tisdag 27 juli 2010

WZO: London divorces India

Dear Maneck and Jamshedji

The ARZ are the most wonderful people and highly regarded among Zoroastrians outside of India and around the world. They both understand the history and philosophy of Zoroastrianism and defend it without compromise, but they also understand where international Zoroastrianism is at and also have a credible and beautiful vision for a Zoroastrian future in India. The ARZ should be an excellent WZO member and representative in India. They deserve our fullest support.
The former WZO India should rename itself "Indian Parsi Local Isolation Organization" as this is precisely what it has chosen to become. The W for World means absolutely nothing to it.
I wish this IPLIO the best of success. Its members have the right to choose any life they want. I just don't think any of the rest of us WZO supporters share its beliefs and it is about time we stop pretending we don't realize this. Live and let live!


2010/7/27 maneck d

Dear Jamshedji

Thanks for your mail, and your blaming me for using an acronym without explaining what it stands for, is quite acceptable. I am learning as I live.

Here is a forward of the mail I received in response to the same mail. Note the time, it is from Sweden.

How come "the Zoroastrian" from there understood what it stands for whilst you Jamshedji on the Fezana list did not??
And I am sure like you said there must be quite a few who thought similarly!!

ARZ was formed in Mumbai, and is the group of some of the same Parsis who have opened their eyes, and are ready to accept the chidren of the intermarried and "similar others".
I am copying this mail to their address too, so that if they want to write a mail defining themselves, they could do so.
I agree to forward any response mail they write to the Lists wherever I am a member and they are not.

I am avoiding copying this mail to the fezana list, but sending it to Bomi Patel the President of FEZANA, who I request to take some action in the matter.
I say that this is the time to get behind the openminded, and show the Dhongis (Jamshedji's word) that they are on the wrong track, since they have not realized yet the reason/s for their decline.
Fezana could line up and back the WZO UK in their efforts in this matter.
BPP does stand for the Bombay Parsi Panchayat, they do represent as they should the "Parsis", but they cannot represent the "ZORASTRIANS", and you all know the difference.
maneck d

Dear Maneck

This was about time!!!
When WZA India decided to only allow new members if born to two Zoroastrian parents, that's when they finally closed the door against all other Zoroastrians in the world.
ARZ should be a perfect new Indian member of the WZO. ARZ is the future of Zoroastrianism in India!

Alexander Bard

2010/7/27 maneck d

In fact the DIVORCE should have come much earlier, but, as they say, better late than never.

Let the Inward Looking "Parsis" of the subcontinent, who are by all definitions Racists and Bigots, decrease as they have been doing and disappear, but do see that the real followers of Zarathusht's teachings do increase in numbers. Conversions to "Zarthostis" from amongst these ("Parsis") should be started there soon.
WZO and Fezana should do the needful.

Thus I suggest and request the WZO UK to link up with the newly formed ARZ of Mumbai, since this ARZ seems to be of similar thinking as most of us in the new Diaspora are.

regards to all
maneck d

WZO : London Divorces India

With deep regret, the World Zoroastrian Organisation (WZO) wishes to announce that it can no longer be associated with WZO (India). This decision was taken after very careful consideration of the actions of the committee of WZO (India) which has taken such a divergent path that they no longer share the same aims and objectives, membership criteria, activities or ethos of WZO. In fact we are now two very different organizations with contrasting views because of the choices made by WZO (India). WZO is an inclusive and forward looking organization, committed to promoting and safeguarding the Zoroastrian faith and looking after the interests of Zoroastrians world-wide; in contrast, WZO (India) has chosen to remain inward-looking with its focus on social activities.

WZO (India) was set up by WZO to represent and further its interests in India. It had a similar constitution, the same membership criteria as WZO and was engaged in parallel charitable activities. This arrangement worked well and was beneficial to both organizations. However, since the late nineties, the committee of WZO (India) chose to take a divergent path, contrary to the original objectives.

From around 1997, the WZO (India) committee decided not to keep WZO informed about their activities, their annual accounts and their membership. This is despite WZO continuing to send all information to WZO (India).

