Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

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Sep 13, 2011

FEATURE : Thus Spoke Zarathustra - Nietzsche


For me, to start reading a book, is always driven by the way the book reaches me. I usually not read the books that are talked about, discussed in parties or are on top of the charts. I end up reading a book, if it comes to me on its own... like a divine grace; then only I know that I am ready for the book. As for me each book has a spirit that has something, to connect with me, to add to my inner self, to make ‘be’ what I have to be. I had heard about this famous book since my school days, people talked about the ideas in our discussion in college days and some even thrashed its “God is Dead” idea to its threadbare soul, but never thought of reading it. Then the other day, I was searching for a particular book, in poetry section of Landmark – The book shop and it was there on the top of the shelf and I felt the desire to pick it up. And below is the result...

Its a very interesting and engrossing book which talks about the man and his emotions... in the words of Zarathustra; some times teaching, some times scolding, some times just feeling sad the way the man has belittled himself... He, is in the book, talks about the higher man... which to my thought is not very different than the commonly perceived ‘God’... and that is the irony I find in this book. I have loved reading this book and below I have posted some of the interesting thoughts from the book that has captured my imagination and I could relate with.... But before that, as usual let me give you a brief about the book and Nietzsche’s biography.

Brief Note

The book
Cover to the first edition of the first part.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None (German: Also sprach Zarathustra: Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen) is a philosophical novel by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, composed in four parts between 1883 and 1885. Much of the work deals with ideas such as the "eternal recurrence of the same", the parable on the "death of God", and the "prophecy" of the Übermensch, which were first introduced in The Gay Science.  

Described by Nietzsche himself as "the deepest ever written," the book is a dense and esoteric treatise on philosophy and morality, featuring as protagonist a fictionalized prophet descending from his mountain retreat to mankind, Zarathustra. A central irony of the text is that Nietzsche mimics the style of the Bible in order to present ideas which fundamentally oppose Christian and Jewish morality and tradition.
Text and Image source: Wikipedia

The Author
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist. He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and aphorism.
Nietzsche's influence remains substantial within and beyond philosophy, notably in existentialismnihilism and postmodernism. His style and radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth have resulted in much commentary and interpretation, mostly in the continental tradition. His key ideas include the death of Godperspectivism, the Übermensch, the eternal recurrence, and the will to power. Central to his philosophy is the idea of "life-affirmation", which involves an honest questioning of all doctrines that drain life's expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be.

Nietzsche began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. At the age of 24 he was appointed to the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel (the youngest individual to have held this position), but resigned in 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life. In 1889 he became mentally ill, possibly due to atypical general paresis attributed to tertiary syphilis. He lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897, then under the care of his sister until his death in 1900.

Text and Image source: Wikipedia

Some of the thoughts from the book that has touched me deeply... 
Peter Gast would "correct" Nietzsche's writings even after
the philosopher's breakdown and did so
without his approval—an action severely criticized
by contemporary Nietzsche scholars.

Zarathustra’s Prologue
One must be a sea, to receive a polluted stream without becoming impure. 
What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal: 
Must one first batter their ears that they may learn to hear with their eyes?
A little poison now and then: that makes for pleasant dreams. 
One no longer becomes poor or rich; both are too burdensome. 
How can I help it, if power likes to walk on crooked legs? 

The Despisers of the Body
"I," say you, and are proud of that word.  But the greater thing - in which you are unwilling to believe - is your body with its great intelligence; which does not say "I," but performs it. 

The Pale Criminal 
I am a railing alongside the torrent; whoever is able to grasp me may grasp me!  Your crutch, however, I am not.  

Reading and Writing
Of all that is written, I love only what a person has written with his blood.  Write with blood, and you will find that blood is spirit. 
In the mountains the shortest way is from peak to peak, but for that route you must have long legs. 
Courageous, unconcerned, scornful, coercive - so wisdom wishes us; she is a woman, and ever loves only a warrior. 
We are all of us fine asses and assesses of burden.  What have we in common with the rose bud, which trembles because a drop of dew has formed upon it?  It is true we love life; not because we are used to living, but because we are used to loving.  There is always some madness in love.  But there is always, also, some method in madness. 

The Tree on the Hill
"If I wished to shake this tree with my hands, I should not be able to do so.  But the wind, which we see not, troubles and bends it as it wishes.  We are sore bent and troubled by invisible hands”
Zarathustra answered: "Why are you frightened on that account?  - But it is the same with man as with the tree.  The more he seeks to rise into the height and light, the more vigorously do his roots struggle earthward, downward, into the dark and deep - into the evil”

War and Warriors
By our best enemies we do not want to be spared, nor by those either whom we love from the very heart. 
I say to you: it is the good war which hallows every cause.  War and courage have done more great things than charity.  Not your sympathy, but your bravery has hitherto saved the victims.

