The first book today is Irving Stone’s ‘Lust for Life’. It is a novel based on the life of Vincent van Gogh.
Stone has done such a tremendous work that I don’t remember anybody else doing the same. Nobody has written so intimately about somebody else, as if he is writing from his very own being.
Lust for Life is not just a novel, it is a spiritual book. It is spiritual in my sense, because to me all dimensions of life have to be incorporated into a single synthesis; only then one is spiritual. The book is written so beautifully that the possibility that even Irving Stone will be able to transcend it is remote.
After that book he wrote many others, and my second book today is also by Irving Stone. I count it second because it is secondary, not of the quality of Lust for Life. It is The Agony and the Ecstasy, again based on another life in the same way. Perhaps Stone was thinking that he would be able to create another Lust for Life, but he failed. Although he failed, the book stands second – not to any other but to his own. There are hundreds of novels written on the lives of artists, poets, painters, but none of them reaches even to the height of the second book, what to say of the first. Both are beautiful, but the first is of transcendental beauty.
The second book is a little lower, but it is not the fault of Irving Stone. When you know that you have written a book like Lust for Life, the ordinary human instinct is to imitate oneself, to create something of the same order, but the moment you imitate it cannot be the same. When he wrote Lust he was not imitating, he was a virgin island. When he wrote The Agony and the Ecstasy he was imitating himself, and that is the worst imitation. Everybody does it in their own bathroom, looking in the mirror…. That’s what one feels about his second book. But I say even though it is only a reflection in the mirror, it reflects something of the real; hence I count it.
I was just asking Gudia whose life Irving Stone had written about in The Agony and the Ecstasy, because as far as I am concerned I have completely forgotten. That too is very rare; I don’t forget easily. I forgive easily but I don’t forget easily. Whose life did he write about, do you know, Devaraj? Was it Gauguin?
“It was Michelangelo, Osho.”
Michelangelo? A great life. Then Stone has missed much. If it had been Gauguin then it would have been okay, but if it is Michelangelo then I am sorry; even I cannot forgive him. But he writes beautifully. His prose is like poetry, although the second book is not of the same quality as Lust for Life. It cannot be for the simple reason that there has never been a man like Vincent van Gogh. That Dutch fellow was just inimitable! He stands alone. In the whole sky full of stars he shines alone, separately, uniquely in his own way. To write a great book on him is easy, and it would have been so on Michelangelo, but Stone was trying to imitate himself; hence he missed. Never be an imitator. Do not follow… not even yourself.
moment to moment
who you are…
and where you are.
That’s what it means
to be my people.
Poor Chetana, I have told her that my clothes have to be snow-white. She is my washerwoman. She does whatsoever she can, whatsoever is possible.
Today I am immeasurably happy finding myself again in the Himalayas. I wanted to die in the Himalayas just as Lao Tzu did. It is wonderful to be alive in the Himalayas, it is even more wonderful to die in the Himalayas. The snow, wherever it is, represents the purity of the Himalayas, the virginity…. Tomorrow never comes, so there is no need to worry. With me it is always today, and this very moment we are in that world of the Himalayas.
Michelangelo must have liked white marble; he has carved a statue of Jesus out of it. No other man has carved such beautiful images, so it should not have been difficult for Stone to write a beautiful story about Michelangelo. But he missed the point only because he was imitating himself. Alas, if he could have forgotten his first book, he would have produced another Lust for Life.
Third, Leo Tolstoy’s Resurrection. For his whole life, Leo Tolstoy was concerned, immensely concerned with Jesus; hence the title, Resurrection. And Leo Tolstoy has really created a tremendous work of art. It has been a bible to me. I can still see myself when I was young continuously carrying Tolstoy’s Resurrection with me. Even my father became worried. “It is okay to read a book,” he said to me one day, “but why do you go on carrying this book the whole day? You have read it.”
I said, “Yes, I have read it, not only once but many times. But I am going to carry it with me.”
My whole village knew about it, that I was continuously carrying a certain book called Resurrection. They all thought I was mad – and a madman can do anything. But why was I carrying Resurrection the whole day? – and not only during the day, but during the night too. The book was with me by my bed. I loved it… the way Leo Tolstoy reflects the whole message of Jesus. He succeeds far more than any of the apostles except Thomas – and about that I am going to talk just after Resurrection.
