måndagen den 13:e april 2009

The Mihtraic sentiment

Dear Parviz

I agree with you Mithraic sentiment, of course, though I do quite value your category 2 since without category 2 there is rarrely any means for category 3 to survive. ;-) Artists are dependent on their benefactors, so to speak.
Did we ever figure out the relationship between Zoroastrianism and Mithraism? And if there is a possible link to that other great revolution of sun-god worship in ancient Middle East, Akhenaten in Egypt and his "Atenism"?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhenaten

Ushta
Alexander

2009/4/12 Parviz Varjavand



Dear Alex,

Add a third dimension to the game and that would give you my world view.

1- Divination 2- Logic 3- Love
1- Mani 2- Zaratustra 3- Mithra
1- Rumi 2- Gathas 3- Khayam, Hafez

Mani for me stands for those who feel the FALL or separation from their heavenly beloved and wish a reunion. I can smell them from a mile away and I dislike them instinctively. They hurt the Cow the most.

Zarathustra for me stands for the cold logic of a calculating social climber. The Parsis of India are good Zaratushtrians, cold and without passion striving to reach high achievements often at the cost of making their own children an outcast should they give into passion and love. Z's are beginning to turn me off too these days.They do not understand the Cow even though they have all the tools in their vocabulary to do so. The Cow is older than Z and even though Z promised to help the Cow, he got caried away into his black and white colorblind view of life too much and forgot the passions that needs to go into caring for the Cow properly.

Mithra or Mehr has always turned me on. Logic tempered with love and passion. Is there a Persian Mithra somewhere? For me there is and He is more of a real person than Christ, Mosses, or Zarathushtra. The prophet Mohammad is the only exception, he is a historical figure while the rest of them have to be viewed as real with a lot of fog and mirror tricks applied. Mithra bleeds the Cow to nourish us, but he knows what he is doing. His face is turned away in agony while bleeding the Cow and shows that He understands the limits to which this act should be performed out of necessity. I woship the Cow now and I am a Mithraist Mazdayasni.

That is my wisdom in a nutshell.
Parviz Varjavand


--- On Sat, 4/11/09, Alexander Bard wrote:

From: Alexander Bard
Subject: [Ushta] A short meta-discussion?
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Date: Saturday, April 11, 2009, 12:21 PM


Dear Parviz

That's exactly my point.
I used the Ushta List to learn about the difference between Rumi and Hafez. If we simplify these two Persian poets we end up with a proto-Manichean (Rumi) and a proto-Zoroastrian (Hafez) so Hafez is the one of the two that we would favor. And while this may have taken you years to find out on your own, your wisdom and that of others (for example my friend Ashk Dahlen from Stockholm, who has just joined us here on Ushta) has helped me receive the same wisdom within merely a few days. Clarification is key. Then we can provide ourselves and others with a message filled with asha instead of druj.
Thank you for your patience!

Ushta
Alexander

2009/4/11 Parviz Varjavand



Dear Alex,

Please do not read me wrong, in no way I wish you to be a dictator and intolerant of research into other ideologies. It is just that you seemed to know the parameters of your world views in a much more positive way and that helped me at least to know what Alex's positions are based on. Arthur has abandoned us for some times now and with you also into research in areas that may take many many years to see a light at the end of its tunnel, I felt orphaned for a while. That's all.

What Rumi says and what Hafez says may sound the same specially in translation, but they are not. Hafez makes love to the earthly while Rumi masturbates with the heavenly, It has taken me so many years of reading both and the guidance of several great masters for me to realize this differences. When I see you wonder in those woods, I get anxious about you getting out someday.

Your sincere admirer,
Parviz


--- On Fri, 4/10/09, Alexander Bard wrote:

From: Alexander Bard
Subject: [Ushta] A short meta-discussion?
To: Ushta@yahoogroups. com
Date: Friday, April 10, 2009, 7:43 AM


Dear Parviz

I have always used the Ushta forum as a place for meetings and conversations. It can never hurt to learn more about different cultures and traditions, especially the ones that surround Zoroastrianism and have been inspired by or inspired Zoroastrianism. I'm sorry if I'm not the "focused" and "firm" and one-dimensional leader figure that you seem to desire so much, but that's just not me, and that's not how interest in Zoroastrianism develops and grows at the moment here in Europe (which it certainly does). And it is certainly not the sort of personality we need here on Ushta. I'm just not the dictating kind.

Ushta
Alexander

2009/4/9 Parviz Varjavand



Dear Alex,

I do not know what is happening to you, but your mind seems not to be as focused as it was before. To be a leader, first you at least must know what you want. Putting Gathas in the hands of Alevis is as pointless an act as Christians putting Bibles in every motel room. Zanneta is a very lovely person, I am sure of that, but she dwells in an antic-store of mental ideas. Some of this and a Little bit of that will only make a mental soup and not a philosophical stand. Tons of Gathas and Rumi and Hafez will not cut it intellectually, one clear stand is better than tons of this kind of mush. If you stick to your stand, many will come to you, you do not need to chase them Bible or Gathas or Masnavi in hand. Belive me, I have travelled that road for many many years. Alevis are like everybody else, if you chase them with any book in hand, they instinctively figure out that you are a sales person of some stale junk. Only those who are ready to hear new things and come to you because they figure that at least you are not confused about what you want to say matter. An anciant but still very valid Mithraic principal ( and look howmany Mithraists you have around compared to Christians!! ! ;-)

