Zarathustra’s Discourses: Despisers of the Body

body-hatePrevious Post: Believers in Other-worlds

After addressing those who belief in the afterlife, Zarathustra goes on to speak about the foolishness of aesthetics who despise their own bodies.

* * *

I speak my truth to the despisers of the body. I wish them neither to learn afresh, nor teach anew, but only to bid farewell to their own bodies, and thus be unable to speak.

“I am body and soul” says the child.

And why should one not speak like a child?

But the awakened one, the knowing one, says: “I am entirely body, and nothing more. Soul is only the name of something in the body.”

The body is a big wisdom, a plurality with one sense, a war and a peace, a flock and a shepherd. Your little wisdom, my brother, which you call “spirit”, is an instrument of your body—a little instrument and plaything for your big wisdom.

“Ego,” you say, and are proud of that word.

But the greater thing—which you are unwilling to believe in—is your body, with its big wisdom. It does not say “ego,” but is ego. What the senses feel, what the spirit discerns, never ends in itself. But sense and spirit want to persuade you that they are the end of all things: they are so vain.

Senses and spirit are instruments and playthings: behind them there is the Self. The Self seeks with the eyes of the senses; it listens with the ears of the spirit. The Self always listens and seeks; it compares, masters, conquers, and destroys. It rules, and is the ego’s ruler.

Behind your thoughts and feelings, my brother, there is a mighty lord, an unknown sage—it is called Self; it dwells in your body, it is your body. There is more wisdom in your body than in your mind’s best wisdom. Who then knows why your body requires your mind’s best wisdom?

Your Self laughs at your ego, and its proud prancing. “What are prancing and flights of thought to me?” it says to itself. “A byproduct of my purpose. I am the leash of the ego, and the prompter of its ideas.”

The Self says to the ego: “Feel pain!” The ego suffers, and thinks how it may put an end to the pain—and for that very purpose it IS MEANT to think. The Self says to the ego: “Feel pleasure!” The ego rejoices, and thinks how it may rejoice more often—and for that very purpose it IS MEANT to think.

I will speak truth to the despisers of the body. They despise because of their esteem. What is it that created esteeming and despising and worth and will? The Self created esteeming and despising for itself, as it created for itself joy and sorrow. The body created spirit for itself, as a hand to its will.

Even in your folly and despising you despisers of the body each serve your Self. I tell you, your very Self wants to die, and turns away from life. Your Self can no longer do what it desires most: to create beyond itself. That is what it desires most; that is all its fervour.

But it is now too late to do so, so your Self wishes to succumb, you despisers of the body. To succumb—so wishes your Self, and therefore have you become despisers of the body. You can no longer create beyond yourselves. Therefore are you angry with life and with the earth. There is unconscious envy in your sidelong look of contempt.

I do not go your way, you despisers of the body! You are not bridges for me to the superhuman!

So said Zarathustra.

* * *

Nietzche sees the mind (or spirit) as a tool of the Self, which he identifies as one with the body. Likewise, he sees the ego as it’s tool. The idea of a higher Self that sits “behind” the ego is a common one. The idea that it is identical with the body is not.

Next Post: Joys and Passions

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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1 Response to Zarathustra’s Discourses: Despisers of the Body

  1. Pingback: Zarathustra’s Discourses: Joys and Passions | Jim's Jumbler

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