söndagen den 4:e november 2007

The Mazdayasna take on the concept of prophethood

Dear Dina

This is precisely what I have been trying to say too, and I'm glad to see you have pointed this out so well using the Gathic texts. Zarathushtra is a 100% human being who by using his mental faculties has become "the chosen one". This means two very important things which makes Zarathushtra radically different from the "chosen prophets" of Judaism, Christianity and Islam:

1. Zarathushtra is not primarily chosen. He is primarily a thinker who because of the nature of this thoughts has, in a secondary manner, become chosen. By contrast, Moses, Jesus and Muhammed were all assumed to be BORN into their roles as chosen prophets. But in Mazdayasna thinking, thoughts always predate words and actions. Everything starts with our perceptions and how we handle those perceptions. There is no "divine intervention" anywhere in the Mazdayasna religion which predates thinking itself. Thinking is the manifestation of the divine.

2. All of us as Mazdayasni can be Zarathushtras. Zarathushtra is the primary example and role model for what we all can and should be. By using our mental capacities, we manifest Ahura Mazda in ourselves, we become "the chosen ones". So Mazdayasna does not hierarchize between people, all human beings are created equal, with mental capacities to choose, and by making the right choices, proving the right intentions, we can live within asha and thereby become part of the manifestation of Ahura Mazda.

This is indeed a radically different concept of "prophethood" from the desert religions with their bizarre beliefs in the pre-birth destinies of their prophets (and consequently also their followers) and their consequential "divinification" of prophets. But judging from their latest postings in this thread, I'm sure Steve and Ali would agree with us on this matter.

Ushta
Alexander

2007/11/4, DINAMCI@aol.com <DINAMCI@aol.com>:

Dear Steve, Alexander, Ronald, Dr. J and Friends,

I have followed with interest the discussion of Zarathushtra being chosen (or not) by Ahura Mazda, and would like to throw in my 2 cents worth.

Allow me to summarize what we all know. This is necessary in order to lay an evidentiary foundation for my conclusions. So please bear with me.

Y29 is crafted in the form of a discussion between Mazda and his own attributes -- truth [asha], good thinking [vohu mano] and a benevolent way of being [spenta mainyu] as to how the suffering brought about by violence, cruelty, bondage, fury, et cetera, can be addressed.

The fashioner of the cow (identified as spenta mainyu elsewhere in the Gathas) asks truth [asha] if this state of affairs is consistent with truth's (asha's) judgment. The benevolent way of being (spenta mainyu) expresses the opinion that there should be nurture and care for this metaphoric cow.

The others (Mazda, good thinking and truth) replied "through truth" that "There is no help free of enmity for the cow." Y29.3. I take this to mean that Mazda and his attributes (speaking " through truth") cannot abolish evil by divine decree, as it were, because man has the freedom to choose. That is the truth of the situation. They go on to say "that strongest one is not to be found" through whom Mazda's message can activate us (mortals).

Significantly, this thought is repeated in Y29.6, where "the Wise Lord, the Knowing One" Himself says "A master [ahu] has not been found by a single one of us..." , but in the next verse, Y29.7, it is acknowledged that He has fashioned a promise of assistance to the metaphoric cow, and that Mazda indeed "is [spenta] to the needy ..." Y29.7

This seems to be a catch 22 situation: on the one hand evil cannot be abolished by divine decree (there is no "help free of enmity" for the cow Y29.3) because of the freedom to choose. On the other hand, the benevolent way of being cannot just and ignore all the suffering complained of in verse 1, and do nothing. There has to be a solution. Indeed, a solution has been promised by Mazda.

So what is the promised solution?

The Wise Lord turns to good thinking and says: "Who has (been found) by thee, good thinking, who might give these things to the mortals..." Y29.7; "these things" being the assistance which will ease the suffering of the metaphoric "cow".

Good thinking replies: "This one, Zarathushtra Spitama, has been found by me here to be the only one who has given ear to our commandments [sasna]..."Y29.8. [Parenthetically, Insler translates 'sasna' elsewhere as instructions, and Beekes translates it as 'teaching'].

