The three metamorphoses of the spirit will I now describe: how the spirit becomes a camel, the camel then a lion, and the lion at last a child.
There are many heavy burdens for the spirit, the strong burden-bearing spirit in whom there dwells respect and awe: its strength longs for the greatest burden, for the heaviest load. What is heavy? So asks the burden-bearing spirit; then it kneels down like the camel and wishes to be well laden. What is the heaviest burden, you heroes? So asks the burden-bearing spirit, so that I may take it upon me and rejoice in my strength. Is it not this: to humiliate oneself in order to wound your pride? To let your folly ring out, in order to mock your wisdom? Or is it this: to desert the cause as it celebrates its victory? To climb high mountains simply to tempt the tempter? Or is it this: To feed on the acorns and grass of knowledge and for the sake of truth to suffer hunger of soul? Or is it this: To be sick and to send away comforters and make friends with the deaf who will never hear your requests? Or is it this: To wade into foul water when it is the water of truth, and not to disdain cold frogs and hot toads? Or is it this: To love those who despise us and to offer our hand to the ghost that seeks to frighten us? The load-bearing spirit takes all these most weighty burdens upon itself: like the camel which hurries well-laden in the desert so hastens the spirit into its desert.
But in the most lonely desert the second metamorphosis occurs: here the spirit becomes lion; it will seize freedom and be lord of its own desert. Here does it seek its ultimate Lord: hostile will it be to him and to its ultimate God; it will fight for victory over the great dragon. What is the great dragon which the spirit will no longer call lord and God? “Thou shalt” is the great dragon called. But the spirit of the lion says “I will!” “Thou shalt” lies across its path, gleaming with gold—a beast covered in scales; and on every scale there glitters a golden “Thou shalt!” The values of many thousand years glitter on those scales, and thus says the mightiest of all dragons: “The values of all things—they glitter on me. All values have already been created, and the values of all that is—that am I. Truly, there shall be no more ‘I will!’”. Thus speaks the dragon. My brothers, why does the spirit have need of the lion? Why does the beast of burden, renouncing and reverential, not suffice? To create new values—not even the lion can accomplish that: but to create the freedom for itself for new creation—that is within the power of the lion. To create freedom for oneself and a sacred No even to duty: for that, my brothers, there is need of the lion. To assume the right for new values—that is the most formidable assumption for a load-bearing and reverential spirit. Indeed, it is preying and the work of a beast of prey. Once it loved “Thou shalt” as the thing most sacred: now it must find delusion and caprice even in the most sacred, so that it may seize its freedom from its love: for this predatory act the lion is needed.
But tell me, my brothers, what can the child yet do which even the lion could not do? Why must the predatory lion yet become a child? A child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a wheel that propels itself, a first movement, a sacred Yes. Yes, for the game of creating, my brothers, a sacred Yes must be uttered: the spirit now wills its own will, the one who had lost the world attains his own world.
Three metamorphoses of the spirit have I described to you: how the spirit became a camel, the camel a lion and the lion at last a child.
Thus spoke Zarathustra.”