söndag 4 november 2007

The Mazdayasna take on the concept of prophethood

Dear Dina

This is precisely what I have been trying to say too, and I'm glad to see you have pointed this out so well using the Gathic texts. Zarathushtra is a 100% human being who by using his mental faculties has become "the chosen one". This means two very important things which makes Zarathushtra radically different from the "chosen prophets" of Judaism, Christianity and Islam:

1. Zarathushtra is not primarily chosen. He is primarily a thinker who because of the nature of this thoughts has, in a secondary manner, become chosen. By contrast, Moses, Jesus and Muhammed were all assumed to be BORN into their roles as chosen prophets. But in Mazdayasna thinking, thoughts always predate words and actions. Everything starts with our perceptions and how we handle those perceptions. There is no "divine intervention" anywhere in the Mazdayasna religion which predates thinking itself. Thinking is the manifestation of the divine.

2. All of us as Mazdayasni can be Zarathushtras. Zarathushtra is the primary example and role model for what we all can and should be. By using our mental capacities, we manifest Ahura Mazda in ourselves, we become "the chosen ones". So Mazdayasna does not hierarchize between people, all human beings are created equal, with mental capacities to choose, and by making the right choices, proving the right intentions, we can live within asha and thereby become part of the manifestation of Ahura Mazda.

This is indeed a radically different concept of "prophethood" from the desert religions with their bizarre beliefs in the pre-birth destinies of their prophets (and consequently also their followers) and their consequential "divinification" of prophets. But judging from their latest postings in this thread, I'm sure Steve and Ali would agree with us on this matter.


2007/11/4, DINAMCI@aol.com <DINAMCI@aol.com>:

Dear Steve, Alexander, Ronald, Dr. J and Friends,

I have followed with interest the discussion of Zarathushtra being chosen (or not) by Ahura Mazda, and would like to throw in my 2 cents worth.

Allow me to summarize what we all know. This is necessary in order to lay an evidentiary foundation for my conclusions. So please bear with me.

Y29 is crafted in the form of a discussion between Mazda and his own attributes -- truth [asha], good thinking [vohu mano] and a benevolent way of being [spenta mainyu] as to how the suffering brought about by violence, cruelty, bondage, fury, et cetera, can be addressed.

The fashioner of the cow (identified as spenta mainyu elsewhere in the Gathas) asks truth [asha] if this state of affairs is consistent with truth's (asha's) judgment. The benevolent way of being (spenta mainyu) expresses the opinion that there should be nurture and care for this metaphoric cow.

The others (Mazda, good thinking and truth) replied "through truth" that "There is no help free of enmity for the cow." Y29.3. I take this to mean that Mazda and his attributes (speaking " through truth") cannot abolish evil by divine decree, as it were, because man has the freedom to choose. That is the truth of the situation. They go on to say "that strongest one is not to be found" through whom Mazda's message can activate us (mortals).

Significantly, this thought is repeated in Y29.6, where "the Wise Lord, the Knowing One" Himself says "A master [ahu] has not been found by a single one of us..." , but in the next verse, Y29.7, it is acknowledged that He has fashioned a promise of assistance to the metaphoric cow, and that Mazda indeed "is [spenta] to the needy ..." Y29.7

This seems to be a catch 22 situation: on the one hand evil cannot be abolished by divine decree (there is no "help free of enmity" for the cow Y29.3) because of the freedom to choose. On the other hand, the benevolent way of being cannot just and ignore all the suffering complained of in verse 1, and do nothing. There has to be a solution. Indeed, a solution has been promised by Mazda.

So what is the promised solution?

The Wise Lord turns to good thinking and says: "Who has (been found) by thee, good thinking, who might give these things to the mortals..." Y29.7; "these things" being the assistance which will ease the suffering of the metaphoric "cow".

Good thinking replies: "This one, Zarathushtra Spitama, has been found by me here to be the only one who has given ear to our commandments [sasna]..."Y29.8. [Parenthetically, Insler translates 'sasna' elsewhere as instructions, and Beekes translates it as 'teaching'].

Good thinking is the promised solution, and Zarathushtra is chosen -- not because he is an ahu. Indeed, in Y29.6 Mazda makes it clear that "...A master [ahu] has not been found by a single one of us..." Y29.6. Zarathushtra is chosen -- not as a guru, not as a spiritual ruler -- but because he is a man who has listened ("has given ear") to Mazda's teachings, which teachings require us to think for ourselves. He is chosen because he has listened to Mazda's solution of good thinking, and wishes to teach the promised solution -- good thinking -- to others, so that they too can exercise this divine faculty -- good thinking -- and so heal the suffering complained of by the metaphoric cow, and bring about a world governed by truth and good thinking -- make the good vision a reality.

That is how I see the choice of Zarathushtra by Mazda and his attributes truth, good thinking and a benevolent way of being.

Wishing us the best,

Dina G. McIntyre.

Zarathushtra as the most human of prophets

Dear Steve and Ali

First of all, thank you both for your balanced and thoughtful responses to my concerned posting.

To Steve: I believe it is important that we realise that The Gathas is primarily a poetic text. So when Zarathushtra states that he feels "chosen by the living world", this is not the same as stating that Ahura Mazda has chosen Zarathushtra as if this was a scientific fact. We ae not speaking about Moses on Mount Sinai or Christ in Jerusalem or Muhammed in Medina here. What Zarathushtra is describing is his EMOTION, his joy towards the mission he has been set to accomplish, that he identifies with. This is a feeling of joy towards the construction of civilisation that we should ALL feel as Mazdayasni. In this sense, we are all "chosen". But this Mazdayasni belief does not make Zarathushtra a stand-out one-and-only above-the-rest-of-us hand-picked prophet sent by a god in the heavens. To read such a meaning into the text is to read the text without having taken off the Christian-Islamic glasses first, which we as westerners always have to do before we approach The Gathas. Poetry is poetry, science is science. And it's actually not that hard to keep the two apart.

