Chapter 11: Of the Virtue That Makes Small
The very hypothesis of God has made man’s life a tragedy. He has forgotten to sing, he has forgotten to dance, he has forgotten himself. He does not know who he is, what are his potentials, and what are his basic rights given by nature. He lives in darkness - and he is not a creature of darkness. He lives unnaturally, in a perverted way that destroys his all grace and all his beauty and all the possibilities for his growth.
These words have to be understood very clearly, because they are almost prophetic. They are about you! They are about the world that has come to be in these twenty-five centuries.
I go among this people and let fall many a word; but they know neither how to take nor to keep.
Man listens only if something supports his prejudices; then he feels good that he has always been right. He listens only if you speak the language of fictions, which he thinks is the ultimate truth. But if you speak the truth he becomes completely closed. He does not allow any truth to enter in his being, to disturb his comfortable beliefs. He listens only to what he wants to listen to, and he takes into himself only what fits with all kinds of garbage that he has been carrying down the ages.
Anything new - and truth is always new - freaks him out. Anything new creates a disturbance in him. If he keeps it, then what to do with the old ideas, ancient mythologies, half-baked truths? He has to throw them out - that is too risky.
He is part of a crowd. If he keeps the new he becomes a stranger to his own crowd. He will be laughed at, he will be condemned. And if he is insistent, he can also be crucified. The crowd does not like the strangers. The crowd is very much against anybody disturbing its sleep - although its sleep is nothing but a nightmare. But it is the only thing that the crowd has got. It has no idea, not even a distant echo, that life can be something else too, that this is not the only way of living; life can have a different style.
Right now he lives in a sad, miserable, torturous style. But this style has been supported by millions of people for thousands of years, and this is thought to be religious, spiritual. This is thought to be a necessary sacrifice if you want to realize God.
Zarathustra is a stranger. Obviously his words cannot be taken and cannot be kept. In fact, people like Zarathustra are nothing but a nuisance to the miserable crowd - although they bring the good news. But nobody is ready to listen to them.
It is one of the most miserable facts about humanity that it has become accustomed to chains, superstitions, slavery, commandments. And it has forgotten completely that it has a soul, a sensitivity, an intelligence, which can be refined and which can become his only religion.