Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

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Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

Spenta
This post was updated on .
I have been looking into the Zoroastrian religion for quite a while, and it seems that I found my ideal religion that represents my core values by reading the Gathas, while the other books serve as supplemental materials as inspired texts such as the Avesta and the Vendidad.

Zoroastrianism, or Mazdayasna is about preferring good choices over bad ones. Zoroastrianism requires one to think about their actions and the consequences of those actions. The results of actions, whether good or bad have an impact. It is also about seeking truth and knowledge and constant self-improvement. It is about the triumph of truth and goodness over evil and lies, Asha versus Druj, Spenta Mainyu, the progressive thought versus Angra Mainyu, the retarding thought. Thinking good thoughts, speaking good words and doing good deeds helps to eliminate wrongdoing from the world. Humans should be able to tell between good and evil, and ultimately choose the good course of action over the evil.
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

fschmidt
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What books do you recommend reading about this religion?  And what are the primary moral exercises or rituals of this religion?

To answer these same questions about my religion, it is based on the Old Testament and I also recommend The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture.  The primary moral exercise is the sabbath and the primary ritual is meeting weekly to read the Old Testament.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

Spenta
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The primary religious texts of Zoroastrianism are the Gathas.

http://zoroastrian.org/GathaSongs/index.htm

The Gathas were initially passed down orally, and consist of seventeen songs. It is written in a poetic language, so they would be easily memorized and recited. The language is Avestan, a cousin language of Sanskrit. The Gathas also give a glimpse into Aryan society during Zarathusthra's time.

The message of Zoroastrianism is straightforward and simple, no confusing doctrines, no hidden meanings.

http://www.zarathushtra.com/z/gatha/The%20Gathas%20-%20AAJ.pdf The Gathas, Our Guide by Ali A. Jafarey

Thus Spake the Real Zarathusthra http://www.zarathushtra.com/z/thus/thustxt.htm

Articles http://zoroastrian.org/articles/index.htm

According to Zarathushtra was good is, that which promotes and affirms and is in tune with the right order and bring joy and pleasure to the Living World and the Most Wise Creator. You determine what is Good using Love's Good thinking, and observing the result of your and other peoples choices. You practice improving your choice making ability by cultivating the ability to hear Seraosha God's 'voice' or communication within you, and also Chisti, which is insight or Inspiration, both mixed is more like its best meaning

You cultivate Love's Good Thinking, good practice, listening to Seraosha and Chisti through Contemplation, Meditation, Prayer and Study. This is all over the Gathas in its content, in the sayings of Zarathushtra It is on the affirmations like the Ashem Vohu etc. In a few places it is said outright, but in most places it is implied because Zarathushtra and his message are always provoking us to think, so that we arrive at the conclusions by ourselves and then find them reflected on the Gathas. It is a very interesting and powerful way of teaching  and its why Zarathushtrians must be always reflecting on their actions, their results, etc. It leads to an attitude of open mindedness of seeking truth and knowledge constantly. It also fosters tolerance and respect for free will.
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

fschmidt
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Thanks for the links, but what about moral exercises and rituals?  What I see in the links is philosophy, and your quote encourages thinking.  Unfortunately most people can't think, and therefore other means are needed to make them behave.  This is why religion needs clear rules like the Ten Commandments, clear moral exercises like the sabbath, and clear rituals and meetings like church or synagogue.  Does Zoroastrianism have these things?  If not, how do you expect Zoroastrianism to make average people behave?
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

Cornfed
Is incest still important in Zoroastrianism?
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