To Ali: I am certainly not accusing you of anything and you should of course not feel any responsibility whatsoever for statements which you have not made. What I am trying to do, however, is to take a statement of yours and look at its logical conclusion, albeit in the most extreme possible way. So my concern remains: Whether Zarathushtra is chosen by Ahura Mazda or chosen by the living world, if we read more into this poetic statement than there really is, this joy over the responsibility of building civilisation that Zarathushtra FEELS and instead begin to interpret the text as a theological ultimate truth about Zarathushtra, making him a transcendental superhuman of a quality superior to ourselves, we run into a major dilemma and a paradox: Mazdayasna is the ultimate religion of The Natural, of science, of logic, of the laws of causes and effects. So let's avoid ascribing supernatural qualities to Zarathushtra. Let's avoid to try to turn Zarathushtra into our Virgin Mary, into our go-between ourselves and Ahura Mazda. We do not have the need for such a figure in our faith. At the end of the day, the process of election is in itself the utlimate process of choseness as well. There can no more noble title in Mazdayasna than to be elected by the people. Teher can consequently be no God-induced vote superior to the vote of humankind itself. That's what I wanted to point out, and if we agree on this, dear Ali, then all for the better. Then together we have kept Mazdayasna separate and different from the prophet-worshipping religions of the desert, as we all should.

Wishing us all the best

Posted by: "Stephen Williamson" stevew@uoregon.edu wordsbysteve

Sat Nov 3, 2007 10:45 am (PST)


If Zarathustra was not chosen by Ahura Mazda how do you explain Song # 2
(Yasna 29) where Zarathustra is chosen as the leader of the living
world? I have read several translations of Yasna 29 and each seems to
say that Zarathustra was chosen.

Below is a link to Dr. Jafarey's translation and commentaries. I would
be interested to see the translation you are using and how this song is
translated so that Zarathustra is not chosen. Do you also have the Ahuna
Vairya in this same translation?


thank you,


Posted by: "Jafarey@aol.com" Jafarey@aol.com

Sat Nov 3, 2007 7:59 pm (PST)

Dear Mr. Bard,


You wrote "I don't understand this. Or lets put it this way, I truly and
sincerely hope I have misunderstood your statement below." and then turned
emotional to state in about 350 words what I have never ever stated, written or
posted. Please, first cool down and the read my posting that it is the "Living
World" which elects him--you elect him, others elect him and I elect him as
our "Ahu and Ratu." The election started by the first
Zarathushtrian-by-Choice continues and will continue for those who consider the Gathas as their
Guide. And Ratus, competent leaders, are elected for their posts from the family,
the smallest unit of the human society to the World Fellowship, the biggest,
what we may the United Nations--all elected by the well-informed considerate
members of the relevant units.

The Ahuna Vairya Democracy is far above the present democracies in the
world. Although promoted during his age and then thriving up to the early
Achaemenian period,it was annulled by the following events and then crudely
re-introduced by the West, yet it is still IDEAL and we have to work for it.

Please also re-note that when I quote Zarathushtra, it is only and only
from his Sublime Songs and I give the references, and when I quote from other
sources, I mention them in clear words. The Gathas are practically my daily
Guide for the last 70 years.


Ali A. Jafarey

lördag 3 november 2007

Mazdayasni people do NOT worship any prophet (we worship Ahura Mazda and Ahura Mazda only)!

Dear Ali

I don't understand this. Or lets put it this way, I truly and sincerely hope I have misunderstood your statement below.
You claim that Zarathushtra was "chosen" as ratu. Later ratus are "merely elected" So by whom was Zarathushtra chosen then if the "choice" is any different from an "election"???
What does the concept of a God-picked ratu have to do with Zoroastrianism in the first place?
Isn't this a Judaist-Christian-Islamic concept? Moses was chosen by Jehovah, Jesus was chosen by God (well, he even was God according to most Christians), Muhammed was chosen by Allah.
But what does this oncept of the God-picked prophet have to do with Mazdayasna, a religion that PREDATES the God-Prophet desert religions by at least 1,000 years??? Any such choice would in itself be the ultimate supernatural and superstitious act. And we do not believe in the supernatural, period.
Sp why on earth do we need to introduce such an alien concept into our beautiful faith through the backdoor? And what comes next? The active worship of Zarathushtra as a divinity???
I'm asking because this train of thought is deeply disturbing to me.
Can we please stop ascribing superhuman qualities to Zarathushtra? Can we please stop this tendency towards the worship of Zarathushtra himself? Can we please just go back to The Gathas and realise that Zarathushtra never claiemd any such thing? Zarathushtra was one of us, a fallible human being among fallible human beings. He was NOT holy! So why do we see pictures of the assumed Zarathushtra at some of our altars?
Those people who can not accept this, who want to worship Zarathushtra himself, should go and find another religion where they can worship a human being as much as they like. The world is full of bodhisattvas and saints. But such worship has no foundation whithin the Mazdayasna faith whatsoever.
Or have I completely misunderstood the quoted statement? Please tell me I have! Because a democracy can NEVER accept any God-picked prophets. A democracy is ALL about elections by other human beings. That is what the word means: Demos as in people. There is no theocracy involved in any democracy. Only mullahs in Qom can preach such nonsense. Period.