Ushta,
Parviz

Expectations and surprises

Thanks, I stand corrected!!!
Expectations is the important element in intersubjective relations.
Surprise is when expectations occasionally break down. But surprise is the element that makes us WAKE UP and realise what we are about to think, say, do in a given situation. And MAY then change our behavior. Hopefully constructively.
Therefore ethically important.
Ushta
Alexander

2009/4/12 Special Kain


Dear Alexander,

You never cease to amaze me with a new and fresh take on far too common truths!!!
Frankly, I don't agree that surprise is an important element of all intersubjective relations, it's expectations. Secondly, surprise is the most important element of strategy and the art of war: whoever surprises will win the battle. Thirdly, the element of surprise is what Richard Rorty coined as the beginning or introduction of a non-normal discourse and, therefore, the creation of new vocabularies that may (or may not) change the way we see, think, speak and feel.

Ushta,
Dino

--- Alexander Bard schrieb am Fr, 10.4.2009:


Von: Alexander Bard
Betreff: [Ushta] Unio Mystica
An: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Datum: Freitag, 10. April 2009, 14:19

Dear Zaneta

Jesus did NOT teach that you should not hit back at people and instead show them the other cheek if they hit you. That is just one of the most common and disturbing misunderstandings about Christian ethics. What Jesus meant was that SURPRISE is an important element of every intersubjective relation. When hitting back is the PREDICTABLE thing to do, that is when you should not hit back as to surprise your enemy and to win over your enemy.

Jesus was NOT a pacifist (he repeatedly talked about God sending his angry angels to re-conquer the world and punish sinners etc MILITARILY) and neither was Zarathushtra, although for quite different reasons. But the main problem with Christianity is that it sees this world as inferior to a coming world free from sin. We have no such beliefs. As Zoroastrians we consider THIS world as SACRED. And that is a belief that we as members of this forum all share. It is the very fundament of what it means to be a Mazdayasni.

Ushta
Alexander

lördagen den 11:e april 2009

Hafez the Zoroastrian vs Rumi the Manichean

Dear Parviz

That's exactly my point.
I used the Ushta List to learn about the difference between Rumi and Hafez. If we simplify these two Persian poets we end up with a proto-Manichean (Rumi) and a proto-Zoroastrian (Hafez) so Hafez is the one of the two that we would favor. And while this may have taken you years to find out on your own, your wisdom and that of others (for example my friend Ashk Dahlen from Stockholm, who has just joined us here on Ushta) has helped me receive the same wisdom within merely a few days. Clarification is key. Then we can provide ourselves and others with a message filled with asha instead of druj.
Thank you for your patience!

Ushta
Alexander

2009/4/11 Parviz Varjavand



Dear Alex,

Please do not read me wrong, in no way I wish you to be a dictator and intolerant of research into other ideologies. It is just that you seemed to know the parameters of your world views in a much more positive way and that helped me at least to know what Alex's positions are based on. Arthur has abandoned us for some times now and with you also into research in areas that may take many many years to see a light at the end of its tunnel, I felt orphaned for a while. That's all.

What Rumi says and what Hafez says may sound the same specially in translation, but they are not. Hafez makes love to the earthly while Rumi masturbates with the heavenly, It has taken me so many years of reading both and the guidance of several great masters for me to realize this differences. When I see you wonder in those woods, I get anxious about you getting out someday.

Your sincere admirer,
Parviz


--- On Fri, 4/10/09, Alexander Bard wrote:

From: Alexander Bard
Subject: [Ushta] A short meta-discussion?
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Date: Friday, April 10, 2009, 7:43 AM


Dear Parviz

I have always used the Ushta forum as a place for meetings and conversations. It can never hurt to learn more about different cultures and traditions, especially the ones that surround Zoroastrianism and have been inspired by or inspired Zoroastrianism. I'm sorry if I'm not the "focused" and "firm" and one-dimensional leader figure that you seem to desire so much, but that's just not me, and that's not how interest in Zoroastrianism develops and grows at the moment here in Europe (which it certainly does). And it is certainly not the sort of personality we need here on Ushta. I'm just not the dictating kind.

Ushta
Alexander

2009/4/9 Parviz Varjavand



Dear Alex,

I do not know what is happening to you, but your mind seems not to be as focused as it was before. To be a leader, first you at least must know what you want. Putting Gathas in the hands of Alevis is as pointless an act as Christians putting Bibles in every motel room. Zanneta is a very lovely person, I am sure of that, but she dwells in an antic-store of mental ideas. Some of this and a Little bit of that will only make a mental soup and not a philosophical stand. Tons of Gathas and Rumi and Hafez will not cut it intellectually, one clear stand is better than tons of this kind of mush. If you stick to your stand, many will come to you, you do not need to chase them Bible or Gathas or Masnavi in hand. Belive me, I have travelled that road for many many years. Alevis are like everybody else, if you chase them with any book in hand, they instinctively figure out that you are a sales person of some stale junk. Only those who are ready to hear new things and come to you because they figure that at least you are not confused about what you want to say matter. An anciant but still very valid Mithraic principal ( and look howmany Mithraists you have around compared to Christians!! ! ;-)

Ushta,
Parviz

fredagen den 10:e april 2009

Unio Mystica

Dear Zaneta

Jesus did NOT teach that you should not hit back at people and instead show them the other cheek if they hit you. That is just one of the most common and disturbing misunderstandings about Christian ethics. What Jesus meant was that SURPRISE is an important element of every intersubjective relation. When hitting back is the PREDICTABLE thing to do, that is when you should not hit back as to surprise your enemy and to win over your enemy.