Spenta
In reply to this post by fschmidt
In Early Zoroastrianism, there were not much rituals. The Gathas themselves barely contain any rituals at all. There are some simple ceremonial rituals, such as acceptance rituals (upon conversion), marriage rituals, meditation, honoring the living and the dead as stated in the Staota Yesnya. So in essence, those were basic outlines for Zoroastrians to live their lives back in the days of Early Zoroastrianism, as much of early Aryan society was centered around pastoralism and agriculture. There were defined gender roles. Men were the breadwinners and warriors, and women were the homemakers and did domestic work. But the early non-Gathic Avestan texts stated that the Gathas were sung, chanted and recited by people whenever they felt like it. They gathered around a hearth or a fire altar to recite the Gathas or any Avestan supplemental texts in a congregation of followers. So there are no priests at all at the time from what is known, as the Gathas make very little mention of priests, but those who had more knowledge of the Gathas can lead congregations in prayer. Staota Yesnya was recited and explained to an inquisitive gathering.  It was followed by enjoying a feast collectively prepared by all the participants. One’s life, mentally and spiritually enriched by the Gathic doctrine, continued to progress with a higher, sublimer purpose. There were also six Gahanbar ceremonies, which were seasonal high feasts of whom everyone participated in. Persons with greater knowledge of the doctrine officiated at simple ceremonies and congregational rituals and in their spare time, taught and preached the religion. In fact, every person at the time was, in his or her own capacity, a practicing, preaching Zoroastrian.

The Khorda Avesta, a supplementary text contains many prayers, hymns and litanies of Zoroastrianism, especially the Ashem Vohu. Within the Yasna, there is also the Zoroastrian Creed, which is similar to the Ten Commandments.

So the Zoroastrianism I practice is not the same as institutionalized Zoroastrianism.

As for incest, there is no evidence nor any references for incest in the Gathas at all. So Incest would have been a Sassanid-era addition or associated with institutional Zoroastrianism with its priestly class and all that.

1. The practice was based on a wrong interpretation, quite common since the Sassanians themselves confessed that the language of the Gathas was 'hardly known and hard to decipher', that is the language was dead and they did not fully grasp it. Something that is obvious by their numerous errors of translation and interpretation. Indeed, no less of an authority than Professor  Stanley Insler, the premier Gathic scholar of the 70's and 80's, states:  " In both the Zend and the translation, the Pahlavi, is erred at every phrase .... " when speaking of the Sassanian translation and commentary (Zend) of the Gathas
2. The practice was never accepted formally and it was restricted to Magii, usually, in the fringes of the religion. The one exception appears to be the author of the Arda Viraf Nameh, but even then, the book can be considered at best 'popular' and at worse just a known work of fiction.

There is no suggestion either in the Gathas, the traditions or in the Young Avesta, as opposed to Sassanian translations of these, that Zarathushtra ever sanctioned anything even remotely associated with such a practice.
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

Spenta
This post was updated on .
Rituals within Mazdaism are the fruits of its doctrine, not the other way around. Rituals arise in Mazdaism whenever there is a need for them and abandoned once they become outdated, retarding or whenever it conflicts with doctrine. What I might also add is that imposition by fear is against Mazdaism, because it goes against the concept of free will and the idea of choosing your path in life. The Creator is not about fear and negativity, but about love and positivity. Fear, is a rather improper motivator because it either scares people off from adopting your religion or it creates spiritual cripples. The simple rule is good for the good and bad for the bad. In kind rewards, one is only responsible for their motivation to do what is right. Studying the texts, contemplation, meditation, praise and prayer are good motivators. What I also would like to add is that Mazdaism is not a religion for the typical American because it requires them to think and have self-doubts about their actions. It requires spiritual maturity for the most part. Asha is sought for its own sake and Ahura Mazda is sought for his own sake as well. Not just because people are scared or something horrible would happen to them if they don't. People can stay depraved/evil as long as they keep making wrong choices, or they become righteous/good and choose the right path.
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by Spenta
Has Zoroastrianism produced any productive cultures?  Say in comparison to Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam?
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

Spenta
This post was updated on .
fschmidt wrote
Has Zoroastrianism produced any productive cultures?  Say in comparison to Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam?
The Persian Empires were a good example. The Achaemenid Empire, The Parthian Empire, The Median Empire, The Early Sassanid Empire even though the later ones, such as the Parthians and Sassanids had a diluted form of Zoroastrianism that is more institutionalized. Ancient Iranian civilization had an impact on many cultures and civilizations. There were also Iranian-influenced peoples, particularly in the Caucasus and amongst Turkic tribes. Even many Muslim Iranian peoples are philosophically Zoroastrian rather than philosophically Muslim. Sufism and Shi'ism are examples of Zoroastrian influence in Islam. Even to this day, the influence that Persia had over many cultures is quite extensive.

