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Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed to the prophet Zoroaster, and has influenced both Western and Eastern religious traditions.
Zoroastrianism is the same as Mazdaism, Mazdayasna, and Parsism. Parsism is the term used today among the believers in India, the largest Zoroastrian society today.
The Zoroastrian name of the religion is Mazdayasna, which combines Mazda- with the Avestan word yasna, meaning "worship, devotion". It revolves around invoking and worshipping Ahura Mazda. Ahura Mazda is a name for a divinity exalted by Zoroaster as the one uncreated Creator. Ahura is similar to Sanskrit asura. And like its Sanskrit cognate medha, mazda means "intelligence" or "wisdom". In Zoroaster's revelation, Ahura Mazda is perceived to be the creator of only the good (Yasna 31.4) (and not the bad and chaos), the "supreme benevolent providence" (Yasna 43.11), that will ultimately triumph (Yasna 48.1).
Traces of this figure are found in the oldest texts of both India and Iran, and in both cultures the word eventually appears as the epithet of other divinities too. In the gathas, hymns, thought to have been composed by Zoroaster himself, the two halves of the name are not always used together, or are used interchangeably, or are used in reverse order. Ahura Mazda is the conceptual equivalent of a proto-Indo-Iranian divinity. There is a connection to the Sanskrit divinities Varuna and Mitra.
Zoroaster stresses good thoughts, good words, good deeds for the sake of good order (Sanskrit cognate: rita) and truth, through free will.
Zoroastrians do not proselytize and the creed has no missionaries today. Basic beliefs include:
Many traits of Zoroastrianism can be traced back to the culture and beliefs of the time before the migrations that led to the Indians and Iranians becoming distinct peoples. Zoroastrianism consequently shares elements with the historical Vedic religion. Zoroastrian scripture is essentially a product of (Indo)Iranian culture together with the Vedas.
Many aspects of Zoroastrianism are present in the culture and mythologies of the peoples of the Greater Iran, as Zoroastrianism was a dominant influence on the people of the cultural continent for a thousand years. Even after the rise of Islam and the loss of direct influence, Zoroastrianism remained part of the cultural heritage.
The Avesta is the collection of the very old, sacred texts of Zoroastrianism. It contains (1) the Yasna, the primary liturgical collection. The Yasna includes the Gathas, which are thought to have been composed by Zoroaster himself; (2) the Visparad, a collection of supplements to the Yasna; (3) the Yashts, hymns in honour of the divinities; (4) the Vendidad which describes the various forms of evil spirits and ways to confound them; (5) shorter texts and prayer collections, and more.
There are also sixty secondary texts.
The Faravahar (or Ferohar) is one of the primary symbols of Zoroastrianism, believed to be the depiction of a fravashi (guardian spirit)
Around 650 CE many Zoroastrians migrated. Among them were several groups who ventured to Gujarat in western India. Their descendants are known as the Parsis today, and they are both tolerated and admired.
If you don't outsmart death, you can do much less.
The teaching of Zarathustra was more than just spiritual. He showed great interest in increased and bettered exploitation of the earth: forests should be opened, land cultivated and vermin exterminated.br> Below are some gentle lessons of Zoroastrianism. Fairly often they illustrate that terms depend in part on what Jack and Jill are taught to put into them.
The following little primer draws on book by B. S. Surti, a book that, according to him, is likely to have carred the message of Zoroastrianism to a greater number or non-Parsis than any other single book. [See Zah ii]
IN THE world of the dead, worth alone wins. [From Zah 15]
Revere all souls that fought for righteous righteousness. [Cf. Zah 17]
Live with your inside Life-giver all the days of the year in his blessed company and not only on the fixed days of the sacred feasts and festivals. [Cf. Zah 4]
Do not run away from death, and nothing can save you when the appointed time comes. [Mod Zah 14]
Keep in the sunshine. Nothing beautiful grows in the darkness. [Well, really, plants grow many times more in the night than during the day. In the day they accrue food, in the night they use it to grow - through cyclic living. That's how it normally is.] [Zah 20]
Transform waste lands and deserts into gardens. [Zah 21]
Treat birds and animals with affection and use them to improve our lots together. [Cf Zah 21]
Handy persons know how to live from within out. Mature individuals can hardly be measured, evaluated and treasured except by other stout individuals, unless skilfully allied with reliable lore.
To maintain your dear life you have to burn slowly and all right within (this includes metabolism) and outwit morbid plotters, and live without sinning a lot too.
In order to maintain life, asceticism and celibacy may not work full well.
Trying to maintain life and combating evil, one is to oppose the forces of evil and perhaps put some spokes in their wheels and those who side with evil too.
