Prologue Part 2
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.
“Then you carried your ashes to the mountains: will you today carry your fire into the valleys? Do you not fear an incendiary’s punishment?
“Yes, I recognize Zarathustra. His eyes are clear, and no disgust lurks about his mouth. Does he not go along like a dancer?
“How changed Zarathustra is! Zarathustra has become – a child, an awakened-one: what do you want now with the sleepers?
“You lived in solitude as in the sea, and the sea bore you. Alas, do you want to go ashore? Alas, do you want again to drag your body yourself?”
Zarathustra answered: “I love mankind.”
““Why,” said the saint, “did I go into the forest and the desert? Was it not because I loved mankind all too much?
“Now I love God: mankind I do not love. Man is too imperfect a thing for me. Love of mankind would destroy me.”
Zarathustra answered, “What did I say of love? I am bringing mankind a gift.”
“Give them nothing,” said the saint. “Rather take something off them and bear it with them – that will please them best; if only it be pleasing to you!
“And if you want to give to them, give no more than an alms, and let them beg for that!”
“No,” answered Zarathustra, “I give no alms. I am not poor enough for that.”
The saint laughed at Zarathustra and spoke thus:
“See to it that they accept your treasures! They are mistrustful of hermits, and do not believe that we come to give.
“Our steps ring too lonely through their streets. And when at night they hear in their beds a man going by long before the sun has risen, they probably ask themselves: where is that thief going?
“Do not go to men, but stay in the forest! Go rather to the animals! Why will you not be as I am – a bear among bears, a bird among birds?”
“And what does the saint do in the forest?’ asked Zarathustra.
The saint answered: “I make songs and sing them, and when I make songs, I laugh, weep, and mutter: thus I praise God.
“With singing, weeping, laughing, and muttering I praise the God who is my God. But what do you bring us as a gift?”
When Zarathustra heard these words, he saluted the saint and said: “What should I have to give you!”
“But let me go quickly, that I may take nothing from you!” and thus they parted from one another, the old man and Zarathustra, laughing as two boys laugh.
But when Zarathustra was alone, he spoke thus to his heart: “Could it be possible! This old saint has not yet heard in his forest that God is dead!”
Zarathustra had gone to the mountains in search of aloneness. In the crowd you can find yourself lonely, but never alone.
Loneliness is a kind of hunger for the other. You are missing the other. You are not enough unto yourself – you are empty. Hence everybody wants to be in the crowd, and weaves around himself many kinds of relationships just to deceive himself, to forget that he is lonely. But that loneliness erupts again and again. No relationship can hide it. All relationships are so thin and so fragile. Deep inside you know perfectly well that even though you are in the crowd, you are amongst strangers. You are a stranger to yourself too.
Zarathustra and all the mystics have gone to the mountains in search of aloneness. Aloneness is a positive feeling, the feeling of your own being and the feeling that you are enough unto yourself – that you don’t need anyone.
Loneliness is a sickness of the heart.
Aloneness is a healing.
Those who know aloneness have gone beyond loneliness forever. Whether they are alone or with people, they are centered within themselves. In the mountains they are alone, in the crowd they are alone, because this is their realization: that aloneness is our nature. We have come into the world alone and we will be leaving the world again alone.
Between these two alonenesses, between birth and death, you are still alone; but you have not understood the beauty of aloneness, and hence you have fallen into a kind of fallacy – the fallacy of loneliness.
To discover one’s aloneness one has to go out of the crowd. Slowly, slowly as he forgets the world, all his awareness becomes concentrated on himself, and there is an explosion of light. For the first time he comes to know the beauty and the blessing of being alone, the tremendous freedom and the wisdom of being alone.
Zarathustra used to carry a serpent and an eagle while he was living in the mountains. The serpent, in the East, has always represented wisdom. The greatest wisdom is to go on slipping out of the past, without clinging to it, just like a serpent slips out of his old skin and never looks back. His movement is always from the old to the new.
Wisdom is not the collection of the past; wisdom is the experience of the constantly renewing life.
Wisdom does not gather the dust of memories; it remains like a clean mirror, reflecting that which is – always fresh, always new, always in the present.