Confucianism is about relationships and respect between people. Juniors must respect seniors, younger generations must respect elder generations, women must respect men. Friends should respect each other. Vassals should respect their lieges. The more respect people have for each other, the more society stays cohesive. The more 'superior' should show benevolence and concern towards 'inferiors'.

Islam is about submission. To become Muslim is to submit to the will of Allah, whether by deception or by force.

Christianity is about having faith. One cannot be saved without Jesus Christ as the savior. In more orthodox Christian traditions, one cannot be saved without the Church. Outside of the Church there is no salvation, so to speak.

Both Christianity and Islam are more similar to each other because they are more universalist in nature, that they believe that all people should be Christian or all people should be Muslim. The same is true for Mormons, Bahais, and other similar religions.

Whenever non-Muslims convert to Islam, they adopt an Arabic name, they undergo a complete change in personality. They start learning Arabic and use Arabic words everyday in their daily life. They not only want to dress like Arabs but they start to think like Arabs. Eventually they start to like what the Arabs like and hate what the Arabs hate. The Arabs' concerns become their concerns while their own concerns fade into triviality. So in this sense, Islam is a universalist but a very Arabocentric religion.

Judaism is about observance, devotion and tradition. Judaism also encourages group cohesion and solidarity as a result of these.

Institutionalized Zoroastrianism, whether Parsi or Irani, is very similar to Judaism with elaborate rituals and customs. I would say that this form of Zoroastrianism is most similar to Orthodox and Karaite Judaism.

Other religions that are similar to Instutionalized Zoroastrianism and Orthodox Judaism are Mandeanism, Samaritanism, Yezidism and Yârsânism (Yezidism and Yârsânism are practiced mainly by Kurds but also some other ethnic groups.)

Norse Paganism is about family values, honor, loyalty, integrity, courage, hard work and personal responsibility. Being trustworthy is very important amongst Germanic pagans. Many Teutonic Neopagans consider the Hávamál to be their version of the Ten Commandments. So in this sense, Gathic Zoroastrianism is closer to Norse Paganism in that followers seek to be the ideal person they can be in life.

Hinduism and Zoroastrianism, like many Indo-European religions, used to be the same religion. As time passed, Vedic Hinduism slowly evolved into a variety of religious traditions. But Hinduism is different in that regard because it is more like a salad bowl/melting pot of a variety of religious traditions. And Hinduism cannot describe a single religious tradition, as there are multiple beliefs within Hinduism. Basically it is a collection of different, diverse beliefs that share key things in common with each other. Hinduism is very class-based religion and there is the caste system. More accurately, Hinduism isn't a monolithic religion but much like the various forms of paganism. But most Hindus revere the Vedic scriptures. So it ultimately depends on the sect of Hinduism. Hinduism is also flexible and mutable and generally there is no concept of heresy, and syncretism is very common. A Hindu can gather a bunch of like-minded followers and make their own Hindu religion based on their interpretation. Hinduism is closest to the various Chinese folk religions, because China, like India used to be a melting pot/salad bowl of different cultures and religions. Except that China was a lot more cohesive than India.

Buddhism is about having to minimize suffering through knowledge in order to attain Nirvana to escape the cycle of reincarnation. Theravada is about alleviating suffering, while Mahayana is about becoming more Buddha-like. The fundamental difference in practice is like this: Theravadas are more rooted in tradition and more 'orthodox', they teach first then get followers. Mahayana is different in that they get followers first and then teach. Theravadas are more unified, while the Mahayana Buddhist traditions are far more diverse.

Buddhism shares some things in common with Gathic Zoroastrianism. The essences of Ahura Mazda and the Eight-Fold Path are similar, just as there is a similarity between Dharma and Asha.

Taoism is about living in harmony with the rest of the world. How do I explain this? While Confucianism is about living in harmony with people, Taoism is about living in harmony with everything, living in harmony with daily life in general. Taoism is about doing things according to the natural order of things. Tao is the flow of the universe, the natural order. Wu wei is simply doing things effortlessly, without exerting too much energy. Taoism is also associated with physical exercises, martial arts, rituals and disciplines.