To stick to the natural helps, and to go for discernment allied with the finest principles to be found. However, to have poorly adjusted principles helps more evil on and up.
[See: ◦Ahura Mazda's creed].
Symbol teachings depend on interpretations to amount to something. Handling symbols well presupposes that you know what is meant by the symbols in the first place too, or make out something reasonable and well-functioning on top of some of them.
The Farohar or faravahar is one of the best known symbols of Zoroastrianism. However, it is not native to it, it stems from ancient Egypt's winged sun, which was an ancient (3rd millennium BC) symbol of Horus, later identified with the sun-god Ra - and ancient Egypt's "spreading eagle", a flying bird viewed from beneath, with spread wings and tail, and feet stretched out. Such a symbol with the body of a bird and a human head was among the treasures of Tutankhamun (Tutankhamen, Tutankhamon, Tutankhaten, etc., 1341-23 BCE).
The farohar symbol is currently thought to express a guardian angel.
In Zoroastrianism it is held that the purpose of life on this earth is to live in such a way that the soul progresses spiritually and unites inwardly with the wise Lord in the state called Frasho-kereti, "making fresh". Ample carefulness in the art of living and deep principles manifested in proper thoughts, words, and deeds are helps.
The ancient Farohar is an "illustrative compound" about how to handle life through suggested, deep meanings and significance.
To help the soul balance well between good and bad, the soul is given a rudder in the form of a tail with three feather layers: Good Thoughts; Good Words; Good Deeds. By them some souls are able to make their own spiritual progress.
The hands hold a circular ring, and the ring is interpreted differently.
A person's soul is pulled between opposing forces. The two long curved legs on either side of the great circle represent the forces of good and evil.
For the soul to evolve and progress, it has two wings, each with five layers of feathers.
The head of the figure may be taken to suggests that each soul has some capacity of free will to apply natural laws for good and sane mental evolution, or to disregard it. However, prior to the reign of Darius I (558?-486 BCE) in Persia, the symbol did not have a human form above the wings.
The circle in the centre represents the soul of the individual. It is shown in the same way and place as the sun of ancient Egyptians.
The sensible, waking and maturing conscience is a great help. It has been shown to advance through stages to becoming more of a rational, helpful one, according to such as Peck and Havighurst [MORE].
The finer sides of us include the sense of beauty: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
We have imagination (image-producing capacity, producing images) from within. Dreams often show it. Deep in understanding of concepts and symbols lies trained imagination. Imagination is well presented in the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf Education stemming from him.
After reaching "independent thinking", Steiner discovered that this "living thinking" could awaken parts of him from "above" [deep within]. From about 1900 Steiner began to pursue this path with determination, and gradually came to discern three forms of higher knowledge:
Love can be trained into finer nuances and colours and expressions too.
These are tall parts of man. There are others too; sayings below suggest some of them.
EVERYONE is in search of the Beloved. [Cf Zah 32]
Even in the best of us there is the lower nature that subserves [possible] Evil. Therefore, it behoves us to treat with large-hearted charity and broadminded [intent] those of our fellowmen who, either from inherited defects or unfortunate conditions of education and outward circumstances, not realising the higher, fall more under the sway of their lower nature than we do. [Cf Zah 30]
We cannot get imagination or feeling, or faith, by paying for them . . . A man is born with them. [Cf. Zah 40-1]
Cultivate Feeling and Imagination in order to develop that fineness of structure in the body which renders it capable of the most delicate sensation and fineness of structure in the mind, which renders it capable of the most delicate sympathies - in short, Fineness of Nature. [Zah 35] ◊
Constructing a thousand shrines of worship is not better than making a single soul happy. [Zah 37]
Do not lose joy in life as you grow old in years. Let not your joie de vivre be crushed under the weight of years. [Zah 38]
Have a conscience finer than the finest hair to guide the mind to abstain from evil and warn against crooked ways in the comingThe world is like a darkest night. Have a finest conscience as your guide. [Cf. Zah 40, 39]
Without fineness of nature all the noble powers of imaginaton are likely to lie dormant with nothing to work on. [Cf. Zah 35]
Imagination, its true force lies in its marvellous insight and foresight. So whenever we want to ascertain what could be the real and underlying facts of any case or object, go to good poets. They can assist seeing into the heart of things by this marvellous faculty of imagination. [Cf Zah 36-7]
Let us not mourn over the sorrows of yesterday, forgetful of joys that tomorrow has in store for us if we can handle our todays pretty well. [Cf. Zah 53-4]
Strenuous work adds zest to the pursuit of life and makes rest and recreation more enjoyable. [Zah 73] ◊
Zah: Surti, B. Thus Spake Zarathushtra. 2nd ed. Madras: Ramakrishna, 1981.
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