Alexander Bard

Ali Jafarey wrote:

Dear Companions-in-Asha
In my "Ahu, My View," I have confined myself to the extant Avesta, and it is in this context that Zarathushtra is the only person to be chosen as Ahu and Ratu, while others are elected as Ratu for their relevant social units. While we keep in mind that Zarathushtra is first and foremost to be chosen as Ahu and Ratu, and others, because of the improved conditions that did not require an Ahu, were elected as Ratu.
We understand that Good Conscience is an ever-fresh, ever-practical way of Good Progressive Life. Therefore, if the circumstances warrant and a person is or persons are needed for resolving the retarding and damaging conditions, the people could elect the competent out of themselves. The Avesta does not forbid it. It is silent because the Divine Doctrine of Zarathushtra changed the entire atmosphere and we have an outstanding personality in Cyrus the Great, more than 1,000 years after Zarathushtra, to proclaim peace, tolerance, cooperation and equality among various nations forming a federation, a Fellowship.
I may add that during Zarathushtra's time, there existed wrongful persons, men and women, who had acquired the title of "Ahu -- Being (of higher status}" through force and exploitation of the oppressed people. And Zarathushtra exposes them as destructive to human civilization. (Song 5:11 = Yasna 32:11)
Let us work to establish the ideal Democracy of the Gathas throughout the world, stop war and violence, and promote peace and prosperity for all.
Ali A. Jafarey

lördag 20 oktober 2007

Why join Mazdayasna - why not just remain an atheist?

"Religion" is a social endeavor, not a school. The concept of religion as a school is very Bahai but not a universal idea. So a "religion" is rather an excuse for people like you and me to share an interest and become friends.
If somebody already preached the truth 3,700 years ago - is it not then the ultimate intellectual and social position to JOIN the train of truth that already exists rather than claim to seek the truth all over again?
If you want take a stance against the stupidities of this world, including the secular and atheist stupidities - is it not then the best position to take a position which PREDATES them all and still has complete and utter credibility today?
That's what I think. And the other Mazdayasni converts I know. You don't have to become a Zoroastrian. Zoroastrians do not believe in any heaven, so they don't missionize. Which is precisely why it is the ultimate "religion" to join. It just makes life easier. So why not???
Of course Zoroastrianism is not more of a religion than Daoism and Buddhism are. It is a philosophical tradition. Actually the opposite of the Platonist tradition which has dominated western thought since the Greeks. The true "Zoroastrian" among the Greeks was instead Heraclitus.
Brotherly love

måndag 8 oktober 2007

What really interested Nietzsche - about Zarathushtra

Dear Amir

I absolutely agree, and so does Nietzsche himself. He discusses this in his later work "Ecce Homo".
The character "Zarathustra" in his opus "Also Sprach Zarathustra" is a fictional character and quite different from the historical figure Zarathushtra, the author of The Gathas.
What inspired Nietzsche however to choose the name Zarathustra was that the historical character Zarathushtra was the first great ethicist in human history, even earlier than Lao Tze in China. And ethics rather than the existence of God is what interests Nietzsche. Nitezsche is not really interested in atheism or theism. He is interested in how modern man handles an increasingly godless world, a world where the foundation for morals is gone and pure ethics is all that remains. This interpretation of Zarathushtra is actually correct. So Nietzsche did not choose the character without a good reason, and it was a proper one too.


2007/10/8, Amir Kasra Naji <amirosphere@yahoo.se>:

Dear Alexander

This is true. Hitler himself did not have any connection to
Zoroastriansim, but he was familiar with Nieztche, If he read the
whole book or not, I cant say, but his Ideas about The Superman did
infact come from Nieztche; of course this was not Nieztchs intentions;
but nonetheless Hitler did misinterpret Nieztche.

Zartosht did not come up with the idea of Superman or Atheism, this
was due to Nieztche. And most Iranians Agree with me that Nieztches
version of Zarathustra is his own creation and ideas and not the
thaughts of the prophet Zartosht

All the Best
Amir Kasra

söndag 7 oktober 2007

Zarathushtra, Nietzsche and Hitler

Dear Amir

I don't think Hitler understood Nietzsche at all. For example, Nietzsche absolutely loathed the common antisemitism of the German people and once expressed his wish that all German anti-semites should be rounded up and excecuted. So Nietzsche would clearly have hated the Nazis. He was even so ashamed of being a German and the bigotry of Germans that he often claimed to be a baron Polish when he travelled around Europe. He also broke with Wagner due to Wagner's fascination with German nationalism and instead began to listen to French opera and composres like Bizet. So I don't see any connection between Nietzsche and Hitler (it is true that Nietzsche had a sister who became a Nazi after Nietzsche died, but she definitetly did not understand what her brother had written before he died, so the sister had nothing to do with his writings).

What interested Nietzsche with Zarathushtra was not his theology (which by the way does open for the interpretation that we are if not gods ourselves then at least definitely potentially godlike, which is the Zoroastrian concept of "ahuravatat") but his ETHICS. Nietzsche was opposed to the MORALISM of Judaism and Christianity and what fascinated him with Zarathushtra was that Zarathushtra preached an ethical rather than a moralizing system (what happens is always a result of causes and effects and never a result of divine intervention, as it is in Christianity). Nietzsche wrote about this himself in "Ecce Homo", his biographical text which he published after "Also Sprach Zarathustra". This is is where he refered to Zarathushtra as "the father of all ethics" and Spinoza as his "brother of ethics". Which explains why Western converts to Zoroastrianism often come through studies of Nietzsche and Spinoza first.