Good thinking is the promised solution, and Zarathushtra is chosen -- not because he is an ahu. Indeed, in Y29.6 Mazda makes it clear that "...A master [ahu] has not been found by a single one of us..." Y29.6. Zarathushtra is chosen -- not as a guru, not as a spiritual ruler -- but because he is a man who has listened ("has given ear") to Mazda's teachings, which teachings require us to think for ourselves. He is chosen because he has listened to Mazda's solution of good thinking, and wishes to teach the promised solution -- good thinking -- to others, so that they too can exercise this divine faculty -- good thinking -- and so heal the suffering complained of by the metaphoric cow, and bring about a world governed by truth and good thinking -- make the good vision a reality.

That is how I see the choice of Zarathushtra by Mazda and his attributes truth, good thinking and a benevolent way of being.

Wishing us the best,

Dina G. McIntyre.

Zarathushtra as the most human of prophets

Dear Steve and Ali

First of all, thank you both for your balanced and thoughtful responses to my concerned posting.

To Steve: I believe it is important that we realise that The Gathas is primarily a poetic text. So when Zarathushtra states that he feels "chosen by the living world", this is not the same as stating that Ahura Mazda has chosen Zarathushtra as if this was a scientific fact. We ae not speaking about Moses on Mount Sinai or Christ in Jerusalem or Muhammed in Medina here. What Zarathushtra is describing is his EMOTION, his joy towards the mission he has been set to accomplish, that he identifies with. This is a feeling of joy towards the construction of civilisation that we should ALL feel as Mazdayasni. In this sense, we are all "chosen". But this Mazdayasni belief does not make Zarathushtra a stand-out one-and-only above-the-rest-of-us hand-picked prophet sent by a god in the heavens. To read such a meaning into the text is to read the text without having taken off the Christian-Islamic glasses first, which we as westerners always have to do before we approach The Gathas. Poetry is poetry, science is science. And it's actually not that hard to keep the two apart.

To Ali: I am certainly not accusing you of anything and you should of course not feel any responsibility whatsoever for statements which you have not made. What I am trying to do, however, is to take a statement of yours and look at its logical conclusion, albeit in the most extreme possible way. So my concern remains: Whether Zarathushtra is chosen by Ahura Mazda or chosen by the living world, if we read more into this poetic statement than there really is, this joy over the responsibility of building civilisation that Zarathushtra FEELS and instead begin to interpret the text as a theological ultimate truth about Zarathushtra, making him a transcendental superhuman of a quality superior to ourselves, we run into a major dilemma and a paradox: Mazdayasna is the ultimate religion of The Natural, of science, of logic, of the laws of causes and effects. So let's avoid ascribing supernatural qualities to Zarathushtra. Let's avoid to try to turn Zarathushtra into our Virgin Mary, into our go-between ourselves and Ahura Mazda. We do not have the need for such a figure in our faith. At the end of the day, the process of election is in itself the utlimate process of choseness as well. There can no more noble title in Mazdayasna than to be elected by the people. Teher can consequently be no God-induced vote superior to the vote of humankind itself. That's what I wanted to point out, and if we agree on this, dear Ali, then all for the better. Then together we have kept Mazdayasna separate and different from the prophet-worshipping religions of the desert, as we all should.

Wishing us all the best
Alexander


Posted by: "Stephen Williamson" stevew@uoregon.edu wordsbysteve

Sat Nov 3, 2007 10:45 am (PST)

Alexander,

If Zarathustra was not chosen by Ahura Mazda how do you explain Song # 2
(Yasna 29) where Zarathustra is chosen as the leader of the living
world? I have read several translations of Yasna 29 and each seems to
say that Zarathustra was chosen.

Below is a link to Dr. Jafarey's translation and commentaries. I would
be interested to see the translation you are using and how this song is
translated so that Zarathustra is not chosen. Do you also have the Ahuna
Vairya in this same translation?

http://www.zoroastrian.org/GathaSongs/song02.htm

thank you,

Steve

Posted by: "Jafarey@aol.com" Jafarey@aol.com

Sat Nov 3, 2007 7:59 pm (PST)

Dear Mr. Bard,

Ushta!

You wrote "I don't understand this. Or lets put it this way, I truly and
sincerely hope I have misunderstood your statement below." and then turned
emotional to state in about 350 words what I have never ever stated, written or
posted. Please, first cool down and the read my posting that it is the "Living
World" which elects him--you elect him, others elect him and I elect him as
our "Ahu and Ratu." The election started by the first
Zarathushtrian-by-Choice continues and will continue for those who consider the Gathas as their
Guide. And Ratus, competent leaders, are elected for their posts from the family,
the smallest unit of the human society to the World Fellowship, the biggest,
what we may the United Nations--all elected by the well-informed considerate
members of the relevant units.

