Of the Priests
And one day Zarathustra made a sign to his disciples and spoke these words to them:
Here are priests: and although they are my enemies, pass them by quietly and with sleeping swords!…
They are bad enemies: nothing is more revengeful than their humility. And he who touches them is easily defiled….
He whom they call Redeemer has cast them into bondage –
into the bondage of false values and false scriptures!
Ah, that someone would redeem them from their Redeemer!…
Oh, just look at these huts that these priests have built themselves. Churches they call their sweet-smelling caves!
Oh this counterfeit light! Oh this musty air!
Here, where the soul may not fly up to its height!
On the contrary, their faith commands: “Up the steps on your knees, you sinners!’…
Who created such caves and penitential steps? Was it not those who wanted to hide themselves and were ashamed before the clear sky?
And only when the clear sky again looks through broken roofs and down upon grass and red poppies on broken walls – only then will I turn my heart again towards the places of this God.
They called God that which contradicted and harmed them:
and truly, there was much that was heroic in their worship!
And they knew no other way of loving their God than by nailing men to the cross!…
They would have to sing better songs to make me believe in their Redeemer: his disciples would have to look more redeemed!
I should like to see them naked: for beauty alone should preach penitence….
The spirit of their Redeemers consisted of holes; but into every hole they had put their illusion, their stop-gap, which they called God….
Zealously and with clamor they drove their herds over their bridge: as if there were only one bridge to the future!
Truly, these shepherds, too, still belonged among the sheep!…
They wrote letters of blood on the path they followed,
and their folly taught that truth is proved by blood.
But blood is the worst witness of truth; blood poisons and transforms the purest teaching to delusion and hatred of the heart….
And you, my brothers, must be redeemed by greater men than any Redeemer has been, if you would find the way to freedom!
…Thus spake Zarathustra.
An ancient story: A young devil comes running to his boss. He is trembling, and he says to the old devil, “Something has to be done immediately, because on the earth one man has found the truth! And once people know the truth, what will happen to our profession?”
The old man laughed, and he said, “Sit down and rest and don’t be worried. Everything is taken care of. Our people have reached there.”
“But,” he said, “I am coming from there. I have not seen a single devil there.”
The old man said, “The priests are my people. They have already surrounded the man who has found the truth. Now they will become the mediators between the man of truth and the masses. They will raise temples, they will write scriptures, they will interpret and distort everything. They will ask people to worship, to pray. And in all this hubbub, the truth will be lost. This is my old method, which has always succeeded.”
The priests who represent religion are not its friends. They are the greatest enemies of it, because religion needs no mediators: between you and existence there is an immediate relatedness. All that you have to learn is how to understand the language of existence. You know the languages of man, but they are not the languages of existence.
Existence knows only one language:
And that is of silence.
If you can also be silent you will be able to understand the truth, the meaning of life, the significance of all that exists. And there is no one who can interpret it for you. Everyone has to find it for himself. Nobody can do the job on your behalf – but that’s what the priests have been doing for centuries. They are standing like a China Wall between you and existence.
Just a few days ago, the Vatican pope informed all the Catholics, “It is being told again and again to me that many Catholics are confessing to God directly. They are not going to the confession booth, to the priest. I declare it a sin to confess directly to God. You have to confess to the priest; you cannot relate to God directly.”
He has not given any reason, because there is no reason at all, except that the priest has to be kept in his profession – and he himself is a high priest.
If people start approaching reality without anybody leading them, without anybody telling them what is good and what is evil, without anybody giving them a map that they have to follow, millions of people will be able to understand existence – because our heartbeat is also the heartbeat of the universe, our life is part of the life of the total.