This is a famous statement, later on made by Jesus. But Zarathustra’s insights are far deeper.
He says – he had no idea about Jesus, Jesus came five hundred years afterwards; but the saying must have been in existence.
“Always love your neighbor as yourselves – but first be such as love themselves.”
That is more difficult. Love them as they are – not as yourselves.
Loving your neighbor as yourself is simply loving your own image in the mirror. It is not a great virtue, it is a small virtue.
Love the neighbor as he is. Whether he fulfills your ideas or is against them, whether he looks moral to you or immoral, these are unimportant things. He is a human being, and he has every right to be himself. Love him as he is. Your love should not become a demand, your love should not ask him to be different than he is.
This statement, “Love your neighbor as yourselves” has another implication also which Zarathustra has not mentioned, which I have come across almost every day.
And this is how man remains blind.
“…love your neighbor as yourselves”…
…and you have forgotten one thing: Do you love yourself? It is very rare to find a person who loves himself. People hate themselves. They don’t want to be the way they are; they want to be somebody else…somebody else has a better nose, somebody else has better eyes, somebody else has a better body, somebody is more proportionate, somebody has better intelligence.
People hate themselves. And your religions have been teaching you contradictory things, which have created confusion and a chaos in your mind. On the one hand they say, “You have to become like Gautam Buddha.” Then how can you love yourself? You have to hate yourself, you have to destroy yourself, dismantle yourself, and try to be like Gautam Buddha or Jesus or Krishna.
On the one hand they say, “Be like the great religious leaders, saints,” and on the other hand they go on saying, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
If you really love your neighbor as yourself, you will have to hate him, because you hate yourself. You don’t find anything in yourself which is worth loving. In fact, when people fall in love with each other, both are surprised: “My God, what has this man found in me which I have not found myself?” And the man also thinks, “This woman is a little bit crazy – she loves me, who has lived with himself for all these thirty years and has not found a single thing worth any value.”