Taoism has some key points in common with Gathic Zoroastrianism. The Tao is almost identical to Asha in every way except that the Tao is the Absolute, while Asha is a creation of the Absolute, Ahura Mazda. In Taoism, there is Yin and Yang while in Zoroastrianism there is Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainyu, since both are diametrically opposed. The main difference between Yin/Yang and the Mainyus is that Yin/Yang is not good vs evil. Yin and Yang must be kept in balance. Too much Yin is a bad thing and too much Yang is a bad thing, so there must be some kind of moderation between the two extremes. Yin and Yang are natural aspects of nature while the Mainyus are more like mentalities or discernments.

The Zoroastrianism that Zarathusthra preached is about choices and outcomes and thinking for yourself. Man, in order to prosper, must choose between Asha and Druj. Hopefully Man makes the best choices and chooses Asha and Ahura Mazda over falsehood, evils and delusions. Like Norse Paganism, Judaism, Hinduism, the Chinese religions, (the forms of) Zoroastrianism was initially an ethnic religion.

There is a lot more I could elaborate upon, but I'll leave it like that for now. Still haven't gone into detail about my thoughts on the various Christian sects.
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

fschmidt
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Thanks for the religious overview, and I agree with what you wrote about the religions that I know.  The Zoroastrian cultures that you mentioned were ancient and were powerful in their time, but I don't know what they produced intellectually.  If Zoroastrianism is a good religion, why has it faded and produced nothing recently?

The reason I asked about what Zoroastrianism has produced is because it is much easier to look at results than to argue about ideals.  For example, I think fear is an excellent motivator for average people, so I think a good religion should have plenty of fear in it.  But arguing about this kind of thing is difficult.

I haven't been posting much recently because I don't think my posts get many readers.  One post I have in my mind is about Moses and I will give a short version for you here.

At the time of Moses, Egypt was the center of the known world in the Middle East.  It was the center of civilization but was clearly in moral decline.  But it was still very powerful.  It was much like the West is now.  Egypt had gone through various religious upheavals and was confused religious mess by the time of Moses.  Before Moses, there had been an attempt to clean up religion with Atenism which was basically a monotheistic religion.  But this had failed.  I think Moses supported Atenism but realized that Egypt was a lost cause.  So he got the pharaoh to give him a bunch of slaves that he could train in his religion.  Moses simplified Atenism and explained it in a way that even an illiterate slave could understand.  This is what makes the Old Testament so powerful, that it really is aimed at the lowest common denominator of humanity which means that it theoretically could work for any people.  The Old Testament doesn't depend on deep understanding, but it is based on Moses's deep understanding of Egyptian history.

All recent Western cultural achievements are indirectly connected to the Old Testament.  Clearly Christianity and Islam are based on the Old Testament, and Judaism is a twisted version of the Old Testament.  I think this is a remarkable achievement for one book, and no other book comes close to this record.

As I posted elsewhere, I think religion is the solution, the only possible solution to moral decay.  So let's compare Zoroastrianism to the Old Testament religion.  Do you believe that Zoroastrianism is a better means of making average people moral than the Old Testament is?
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

Spenta
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by Spenta
Both Old Testament (I should call it Mosaic) society and Aryan society were pastoralist and agricultural. So these religions came from a similar background roughly around the same time period. Zarathustra came from a family of herdsmen (his father owned horses and his mother came from a family of cattle owners) and preached his new religion to people of his own background at first, illiterate farmers and herdsmen like himself. Zoroastrianism is a religion with different levels of understanding. The most basic and most simplest to be understood by anyone is "Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds". In other words, everyone should strive to be the best, ideal person they can be. Not only in thoughts, but also in words and actions. The good person gives but does not receive. In fact, he shouldn't even be caring about receiving anything to begin with. When men are taught not to think for themselves for centuries, especially by dishonest Protestant preachers, whose fault is it? If people don't bother to reflect upon their own actions, is it the fault of the religion or belief system? It is their own fault that they chose to pull the wool over their eyes. It's like saying if you don't want to improve yourself and your standards of living, can you truly improve by sitting all day watching TV getting fatter rather than getting your butt off the couch and do something useful with your life? Of course it takes a little more thought, but if people are so unmotivated to deal with their own lives and make it better for them and for those around them, they might as well be falling off a cliff like sheep. Which is why I say that modern society and modernist people are so ridiculously corrupt, it's not worth preaching to them or telling them about anything at all for the matter. While I do agree that the Mosaic faith (which I call the Old Testament religion) is moral and generally does things with considerably less effort than compared to that of Zoroastrianism. But when it comes to issues of morality, I would say self-contemplation, self-improvement and rational, honest thinking are more important. So I would not suggest one religious system is better than the other, because each religion serves its own purpose and was intended for certain purposes. Fear and punishment is a quick and easy motivator, but I would not say it brings positive results. More often than not, some of the effects can be negative. This is coming from someone who grew up with Asian immigrant parents who used fear tactics as a motivator.