Last year, we found that WZO (India), without any prior discussions, had altered its membership application forms in 2002 so that only those Zoroastrians born of both Zoroastrian parents could qualify as members – which is contrary to the membership criteria of WZO. It is also very clear that WZO (India)’s emphasis now is more on social activities rather than charitable ones, which is again a change of priorities and inconsistent with the ethos of WZO.

Since the middle of last year, some of the WZO (India) committee members have shared information confidential to WZO with others not connected with WZO or with WZO (India). They have also chosen to renege on previously agreed proposals to move WZO forward, in order to meet the needs of Zoroastrian worldwide, despite securing the safeguards they sought. Whilst WZO has sought to accommodate them in their beliefs, WZO (India) have chosen to force their beliefs on Zoroastrian worldwide.

WZO wishes to state unequivocally that WZO (India) is no longer permitted to use our registered address and UK charity number in any of its correspondence and publicity materials. Any period wishing to join WZO from India can do so by contacting us through our website, www.w-z-o.org or by post at our headquarters in UK. In time, we will set up new local contact addresses in India.

We are disappointed that all our overtures for reconciliation with the committee of WZO (India) have fallen on deaf ears and may have been misinterpreted by them as a sign of weakness on our part.

We are very appreciative of the support given by WZO (India)’s President, Mr. Dadi Engineer, through the years and of his efforts to convince his committee to seek a path of reconciliation. He will continue to enjoy our full confidence along with the other members (Mr. Dady Mistry, Delhi; Mrs. Mani Clubwala, Chennai; Mrs. Meher Amersey, Mumbai and Mr. Homi Khusrokhan, Mumbai) of WZO’s Managing Committee.

WZO wishes to make it clear that the WZO Trusts in India, managed by Dinshaw and Bachi Tamboly, are not connected with WZO (India). They have and will continue to have our admiration and support.

Darayus S. Motivala

Chairman WZO

måndag 26 juli 2010

Atheist Zoroastrianism?

Personally I identify myself as "post-atheistic".
Sometimes it is good to use new terminology, as it forces people to think.
Yes, we had the religions of blind belief, then we reacted against them (atheism), now we need to move on towards a post-atheistic belief where we unify our scientific knowledge, philosophical understanding, of our condititon, with our psychological need to find meaning and focus to a chaotic existence.
It is from this urge, from this awe towards existence, that we find Zarathushtra's concept of Mazdayasna so useful. A religion in flux, adapting to new scientific knowledge rather than reacting against it, always opening for new spaces of awe and celebration.
This is what Mazdaism should be all about.

2010/7/24 Syn

>>Parviz writes - "The problem is that fundamentalist religious persons of all shade, including our own Zoroastrian brothers and sisters, thrive on insults. They will keep pushing your buttons insisting that the only proper way to belong to a religion is to BELIEVE in every idiotic notion they believe in order to be PROPER and BELONG that finally they make you get so fed-up that in order to tell them totally off, you drag in Atheism. The reason Atheism acts as a refuge for so many is because the stupidest forms of Theism survives and thrives so well amongst us humans. Jesus has been walking on water so successfully for more than two thousand year that all science that can so obviously demonstrate that this can not be done, can go and fork itself. You get forced to insult back when your intelligence is insulted so continuously and massively"<<

I can identify fully with what you say above, as someone who is less than conventional, I have often been insulted and/or accused, by the more fundamental and literal of religionists, as being either not 'holy' or 'good' enough, or have been told bluntly told that I am 'evil' or a 'sinner', thus I adopted the nickname Syn, a long time ago, to simply indicate I had no interest in other peoples opinions as to what they considered to be sinful or bad, as long as I myself had no malicious or harmful intent and attempted the best in my relations with others and with God.

In answer to your previous question regarding my closing signature here, at the end of my posts, it is simply a thoughtful jewel written in Old Avestan [very obscure and only used very occasionaly in the Avesta] - though after your question above I was suprised to discover that Hudanush is also an Armenian name and as everyone is begining to call me Hudanush here and on another Zoroastrian forum, I have no objection to that becoming a name by which I am also known - perhaps I will add Syn and become Syn-Hudanush, I actualy quite like that.