Jesus was NOT a pacifist (he repeatedly talked about God sending his angry angels to re-conquer the world and punish sinners etc MILITARILY) and neither was Zarathushtra, although for quite different reasons. But the main problem with Christianity is that it sees this world as inferior to a coming world free from sin. We have no such beliefs. As Zoroastrians we consider THIS world as SACRED. And that is a belief that we as members of this forum all share. It is the very fundament of what it means to be a Mazdayasni.

Ushta
Alexander

2009/4/8 Zaneta Garratt :

Hi Georgios and Dino,

Thanks for both your letters-

Jesus was out to try and reform the Jewish religion and make it more available to the ordinary people, especially the poor, he was a kind of peaceful revolutionary I guess-his parables and sayings are really clever though- And I cannot see the point in forcing religious beliefs on people, you are correct there-and asceticism does not appeal to me either as I really enjoy a good vegetarian meal and a couple of glasses of wine rounded up with a nice piece of cake and a cup or two of tea. I also agree with you as we are here now, our job is indeed to make the world we live in now a better place and preserve the environment which is sacred-and well, I believe in an afterlife although those with a more scientific outlook on life seem not to but we should definately live for making this world a happier place and show more tolerance towards others who are of different opinions than ourselves, it would be boring if we all thought the same anyway. So the points you both make are definately good and valid, Best wishes from zaneta


To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
From: special_kain@yahoo.de
Date: Wed, 8 Apr 2009 07:21:02 +0000

Subject: RE: [Ushta] Unio Mystica

Dear Zaneta,

Firstly, I don't like the term "true religion", I don't like "true this" or "true that" at all. That reminds me of Parsis letting me know that I wasn't a Zoroastrian proper. Or of true Norwegian Black Metal, for that matter.
Secondly, we should never forget about our planet and what's going on right here, right now. But that's exactly the problem with most religions, where this world is just a shady, inferior and poor imitation of an allegedly superior and heavenly astral plane. There's no asceticism in Zoroastrianism, which is great! Some ascetics have, undeniably, done incredibly important things and creatively contributed to our understanding and wisdom. But we don't have to be one of them in order to further increase our understanding.

Ushta, Dino

tisdagen den 7:e april 2009

Unio Mystica, really?

The question here is what RUMI meant with his "love".
Was Rumi a proto-Zoroastrian or actually the exact opposite, which would indeed be a proto-Manichean instead? Now, that's the interesting question.
I agree that people who place their love into the transcendental are always at heart gnostics. If we love the world as it is, here and now, we would not need the transcendental "love" to begin with.
There was always a very GOOD reason why Zoroastrians refused to build monasteries for people who refused to have sex, drink wine, and enjoy their lives here and now and instead sit on pedestals and feel superior compared to the rest of us. Because if they would have, the Zoroastrians would soon have had self-righteous gnostics on their hand.
They apparently had seen others make that mistake before them.
Ushta
Alexander

2009/4/7 Georgios Papadopoulos

Dear Zaneta,
Jesus did not invent much. The passage of Mark you quote is perhaps the best example.
The first commandment is the most sacred Jewish prayer, the Shema Yisrael (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shema_Yisrael).
The second commandment is just a verbatim copy of Leviticus 19:18.
I agree with Parviz in that the love of God cannot be confused with earthly love. The God of the Bible commands people to love him (please read the Shema). Earthly love just can't be enforced!
Besides all these, I can still understand the "love" of people/mystics towards God. What I can't understand is the commandment of God.
Georgios

--- In Ushta@yahoogroups.com, Zaneta Garratt wrote:
>
>
> Hi Parviz,
> I do not mind you disagreeing with me at all but surely you can love God/Ahura Mazda and yet love your fellow men/women with the same type of love-because you cannot love and serve God unless you love your neighbour first-sorry I hope you do not mind me quoting the bible but this quote is good in answering your question-from-
>
> Mark:12:
> 29 And Jesus answered him: The first commandment of all is, Hear, O Israel: the Lord thy God is one God.
> 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment.
> 31 And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
>
> In fact it is useless being a believer in God/Ahura Mazda unless you love your neighbour first, Jesus went on so far as to say that we should love our enemies and turn the other cheek instead of hitting back at someone who hits first, but I am not so sure I could do this-yet I feel thAT he advocated these extreme measures as he did not want the Jews to fight against the Romans as he knew the Romans would kill them if they did, and this is what actually happened.
> To practise true religion it is demanded that you must love your fellow man/woman as well as loving God/Ahura Mazda but the fanatics forget this totally and in the end they go against their own religion-they fall into the side of Darkness-CS Lewis said that hell is full of spoiled saints as he put it-people who start off good but got waylead by fanatic beliefs and become destructive-Instead the true believer is constructive and creative because he/she loves both mankind and God-Another thing that CS Lewis said was thAT you cannot love mankind enough but you can easily love God too little-he was a great theologian but he also had a fine imagination-he wrote "the witch, the lion and the wardrobe" books which have been made into many films,Every blessing from zaneta
>
>
> To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
> From: solvolant@...

