DISCUSSIONS ABOUT ZOROASTRIANISM
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( Q & R entries are anonymous. The author does not accept any responsibility for whatever views expressed in them )
# 1) Q: I wonder if the Jews could object to the postulate that Zarathushtra was the first prophet in history to preach monotheism? Who was Abraham, a real prophet, or just a fairy-tale figure? Who actually published the first Bible and when - what is its origin - was it Moses? Is there anything known about this that you know of? According to the Bible the Jews in Egypt and so Moses, or Jozef (who brought the Jews to Egypt) must have been at least a thousand years before Zarathushtra, practicing monotheism. Or did it never happen?
A: Well, the Jews are not going to give recognition to a gentile. Abraham to them was a patriarch and not truly a prophet. Moses however would have been the father of monotheism. Of course this is doubtful since even Sarai ( Abraham's wife before her name was changed to Sarah) had her household idols and the Ten Commandments talk about other gods. There is a very good chance that the Biblical Moses, was not a real person, but a composite figure of an Egyptian priest (the name is probably derived from Ramses) and some Jewish tribal leaders. In any case, the Exodus, as described in the Bible, did not happen. The Bible hints at a number of around a million plus Jews migrating. There is no archeological record for such a massive migration in the Sinai, none at all.
Abraham himself was probably also a composite of several figures. But whether he was one (very unlikely) or many, there is little doubt that behind the myths there were real persons. There is no way to know for certain who published the First Bible. To start out with, the process started with the Pentateuch and that was not all composed at the same time and certainly there was more than one hand involved. Indeed, literal critics see several documents (as many as 4), that were collated and merged. Even the Samaritan Pentateuch does not match the Jewish one.
As to the Bible itself, most of it dates to the Persian era. In all likelihood Ezra edited and even wrote parts of it. Joseph, if we are to believe the most likely Biblical Dateline, was around in 1600 BC which, if we follow the Iranian date of Zarathushtra, makes him 100 years or so AFTER Zarathushtra. But Joseph was no prophet. Moses, who also might not have truly existed, was around 1200 BC or so, a full 500 years AFTER Zarathushtra (again using Iranian dates for Zarathushtra). But, like I said, neither Joseph nor Moses were truly Monotheists, even if they existed. Just check out the Ten Commandments like: " I am Yahweh your God, Thou shall have no other gods before me." Here Yahweh makes himself the God of the Jews and forbids them to have other gods. You see, the Jews, till Persian times, believed there were other Gods. In fact each tribe and each nation had their gods.
# 2) Q: It appears to me that Zoroastrianism is alien to western cultures and thus its religious concepts will not be understood, even less accepted by those raised in a totally different line of thinking.
A: Zoroastrianism is far from being alien to Western culture; it's the root of much of it. It is not Zarathushtra's fault that the Iranians failed to grasp and carry on with the original message and prostituted the religion. It is not his fault that the Sassanians bled themselves white in frustrating little wars with the Christians. It is not his fault that a master of trade caravans from the desert, enthused by all the religious fervor of his times, created a new religion, in which he included long held nationalistic ambitions. AND, it's certainly not his fault that Jewish scholars spread a semitic religion all over the Roman Empire.
Western culture has been heavily influenced by several Semitic religions and I do not mean this as a racist or even derogatory remark, it's just the plain truth. Now, we can and I believe we should, seek the roots of Western culture, specially, its ethical roots. But It wont be easy, it will take a long time. However, I believe, it must be done. However, we cannot do it by caving into the Ethical Paradigm taught by these Abrahamic religions, ourselves. Abrahamic Religion ( refering to those religions that believe in Abraham as either a prophet or a patriarch) has proven itself, in my opinion, to be a failed paradigm, an incorrect and contradictory vision of the Nature of God. It must be relegated and supplanted by a truly functional faith, based not on superstition, ignorance and blind faith on unquestioned authorities, whether these authorities are, books, people or institutions, but on reason, free choice , free discourse, freedom of information, equality, fairness and respect for the environment
# 3) Q: Is the essence of Zoroastrianism to realize God in one self, just as Zarathushtra did?"
A: Well, not exactly. Zarathushtra realized that there was a Supreme Being or Entity and that it indeed had to be in a certain way to be truly supreme etc. He also realized that by harmonizing one self to the Divine Order, one could access certain qualities and powers of this Supreme and become like unto Him/Her/It. But like, is not the same as equal - it is more similar to. The notion that we are god, in kind of nature, is not present in Zarathushtra's teaching, as far as I can tell.
