Saturday, 19 October 2013

On the Path, We Go Through Five Stages

In Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche explains the metamorphoses of the spirit -- How the spirit becomes a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion, a child. 

We behave like camels when we take over burdens of the world. Then we need to evolve into a lion because the lion can do many things that the camel cannot, including "to assume the ride to new values" from the you shall of conventional religion to the i will of the more enlightened.The third metamorphosis is to a child. 

To Nietzsche, the child is innocence and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a self-rolling wheel, a first movement, a holy yea.

Realistically, a person goes through five and not three stages. 

The first is when man starts out as a rat greedy, gnawing at everything even when not hungry.

The second is the camel. Nietzsche says we become camels to satisfy our ego. I feel our motivation is our compassion and love and, to some extent, social compulsions.

The third is the lion, where we desire to break free. This requires courage. ‘You shall’ is a powerful highway and paths diverting from it are seeded with thorns of blasphemy. Without crossing it there is no entrance to the fertile valley of ‘i will’. The lion is needed for this.

The fourth is the elephant, where man acquires dignity and wisdom; the aggression of the lion is mellowed. The Ganesh image symbolises this. Wisdom and maturity are needed before they, too, are subsumed in innocence.

The fifth is the child where innocence is the prime quality. When his disciples asked, On what day will you be revealed to us, and on what day shall we see you? Jesus said: When you unclothe yourselves and are not ashamed, and take your garments and lay them beneath your feet like the little children and trample on them, then (you will see) the Son of the Living One, and you will have no more fear.

Most are stuck in the rat stage craving for food, clothing and shelter fuelled by greed. Another big challenge is to move from the camel to the lion stage. We are so conditioned by our education, traditions and social mores that few can break out of the you shall mode and strike out on their own path of i will. 

To move on to the elephant stage you need to overcome ego. For some, this comes naturally and for others, through the guidance of a master. In most, this never happens. From elephant to child is easier as wisdom is already there to guide us. The fruit is ripening and will fall one day. 

Ramana Maharshi showed us how to overcome inter-stage resistance. He asked a seeker who was reluctant to give up his old ways, how he came to the ashram. The seeker said he took a train. Did you get off at the station, Ramana asked. Yes, replied the seeker, then I took a bullock cart. And how did you come up the hill? Ramana enquired. The seeker said, I got off the cart and walked up.So, you used one vehicle till it was needed, gave it up and took another, which you gave up when its purpose was served. It is the same with these rituals, too. They have served their purpose and now the time is ripe to give them up.

Life is a journey to live- not just to be carried over like bulk of baggage. Moving from one path to the other need to be realised, rather than simply reading ;-)


From Kishore Asthana's Article on

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