torsdagen den 27:e november 2008

The Dogma of Asha

Dear Friends

Let's concentrate this and get to the point of the whole debate.
Zarathushtra and Zoroastrianism has made TWO MAJOR contributions to world history:

- Introducing the desire for TRUTH as a metaphysical exercise. The desire for truth did NOT start with Christianity and not with the Greeks and not with The Enlightenment. It began with Zarathushtra: His major accomplishment was the introduction of the concept of TRUTH (asha) as a metaphysical exercise. That which is not true (druj) is un-Zoroastrian. Zarathushtra was therefore the ORIGINAL philosopher of The Enlightenment. Even Akhanten of Egypt, the only pharaoh interested in this exercise (all the other pharaohs were discipiles of the blind mythology of Egypt) was inspired by the Persians. Akhnaten lived 300 years AFTER Zarathushtra.

- Introducing HUMAN RIGHTS to world history. Because in Zoroastrianism the search for truth is FUNDAMENTAL then the search for truth can not be accomplished unless we FIRST have an open mind. An open mind requires tolerance so that MANY DIFFERENT voices can be heard. Without this multitude, truth is impossible. This is why human rights were first declared by Cyrus The Great after the conquest of Babylon. It was by the kissing of the feet of the Babylonian divinity Marduk that Cyrus PRACTICED his and showed the world his tolerance. It was the possibly most shocking existential act ever. The important thing to stress here is that tolerance and plurality are not merely good Zoroastrian cultural traits, they are METAPHYSICAL BELIEFS in themselves. We live and breathe plurality and tolerance, it is SACRED to us. Because it is a requirement for our DESIRE to fullfil asha.

Everything else about Zoroastrianism is secondary. This is where Parviz Varjavand and I have always been in complete agreement with for example Ali Jafarey and Dina McIntyre, and THIS is why we are all Zoroastrians. If thee is a dogma to herald in Zoroastrianism, the dogma of asha is the one.

Ushta
Alexander

2008/11/27, Special Kain :

Dear Bahman,

As Zoroastrians we should be preoccupied with the truth. That's why we should dig deep into modern science and see what's been empirically tested and retested and retested once again - and what has been falsified.
All smart and experienced mystics and occultists that I know do not believe in any astral theme parks. They all agree with me that there is only one world, that there is no Almighty Creator seperate from this world (they're one and the same), that there is no soul seperate from the physical body. I used to be actively involved in some parapsychological research in Vienna, and we didn't detect any souls, either. There are a few phenomena that require further investigation, but most beliefs about esotericism are nothing but downright wrong. Just a bunch of fairy tales.
Whether or not Zarathushtra wanted us to believe in such things, he would agree with us if he was alive today that there is no soul seperate from the body. We're just about to find out more about the potential of our bodies and our brains! And most esoteric fairy tales will have to be rewritten.
I don't think that Zarathushtra wanted us to believe in them, by the way. That doesn't seem to be historically accurate.

Ushta,
Dino

--- Bahman Noruziaan schrieb am Do, 27.11.2008:

Von: Bahman Noruziaan
Betreff: RE: [Ushta] Re: Warning to Mehran Gheibi!
An: "Ushta Ushta"
Datum: Donnerstag, 27. November 2008, 2:30

You have seen thousands of Zoroastrains who do not beleive soul separate from body???
Are you kidding us Alexander?
And also a creator that is not separate from Creation? Well this needs a bit of talk but still, you must be kidding!!

Bahman

söndagen den 23:e november 2008

The religion of Tolerance as a sacred duty!

Dear Mehran

Wrong! This is blatantly untrue.
You can believe that there is a soul separate from the body if you like.
But there is no evidence whatsoever that Zarathushtra or his contemporaries for that matter held such strong beliefs. The soul separate from the body was an EGYPTIAN and NOT an Indo-European belief. To Zarathushtra, the soul is merely an ASPECT of the body itself. The body is sacred to Zarathushtra, not a disgusting thing to get rid of as in Egypt and among the Gnostics (and later the Christians and the Muslims etc).
Furthermore, The Gathas is NOT a dogmatic text, it is NOT the Qoran of Zoroastrianism.
To Zarathushtra, THINKING ciritically FOR YOURSELF even if opposed to him is what counts.
By hanging on to your own interpretation of The Gathas as a dogmatic order you are simply missing LIVING the Zoroastrian creed as presented by Zarathushtra. You may get the word but you miss the spirit of his faith. What is then the point of being a Zoroastrian?
Let's not continue to islamize the Zoroastrian religion. Envying the Muslims for having an order book called The Qoran and then trying to turn our beautiful and poetic Gathas into a Qoran 2.0 is a disastrous mistake for the Zoroastrian creed. We are not Muslims! We can think for ourselves and we are proud to do so!
Tolerance is not merely an acceptable attitude within Zoroastianism, it is what Zoroastrianism is all about! We INVENTED tolerance. We made it a SACRED DUTY to be tolerant. Let's be proud of this fact.

