The Joyful Wisdom

Page 28 of 59


The Chosen People.—The Jews, who regard themselves as the chosen people among the nations, and that too because they are the moral genius among the nations (in virtue of their capacity for despising[Pg 176] the human in themselves more than any other people)—the Jews have a pleasure in their divine monarch and saint similar to that which the French nobility had in Louis XIV. This nobility had allowed its power and autocracy to be taken from it, and had become contemptible: in order not to feel this, in order to be able to forget it, an unequalled royal magnificence, royal authority and plenitude of power was needed, to which there was access only for the nobility. As in accordance with this privilege they raised themselves to the elevation of the court, and from that elevation saw everything under them,—saw everything contemptible,—they got beyond all uneasiness of conscience. They thus elevated intentionally the tower of the royal power more and more into the clouds, and set the final coping-stone of their own power thereon.


Spoken in Parable.—A Jesus Christ was only possible in a Jewish landscape—I mean in one over which the gloomy and sublime thunder-cloud of the angry Jehovah hung continually. Here only was the rare, sudden flashing of a single sunbeam through the dreadful, universal and continuous nocturnal-day regarded as a miracle of "love," as a beam of the most unmerited "grace." Here only could Christ dream of his rainbow and celestial ladder on which God descended to man; everywhere else the clear weather and the sun were considered the rule and the commonplace.

[Pg 177]


The Error of Christ.—The founder of Christianity thought there was nothing from which men suffered so much as from their sins:—it was his error, the error of him who felt himself without sin, to whom experience was lacking in this respect! It was thus that his soul filled with that marvellous, fantastic pity which had reference to a trouble that even among his own people, the inventors of sin, was rarely a great trouble! But Christians understood subsequently how to do justice to their master, and how to sanctify his error into a "truth."


Colour of the Passions.—Natures such as the apostle Paul, have an evil eye for the passions; they learn to know only the filthy, the distorting, and the heart-breaking in them,—their ideal aim, therefore, is the annihilation of the passions; in the divine they see complete purification from passion. The Greeks, quite otherwise than Paul and the Jews, directed their ideal aim precisely to the passions, and loved, elevated, embellished and deified them: in passion they evidently not only felt themselves happier, but also purer and diviner than otherwise.—And now the Christians? Have they wished to become Jews in this respect? Have they perhaps become Jews?


Too Jewish.—If God had wanted to become an object of love, he would first of all have had to[Pg 178] forgo judging and justice:-a judge, and even a gracious judge, is no object of love. The founder of Christianity showed too little of the finer feelings in this respect—being a Jew.


Too Oriental.—What? A God who loves men provided that they believe in him, and who hurls frightful glances and threatenings at him who does not believe in this love! What? A conditioned love as the feeling of an almighty God! A love which has not even become master of the sentiment of honour and of the irritable desire for vengeance! How Oriental is all that! "If I love thee, what does it concern thee?"[1] is already a sufficient criticism of the whole of Christianity.


Frankincense.—Buddha says: "Do not flatter thy benefactor!" Let one repeat this saying in a Christian church:—it immediately purifies the air.


The Greatest Utility of Polytheism.—For the individual to set up his own ideal and derive from it his laws, his pleasures and his rights—that has perhaps been hitherto regarded as the most monstrous of all human aberrations, and as idolatry in itself; in fact, the few who have ventured to do this have always needed to apologise to themselves,[Pg 179] usually in this wise: "Not I! not I! but a God, through my instrumentality!" It was in the marvellous art and capacity for creating Gods—in polytheism—that this impulse was permitted to discharge itself, it was here that it became purified, perfected, and ennobled; for it was originally a commonplace and unimportant impulse, akin to stubbornness, disobedience and envy. To be hostile to this impulse towards the individual ideal,—that was formerly the law of every morality. There was then only one norm, "the man"—and every people believed that it had this one and ultimate norm. But above himself, and outside of himself, in a distant over-world, a person could see a multitude of norms: the one God was not the denial or blasphemy of the other Gods! It was here that individuals were first permitted, it was here that the right of individuals was first respected. The inventing of Gods, heroes, and supermen of all kinds, as well as co-ordinate men and undermen—dwarfs, fairies, centaurs, satyrs, demons, devils—was the inestimable preliminary to the justification of the selfishness and sovereignty of the individual: the freedom which was granted to one God in respect to other Gods, was at last given to the individual himself in respect to laws, customs and neighbours. Monotheism, on the contrary, the rigid consequence of the doctrine of one normal human being—consequently the belief in a normal God, beside whom there are only false, spurious Gods—has perhaps been the greatest danger of mankind in the past: man was then threatened by that premature state of inertia, which, so far as we can see, most of the[Pg 180] other species of animals reached long ago, as creatures who all believed in one normal animal and ideal in their species, and definitely translated their morality of custom into flesh and blood. In polytheism man's free-thinking and many-sided thinking had a prototype set up: the power to create for himself new and individual eyes, always newer and more individualised: so that these are no eternal horizons and perspectives.

[1] This means that true love does not look for reciprocity.


Religious Wars.—The greatest advance of the masses hitherto has been religious war, for it proves that the masses have begun to deal reverently with conceptions of things. Religious wars only result when human reason generally has been refined by the subtle disputes of sects; so that even the populace becomes punctilious and regards trifles as important, actually thinking it possible that the "eternal salvation of the soul" may depend upon minute distinctions of concepts.


Danger of Vegetarians.—The immense prevalence of rice-eating impels to the use of opium and narcotics, in like manner as the immense prevalence of potato-eating impels to the use of brandy:—it also impels, however, in its more subtle after-effects to modes of thought and feeling which operate narcotically. This is in accord with the fact that those who promote narcotic modes of thought and feeling, like those Indian teachers,[Pg 181] praise a purely vegetable diet, and would like to make it a law for the masses: they want thereby to call forth and augment the need which they are in a position to satisfy.

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