I hope this clarifies the issue so that we get the Zarathushtra-Nietzsche connection right. Hitler never spoke of Zarathushtra at all and never read any Zoroastrian scriptures. Actually he didn't read much books at all. So let's just be a little bit careful with connecting Hitler with Zoroastrianism or Western interest in Zoroastrianism. There seems to be no historical connections whatsoever.


2007/10/7, Amir Kasra Naji <amirosphere@yahoo.se>:

Dear Ferri

The way I have come to view this issue is such:

Zartosht the first person in history that discovered the One God,
Ahura Mazda, Spread his knowledge in order for people to discover God
forthemselves, by giving them directions instead of manipulating them
with miracles or brainwashing Leaders to force their beliefe on
others, I will not go further by naming historical figures.

Zartosht believed that there was One God, and that the Universe he
created; Perfect. We just need to discover it and become a part of it
and manifest Gods creation in all walks of life. We should aspire to
achieve Perfection in our lives Being next to God in his creation,
instead of fearing him or being "Goul-oriented"; Heaven and Hell.
That is tabood in the west, more or less; "nobodies perfect".
We don´t need Priests, Rabbis or Mullas to talk to God, He is always
present; we just need to open our eyes.
We are all perfect right from the start; however we happen to be or
look like with all our flaws; it´s the flaws that makes us perfect;
thei´re there to remind us that we should focus only on the blessings.

Nietzche, in my opinion, misunderstood Zartoshts teachings, and saw
zoroastrianism as a kind of zen buddism for example where we become
Gods, this is not what Zartosht preached; We can only take part of
Gods creation or become One with God, not become Gods ourselves.
Unfortunately there are those Zartoshties that believe the latter.

Nieztches Zarathustra sais "God is Dead" and "We must take the leap
into being Supermen"; With other words: Elevate ourselves beyond good
and Evil. The God Niezche talks about is the Abrahamian God;God;
Jehova; Allah. So we could interpret it that he means: if Zarathustra
lived today he would claim that This God The Biblical one is dead; but
nonetheless this can be misunderstood.

And So we come to Hitler, who misunderstood Nieztche further; The
Superman; the Supreme race.

No Iranian believes himself to be of the supreme race; We are Aryans
and very proud of this, but never intolerant of other beliefs or
cultures, and History is the witness of this.

So I see the whole Nieztche, Hitler association as a big cultural
crash between, Well Lets Call It; East and West.

Of course the similarities over weigh the differences.

In hope of a brighter Fuiture

All the Best
Amir Kasra

lördag 15 september 2007

Mazdayasna vs Simplistic faiths with ready answers to everything

Dear Zaneta

Most people are actually attracted to a religion which provides them with simple and straight-forward answers to all questions in life, regardless of whether the answers are correct or not. Bahai and Jehovah's Witnesses are perfect examples of such faiths with simle answers to every question. They are devoid of critical thinking,. Shia Islam is another example, as is Catholicism. We have encountered people who have tried to change Zoroastrianism into such a sloganeering religion too. But the problem is that it doesn't work, it's not compatible with the Mazdayasna focus on independent thinking and the celebration of good mind. However, this fact probably explains why Mazdayasna has remained a small and rather sophisticated religion and philosophy, stuck in between simplistic faiths such as Islam, Bahai and Christianity, with their huge followings. The true miracle is that Mazdayasna still has managed to survive through all of this in all its complexity.


2007/9/15, Zaneta Garratt <zgarratt@hotmail.com>: Hi Dan, you have great courage and wisdom, I DO admire you, we have a form of so-called Christianity CALLED the Jehovah Witnessese, and in my view they are far worse than Bahai and I cannot understand why people convert to their boring religion, I have told some of them that they are telling a lot of lies and they are reallly boring when they have tried to convert me, but some people still get caught by their crappy message which is also that you should follow them blindly, I also knew one girl whose family saw through them and left,and if you do this they freeze you out,sadly enough you will always find people that fall for rediculuous cults that demand this kind of blind faith, Best wishes Zaneta

Baha'i and Zoroastrianism

Dear Dan and Mr Khosraviani

From what the two of you are telling us - which is very much in line with my own experiences of the Bahai faith - nothing can be further from the foundation of Mazdayasna than the Bahai faith in its current form. We have no such thing as obligations and blind faith in Mazdayasna. The Bahai must have covered up their true message, and the Mazdayasni in Iran at the end of the 19th century must have been very naive about their own faith, to have enabled the mass exodus of Mazdayasna to Bahai that occured at the time. I'm happy we experience no such exodus today, perhaps we even begin to experience its exact opposite.


2007/9/15, Dan Jensen <kaweah@yahoo.com>:

Dear Mr. Khosraviani,

It makes me very happy to hear that your mother
converted to Mazdayasna from Baha'ism, and that you
discovered the truth about it.

The most holy Baha'i book, Kitab-i-Aqdas, says that
the most important duty for all people is to (1)
become Baha'is, and once they've converted, (2) to
obey Baha'i law.

Another very holy Baha'i book, the Iqan, says
something like "to ask why or wherefore is blasphemy!"


