ABSTRACT

Vohu Manah may best be described as the enlightenment that comes to a person, who perceives the Superior Wise Being as Most Wise and Great Creator, Good Lord of Existence, in all its magnificence. It is a mind that is capable of logical and precise thinking, with clarity of thought, that is free from preconceptions. It is a mind that becomes benevolent; thinks for and of the good; committed to it and also is the thinking that desires communion with God. As with the other Essences of Ahura Mazda, Vohu Manah indwells in human beings and can be manifested by Man as he chooses to think, speak and act in accordance with it. In the Gathas, it is taught that God is worshipped by choosing to act in accordance to all the different Essences of His person. So when Man makes an informed choice of acting in accord with his Vohu Manah, he is indeed worshipping, venerating and praising God!

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Vohu Manah may best be described as the enlightenment which comes to a person, who like Zarathushtra, perceives the Super Wise Being, as the fashioner of Nature in all its magnificence.
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Vohu Manah: The Loving Good Thinking & Aaramaiti: Serenity

Vohu Manah,
the Enlightened Human MindVOHU MANAH: Perhaps no concept is as consistently emphasized in the Gathas as the "Loving Good Thinking" or "Vohu Manah". It is an Essence of Ahura Mazda (like Asha and others), which can also be acquired and refined within Man.

It comes to a person who chooses "Spenta Mainyu" meaning Creative and Bountiful Mind/Spirit, by seeking to examine the "...best things... ponder (reflect & meditate) with a bright (clear and unbiased) mind (and) …select either of the two discernments ((minds/spirits)…" (Song 3:2).

Vohu Manah may best be described as the enlightenment which comes to a person, who like Zarathushtra, perceives the Superior Wise Being, as Most Wise and Great Creator, Good Lord of Existence, in all its magnificence. It is a mind capable of logical and precise thinking, with clarity of thought, that is free from preconceptions, and is thereby able to perceive the goodness of the Creator.

However, it is important to note that logic and rationality of thought are not the only requisites of Vohu Manah that Zarathushtra wants us to strive for. Vohu Manah is a mind that tempers rationality with benevolence. It is the mind that, having perceived the utter innate goodness of God, becomes benevolent; thinks for and of the good; and is committed to it.

This concept of Vohu Manah, as more than just good mind, is reinforced by linguistics as well. "Vohu" is a compound of "hu" meaning 'good' and "vo" is the masculine of van a cognate of English "want" and is related to "Van" in Sanskrit, which means "desire Love", thus Vo + hu becomes Loving Goodness. Some say that vo is just an augmentative particle in which case Vohu Manah would mean more than Good Thinking. However they ignore the relation with "Van". The same is the issue with those that translate Vohumanah as Good Mind - they IGNORE VO and also do not account for the ending "ah", which means to be.

Since "good" in theTeaching of the Saviors is that which promotes the refreshing (improvement) of creation and the progress of the soul through, completeness (Haurvatat) and immortality (Ameretat) towards the "House of Song", and radiantly happy communion with God; we can conclude that Vohu Manah is also "the thinking that desires communion with God."

As with the other Essences of Ahura Mazda, Vohu Manah indwells in human beings, and can be manifested by Man as he chooses to think, speak and act in accordance with it. It is a tool to get us to the final goal of this physical existence, and at the same time it is a part and very fiber of God's being. So it is one of the principal means for achieving the goal, and at the same time is part and parcel of that same goal, which is the Better Existence, "…where God dwells…"

In the Gathas, it is taught that God is worshipped by choosing to act in accordance to all the different Essences of His person. So when Man makes an informed choice of acting in accord with his Vohu Manah, he is indeed worshipping, venerating and praising God! God Himself, through His all-encompassing Goodness, transforms our thinking into Vohu Manah, if we choose to seek Him through Spenta Mainyu. Once we have acquired it, we must constantly exercise our choices in accord with it. And as it grows in us, it helps us to discern Asha, and to conceive and promote Kshathra together with Asha and Aaramaiti. It is thus an essential component in our journey on the path of Asha (The True and Right Order of Things) to Haurvatat (Wholeness) and Ameretat (Immortality) and "Better Existence", which Zarathushtra has named the "House (or Kingdom) of the Loving Good Thinking", where Ahura dwells.

The following are some of the ways Vohu Manah is used in the Gathas by Zarathushtra:

We should "…perform all…. actions based…on the wisdom of good thinking …" (Song1: 1). We approach God "…through good thinking …" (Song 1:2). We should be "…attuning…our…soul to good thinking …" (Song 1:4).

