What is “GESTALT”?

This is my 100th blog. I am grateful to you for your love, encouragement and tolerance in allowing me to spam your WhatsApp inbox every fortnight. When I started writing the blog in June 2017, I had no idea I would see this day. As I have mentioned before, I love listening to and telling stories. Through this blog GESTALT (गेस्ताल्ट), I really enjoyed reading stories and sharing them with you. In most blogs, I have just reflected Osho and other Masters’ words like a mirror and had negligible contribution of my own. I am indeed lucky and indebted to have THEM in my life.

“Gestalt – my reference point” was started at RIL’s GenNext Innovation hub thanks to my dear friends Anniruddha Nanivadekar, Nikhil Gundale, Sudhakar Dasoju and it could continue because of Arun Agrawal, Founder and CEO, EbizIndia Consulting, Kolkata. I am deeply indebted for their encouragement and selfless support. Tirth, my son, for helping me with edits.

Many of my friends had this question about the meaning of this word ‘Gestalt’. Today I thought is a good occasion to try and answer that.

Osho introduced me to this beautiful German-language word “GESTALT” – an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.

To me, Gestalt is ‘MY reference point’ – this is my gestalt, my point of view – when I see, from where I see or who I am. Yours could be different and it’s quite alright. Therefore I don’t argue with or respond to anyone’s feedback.

Osho says, “God and you are just gestalts. If you are there, God remains hidden. When you disappear, He becomes manifest. When you come back again, He becomes hidden. Your very presence hides Him; your presence functions as a cloud.

Enjoy it, allow it… love it. And remain more and more in it. Whenever you have time, don’t waste it anywhere. Close your eyes; be empty. Soon the beauty of it will be revealed to you. By and by, you will have a taste of the new wine: absolutely new, because you have not known it before. Though it has always been there, you have never contacted it before. It will intoxicate you, it will make you ecstatic. You will be transformed through it.

When you enter into this emptiness for the first time, you feel that this is the same emptiness. Natural, because you have never known it before. Allow it, remain with it — that’s what I would like to say to you. Don’t try in any way to think beyond it. Be it! Suddenly the focus changes, the gestalt changes. The attention shifts: you look into it and it is no longer loneliness; it is aloneness. It is no longer isolation; it is infinite presence. You have disappeared… and in that disappearance, God has appeared.

Listen to that which is not said. Listen to the gaps in the intervals. Read between the words and between the lines. If you forget the words, nothing is lost; but if you forget that which is between the words, much is lost.

Your gestalt has to change. That is the difference between a student and a disciple: a change of gestalt, a change of attention, of focusing, a shift. The student listens to the word; the disciple listens to the gap between two words.

That’s how it happened in Mohammed’s life. He was sitting on a mountain, meditating, fasting; absolutely empty. Suddenly he heard deep somewhere within himself — which was also beyond himself…. From his own soul, but as if from some beyond, came an order: “Write.”

But he said, “My God, but I don’t know how to write. I am illiterate.”

And the voice said, “That’s why you have been chosen. Write!” — because those who are ‘literate’ are corrupted, those who ‘know’ are corrupted; those who are innocent, in their ignorance, only they can hear the voice of the beyond. Please, don’t get caught with my words. Always remember that what I am trying to convey is always in the gaps. Don’t be caught by the banks that the river is flowing between. And THAT you can hear only when you are silent; that you can hear only when the inner talk has stopped, when your mind is not clouded.

The word `Gestalt’ is worth understanding. In any book on gestalt psychology you will find a picture inside, just a sketch, a line sketch of a woman. If you look at it and go on staring, a moment comes… the woman becomes old. If you go on staring, again a moment comes… the woman becomes young, very beautiful. (Picture above)

In those lines both are hidden; just your gestalt changes, your emphasis changes. You are looking at the lines in one way; it looks like an old woman. But because your mind cannot stay long with any experience — it is continuously moving — soon it changes its gestalt, and the same lines which were making an old woman suddenly create a beautiful young woman. The strangest part is that you cannot see both together. You cannot see because obviously the same lines have to be used. Either you can see the old woman or you can see the young woman, but you cannot see them simultaneously, together, because there are not two. The word `GESTALT’ means change of emphasis.

