Onwards. And so onwards along the path of wisdom, with a hearty tread, a hearty confidence! However you may be, be your own source of experience! Throw off your discontent about your nature; forgive yourself your own self, for you have in it a ladder with a hundred rungs, on which you can climb to knowledge. The age into which you feel yourself thrown with sorrow calls you blessed because of this stroke of fortune; it calls to you so that you may share in experiences that men of a later time will perhaps have to forego. Do not disdain having once been religious; investigate thoroughly how you once had a genuine access to art. Do not these very experiences help you to pursue with greater understanding enormous stretches of earlier humanity? Have not many of the most splendid fruits of older culture grown up on that very ground that sometimes displeases you, on the ground of impure thinking? One must have loved religion and art like one's mother or wet-nurse-otherwise one cannot become wise. But one must be able to look beyond them, outgrow them; if one stays under their spell, one does not understand them. Likewise, you must be familiar with history and the delicate game with the two scales: "on the one hand-on the other hand." Stroll backwards, treading in the footprints in which humanity made its great and sorrowful passage through the desert of the past; then you have been instructed most surely about the places where all later humanity cannot or may not go again. And by wanting with all your strength to detect in advance how the knot of the future will be tied, your own life takes on the value of a tool and means to knowledge. You have it in your power to merge everything you have lived through-attempts, false starts, errors, delusions, passions, your love and your hope-into your goal, with nothing left over: you are to become an inevitable chain of culture-rings, and on the basis of this inevitability, to deduce the inevitable course of culture in general. When your sight has become good enough to see the bottom in the dark well of your being and knowing, you may also see in its mirror the distant constellations of future cultures. Do you think this kind of life with this kind of goal is too arduous, too bereft of all comforts? Then you have not yet learned that no honey is sweeter than that of knowledge, and that the hanging clouds of sadness must serve you as an udder, from which you will squeeze the milk to refresh yourself. Only when you are older will you perceive properly how you listened to the voice of nature, that nature which rules the whole world through pleasure. The same life that comes to a peak in old age also comes to a peak in wisdom, in that gentle sunshine of continual spiritual joyfulness; you encounter both old age and wisdom on one ridge of life-that is how nature wanted it. Then it is time, and no cause for anger that the fog of death is approaching. Towards the light-your last movement; a joyful shout of knowledge-your last sound.

Friedrich Nietzsche - Human, All Too Human
Section Five: Signs of Higher and Lower Culture - Aphorism # 292

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