Ushta
Alexander

2008/11/23, MoobedyAr Mehran Gheibi :

Dear Dino and Zaneta
dorood
Our beliefs are one thing and ashoo Zartosht's teachings are another things. However, we can believe in anything, but when we are talking about Zoroastrian religion we are not permited to put our words in the mouth of ashoo Zartosht.
In gAthA the soul is separate from body that rule it. It is an entity that live in this step of life lives in material body and after death of body, in next step of life, it lives in other thing, therefore there is no reincarnation in gAthA. The life in gAthA is a one way road from bearth to God.

tisdagen den 18:e november 2008

Mazdayasna vs Divyasna (or Brahmanism vs Hinduism)

Dear Friends

I have always admired how Zoroastrian and for that matter Indian culture have always solved this dilemma by respecting a folk religion which allows for people to deal with their lives, hopes, wishes, superstitions as best they can, while at the same time maintaining a learned and cultured philosophical religion for those striving for asha and haurvatat as we would describe it. A confrontation between the two is really unnecessary. They can co-exist happily. In India, this is the difference between Hindusim and Brahmanism. I believe the same constructive and respectful division exists within Zoroastrianism too. As Parviz describes it, this is the difference between Mazdayasna and Divyasna. And both are co-existing within Zoroastrianism as a PRACTICE. The urge to "cleanse" Zoroastrianism fro its folk religion element always backfires by making Mazdayasna stupid ad intolerant, even against itself. They need each other. Together they make the culture richer and more humane.
- Dölj citerad text -


Ushta
Alexander

2008/11/18 Helen Gerth

Dear Parviz,

Hmmm... perhaps a bit strong....anything can be seen as a pacifier if an individual cannot function without it...it seems there at some point has to be a decision as whether there will be a sense of 'sacred' in the perspective being discussed...and Alexander does use this term below or if it will be strictly a philosophy....and I am not saying either is right or wrong.


in light and understanding
Helen



--- On Tue, 11/18/08, Parviz Varjavand wrote:

From: Parviz Varjavand

Subject: Re: [Ushta] The problem of justice
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008, 12:45 PM


Dear Alexander,

While I agree with what you have to say, I feel that the majority of humanity needs to be like children who refuse to have their pacifiers taken out of their mouths and their security blankets taken away from their ears. Religions even when they do not want to be bad and tell lies are forced to do so by adherents that need their religion to tell them lies and stories so that they can go to sleep sucking on those lies.

Parviz

Asha and western philosophy

Hi Helen and Dino

I believe positivism is too strong of a word here.
Asha is the way the world works, according to Zarathushtra. Contrary to other beliefs which oppose or ignore asha, in Zoroastrianism asha is held as sacred. Searching and following asha is an ethical imperative. This is where the strong Zoroastrian dislike of superstitions and worship of science originates from.
Does this "going with the flow" ethics imply that we should be passive participants in a process outside of our control? No, quite to the contrary. Zoroastrianism is a MONIST and not a dualist faith. Consequently, we are as much a part of asha as the rest of the world. So part of our worship is devoted to our own fascinating participation in asha. This is why we are Mazdaysni (those celebrating The Mind).
So asha is far more than truth in a western sense. Asha is also often translated as righteousness (Ali Jafarey does so for example). The point is that truth is BOTH what is outside of us AND within us as a process within which we take part.
This is different from the western comcept of positivism which is basically a cartesian dualist take on the world, alien to Zoroastrian monist-holist thinking.
Spinoza and The Pragmatists are the western philosophers who are most alike Zarathushtra. David Hume is not too far off the hook either. Empiricism can be regarded as a proto-Zoroastrian philosophical school.

Ushta
Alexander

2008/11/18 Helen Gerth

Dear Dino,

As a cultural anthropologist I very much agree that our perspectives are often culturally constructed.

Actually :-), I would consider you a positivist in that you state there is an ultimate truth, a Real World....the reference to relativism was to the idea that justice is an individual experience....

Thank you for the reference, I will definitely take some time to look at Peirce's work.

in light and understanding
Helen



--- On Tue, 11/18/08, Special Kain wrote:

From: Special Kain
Subject: Re: [Ushta] The problem of justice
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008, 5:57 AM


Dear Helen,

Let me please correct you: I'm far from being a relativist or a postmodernist. Zarathushtra wasn't a relativist, either. He was a pragmatist. Pragmatism is fallibilism without relativism.
There is only one truth. There is a REAL WORLD out there that is independent of our minds, yet we're living within social constructs. Our observations and interactions are always mediated and "culturally biased" in this sense. But we can sharpen our observation skills and continually refine our understanding of existence.
If you like to know more, please dig into Charles Sanders Peirce's philosophy.

