I prefer to see Zarathushtra as an asset rather than a hindrance for us as Mazdayasni. A good starting point ("yes, we are called Zoroastrians but in between us we call each other Madayasni" is one of my favorite opening lines when discussing our religion with strangers). So Zarathushtra can be used as a creative starting point rather than as the one and all of our religion. This is why I rarely step into "Gathas-wuoting" discussions myself. The Gathas is a given (and a sueprior text to the Vendidad for example) but "Zoroastrianism" is far more than The Gathas only.
Iäm also a Mazdayasni because I agree with Zarathushtra's basic and fundamental ideology: To think and make judgments for ourselves is the fundmantal CONDITION for our faith even to the extent that this precise ACTIVITY is exactly what we worship!!! So I'm consequently allowed to disagree with other sentiments of Zarathushtra as long as I agree with him on this fundamental notion. The interesting thing is therefore that Parviz is the 100% Zoroastrian of all of us in real life. Gathas-worshipping is alien to the very Gathas itself!
And I'm not a Platonist (and neither was Zarathushtra) because I'm forst of all not a dualist and second I therefore do not believe that any spiritual or ideal existence has superiority to physical and material existence. I don't even believe that the spiritual or ideal existence exists, it's an illusionary hoax invented by the Egyptians and developed by the Greeks but alien to Iranian, Indian and Indo-European thinking.
2008/11/2 Special Kain
It is perfectly normal that people label things. They turn Zarathushtra's philosophy into Zoroastrianism for easy handling. It's quite user-friendly, and people just look at the label to see whether they should continue reading or refrain. Since Zoroastrianism is - first and foremost! - seen as a monotheistic religion, it makes perfectly sense to examine Zarathushtra's personal life. That's just how things usually roll when it comes to religious leaders. Westerners have always identified a personality cult within religions, for better or worse.
The Gathas do not suggest any of that. And we don't follow the 'labeling tradition' here, either, since most of us think of Zarathushtra as one thinker in a long line of scientists and philosophers - just think of mentioning Laotse, Spinoza, Nietzsche and Rorty, existentialism and pragmatism at Ushta!
It's on us to free Zarathushtra from the religious context and establish him as one of history's first philosophers. The labeling also applies to philosophy (with poststructuralism as a striking example), but it could be one first step away from people's obsessions with biographies. On the other hand, some people try to find inspiration in the way other people used to live. They sometimes want to know if someone truly lived up to his own teachings and communicated insights.
When Aleister Crowley came up with Thelema as a new religious movement more than 100 years ago, his self-proclaimed Christian enemies dismissed his philosophy (originally called 'Thelema') as Crowleyanity - as if it was a personality cult!
When Marilyn Manson said that Jesus Christ was the world's first rock star - with the cross as the most popular article of merchandise -, we was totally right. There's a personality cult in Christianity, since you can only find salvation through Jesus. There's no talk of any kind of salvation through Zarathushtra in the Gathas.
This problem is also a good reason to talk of Mazdayasna, instead of Zoroastrianism, by the way. It's a Christianized reading of Zoroastrian philosophy, people projecting their beliefs.
--- Parviz Varjavand
Von: Parviz Varjavand
Betreff: [Ushta] Platonists
Datum: Sonntag, 2. November 2008, 19:13
I had a friend who was a Platonist. He not only knew the writings and teachings of Plato, but he also belonged to a society of Platonists whose membership was very exclusive and some very prominent persons belonged to this club globally. At the time (some forty years ago) I was designing a very plush mansion for this person and he had guest quarters designed for the international members of the Platonist Club that would come to visit him. This is how I got to know about this group. He was interested in having me join, but when we talked about Plato, he relined that I would not make a good Platonist and dropped me from his list of potential converts.
Now I fear that Zoroastrianism is similar in concept to Platonism for many persons. Just because the name of Zarathushtra is there, they think that you have to dedicate your full attention to that one person, Zoroaster or Zarathustra. Every lecture about Zoroastrianism begins and ends with the preoccupation about who Zarathustra was, when did he live, where did he live, and what he said in his Gahan. This is why I say that what Mrs. MacIntyre and Mr. Delavega have to tell us is the same in its basic structure. They argue about what Zoroaster wanted to say one way or another and they argue about that. That kind of Zoroastrianism is very boring for me. It does not differ for me if Mr. Jafarey lets others in that club or Dastoor Kotwal does not.