Zoroastrianism vs Gnosticism

Dear Hudanush

I believe it is always hard to keep philosophy pure and intelligent from the folk beliefs that always surround us. Even today, in our scientific world, the majority of people on this planet hold and cherish the silliest possible superstititons and can't tell the difference between superstitions and science. Zarathushtra was aware of this. This is exactly why he was more concerned with getting "asha" right than with winning as many followers as possible. As Mazdaism should be today too.
And you are of course right about Gnosticism. I was discussing Christian Gnosticism and not the original Greek variety.


2010/7/24 Syn

Thank you Alexander and Parviz for your comments and sorry I have not replied sooner, but both your posts motivated me in various directions of study, as is my habit [one thought will lead to many more - aaarrrggghhhhh], and I have been reading and studying since [in what spare time I have ], and at present I have not yet come to any specific conclusions that might further the debate here, but as is also my habit more and more questions and opinions will surface and I will undoubtedly be unable to restrain myself from offering those opinions and asking those questions .

I was interested in your assertion Alexander that Mazdaism is 'Brahmanism minus the negativity toward existance' and I would certainly agree that Zoroastrianism is more akin to the Indo-European faiths of India than the Semitic faiths of the Near East and Arabian Peninsular which were not only very unforgiving but also very exoteric [legalistic] rather than esoteric. Gnosticism itself simply means 'good at knowing', one could almost say that it is the Greek word for 'Good Mind/Thoughts'. It is post classical Semitic Christian Gnosticism that adopted much of the dualistic 'spirit against matter' attitudes that have become associated with Zoroastrianism and Gnosticism generaly, whereas the Orphic Gnosticism of ancient Greece itself was something very different and IMHO could certainly co-exist with Zoroastrianism and even seems to have had Persian roots itself.

Parviz your own post has also motivated me to study ever more deeply what the actual differences between Judaism and Zoroastrianism are and also what the similarities are and when they actually began to occur, as there are certainly some similarities, most of which [as mentioned in my OP], came about after the Jewish exile in Babylon, but some similarities are probably remnants of paleo and bronze age Near/Middle Eastern polytheism in which the Bull was a common sacred motif. Also, though many Christians and Muslim scholars would have us believe that monotheism is in some way special to them, even a cursory study of religious history will reveal that monotheism, which has various manifestations, has been a very common spiritual manifestation from Egypt to China, and the concept of the divine presence/spark [shekhina/Asha Vahishta] of God within the world is likewise a very common concept throughout human religion, so not really something that can be regarded as proof of a special relationship between Judaism and Zoroastrianism.

Any cursory study of comparative religion will discover many religious similarities from around the world which can probably be explained by man's common basic experience of god and the world around him/er. However Zoroastrians might justifiably say that Zarathustra received a more insightful revelation as to the nature of 'this' and 'that', but the question is when, where, what, why and how did that revelation become corrupted by more mundane traditions/ideas and what other traditions/ideas have a similar transcendental quality and history and/or have been influenced by the teachings of Zarathustra to the extent that they themselves have been able to better communicate with and honour God and the God within us all.

onsdag 21 juli 2010

Zoroastrianism vs The Abrahamic Faiths

Dear Hudanush

I agree with you 100%!!!
Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna according to Zarathushtra and his contemporaries was very similar to Brahmanism in India. It was a school of philosophy that took people beyond mere folk religion to a monist philosophy beyond the Indo-European polytheistic faiths.
This is also the Mazdayasna we subscribe to here at Ushta.
Later, Zoroastrianism was influenced by the Semitic religions but most of all by Gnosticism and Manicheism, which is where the much misunderstood "dualistic Zoroastrianism" of the fight between good and evil (Ohrmazd vs Ahirman) originates from. This is the "Abrahamic" faith most of us here at Ushta are very tired of and want to move Mazdaism away from.
Mazdayasna is Brahmanism minus the negativity towards existence inherent to Buddhism and Brahmanism. Extinction is not the goal in Zoroastrianism, as in Brahmanism, but rather the AFFIRMATION of existence as such. This is what makes Zoroastrianism unique among Pantheistic and monist faiths and religions.


