“In English you have only twenty-six letters in the alphabet. Sanskrit has fifty-two, just double the amount of English. There cannot be more than fifty-two, that is why Sanskrit has stopped at fifty two. That exhausts the possibility of all kinds of sounds – fifty-two is the limit. Twenty six is just the minimum, not the maximum, hence, it is such a difficulty to translate Sanskrit words into English – or just to write them in Roman letters, because in English there is only one “s”; in Sanskrit there are three. There are very subtle phonetic differences, but they are there.
According to the Western historians, Sanskrit also reached to its ultimate peak of refinement in some prehistorical age; since then there has been no change. Not that they are against change; you cannot change it because it has been refined to the very last. All the finishing touches were done five thousand years ago.
People were scientific, but their devotion was to human growth – in music, in art, in poetry, in drama, in dance.
In India there are so many schools of dance, centuries old; so many schools of music, centuries old. And the teaching of dance or drama is not the way it is in the West; it is very religious. The man who teaches you drama, dance, music, is as much respected as a master is. And he is a Master, because music is not only music; it is, deep down, meditation. It is music used for meditation.
You may have come to learn music, you will return with something more, something more precious than you have ever imagined. Music of course you will learn, but side by side something else starts growing in you which is far more musical, which is the music of silence.
Ordinary music is the music of the sound.
It is just playing with sound, creating rhythm with sound.
Meditation is the rhythm of silence.
Unless a Master can teach music plus meditation he is not really a maestro, he is only a teacher, a mere teacher of music. He becomes a Master of music when his music is an instrument to teach, to create the space called meditation.
The same is true about dance, the same is true about all arts. Great sculpture exists in the East unparalleled anywhere else, but all the sculpture is devoted basically to meditation, in some way or other.
You can see Roman sculpture – naked men, pornographic. And why naked men – because Romans were homosexuals; they thought woman was not beautiful. The male, the athletic male, was thought to be the pinnacle of beauty; hence, you will not find in Roman sculpture women represented at all.
The same was the case with Greece. And you will be surprised that even people like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, were all homosexuals. Homosexuality was thought to be a refinement, a more cultured thing because heterosexuality exists in animals, that is nothing special! The logic is perfect: All animals are heterosexual, so what is great in it? If man is heterosexual he is just an animal!
That’s how Aristotle has defined man, as the only political animal. In every other aspect he is animal: only in politics is something that is more, a plus factor.
But in India you will find sculpture a thousand fold greater, millions of temples with tremendously beautiful statues of men, of women – but all devoted basically to meditation. Just looking at the statue of Buddha you will feel some serenity within you – the proportion of the Buddha, the body, the posture the way he is sitting, the half-closed eyes. You just sit silently, look at the statue, and you will start falling into a silence.
Gurdjieff used to call Eastern art “objective art” and Western art, “subjective art.”
He means by objective art, art which has some intrinsic quality which can be imparted for thousands of years. The work of art is a code word. After experiencing meditation for thousands of years, meditators have come to recognize that a certain posture, a certain way of sitting, a certain way of the eyes, can create in anybody a synchronicity, a sympathy; some sympathetic note can be stirred by the statue.
In the East, a statue is not made for its own sake. It is made as a code language for centuries to follow. Scriptures may disappear, languages may change, words may be interpreted. Doctrines can be wrongly interpreted, commented upon. There may be dispute about theories – and there has been – so they thought there must be a different way than language.
Now, what dispute can there be about the statue of a Buddha, or Mahavira? There is no question of dispute, there is no need of any commentary. Anybody who is capable of sitting silently by the side of this statue will have a certain thing stirred in his heart. This is objective art.
Picasso’s pictures are subjective art. Seeing a painting by Picasso… he has not considered you, who are going to see the painting. You are not taken into account at all. He has simply vomited his own madness on the canvas. It is simply vomit; hence you cannot go on looking at a Picasso painting for a long time. You will start feeling tense, your stomach will start feeling weird – because Picasso is not concerned with you, what happens to you, he is simply subjective. He is pouring out his own mind, what’s happening to him; unconcerned about humanity or anybody. He is going crazy, that’s why his painting is crazy.