The four gospels particularly included in the Bible miss the whole spirit of Jesus. Resurrection is far better. Tolstoy really loved Jesus and love is magic, particularly because when you love someone time disappears. Tolstoy loved Jesus so much that they become contemporaries. The gap is big, two thousand years, but it disappears between Tolstoy and Jesus. It rarely happens, very very rarely, that’s why I used to carry that book in my hand. I no longer carry that book in my hand, but in my heart it is still there.
Fourth, the fifth gospel. It is not recorded in the Bible; it has just been found in Egypt: Notes on Jesus, by Thomas. I have spoken about it because I immediately fell in love with it. Thomas, in his Notes on Jesus, is so simple that he cannot be inaccurate. He is so direct, immediate, that he is not, only Jesus is.
Do you know that Thomas was the first disciple to reach India? Indian Christianity is the oldest in the world, older than the Vatican. And the body of Thomas is still preserved in Goa – a strange place, but beautiful, very beautiful. That’s why all the outsiders called hippies have become attracted towards Goa. There is no other place… no other beaches so pure and beautiful as in Goa.
The body of Thomas is still preserved, and it is a miracle how it is preserved. Now we know how to preserve a body, to freeze it, but Thomas’ body is not frozen; some ancient method that was used in Egypt, in Tibet, has been used in this case too. Scientists have not yet been able to discover – such chemicals have been used… or even whether any chemicals were used or not. Scientists are great! They can reach to the moon, but they cannot make a fountain pen which does not leak! About small things they are failures.
I am not a scientist. Yesterday, even when I said “Okay,” it was not okay. I simply said it because I love you and I did not want to cause any trouble. I don’t know anything about machinery or chemistry, I only know myself. When everything around me is going perfectly there is a transcendence. I know through that transcendence that everything is going perfectly. If something is wrong, I have to come down again.
Let me explain to you the whole Eastern concept of coming down. A man is born only if something is wrong… if something is wrong with him. If nothing is wrong he is not born; he moves to the source, disappears in the cosmos.
The day before yesterday everything functioned perfectly. It did not happen yesterday. First I said “Okay…” that was not true. But I can lie because I love – I did not want to disappoint you. At the end too I said, “Great, you can end it,” but there was nothing to end because it had not even begun. I have to tell you this so it is not repeated again. Please don’t force me to lie. I am not British, not an Englishman; even for etiquette’s sake it is hard for me, really hard to lie. Help me so that I can say the truth. At this moment things are going really beautifully – and I am not speaking like an Englishman – really beautifully…. You know me, the seducer.
Fifth – another book by Leo Tolstoy. One of the greatest in all the languages of the world, War and Peace. Not only the greatest but also the most voluminous… thousands of pages. I don’t know that anybody reads such books except myself. They are so big, so vast, they make you afraid.
But Tolstoy’s book has to be vast, it is not his fault. War and Peace is the whole history of human consciousness – the whole history; it cannot be written on a few pages. Yes, it is difficult to read thousands of pages, but if one can one will be transported to another world. One will know the taste of something classic. Yes, it is a classic.
Sixth. Today it seems I am surrounded by Russians. The sixth is Maxim Gorky’s The Mother. I don’t like Gorky; he is a communist, and I hate communists. When I hate I simply hate, but the book The Mother, even though written by Maxim Gorky, I love it. I have loved it my whole life. I had so many copies of that book that my father used to say, “Are you mad? One copy of a book is enough, and you go on ordering more! Again and again I see a postal package and it is nothing but another copy of The Mother by Maxim Gorky. Are you mad or something?”
I said to him, “Yes, as far as Gorky’s The Mother is concerned, I am mad, utterly mad.”
When I see my own mother I remember Gorky. Gorky must be counted as the suprememost artist of the whole world. Particularly in The Mother he reaches to the highest peak of the art of writing. Nobody before and nobody after…. He is just like a Himalayan peak. The Mother is to be studied, and studied again and again; only then slowly it seeps through you. Then slowly slowly you start feeling it. Yes, that’s the word: feeling it – not thinking, not reading, but feeling. You start touching it, it starts touching you. It becomes alive. Then it is no longer a book, but a person… a person.
The seventh is another Russian, Turgenev, and his book Fathers and Sons. This has been one of my love affairs. I have loved many books, thousands of books, but none like Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons. I used to force my poor father to read it. He is dead; otherwise I would have asked him to forgive me. Why did I force him to read the book? That was the only way for him to understand the gap between himself and me. But he was really a wonderful man; he used to read the book again and again just because I said. It wasn’t once he read it, but many times. And not only did he read the book, but at least between him and me the gap was bridged. We were no longer father and son. That ugly relationship of father and son, mother and daughter, and so on… at least with me my father dropped it, we became friends. It is difficult to be friends with your own father, or your own son; the whole credit goes to him, not to me.
