I go among this people and let fall many a word; but they know neither how to take nor to keep.
They are surprised that I have not come to rail at their lusts and vices; and truly, I have not come to warn against pickpockets, either!…
And when I cry: “Curse all the cowardly devils within you who would like to whimper and clasp their hands and worship,” then they cry: “Zarathustra is godless.”
And this is especially the cry of their teachers of submission; but it is into precisely their ears that I love to shout: Yes! I am Zarathustra the godless!…
…This is my sermon for their ears: I am Zarathustra the godless, who says “Who is more godless than I, that I may rejoice in his teaching?”
I am Zarathustra the godless: where shall I find my equal? All those who give themselves their own will and renounce all submission, they are my equals….
But why do I speak where no one has my kind of ears? And so I will shout it out to all the winds:
You will become smaller and smaller, you small people! You will crumble away, you comfortable people! You will yet perish –
through your many small virtues, through your many small omissions, through your many small submissions!
Too indulgent, too yielding: that is the state of your soil! But in order to grow big, a tree wants to strike hard roots into hard rocks!…
“It is given” – that is also a doctrine of submission. But I tell you, you comfortable people: it is taken….
Oh, that you understood my saying: “Always do what you will – but first be such as can will!”
“Always love your neighbor as yourselves” – but first be such as love themselves….
Among this people I am my own forerunner, my own cock-crow through dark lanes.
But their hour is coming! And mine too is coming! Hourly will they become smaller, poorer, more barren – poor weeds! Poor soil!
And soon they shall stand before me like arid grass and steppe, and truly! Weary of themselves – and longing for fire rather than for water!
O blessed hour of the lightning! O mystery before noontide! One day I shall turn them into running fire and heralds with tongues of flame –
one day they shall proclaim with tongues of flame: it is coming, it is near, the great noontide!
…Thus spake Zarathustra.
Zarathustra has not any doctrine to preach, he has not any ideal that every man has to become. He has no fixed morality; his trust is in spontaneous consciousness. His trust in his own consciousness is so great that he can deny God without any difficulty. On the path of truth, one has to choose either God, or one’s own being.
If you choose God, you have chosen your slavery, and you can never become more than a preacher and a victim of a whimsical God. But if you choose yourself you have to deny God. God is the greatest bondage for those who want to be themselves. Because humanity has chosen God, it has denied itself. And you can see the ultimate mess into which man has fallen.
Once you are a slave, you forget all responsibilities for yourself; then God takes care of you. And if God is just a hypothesis, just a belief, then you are in real trouble. You were a reality, your consciousness could have grown if you had trusted it, but you denied the reality in favor of the fiction, because the fiction is more comfortable. It relieves you of responsibilities, but it also takes away your freedom.
Remember this, that freedom and responsibilities are always together. You cannot just choose freedom, or just responsibilities. Either you have to choose them both, or you have to deny them both.
Zarathustra denies God because he loves man. Zarathustra denies God because he can see clearly that man himself can become a god. The only hindrance of his becoming a god is a belief in some other god; then he remains simply a worshiper, a believer. His insight is clear, and these twenty-five centuries that have passed between him and us have proved everything that he is going to say in this morning’s statements.
Man has become very small. He cannot grow in the shadow of an almighty God. Just a small rosebush cannot grow under the shadow of a huge tree. And when you decide for anything fictitious invented by man himself, this becomes the beginning of your fall. This becomes the shattering of your dignity.
A man of dignity trusts in himself, and through himself he trusts in existence. He is real, existence is real, but God is just a creation of the priests to lead you astray from your reality. And once you have gone away from your nature and your reality, you are going to be more and more miserable, more and more mean, more and more jealous.