Zarathustra reflects that in all one's journeys, one ultimately experiences only oneself; all discovery is self-discovery. Now he prepares for his most difficult journey yet.
Courage helps us overcome everything, even death, by helping us look lightly at what would otherwise seem serious. Zarathustra suggests that courage can teach us to say to death, "Was that life? Well then! Once more!" Thus, courage can also lead us to confront the eternal recurrence of the same events. If the past stretches back infinitely, then anything that could have happened must have happened already at some time in the past. By that logic, this very instant must have occurred at some time in the past. And similarly, if the future is infinite, everything—including this moment—must recur again sometime in the future. Zarathustra ends by recounting a vision where he saw a shepherd gagging on a snake in nausea, who then bit off the head of the snake, and spat it out, erupting with laughter.
Zarathustra still feels unable to confront the thought of the eternal recurrence. He waits for the pain of this thought to come upon him, but he remains happy.
Zarathustra praises the heavens, as being above all reason and above all purpose. Ultimately, the universe is not directed by reason and purpose, but by chance and accident.
Zarathustra returns among people and finds that they have grown smaller while he was away, so that he must now stoop to be among them. Their desire for contentment and above all their desire not to be hurt by anyone have made them small. They call this cowardice "virtue," which they express through a constant aim to please and to gratify. Zarathustra has no respect for people who are unable to assert their own will.
Zarathustra takes malicious pleasure in the winter and in the difficulties it imposes. If people could only see his boundless depth and happiness, they would resent him, but if they see him suffer, they will no longer feel jealous.