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Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta
(Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds)
The person of good intellect says
that the deeds of good mind must be maintained.
He knows that progressive serenity
is the true product of righteousness.
All these, Lord Wise,
are means of promotion in Your dominion.
(Gathas: Song 7 - stanza 10)
As Western governments reel from the shock (to them) result from the election in Iran, another, albeit much smaller, contest is underway this week in London which is hosting the Eighth World Zoroastrian Congress 2005. Key issues which divide members of the world-wide diaspora include 'marrying out' and conversion. Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions.
It is now one of the world's smallest religions with around a quarter of a million followers worldwide. There are 4000 Zoroastrians living in Britain.
Founded by the prophet Zoroaster in ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago, Zoroastrianism was one of the most powerful religions in the world for a millenium. It was the official religion of Persia (Iran) from 600 BCE to 650 CE.
Zoroastrianism is a religion of free choice and personal responsibility, with emphasis on truthfulness, responsibility for the well-being of fellow-man and care for the natural environment.
The following background information to the is taken from zarathushtra.com
Literally translated, Ahura means The Lord Creator, and Mazda means Supremely Wise. This was the name by which Zarathushtra addressed his God. He proclaimed that there is only one God, who is the singular creative and sustaining force of the Universe. Zarathushtra was the first Prophet who brought a monotheistic religion.
As human beings we are given the right to choose. However, because of the law of cause and effect, we are also responsible for our choices, and must face their consequences.
Even though there is only one God, our universe works on the basis of moral dualism. There is Spenta Mainyu (progressive mentality) and Angra Mainyu (evil or regressive mentality). Zarathushtra pleaded with us to think clearly before we choose, and asked us to choose the progressive choices to bring about beneficial consequences. He said that Ahura Mazda would not order us to choose either this or that.
In other words, having given us the ability to choose, Ahura Mazda leaves us alone and allows us to make our choices. And if we choose good, we will bring about good, and if we choose evil, we will cause evil. This is how the moral universe operates.
Devil / Ahriman
Based on the previous principle, we are the causes of all the good and all the evil that happens in our moral universe. Or simply stated, according to Zarathushtra, there is no Devil. However, some of the Post-Zarathushtra scripture introduced the concept of the Devil, or Ahriman, which was effectively a personification of Angra Mainyu.
Purpose in Life
To be among those who renew the world… to make the world progress towards perfection.
Happiness is a byproduct of a way of living. And happiness is for those who work for the happiness of others.
Amesha Spentas (Holy Immortals)
Zarathushtra tells us that Ahura Mazda created everything based on the 6 Amesha Spentas, which are in fact divine emanations or aspects of the creator. These are:
1. Vohu Mano – The spirit of the Good Mind
2. Asha – The spirit of Truth and Right
3. Khshatra – The spirit of Holy sovereignty
4. Spenta Armaiti – The spirit of Benevolent Devotion and Love
5. Haurvatat – The spirit of Perfection and Well-Being
6. Ameretat – The spirit of Immortality.
According to Zarathushtra not only the universe was created on the basis of these six, but also they permeate every aspect of creation including ourselves.
Later on, Post-Zarathushtra Zoroastrianism mythologized the Amesha Spentas into angelic hierarchies, and brought back some of the Pre-Zarathushtra Gods into the scripture as angels.
Ahura Mazda first created Vohu Mano or the Spirit of the Good Mind, through which God created a plan or blueprint for the universe. Part of this blueprint was to incorporate an operating mode and operating laws. This was Asha or the spirit of Truth and Right (the software of the universe).
Then comes the actual act physical creation, which involved certain actions and manifestations. This is Khshatra or the spirit of Holy Sovereignty. These manifestations are actualized through Spenta Armaiti, with much devotion, faith and love.
And finally that the universe is created in the spirit of Perfection (Haurvatat) and is timeless and immortal (Ameretat).
Each one of us carries the divine essence within ourselves. It is our duty to recognize this and act accordingly. How?