Almost all the painters in the West have gone mad once or twice in their life, and have been put into mad asylums. Many of the western painters have committed suicide. This has never happened in the East. There is not a single case of instance in 10,000 years that a painter, a musician, a poet, has been mad, or has committed suicide. The reason is, it was art on the surface, but meditation in depth. In the West, it is just surface, there is no depth in it. And the surface is without any compassion, without any consideration, without any responsibility.
When you compose music or poetry you are to understand that somebody will be reading it – what effect it is going to have on the person? Will it drive him sane or insane?
I myself have been very interested in painting. From my very childhood I started many paintings but not a single painting have I left intact. I have burned all of them.
One of my professors was a painter himself. I used to visit his studio, and I used to say sometimes, “this seems to be wrong. If you do a little change here then the whole impact of the painting will be different.”
He started asking me, “are you a painter? – because whatsoever you suggest, reluctantly I do it, and certainly it improves the painting. And by and by I have dropped my reluctance. I simply accept your suggestion. But this is possible only is you are a painter… because there are so many people coming here. Even my own students who are painters never suggest that this is wrong; just a slight change will do a miracle. And it does. So you have to explain to me the truth.”
I said, “yes, I’m not a painter, but I paint.”
He said, “what is the difference between being a painter and painting?”
I said, “there is much difference: I don’t allow my paintings to be exhibited because I’m still not in a position to create objective art; they are all subjective. They represent and reflect my mind, and what can my mind be to others? They are already burdened with mind; now burdening them more is inhuman. So I paint because I enjoy painting. I love colours.”
And I don’t know why Sagar University in India… I have traveled all over India continually for 30 years, but I have never seen such colours in the sky as happens over the lake by the side of the university in Sagar. Never have I seen anywhere such a splendor; the sunrise, the sunset, are just divine… without there being any god.
I painted, and destroyed my paintings. Only a few friends have seen them. I allowed this professor to see a few of my paintings. He said, “you are mad – these paintings are far superior to mine. You can earn so much money, you can become world famous.”
I said, “I accept your first statement. You said, ‘you are mad’ – I am! That’s why I am not going to leave these footprints of a madman for others to travel and follow.” I have destroyed all those.
I love poetry. I have written poetry. But I continued to destroy it. My basic standpoint was that unless I am no more, whatever I do is going to harm others. This is the eastern way.
Now it is unfortunate that when I disappeared the desire to paint or to make a statue or to compose poetry all disappeared too. Perhaps they were just part of that madman who died. And I’m happy that nothing of it survives.
In the East they had reached, five thousand years ago, to such a peak in every direction and dimension that only religion was left to be an adventure. So those who have any adventurous spirit were attracted towards religion – the best, the chosen ones, the most intelligent, the geniuses, the giants, became interested in religion because there was nothing else left.
These people, like Mahavira, Buddha, Krishna, Nagarjuna, Shankara – these people gave tremendous heights to religion, and all the best minds moved towards religion because that was the only challenge left. Everything else was being done by mediocre people. And they were doing perfectly well, there was no need…
If Einstein had been born in Buddha’s time, he would have been another Buddha, for the simple reason that that was the only challenge for a man like him. Mathematics was done by mediocre people and they were doing perfectly well. There was no need for an Albert Einstein to get caught in a mediocre game. No, he would have moved in the same way as Buddha or Mahavira. All the best people were attracted towards religion; that’s why religion touched the pinnacles of height.
But science was ignored, consciously ignored, because the people who had reached religious consciousness could see the destructiveness of science. They changed the direction of science. Rather than science becoming allopathy, in the East it became ayurveda, it became acupuncture, it became yoga… these are the same kind of people who, in the West, created allopathy. They were the same kind of mind, but in the East, they created acupuncture, they created herbal science.
The word for medical science in the East is ayurveda. Even the word will show you the difference. In the West, you call it “medicine”. Medicine means curing, healing, but can you see the implication: it does not mean health, it comes after the disease has already come in. It is a follow-up. First you are sick, then comes the doctor. The doctor follows sickness, with his bag of medicines.
Ayurveda means the science of life. The very word has nothing to do with disease, sickness; it has something to do with life, health, longevity. It is positive, it is it not negative. It shows you the way to remain healthy, to remain young as long as you want, to live longer, if that’s what you want. Its focus is not on sickness, its focus is on health.
Osho, From Darkness to Light, discourse no 27