--- "m.kh." < mjshj@yahoo.com> wrote:

> Dear Zaneta , Dan , Yuri and other friends shaad
> zivid
> My mother borne Bahaayee but was converted to
> Deene Behi , Mazdeyasni by my father, I had in mind
> to marry a Bah. 's girl in my mother's family
> therefore I studied Bah. but the more I studied ,
> more uncommon things I found . primary it was known
> as BAABY which later on was changed to BAHAAYEE .
> the first thing you are asked is to have faith
> (eemaan ) to Bah. which means to follow blindly and
> close the eyes of your Mind ( kherad ) which is
> against the Deene Behi's which states listen ,
> study and accept whatever your mind tells you .
> their appearances is excellent , they are ordered to
> be nice and societive and welcome the newcomer
> warmly . their children are sent to ethics' school
> (darese Akhlaagh) at the age of 3 . which are taught
> that every good things are produced by Abdol-bahaa (
> their prophet ), therefore hardly you could prove
> other wise . Their holly books namely Aghdas ,
> Bayaan , Eeghaan ,… are in Arabic and somehow
> duplicate of Ghoraan (holly book of
> Islam ) . the number of 9 and 19 are holly to them
> because for each Arabic alphabet associated with a
> number (ABJAD , HAVAZ, HOTI,..) i.e. A=1 ,B=2,.. ,
> therefore the summation of alphabet of BAHA and
> BAHAOLAH becomes respectly 9 and 19 . for this
> reason their calendar is 19 months and 19 days in
> each month of any year . their way of praying ,
> fasting ,… are more or less similar to Islam . I
> recommend those who are interestee in Bah. to read
> their books and study their ritual with open mind !
> Paayandeh o pooyaa bemaanid .
> M.Khosraviani

fredag 14 september 2007


Since many readers are curious on how a navjote is performed.
Here is a web link to a good short film which shows how a navjote (or sedreh pooshee in Farsi) is performed:
Thank you to the Gatha Group for making this film and making it available on the web!

tisdag 11 september 2007

Why Ahura Mazda is not a father figure god (Mazdayasna - and the four desert religions)

Christians, Judaists and Muslims alike have always tried to claim Zoroastrianism as some kind of forebearer to their own "truths". But the historical reality is that Zoroastrianism is far closer related to Hinduism and Indian philosophy than to any of the three (four) desert religions to the west. As Mazdayasni, we need to work towards a correction of the history ascribed to us and our religion. For example, Zarathushtra's understanding of Ahura Mazda has a lot more to do with the Hinduist concept of Brahman than with any of the father-figure gods. Look for example how Ahura Mazda is a combination of a masculine and a feminine word in the Avestan language. Ahura Mazda clealy has no gender, no human characteristics. This is why Ahura Mazda is compatible with modern science whereas the father figure gods are not.

Sin and Mazdayasna (in relation to the Bahai faith)

Dear Zaneta

For example, in Bahai, sex is strictly limited to the marriage between a man and a woman.
Homosexuality is considered a cardinal sin and is not allowed at all in any form or shape.
In Mazdayasna, we don't believe in such moralism. All behavior, including sex, is to be decided by the individual follower of the faith and is as much a matter of constructive versus destructive mentality as anything else in life. Sex per se is never wrong, what is wrong is sex cinducted with a destructive mind rather than with a constructive mentality. Love can therefore never be wrong.
I therefore believe Mazdayasna is far more mature than for example Bahai when it comes to ethics and morality.
Ironically, Bahai is merely 150 years old and claims to be utterly modern whereas Mazdayasna is several thousand years old and just claims to be timeless. Sometimes it seems the latest ideas are not necessarily the most modern.


2007/9/10, Zaneta Garratt <zgarratt@hotmail.com>:

Hi Dan and Alex, I do not know so much about Bahai, they seem to be well meaning but I think it is a shame they have banned alcoholic beverages among their followers like Islam has.As regards good and evil, I think Zarathustra talks about the necessities of having a good ruler and he describes the destructive behaviour and the suffering caused by bad rulers and his opposers which is why he writes that they will end up in the House of Lie/Bads Thought while good progressive people end up in the House of Song/Good Thought.In order to fight evil you need to be one step ahead, but it is not good to become obsessed by evil, this can lead to mental disturbances. I think that the Gathas are praising the right way of living and the impotance of mental joy and peace and love to fellow men and life and nature. And you are also right in saying that evil is destructive and good is creative and that we should make war on evil and embrace the
good-Best wishes Zaneta

söndag 9 september 2007

Druj as the Nietzschean ressentiment

I have always identified "druj" with "ressentiment" in the Nietzschean sense.
Arthur Pearlstein has also pointed out how Spinoza's imperative towards joy (which Nietzsche built his thesis on) is the opposite, asha in its purest form. Somethingness is substance is positive is asha.
Nurturing ressentiment, allowing ourselves to take pleasure in the hatred of existence, this is precisely what druj is, in its purest form. Nothingness is lack of substance is negative is druj.
Nietzsche knew this. He was serious when he took in the human being Zarathushtra as the character of his story.

2007/9/9, Dan Jensen <kaweah@yahoo.com>:

Interesting, Alexander! I think I might understand
your usage of Asha and Druj better now.

I apologize to the group for bringing up Nietzsche
again, but Alexander's definition of Druj reminds me
of what Nietzsche called ressentiment, a kind of
resentful rejection of life that he associated with
Christian/slave morality. I think we can agree that
this negative attitude is antithetical to Asha. It
reminds me of Nigosian's summary of Zoroastrianism,
wherein he states "no other religion expresses as
clearly as Zoroastrianism the affirmation of life,


Mazdayasna - a religion, or a philosophy?