The New Idol
Creators were they who created peoples, and hung a faith and a love over them: thus they served life.  

The house Nietzsche stayed in while in Turin
(background, right), as seen from
across Piazza Carlo Alberto,
where he is said to have had his breakdown.
To the left is the rear façade of the Palazzo Carignano.
The Flies in the Market-Place
Resemble again the tree which you love, the broad branched one - silently and attentively it overhangs the sea. 
In the world even the best things are worthless without those who represent them: those representers, the people call great men.  Little do the people understand what is great - that is to say, the creating agency.  But they have a taste for all representers and actors of great things

Chastity
Do I counsel you to chastity?  Chastity is a virtue with some, but with many it is almost a vice.

The Friend
In your friend one shall have your best enemy.  You shall be closest to him with your heart when you oppose him.  You would go naked before your friend?  It is in honour of your friend that you show yourself to him as you are? 
O my friend, man is something that has to be surpassed.  In conjecture and keeping silence shall the friend be a master:
Are you a slave?  Then you cannot be a friend.  Are you a tyrant?  Then you cannot have friends.  Far too long has there been a slave and a tyrant concealed in woman.  On that account woman is not yet capable of friendship: she knows only love.  In woman's love there is injustice and blindness to all she does not love.  And even in woman's conscious love, there is still always surprise and lightning and night, along with the light.
As yet woman is not capable of friendship.  But tell me, you men, who of you are capable of friendship?

Love of One's Neighbour
Thus says the fool: "Association with men ruins the character, especially when one has none”.

The Way of the Creator
Today you still suffer from the multitude, you individual; today you still have your courage undimmed, and your hopes.  But one day will solitude weary you; one day will your pride yield and your courage fail.  You will one day cry: "I am alone”!  One day will you see no longer your loftiness, and see too closely your lowliness; your sublimity itself will frighten you, like a phantom.  You will one day cry: "Everything is false”!  There are feelings which seek to kill the solitary man; if they do not succeed, then they must themselves die!  But Are you capable of it - to be a murderer?

Old and Young Women
Everything in woman is a riddle, and everything in woman has one solution - it is called pregnancy.  Man is for woman a means: the end is always the child.  But what is woman for man?  The true man wants two different things: danger and play.  Therefore wants he woman, as the most dangerous plaything.

Marriage and Children
Marriage: so call I the will of the two to create one that is greater than those who created it.  The reverence for one another, as those exercising such a will, call I marriage.  Let this be the significance and the truth of your marriage.

Lou SaloméPaul Ree
and Friedrich Nietzsche (1882)
The Bestowing Virtue
When your heart overflows broad and full like the river, a blessing and a danger to the lowlanders: there is the origin of your virtue.  When you are exalted above praise and blame, and your will would command all things, as a loving your will: there is the origin of your virtue.

The Child with the Mirror
Too long have I longed and looked into the distance.  Too long has solitude possessed me: thus have I forgotten how to keep silence.

On the Blissful Islands
But that I may reveal my heart entirely to you, my friends: if there were gods, how could I endure not to be a God!  Therefore there are no Gods.  Yes, I have drawn the conclusion; now, however, does it draw me.  - God is a supposition: but who could drink all the bitterness of this supposition without dying? 
Creating - that is the great salvation from suffering, and life's alleviation.  But for the creator to appear, suffering itself is needed, and much transformation.  Yes, much bitter dying must there be in your life, you creators!

The Compassionate 
If, however, you have a suffering friend, then be a resting place for his suffering; like a hard bed, however, a camp bed: thus will you serve him best.  And if a friend does you wrong, then say: "I forgive you what you have done to me; that you have done it to yourself, however - how could I forgive that”!  Thus speaks all great love: it overcomes even forgiveness and pity.  
Thus spoke the devil to me, once on a time: "Even God has his Hell: it is his love for man”.  And lately, did I hear him say these words: "God is dead: God has died of his pity for man”.  So be warned again pity: 

Self-Overcoming 
It is not the river that is your danger and the end of your good and evil, you wise ones: but that Will itself, the Will to Power - the un-exhausted, procreating life will.
To be silent is worse; all suppressed truths become poisonous. 

The Sublime Men
When power becomes gracious and descends into the visible - I call such condescension, beauty. 
Truly, I have often laughed at the weaklings, who think themselves good because they have crippled paws!

