Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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The Origin of Religions.

The real inventions of founders of religions are, on the one hand, to establish a definite mode of life and everyday custom, which operates as discipline voluntatis, and at the same time does away with ennui; and on the other hand, to give to that very mode of life an interpretation, by virtue of which it appears illumined with the highest value; so that it henceforth becomes a good for which people struggle, and under certain circumstances lay down their lives.  In truth, the second of these inventions is the more essential: the first, the mode of life, has usually been there already, side by side, however, with other modes of life, and still unconscious of the value which it embodies.  The import, the originality of the founder of a religion, discloses itself usually in the fact that he sees the mode of life, selects it, and divines for the first time the purpose for which it can be used, how it can be interpreted.  Jesus (or Paul) for example, found around him the life of the common people in the Roman province, a modest, virtuous, oppressed life: he interpreted it, he put the highest significance and value into it and thereby the courage to despise every other mode of life, the calm fanaticism of the Moravians, the secret, subterranean self-confidence which goes on increasing, and is at last ready " to overcome the world " (that is to say, Rome, and the upper classes throughout the empire).  Buddha, in like manner, found the same type of man, he found it in fact dispersed among all the classes and social ranks of a people who were good and kind (and above all inoffensive), owing to indolence, and who likewise owing to indolence, lived abstemiously, almost without requirements.  He understood that such a type of man, with all its vis inertiae, had inevitably to glide into a belief which promises to avoid the return of earthly ill (that is to say, labour and activity generally), this "understanding" was his genius.  The founder of a religion possesses psychological infallibility in the knowledge of a definite, average type of souls, who have not yet recognised themselves as akin.  It is he who brings them together: the founding of a religion, therefore, always becomes a long ceremony of recognition.  
 

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