> Date: Mon, 6 Apr 2009 19:21:28 -0700
> Subject: RE: [Ushta] Unio Mystica
> Dear Zaneta,
>
> I do not agree with you.
> I feel that those who have the word LOVE which refers to a phisical and an earthly bonding hijacked to refer to their ways of masturbating with the abstract are the real perverts amongst us. Why do you think so many women are mutilated genitally and psychologically on the planet? It is not done by the order of men who can love women in a physical way; it is done by the order of their spiritual leaders who hate the Earth and love their gaga land that they are going to get to after they die. They hate the physical earthly LOVE in a deep way (even though most of the time they are completely unaware of it and deny it) and hurt little girls. Mani saw all women as the vehicle of evil because he hated life on this planet. All Rumi's love poems are not about love on this planet, this planet is a prison and a place of torture and exile for mystics like him. Next time you comb your hair remember, you should shave your head, or hide your
> hair so that men can not see it and be tempted. Women should live in shame because they tempted us out of the garden of the Father. When are you going to get the full impact of the ugly messages of these Unio Mystica perverts.
>
> Ushta,
> Parviz

Alevism and Zoroastrianism, Part 3

Dear Robert, Zaneta and friends

I can't help wondering what would happen to the Alevis if somebody handled them a few copies of "The Gathas"? Although officially adherents to a dualist faith, there is very little dualistic about their proper beliefs and practices. Rather they seem to have an awful lot in common with Zoroastrians, especially their pre-occupation with pragmatism and ethics rather than esotericism and moralism.

I will definitely continue to take a great interest in the Alevis. And we should also bear in mind that we a great mission in common with the Alevis: The belief in freedom of religion in the Middle East. Whenever the Zoroastrians have been given a hard time by Muslim rulers, this has been when the Alevis were also given a hard time, and vice versa. Freedom of faith is a common agenda for both groups.

Ushta
Alexander

2009/4/7 Zaneta Garratt

Hi Robert and Alexander,
I have followed your talk on Alevis with great interest and I found an article in the net on Turkish Alevis that was really interesting, it seems that they do not ban alcohol, they have a very liberal and healthy attitude to women and even celebrate Nouroz-the article is long but I will put in a bit of it as I found it so helpful-look up the end reference link and read it all if you have not seen it before-

From-Turkish Alevis Today John Shindeldecker



III. Alevis and Islam

One of the first questions asked about Alevis is where they fit in Islam. I assume that if the reader has been exposed to Islam at all, he will be familiar with the commonly taught six basic Muslim articles of faith and the so-called five pillars of Islamic practice. Therefore, I will use this familiar framework as a starting point to describe Alevi faith and practice. Many Alevis will disagree that these six beliefs and five pillars are true Islam. However, I am using them as a starting point because, rightly or wrongly, almost every foreigner who hears about Alevism asks how it relates to these Islamic beliefs and practices. I leave it to the reader to make his own comparison between the Alevi and orthodox interpretations of these concepts. Later I will look at other aspects of Alevi belief and practice.

Six Beliefs of Islam

The commonly taught six essential beliefs of Islam are as follows:

1. Belief in one God

2. Belief in angels

3. Belief in the holy books

4. Belief in the prophets

5. Belief in final judgment

6. Belief in predestination

1. God (Allah / Tanrı / Hak)

If you ask ten Alevis for a description of God, you will probably get ten different answers. Most Alevis I have talked with or whose works I have read believe one or a combination of the following concepts of God:

“Ali is a manifestation of God.”

“Perfect human beings are God.”

“God consists of all things in the universe.”

“God consists of all humanity.”

“You and I are God.”

“God is inside you.”

“God is an undefined force or power.”

“God is truth, love, and knowledge.”

“God is the creator.”

Quite often, Alevis will define God by what he is not. Their purpose is to contrast their belief with what they think other religious groups believe about God. For example, almost all will declare that whatever God is, he is certainly not an angry master who delights in forcing the slaves he has created to obey strict religious rules or face the penalty of burning for eternity. In the same line of thinking, almost all Alevis will deny that God is one who will reward those who follow his rules on earth with eternal pleasures in heaven.

2. Angels (Melekler)

Alevis often say that man is the highest created being, and that the angels “bowed down to Adam when he was created” (Adem’e secde ettiler). Many say that the angel Gabriel was the messenger between God and Muhammed during the transmission of the Kuran.

Alevis who believe in literal good and bad angels and spirits (cinler) often practice superstition to benefit from good ones and to avoid harm from bad ones.

However, many Alevis do not believe in these supernatural beings and say something like, “Satan is simply the selfish desires (nefis) within you.”