Ushta,
Dino

--- Helen Gerth schrieb am Di, 18.11.2008:

Von: Helen Gerth
Betreff: Re: [Ushta] The problem of justice
An: Ushta@yahoogroups. com
Datum: Dienstag, 18. November 2008, 14:17

Dear Alexander,

I agree with a vast part of what you say....but you completely remove Ahura Mazda from the equation then....or reduce him to an abstract metaphor.... there are many who do so with beings in the Vedas and the biblical tradition.

If justice "is an individual experience to ourselves, not an objective supreme fact." then there is no guiding benchmark for what is right and wrong it would seem. Everything is relative and my truth is not necessarily your truth....there is no ultimate truth and so how would one, as Dino has presented, pursue a truth as that implies that there is a single uncontested one there. So we move from positivist thinking to postmodernism.

I agree that it doesn't get us very far to continually engage in comparison to others.....what I do find is instead I set up a benchmark based on an ultimate ideal and strive to reach that.

If divine intervention is alien to Zoroastrianism then why would Zarathushtra pray?

may we all find the light of understanding we seek
Helen


--- On Mon, 11/17/08, Alexander Bard wrote:

From: Alexander Bard
Subject: Re: [Ushta] The problem of justice
To: Ushta@yahoogroups. com
Date: Monday, November 17, 2008, 10:32 PM

Dear Helen

I believe this is where Zoroastrianism differs from the moralistic religions:
Zoroastrianism is an ethical and not a moralistic faith. We are our own judges, we are the thoughts we think, we are the words we say, we are the actions we conduct, to ourselves, and therefore our own judges. But Zoroastrianism does not have an outside and superior judgmental god (and therefore no ten commandments) . So justice is an individual experience to ourselves, not an objective supreme fact.

It may not make much of a difference in real life, but it is a fundamental difference in our emotional experience of justice. Life is not a set of scales for us to compare ourselves with other human beings again and again. That is a childish and undignified concept. Life is rather what it is: Contingencies breaking into our life histories often beyond our own control (and beyond the control of anybody else as well, divine intervention is alien to Zoroastrianism) where what we do and how we deal with those contingencies determine how and who we become. Pure ethics, in other words, practiced by Zarathushtra 3,300 years before Spinoza discovered and presented the same idea to westerners.

Ushta
Alexander

2008/11/18 Helen Gerth

Dear Dino,

From personal experience.. ..it may take a while, but Divine Justice always does seem to catch up to people and I have to say I'm grateful for that, it just isn't always the way we think it should...and most people I've known always know at some point they are doing wrong, they just choose not to change but that doesn't mean they don't feel the guilt....

I suppose I just don't see any way to follow the teachings of Zarathushtra or another religious tradition and not believe in a supreme or divine justice. If nothing else, basic physics teaches for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction.... so behavior is not enacted in a vacuum without eventual consequences. ..

just my perhaps peculiar view :-)

Ushta te
Helen



--- On Mon, 11/17/08, Special Kain wrote:

From: Special Kain
Subject: [Ushta] The problem of justice
To: Ushta@yahoogroups. com
Date: Monday, November 17, 2008, 4:17 AM

Dear friends,

We have a conversation on the "Zoroastrian Friends" mailing list about justice and people always getting what they deserve. It all started with quoting "Best Wish" from the Gathas, with Ali Jafarey's interpretation that people committing horrible acts know exactly what they're doing and therefore suffer from a guilty conscience. And I just don't agree with that.
It is common knowledge in criminology that criminals usually justify their acts rationally via so-called 'neutralization techniques'. They know what they're doing, but they don't feel guilty at all.
On the other hand, I know lots of people who did some really horrible things, and they don't have to bear any consequences. They just keep on doing that kind of shit, because they can get away with it. They don't have to learn a new skill.
There is no supreme and sacred justice behind the curtain judging our actions, defending the betrayed and defeating "the evil guy". It's not Hollywood, it's reality. In other words, people do not get what they deserve. They get what they take.
Maybe I come across as a defeatist or a nihilist.