The Ahuna Vairya Democracy is far above the present democracies in the
world. Although promoted during his age and then thriving up to the early
Achaemenian period,it was annulled by the following events and then crudely
re-introduced by the West, yet it is still IDEAL and we have to work for it.

Please also re-note that when I quote Zarathushtra, it is only and only
from his Sublime Songs and I give the references, and when I quote from other
sources, I mention them in clear words. The Gathas are practically my daily
Guide for the last 70 years.

Ushta,

Ali A. Jafarey

lördagen den 3:e november 2007

Mazdayasni people do NOT worship any prophet (we worship Ahura Mazda and Ahura Mazda only)!

Dear Ali

I don't understand this. Or lets put it this way, I truly and sincerely hope I have misunderstood your statement below.
You claim that Zarathushtra was "chosen" as ratu. Later ratus are "merely elected" So by whom was Zarathushtra chosen then if the "choice" is any different from an "election"???
What does the concept of a God-picked ratu have to do with Zoroastrianism in the first place?
Isn't this a Judaist-Christian-Islamic concept? Moses was chosen by Jehovah, Jesus was chosen by God (well, he even was God according to most Christians), Muhammed was chosen by Allah.
But what does this oncept of the God-picked prophet have to do with Mazdayasna, a religion that PREDATES the God-Prophet desert religions by at least 1,000 years??? Any such choice would in itself be the ultimate supernatural and superstitious act. And we do not believe in the supernatural, period.
Sp why on earth do we need to introduce such an alien concept into our beautiful faith through the backdoor? And what comes next? The active worship of Zarathushtra as a divinity???
I'm asking because this train of thought is deeply disturbing to me.
Can we please stop ascribing superhuman qualities to Zarathushtra? Can we please stop this tendency towards the worship of Zarathushtra himself? Can we please just go back to The Gathas and realise that Zarathushtra never claiemd any such thing? Zarathushtra was one of us, a fallible human being among fallible human beings. He was NOT holy! So why do we see pictures of the assumed Zarathushtra at some of our altars?
Those people who can not accept this, who want to worship Zarathushtra himself, should go and find another religion where they can worship a human being as much as they like. The world is full of bodhisattvas and saints. But such worship has no foundation whithin the Mazdayasna faith whatsoever.
Or have I completely misunderstood the quoted statement? Please tell me I have! Because a democracy can NEVER accept any God-picked prophets. A democracy is ALL about elections by other human beings. That is what the word means: Demos as in people. There is no theocracy involved in any democracy. Only mullahs in Qom can preach such nonsense. Period.

Ushta
Alexander Bard

Ali Jafarey wrote:


Dear Companions-in-Asha
Ushta!
In my "Ahu, My View," I have confined myself to the extant Avesta, and it is in this context that Zarathushtra is the only person to be chosen as Ahu and Ratu, while others are elected as Ratu for their relevant social units. While we keep in mind that Zarathushtra is first and foremost to be chosen as Ahu and Ratu, and others, because of the improved conditions that did not require an Ahu, were elected as Ratu.
We understand that Good Conscience is an ever-fresh, ever-practical way of Good Progressive Life. Therefore, if the circumstances warrant and a person is or persons are needed for resolving the retarding and damaging conditions, the people could elect the competent out of themselves. The Avesta does not forbid it. It is silent because the Divine Doctrine of Zarathushtra changed the entire atmosphere and we have an outstanding personality in Cyrus the Great, more than 1,000 years after Zarathushtra, to proclaim peace, tolerance, cooperation and equality among various nations forming a federation, a Fellowship.
I may add that during Zarathushtra's time, there existed wrongful persons, men and women, who had acquired the title of "Ahu -- Being (of higher status}" through force and exploitation of the oppressed people. And Zarathushtra exposes them as destructive to human civilization. (Song 5:11 = Yasna 32:11)
Let us work to establish the ideal Democracy of the Gathas throughout the world, stop war and violence, and promote peace and prosperity for all.
Ushta,
Ali A. Jafarey