is just a misinterpretation of a beautiful phenomenon.
But man lives in words. Once you call a thing by a wrong name, you start becoming afraid of it. Be very, very exact. Always remember what you say, because saying is not just saying; it has deep associations in your being. Once you call a thing emptiness, you become afraid — the very word.
In India, we have better words for emptiness. We call it SHUNYA. The very word is positive; it has nothing of negativity in it. It is beautiful. It simply means space, with no boundaries: SHUNYA. And we have called the ultimate goal shunya. Buddha says when you become shunya, when you become absolutely nothing, a nothingness, then you have attained.
A poet, an artist, a painter, is on the way to becoming a mystic. All artistic activity is on the way towards becoming religious. When you are active, writing a poem, you are in the mind. When the poem is born you are spent, and the mind takes rest. Use these moments to fall into your being. Don’t call it emptiness; call it wholeness, call it being, call it truth, call it God. And then you will be able to feel the benediction of it.
Source – Osho Book “Come Follow to You, Vol 4”