Spenta wrote
Zoroastrianism can be understood at many levels. Certainly is more rational that many other belief systems of the Abrahamic persuasion and indeed, in my opinion, its far more logical than most, or all, Eastern sects as well. However, Zarathushtra did not preach to sages and intellectuals by and large, he preached to illiterate farmers, and herdsmen.

There is really nothing more simple and yet more complete than Good Thoughts Good Words, Good Actions, to these which are summarize in English as the 3 G's, we can add prayer, contemplation, meditation and study and we have a complete theology of action.

Isn't Christianity at a certain level, not "Intellectual"? At least it has attracted intellectual giants in the past and certainly the complexity of the trinity is enough to need, as apologists, brilliant men.

I would grant that comes across as intellectual, and indeed clinically so in some respects. But I have endeavored to bring out the much less dry and intellectual shades of Zarathushtra's meanings. For example its not simply good mind, its Love's Good Thinking, when in certain moods or its loving good thinking at other times. So the Gathas are far more profound and spiritual than some translations convey.

In short, I do not think that when properly understood and taught Z is an overly intellectual faith. What Z requires is rationality, and logic it is a reflective religion. To truly reach Completeness or Fulfillment we are supposed to reflect on our actions, our thoughts, our words, and weigh them in the balance of good, right, order and truth. It is an honest faith. It is not a faith for those that want to beg for favors from a dictatorial deity, Mazda wants Ham kars (co-workers, not sheep, addicts, followers, etc.

Its true that people seem to be intellectually, spiritually and generally lazy, But whose fault is it? Are they just lumpen, or is it not the fact that they have been sold a bill of goods for thousands of years? When some ministers are quoting proverbs (out of context) saying 'Son do not lean on your own understanding', when you have preachers interpreting allegorical passages about sheep, hell, etc, as literal and when they have ignored for 2100 years that the Bible calls itself a 'sealed book' and that none other than Jesus and Paul, both, castigated literal interpretations, these people have, indeed, been sold a bill of goods. People do not know, because they have not been taught. They are not interested because they have not been motivated and they do not want to think because they have been told to not lean on their own understanding.

Still if people do not want to be bothered with having to reflect on their actions, and they do not want to expand their mind, for whatever reason, they can still understand a Universal Law, good thoughts, words and actions and that choosing to do those fulfills the universal law. Any thing simpler is impossible. Any way, with those two understandings, those that do not want to meditate, contemplate or learn to, even though is for their benefit, and/or those that do not want to study, can at least improve their life and that of those around them if not, perhaps, cross the Chinvat. Imagine if we were to teach kids only the three Rs reading, 'riting' and 'rithmetic' They could function at a certain level, but as to fulfilling their potential, that would be a pipe dream.
You can't force someone to improve, as imposition and force is mental slavery. Slavery of any kind is against Mazdean values. People are unmotivated and lazy because they are taught to be unmotivated and lazy. Just as people are taught to be depraved and evil because of all the nonsense the liberal media is blurting out so that people think it's normal. Human beings aren't born depraved and evil, they are taught to be depraved and evil because they think it's the cool thing to do. And doing nice things and being more rational is considered to be 'uncool' by most liberals and progressives.