The terms religion and philosophy were invented by Europeans to organise a Euro-centric worldview. Consequently, philosophy "was invented" by the Greeks and any decent thinking before the Greeks (500BC) must therefore automatically be doomed as religion. Otherwise the idea that Europeans invented "thinking" would be all wrong.
This is why both Brahmanism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism (especially Chan and Zen) and Daoism have all incorrectly been termed "religions" when they really all are philosophical systems. Zarathushtra's concept of Ahura Mazda has little or nothing to do with the father-figure gods of the four desert religions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Bahai). That's my vote!
But why not cover both angles? I suggest we refer to Zoroastrianism/Mazdayasna as a philosophy which has become a religious practice. Much like Buddhism!

lördag 8 september 2007

Nothingness and monasteries

Dear Dina

When I speak of druj as "nothingness", I indeed mean this not literally but symbolically.
Or rather than a nothingness in itself, druj is a willingness towards nothingness. The ambition to nullify!!!
Druj is the drive towards the destructive, which in itself is a pleasure born out of bitterness, the enjoyment of bitterness, druj is driven by a hatred towards the new, towards the multiplying, towards growth and expansion, it is a willingness to stop creativity in its tracks, to silence creativity and the enjoyment of life in its fullness.
As with all metaphysics, poetry is perhaps a much better to get at what we are after here than logical reasoning. Which is of course another reason why Zarathushtra was a poet of truth rather than a logician of truth. And therefore a better philosopher and theologian than the thinkers that followed him!
Which in turn is why most attempts to "logicalize" The Gathas so often misses the mark.
As for the "monastery", yes, this is indeed very me. Mazdayasna does not propose any life of abstinence per se - which I believe is absolutely correct. But to have a set of buildings which can serve as ashrams for us when we need to isolate ourselves from the busy modern world would indeed by a good thing for the community. And such a place could of course also serve as a center for learning. I hope we can have many such "Mazdayasna learning and meditation centers" in the future, around the world.


2007/9/8, DINAMCI@aol.com <DINAMCI@aol.com>:

Dear Alexander,

A "mazdayasna monastery"?!? I have to confess, a monastery is something I never associated with you. Could you help me to understand this wish of yours? What would be the mazdayasna monastery which so appeals to you? But only answer if you wish to. I do not want to invade your privacy.

On the subject of evil, I agree that it is negative and destructive, but I have a hard time seeing it as nothingness, or non-existence. Historically, we have too many instances of the reality of evil -- the tortures of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages, the concentration camps of Hitler. These were very real. I just don't see them as "nothingness or non-existence" (perhaps the non-existence of good, but that is a different thing).

I guess what I see in the Gathas, is that both good and evil, in and of themselves, are just concepts, inclinations, preferences. They are both made real, given substance, through our choices in thought, word and action.

I agree with you, Alexander, when you pointed out in an earlier post the profoundly inclusive reality that thoughts, words and actions encompass. Today, too many folks tend to blow them off as simplistic. But like you, I think they are deeply profound -- encompassing the full spectrum of human expression -- one might almost say, of human existence (setting aside sleep and comas).

Wishing you the best
Dina G. McIntyre

Good vs Evil (beyond good vs evil) - the follow-up comments

Dear Dan

I agree with Dina, you are quite a theologian!!!
We are sooo happy to have you with us.

I believe Zarathushtra's reluctance to define good and evil have two reasons:

First of all, good and evil are RELATIVE. It is in relations, and purely in relations, to something that good and evil appear. This is why there are no clear "good guys" and "bad guys". Good and bad are ever-present and cut through everything. It is only in the moment of things, in the occasional attitude of a decision, that we can trace their almost quantum physics-like appearances of pure good and pure evil. Haurvatat is that glimpse of pure good.

The other reason is that good always has a substance to it, as opposed to evil, which is the lack of substance per se. The something of existence versus the nothingness of non-existence (which is were Mazdayasna agrees with Brahmanism in India). Which is why I have always preferred the translations "constructive" vs "destructive" in contemporary English compared to the Christianized terms good and evil. What is a constructive mentality if not the attitude of building, constructing, adding, including, metamorphosizing, playing, loving, caring? As opposed to a destructive mentality which strives for elimination, subtracting, excluding, demoralizing, distancing itself from the world and whatever it confronts.

Then there is of course also "constructive destruction" and not to forget "destructive constructions" (such as concentration camps). Good and evil is not easy, perhaps it's the most difficult subject of all, and I agree the terms should never be used lightly (and definitely not as proselytization slogans). Rather the terms need to be carefully approached precisely in fora such as Ushta.

I have started longing for a Mazdayasna monastery again. Guess what I want to do when I have finished my career in the music business in a few years' time?

Ushta indeed

2007/9/7, Dan Jensen :

Ushta Alexander!

I'm happy that you approve!

Admittedly, I am not sure about what the best wording
ought to be. The sense in which I would use the terms
"ethics" and "morality" might be to define ethics as
the science of morality, where morality is defined as
something like a mysterious, irrational (or
super-rational) sense of value, or meaning. Perhaps
better terms can be found.

Speaking of good and evil is dangerous, and I think I
understand why reasonable people avoid such language.
As soon as you bring up the topic, some people want to
start dividing the good guys from the bad guys.

Here I might need some help from the experts: the
Gathas recognize the spirits of good and bad, but they
do not really personify either. They do, if I recall
correctly, make strong associations between Spenta
Mainyu and Ahura Mazda, but Angra Mainyu is completely
disassociated. It's almost as if Zarathushtra said
"ok, we covered that. Now let's forget it."

It is one thing to acknowledge evil; it is another to
dwell on it. To dwell on evil is, in a sense, to
worship evil. One might say that while Zarathushtra
recognized that ethical/moral antenna inside us, it
may be incorrect to suggest that Mazdayasna, that is
Zarathushtra's form of worship, is dualistic. The
metaphysics (or metaethics?) may be seen as dualistic,
but the yasna of the Gathas appears to have largely
refused to dwell on evil.