2010/7/21 Syn

Hello to all at Ushta and to begin as one intends to continue my first post will hopefully stimulate the ol grey - never been one to start on a mundane or casual footing

Many modern scholars speculate that Judaism was heavily influenced by Zoroastrianism and thus so was Christianity via Judaism. Granted, this has raised some interest in Zoroastrianism amongst some that might never have given the teachings of Zarathustra a second thought. However conversly, as with myself, it made me somewhat suspicious of Zoroastrianism and thus for many many years I avoided it and it was only by a quirk of 'fate' that I have recently [in the last year or so] become interested in Zoroastriansim and since I have unearthed a great deal that I suprisinglly agree with, and years of previous spiritual research has made it much easier for me to negotiate the teachings of Zarathustra without too much confusion or problem.

However more and more I am begining to question the usual scholastic belief that Zorastrianism actualy influenced Judaism/Christianity, and am fast coming to the conclusion that it was the other way round and that it was Semitic Judaism that was far more influential on modern Zoroastriansim and that much of the Younger Avesta and the Vendiad [all of which were written after the Hebrew Babylonian Exile, when the two faiths were enjoying a great deal of interaction], contain this Semitic Hebrew corruption of the modern Zoroastrian faith - the Vendidad itself even reads like the Torah, very different to that which is found in the Gathas. The Jews even proclaim the Perisan King Cyrus, who conquered Babylon and freed the Jews from captivity, to be the anointed of their God YHWH [ie the Messiah] and claim that it was Cyrus who was the main motivation behind the building of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. This of course indicates a man that was more than just a Zoroastrian liberal, but someone who was taking more than just a passing interest in the religion of the Jews [perhaps he was for Zoroastrianism what Constantine was for Christians] and thus it seems he may be responsible for an ongoing interest in Judaism amongst future Persian kings including Darius I [who also had an interest in the building of the Temple in Jerusalem] and especialy the Parthian kings, under whom the Avesta was eventualy codified, after much of the older Avesta was supposedly lost/burnt during the Alexandrian attacks on Persia in 330 BCE.

So in conclusion it is my contention that rather than Zoroastriansims having the greater influnce on Judaism and thus Christianity, it was Judaism that had the greater influence on modern Zoroastriansim [especialy its Parsi form] and I would be interested in what other people feel about this and their own opinion on the subject.


måndag 19 juli 2010

Atheist Zoroastrianism

XoXo assumes we need to react against Abrahamic monotheism.
But as Mazdayasni this is irrelevant to us. In this sense, we are all atheists from the very beginning.
Atheism is namely always a reaction against a specific form of theism (atheism has no substance in itself, it is just the opposite of something already assumed).
So if our starting point is Pantheism rather than Abrahamic monotheism, we really don't need the term atheism anymore (I have never heard of an apantheism).

2010/7/19 Parviz Varjavand

Dear friends,

Sometimes friends send me their ideas and want to share their views with me. I received one such post from a concerned Zoroastrian and would like very much to know your reactions and views on what this person wants to express.


Why I am an Atheist Zoroastrian

1. What is Z to me.
The religion in which can be found the concept that humans must exercise choice, and their Vohu Manah, to judge the world, and also use their Spenta Mainyu, or progressive mind, to improve the world. The natural tendency of man to judge others and the world, the tendency which is usually decried as beneath contempt, is enshrined in this religion. This second duty of trying to fix things ensures that a smart Ashavan will not pick fights or judge rudely but work to maintain his power by building groups that agree with him so that he can exercise power and be a force for good, as he sees it. Finally, the concept of Asha always stands as a reminder to an Ashavan that maybe the way things are is fine just as it is and doesn’t need improvement, if he is looking at a system, like a jungle or a primitive society, which has been able to find some harmonic balance with time.
These concepts are contained in a religion which has a god, but which also has a confusing array of traditions and writings as a result of a confused evolution over time. Zoroastrians will want to repair and simplify and “clean up” this religion on a regular basis, a drive which I am well aware of since I have wanted to do it plenty in my own time. As I will show in part 3 below, the confusing body of myth can actually be one of Zoroastrianism’s greatest assets.