By contrast, I would say many aspects of Western culture (and Eastern culture) come from Mazdean influence, whether directly or indirectly. For instance, Augustinian theology in Christianity has Manichaean roots, in which Manichaeism was an offshoot of Zurvanite Mazdeanism.

Western Europe also adopted armored cavalrymen from contact with the Byzantine empire, which borrowed the concept of the cataphracts from their Persian enemies that they were fighting against for centuries.

Since Persia was the main entry point of contact between the vast empires of the world, it was natural that Persian concepts influenced from West to East. And the Persian Empires, being rather cosmopolitan and multicultural, naturally absorbed some Western and Eastern concepts into its own culture.
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

fschmidt
Administrator
Spenta, I think we should talk.  At least we both agree that religion is important, and that means we have more in common than most.  You could join a Scripturist service or just contact me on Skype at "franklin_schmidt".
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

Shahzad
In reply to this post by Spenta
Hi Spenta,

I am a Zoroastrian (by birth) and truly enjoy what you are writing. You know more than most Zoroastrians I know.

Would it be possible to discuss these topics with you further?
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

Spenta
Shahzad wrote
Hi Spenta,

I am a Zoroastrian (by birth) and truly enjoy what you are writing. You know more than most Zoroastrians I know.

Would it be possible to discuss these topics with you further?
Sorry it took a while to respond. But feel free to discuss the topic with me at liberty. There is still a lot that I don't know about the faith, but I am looking into it.
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

ashavan
In reply to this post by fschmidt
The practices of Mazdeism or Zarathushtrism (Zoroastrism, is a Greek misspelling) is precisely as Spenta has said. You practice the doctrine by choosing. Y at every moment of our life we are presented with choice . Zarathushtra states in Song 23.2 what Mazdeists consider to be The Principle of Choice , which applies to all human choice but especially and spiritually speaking to ethical choice. It read in an amplified translation as follows:
 
" Listen, carefully, with your ears, to that which highest and best. Consider it. with a thinking that is devoid of preconceptions and informed. Then, choose between the dual paths, which exist in every choice, deciding both men and women, each by their own selves. Do this before the day of the great and definite event, ushers in. Awaken, each one of you, and teach this message to all!"

The practice of choice which decides between the possible ethical alternatives of every decision Is the first and most important practice of a Mazdeist. This elevates  each human choice to a form of religious practice sacralizing them, But what is good.? Good in Mazdeist is doctrine is that which manifests the love of God. The most used prayer in Mazdeism and part of the Gatha as an introduction is the Ashem Vohu. Its called a prayer traditionally but is more on the line of a meditational text. it reads

 Ashem, (what is right, righteousneous, and the order or reality it creates, is love, it is the best and highest, it is a Radiant light which awakens. This radiant light which awakens comes to those who are for what is right only because it is the best and highest form of righteousness,

 To be for what is right is to be for Love which is the will of God. It is also to be for the right and real  order of things. Essential to Mazdeist doctrine, is that we do not perceive reality correctly. We are influenced by our false perceptions. Men do not possess innate knowledge , they have to learn things to acquire knowledge . Thus we do not always know how to choose . This creates error is this that is called Druj or Falsehood or Unreality. Our life here in the plane Zarathushtra calls IN-Boned, (Astvatat, and Gaethic (Mundane) is a struggle to see beyond the illusion created by our false perceptions of reality. This struggles matures us and allows us to progress ethically towards what we are in potential, that is God-like.  Needless to say I can't cover all the nuisances of a Spiritual Doctrine such as this, in one email. As to practices Zarathushtra revolted against excessive ritualism which was rampant in the old Aryan pagan religion. He basically states several times in his Songs (Gaathas) that to do right actions. think right thoughts, and Speak right words ( which he also calls good, thoughts words and actions, is a the spiritual practice of a Mazdeist. Rites that Zarathushtra directly endorses are prayer, adoration, praise and meditation. Ceremonies include Initiation, Marriage, Blessing homes and praising righteous persons, Evolving from these practices, his immediate followers added the homage to nature which is really the homage of the immanent god in creation, and other rituals. Unfortunately with the passage of time the religion deviated from his lofty ideals , mainly because of the infiltration of the priesthood and its ideas. Today there is a large movement to Restore Gathic Zoroastrianism and eliminate the dross it has accumulated through out the Years. Mazdeist also celebrate life Zarathushtra is supposed to have laughed at birth. The doctrine is identified with nature and follows the seasons which iot celebrates with what it calls Gaatha festivals to these are added certain days like Zarathushtra's birthday NowRuz or New Day a new yer celebration and certain other holidays.
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