3. Holy Books (Kutsal Kitaplar / Hak Kitaplar)

Alevis generally speak of four major holy books: Torah, Psalms, Gospel, and Kuran (Tevrat, Zebur, İncil, Kuran). These belong to the monotheistic “religions with books,” that is, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Almost all Alevis will say that the four holy books were “let down from heaven” (indirilmiş) to certain prophets: the Torah to Moses, the Psalms to David, the Gospel to Jesus, and the Kuran to Muhammed. Most will say these books were God's written revelation when they appeared, and that the Kuran is the last written revelation of God.

Almost all Alevis say that the Kuran contains everything that was in the first three books, or that all four books are basically the same. Many Alevis claim that the first three books predicted Muhammed’s coming. Some say that the Biblical prophet Elijah is Ali.

Most Alevis believe that the original Kuran stated clearly that Ali, Muhammed's cousin and son-in-law, was to be the Prophet's successor, that is, God's vice-regent on earth, or caliph (veli, halife). But most claim that the parts of the original Kuran related to Ali were taken out by his rivals.

According to Alevis, the Kuran should be interpreted esoterically, inwardly, or mystically (batıni yorum). For them, there are much deeper spiritual truths in the Kuran than the strict rules and regulations that appear on the literal surface (zahiri yorum). However, most Alevi writers will quote individual Kuranic verses as an appeal for authority to support their view on a given topic, or to justify a certain Alevi religious tradition. Alevis generally promote reading the Kuran in Turkish rather than in Arabic, stressing that it is important for a person to understand exactly what he or she is reading.

However, many Alevis do not read the Kuran or the other holy books, nor base their daily beliefs and practices on them. They consider these ancient books irrelevant today.

Alevis also look to other religious books outside the four major ones as sources for their beliefs and practices. These include:

1. the hadith (hadisler), the traditions of Muhammed;

2. the Nahjul Balagha, the traditions and sayings of Ali;

3. the Buyruks, the collections of doctrine and practices of several of the 12 imams, especially Cafer;

4. the Vilayetnameler or Menakıbnameler, books that describe events in the lives of great Alevis such as Haji Bektash.

A significant number of unwritten Alevi teachings and legends are credited to Ali, Muhammed, Haji Bektash, and others (rivayetler).

Alevis generally place greater importance on living human revelation and wisdom than on the written Kuran or other holy books. Alevis often quote these two statements:

“Ali is the speaking Kuran.”

Ali konuşan Kuran’dır.

“The greatest holy book to be read is a human being.”

Okunacak en büyük kitap insandır.

Apart from books, perhaps the most important source of Alevi beliefs and thought are the mystical poems and musical ballads (deyişler, nefesler) that have been passed down from generation to generation, many of which have not been recorded in writing. Among the greatest Alevi-Bektashi poet-musicians (aşıklar, ozanlar) are Yunus Emre (13-14th century), Kaygusuz Abdal (15th century), and Pir Sultan Abdal (16th century).

4. Prophets (Peygamberler)

Alevis in general express belief in the prophets mentioned in the Kuran. These were men chosen by God for specific purposes for specific times. Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammed received major books from heaven. Others, like Abraham and Noah, also received small amounts of written revelation from God. Most Alevis say that all the prophets were sinless. Some say that all the prophets were human representations of God.

I believe it will be helpful for the perspective of the foreign reader if I give a little more detail on Alevi beliefs about Jesus and Muhammed, who Alevis consider to be the last two prophets.

Jesus

To the majority of Alevis, Jesus is no more or less great than any of the other prophets. He is known specifically as the prophet of the Christians, and the prophet to whom the Gospel (İncil) “descended upon.” Some Alevis believe the Kuran literally where it says that Jesus was born of a virgin. Alevis who do not believe in the supernatural do not believe the Biblical stories of Jesus's virgin birth, his working miracles, and his resurrection from the dead.

However, almost all Alevis who have read the New Testament (also İncil in Turkish) strongly identify with how Jesus acted toward the religious fanatics and hypocrites of his day. Alevis are also surprised at how Jesus summarized all of the teaching of the Torah, the Psalms, and the prophets in two simple commands: “Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength; Love your neighbor as yourself.” This essential teaching of Jesus reminds Alevis of their basic values of “love of God and love of man” (Tanrı sevgisi, insan sevgisi).

Some Alevis are aware of the teaching of Jesus’ second coming to earth. Among these Alevis, some say that Jesus is the same person as Mehdi, the 12th imam, who they are waiting to return to earth.

Muhammed

To Alevis, Muhammed is the seal, the last of the prophets. No one bearing the title prophet has come since him. As the final prophet, receiver of the Kuran, and cousin and father-in-law of Ali, Muhammed has a very special place in Alevis’ minds and hearts.

As we shall see later, many Alevis equate Muhammed and Ali, and use the single name Muhammed Ali for this personality.

5. Judgment (Ahiret / Yargılanma)

As stated above, Alevis do not accept the idea of a hard-faced God judging man based on how he has performed his religious duties during his life on earth. No Alevi I have met or read about believes in a literal hell where souls will burn eternally. Nor do they believe in a heaven which will be filled with pleasures like wine and women for men who have been religious on earth. Alevis love to quote the 13-14th century Turkish poet Yunus Emre, who declares his inner love for God by rejecting a literal, sensual paradise:

“They say heaven

Is a mansion and virgins.

