My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.
— Nietzsche,‘Why I Am So Clever’, in Ecce Homo, section 10:
I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.
— Nietzsche, section 276 of The Gay Science
Amor fati translates, roughly as, ‘love of fate’, synonymous with a working definition of love that I often utilise, which is, ‘acceptance without judgement’.
A commonly used concept in Nietzschen philosophy. It is a beautiful way of describing a particular form of awareness and attention that I am actively cultivating. This is worth considering for a time. What I am discussing here is also a part of my practise of Vipassana meditation (for those that may be unfamiliar Vipassana is a form of Buddhist meditation that’s role is to provide insight into the “true nature of reality”). Central to the practise of Vipassana is the process of observation of things-as-they-are with total equanimity. One does not crave pleasure. One does not feel aversion to suffering. One just accepts, without judgement. But is this method of meditation really a loving act? I would argue, yes. This capacity to love things-as-they-are is the beginning of saying yes to Life: yes to suffering; yes to pleasure; yes to the Will and yes to the will-not.
Let us consider the Apollonian/Dionysian dichotomy popular within the work of Nietzsche, remembering, as ever, ‘the map is not the territory’. Maps are extremely useful, nonetheless.
There is the destructive/creative force that propels us through existence. It is the beautiful and terrible. It is the Dionysian principle. Ecstasy. The raw energy of being. It is violent and utterly unpredictable. It is Chaos: the force of Nature and Life. It is the Will to Power in its most singular form, and as such, it is eternally devouring itself.
Then there is the temporospatial. Within time and space we have the subject-object phenomenon. With the phenomenological, we have the aesthetic. The experiential and the sensual. Here comes worship, ethics and identity. Here is the realm of mind and self/other. Here exist categories and maps. Here we can analyse, critique, correlate, communicate and consummate. Here is the Apollonian. Distinction. Individuality. Being re-membered.
These two ways of thinking are ever-present and concurrent. Both modes have the capacity to be understood as pleasurable or painful, depending on the judgement made. One may be identified with, The One, and the other, The All, but in Reality there is no difference. From this point language then breaks down and there is only paradox and the mystery (for how can the one and the other be both totally distinct, even inverse and yet one-and-the-same?). So please forgive my failing words. We are the source and the expression. The dance and the dancer. The art and the artist. Though we act as though separate, we are one. Though we act as though we are one, we are many. We are that which is beyond words, we are the words themselves, we are the storytellers and the story. We are the audience for which the story is being told. A living, breathing, all-encompassing story spanning all of existence. The UniVerse.
So when we consider, what makes a Good Story, we gain some insight into the drama of the phenomenological plane. For the beauty and power of the story is what matters. Not the individual desires of the players. Certainly not of the masks the player’s wear.
Though this world would seek to use us, consume us, annihilate us… we are That which would do so, to remain Itself. We are One and All. Our True Will is the Will of All Nature. If we can co-embrace these two aspects of self, identifying only ever with that which we observe to be the Reality of Now, we affirm the entire UniVerse. Redemption is here. Absolution. This is why life is not a terrible thing that should not have been, nor a nightmare from which we need awaken. It is the field of Dharma. It is the arena in which the Game is played. This Game is Eternal. Were there to be a winner or a loser, then I could agree that tragedy was the basis for existence. But there is no end. No winning. No losing. Only playing.
One can make choices. One can choose to make the eternal error of wishing things to be other than they are. One can exist in agitated denial, despondent depression or even petulant boredom… or one can choose to Play the Game. To be active participant of the Story. To at one and the same time, play one’s role and sit in one’s centre, and observe, this Great Feast for the I’s. To know the blood, the horror, the terror, the fear, the love, the life, the death, the suffering, the turmoil, the redemption, the absolution, the ecstasy, the intimacy, the comedy and the tragedy—and say: Yes.
To affirm: I Love All Things.
All Things, are to be found in Every-Thing. Redemption comes within a single moment. That moment, is and can only ever be: Now.
If we affirm one moment, we thus affirm not only ourselves but all existence. For nothing is self-sufficient, neither in us ourselves nor in things; and if our soul has trembled with happiness and sounded like a harp string just once, all eternity was needed to produce this one event – and in this single moment of affirmation all eternity was called good, redeemed, justified, and affirmed.
—Nietzsche,The Will to Power. (Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale translators) New York: Random House, 1967. (pages 532-533)