What do you think?


fredag 7 september 2007

Good vs Evil (beyond good vs evil)

Dear Dan

I must say that this is the first definition of good and evil I have ever heard that I can subscribe to!!!
This is what I would define as en ethical couple of good vs evil rather than a moral or moralistic couple, at least if you use the terms ethics and morality the way they are defined by both Spinoza and Habermas.
Perhaps my couple constructive vs destructive is too limiting, we really do need to speak of good vs evil here? A good vs evil beyond the traditional good vs evil (referring once again to Nietzsche)?
Yes, Zarathushtra and Nietzsche are our brothers and companions. But they are not us and we are not them. Zarathushtra never aspired for more than that. His only ambition was that his words would be taken as seriously as the words from a trusted old friend, not a divinity. This is therefore also how we should read The Gathas when we read the text in a truly gathic way.

It is a true pleasure to get to know you!!!
Ushta indeed

2007/9/7, Dan Jensen <kaweah@yahoo.com>:

Brother Alexander!

Since I spout off so much about good and evil, I must
owe you an explanation. I am probably misrepresenting
my position until I do.

Let me begin with a couple quotes from Nietzsche's

"Let thy virtue be too high for the familiarity of
names, and if thou must speak of it, be not ashamed to
stammer about it." (V. JOYS AND PASSIONS)

"Similes, are all names of good and evil; they do not
speak out, they only hint. A fool who seeketh
knowledge from them!" (XXII. THE BESTOWING VIRTUE)

I speak with little hesitation of Good and Evil, but I
do not venture, in this context, to assign names to
Good and Evil. These "twins" are far too elusive and
transcendent to be named. That is to say, one cannot
rightly say "murder is Evil" without blinding oneself
to the deep mystery of the moral pulse of existence.
Perhaps a murder feels evil to the mourner, and so it
is evil, but taken out of that tragic context,
"murder" is really only a word.

Morality is wonderful! (This is kind of a sublime
tautology to me)

What is so wonderful about it?

Look at the universe, at all that goes on within it,
and ask the question: from whence comes joy? Nothing
about what science knows about the world explains joy,
or grief for that matter. There is nothing about
objective actuality that is right or wrong. Ok, so
then, why is everything so right and wrong? Why does
anything matter at all?

Why does physical pain "hurt?". Does it always grieve
us? It can sometimes amuse us, no? To me, it is not
the objective circumstances of the joy and pain that
are worth noting, but rather the joy itself, and the
pain itself. I am dumbstruck by the simple wonder of
the world as a value-laden being. I find the battle
between Good and Evil, between joy and grief, courage
and fear, in whatever form it may take, a kind of
beautiful and terrible drama.

Shall we not partake in the drama? Isn't that what
we're here for?

You might say that the question "what is the meaning
of life?" is a question that answers itself.

Back to Nietzsche:

"Thus, steadfast and beautiful, let us also be
enemies, my friends! Divinely will we strive AGAINST
one another!" (XXIX. THE TARANTULAS)

This is not about everybody going out and killing each
other. That's not it at all. It is more about joyously
embracing the good and battling evil as one encounters
them in life, without stooping to name-calling, and
without any need to alienate ones enemies.

Also, I'm not saying that Zarathushtra resembled
Nietzsche's Zarathustra, but I do believe their core
insights were the same. I don't follow either
Zarathushtra or Nietzsche in lock step, but I feel a
profound camaraderie with their words.


torsdag 6 september 2007

Mazdayasna, Sufism, and Chan and Zen Buddhism

Dear Dan and Parviz and friends

Dan has got it exactly right!!!

Which is why I have so often brought up the historical and philosophical connections between Mazdayasna and Sufism (and also in extension the Mazdayasna origins of Chan and Zen Buddhism). We are indeed "praying" to those built-in capacities within ourselves to be civilized, human, modest, humble, listening, in general good people.

Parviz has also a good point here, Mazdayasna is NOT the religion with a book which is to be hit in the head of the infidels. We should instead remain firmly rooted in the HUMANNESS of all human beings. Mazdayasna is the religion of the little person who struggles in life and with the meaning of living. Not the religion of self-obsessed narcissistic preachers who aim to force their beliefs onto others (if only to cover up for their own doubts). We do not have the finished answer (other than to hold firmly to the belief that the answer remains unanswered, our worldview is never finished, never complete).

Please remember this extremely important fact about Zarathushtra: Zarathushtra is the ONLY prophet ever to address his message as a series of questions, not as a series of answers. Mazdayasna is the religion of the doubt, the religion of the question, the religion of openness, and not the religion of the perfect and finished answer. This is why Mazdayasna takes time to understand and will only spread and grow slowly. But it will always win in the long run. Because Mazdayasna puts the conditions of truth even before the belief in truth itself.

Ushta indeed

2007/9/6, Parviz Varjavand <solvolant@yahoo.com>:
Dear Alex, Dan and friends,
I am sorry that I have not lost my ability of at times putting others down. Who am I to tell anybody else what proper prayer is or is not? We each develop our own ways off passing through the dark nights of our existence and hope for the dawn of the bliss and Ushta that we crave so badly. All I have shared is what works for me, otherwise I am sure that the Mass or the Namaz has been the source of comfort for countless human beings.
If Mazdayasna needs NOT to be one thing, it would be the need to point finger at others and call their ways wrong (as long as like circumcision, they are not hurting the young without their permission).
Dan's explanation of prayer works for me. I used to ask the divine outside myself for help a lot and it became very much like begging. I would become less and less in self worth and the divine outside from whom I was requesting things would become colder and more and more impersonal and out of reach. Now I try to ask the divine within me for help and it listens a lot better. I ask it to get up and take me for a walk as my health needs it, and guess what, it gets off its ass and takes me for a walk!
Parviz Varjavand

Dan Jensen <kaweah@yahoo.com> wrote:
Alexander, I'm with you on prayer, as I grew up
reciting canned prayers and became very tired of
begging. Yet I'm struggling to keep my mind open to
different ways of approaching "worship" (yasna).
Here's an attempt:

What if we regard prayer as an appeal to the divine,
universal Power within us? Would that be acceptable in
the context of Mazdayasna? I might reach even further
and quote the Persian Sufi mystic, who said "I am
God", much to the consternation and perturbation of
his fellow Sufis. Would it be begging to appeal for
help from the divine within us?