# 4) Q: I have a problem with "infinite past" in that who, or whatever, is infinitely old, can't become a second older than the present moment - you can't add anything to infinity. Thus whatever exists must have had a beginning and so the question arises what started God? This was my main argument against the possible existence of an "infinite" God. However, if time had a beginning without a before, then something came from nothing, from a void, and that doesn't make sense either. The other day I came to the insight that there is no future, but only the present moment, becoming the past ad infinitum. See it like this, whatever you plan to do tomorrow, once you do it , it will be today. Tomorrow does not exist but in imagination - it's not physical reality. In this view neither God, nor the present moment, has an age and so the past is incomplete, while the present moment never had (not need) a beginning. In other words, God never WAS, but He simply IS. Brings me to the translation of the word "Jaweh", which I've been told means: 'I am who is'.
# 5) Q: Do you believe that God, as a "person" directly communicated with Zarathushtra, as later prophets claim to have done? I personally doubt that very much and rather think that Zarathustra litterally REALIZED God within himself and in the religious sense, acted and spoke by Divine Inspiration, rather than physically hearing a "voice" coming from nowhere.
A: I see what you mean with realizing. I agree and no, definitely I do not think that Mazda Ahura showed up on a cloud and talked to Zarathushtra. Communicated? Yep, through His Mind. After all, Mainyu is also one of the names given to the next dimension of existence (what westerners call spiritual) and one of its meanings is Mind. Therefore, in a sense, God is mind, or mind energy, and the next dimension of existence is Mental. But we should not call Zarathushtra a prophet. He is a Thought Provoker and Teacher, a "Manthran", not a prophet at all.
# 6) Q: I don't see why a prophet couldn't be a thought provoker and teacher at the same time. Whoever preaches a "new" God, simply is a prophet. Besides, per definition, a prophet is supposed to have an assignment from God, being His messenger and is as such on a higher level than a "teacher", who could act on his own behalf. I've seen that many Z-sites refer to Zarathushtra as a prophet. I can't see anything negative in the word, unless religion as such is perceived negative.
A: The Iranian authors of these Z-sites, are victims of over 1300 years of islamization. If we are about Restoring the Original Message of the Manthran, these things do matter. Unfortunately the Abrahamic world's view won the field in the past and has shaped the terminology and way of thinking of billions who, thankfully, are now slowly awakening from this deep sleep and yet have no other frame of reference. So we need to spoon feed them the new frame of reference by progressively replacing the Abrahamic wrong thinking, with the Zarathushti right thinking.
Prophet is the term, in question. Why is it in the end unacceptable? Well, because prophet is the creation of minds which conceived God as a tyrant overseer, that possessed certain people to speak through them. It is a magical concept for its use of foretelling future events, as prophecies. It violates the notion of Mazda Ahura as an ally and partner of man. That is why prophet is not acceptable in the end, within the original Zarathushti context.
# 7) Q: In Zoroastrian belief we must thus say that God never revealed Himself to people? That means anyone can "invent" a God by imagining (realizing) one. Zarathushtra, not being a prophet, not having had a supernatural experience, will not be taken seriously. A religion without a God sent prophet? I don't believe in it. Without a God, Zoroastrianism is in my view almost identical to theoretical Buddhism in terms of enlightenment, good deeds, good thoughts, etc. It's the supernatural thing that's missing here.
A: The supernatural is just a name for something we do not know or understand and that in reality is perfectly natural. If God Wise does not violate His laws and indeed cannot violate them, then it follows that the Supernatural does not exist. It's either hocus pocus, or it's a spiritual experience, a vision. You must remember that the same gentleman that asks us to think things through, Zarathushtra, is the same that 'sees' Mazda at creation with His mind and 'hears' His voice, and calls himself a 'seer'. This are allegorical terms. The problem with the Abrahamics and from what you tell me, the Buddhists, is that they have taken the allegorical, the symbolical and the metaphorical and made it literal.
There is NOTHING Super Natural about a Natural God. Just because we can not discern, at present, the full nature of reality and thus of nature, we cannot go on calling the unknown supernatural. To the 15th Century Mexicans, the Spaniards were Supernatural Gods; to the 16th Century Europeans, today's Jet Planes would be super natural too. It is silly for us humans to call the unknown super natural, when we do not even know the extent of what is natural.
Mazda Ahura is the natural God, because He works within His Laws, of which He is the Source. They are His Essence and thus inseparable from His nature. He cannot violate them without violating Himself. Communication between a Super Wise Mind and our Minds is the tenet of Mazdayasna (Zoroastrianism), that stands behind Seraosha; the so called Voice of God , that is, further described as inspiration, a hearkening and the voice of conscience. Chisti is insight, Kratum is the discernining faculty that helps us form criteria, all these are Present in man and God, in different states. Man's are latent because he is immature and has not learned to choose like his Creator.
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