2. Why am I Atheist and what this means to me.
I am not against myth and fabrication in and of itself but rather the human need for it. This need is childish, but that in and of itself is not so bad, as many of our best attributes are childish. The dark side of this need is that it tends to make people commit to things that are fabrication, and in time build their whole lives around improvable superstition. Collecting like-minded friends becomes critical to support the essentially rotten foundation of such a life and when combined with the natural sociability of humans makes our species prone to forming super-families based on myth. The myths become hard-edged and unforgiving in order to weld these super-families into tight groups and because the competitiveness of humans tends to foster rivalry between the super-families. The commitment to the myths in order to preserve identity and competitive strength results in humans putting aside their minds and doing things and believing in ridiculous things they would never agree to otherwise.

The hardening of the myth usually takes the form of the members needing to testify to true-believer statements of various types. Saying that one does not believe in God will usually short-circuit such questions and reveal one to be a person who is not a part of such a super-family. This is what I mean when I say I am atheist -- not so much that I don’t believe in some cosmic conception of a possible God but specifically that I don’t believe in the God that the most successful super-families of humans have made to be the foundation of their identities. It would be better to call me secular rather than atheist.

3. How do the two combine.
Not believing in God leaves one burgeoning super-family open for membership, which is that of the Atheists. Here is where the mumbo-jumbo that is part of Zoroastrianism protects one -- although I am forced to give a positive answer to the ultimate true-believer question of an Atheist super-family, I keep myself from committing to them by saying that I like all of the confused myth which can be found within Zoroastrianism.
Thus I give my ducklings an identity which cannot co-opt them into sacrificing themselves for a real religion. Their commitment to Iran as the repository of Zoroastrian myth will keep them from being swallowed up by America or France and their being Atheist in the ultimate meaning of the world and not being part of the Moslem super-family will keep them from being co-opted by Iran. Thus I give them an identity which cannot be co-opted by a single country. The net effect is one of much more freedom than most people give their children.


onsdag 14 juli 2010

Enjoyment and Zoroastrian Ethics

But this is less than half the truth. Because these people are still the minority in contemporary culture. Enjoyment is not the same as pleasure!
Opposed to those you describe are the people who follow Freud's death drive maximally. Which is the vast majority in contemporary society.
This is people who get enjoyment from MINIMIZING the life experience. Who avoid all risks and controversies, live to aim to please others, concentrate on a career with financial rewards, and then slavishly follow the exisiting norm without ever questioning it. Especially since they marry and raise families with those who live according to the same principle of "minimal intensity" or "death drive" (live as if you're dead).
This is at least the standard for life in Europe today, Surely also among Americans and the nouveau riche in Asia. Including the majority of Zoroastrians (who neither get passionate about their religion nor any hardcore lifestyle in any way, their only prioritites are marrying the socially respected spouse and raising the perfect-looking stepfordish family, as if life was only one long cocktail party conversation).
This is also "enjoyment" but enjoyment as in "enjoying the AVOIDANCE of hedonism". This is why Lacan and Zizek use the expression "enjoyment" ("jouissance" in French) and NOT "pleasure" ("plaisir" in French).

2010/7/14 Special Kain

Dear Alexander
What I meant was that Lacan's, Badiou's and Zizek's conclusions follow Nietzsche's logic that has turned Christian psychology upside down: rather than identify luxury as the cause of apathy, depravity and degeneration, it's exactly the apathetic, depraved and degenerate people who are throwing themselves into "luxury" and debauchery - most exciting experiences and kicks, sensationalistic and transgressive entertainment, rock star hedonism, etc. And we see this unbearably intense and liminal experience as The Authentic Experience, because it's inherently violent.
It's because these apathetic, depraved and degenerate people NEED to experience such extremes. They simply HAVE TO THROW THEMSELVES unto the swords, because otherwise they won't feel a thing. They're numb. And quite often these people fall for other self-destructive club kids. Therefore, it's intensity = authenticity!!!
But I don't think that this simple calculation is "objectively true". I see it as a discursive effect. And I'd LOVE to discover the discourse that is governing this strangely attractive pattern!!!


