Chapter 2: Of Self-Overcoming
He who cannot obey himself will be commanded. That is the nature of living creatures.
But this is the third thing I heard: that commanding is more difficult than obeying. And not only because the commander bears the burden of all who obey, and that this burden can easily crush him.
Commanding is not easy, because you are taking responsibility for other people, you are becoming burdened. But that is not the only problem; the greater problem is:
In all commanding there appeared to me to be an experiment and a risk: and the living creature always risks himself when he commands.
Anybody who takes the responsibility of commanding is taking a risk. He does not know your nature, he does not know your destiny, he does not know what you are going to become if you are left alone, if you are left to your own nature - he has no idea. And he is commanding thousands and millions of people, who all have unique natures and unique destinies. Obviously, his commandments are going to be average, standardized ideologies. And there is a problem: the average person does not exist.
For example, you are here. Everybody’s height can be measured - somebody is six and somebody is five, and somebody is five-five, and somebody is five-seven, and somebody is six-two. They can all be added together, and the average height can be found. But do you think you will be able to find any single person here of the average height? Somebody will be a little higher, somebody will be a little lower.. Average height is a mathematical thing - it does not happen in life.
And the same is true about standardized moral codes, ethics, ideas about good and evil - they are average. Nobody fits with them, and they fit with nobody.
It is good that you can get shoes according to your feet, not according to the average; otherwise everybody would be miserable! Just a simple thing and the whole world could be made miserable. Give all of them average size shoes: somebody will have such big shoes that he is carrying them, cannot even walk, and somebody will have such small shoes that he is dying.how to reach home?
I have heard about a philosopher: he always purchased shoes which were one size smaller than he needed. Every shopkeeper was puzzled, “What is the matter with you? You are a well-known person, you are not an idiot. This shoe is too small for you.”
And he used to say, “You don’t understand, this shoe is such a great help to me. When I wear this shoe I forget all the miseries of life - all problems, all anxieties disappear - this shoe is too much! And when I reach home at night and take off the shoes, I say, ‘My God! What a day, and what a relief,’ and I sleep so soundly. This is one of my discoveries,” he used to say, “otherwise life is unbearable.”