The Wanderer  
love is the danger of the solitary , love to anything, if it only live!  Laughable, truly, is my folly and my modesty in love!  - Thus spoke Zarathustra

Before Sunrise 
And all my wandering and mountain climbing: a necessity was it merely, and a makeshift of the unhandy one: - to fly only, wants my entire will, to fly into you!
 And "he who cannot bless shall learn to curse”!  - this clear teaching dropped to me from the clear heaven; this star stands in my heaven even in dark nights. 
 "In everything there is one thing impossible - rationality”!

The Nietzsche Archives in Weimar, Germany.
Virtue That Makes Small
For only he who is man enough, will - save the woman in woman.
I am Zarathustra the godless, who says: "Who is more godless than I, that I may enjoy his teaching”? 
You ever become smaller, you small people!  You crumble away, you comfortable ones!  You will yet perish - - By your many small virtues, by your many small omissions, and by your many small submissions!  Too tender, too yielding: so is your soil!  But for a tree to become great, it seeks to twine hard roots around hard rocks!  Also what you omit weaves at the web of all the human future; even your nothing is a cobweb, and a spider that lives on the blood of the future.

Passing By
This precept, however, give I to you, in parting, you fool: Where one can no longer love, there should one - pass bye!  

The Three Evil Things
These will I put on the scales.  Voluptuousness, passion for power, and selfishness: these three things have hitherto been be cursed, and have been in worst and falsest repute - these three things will I weigh humanly well. 
Voluptuousness: to free hearts, a thing innocent and free, the garden happiness of the earth, all the future's thanks overflow to the present.  
Voluptuousness: only to the withered a sweet poison; to the lion willed, however, the great cordial, and the reverently saved wine of wines.  
Voluptuousness: the great symbolic happiness of a higher happiness and highest hope.  For to many is marriage promised, and more than marriage - To many that are more unknown to each other than man and woman: - and who has fully understood how unknown to each other are man and woman!

The Spirit of Gravity
And we - we bear loyally what is apportioned to us, on hard shoulders, over rugged mountains!  And when we sweat, then do people say to us: "Yes, life is hard to bear”!  But man himself only is hard to bear!  The reason is that he carries too many extraneous things on his shoulders.  Like the camel he kneels down, and lets himself be well laden.  Especially the strong load bearing man in whom reverence resides.  Too many extraneous heavy words and worth’s does he load upon himself - then seems life to him a desert!
This however is my teaching: he who wishes one day to fly, must first learn standing and walking and running and climbing and dancing: - one does not fly into flying!

The Old and New Law-Tables
One should not wish to enjoy where one does not contribute to the enjoyment.  And one should not wish to enjoy!  For enjoyment and innocence are the most bashful things.  Neither like to be sought for.  One should have them - but one should rather seek for guilt and pain!  
"That is just divinity, that there are Gods, but no God”!
To your children shall you make amends for being the children of your fathers: all the past shall you thus redeem! 
On that account want I the honest men to say to one another: "We love each other: let us see to it that we maintain our love!  Or shall our pledging be blundering”?
Not only to propagate yourselves onwards but upwards - thereto, O my brothers, may the garden of marriage help you!
The good - they have always been the beginning of the end.

The Convalescent
To each soul belongs another world; to each soul is every other soul a back world.  Among the most alike does semblance deceive most delightfully: for the smallest gap is most difficult to bridge over.  For me - how could there be an outside of me?  There is no outside!  But this we forget on hearing tones; how delightful it is that we forget!  Have not names and tones been given to things that man may refresh himself with them?  It is a beautiful folly, speaking; there with dances man over everything.  How lovely is all speech and all falsehoods of tones!  With tones dances our love on variegated rainbows

The Higher Man
And truly, I love you, because you know not today how to live, you higher men!  For thus do you live - best!
He has heart who knows fear, but masters it; who sees the abyss, but with pride.
My wisdom has accumulated long like a cloud, it becomes stiller and darker.  So does all wisdom which shall one day bear lightning.
If you would go up high, then use your own legs!  Do not get yourselves carried aloft; do not seat yourselves on other people's backs and heads!
Where your entire love is, namely, with your child, there is also your entire virtue!
Be not virtuous beyond your powers!  And seek nothing from yourselves that is improbable! 
All good things approach their goal on a crooked path.  Like cats they curve their backs, they purr inwardly with their approaching happiness - all good things laugh.  His step betrays whether a person already walks on his own path: Just see me walk!  He, however, who comes near to his goal, dances.
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नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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