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Blink 3 of 8 - The 5 AM Club
by Robin Sharma
Thus Spoke Zarathustra begins with a prologue introducing the protagonist. Zarathustra is a wise man who, after a decade of solitude in the mountains, decides to come down and share his wisdom with humanity. His journey will be not only a physical but also a philosophical one, mirroring Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical thought.
Zarathustra's first encounter is with an old saint who lives in the forest. The saint has renounced the world for God. Zarathustra tells him, “God is dead!” By this, Nietzsche is implying that God can no longer provide a reliable foundation for morality and truth. The saint’s way of life, devoted solely to God, has become outdated in the face of this new understanding.
Zarathustra then comes to a town called Motley Cow, where he preaches his central ideas. He introduces the concept of the overman, or “Übermensch” in German. In Nietzsche’s philosophy, the overman represents the highest stage of human development. The overman finds meaning and truth within himself, rather than relying on external sources like God, science, or absolute truth. Zarathustra emphasizes the need for people to strive to be the overman by embracing the world and life.
He explains it like this: “Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman – a rope over an abyss. A dangerous across, a dangerous on-the-way, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous shuddering and stopping.”
Zarathustra presents three stages of progression toward the overman: the camel, the lion, and the child. The camel signifies self-discipline and the renunciation of comfort; the lion represents independence and the breaking free from external influences; and the child embodies self-creation and rebirth. This progression, according to Zarathustra, necessarily involves struggle, suffering, and self-overcoming. But he reminds his listeners that any great passion is always accompanied by great suffering.
Zarathustra urges people to embrace the physical world with all its suffering rather than postponing fulfillment until an afterlife. He critiques false idols and values, including nationalism. He views the state as promoting uniformity and mediocrity. He also criticizes religious concepts such as “loving thy neighbor” and “turning the other cheek,” which he sees as signs of weakness. And he dismisses women as secondary to men and incapable of true friendship.
Zarathustra warns the townspeople against becoming “the last men,” mediocre and domesticated beings too fearful to realize their potential. But the townspeople laugh at him and even ask to be turned into these very last men.
Suddenly, a tightrope walker appears in the town square. He attempts to walk between two towers, but after being mocked by a jester, he falls from his rope. Zarathustra holds the dying performer in his arms and reassures him that there's nothing contemptible in embracing danger. This interaction leads Zarathustra to realize that he should not preach to the masses but should instead seek out like-minded companions willing to challenge societal norms and values.
The first part of Thus Spoke Zarathustra serves as an introduction to Nietzsche's ideas on the overman and the journey of self-realization. It critiques traditional sources of truth and morality and encourages individuals to find meaning within themselves, embracing life and the world despite its difficulties and suffering. It also introduces us to Zarathustra’s poetic and provocative style of expression, which often uses metaphors, symbols, paradoxes, and irony. For instance, he tells the townspeople that, in his words, “a polluted stream is man. One must be a sea, to receive a polluted stream without becoming impure.”
Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883) is a philosophical novel by Friedrich Nietzsche that explores the themes of religion, morality, culture, and society. It follows the journey of Zarathustra, a prophet who leaves his cave to share his wisdom with humanity. Along the way he encounters various characters who test his vision, and grapples with his own shortcomings.
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Blink 3 of 8 - The 5 AM Club
by Robin Sharma