Chapter 6: Of Manly Prudence
It is not the height, it is the abyss that is terrible!
The abyss where the glance plunges downward and the hand grasps upward. There the heart grows giddy through its twofold will.
Ah, friends, have you, too, divined my heart’s twofold will?.
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.
That my hand may not quite lose its belief in firmness: that is why I live blindly among men, as if I did not recognize them..
This is my first manly prudence: I let myself be deceived so as not to be on guard against deceivers..
This, however, is my second manly prudence: I am more considerate to the vain than to the proud.
Is wounded vanity not the mother of all tragedies? But where pride is wounded there surely grows up something better than pride.
If life is to be pleasant to watch, its play must be well acted: for that, however, good actors are needed.
I found all vain people to be good actors: they act and desire that others shall want to watch them - all their spirit is in this desire..
This, however, is my third manly prudence: I do not let your timorousness spoil my pleasure at the sight of the wicked..
Among men, too, there is a fine brood of the hot sun and much that is marvelous in the wicked.
Indeed, as your wisest man did not seem so very wise to me, so I found that human wickedness, too, did not live up to its reputation..
Truly, there is still a future, even for evil!.
And truly, you good and just! There is much in you that is laughable and especially your fear of him who was formerly called the “Devil!”
Your souls are so unfamiliar with what is great that the superman would be fearful to you in his goodness!.
You highest men my eyes have encountered! This is my doubt of you and my secret laughter: I think you would call my superman - a devil!
Alas, I grew weary of these highest and best men: from their “heights” I longed to go up, out, away to the superman!
A horror overcame me when I saw these best men naked: then there grew for me the wings to soar away into distant futures..
But I want to see you disguised, you neighbors and fellowmen, and well-dressed and vain and worthy as “the good and just.”
And I myself will sit among you disguised, so that I may misunderstand you and myself: that, in fact, is my last manly prudence.
.Thus spake Zarathustra.
Zarathustra is not a thinker but a seer. All thought is a groping in darkness. Seeing is altogether a different matter.
The blind man can think about light, but however hard he thinks, it is not going to give him an experience of light. His thinking is going to remain always empty. There is a great danger that he may start believing in his thinking. And if a blind man starts believing in his thinking about light, he forgets all about finding his eyes, or searching for a physician who can cure his blindness.
There is a beautiful story from Gautam Buddha’s life:
He is staying in a village, and a crowd brings a blind man to him. A spokesman from the crowd says to Gautam Buddha, “We have brought this blind man to you for a special purpose - he does not believe in light, he argues against light. He has a very sharp intellect and a very logical mind. We all know that light is, but we cannot convince this blind man about the existence of light. On the contrary, he convinces us that there is no light.
“And his arguments are such that we cannot refute them. He says, ‘If light exists I would like to touch it, because I know things by touching.’ Now, there is no way to touch light. He says, ‘I also know things by tasting, I can taste light.’ But light cannot be tasted either. He says, ‘I also smell things.’ But light has no smell. He says, ‘I have only four senses. You can beat light just like a drum is beaten - then at least I can hear the sound of it.’
“We are tired of this man, and slowly, slowly he has even been creating doubt in us, that perhaps we are deluded and he is right. And he has no other business. His whole life is devoted to a single cause - to convince people that there is no light, and the idea that you have eyes is only imagination.
“Now, what to do with this man? Hearing that you would be coming to our village, we were immensely glad that now a great enlightened being will certainly be able to convince this blind fool that light exists.”
What Gautam Buddha said is very symbolic, and very significant. He said, “The blind man is right. For him light does not exist. And why should he believe in something which he cannot experience himself? The whole fault lies with the crowd of your village. Rather than convincing him by arguments, you should have taken him to a physician. You bring him to me; I cannot give him his lost eyesight, but I will call my physician.”
And he called his personal physician, who always used to travel with Gautam Buddha. The blind man said, “But what about arguments?” Gautam Buddha said, “Just wait a little. Let my physician check your eyes.”