Zarathustra Seminars

“Even in your folly and despising ye each serve your Self, ye despisers of the body. I tell you, your very Self wanteth to die, and turneth away from life. No longer can your Self do that which it desireth most:-create beyond itself. That is what it desireth most; that is all its fervour. But it is now too late to do so:-so your Self wisheth to succumb, ye despisers of the body.”

What is the meaning of this passage?

Prof Reichstein: I think the principal meaning is that the goal of life is death, but perhaps some of Nietzsche’s personal psychology is intermingled. The sentence before suggests very much the scene with the rope-dancer and the buffoon, and in just this passage there must be a lot of personal psychology.

Prof Jung: Quite so.

Miss Wolff: I thought it was probably also a historical problem of his epoch.

Before this, the body was not really discovered; it was the unknown thing, and therefore it stands on the side of the self as the unknown part of the psyche.

So of course the body gets too much weight, because it is a change which must first be assimilated. And then it is also a symbol.

Prof. Jung: Because it has been unknown and therefore contaminated with the unconscious?

Miss Wolff: On the side of the unconscious and therefore it gets the importance.

Prof. Jung: Yes, a sort of symbolic importance. But why should it be death? “So your self desireth to succumb” means death.

Miss Hannah: If the ego won’t live as the self wants it to, live its life completely, then the self usually does seem to want to die.

I mean, if it cannot get an individual to accept the individual problem or task, it is then as if it wills death-as if by killing, it would get a chance to try again.

Prof. Jung: But can you explain it?

Miss Hannah: I think it is just sick of the way he went, fed up.

Prof. Jung: Would there not be another way?

Mrs. Baumann: Accepting life means also accepting death in the ordinary course of things.

Prof. Jung: Well, it has not quite that meaning here.

He says. “For ye can no longer create beyond yourselves.” That is something new, it belongs to the epoch.

“But it is now too late to do so, so your self wisheth to succumb.”

You see, he obviously assumes that in another time the self did not desire to perish, but desired to live; it is just now that he “wisheth to succumb.”

Mrs. Fierz: Is that not also an Indian aspect-the creation and then the undoing of creation?

Prof. Jung: That is very much what Mrs. Baumann alluded to, but according to my idea it is a bit too academic or philosophical.

Nietzsche is far more concerned with the actual time than with the general aspect of the world that lives and dies-after birth, death, and then birth again.

That is characteristic of Upanishad philosophy and later on you find it in Nietzsche too, in his idea of the eternal return of things.

But here he speaks of a definite time; it is now that the self desires to die.

Miss Wolff: It must be a Christian idea.

In Christianity, one is supposed to go beyond one’s actual condition in order to reach again the primordial condition where one was like God.

Prof. Jung: Yes, that is the cause.

The scorners or despisers of the body would be the late Christian point of view, according to which one must despise the body because it is awkward and always teaches a different truth from that of the spirit; the body must be repressed or controlled, pressed into certain forms, and one must not listen to its teaching.

Therefore, the persecution of the body in the church, the glorification of the spirit through the mortification of the body.

When a saint was rotting away in his lifetime, stinking with putrification, and when the hermits and the fakirs went into the desert and dried up with thirst, it was a sign of the glory of God.

And in the New Testament we have that famous passage where Christ speaks of those who have castrated themselves for the kingdom of heaven.

He probably alludes to the Galloi, the priests of Astarte, who used to castrate themselves officially; those not very savory symbols were carried at the head of a special parade.

The fact of the castrated Galloi was public knowledge all over the near East.

Fortunately enough, we know nothing of Christians who have castrated themselves for the kingdom of heaven, but Christ must have been referring to some well-known fact.

It would have been a most hellish sin among the Jews, so we cannot assume that he refers to them; and there were no Christians then, but only his disciples.

However, we know that later on Origen did castrate himself for the kingdom of heaven, and probably such a case occasionally happened.

It was the general Christian idea that the world was vain and would perish like Christ and that the kingdom to come was the desirable thing.

We only live for a short time here and must prepare for the eternal mansions.  Zarathustra Seminars, Page 398-400