Chapter 6: Of Manly Prudence
According to Zarathustra, man is a rope stretched over an abyss. Man is joined on one hand with the world of animals, and has the longing on the other hand to go beyond man itself - because man itself is not a being, it is only a bridge; it is something to be passed by, a ladder.
But millions of people never try to move upward, for sheer fear that the moment you start moving there is every possibility that you may fall. A small wrong step.and the terrible abyss is just by the side. Man can become far worse than any animal.
Man can go even beyond gods, because all gods are men’s fictions. He can attain to a far greater reality than his fictions - that is the height. Zarathustra is saying, “But with every height comes an abyss. And the moment you start moving upwards, you are taking a risk.”
The height is not the problem. It may be hard to climb, but it is not terrible. What is terrible is the abyss by the side. A single wrong step, just a moment of unawareness and you can fall; you can fall below animals.
Ah, friends, have you, too, divined my heart’s twofold will?
Anybody who wants to evolve is divided: his biological, physiological gravitation pulls him downward, and his spiritual longing calls him from higher places, from sunlit peaks. He is divided, he becomes twofold.
And the height is hard. This is the reason why millions of people have decided not to bother about the height, not to make any effort to rise above themselves. That way they can avoid the abyss and the fall. They are not taking the challenge of the height because of the fear that the challenge contains in it - a great abyss and a great fall.
Those who never try to rise, of course they never fall; they never take a wrong step, they never move. They simply remain where they are. But their life is almost dead, because life means something only if it is a constant movement towards height, a welcome to the challenge that is coming from the height, and a daring spirit to accept the abyss. But remain alert and aware, so that not a single step goes wrong!
It is almost like walking on a tightrope - the excitement is tremendous. Those who arrive at the peak, their ecstasy is immeasurable. Only they have lived their lives; others have only passed their time.
My will clings to mankind, I bind myself to mankind with fetters, because I am drawn up to the superman: for my other will wants to draw me up to the superman.
Zarathustra is analyzing his own situation. And in analyzing his own situation he is analyzing the situation of every human being.