Alfred North Whitehead is a brilliant old thinker!!!
But no, the Zoroastrian concept of "immortality" is not tainted by the Christian concepts of remorse, guilt and fear of punishment. Because those concepts are tied to the idea that there exists a Judge who is the center of existence, and to whom we are mere objects, mere toys, meaning that our actions and our very existence is only there for the Judge to judge us and play around with us. On Barhamic religion, this figure is the God-Father-Almighty, in psychoanalysis this is The Big Other, an illusionary but strong phantom with eormous power over our subsconsciousness.
None of this exists in Zoroastrianism. There is no such Big-Other-judge. Our actions get their value strictly to OURSELVES through what we do. We not only choose the actions, we also choose the valuations of these actions. This is why Zarathushtra does not specifiy WHAT is good about goodness, this is left to us and our our friends and our culture and our generation to decide. Ethics is, as always in philosophy, a SUBJECTIVE or inter-subjective experience rather than an objectively valid print in stone (such as Sharia Law or The Ten Commandments).
However, it is also true that Zarathushtra's ethics are not sloppy. In a way they are far HARDER than Christian morality. Because in Christianity, we are promised that God will alter our mistakes and forgive us and create a new world for us to live in when we enter Heaven. There are no such promises in Zarathushtra's ethics: This is why Zarathushtra is much HARDER about what we are supposed to do with our freedom than Christianity ever was. Ethics is not a sweet escape from moralism. Ethics is instead the confrontation of TRUTH and the willingness to avoid the escape to morality to avoid reality as it is. "We are our thoughts, we are our words, we are our actions" is an extremely TOUGH ethics. But it is the only ethics which is true and correct. We are ourselves and also the consequences of what we decide this being to be. No wonder Zoroastrians have been AGGRESSIVE about such ethical principles as keeping the world clean, recycling, and living in balance with nature. These are not things we as Zoroastrians take lightly.
2008/8/30 Special Kain
It is interesting, indeed, and it reminds me of Alfred North Whitehead's concept of man's immortality: The effects we cause will live on in future events, because the world is a web or a network of interrelated and mutually dependent events. Whatever we do, it's like leaving a footmark. Thus, whether we do good or bad things, it will remain in this world forever.
Bearing this in mind, why should we decide to do something bad when it's going to be a part of the world we're living in? It would always stay with us. It's perfectly logical to cultivate a constructive mentality.
Frankly, I'm not too happy with my own arguments concerning the ethical consequences of our actions's "immortality", since it seems to be tainted by the ugly concept of 'Christian remorse/guilty consciousness/fear of punishment'. And I truly dispise that. But I'll just leave it at this. ;)
--- Alexander Bard
Von: Alexander Bard
Betreff: [Ushta] Ravan - An amazing concept!
Datum: Samstag, 30. August 2008, 13:40
May I add that "ravan" is an amazing concept!!!
I have never heard of anything like it in western thought.
Perhaps with the advent of modern physics - and the realisation that time is merely another fourth dimension of existence - ravan can be introduced in a big way, since ravan now can get a far more direct sense of "being" rather than "just" being the pattern and influence left beyond by our bodies in existence as such.
Ravan is simply bodies WITHIN the dimension of time.
But then again, the concept of time has been far more thoroughly approached in Iranian and Indian philosophy than ever in western philosophy, where time was considered a given fact not to be given attention well into the 21st century and the late arrival of time-fascinated philosophers such as Henri Bergson.
2008/8/30 Parviz Varjavand
Your points are very elegantly presented and very correct. I am if full agreement with you.
Now hear my two cents on the Meaning of Ravan.
I take Ravan to be related to words such as Raftan and Raftar. It means Movement or Behavior. In our lives we move in certain directions and the paths we take do matter. They are our Ravan. When we die, our Ravan survives and it is the footprints of what we did when alive. As long as our Ravan is remembered well, we live on and that is what Ravan'ash Shad Bad means, may his/her Ravan be happy. Ravan is not Soul in the classic sense that a ghost-like vapor of us survives after the death of the body; I do not believe in that kind of a soul void of body in Zoroastrianism.