Osho on Painting as Meditation

[A sannyasin asks how to make his hobby of painting a meditation.]

Osho – Art is meditation. Any activity becomes meditation if you are lost in it. So don’t just remain a technician. If you are just a technician then painting will never become meditation. You have to be crazily into it, madly into it, completely lost, not knowing where you are going, not knowing what you are doing, not knowing who you are. This state of not-knowing will bring meditation.

Let it happen. The painting should not be painted but only allowed to happen. And I don’t mean that you just remain lazy – no; then it will never happen. It has to ride on you. You have to be very very active and yet not doing it. That is the whole knack, that is the whole crux of it: you have to be active and yet not a doer. You allow your activity to be possessed by something that is beyond you.

You have seen a sunset. It is there in you and it wants to be expressed. Whenever there is a great experience, either of beauty or of truth or of love, it is followed by a deep desire to express it. That desire to express it is part of it, intrinsic to it, built-in. You have seen a sunset and you are full of it. The dream of it is surrounding you. It is there inside you – all those colours and all those nuances of the clouds and the wind and the birds and the sand. All are there and they want to be expressed. So you become available.

Go to the canvas. For a few minutes just meditate. Just sit silently there before the canvas. It has to be like automatic writing: you take the pen in your hand and you sit silently and suddenly you find a jerk in the hand. It is not that you have done it – you know that you have not done it. You were simply waiting for it; the jerk comes and the hand starts moving. Something starts happening.

One is surprised in automatic handwriting. One cannot believe that this is your hand doing things and you are not doing at all. It is moving on its own, as if it has its own being and spirit. You are possessed by the whole, or call it your unconscious or call it anything; those are just names. But your tiny conscious mind is no more alone. Something bigger than it has taken possession, has become more powerful. The conscious mind is only an instrument to it, whatsoever it is – god, the mystics call it god, or nature, or the psychologists call it the unconscious. ’It’ has possessed you –
something nameless.

That way you should start your painting. A few minutes for meditation – just being available. Whatsoever is going to happen you will allow to happen. You will bring all your expertise into letting it happen. Take the brush and start. Go slowly in the beginning so that you don’t bring yourself in. Just go slowly. Let the sunset start flowing through you of its own accord and then be lost in it.

And don’t think of anything else. Art has to be for art’s sake, then it is meditation. No motive should be allowed to enter into it. And I am not saying that you are not going to exhibit it. That’s perfectly okay, but that is a by-product; that is not the motive. One needs food so one sells the painting, but it hurts that one sells it. It is almost like selling your child, but one needs to so it is okay. You feel sad, but it was not the motive; you had not painted it to sell. It has been sold – that’s another thing – but the motive was not there. Otherwise you will remain a technician.

And that is the difference between a technician and an artist: the artist is a meditator and the technician is not. The technician has to concentrate on what he is doing, and the meditator, the artist, has to be lost in it. There is no concentration; there is nobody to concentrate. There is great joy if you can be lost into your painting. It will be sold, it will be appreciated, it will be exhibited. That is another thing; that is just a by-product.

And the second thing that you asked…. You should get lost. Forget about the first idea; you should get lost. You need not remain there. You should completely disappear into your painting, into you dance, into breathing, into singing. In whatsoever you are doing you should be lost completely, in uncontrol. We are very much afraid of uncontrol because it looks like madness. And this world is so mad that if you really become sane, you will look mad to people.

The case of Claude Eatherly is revealing. He had been chosen to give the signal for dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima. At the time he didn’t know what he was doing. On learning the consequences he was horrified. As an act of expiation he joined civil disobedience groups, calling attention to the atrocities of thermonuclear weapons. This the authorities were not prepared to brook. Soon a medical board of remarkable patriotic psychiatrists declared him to be mad. The moral is simple: in our world one must be mad to be human.

Now, this man was becoming sane – and this society cannot allow that! The moral is clear – that if you want to become sane you have to be ready to be insane. If you want to become human you will have to suffer madness. So there is a fear of uncontrol. If you uncontrol yourself then you don’t know where you are going and what is going to happen. Will you ever be able to come back to your old status quo? – nobody knows. One may go so far that one may not be able to come back.

So we don’t uncontrol ourselves; we go on keeping control. This control will never allow you to become a great artist. The artist has to be mad in that way. He has to go whole-heartedly into the unknown, wherever it leads. He has to risk his neck. It will become meditation. So these two things… but it is one thing in fact: whatsoever you do, get
lost ! And much is going to happen….

Come for a longer time. And next time you come, start painting here and something new will happen that has never happened before. Be around me and paint so I can paint through you. Next time bring your things, mm?

Source – Osho Book “Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There”

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