Ushta,
Dino

Zoroastrianism and queer culture

Dear Dino

I agree completely but we are also threading on thin ice here regarding if this really is a concern on a Zoroastrian forum. But let's summarize the issue anyway within this reservation of mine.
Basically the family and marriage has a central place in Zoroastrian teachings and culture.
What is strikingly different though is that the modern western dilemma of the sexualization of intimate relationships is alien to most of Iranian and Indian culture and certainly to Zoroastrianism.
So I regard the queer movement as a creative force within a western cultural context as a reaction against a specific heteronormative and sexonormative mainly modernist view of marriage, love, sex and family life (basially the nuclear family of 1950s Americana).
Zoroastrianism always had a far more pragmatic approach towards these issues so the queer reaction is there largely out of place. The relative strength of women and the tolerance towards gays and the de-sexualization of marriage and intimacy doesn't motivate such a strong opposing force within the Zoroastrian cultural context. There isn't a major enemy to fight, so why then fight it?

Ushta
Alexander

2008/11/18 Special Kain

Dear friends,

I'm fully aware that this isn't about Zoroastrianism per se, but I find it most interesting and I'd like to share it with you. It is politically and socially relevant, especially if you look at the situation in some countries in Eastern Europe and the band of same-sex marriage in a few states of the US.
Why is "queer" far more revolutionary than "gay"? Because "gay" is being integrated into society via two completely different and sometimes complementary ways: via demonstrating homosexuals' conformance or via profitability. Either the journalists and politicians observe and communicate that most homosexuals live heteronormative lives or they observe and communicate that we can make lots of money with homosexuals, since they're often considered spend-happy consumers or producers of new fashion and media trends. So any male can be integrated into capitalism and exploited financially via new trends specifically for males. And that's how gay people are turned into role models of consumption.
This is where "queer" makes a difference: by defying heteronormativity and critizing power relationships in our late-capitalist consumer culture! Queers do not surrender to their newly imposed roles of being exploitable consumers and heteronormatively prudish and coy citizens. In fact, they do not surrender to any fixed identities at all, creating their own fluid selves. That's why "queer" is STILL more revolutionary than "gay".
But do we have to think of the rise of "the gay consumer" as a bad development? No, we don't. Nothing is bad or good only, there's always a mixed state of bad and good - a grey goo, so to speak. If making perfect capitalists is the way for homosexuals to gain more rights, then we should support it - and create better alternative solutions along the way.
I'm sorry, Alexander, if this is too off-topic. But this is EXACTLY what I found out during the past few days when working on my thesis. It perfectly mirrors what everybody else was thinking, anyway.

Ushta, Dino

måndagen den 17:e november 2008

Justice in Zoroastrianism

Dear Helen

I believe this is where Zoroastrianism differs from the moralistic religions:
Zoroastrianism is an ethical and not a moralistic faith. We are our own judges, we are the thoughts we think, we are the words we say, we are the actions we conduct, to ourselves, and therefore our own judges. But Zoroastrianism does not have an outside and superior judgmental god (and therefore no ten commandments). So justice is an individual experience to ourselves, not an objective supreme fact.

It may not make much of a difference in real life, but it is a fundamental difference in our emotional experience of justice. Life is not a set of scales for us to compare ourselves with other human beings again and again. That is a childish and undignified concept. Life is rather what it is: Contingencies breaking into our life histories often beyond our own control (and beyond the control of anybody else as well, divine intervention is alien to Zoroastrianism) where what we do and how we deal with those contingencies determine how and who we become. Pure ethics, in other words, practiced by Zarathushtra 3,300 years before Spinoza discovered and presented the same idea to westerners.

Ushta
Alexander

2008/11/18 Helen Gerth

Dear Dino,

From personal experience....it may take a while, but Divine Justice always does seem to catch up to people and I have to say I'm grateful for that, it just isn't always the way we think it should...and most people I've known always know at some point they are doing wrong, they just choose not to change but that doesn't mean they don't feel the guilt....

I suppose I just don't see any way to follow the teachings of Zarathushtra or another religious tradition and not believe in a supreme or divine justice. If nothing else, basic physics teaches for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction....so behavior is not enacted in a vacuum without eventual consequences...

just my perhaps peculiar view :-)

Ushta te
Helen



--- On Mon, 11/17/08, Special Kain wrote:

From: Special Kain
Subject: [Ushta] The problem of justice
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Date: Monday, November 17, 2008, 4:17 AM

Dear friends,

We have a conversation on the "Zoroastrian Friends" mailing list about justice and people always getting what they deserve. It all started with quoting "Best Wish" from the Gathas, with Ali Jafarey's interpretation that people committing horrible acts know exactly what they're doing and therefore suffer from a guilty conscience. And I just don't agree with that.
It is common knowledge in criminology that criminals usually justify their acts rationally via so-called 'neutralization techniques'. They know what they're doing, but they don't feel guilty at all.
On the other hand, I know lots of people who did some really horrible things, and they don't have to bear any consequences. They just keep on doing that kind of shit, because they can get away with it. They don't have to learn a new skill.
There is no supreme and sacred justice behind the curtain judging our actions, defending the betrayed and defeating "the evil guy". It's not Hollywood, it's reality. In other words, people do not get what they deserve. They get what they take.
Maybe I come across as a defeatist or a nihilist.