When we are "…. realizing good thinking to see the True and Right Order of Things …" (Song 1:5). We are "…asking God to come through good thinking " (Song 1:6) "…asking the True and Right Order of Things for gifts of good thinking …" (Song 1:7). God knows "…those whom…" are "… just and earnest in…good thinking …" (Song1: 10).

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AARAMAITI:
Aaramaiti is another pivotal concept in the Gathas. It is also an essential Essence of God - perhaps one that is the most difficult to comprehend, because it has varied translations. It has been translated as Piety, Devotion, Right-mindedness, all based on one possible linguistical root. It has also been translated as Serenity, Stability, Tranquility and Equanimity based on another one.

I am not a linguist, but having studied both arguments, and having seen the way the word is used in the Gathas, I have come to believe that its meaning is as I described above, because:
(a) Aaramaiti is used as "Spenta" Aaramaiti: meaning Progressive and Creative Aaramaiti.
(b) Aaramaiti helps in the establishing of Vohu Kshathra - The Good Loving Kingdom: A Way of Life and/or Social Order.

In my opinion a good case can be made for Aaramaiti as a way to achieve Serenity / Equanimity / Stability / Peace, because it is stability that is absolutely necessary, to the progress of both the social and personal aspects of this Good Loving Kingdom / Social Order / Way of Life. In addition, Aaramaiti includes the idea of perseverance (in the Gathas it is referred to as "steadfast") in thinking, speaking and doing what is right. Thus it is the link between Loving Good Thinking and Kshathra. It is what gives strength and vitality to the Loving Good Thinking's understanding of Kshathra. But maiti means literally thoughtness and is translated elsewhere as meditation. Looking at the word carefully, AA is a prefix that means with,  ra is related to governance, or rule, so what we have her in my opinion is Meditation for Self Control , and if we take this, then we understand why Aaramaiti is linked to Serenity, Peace and Tranquility. It is precisely, because it is a way to achieve inner serenity, tranquility and peace.

In the Gathas, Kshathra is sometimes referred to as "Vohu Kshathra" (Good Loving Kingdom) and at other times it is referred to as "Kshathra Vairya" (Loving Kingdom of Choice). While Vohu Manah gives the 'vohu' (or benevolent) aspect to Kshathra, it is Aaramaiti, which gives it its 'vairya' or choice aspect. Here are some verses from the Gathas, which show the way Zarathushtra used the Essence of Aaramaiti:

Aaramaiti "…promotes the imperishable Loving Kingdom (Kshathra) (Song 1:3).
It grants wishes (Song 1:7). The reward and Aaramaiti follow the invocation of the True and Right Order of things (Song 4:4). It belongs to God (Song 4:9). It grants courage (Song 6:12).

Forsaking Aaramaiti is to avoid the True and Right Order of things (Song 7:9). It is the product of True and Right Order of things, and promotes steadfast strength (Song 7:11). It grants the blessings of a rich life of good thinking. (Song 8:1). It helps to understand the laws of Divine intelligence (Song 8:6). It prevails in the "Sun Bathed Loving Kingdom" (Song 8:16). Actions in accord with Aaramaiti, promote the True and Right Order of things (Song 9:6).

It polishes words and deeds of the best teaching (9:10). It comes to those to whom the Divine Teaching is taught. (9:11). It is good working (10:4). It is used to praise and exalt God (10:10. Promotes the world (11:12). Accompanies the True and Right Order of things, to where God dwells (11:16).

God grants Wholeness (Haurvatat: Completeness, Fulfillment) and Immortality (Ameretat) through Aaramaiti (12:1). Words of Loving Goodness are deeds performed by Aaramaiti (12:2).
God grants it to creative persons (12:3). Its growth with the True and Right Order of things, converts many a seeker (12:6).

Good rulers rule with understanding and actions of Aaramaiti (13:5). Together with the True and Right Order of things, it brings peaceful dwelling and settlement through Kshathra (Loving Kingdom, Way of Life, Social Order or Sovereignty) (13:11).

The Lovers of Illusion and Deceit never hold Aaramaiti to be their own (14:2). It links Teaching to Loving Good Thinking, through devotion and invocation. (14:5). Reverence comes through it (14:10).

Deeds done for the Loving Kingdom are dedicated to Aaramaiti (16:1 & 2).
The True and Right Order of Things is through Loving Good Thinking and through deeds that stem from Aaramaiti (Song 16:20). We are called to work with the most creative and munificent Aaramaiti.

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