The eagle is a symbol of freedom. Alone it goes across the sun, far away in the boundless sky, with no fear. Wisdom and freedom are two aspects of the same coin.
Living for ten years in the mountains, Zarathustra attained the ecstasy of being alone, the purity of being alone, the independence of being alone – and this is where he is unique amongst other awakened people: When they discovered, they remained in their heights. Zarathustra starts “down-going,” going back to the crowd.
He has to deliver the message to humanity that you are suffering unnecessarily; you are being dependent unnecessarily; you are creating all kinds of imprisonments for yourself – just to feel safe and secure. But the only security and the only safety is in knowing yourself, because then even death is impotent. It cannot destroy you.
Zarathustra is going downwards from the mountains to tell the people that wisdom is not synonymous with knowledge; in fact, knowledge is just the opposite of wisdom. Wisdom is basically innocence. Knowledge is ego, and wisdom is the disappearance of the ego. Knowledge makes you full of information. Wisdom makes you absolutely empty, but that emptiness is a new kind of fullness. It is a spaciousness.
He is going to the people to tell them that wisdom brings freedom. There is no other freedom – political, economical, social, all those freedoms are fake. The only authentic freedom is of the soul, which can become an eagle and go into the unknown and the unknowable without any fear.
Because he has attained this state of ultimate consciousness, he wants to share it. The uniqueness about him is that he still loves mankind. There is no condemnation about the sleeping people, the blind people. There is tremendous compassion for them. He is going downwards because he loves life. He is not against life.
This small dialogue with an old saint who lives in the forest is very significant. It contains much which may not be apparent, but we will try to discover it as deeply as possible.
Zarathustra went down the mountain alone, and no one met him. But when he entered the forest, an old man, who had left his holy hut to look for roots in the forest, suddenly stood before him. And the old man spoke thus to Zarathustra:
“This wanderer is no stranger to me. He passed by here many years ago. He was called Zarathustra; but he has changed.’