Ushta,
Dino

The problem of justice

Dear Friends

While the idea that there must be some ultimate justice beyond death is attractive for various reasons it does not automatically follow that it is true. Furthermore, it does not automatically follow that the idea is Zoroastrian.
There are historically speaking two roads to the concept of ultimate justice:
One path is the Judeo-Christian-Muslim one which teaches that ultimately there is a judgment day when justice is restored and each historical act is balanced against every other historical act in a zero-sum game. This is the job of The Judge-God-Father of the Abrahamic faiths. We have no such judge in Zoroastrianism. Consequently, we do not share this belief. Because we have no foundation on which to base such a belief.
The second path is the concept of karma in Hindu thought. What you do in this life decides where you end up in your next life. We have no such concept in Zoroastrianism either. Rather, this division is the most dramatic difference between historical Hinduism and historical Zoroastrianism. Instead of karma, the concept of ASHA is the focal point of Zoroastrianism. We don't deal in fake tomorrows, instead we are obsessively involved with the here and now, which we hold sacred!
The point is that NONE of these concepts of ultimate justice were historically constructed to solve the issue of justice but rather to force a peasant labor force to submit to a ruling aristocracy in a feudal society. Karma was always the excuse of the wealthy in India to go on with their wealthy lives keeping the poor in their place. It explains why India was always one of the most conservative (and ironically the most unjust) cultures on the planet. The Middle Eastern and European landowners associating themselves with synagogues, chuches and mosques was their way of staying in power keeping the poor masses in their places. "Life may look unjust now, but just wait until judgment day in the heavens when justice will be restored". Except that no such heaven ever happened. The cheapest possible way of keeping the poor supressed.
This is precisely why we as Zoroastrians should keep resisting such cheap concepts of ultimate justice. Because they are made the deceived people from the truth. Justice is restored and can only be restored in the here and now, in the CURRENT life which we live here and now, and as Zoroastrians love and enjoy and hold sacred.
And while many would love wrong-doers to have guilty conscience, we know for a fact from modern psychology that this may not be the case at all. Many destructive people do not feel any guilty conscience whatsoever. We need to keep wishful thinking away from scientific facts if we want to be taken seriously. Rather, Zarathushtra teaches that we PERCEIVE ourselves to be the actions we undertake. That is not the same thing as an automatic return to ultimate justice. We are just going to face the fact that ultimate justice does not exist, what exists is the justice that we ACHIEVE to create. It is up to us to achieve justice and not to anybody else. That is the Zoroastrian attitude towards justice.

Ushta
Alexander

fredagen den 7:e november 2008

Zarathushtra - and his three western interlocutors

For those who are interested in understanding Nietzsche, the best book on Nietzsche I ever read is Gilles Deleuze book on Nietzsche (google Deleuze and Nietzsche together, and you will find the book at amazon.com). Not only is the book an excellent introduction to Nietzsche, but also to Deleuze´s own 20th century philosophy. Two great thinkers in one and the same book! Deleuze has also wirtten two brilliant introductions to Spinoza for those who are interested. And there together we have the three western thinkers who are most closely related to Zarathushtra's thinking - Spinoza, Nietzsche and Deleuze, and in that order - as Arthur Pearlstein and I have repeatedly pointed out here before.
Ushta
Alexander

2008/11/6 Special Kain

Dear Dina,

There's nothing wrong with that, although I'm still new to Zoroastrianism and not too familiar with the Gathas. There are historically accurate readings - and I'm not too familiar with them, either -, but we happen to make new experiences. Thus, we learn more about our existence. This learning process is likely to entail new readings.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend any good English translations, because I speak German fluently.

Ushta,
Dino

--- DINAMCI@aol.com schrieb am Do, 6.11.2008:

Von: DINAMCI@aol.com
Betreff: [Ushta] 2d reply to Dino
An: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Datum: Donnerstag, 6. November 2008, 23:19

Dear Dino,

The trouble with my reading Nietzche is that I do not know German, so I cannot read it in the original, and I have no confidence in the two translations which I have, which speak of a superman, etc., which Alexander (some time back) assured me was a mistranslation.

Besides, right now, all my time is taken up with studying the Gathas. This may surprise you -- that it could require so much time and effort. But indeed it does, because, like the art form of certain Vedic hymns, it's art form is a poetic collection of multi-dimensional puzzles, many layered meanings. I know that this is not a popular approach. Many folks including some on the ushta list scoff at the idea that the Gathas are multi-dimensional. I can only say that I have found them to be so. And until I plumb their depths, I find any kind of comparative study (whether in comparative religions or comparative schools of philosophy) hugely unsatisfactory. Sorry, but that is just my take.

