Chapter 21: Of the Meeting with a Higher Man
Months and years pass, and Zarathustra’s hair grows white as he waits until the sign that it is time for his descent to men again. One day, while sitting outside his cave, Zarathustra is visited by the old prophet, who warns Zarathustra that he has come to seduce him to his ultimate sin - that of pity, pity for the “higher man.” Zarathustra is horror-struck by this, but finally agrees to answer the cry of the higher man, to seek him out and help him.
He leaves his cave, and sets out on a path on which he meets diverse people. First, the kings - who tell Zarathustra that they are in search of the higher man. Zarathustra invites them to wait in his cave for his return. He then encounters the “conscientious man of spirit” who wishes to discard all knowledge. He tells Zarathustra, “I am blind and want to be blind. But where I want to know, I also want to be honest, that is, severe, stern, strict, cruel, inexorable.” He came to this conclusion through once hearing Zarathustra saying that, “Spirit is the life that itself cuts into life.”
Zarathustra tells the man where his cave is, and invites him to await his return.
Next, Zarathustra comes across a sorcerer, who finally admits to being fed-up with his own trickery; he meets, too, the last pope on earth, who reveals that, having been intimate with God, he knows how and why God died: he suffocated through excessive self-pity.
But the sorcerer and the old pope are invited to go to Zarathustra’s cave. Next Zarathustra finds himself face to face with “the ugliest man” - the man who killed God. This man is on his way to Zarathustra, finding in him his last refuge. He explains why God had to die - he saw too much about man, his pity knew no shame - so that finally the ugliest man realized that either he himself would die of shame or take revenge on God. “Man,’” he explained to Zarathustra, “could not endure such a witness should live.”
Again, Zarathustra indicates where his cave is, and the ugliest man makes his way there. The voluntary beggar meets and converses with Zarathustra, and joins the others in his cave.
On this same day at noontide, Zarathustra is passing by a tree where he pauses to sleep. He is filled with a sense of the perfection of the world, and when he arises from the bed some time later, he feels as if he is intoxicated.
Zarathustra makes for the direction of his cave. As he approaches it, he hears the cry of distress - the same cry that the old prophet had said came from “the higher man.” Zarathustra hurries forward to see all his visitors assembled there - the kings, the conscientious man of spirit, the sorcerer, the old pope, and so on: for they are the “higher men.”
.Thus spake Zarathustra.
Zarathustra has no respect for the higher man, because the higher man is nothing but the old man with a bigger ego. He may be higher because he has power, he is a king; he may be higher because he has knowledge, which is all borrowed; he may be higher because he has virtue and a moral character, which are all rotten and old-fashioned, which are not in tune with the time at all.
Zarathustra’s superman has not to be confused with the higher man. The superman is a discontinuity with man as he is. For the superman the higher man has to die - with all his knowledge, all his virtue, all his ego - and give place to a pure consciousness, like that of a child. The higher man is a continuity. It is the same old man decorated with money, with spirituality, with religiousness, with respectability, with power - but basically it is the same old man. The superman is an absolute discontinuity; it is totally new. So remember that distinction in your mind.
The meetings with higher men are not meetings with the superman, although the higher man has always thought himself to be the superman. That is his egoistic attitude. The superman knows nothing of superiority - that is his superiority. He knows only an innocent, childlike freedom. To him the whole existence is a mystery and his eyes are full of wonder, not full of knowledge. So keep both the concepts separate. The higher man is condemned, because he is pretending to be the superman. He is preventing the way for the superman to come in. He is fake, pseudo.
The superman has only one quality: he is as innocent as a newly-born child. And he is absolutely free from any burden, either of riches or of knowledge or of virtue or of saintliness. He has the whole sky available to him, because he is weightless and he can fly to the most distant star; the whole existence becomes his territory. Nothing belongs to him in one sense, and in another sense everything belongs only to him. But he is not possessive - there is no need; all is his.
Possessiveness is always a sign of a power, and power signifies poverty, inferiority. Only the inferior man wants to be superior, because to live with inferiority is difficult. The inferior man wants to have riches, wants to have kingdoms, wants to have knowledge, wants to become a holy man, but in some way he wants to cover his inferiority so that he can forget all about it. He is not an open book; he cannot afford to be an open book. He is very secretive, because he knows what he is hiding inside himself.