--- Alexander Bard schrieb am So, 11.7.2010:

Von: Alexander Bard
Betreff: [Ushta] Enjoyment and Zoroastrian ethics
An: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Datum: Sonntag, 11. Juli, 2010 12:32 Uhr

Dear Dino

I agree 100%.
This is an issue which is rarely if ever discussed but absolutely true: How secularized Westerners ENVY religious people, and even religious fanatics, for the safety that religious people get from their religious convictions and activities. But they never admit this, rather they ATTACK religions for all the wrong reasons (for being bigotted, for being too loud etc, rather than attacks based on logic).
I believe this at least partly explains my own conversion to Zoroastrianism because I felt the secularized Western culture was hypocritical about its own needs and desires. And rather than wait for that need to explode in one's face, it is better to search for a RELIGIOUS alternative that is credible and then go for it.
We should discuss these highly important issues more.


2010/7/11 Special Kain

Dear friends

Following our recent discussion about the modern superego's command to enjoy, I'd like to share something with you that sounds like simplistic vulgar psychology, but is inspired by the Slovenian cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek.
I think that what we actually detest about others is their enjoyment that is so strange to us and/or that we secretly wish to experience ourselves. For example, your Turkish neighbours are too loud, you have the strangely exciting feeling that there is something inherently violent about their way of partying, but you would love to share this experience without admitting it to yourself.
This is where Jacques Lacan was 100% right - there is something inherently violent about enjoyment. It's what he called "jouissance" that is often entangled with Alan Badiou's "passion du réel" - the strong desire to indulge in self-destructive acts as a means to live fully and authentically.


torsdag 1 juli 2010

Zoroastrianism in Russia

The Galoba version of Zoroastrianism is actually far less astrological than was originally suspected. Partly because Russian Zoroastrianism also takes an influence for example from the discussions we are having here at Ushta. Partly because their neighbors for example in Scandinavia have a rather pragmatist and pantheistic take on Zoroastrianism very much in the Ushta taste. This is what I meant with "Mazdayasna Proper", a Zoroastrianism which is live and let live and not dogmatic and narrow-minded.

2010/7/1 Parviz Varjavand
Dear Alex,

You mention "Mazdayasna Proper", but we do not have a Pope or a Moobedan Moobed which can dictate what is Mazdayasna Proper and what is not. Every other day, some Zoroastrian pf some knowledge enters the discussions on Ushta and curses the rest of us and walks away mad telling us that we have got it all wrong and what they would like to dictate is the proper Mazdayasna.

Take these Russians for example, they showed interest in being Sedrepoosh and I saw to it that a friend of mine Moobedyar Kamran Lorian of Yazd went to Petersburg and Sedrepoosh them. So far he has gone on two trips and Sedrepoosh some fifty of them. They love him and he loves them, but neither side can talk the language of the other side and this is fortunate because if they did, they would get into fights. Two of them wanted to get married in a traditional Zartoshti wedding, so a group of twelve of them came to Yazd and I had a lovely traditional wedding for them in my ancestral house. I have a lovely video of this wedding and some day I may put it on Youtube or do something with it.

But these new Zoroastrians are all followers of a charismatic person named Pavel Galoba who is big in astrology. When you talk to them (via a translator, as I did) you realize that they are very heavily into Astrology and have a system developed by Galoba which he calls Zurvanist Astrology.

So, we are back to square one. All I know is that I have my definition of what "Mazdayasna Proper" is for me (ME), and that is "Philo-Sophia". Many show their anger towards me and think that I am a black sheep in the religion having this definitions coined for myself. In short, I do not know what I want to say, except to say that we can not act as if we have the yardstick of what the religion IS, we can only speak about what this religion is to US.


--- On Thu, 7/1/10, Alexander Bard wrote:

From: Alexander Bard
Subject: Re: [Ushta] Fw: fire Peterburg
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Date: Thursday, July 1, 2010, 1:35 AM

Let's invite them to Ushta! Let me see what I can do. Providing me with more email addresses always helps.
Unfortunately only a small minority of Russian Zoroastrians speak English. But their religion is genuine and Mazdayasna proper indeed.