Turgenev’s book Fathers and Sons should be read by everyone, because everyone is entangled in some kind of relationship – father and son, husband and wife, brother and sister, ad nauseam… yes, it creates nausea. The whole business of ‘family’ in my dictionary should mean ‘nausea’. And yet everybody is pretending, “How beautiful….” Everybody is pretending to be English, British.
Eighth, D.H. Lawrence. I always wanted to talk about his book, but I was afraid whether my pronunciation was right or not. Please don’t laugh about it. My whole life I have called it The Phönix because that is how it is spelled. Just this morning I asked Gudia, “Be good to me Gudia” – which is rare! “What is the pronunciation of this word?”
She said, “Pheenix!”
I said, “My God! Pheenix? And my whole life I have wasted calling it phönix…!” That is my eighth book, The Phoenix. Okay, I will change my pronunciation at least to make it appear to be English.
The Phoenix… this is a wonderful book, one which is written only once in a while… only once after decades, or even centuries….
Ninth, another book by D.H. Lawrence. The Phoenix is great, beautiful, but not my ultimate choice. My ultimate choice is his book Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious, which is rarely read. Now, who is going to read this book? The people who read novels are not going to read it, and the people who read psychoanalysis will not read it because they don’t consider Lawrence to be a psychoanalyst. But I read it. I am neither a fan of novelists, nor mad about psychoanalysts. I am free from both. I am absolutely free. I love this book.
My eyes are beginning to collect dewdrops. Please don’t interrupt.
Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious has been and will be one of my most beloved and cherished books. Although I don’t read anymore, if I were to read again that would be the first book that I would read. Not the Vedas, not the Bible, but Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious… and do you know, the book is against psychoanalysis.
D.H. Lawrence was really a revolutionary, a rebel. He was far more revolutionary than Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud is middle class. I will not say more than that, so don’t wait. In saying ‘middle class’ I have said everything mediocre. That is the meaning of middle class: just in the middle. Sigmund Freud is not a rebel in the real sense; Lawrence is.
Good. Don’t be worried about me and my tears. It is good to have tears once in a while, and I have not wept for so long.
Tenth: Arnold’s Light of Asia. I have to talk about two more books, and even if I die I will complete my discourse.
Eleventh. My eleventh choice is Bijak. Bijak is Kabir’s selection of songs. Bijak means ‘the seed’ – and of course the seed is subtle, very subtle, invisible. You cannot see it unless it sprouts and becomes a tree.
Don’t interrupt. Do you want to continue? – that’s the question. Never ask me, ask yourself. If you don’t want to continue, simply inform me, that’s enough. It is really so difficult to ride on two horses, and that is what I am doing. Moreover one is a mare and one is a stallion. Now what to do – two different directions….
Twelfth. Because of this situation I choose the book by Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man. I am against it, but he has written a beautiful book. I am against it because I know a man is fulfilled only when he is multidimensional, when he is spread in all dimensions possible, not one-dimensional. One Dimensional Man is the story of modern man; it is my twelfth choice.
The thirteenth book is the mysterious book of the Chinese, I Ching.
Fourteen, and last. This book is a Hindi novel which has not yet been translated into English. Strange to be mentioned by a man like me, but it is worth mentioning. The Hindi title is Nadi ke Dweep, which may be translated as Islands of a River, and it was written by Satchidanand Vatsyayana. This novel is for those who want to meditate; it is a meditator’s novel. No other novel, neither by Tolstoy nor Chekhov, can be compared to it. It is unfortunate that it is written in Hindi. *)
It is so beautiful that I want to enjoy rather than say anything.
To talk at this height is so difficult.
No interruptions please….
Osho, Books I Have Loved, Session 13
*) Nade ke Dweep has in the meantime been translated into English – Islands in the Stream
1. Silence Speaks in Its Own Way
2. My Time Was Over Long ago
3. It Must Have Been a Conspiracy of the Gods
4. I am Facing the Immeasurable, the Unaccountable
5. Truth Needs No Commentary
6. Truth Is Unspeakable
7. It is Unsayable
8. The Miracle of All Miracles
9. You Have to be Rich to be Enlightened
10. That which cannot be spoken must not be spoken of
11. I Love All Absurdities
12. Just Be – That Is My Manifesto