The 'bent bow'
The imagery of the bent bow is used by Kahlil Gibran and Nietzsche differently.
Gibran advises that we should be like bent bows in the hands of the Divine,
to serve His purpose with gladness.
Nietzsche, however, wants to use the bent bow's strength
for personal development from Man to Superman.
Gibran, commences with the advice to parents
not to treat their children as personal possession:
"Your children are not your children."
He proceeds to explain his concept further thus:
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and
He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Nietzsche compares inner struggle and self-overcoming to the bending of a bow,
and speaks harshly against those trying to "unbend" this bow.
Like the bending of a bow, this struggle creates great inner tension,
but, he argues, the tightly bent bow shoots arrows the farthest.
This image of the bow fits in with Nietzsche's conception of humans
as a kind of bridge between animal and overman.
We are not ends in ourselves: we are merely a means,
a bow that must be bent in order to shoot for the overman, the ultimate goal.
Nietzsche proclaims the overman as the end-goal of humanity. The overman is someone who has so refined his will to power that he has freed himself from all outside influences and created his own values. The will to power, which Nietzsche refers to elsewhere as the "instinct for freedom," is the drive for autonomy from and dominance over all other wills. This will to power can find unrefined expression in the rape, pillage and torture by tyrants and dictators, or it can be refined into a cruelty turned against oneself, struggling to make oneself deeper, stronger, and with an independent mind.
The Bhagawat Gita, while discouraging inaction and encouraging dynamic action to serve the community, advises the surrender of the 'will to power' in the service of God and His purposes for universal welfare (lok kalyan), not mere individual development into an overman as an end by itself. Gibran is more in harmony with this view than Nietzsche who believed that there was no rational order to the universe and that all the values that exist were constructed by human beings.