Picasso’s painting for a rich man

1001 Tales told by the Master

“A real painting is not just the sum total of the colors, it is more – and that “more” is the meaning,” says Osho.

Head of a Man by Picasso
Pablo Picasso. Head of a Man (Tête d’homme), 1907. BF419. © 2022 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Barnes Foundation

The man who has the sense that “God exists, and I am needed by God,” never feels worthless — never. To the last moment, to the last breath of his life, he is functioning, serving something higher than himself. He has a context bigger than himself; in that context, meaning arises.

Meaning is always in a certain context. A single word is meaningless; when it is arranged in a poem it has tremendous meaning: now it has a context. The color in a tube is meaningless; once it is spread on the canvas and becomes part of a picture that is bigger than it, it has a context, suddenly meaning arises.

It is reported that once a very rich man asked Pablo Picasso to make a portrait of him. Picasso said, “It will be very costly.”

The man was so rich, he said, ”Don’t bother about it. You need not even talk about the cost, money doesn’t matter. Make my portrait and whatsoever you demand, I will give.”

After six months the portrait was ready.

The rich man came, but the price that was asked was fantastic: one million dollars, just for a small canvas and a few colors! The rich man said, ”Are you joking? Just for a few colors and a canvas?”

Picasso said, ”Then okay, you can take an empty canvas and a few tubes full of color and you can pay as much as you want.”

The rich man said, “But that is not the same.”

Picasso said, ”That’s what I am trying to point out to you. I have created a context, I have created a gestalt, a pattern. And nobody else can create it, hence the price. It is a Picasso painting: nobody else can do it the way I have done it, it has my signature on it. The harmony of the colors, the music of the colors, the poetry of the colors – that is the thing. I am not asking the price for the colors, but for something that has become expressed through the colors.”

A real painting is not just the sum total of the colors, it is more – and that “more” is the meaning. A real life is not the sum total of what you do; unless there is something more to it, you live an inauthentic life. That ”more” is God. That poetry is God, that music is God, that surrounds you and floods you.

People come to me and ask, “Where is God?” It is not a question of asking “where”; God is a meaning, not a person. I cannot indicate, “There – go there, and you will find him.” God has no address, God cannot be located, it is a meaning. You have to create meaning in your life, then God is. God has to be created.

And the beginning of creating God is to start becoming more and more sensitive to the existence that surrounds you. The trees, the rocks, the stars, the earth – you are surrounded by great poetry.

But you remain separate, hence you go on missing it. If you live as separate, if you think, ”I am separate,” if you live as an ego, then your existence is a pretense. Then your existence will remain meaningless. Then you will never know the glory and the grandeur of life; you will never know the splendors that have always been available to you but you went on missing. […]

If you exist as a separate individual, you have created a wall around yourself, you have become an island. And no man is an island, we are parts of an infinite continent: that continent is God. We are parts of an ocean. The moment you recognize it, that we are parts of an ocean, your life starts having a context bigger than you, higher than you.

In that context is the beginning of meaning – and meaning is God. […]

Just a single step is enough: lose yourself. Don’t exist as an ‘I’, don’t go on proclaiming yourself as an ego. Drop the ego, and suddenly, immediately, instantly, the hell of your life turns into a heaven.

Misery disappears.Misery is a by-product of your separation. Bliss is the shadow of falling back into the unity: Unio Mystica. When again you start feeling like a wave in the ocean, misery cannot exist. What is misery? The fear of death. But you can die only if you are separate, you cannot die if you are not separate.

If the wave thinks, ”I am separate from the ocean,” it is going to die; it will remain afraid, trembling. If it knows it is part of the ocean, it is not going to die. It will fall back into the source, it will come again; it will go, it will come, it will appear and disappear, but it cannot die.

Birth is appearance, death is disappearance. But neither is birth the beginning nor is death the end: the ocean continues. To have this oceanic feeling is meditation, is prayer. […]

Osho, Unio Mystica: Talks on Hakim Sanai’s The Hadiqa, Vol 2, Ch 1 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales