Chapter 5: Of Redemption
Everybody has been destroyed in some way or other, everybody has been stopped from growing. Everybody is missing something which is absolutely needed, and which was his birthright to have. The condemners - and all the priests are condemners - cannot see anybody happy, anybody joyous; they immediately turn upon him and start condemning his joy, condemning his pleasure. And they have developed great arguments about how to destroy people’s pleasure.
Their greatest argument is that this life is very small, and pleasure is very ephemeral, continuously changing. Don’t be deceived by it, because if you are deceived by it you will miss the eternal blissfulness of paradise.
Naturally, the stake is very big. Just for a small pleasure of enjoying your morning tea, you would not like to destroy your eternal blissfulness in paradise. And this life consists of small pleasures; but if all those pleasures are put together, your life becomes a pleasure unto itself. One does not need big pleasures. And their paradise and its eternal blissfulness is only poetry, because nobody has ever seen it. Nobody has come back and said, “Yes, I am an eyewitness.”
In the name of fictitious gods, and in the name of fictitious pleasures, what is real has been destroyed.
And when my eye flees from the present to the past, it always discovers the same thing: fragments and limbs of dreadful chances - but no men!
The present and the past upon the earth - alas! my friends - this is my most intolerable burden; and I should not know how to live, if I were not a seer of that which must come.
Zarathustra is saying, “Looking at the past of humanity and the present is so painful, is such an agony, that I would never have thought I could survive it. The pain is too much; it would have broken my heart. The only thing that is keeping me alive is the hope that there is still a future. The past is finished. The present is becoming the past every moment. But there is still a hope that man may become free from the chains of religion, that man may see how he has been cheated, deceived, exploited, and in that seeing will arise the total man, the superman.
“Just the hope of the superman is keeping me alive. Otherwise looking at the past and the present is such a burden, is so depressing, that I would have died of the depression.”
And Zarathustra is right. It is only the hope that one day man will understand.how long can he remain in the prisons created by the priests? They may call them churches and temples and mosques; it does not matter what names they give to their prisons. It is so painful to see human beings labeled like cattle - somebody is a Hindu, somebody is a Mohammedan, somebody is a Christian.
Going around the earth, it is very difficult to find a single human being who has not been stamped, who is still free from the mob, who is still free from the crowd, who is still himself, who is one single whole, and who is living fearlessly according to his nature.
Except nature there is no religion.