ashavan
In reply to this post by Cornfed
Incest?  Incest was never practiced in Mazdeism, except very late in the Sassanian period and that by certain elements of the priesthood. The whole issue centers around  the translation of a phrase  which includes the word that transliterated is Khavaetu. In the Gathas it refers to one's family. In the Sassanian era writings and in the Pahlavi translations of the Young Avesta, which are those writings that are dated usually between 300 and 1000 years after the death of Zarathushtra, that phrase was interpreted by some of the leading Sassanian Mobeds as endorsing next of kin marriages. This is an unfortunate translation and interpretation. As a matter of fact it  was almost certainly an attempt of  imposing or at least making mainline, a custom of the Mada, the Medan sacerdotal tribe (similar to the Levites) as it was for the equally Madan custom of burial by exposure in Towers of Silence.

In the Gaathas, the phrase appears in Old Avestan or Gathic which was Zarathushtra's languague. Its closest parallel is Rig Vedic Sanskrit, where the phrase means that persons should marry inside their inner, meaning spiritual, (na) family. When you first look at the whole context of the Gaathas and, especially, at the one Song  in which the phrase appears, which is the occasion of the marriage of Zarathushtra's daughter Pourochista, to Jamaspa, Zarathushtra's immediate succesor, its clear that the phrase does not refer to next of kin marriage. It is used in the context of Pourocista, marrying within her 'inner' family, but this cannot mean she married a next of kin, because she marries Jamaspa, who was not from her family but rather a member of another family. Thus here na, which literally means inner or inside, is referring to the advise that people ought to follow Pourochista's example and marry within the faith or spiritual family.
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Re: Considering Gathic Zoroastrianism

ashavan
In reply to this post by Spenta
I agree with Spenta , except that he is totally missed the universality of Z teaching Zarathushtra himself states that he wishes to convert all the leaving. The Maga a term very often mistranslated,  was The Fellowship of Thought Song Composers or Weavers (Ma thought Ga song, hymn or chant) In fact it was a fellowship of traveling missionaries that told the message of Mazdeism through songs. The Religion openly sought converts , in fact Zarathushtra himself converted the Turanians , which were a Non-Iranian people ( perhaps the forefathers of the Turks) and the enemies of the Iranians which they often raided. Mazdeism was thus, from its very beginning a missionary and universalist religion.

The nature of the Zarathushtrian missionary movement and its practices, however, was totally different from what we consider today to be the typical missionary and conversion movements, which are very often identified solely with Christianity. First Mazdeism is above all a matter of independent inform and meditative choice. It never seeks to impose itself. It merely informs people, answers questions and presents itself as a choice, a better choice. It does not condemn non-believers to hell nor does it attack other religions. It does, however, teach that there is one theology or teaching about the nature of God, that all Divine religions ought to follow. That theology presents itself as follows.

1. God, to be God. and worthy of adoration must be, and is, ethically superior to humans. Indeed, superior in every way. Thus any theology that represents God as capable of committing, or ordering anything, that is unethical, like killing, except in self defense or in defense of the innocent, genocide, infanticide,  stealing, marauding, slavery, booty sharing, discriminating another human being in terms of nationality, sex, or ethnicity, or defrauding, manipulating, deceiving other humans in any way, and even of harming, needlessly, any creation or missusing it, cannot be a Divine theology,  but its either a misinterpretation or manipulation of such a theology.
2. All human religions were founded based on the Dooctrine or Spiritual Perception of the Saviors. Zarathushtra predicted that there would be "Saviors of the Lands with advanced doctrines'. Indeed. one of the names he himself gave to his Spiritual Doctrine is the Spiritual Doctrine of the Saviors. He expected these saviors to teach doctrines that would have the correct  or Divine Theology
 3. His immediate followers basing themselves in all that he had taught claimed that other Spiritual Doctrines that where or would come could be great and good, although, they did claim that among all those that where great and good Mazdeism was the best, the more sublime, Ahuric (Lordly or Godly) and Zarathushtrian. (The Fravarane; The Initiation Prayer)
4. Zarathushtra and his immediate followers, also posited the existence of Good Religion and by implication of Bad Religion.  One of the names of Zarathushtra's Spiritual Doctrine was the Doctrine of Love, also translated as the Good  Doctrine. That word  for doctrine, Daena, came to be identified with Religion, so that, some of his followers named their Religion the Good Religion. They also called it, Mazdayasna or the Worship of Mazda one of the two names of God in Mazdeism.

