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After discussing the death of the dreams of youth, Zarathustra reveals the secret of life: the urge to surpass.
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You wisest ones call that which impels you and makes you ardent “will to truth”? I call it will for the comprehensibility of all being! You would make all being comprehensible, because you doubt with good reason whether it is already comprehensible.
You will it to accommodate and bend itself to you! It will become smooth and subject to the mind as its mirror and reflection. That is your entire will, you wisest ones, a will to power, even when you speak of good and evil, and of estimates of value. You would create a world before which you can bend the knee. This is your ultimate hope and ecstasy.
The ignorant are like a river on which a boat floats along. In the boat sit your estimates of value, solemn and disguised. You have put your will and your values on the river of becoming. What is believed by the people as good and evil betrays to me your will to power. It was you, you wisest ones, who put such guests in this boat, and gave them pomp and proud names—you and your will to rule! The river now carries your boat onward. It must carry it. Small matter if the rough waves foam and angrily resist its keel!
The river is not a danger that could end your good and evil, you wisest ones. It is your will itself, the will to power—the unexhausted, procreating life will. That you may understand my gospel of good and evil, for that purpose will I tell you my gospel of life, and of the nature of all living things.
I followed the living thing; I walked the broadest and narrowest paths to learn its nature. With a hundred faceted mirror, I caught a glance of it when its mouth was shut, so that its eyes might speak to me, and its eyes spoke to me.
Wherever I found living things, I also heard the language of obedience. All living things obey. Whatever cannot obey itself is commanded. Such is the nature of living things.
Commanding is more difficult than obeying. This is because the commander bears the burden of all those who obey, and because this burden readily crushes him. All commanding seem an attempt and a risk to me. Whenever it commands, a living thing risks itself. Even when it commands itself, it must atone for its commanding. It must become the judge, avenger, and victim of its own law.
How does this happen, I asked myself. What persuades the living thing to obey, to command, and even to be obedient in commanding? Listen to my words, you wisest ones! Test them seriously, and judge whether I have crept into the heart of life itself, and into the roots of its heart!
Wherever I found a living thing, there I found will to power. Even in the servant I found the will to be master. That the weaker shall serve the stronger —so argues the will of he who would be master over a still weaker one. That delight alone he is unwilling to forego.
As the lesser surrenders himself to the greater that he may have delight and power over the least of all, so even the greatest surrenders himself, and stakes his life, for the sake of power. The greatest surrender to risk and danger, and play dice with death.
Where there is sacrifice and service and loving glances, there also is the will to be master. The weaker then slinks into the fortress by the back door, and into the heart of the mightier one—and there steals power. Life herself gave this secret to me.
“I am that which must always surpass itself,” she said. “You may call it the will to procreation, or the impulse towards a goal, towards the higher, remoter, more varied. But it is all one and the same secret. I would rather succumb than disown this one thing, and truly, where there is succumbing and leaves are falling, there life sacrifice itself for power! I have to be struggle, and becoming, and purpose, and cross purpose. He who understands my will, knows well what crooked paths it has to tread! Whatever I create, and however much I love it, soon I will be adverse to it, and to my love. So my will wills. Even you, discerning one, are only a path and footstep of my will. Truly, my will to power walks even on the feet of your will to truth! He who shot the formula ‘will to existence’ at it certainly did not hit the truth. That will does not exist! What doesn’t exit cannot will. That which exists cannot still strive for existence! Only where there is life, is there also will. Not will to life, but—so I teach you—will to power! Much is reckoned higher than life itself by one who lives. But out of that very reckoning speaks the will to power!”
This Life once taught me, and with it, you wisest ones, I solve you the riddle of your hearts. Truly, I say to you: good and evil that would be everlasting do not exist! Of its own accord, everything must it ever surpass itself anew. With your values and formulae of good and evil, you exercise power, you valuing ones. That is your secret love, and the sparkling, trembling, and overflowing of your souls.
A stronger power grows out of your values, surpassing and breaking egg and eggshell. He who wishes to be a creator of good and evil must first be a destroyer, and break existing values in pieces. So the greatest evil pertain to the greatest good: that, however, is the creating good.
Let us speak of this, you wisest ones, even though it is bad. To be silent is worse. All suppressed truths become poisonous. Let everything break up that can be broken up by our truths! Many a house is still to be built!
So said Zarathustra.