Mazdayasna as an existentialist religion, part 2

Dear Mehmet

In the history of philosophy. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, the two romantic giants of the 19th century, are widely seen as the inventors of existentialism. My point is that Nietzsche got his concept of existentialism from Zarathushtra (whose texts arrived in Europe in the 1850s and were studied precisely by people like Nietzsche, who was a philologist and not a philosopher by academic training). And Kierkegaard got his ideas from the part of Christianity that Christian thinking inherited from Zoroastrianism (the ethical "Jesus" part rather than the moralist "St Paul" part of Christian philosophy). Nietzsche agrees with me in "Ecce Homo" when he states that Zarathushtra is chosen as his ultimate existentialist character precisely because he was the original ethicist, the inventor of ethics, in other words: The original existentialist!

Yes, Mazdayasna is the existentialist religion par excellence. This is the true radical meaning of the motto good thoughts, good words, good deeds. It is not that good thoughts, words and deeds are good and important in themselves that is important. It is the fact that we BECOME the thoughts, the words, the deeds, the histories we create, to ourselves. Every day is our own judgment day. Haurvatat is not located in some distant future, it is right here and now, next to us, as an eternal possibility to ourselves. We have only barely begun to understand the depths of good thoughts, good words, good deeds. Thinking, action and language are the three components of our self-identity. So existentialism was not invented by Kierkegaard or Nietzsche, such a claim is a euro-centric falsification of history. Exstentialism was invented by Zarathushtra 3,700 BC.


2007/9/6, mehmet azizoglu <maziz69@yahoo.com>:
Dear Alex,

That "Whatever we think, whatever we say, whatever we do, become a part of ourselves, of our historical existence, of our identity" is impressive...
Is there really "positive existentialism"? If yes, then , there should be moderate and negative ones as well?

Mazdayasna as an existentialist religion, part 1

Dear Jehan

I would say that Mazdayasna is an existentialist religion. Whatever we think, whatever we say, whatever we do, become a part of ourselves, of our historical existence, of our identity. This is what inspired Nietzsche to use the Zarathushtra character in his work. Nietzsche referred to Zarathushtra as "the original ethicist" in his book "Ecce Homo".

So a good thought leading to a good word leading to a good act turn us into a positive existence. Bad thoughts, words, deeds of course have the opposite effect. There is no need for punishment within such a system. We are rewarding and punishing ourselves through the very acts we commit. Actually, all the Indo-European religions look at actions in this ethical rather than moral way. Please compare with the Hinduist concept of karma if you like.


2007/9/5, Jehan Bagli <jbagli@rogers.com>:

Dear Friends:

So how is sin atoned for in Zarathustra's system of Sacrifice?

The term sacrifice is often loosely used in religious dialogues. It is used by some, for the offerings and veneration in Zarathushtrian system.

However in the belief system of Asho Zarathusht there is no involvement of Punishment or atonement for an act of deceit or evil deed. A sin is a violation of moral law. In zarathushtrian theology any choice that deviates from the law of Asha, the law of what is good and right for a situation, is
bad and deceitful. The way to set this right is for the person to think through a clear and peaceful mind ( Vohu Manah) and seek for the path of honest and righteous way to handle each situation.

The very responsibility of returning to the quest for Truth lies with the individual and not with any power of the Divine. The way to bring evil to the path of Good is through Good thinking. To learn and evolve (both physically and spiritually) from the mistakes that one makes. For the divine is within each human being and each one of us has the responsibility to act in a way that we can bring the Good Rule ( Khshthra vairya) in close proximity to our Corporeal world. A world, that has been flawed and tinted by the evil and undesirable choices. Thereby not only do mankind tend to be one with God individually, but also help others recognize divine within and make the whole world a better place to live in.

With peace and Guidance from Mazda

Jehan Bagli

söndag 29 juli 2007

What is Ushta, and how do I join Ushta?

Ushta is a Yahoogroups forum which warmly welcomes all followers of the religion, philosophy and culture of Mazdayasna (also known as Zoroastrianism or Mazdaism in contemporary English) - including both those born into the tradition and those who have converted to the faith - but also welcomes friends of the Mazdayasni and other people interested in the world of Mazdayasna. Mazdayasna (meaning "the worship of wisdom" in ancient Persian) is one of the world's oldest surviving religions and philosophical traditions, dating back over 5,000 years, with the prophet Zarathushtra (born in Iran approx 1,700 B.C.) and the emperor Cyrus The Great (born approx 700 B.C.) as two of its most prominent and historically important characters. While Mazdayasna has been practiced as a religion, philosophy and culture in Iran, India, Central Asia, and neighboring countries continuously throughout the millennia, it is now fast spreading across the globe to all corners of the world, and Ushta (a Mazdayasni greeting phrase meaning "ecstasy" or "radiant happiness" in ancient Persian) is an internet community where this simultaneously both ancient and modern, now fast expanding global movement, is preserved, nurtured, expanded, and fully represented in all its rich variety.