This German word gestalt is beautiful. It says there is a harmony between the figure and background. They are not opposites, they APPEAR opposites. For example: in a small school you see the blackboard, and the teacher writes with white chalk on the blackboard.

Black and white are opposites. Yes, for Aristotelian minds they are opposites: black is black and white is white — they are the polarities. But why is this teacher writing with white on black? Can’t he write with white on white? Can’t he write with black on black?

He can, but it will be useless. The black has to be the background and the white becomes the figure on it: they contrast, there is a tension between them. They are opposites and there is a hidden harmony. The white looks whiter on black; that’s the harmony. On white it will simply disappear because there is no tension, no opposition.

Remember, Jesus would have disappeared if Jews had not crucified him. They made it a gestalt: the cross was the blackboard, and Jesus became whiter on it. Jesus would have completely disappeared; it is because of the cross that he has remained. And it is because of the cross that he has penetrated people’s hearts more than a Buddha, more than a Mahavira. Almost half of the world has fallen in love with him — it is because of the cross. He was a white line on a black board. Buddha is a white line on a white board. The contrast is not there, the gestalt is not there; the background is just the same as the figure.

If you simply love and can’t hate, your love will not be worthwhile, it will simply be useless. It will have no intensity in it, it will not be a flame, it will not be a passion; it will be simply cold. It becomes a passion — and passion is a beautiful word because passion has intensity. But how does it become a passion? — because the same man is capable of hate also.

Compassion has an intensity if the same man is capable of anger also. If he is simply incapable of anger, then his compassion will be just impotent — just impotent! He is helpless, that’s why compassion is there. He cannot hate, that’s why he loves.

When you love in spite of hate, there is passion. Then it becomes a figure and background phenomenon, then there is a GESTALT.

When you are facing a mirror, you see yourself in the mirror. Tozan is saying,


It is a complicated phenomenon. When you stand before a mirror, one ray of light is going towards the mirror, making your reflection in the mirror; another ray is coming towards you so that you can witness that the mirror is reflecting you.

But you are neither the reflected one nor the reflection. You are the witness, which no mirror can reflect. A witness is always simply a witness. It cannot be anything, not even a reflection.

ख़ुदा ऐसे एहसास का नाम है
रहे सामने और दिखाई न दे ……………..बशीर बद्र

ḳhudā aise ehsās kā naam hai
rahe sāmne aur dikhā.ī na de ………………..BASHIR BADR

God is a name of such feeling
who is just before us but undefined.

I loved this scene from Yash Chopra and Aditya Chopra’s MOHABBATEIN: A film that portrays the battle between love and fear… A Perfect background of contrast…A battle between two stubborn men and their opposing beliefs. Raj Aryan (Shahrukh Khan), who stands for LOVE, and would go to any lengths for it. Narayan Shankar (Amitabh Bachchan) a strict disciplinarian as the head of India’s most prestigious educational institute who stands for FEAR, he believes that love leads to pain and weakness. What will finally triumph. .. love or fear? and then there is a GESTALT.

It is when Raj Aryan says to Narayan Shankar – “Mauf kijiyega Sir, par jahan se mein dekh raha hun…” is what I am talking about “MY reference point”…

Filmfare Award for Best Scene of The Year – 2000 – Mohabbatein – YouTube

3 thoughts on “What is “GESTALT”?”

  1. Hearty congratulations for 100th column, the Century.👍🏽💐😇
    Keep it up. I do not always jot down but my lazy mind wakes up, reading your blog and I at least start thinking 🧐.
    Good to know the German word “Gestalt”.
    Rest is a nice reading as always👌🤩

  2. Rajendra Dhandhukia

    Awesome blog…
    Love these two lines “When you love in spite of hate, there is passion. Then it becomes a figure and background phenomenon, then there is a GESTALT.”
    And the phenomenal clip of Mohabbatein explaining same..
    Best wishes on 100th Blog.
    May god continue to shower strength and wisdom to continue this journey..
    Love to my friend Rajiv.

  3. Congratulations for your 100th blogs! I would like to thank you for sharing your blogs. I look forward to your blogs every Sunday! Keep enlightening us with your beautiful blogs! All the best!

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