Wishing us the best,

Dina G. McIntyre.

onsdagen den 5:e november 2008

Mazdayasna and the enlightenment

Yes, you're right, Dino!
Mazdayasna is rather the original enlightenment that did not fail. Precisely because it was never built on the false promise of a "cogito" as a certainty in the Cartesian sense. In Mazdayasna, the world as a whole (Ahura Mazda when personified) is the only certainty. Which makes perfect sense until this very day. There is after all SOMETHING there rather than nothing (to use Heidegger's ontological terminology).
The beautiful name Mazdayasna (Mazdayasni) has been in use for over 3,000 years and nobody personifies this name better today than us. It is a proud tradition of thoughts and practices that we will carry forward. So I don't see ny need for any other new name. The world has had enough of new names. Let's just use the old and correct names instead.
I am personally a yasn but not a div person. But I'm perfectly happy to share my religion with those who want to pratice div beliefs and rituals. There is no conflict involved. I just try to stay true to myself and my innermost beliefs. As should all other Mazdayasni.
Ushta
Alexander

2008/11/4 Special Kain
- Dölj citerad text -

Dear Parviz and Alexander,

The reason why we should be using "celebration" rather than "worship" is our non-dualistic understanding of existence, since we do not set up a hierarchical relationship between our physical bodies and our minds - with the mind being superior to anything else. We're monists (me being a neutral monist, for that matter) and there's no ontological difference between mind and body. Thus, we could also consider communicating our pro-science attitude more directly.
I was wondering if we should pick up a name that's more precisely describing what it all comes down to, but, on the other hand, a broader name makes more sense to me now. Also we should avoid turning Zoroastrianism into Enlightement, because we probably would discredit ourselves philosophically by doing so. The Enlightement project has failed on many levels and didn't really make it through postmodernism, poststructuralism and pragmatism unscathed. Am I correct, Alexander?
We should be perfectly clear about what kind of faith we want to convey. Right now Zoroastrianism seems to be nothing more than just another dualistic and monotheistic faith, founded by a sacred prophet revealing god's secrets of life. A better name that is more distinct and doesn't fall into the same traps like Christianity and the Enlightement project would become us better.

Ushta,
Dino


--- Parviz Varjavand schrieb am Di, 4.11.2008:

Von: Parviz Varjavand
Betreff: Re: [Ushta] Framing Zoroastrianism (The Celebration of The Mind)
An: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Datum: Dienstag, 4. November 2008, 10:09

Dear Alex,

Anything that men do in good faith, can be scudding if practiced in earnest, but the key should be for the mind to distinguish what it is doing. The unhealthy mind is one that does one thing while manifesting that it is doing something else. To do rituals for the dead as if they were having some form of life in another world and observing us from there is not a bad thing to do, but it is not Mazda Yasni, It is Dey Yasni (read it Div Yasni). Dey-Yasna Jashns such as Halloween are fun and southing to celebrate, but don't call them Mazda-Yasna while doing them.

A Moobed or a Moobedyars works deals a great amount with the dead and the departed. They do the work for the dead in earnest as they should, but when finished, they insist that they have done MazdaYasni works and curse Div-Yasna. That in my mind is self deception because what they did was Dey-Yasni works and not Mazda-Yasni ones. If we stick to only this one point, our school of Zoroastrianism will be radically different from all other ones on the map at this time. I don't care what kind of mansion they build for themselves in Paris, they do not have worthy mental contents to go in that building and give it life. The Pope lives in the grandest mansion there is, yet he is brain dead for all practical purposes as far as clear Mazda-Yasni thoughts are concerned. (Dina, please say something to us, your silent treatment is killing me).

Ushta Ve,
Parviz Varjavand

måndagen den 3:e november 2008

Framing Zoroastrianism (The Celebration of The Mind)

Dear Parviz

I agree with you 100% and I will also be happy to use the term Mazdean Zoroastrians to show which kind of Zoroastrians we are. What do you think would be an appropriate term for the movement as such? Mazdayasna? Or do you prefer Mazdeanism in English after all?

I also agree that "Mazdayasna" should be interpreted as "celebration of the mind" in modern English. The whole concept of "worship" is alien to Indo-European cultures, where religion and philosophy were intertwined and part of everyday life, an attitude towards existence more than anything.

To have "worship" you need specifically saced dates and rituals on a specific holy day of the week, for example Sunday mass or The Sabbath. We never had such practices as Zoroastrians, what we celebrated with Norwuz, Tirgan etc was not the days themselves but the CIRCLE of life, as a whole, nothing more, nothing less. So there are no traces of worship in the religious sense. Mazdean Zoroastrianism is indeed a religion of celebration and not worship.

