FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE is perhaps the greatest philosopher the world has known. He is also great in another dimension which many philosophers are simply unaware of: he is a born mystic. His philosophy is not only of the mind but is rooted deep in the heart, and some roots even reach to his very being. The only thing unfortunate about him is, that he was born in the West; hence, he could never come across any mystery school. He contemplated deeply, but he was absolutely unaware about meditation. His thoughts sometimes have the depth of a meditator, sometimes the flight of a Gautam Buddha; but these things seem to have happened spontaneously to him.
He knew nothing about the ways of enlightenment, about the path that reaches to one’s own being. This created a tremendous turmoil in his being. His dreams go as high as the stars but his life remained very ordinary — it does not have the aura that meditation creates. His thoughts are not his blood, his bones, his marrow. They are beautiful, immensely beautiful, but something is missing; and what is missing is life itself. They are dead words; they don’t breathe — there is no heartbeat. But I have chosen to speak on him for a special reason: he is the only philosopher, from East or West, who has at least thought of the heights of human consciousness. He may not have experienced them; he certainly has not experienced them. He also thought of becoming a man again. That idea, of descending from your heights into the marketplace, descending from the stars to the earth, has never happened to anybody else.
He has something of Gautam Buddha, perhaps unconsciously carried over from his past lives, and he has something of the Zorba. Both are incomplete. But he is the only proof that Buddha and Zorba can meet; that those who have reached to the highest peaks need not remain there. In fact, they should not remain there. They owe something to humanity; they owe something to the earth. They have been born amongst human beings; they have lived in the same darkness and in the same misery. And now that they have seen the light, it becomes obligatory that they should come back to wake up those who are fast asleep; to bring the good news — that darkness is not all, that unconsciousness is our choice. If we choose to be conscious, all unconsciousness and all darkness can disappear. It is our choice that we are living in the dark valleys. If we decide to live on the sunlit peaks, nobody can prevent us because that is also our potential. But the people who have reached to the sunlit peaks completely forget about the world they are coming from. Gautam Buddha never descended. Mahavira never descended. Even if they have made efforts for humanity to wake up, they have shouted from their sunlit peaks. Man is so deaf, so blind that it is almost impossible for him to understand people who are talking from higher stages of consciousness. He hears the noise but it does not bring any meaning to him.
Nietzsche is unique in this sense. He could have remained an extraordinary, very superhuman philosopher, but he never forgets for a single moment the ordinary human being. It is his greatness. Although he has not touched the highest peaks, and he has not known the greatest mysteries, whatsoever he has known, he is longing to share with his fellow human beings. His desire to share is tremendous. I have chosen to speak on a few fragments which may be helpful to you, for your spiritual growth. Nietzsche himself had chosen Zarathustra to be his spokesman. Something about Zarathustra has also to be understood. Amongst thousands of great mystics, philosophers, enlightened people, Nietzsche has chosen as his spokesman, a very unknown person, almost forgotten to the world — Zarathustra.
The followers of Zarathustra are limited only to a small place — Bombay. They had come to Bombay from Iran when Mohammedans forced Persians either to be converted into Mohammedanism, or to be ready to be killed. Thousands were killed; millions, out of fear, became Mohammedans; but a few daring souls escaped from Iran and landed in India. They are the Parsees of Bombay — perhaps the smallest religion in the world. And it is amazing that Nietzsche was so interested in Zarathustra that he wrote the book, THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA. These fragments are from that book. He chose Zarathustra for the same reason that I chose him: Zarathustra, amongst all the religious founders, is the only one who is life-affirmative, who is not against life, whose religion is a religion of celebration, of gratefulness to existence. He is not against the pleasures of life, and he is not in favor of renouncing the world. On the contrary, he is in absolute support of rejoicing in the world, because except for this life and this world, all are hypothetical ideologies. God, heaven and hell, they are all projections of the human mind, not authentic experiences; they are not realities.
Zarathustra was born at a time, twenty five centuries ago, when all over the world, there was a great renaissance: In India, Gautam Buddha, Mahavira, Goshalak, Sanjay Bilethiputta, Ajit Keshkambal, and others, had reached to the same peak of awakening; in China, Confucius, Mencius, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu and many others; in Greece, Socrates, Pythagoras, Plotinus, Heraclitus; and in Iran, Zarathustra. It is a strange coincidence that suddenly, all over the world, there came a flood of consciousness and many people became awakened. Perhaps enlightenment is also a chain reaction — when there are enlightened people they provoke the same revolution in others.
