While Ron and Dina and I may have our disagreements from time to time, I must say I strongly agree with Ron's assessment that Asha takes precedence to everything else in the Mazdayasna faith. Even Ahura Mazda is subordinated to Asha as principle. The laws of the universe are there as facts, primordially, and Ahura Mazda is the uniquely among "divinities" the divinity of the possible rather than the impossible, as Ron correctly points out. It qould be quite understandable if outsiders considered us as worshippers of asha, as worshippers of science etc. That is how strong the pathos for truth is among us. Truth is not only good for being truth, it is also what liberates us and WILL define us, if we so choose.
The consequence of this is precisely why TRUTH is an existentialist experience to us as Mazdayasni. A founding choice and gesture! This is also why Science takes precendence in our everyday experience of the world and why we are more or less allergic to beliefs in superstitions (usually the driving force of other religions). To put Zarathushtra's achievements on this issue correctly is to recognize him as the first rationalist in history. Albeit more a rationalist of Spinoza's vivid kind rather than say Descartes' stodgy kind. This is rationalism with a twist, but what a beautiful and meaningful twist it is!
You said below:
" If I understand them correctly, Dr. J and Ronald do not see Mazda as immanent in the universe in being. They see Him as immanent only through His characteristics. Both see Mazda as a conventional creator. Both see Mazda as a "God" who is separate and apart from His creation, was always perfect, but (inexplicably) created us imperfect, so that we must struggle and suffer to obtain the perfection that He already has and always had. "
Dr Jafarey may speak for himself, however in several points you have, indeed, not understood me correctly.
1. While you have failed to identify what you consider a conventional creator, it seems that you consider myself as believing in some sort of a ex nihilo creation, if that is so, you are wrong I believe that the Gathas probably infer creation by emanation.
2. There is absolutely nothing inexplicable about creating us imperfrct . Indeed the whole creation is imperfect and is designed like all life to mature. Why did MA chose this method? Well, in my considered opinion, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that this was the method chosen because it did not break Asha. Mazda is the God of the possible not of the imposible. Miracles in tis corporeal realm, in the sense of breaking Asha, are impossible because Mazda cannot deny Her/His self and Asha is an integral part of His /Her nature.
Thus, far from being inexplicable, the Perfect , because of His perfection chose to create a creation that would progress to perfection! Because, to make us perfect by his fiat, would break his own nature and purpose which is, partially, made up of the same laws that helped and sustain the creation of this corporeal dimension of existence. In other words, to explain it in very simple terms, Mazda created what was possible to create within the framework of Asha and His/Her nature, ( which can be resumed AS PERSONALIZED MAXIMUM WISDOM) period. That is the explanation of what you find so inexplicable.
3 Mazda did not create us to struggle and suffer, rather, S/He gave us all the tools necessary to choose according to Asha. But in our immaturity and ignorance we must learn how to use them. It is, we who make ourselves struggle and suffer. That is why, IMO of course, we are supposed to achieve and experience an ushta moment, a radiant dawn, an eureka moment if you will, and realize the TRUTH. Which is:We must learn to choose asha like choices and carried them out in asha like deeds or we will indeed suffer the consequences of our own errors.
Until we do this, until we internalize it, realize it and accept as THE truth; we are hopelessly lost in our ignorance, error and selfishness. And, as you can see, mankind is still in that state , precisely because, we have not achieved even a modicum of ushta and are still groping in the dark swayed by manipulators and speculations of our own design as well. Z's message is meant to liberate us from this self inflicted evil kingdom of our wrongful minds , but we have failed to grasp it and spread it; we have made it into a an ethnic religion , or an intellectual exercise instead of realizing it is a living dynamic thing; a process by which and through which we can liberate ourselves
This is in fact the reason why the Message MUST be spread and why is so frustrating that is not being spread as far and as fast as it should.
----- Original Message -----
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Friday, August 08, 2008 10:09 AM
Subject: [zoroastrians] Reply to Alexander
At the end of your post below, you refer to Dr. Jafarey, Ronald and me as panentheists.
There is quite a difference between what I see in the Gathas on this issue, and what Dr. J and Ronald do.
If I understand them correctly, Dr. J and Ronald do not see Mazda as immanent in the universe in being. They see Him as immanent only through His characteristics. Both see Mazda as a conventional creator. Both see Mazda as a "God" who is separate and apart from His creation, was always perfect, but (inexplicably) created us imperfect, so that we must struggle and suffer to obtain the perfection that He already has and always had. Neither Dr. J nor Ron have explained why, if it is such a good thing for us to suffer and struggle towards perfection, why "God" is exempt from this good process? If it is good for us, why not for "God"? And if He is a conventional creator, and if it was good for Him to always be all perfect, why did He create us imperfect? Why didn't He create us as all perfect from the beginning? And is perfection really worth anything if it was not earned? And is "God's" perfection really all that great if it was never possible for Him to be any other way?