Give those to whoever wants them.

What I need is you, you.”

Cennet cennet dedikleri

Bir köşk ile bir kaç huri

İsteyene ver sen anı

Bana seni gerek seni

Alevis in general say that if God is going to judge mankind, he won't do it based on a person's performance of religious ritual during his life, but according to how that person has treated other people. They say that God commands,

“Don't come to me if you have taken another person's rights.”

Bana kul hakkıyla gelme.

The 15th century Alevi poet Kaygusuz Abdal even challenges a common idea of God’s judgment. In the following lines, the poet dares God to face the same test he expects of men:

“So you made a bridge of judgment

for your slaves to pass over

that is thinner than a hair.

How about if we watch you try and pass over it, if you're so brave?”

Kıldan köprü yaratmışşın

Gelsin kullar geçsin deyü

Hele biz şöyle duralım

Yiğit isen geç a Tanrı...

6. Predestination (Kader)

The doctrine of a God being in control of everything, determining everything, and being the source of both good and evil is not prominent in Alevi thought. This is called by various names and is equivalent to predestination or determinism (kader, alın yazısı). Alevis who believe in God as a concept of love reject the idea that a loving God would be the source of evil.

In practice, most Alevis live their daily lives as if a person can actually change his or her lot in life through education, work, and cooperation. In fact, a common Alevi statement is, “The greatest act of worship is to work” (En büyük ibadet çalışmaktır). However, almost all Alevis accept the idea that certain facts of life are out of their control, such as accidents, sickness, and death.

This finishes our brief summary of Alevi belief from the point of view of the commonly known six basic articles of Islamic faith. Now let us turn to the Alevi perspective on the commonly taught five pillars of required Islamic practice.

The Five Pillars of Islamic Practice

The commonly taught five essential practices, or “pillars,” of Islam are as follows:

1. Confession of faith

2. Fasting

3. Ritual Prayer

4. Offerings

5. Pilgrimage

1. Confession of faith (Kelime-i şahadet)

It is taught that saying the creed, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammed is the apostle of God” is required of any person who wants to be a Muslim. This confession contains the twin doctrines of God and the last prophethood of Muhammed. Some Alevis will add this statement to the creed: “Ali is the vice-regent (veli) of God and Ali is the trustee (vasi) of Muhammed.”

In the above discussion on the six essential points of Islamic faith, we saw the various Alevi beliefs about God and Muhammed. Alevis who say this confession will obviously be thinking of their own unique beliefs about God and Muhammed when they repeat the creed.

In addition, most Alevis place more importance on how a person interacts with other people, that is, whether he acts like a “human being” (insan), than whether he has correct theology. Most say,

“The important thing is not religion, but being a human being.”

Önemli olan din değil, önemli olan insan olmak.

2. Ritual Prayer (Namaz)

Almost no Alevi practices ritual prayer five times a day or goes to a mosque (cami) for the prayer service at noon on Fridays. These are simply not Alevi religious customs. In fact, several sayings succinctly summarize the Alevi attitude toward ritual prayers:

“We don't do ritual prayers, we do supplication.”

Bizde namaz yok, niyaz var.

This means that when Alevis pray in their worship meetings, they are entering into a deeper spiritual relationship with the leader of the meeting and with God than if they were simply doing a form of prayer.

To Alevis, relationships with people are more important than observing formal religious ritual. Two common Alevi sayings illustrate this:

“If you hurt another person, the ritual prayers you have done are counted worthless.”

Bir insanı incitsen, kıldığın namaz geçerli değil.

“My Kaaba is a human being.”

Benim Kâbem insandır.

The Kaaba is the building in the courtyard of the great mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which is the focus of prayer and object of pilgrimage for millions. This saying can be interpreted, “My spiritual focus of attention is the people around me, not a building in Mecca.”

Even though Alevis do not go to mosques or practice ritual daily prayer, they do hold corporate worship in a service called an assembly meeting (cem or ayini cem).

3. Fasting (Oruç)

Alevis who fast generally do not observe their major fast for 30 days during the month of Ramazan. The main Alevi fast is held during the first 12 days of the Muslim month of Muharrem (Muharrem or Mâtem Orucu), which comes 20 days after the Feast of Sacrifice (Kurban Bayramı). Another Alevi fast is the three-day Hizir fast (Hızır Orucu), generally observed 13-14-15 February.

4. Offerings (Zekât)

There is no set formula or amount expected for almsgiving among Alevis. A common method of Alevi almsgiving is through donating food, especially sacrificial animals, to be shared with worshipers and guests. Alevis also donate money to be used to help the poor, to support the religious, educational and cultural activities of Alevi centers and organizations (dergâh, vakıf, dernek), and to provide scholarships for students.

5. Pilgrimage (Hac)

Visiting Mecca is not an Alevi practice. However, visiting (ziyaret) and praying (dua) at the tombs (türbe) of Alevi-Bektashi saints is quite common. Alevis are not commanded or required to make these visits. They do not go to gain credit in heaven. Their purpose is to ask for spiritual cleansing and blessing for themselves or others. Some of the most frequently visited sites are:

1. Hacı Bektaş, Kırşehir

Hundreds of thousands of Alevis gather in the memory of Haji Bektash at his lodge (tekke) and tomb every 16 August.