Based on Zarathushtra’s teachings, we can and should act like Ahura Mazda. We should think about every choice that we wish to make and in the spirit of our good mind choose wisely. We should respect the natural and moral laws and operating mode of the universe. We should act diligently, with love and faith. And we will then make perfect and timeless choices, and fulfill our purpose of renewing the world.
We are co-workers and co-creators of God. We are here to fulfill the divine plan, not to become obedient slaves of God, nor to be helpless children of God. And this is why we are given the choice. Even the choice not to cooperate with God’s plan and go against it, and that is why we find evil in the world. Because there are some who choose not to work according to God’s plan.
Heaven and Hell
According to Zarathushtra after we leave this life, our essence leaves the body, and depending on the choices that it has made, either it will go to the House of Songs or Realm of light (if he has made good choices) or to the Realm of Darkness and Separation (if evil choices).
Heaven and Hell are not physical places, but are described as timeless states of consciousness: either state of oneness with or separation from Ahura Mazda.
Post-Zarathushtra Zoroastrianism mythologized these timeless states of consciousness into everlasting physical locations and descriptive places. This later concept permeated into Judeo-Christian religions.
* since we are all endowed with the divine essence, we are all good and divine. Therefore it is not the human beings who are evil, but their choices, actions and deeds that could be good or evil.
* There is only one way to fight evil, and that is by spreading goodness, just as there is only one way to fight the darkness, and that is by spreading light. Similarly, only by spreading love can we eliminate hatred and enmity, and not by fighting and opposing each other.
Some Basic Maxims of Zoroastrianism
* Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta, which mean: Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.
* There is only one path and that is the path of Truth.
* Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, and then all beneficial rewards will come to you also.
The Life & Times
It is a well-known fact that very little documentary evidence about the times and life of Zarathushtra has reached our times. In fact the major piece of documentary evidence that has reached us is the text of his Divine Songs, the Gathas.
Historians have tried to reconstruct Zarathushtra’s life mainly with this one piece. However, they face a very challenging task, since this is not meant to be a biographical account, nor even a historical account of his times, but poetry describing Zarathushtra’s spiritual philosophy and worldview.
Nevertheless, there are sufficient indications to be able to piece together some basic background information. However, this has left ample room for various mythologies to evolve around his life. This text will discuss both documentary aspects of his life, as well as mythical stories.
Birth Place: North Eastern ancient Iran
Date: 2nd millennium BCE, probably around 17th Century BCE
Grandfather: Haechadaspa of the Spitama family.
Children: 3 sons and 3 daughters
Teens and youth:
Not much is known about his youth except that he was very curious and wanted to find out about things. He spend a long time outdoors, contemplating nature and the questions of life.
First converts (in order of acceptance of his philosophy):
His cousin, Maidhyoimangha
His wife, Hvovi
His 6 children
And 14 others over the next few years.
Zarathushtra encountered many difficulties and challenges imposed on him through the opposition of the established priests and local ruling princes. He tries to promulgate his teachings, but every time, the established traditions, what people were used to, manage to stop him. Eventually he and his followers leave their homeland for other lands. Still anywhere they go, they meet similar opposition from both rulers and priests.
Finally, in the land of King (Kavi) Vishtaspa, he manages to get an audience with the king. During this encounter, many of the leading priests and wise men were present, to quiz Zarathushtra and test his new philosophy.
Zarathushtra manages to answer all questions to the satisfaction of the King, who after a few days of pondering the situation, embraces this new religion and urges his subjects to do the same. This was the major breakthrough in Zarathushtra’s propagation of his message.
Two of the noted disciples of Zarathushtra, as mentioned in the Gathas, are Frashaoshtra and Jamaspa of the Hvogva family.
Later on, Zarathushtra’s daughter, Pouruchista gets married. In the Gathas, Zarathushtra advises his daughter as well as all brides and grooms-to-be, but does not name the bridegroom. However, later tradition says that she marries Jamaspa.
Zarathushtra lived a healthy life to old age. According to later tradition, Zarathushtra passes away at the age of 77, of natural causes.