There is less of a conflict here than you might be think. But let's be clear about our possible differences and then offer friendly disagreement if we must do so. Mazdayasna will be all the richer for it.
First of all, Zarathushtra WAS an illiterate. But what is wrong with that? There was no written language around at the time when he lived in Central Asia over 3,700 years ago. Instead, he composed his texts as poetic songs, PRECISELY so that they could be remembered and verbally passed on from one generation to the next. Mazdayasni of later generations then wrote down his songs and thereby turned them into a text. These are all historical facts. I see no reason to argue about them. And this is also why Mazdayasni people throughout the ages never portray Zarathushtra WRITING any texts. Because he never did.
My point is not to degrade Zarathushtra by stating this fact. If you believe illiteracy is degrading for human beings, then that is YOUR prejudice, Ali, I have no such prejudices. How learned a person is does not affect that person's value as ahuman being, far from it. It is also irrelevant to whether a person is wise or not. There are many uniwise learned people and many wise unleraned people. And there were also people who were learned while still being illiterate where literacy was an uncommon quality.
Instead, my point is that Zarathushtra did NOT have any ambition whatsoever to turn The Gathas into a bible or a qoran for the followers of his religion. He couldn't have had, anymore than Jesus could have expected televangelists to spread his message 2,000 years after his death. Therefore, trying to turn Zoroastrianism into a religion of the book, the way Christanity, Judaism, Islam is, is historically incorrect, goes against the wishes of Zarathushtra himself, and is alien to the religion we have lived with for the past 3,700 years. I therefore strongly (albeit friendly) oppose such attempts. I resent Zoroastrianism becoming a Christianized or Islamized religion. We worship our living minds and not dead texts. That's all there is to it.
As for you and me: We SHARE an enormous admiration for Zarathushtra. We both follow his doctrine and consider it one if not the outmost accomplishment in the history of philosophy and religion. You refer to this doctrine as "divine". I would be careful to make such an attachment since it again folds Zoroastrianism among the "revelationist" and "supenertural" faiths of the deserts to the west of Iran (where Zoroastrianism simply does not belong). But I will conclude that Zarathushtra's doctrine is a formidable and most inspiring human doctrine, still valid after three millennia, and as such unique in human history and a superb platform for a religious conviction (which is why we both have chosen to convert to Zoroastrianism).
However, The Gathas is NOT a science book and we are not doing Zarathushtra any justice by making such claims. He was interested in ethics and creating a credible, timeless faith for all humankind. Science was not even on the agenda. Science is therefore better understood through reading science books, which good Madayasni ought to do as well. The Gathas is a good start but not the end of our studies. It is an inspiration.
Let's always remember that while Muslims believe that Muhammed is Allah's ONLY prophet and Christians go so far that they believe their founder Jesus is outright divine, we have no such beliefs in Mazdayasna. Zarathushtra is 100% human, just like the rest of us, he is not divine and neither is The Gathas. Our divinity is Ahura Mazda and Ahura Mazda only, not humans nor books. And Ahura Mazda manifests itself thorugh our MINDS by which we are to judge everything for its own merits (including The Gathas itself). This is what it means to be a true Mazdayasni.
In a message dated 7/14/2008 4:18:49 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, email@example.com writes:There are two types of "betrayal" of our past:
The good betrayal is an act of the highest fidelity: The thing is that one has to BETRAY the letter of Zarathushtra in order to remain faithful to and thereby repeat the SPIRIT of his thought.
Because it is precisely when one remains faithful merely to the LETTER of Zarathushtra that one really betrays the core of his thought, the creative impulse underlying it. This faithfulness to the letter - no matter what - is therefore the destructive betrayal of Zarathushtra.
Ask not what Zarathushtra WROTE and MEANT 3,700 years ago. Instead, ask yourself what Zarathushtra would have written and meant today, using the same potential, the same creativity that he exposed so vividly 3,700 years ago.
Only then will you get Mazdayasna, only then will you understand what the religion is all about, only then, while speaking with Zarathushtra as your living life-companion as if sitting next to you, in an egalitarian dialogue, will you understand and join his spirit, will you discover the Mazdayasna spirit within yourself, will you become one with Asha.
Alexander BardDear Mr. Bard,Ushta!You have called Zarathushtra an "illiterate" in your postings and now you have added the above.For me, Zarathushtra is the Greatest Mâñthran, Thought-provoker. He is the Highest Literate, "EDUCATED, CULTURED" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). He is the person who discovered Mazda, the Super-Intellect Ahura, the Being, the Essence, who is the continuous creator, maintainer and promoter of the Created Cosmos. He has defined the Primal Principles of Existence, beginning from the A of Asha, Precision and ending, after about 20 others, on V of Vohu Manah, Good Mind. These Principles cover EVERY aspect of Science, past, present and, I am confident, future.I challenge any person of the most modern science to mention a discovery that is not covered by the Primal Principle of Existence. I challenge any person of the highest education to find flaws in the Divine Doctrine of Zarathushtra. He stands unique and his Divine Doctrine stands unique.Statements, without the support of proof about Zarathushtra and his Doctrine, do not hold any substance. They only pain the people who LOVE Zarathushtra.And yet I have stated that as far his way of living is concerned, he lived in the society of 3700+ years ago. Quiet natural. Should he come again, he would lead the good life of progressive and beneficial modernity That does not altar his Doctrine. He continues to be the Best Guide in making us think ahead and enjoying THOUGHTFUL FREEDOM, in continuing to renovate the world in accordance with the Primal Principles of Existence.You speak about Mazdayasna, a term considerably coined by Zarathushtra's companions. Can you define and expound it outside the Divine Doctrine? If you can, please give us your FULL version. So far, we have no full picture of what you mean, except, now and then, a sporadic statement.Ushta,Ali A. Jafarey