Forget the technique for twelve years

Osho A-Z

Osho speaks on the topic of ‘Authentic Art’: “True art means: if it helps you to become silent, still, joyous; if it gives you a celebration; if it makes you dance … if it becomes a bridge between you and God — that is true art.”

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In Zen they say,
if you want to be a painter,
for twelve years learn
how to paint and then
for twelve years forget
all about painting.

The paradox of art is that first you have to learn its discipline and then you have to forget it totally. If you don’t know its ABC you will not be able to move very deep into it.

But if you know only its technique and you go on practicing the technique your whole life you may become very skillful technically, but you will remain a technician; you will never become an artist.

In Zen they say, if you want to be a painter, for twelve years learn how to paint and then for twelve years forget all about painting. Just completely forget — it has nothing to do with you. For twelve years meditate, chop wood, carry water from the well. Do anything, but not painting.

And then one day you will be able to paint. Twenty-four years training: twelve years training in learning the technique and twelve years training in forgetting the technique.

And then you can paint. Now the technique has become just a part of you; it is no longer technical knowledge, it has become part of your blood and bones and marrow.

Now you can be spontaneous. It will not hinder you, it will not imprison you. […]

If you rejoice in doing it,
if you feel lost in doing it,
if you feel overwhelmed
with joy and peace
in doing it, it is true art.

If you really want to be creative you will have to accept that you can’t be famous, you can’t be well-known. If you really want to be creative, then you have to learn the simple phenomenon: art for art’s sake, for no other motive. Then enjoy whatsoever you are doing. If you can find a few friends to enjoy it, good; if nobody is there to enjoy, then enjoy it alone. If YOU are enjoying it, that is enough. If you feel fulfilled through it, that is enough. […]

True art means: if it helps you to become silent, still, joyous; if it gives you a celebration; if it makes you dance — whether anybody participates with you or not is irrelevant; if it becomes a bridge between you and God — that is true art. If it becomes a meditation, that is true art. If you become absorbed in it, so utterly absorbed that the ego disappears, that is true art.

True art comes very close to religion. So don’t be worried what true art is. If you rejoice in doing it, if you feel lost in doing it, if you feel overwhelmed with joy and peace in doing it, it is true art. And don’t be bothered what critics say. Critics don’t know anything about art. In fact, the people who cannot become artists become critics. If you cannot participate in a running race, if you cannot be an Olympic runner, at least you can stand by the side of the road and throw stones at other runners; that you can do easily.

That’s what critics go on doing. They can’t be participants, they can’t create anything.

I have heard about a Sufi mystic who loved painting, and all the critics of his time were against him. Everybody would come and show him, “This is wrong, that is wrong.”

He became tired of these people, so one day, in front of his house he hung all his paintings and he invited all the critics and told them to come with brushes, with colors, so that they can correct his paintings, because they have criticized enough; now the time has come to correct.

Not a single critic turned up. It is easy to criticize, it is difficult to correct. And since then critics stopped coming and stopped criticizing his paintings. He did the right thing.

People who don’t know how to create become critics. So don’t be worried about them.

The decisive thing is your inner feeling, inner glow, inner warmth. If making music gives you a feeling of warmth, joy arises in you, ego disappears, then it becomes a bridge between you and God. And art can be the most prayerful thing, the most meditative thing possible. If you can be in any art, music, painting, sculpture, dance, if any art can take a grip of your being, that’s the best way to pray, the best way to meditate. Then you don’t need any other meditation; that is your meditation. That will lead you slowly slowly, step by step, into God. So this is my criterion: if it leads you towards God, it is true art, it is authentic art.”

Osho, The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol. 10, Ch. 2

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