The Wisdom and Beauty of Vincent Van Gogh

Most of us are familiar with work of Vincent Van Gogh (the genius who cut his ear off). At some point in your life you will have seen one of his self-portraits, landscapes, wheat fields or sunflowers (even if you didn’t know it). Perhaps you’ve heard Don McClean’s famous song Starry Starry Night, which pays tribute to the great artist himself? Less well known are the beautiful quotations below, which show a man filled with passion, a man with an ability to appreciate true beauty and a man with a profound understanding of the true nature of reality.

Van Gogh on love.


Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.


Here Van Gogh encapsulates the enormous power and potential of love to accomplish good in the world. He sees love as the strength behind all righteous deeds. Not only does love give you energy to go out in the world, it ensures that your actions will be good.


Van Gogh on the bigger picture.


Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.


A simple statement, but a powerful one. We get overwhelmed when we consider the state of affairs in the world today. But if we bring our attention to the present, on taking one small step at a time, we can achieve great things.


Van Gogh on hard work.


If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint… and that voice will be silenced, but only by working.


Most of us know self-doubt. We feel we aren’t smart enough or talented enough to pursue our dreams. But Van Gogh knows a powerful truth. The only way to allay these doubts and fears is through hard work. Apply yourself fully, be completely who you are, follow your passion with your whole heart and watch your doubts fade away.


Van Gogh on loneliness.


One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.


There can be great loneliness in experiencing the world deeply. Most artists and creative people have experienced this. The lesson here is to remember that you never truly know what is going on in other people’s worlds. Don’t simply dismiss people; act with compassion and equanimity. Ultimately, we are all bound to the same human experience.


Van Gogh on spirituality.


As a suffering creature, I cannot do without something greater than I – something that is my life – the power to create.


Van Gogh recognizes the great creative force that is all of life. We live in a dualistic world, a world consisting in opposites. It is between opposing poles that we find the vital energy that is responsible for the entire manifest world. Our suffering is mitigated when we recognize that this force is greater than ourselves and that we too are endowed with the power to create.


First of all the twinkling stars vibrated, but remained motionless, in space, then all the celestial globes were united into one series of movements…Firmament and planets both disappeared, but the mighty breath which gives life to all things and in which all is bound up remained.


In this beautiful quote, Van Gogh hints at the true nature of reality. He sees the entire manifest world as illusion. The stars, the celestial globes and the planets all disappear, but what remains is the breath, which unites all things. It is this breath that gives life to all things and unites us all.

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