Zarathustra’s Discourses: The Tree on the Hill

one-tree-hillPrevious post: Reading and Writing

Zarathustra saw that a certain youth avoided him. And as he walked alone one evening over the hills surrounding the town called “The Pied Cow,” he found the youth sitting leaning against a tree, gazing with a wearied look into the valley. Zarathustra laid hold of the tree beside which the youth sat.

“If I wished to shake this tree with my hands,” he said, “I would not be able to do so. But the wind, which we can’t see, troubles and bends it as it wishes. We are the most bent and troubled by invisible hands.”

The youth stood, disconcerted.

“I hear Zarathustra,” he said, “and just now was I thinking of him!”

“Why are you frightened on that account?” said Zarathustra. “It’s the same for man as for the tree. The more he seeks to rise into the height and light, the more vigorously his roots struggle earthward, downward, into the dark depths—into evil.”

“Yes, into evil!” cried the youth. “How is it possible that you have discovered my soul?”

Zarathustra smiled.

“Many a soul one will never discover,” he said, “unless one first invents it.”

“Into evil!” cried the youth once more. “You spoke the truth, Zarathustra. I no longer trust myself since I sought to rise to the heights, and nobody trusts me any longer. How did that happen? I changed too quickly. My today refutes my yesterday. I often leap over the steps when I climb. For doing so, none of the steps pardons me. When at the peak, I always find myself alone. No one speaks to me. The frost of solitude makes me tremble. What do I seek on the heights? My contempt and my longing increase together. The higher I climb, the more I despise the one who climbs. What does he seek on the heights? I am ashamed of my clambering and stumbling! I mock my violent panting! How I hate the one who seeks to fly! How tired I am of the heights!”

The youth fell silent. Zarathustra contemplated the tree they stood beside before speaking:

“This tree stands lonely here on the hills,” he said. “It has grown up high above man and beast. If it wanted to speak, it would have no one who could understand it, because it has grown so high. Now it waits and waits. What does it wait for? It dwells too close to the seat of the clouds. Perhaps it waits for the first lightning?”

“Yes, Zarathustra, you speak the truth,” the youth cried out, gesturing violently. “I longed for my destruction when I desired to be on the heights, and you are the lightning for which I waited! What have I been since you have appeared among us? It is my envy of you that has destroyed me!”

The youth, and wept bitterly. Zarathustra put his arm about him, and led the youth away with him. When they had walked a while together, Zarathustra began to speak:

It rends my heart. Better than your words express it, your eyes tell me of your danger. As yet you are not free; you still SEEK freedom. Your seeking has made you too sleepless, and too wakeful. You yearn for the open heights. Your soul thirsts for the stars. But your bad impulses also thirst for freedom. Your wild dogs want liberty. They bark for joy in their cellar when your spirit endeavours to open all the prison doors.

Still, you are a prisoner—it seems to me—who seeks to free himself. The soul of such prisoners becomes sharp, but also deceitful and wicked. It is still necessary for the man whose spirit has been freed to purify himself. Much of the prison and the mould still remains in him. His eye still hasn’t become pure.

I know your danger. But by my love and hope I beg you: do not cast your love and hope away! You still feel noble, and others also feel you are still noble, though they bear you a grudge and cast evil looks your way. Know this, a noble one stands in the way of everyone. A noble one stands in the way of the good, too. When they call him a good man, they want to put him aside by doing so. A noble man wants to create the new, and a new virtue. The good man wants the status quo, and that what is old should be conserved.

The danger of the noble man is not to turn into a good man, but rather that he will become a blusterer, a scoffer, or a destroyer. I have known noble ones who lost their highest hopes. Then they disparaged all high hopes. They lived shamelessly for temporary pleasures, and beyond the day, hardly had a purpose.

“Spirit is voluptuousness,” they said.

Then they broke the wings of their spirit. Now it creeps about, and defiles what it gnaws. Once they thought of becoming heroes, but now they are sensualists. A hero is trouble and terror to them now.

My love and hope I give you. Do not cast away the hero in your soul! Maintain your highest hope as holy!

So said Zarathustra.

Next Post: Preachers of Death

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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2 Responses to Zarathustra’s Discourses: The Tree on the Hill

  1. Pingback: Zarathustra’s Discourses: Reading and Writing | Jim's Jumbler

  2. Pingback: Zarathustra’s Discourses: Preachers of Death | Jim's Jumbler

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