2. Abdal Musa, Tekke Köyü, Elmalı, Antalya

Its special celebrations are held in June.

3. Şahkulu Sultan, Merdivenköy, İstanbul

Cem services are held here every Sunday and on Alevi holidays.

4. Karacaahmet Sultan, Üsküdar, İstanbul

Cem services are also held here every Sunday and on Alevi holidays.

5.

Seyit Gazi, Eskişehir

-----------Though Alevis are mystical in many of their beliefs, they do have regular form or design in their ceremonies and practices (erkân). Traditionalist Alevis believe that certain exact rituals must be followed and specific prayers (gülbank) said during cems and for all other religious rites and ceremonies. Because most Alevi forms and traditions have been passed down the generations orally rather than in writing, these forms may vary from region to region. However, non-traditionalist Alevis will say that it is not necessary to follow any form strictly.

Semah

Characterized by turning and swirling, this dance of worship has many varieties. Performed by men and women to the accompaniment of the lute, the semah is an inseparable part of any cem. It symbolizes the putting off of one’s self and uniting with God.------

Newroz (Nevruz)

The day of 21 March is known by most Alevis as a day of newness, reconciliation, and the start of spring. Many Alevis also believe that 21 March is the birthday of Ali. Some also believe that it is the wedding anniversary of Ali and Fatima, the day Joseph was pulled out of the well, and the day God created the earth. Nevruz is celebrated with cems and special programs.

It is visibly obvious that Ali is extremely important to modern Alevis. His picture is prominent in every Alevi worship place and association, and it often appears on the cover of Alevi publications. Many families place pictures of him in their homes. And some, particularly young people, wear small gold replicas of Ali’s sword, zülfikar, attached to chains around their necks. ---

Four Doors, Forty Levels (Dört kapı kırk makam)

One key way Alevis describe how they are different than those who follow Islamic law (şeriat), but also love the family of the prophet, is with the concept of Four Doors, Forty Levels (dört kapı kırk makam). This is the process by which an individual commits him or herself to a living spiritual guide (dede, pir, mürşit) and that spiritual leader guides the person through a series of four “doors” (kapı), each of which has ten “levels” (makam). The individual enters the first door as a novice. The person who makes it through to the fourth door achieves oneness with ultimate truth (hakikat). The doors' names are religious law, spiritual path, spiritual knowledge/skill, and spiritual truth (şeriat, tarikat, marifet, hakikat).

To Alevis, anyone who only believes in the rule of religious law has not advanced beyond the most basic level of spiritual knowledge. Whoever has entered the next level through a relationship with a spiritual guide has left religious legalism behind and started on the path of inner, deeper spiritual insight.

The “perfect human being” (İnsan-ı kâmil)

Related to the idea of going through stages of spiritual development until achieving oneness with truth is the concept of attaining total completeness. This is called becoming the “perfect human being” (insan-ı kâmil). It appears to me that most of today's Alevis would define the perfect human in practical terms as one who is in full moral control of his or her selfish desires (eline, diline, beline sahip), treats all kinds of people equally (yetmiş iki millete aynı gözle bakar), and serves the interests of others.---------

The drinking of alcohol is not forbidden among Alevi-Bektashis. Many of their jokes feature this subject. Here is one example:

Wine and water

Due to the pressure of his friends, a Bektashi went with them to a mosque at Friday noon. During the sermon, the imam was describing in vivid detail all of the natural and religious reasons why drinking any alcohol at all is bad.

As an illustration, the imam said, “If you put a bucket of water and a bucket of wine in front of a donkey, which one will it drink? The water, of course. Now why would a donkey choose to drink the water and not the wine?”

Unable to control himself, the Bektashi shouted out, “Because it’s a donkey, that’s why!”---------



http://www.alevibektasi.org/xalevis_home.htm


best wishes from zaneta




To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
From: robert.langer@ori.uni-heidelberg.de
Date: Tue, 7 Apr 2009 04:08:14 +0200
Subject: Re: [Ushta] Alevism and Zoroastrianism, Part 2

Dear Alexander,

sorry for responding late, while the discussion was going on somehow.

First of all, I would be very interested to know the source of the
"fact sheet" on Alevism you posted.

> Please also note that the word "alev" means "flame" in Turkish...

This is true. However, I am not sure of its etymology. It is written
in Ottoman Turkish either with alef-madda ('long alef') or with ´ayn
(Arabic phonem). As we have in Ottoman words such as "alev-kesh" or
"alev-gir" (Persian compounds), it was used in a Persian context, too.
(I even encountered the word "alev-gah" for "atash-kade".)

> + Pantheism, they don't see Allah as a god of justice, of punishment
> or of reward as in the Koran.

This seems to hold for most of the Alevis.

> + Otherwise they recognize the Koran, but as an irrelevant book that
> should be read esoterically.

Not irrelevant, but----as you said----to be considered more important
for its "baten" ('hidden') content than its "zaher" ('open').

> + They reject the existence of Heaven and Hell, and commonly they
> adhere to the reincarnationist belief.