I respect respect the right of Ronald and Dr. J to think as they see fit, but it is not right for you to ascribe their views to me. Their views on this issue are not wh at I see in the Gathas. Nor are their views (on this issue) my views. In the Gathas, and some later texts, I see a "God" who is immanent in the universe in being (not just in characteristics). And one who attained "His" perfection the way we have to as well, choice by choice, experience by experience.
But based on your definitions, I am not a pantheist as you define that term, because I do not think that existence (whatever that may be) is limited to the physical universe.
I do like and agree with your approach of tolerance for a diversity of views, because on so many of these issues, Zarathushtra does not express himself explicitly, but through inferences and the metaphor of poetry (which is what the Gathas are), so that reasonable minds may differ as to what inferences should be drawn, or what certain metaphors mean (or if they are metaphors at all).
One of the difficulties is that we all (me included) tend to think in compartmentalized ways -- a function of using language, a given word becomes a compartment -- and sometimes we miss that these compartments (word concepts) are interconnected in kaleidoscopic ways.
Wishing us the best,
Dina G. McIntyre.
From: Alexander Bard
Cc: Ushta@yahoogroups.com; email@example.com; Zoroastrian Friends
Sent: Thu, 7 Aug 2008=2 012:05 pm
Subject: [zoroastrians] Pantheism vs Panentheism (was: A question of making somone an outcast)
I believe what Ron is describing in such detail is what is called PANENTHEISM.
Parviz Varjavand and I instead propose PANTHEISM.
Both beliefs have existed in parallel within Zoroastrianism for centuries and I believe we have all adopted an acceptance that our religion of tolerance can include both beliefs.
For example, Dina McIntyre has come out as a Panentheist and Arthur Pearlstein and several Parsi mobeds in Mumbai and Pune have come out as Pantheists.
I will always listen to the arguments of the Panentheists but have so far seen no reason for me to accept Panentheism, neither in my own beliefs nor as if there was any Panentheism evident in The Gathas.
We may even have to accept that Zarathushra might not have cared less and considered such distinctions meaningless or unimportant. I frankly don't think the difference really affects the everyday lives we live and which Zarathushtra chose to focus on in his teachings and poems. So we should be able to live with both beliefs in parallel for many more centuries to come. I guess we are just going to have to leave it at that and friendly agree to disagree. Our religion is all the richer for it.
Please let me make one clarification/correction though: Pantheism does not imply that God is material (if we can even speak of God, I prefer to speak of Mazda). Instead Pantheism implies that God and The World are one and the same thing and that this one thing is then ONE substance. So if The World ultimately turns out to be spiritual rather than material (let's see where physics will take us next), than so is Mazda. The important thing in Pantheism is instead that God and World are one and the same substance, regardless of whether thos substance is material or spiritual or eventually needs some other label.
Other Pantheist belief systems are those found in Zen and Chan Buddhism (which are both offshoots of Zoroastrianism, introduced to Japan and China by Persian traders and philosophers), Brahmanism in India (the philosophical aspect of Hinduism), most schools of Sufism, large parts of Shia Islam, and in Spinoza's philosophy in the west (which had Sufi orgin, while Sufism of course has Zoroastrian origin).
What makes Mazdayasna Pantheism unique is the division between Ahura and Mazda, as Existence as divine and sacred in itself (Ahura) and the mind of this existence as the truly divine (Mazda). This explains why Zarathushyra ararely uses the terms Ahura and Mazda together. He stresses different attributes of the one substance when he speaks (God or The World is one substance with an infini te amount of attributes).
So let's emphasize that the Pantheist school of Zoroastrianism is not just any Pantheism.
I'm also convinced that Zoroastrian Panentheism has many unique qualities compared to say Christian, Judaist or Islamic dualism. But I prefer to leave it to well educated Zoroastrian Pantentheists, such as Jafarey, McIntyre and Delavega to explore these possibilities. But it's all very interesting to listen to and learn from.
I ha e warned you about PV before and you did not listen But forgetting about PV , very easy for me,. let me just say that we have finally come to 100 % agreement when you say below :
"Sohrevardi's statement does not mean that God is material, as you have explained in your AleParMism or PAlMism(=new cult of Alexander and Parviz or Parviz and Alexsander version of Mazdayasni). Sohrevardi does explain that world is a part of Spiritual unique God, the thing that is taught in gAthA,=2 0not directly but indirectly."
Not only are you right about the cultic nature of the so called Mazdayasna that POV talks about but does not really define it, but you have said precisely what I have said in regards to God. Creation is part of God , this of course means :
1 God is greater than creation ,
2. God is not creation neither is creation God .
3 Creation is part of God and God is beyond it as well
This is what Sohrevardi and Zarathushtra said , at least that is what it is inferred in the Gathas and taught directly by Sohrevardi.
So, I believe, we have come to happy harmony as far as I am concerned.