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