Worship is to pray to a god asking for favors. We meditate and celebrate as to strengthen ourselves to produce the favors at our own accord. That is radically different from the worshipping faiths. So by studying our culture, our practiced beliefs, we also better understand our own terminology.

Ushta
Alexander

Parviz Varjavand wrote:

Dear Alex,

We are having talks very similar to when you started the Ushta site and we talked about what to call our new site. One needs a name and one has to choose a good one and the go forward using it.

As you remember, it was work to show that Mazda did not mean Big or God (as the bearded maker in the sky). It simply meant "Thinker" or "That which has a Mind". In that sense, man is a mini Mazda. I will still have problems in Iran because the Tehran Anjoman'e Moobedan never followed our discussions to the point that even Jafarey accepted Martin Schwartz's explanation about the linguistic lineage of Mazda. They will still insist that it means Big or Great. (Mashalh Jan, please try and explain this to the Kankash'e Moobedan, if you see it in your heart. It will be hard to tell them that Moobed Azargoshasb had got it wrong).

So, we are Mazdeans in the sense that we believe in the Mind as the best tool we have in life. Since I do not deny the existence of the minds of others or a collective Mind in creation, then I am not denying God in the sense that Deists insist one must believe in as a precaution to having ones throat cut in the middle of the night by one of them.

And we are Zoroastrians not because we worship the man or every word that is ascribed to him, but as persons that honor him as a great pathfinder on the path that we are traveling on. So, we are Mazdean Zoroastrians. This is why I feel safe with that frame to our name.

I know that I am on solid grounds linguistically when I say that Yasn is related to Jashn and means celebration, but then there is Dina and many in her school that will argue that this is not so and Yasn means worship. Like Dino, the word "worship" leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I hate to be called "Mind-Worshiper". (still searching for a name)

Parviz

söndagen den 2:e november 2008

Platonists

Dear Brothers Parviz and Dino

I prefer to see Zarathushtra as an asset rather than a hindrance for us as Mazdayasni. A good starting point ("yes, we are called Zoroastrians but in between us we call each other Madayasni" is one of my favorite opening lines when discussing our religion with strangers). So Zarathushtra can be used as a creative starting point rather than as the one and all of our religion. This is why I rarely step into "Gathas-wuoting" discussions myself. The Gathas is a given (and a sueprior text to the Vendidad for example) but "Zoroastrianism" is far more than The Gathas only.

Iäm also a Mazdayasni because I agree with Zarathushtra's basic and fundamental ideology: To think and make judgments for ourselves is the fundmantal CONDITION for our faith even to the extent that this precise ACTIVITY is exactly what we worship!!! So I'm consequently allowed to disagree with other sentiments of Zarathushtra as long as I agree with him on this fundamental notion. The interesting thing is therefore that Parviz is the 100% Zoroastrian of all of us in real life. Gathas-worshipping is alien to the very Gathas itself!

And I'm not a Platonist (and neither was Zarathushtra) because I'm forst of all not a dualist and second I therefore do not believe that any spiritual or ideal existence has superiority to physical and material existence. I don't even believe that the spiritual or ideal existence exists, it's an illusionary hoax invented by the Egyptians and developed by the Greeks but alien to Iranian, Indian and Indo-European thinking.

Ushta
Alexander

2008/11/2 Special Kain

Dear Parviz,

It is perfectly normal that people label things. They turn Zarathushtra's philosophy into Zoroastrianism for easy handling. It's quite user-friendly, and people just look at the label to see whether they should continue reading or refrain. Since Zoroastrianism is - first and foremost! - seen as a monotheistic religion, it makes perfectly sense to examine Zarathushtra's personal life. That's just how things usually roll when it comes to religious leaders. Westerners have always identified a personality cult within religions, for better or worse.
The Gathas do not suggest any of that. And we don't follow the 'labeling tradition' here, either, since most of us think of Zarathushtra as one thinker in a long line of scientists and philosophers - just think of mentioning Laotse, Spinoza, Nietzsche and Rorty, existentialism and pragmatism at Ushta!
It's on us to free Zarathushtra from the religious context and establish him as one of history's first philosophers. The labeling also applies to philosophy (with poststructuralism as a striking example), but it could be one first step away from people's obsessions with biographies. On the other hand, some people try to find inspiration in the way other people used to live. They sometimes want to know if someone truly lived up to his own teachings and communicated insights.
When Aleister Crowley came up with Thelema as a new religious movement more than 100 years ago, his self-proclaimed Christian enemies dismissed his philosophy (originally called 'Thelema') as Crowleyanity - as if it was a personality cult!
When Marilyn Manson said that Jesus Christ was the world's first rock star - with the cross as the most popular article of merchandise -, we was totally right. There's a personality cult in Christianity, since you can only find salvation through Jesus. There's no talk of any kind of salvation through Zarathushtra in the Gathas.
This problem is also a good reason to talk of Mazdayasna, instead of Zoroastrianism, by the way. It's a Christianized reading of Zoroastrian philosophy, people projecting their beliefs.

