One of my friends, an old man, but he loved me tremendously…. There were only two men in India who were called Mahatmas, `great souls’ – one was Mahatma Gandhi and another was this old man, Mahatma Bhagwandin. He once said to me, “If you are understood, know well, you must not be saying the truth. If you are misunderstood, there is a possibility that perhaps you have uttered the truth.” It is a strange fate that misunderstanding by the people should become the definition of truth. But he was right. People have been living in lies for centuries. So whenever somebody realizes the truth, it is bound to be misunderstood.
…for they now cry out to him for the ultimate man.
He was talking about the ultimate man to condemn humanity. It was a very philosophical way of saying to man, “If you go on growing the way you are, you will become the ultimate man, and the ultimate man is the most contemptible thing possible. And it is time that rather than moving towards the ultimate man, you should change your path towards the superman.”
The superman is not a continuity with you. The ultimate man is only the fulfillment of all your ignorance, all your jealousies, all your anger, hatred. All that is ugly in you will come to its climax – that is the ultimate man. The ultimate man is your continuity. He was condemning the ultimate man to make you aware that there is still time to prevent the ultimate man.
The superman is not a continuity with you – he is discontinuous. You simply disappear with all your ugly desires and give place to a new man, to a new humanity. But the people have misunderstood Zarathustra, as they have always misunderstood. Now they are asking him, “Give us the ultimate man.”
They think that the ultimate man is the highest evolved man. The ultimate man is just the most degraded, the most spiritually sick, the last man – because he will lose any interest in creativity, in love, in prayer. The ultimate man has come to the dead end of the street, although he will feel that he has reached the goal and he has found happiness. But his happiness is going to be more miserable than your misery. He is simply your magnified form. Zarathustra’s idea was not to condemn you directly, because that hurts your ego and you stop listening. It is better, he thought, to condemn your magnified form so that you can see clearly where you are going, where you are going to land – you are going to land in a graveyard. But just not to hurt your pride, he used a beautiful word for it: the ultimate man. But people still misunderstood him.
First they misunderstood him because he was using the word contempt for humanity. He changed the word; it was going against their pride. He used a word that is an indirect attack, but his approach remains the same; and the people also remain the same in their ignorance. Now they are crying out to him for the ultimate man, “Give us the ultimate man!” Telling him he can have the superman,
“You can have the superman; we want the ultimate man.”