Reincarnation, soul wandering, metempsychosis etc. obviously play a
role in several such groups, especially----interestingly----with the
Arab Nusayri-´Alawi. It is interesting to me it is seldomly put
forward in modern Alevi "theology". They seem to avoid this topic in
modern contexts.

> + Almost no Alevi practices ritual prayer five times a day or goes
> to a mosque [cami] for the prayer service at noon
> on Fridays.

Right.

Assemblies [cuma aksamlari, literally, "Friday
> nights"] have been traditionally held on Thursday by night
> and are conducted with great secrecy in lodges [tekke] inside of
> particular houses. The assembly is leaded by a guru
> [dede], performing animal sacrifices [kurban], and leading the
> members - males and females - when dancing the
> "Semah", a dance characterized by turning and swirling, and
> symbolizing the putting off of one's self and union
> with God (ecstasy).

This is the centre of Alevi religious practice. However, do we have
anything like that in Zoroastrianism (at any time or region), I wonder?

> Sins must be confessed at the guru.

True. This, we have in Zoroastrianism, don't we? ("tovbe")

> + Avatars: the most important of them would be Ali (from there
> "Alevism"); he is seen as semi-divine, or even as a
> sort of Christian Logos.

Yes. Ali is seen as some preexisting entity.

> + Existence of innumerable superstitions.

What should that mean? (That is, why I was wondering, who made up the
"fact sheet".)

> + The Sufi elitist variance of the Alevism, the Bektashi sect, is
> usually antinomian (ideological immoralism) at least
> in appearance: due to their most high knowledge, it allows them
> to don't follow the Islamic mandates or laws
> (Shariah).

This holds also for the "non-elitist" rural Alevis. They consider
themselves as being collectively to be on the level of 'tareqat',
whereas the 'common' Muslim still "hang around" on the level of
'shari´at'. (1. shari´at, 2. tareqat, 3. ma´refat, 4. haqiqat).

...
> Also, they do not recognize Mohammed and do not view the Koran as
> a perfect book.

They recognize Mohammed, but as a kind of forerunner or 'announcer' of
Ali. For Koran see above.

Best wishes,

Robert

lördagen den 4:e april 2009

Zoroastrianism and the Iranian Great Sufis

Dear Friends

I'm studying the Sufi mystics Rumi and Shams from Iran, and I can't help thinking how strongly influenced by Zoroastrianism these thinkers must have been. Shams even complains that Persian is much better than Arabic as the language to describe the mysteries of the world. And Rumi's texts are often referred to as "The Persian Qoran" as if they were superior to the Qoran itself. Rumi was of course the founder of the dervish movement in Sufism. Do you know in what more ways Rumi and Shams are related to Zoroastrian thinking? We are after all talking of a Bactrian and East Iranian culture here that was always highly controversial in the rest of the Islamic world (even if contemporary followers of Rumi and Shams count in the millions, in Iran, Turkey, Kurdistan and the United States).

Ushta
Alexander

John Dewey's take on Good and Evil

Dear Friends

Good and evil are cultural constructs that always change over time and geography.
But Zarathushtra does not discuss good or evil in The Gathas (people who make such claims have read sloppy translations). Zoroastrianism is not about good and evil. Zoroastrianism is about mentalities. A constructive mentality that wants what is best for the world, that wants life itself, against a destructive mentality which is against life in itself, that wants to belittle the world and what we humans think, say and do.
And mentalities are forever. Zarathushtra's philosophy is therefore as relevant today as it was 3,700 years ago. We want to have and to nurture the constructive mentality, this is what it means to be a Zoroastrian. This is what our daily meditations are all about!
John Dewey is a brilliant philosopher. A Zoroastrian in disguise if ever there was one. He is also interestingly the hero of Barack Obama.

Ushta
Alexander

2009/4/3 maneck d
- Dölj citerad text -

The second para of your attached mail discusses goodness and badness.
IF Evil today was considered Good sometime ago, what changed?
Our Brains, our culture, and the considerations they go through??

Thus my query in the earlier mail, as to whose Brain would decide an Item (thoughts/words/actions) to be Good or Bad?
I hope I have made it clearer now.

Cultures and Societies have different standards, about Good and Evil. The Vegetarian Hindus termed our daily non veg animal food as totally Evil acts, while we Zs brought up in the non veg ParsiZ culture did not even give it a thought.

Dino, if I have butted in and diverted from your thoughts in your mail and what you were explaining, please disregard my earlier mail and continue with your discussions.

maneck d


----- Original Message -----
From: special_kain
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009 5:28 AM
Subject: [Ushta] John Dewey's Take on Good and Evil

Dear friends,

We've exhaustively discussed good and evil many, many times. But let me please introduce John Dewey's take on good and evil, which I find very interesting. Unfortunately, I don't have the original words, only a German translation of a collection of Richard Rorty's essays (who happens to be my favorite philosopher these days).

Goodness is not the total "remoteness" of badness or evil. In a way, goodness has grown out of badness - what we consider evil today used to be good some time ago (such as torturing prisoners), but doesn't serve our purpose anymore (such as discriminating against women and homosexuals in the name of God). When making choices, we don't (want to) see evil as what it is, because it still is supposed to be one of the goods that are competing with each other. Only time can teach us what's right and wrong.

Ushta,
Dino