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Chapter 7: Of the Three Metamorphoses

Of the three metamorphoses
I name you three metamorphoses of the spirit: how the spirit shall become a camel, and the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.
There are many heavy things for the spirit, for the strong, weight-bearing spirit in which dwell respect and awe: its strength longs for the heavy, for the heaviest.
What is heavy? Thus asks the weight-bearing spirit, thus it kneels down like the camel and wants to be well laden.
What is the heaviest thing, you heroes? So asks the weight-bearing spirit, that I may take it upon me and rejoice in my strength.
Is it not this: to debase yourself in order to injure your pride?
Or is it this: to desert our cause when it is celebrating its victory? To climb high mountains in order to tempt the tempter?
Or is it this: to love those who despise us and to offer our hand to the ghost when it wants to frighten us?
The weight-bearing spirit takes upon itself all these heaviest things: like a camel hurrying laden into the desert, thus it hurries into its desert.
But in the loneliest desert the second metamorphosis occurs: the spirit here becomes a lion; it wants to capture freedom and be lord in its own desert.
It seeks here its ultimate lord: it will be an enemy to him and to its ultimate god, it will struggle for victory with the great dragon.
What is the great dragon which the spirit no longer wants to call lord and god? The great dragon is called “Thou shalt”. But the spirit of the lion says “I will!”
“Thou shalt” lies in its path, sparkling with gold, a scale-covered beast, and on every scale glitters golden “Thou shalt.”
Values of a thousand years glitter on the scales, and thus speaks the mightiest of all dragons: “All the values of things - glitter on me.
“All values have already been created, and all created values - are in me. Truly, there shall be no more ‘I will’!” Thus speaks the dragon.
My brothers, why is the lion needed in the spirit? Why does the beast of burden, that renounces and is reverent, not suffice?
To create new values - even the lion is incapable of that: but to create itself freedom for new creation - that the might of the lion can do.
To create freedom for itself and a sacred No even to duty: the lion is needed for that, my brothers.
To seize the right to new values - that is the most terrible proceeding for a weight-bearing and reverential spirit..
Once it loved this “Thou shalt” as its holiest thing: now it has to find illusion and caprice even in the holiest, that it may steal freedom from its love: the lion is needed for this theft.
But tell me, my brothers, what can the child do that even the lion cannot? Why must the preying lion still become a child?
The child is innocence and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a sport, a self-propelling wheel, a first motion, a sacred Yes.
Yes, a sacred Yes is needed, my brothers, for the sport of creation: the spirit now wills its own will, the spirit sundered from the world now wins its own world.
I have named you three metamorphoses of the spirit: how the spirit became a camel, and the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.

Thus spake Zarathustra.

Zarathustra divides the evolution of consciousness into three symbols: the camel, the lion, and the child.

The camel is a beast of burden, ready to be enslaved, never rebellious. He cannot ever say no. He is a believer, a follower, a faithful slave. That is the lowest in human consciousness.

The lion is a revolution. The beginning of the revolution is a sacred no.

In the consciousness of the camel there is always a need for someone to lead and someone to say to him, “Thou shalt do this.” He needs the Ten Commandments. He needs all the religions, all the priests and all the holy scriptures because he cannot trust himself. He has no courage and no soul and no longing for freedom. He’s obedient.

The lion is a longing for freedom, a desire to destroy all imprisonments. The lion is not in need of any leader; he is enough unto himself. He will not allow anybody else to say to him, “Thou shalt,” - that is insulting to his pride. He can only say, “I will.” The lion is responsibility and a tremendous effort to get out of all chains.

But even the lion is not the highest peak of human growth. The highest peak is when the lion also goes through a metamorphosis and becomes a child. The child is innocence. It is not obedience, it is not disobedience; it is not belief, it is not disbelief - it is pure trust, it is a sacred yes to existence and to life and to all that it contains.

The child is the very peak of purity, sincerity, authenticity, receptivity, and openness to existence. These symbols are very beautiful.

We will go into the implications of these symbols as Zarathustra describes them, one by one.

I name you three metamorphoses of the spirit: how the spirit shall become a camel, and the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.
There are many heavy things for the spirit, for the strong, weight-bearing spirit in which dwell respect and awe: its strength longs for the heavy, for the heaviest.

Zarathustra is not in favor of the weak, in favor of the so-called humble. He is not in agreement with Jesus that “Blessed are the meek,” that “Blessed are the poor,” that “Blessed are the humble for they shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Zarathustra is absolutely in favor of a strong spirit. He is against the ego, but he is not against pride. Pride is the dignity of man. Ego is a false entity and one should never think of them as synonymous.

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