It is everybody’s potential. One just needs a provocation, a challenge; and when you see so many people reaching to such beautiful heights of grace, you cannot remain where you are. Suddenly a great urge arises in you: “Something has to be done. I am wasting my life while others have reached the very destiny, have known all that is worth knowing, have experienced the greatest blissfulness and ecstasy… and what am I doing? — collecting seashells on the beach.” Out of all these people, Zarathustra is unique. He is the only one who is not against life, who is for life; whose god is not somewhere else; whose god is nothing but another name for life itself. And to live totally, to live joyously and to live intensely, is all that religion is based on.
I feel a deep empathy, affinity, with Zarathustra. But perhaps because he was life-affirmative and not life-negative, he could not gather many followers. It is one of the strange things about human beings: anything that is easy, they cannot accept as worthy of being the goal — the goal has to be very difficult and arduous. Behind it is the psychology of the ego. The ego always wants something impossible, because only with the impossible can it exist. You will never be able to fulfill desire, and the ego will go on pushing you towards more and more — more greed, more power, more money, more austerities, more spirituality, more discipline. Wherever you find “more”, remember, that is the language of the ego. And there is no way to satisfy the ego; it is always asking for more.
Zarathustra’s whole approach is exactly the same as Chuang Tzu: “Easy is right. Right is easy.” And when you are utterly relaxed, at ease, at home, so relaxed that you have even forgotten that you are at ease; that you have forgotten that you are right — you have become so utterly innocent like a child, you have arrived. But ego has no interest in this. This whole process is something like the suicide of the ego; hence, religions which have been giving the ego difficult tasks, arduous paths, unnatural ideals, impossible goals — they have attracted millions of people.
Zarathustra’s followers can be counted on the fingers. Nobody has bothered about Zarathustra, until, after almost twenty-four centuries, Nietzsche suddenly picked up on him. Nietzsche was against Jesus Christ, and he was against Gautam Buddha — but he was for Zarathustra. It is something very significant to understand. The man who was against Jesus Christ, against Gautam Buddha…. Why should he be for Zarathustra? — because Nietzsche also has the same attitude and approach towards life. He has seen all these religions, great religions, creating more and more guilt in humanity; creating more and more misery, wars, burning people alive; talking all kinds of nonsense for which no proof at all exists, for which they don’t have any evidence at all; keeping the whole of humanity in darkness, in blindness, because their teachings are based on belief — and belief means blindness.
There is no belief which is not blind. A man with eyes does not believe in light, he knows it — there is no need to believe. Only the blind man believes in light because he does not know it. Belief exists in ignorance, and all the religions — with a few exceptions like Zarathustra and Chuang Tzu who have not been able to create great followings or great traditions — are all for belief. In other words, they are all for blindness. Nietzsche was against them — symbolically. As far as the East is concerned, he chose Gautam Buddha as the symbol and as far as the West is concerned he chose Jesus Christ as the symbol. He was against these people for the simple reason that they were against life; they were against people enjoying the simple things; people living playfully, laughingly; people having a sense of humor, not seriousness; people loving songs and music; and people capable of dance and love.
Nietzsche was attracted to Zarathustra because he could see that this man alone, out of the whole past, was not against life, was not against love, was not against laughter. In these fragments, you will see tremendously meaningful statements which can become the foundation of a life-affirmative religion. I am all for life. There is nothing for which life can be sacrificed. Everything can be sacrificed for life. Everything can be a means towards life, but life is an end unto itself. Listen very carefully, because Friedrich Nietzsche writes in a very condensed form. He is not a writer, he writes aphorisms: anybody could have written a whole book but Nietzsche will write only one paragraph. So condensed is his writing, that unless you are very alert in listening, you may miss. It is not to be read like a novel.
These are almost like the sutras of the Upanishad. Each single sutra, and each single maxim, contains so much, has so many implications. I would like to go into all the implications so that you do not misunderstand Nietzsche because he is one of the most misunderstood philosophers in the world. And the reason for his being misunderstood is that he wrote in such a condensed form — he never explained; he never went into detailed explanations about all the possible implications. He is a very symbolic man, and the reason why he was so symbolic is that he was so full of new insights that there was not time enough to explain. He could not write treatises, and he had so much to share and to give, and life is so small. Because his work was so condensed and crystallized, people in the first place did not understand him; in the second place, if they “understood”, they misunderstood. In the third place, they found him unreadable; they wanted everything to be explained.
Nietzsche was not writing for children, he was writing for mature people, but maturity is so rare: the average mental age is not more than fourteen, and with this mental age, Nietzsche is certainly going to be missed. He is missed by his opponents, and he is missed by his followers, because both have the same mental age.