Openly Mazdeists proclaim the existence of Bad Religion which they called Daevayasna. The Daevas are described by Zarathushtra in Song 5.3 as follows:

" But all of you Daevas are the off-spring falsehood and illusion, of that thinking which is bad and unquestioning, as also is the one who honors you greatly. You are, as well, off-spring of disdainful mind.  You even are of double dealing actions, which you propagate in the seventh clime of the Universe."

The daevas are not, as the Young Avesta and Institutionalized Zoroastrianism think, demons. Rather they are off-spring of falsehood and illusion that is of false perception of how God is. The word Daeva means literally love of the shine, that is love of of what is not real or substantial but appears to be so. In other words, its like mixing the shine, which is the reflection of a light, with the light itself. The mind that gives birth to the conception of  a daeva, is disdainful of the real nature of God. Their followers are of double dealing , treacherous and dishonest actions and propagate them in the part of the universe in which, traditionally, humanity dwells the Seventh. However this can be an idiom for all the Universe as seven is the symbol for totality.
5. It is the duty of the righteous to fight the wrongful mental perceptions of the followers of the illusory deities, created by their own wrongful minds, as well as, their words and actions. This implies that the righteous should strive to reform all the theologioes that man has woven about the nature of God, so that, they reflect a God which is Ethically Perfect, incapable of doing wrong. This means that God is all Good Ethically and cannot harm what he loves that is His/Her (Mazda is a feminine noun and Ahura is a masculine noun) creation. It means that there is no hell in Mazdeism, that our souls self judge themselves and that The Abode of Wrong is not hell, but where wrong, falsehood, deceit and chaos can exist. I.E. where druj (wrong, deceit, illusion and chaos) is present and can be present. Reality is one, but it has two dimensions. The Corporal or Inboned and the Mental or Spiritual. In the corporal, wrong can exist and influences us. It is not allowed in the spiritual. All souls must transverse an allegorical Bridge of Accounts, (think of it as an inter-dimensional portal) only the soul who has achieved realization, who has  completed (haurvatat) its divine potential of God likeness can transverse this bridge. The souls of the unrighteous, the ones who have failed to realize their potential, must return back. For, it is said, they have always lived in the Abode of Wrong. In other words, this is a doctrine of Soul Return. It is NOT re-incarnation in the Hindu-Buddhist sense, because there is no Karmic debt. The soul self judges at the Bridge. It is said in the Young Avesta, that, in its stay at the Bridge, the wrongful soul suffers all the remorse and guilt it should have experienced for  its bad actions, words and thoughts in all its life time. This, together with the the Law of Reward which says that the good receive good for their good thoughts, words and actions while the bad receive bad, for the same, eliminate any need for Karmic debt. The slate is wiped clean and the soul which returns from the Bridge, reincarnates with no debt from previous lives.  In Song 3 8 thru 10, it is said, that when the wrongful have received their full pay, they will also be taught to deliver wrong, deceit, illusion and chaos, unto the hands of right, truth and order by the thinking belonging to love. Then, it is said, the power of evil will be shattered and all having pursued and honorable name, IE having worked to deliver themselves, as partners of God, of their false perceptions, will be immediately cross over unto the Abode of God. This is the theology of Gathic Mazdeists, some conservatives and  extreme ethnical religion types disagree with this and espouse a more or less Institutional view of the faith.