Ushta,
Dino

--- Parviz Varjavand schrieb am So, 2.11.2008:

Von: Parviz Varjavand
Betreff: [Ushta] Platonists
An: "Ushta"
Datum: Sonntag, 2. November 2008, 19:13

Platonists,

I had a friend who was a Platonist. He not only knew the writings and teachings of Plato, but he also belonged to a society of Platonists whose membership was very exclusive and some very prominent persons belonged to this club globally. At the time (some forty years ago) I was designing a very plush mansion for this person and he had guest quarters designed for the international members of the Platonist Club that would come to visit him. This is how I got to know about this group. He was interested in having me join, but when we talked about Plato, he relined that I would not make a good Platonist and dropped me from his list of potential converts.

Now I fear that Zoroastrianism is similar in concept to Platonism for many persons. Just because the name of Zarathushtra is there, they think that you have to dedicate your full attention to that one person, Zoroaster or Zarathustra. Every lecture about Zoroastrianism begins and ends with the preoccupation about who Zarathustra was, when did he live, where did he live, and what he said in his Gahan. This is why I say that what Mrs. MacIntyre and Mr. Delavega have to tell us is the same in its basic structure. They argue about what Zoroaster wanted to say one way or another and they argue about that. That kind of Zoroastrianism is very boring for me. It does not differ for me if Mr. Jafarey lets others in that club or Dastoor Kotwal does not.

Parviz Varjavand

Beyond conversion and acceptance

Hi Helen and Mickey

I believe Mickey's point is that there is a new Zoroastrian movement of young Iranians and Indians who have mainly emigrated to Europe and America, joined by converts in America, Europe, Eastern Europe and Latin America, who together have turned their back on "the dying isolated faith" and instead created a reinvigorated religion in various forms which actually happens to be the world's fastest growing religion at the moment.

In this new movement you may marry whoever you like, converts are more than welcome, even often taking on leadership responsibilities, and funeral rituals are a subjective and private matter of little concern to the community as a whole (I would personally be happy to be either creamated or buried in earth when I die, worms are animals as much as vultures, the important Zoroastrian idea is the principle of recycling and of not holding corpses in high regards as we worship minds and not dead human bodies).

The Ushta forum is just a small part of this major movement. What is tiring is not so much the endless tirades within the limited community of Parsi isolationism (which is now mainly an isolated Indian phenomenen) but rather the constant misunderstandings in the media about what constitutes "Zoroastrianism". Mickey has many reasons for being tired of the status quo in that department, with or without the harsh words. So am I, sharing his sentiments fully.

Ushta
Alexander

2008/11/2 Helen Gerth

Mickey,

I mean no disrespect....and in no way am taking either side....yet, I would gently point out that everyone is entitled to take pride in their heritage...is it wrong for them to wish to keep their heritage alive....there are many who do who are not angry or harsh in their words or way of doing so...perhaps the last paragraph was a bit harsh?

Respectfully, Ushta te
Helen

--- On Sat, 11/1/08, mickey patel wrote:

From: mickey patel
Subject: Re: [Ushta] FW: Conversions and Acceptance
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com, vohuman@yahoogroups.com, ushta@yahoogroups.com, creatingawareness@yahoogroups.com, ahura-mazda@yahoogroups.com
Date: Saturday, November 1, 2008, 4:33 PM

With respect to this topic.

To be honest I am really sick to see that since
23 years my Navjote ceremony has been done
the same issues are discussed and there is no
answer

1. Intermarraige
2 Dokhma
3. Conversion and Acceptance

I am sure Zoroastrianism is a very interesting and
deep topic and the Persian culture is rich enough
but instead of focussing on that endless years
of energy is being spent on the above 3 topics
and will be done for another 20-30 years more

A person who has to follow Zoroastrianism philosophy
and way of life will do so and wont even care
for acceptance of the community

Why to care for acceptance and from whom? A bunch
of retarded Priests whose lifes are spent reciting
prayers whom they dont understand nor care
or a Bunch of Rich Trustees who take bribes to
allocate
flats under the table instead of the needy ones.

I think intelligent people should stop wasting their
times discussing this topic and instead spread
awarness, teach the Zoroastrian philosophy and way
of life to interested people - doesnt matter who they
are which race they belong to or what their ancestors
are. In this way atleast there will be some hope

No point in worrying about a dying community which
still hasnt come to terms that by the end of this
century it will wiped of and future generations will
only see them in British Museam as an extinct
community.