Zoroastrianism a Paleolithic Religion, Origin of Monotheism, Salvation Theology?

Laura

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Palinurus said:
That's good enough. I did notice some text conversion errors so they must have scanned the book. But it will work. You should start at the beginning and read the entire book.
Laura, I beg to differ about this.

Naturally, when the link was given I immediately checked it out. What I discovered was a limited paraphrase and/or summary by someone else (K.E. Eduljee) of only three chapters (9, 10, and 11) from the work of Zaehner. It might suffice as an introduction, but the complete work cannot be found at that site and I have serious doubts about the veracity of that site itself. It might have its own agenda in these matters.

This link gives a complete overview of the contents of Zaehner's work so one can see what's missing.

My two cents. :rolleyes:
Then that's a better answer. I only quickly scanned a couple of paragraphs which included quotes (apparently) and there were text errors. I assumed from the organization of the files that it was the complete text.

Sorry that I don't have time to go over everything with a fine-toothed comb these days. I'm pretty much dancing as fast as I can considering I can barely walk!
 

Niall

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obyvatel said:
This post is about a possible connection between Gurdjieff and Zoroastrianism. J G Bennett, in his book ""Gurdjieff: Making a New World" hypothesized that Gurdjieff's teachings, especially what he put down in Beelzebub's Tales, were strongly influenced by Zoroastrianism.

Here are a few relevant excerpts from Bennett.

<snip>

Gurdjieff: Making a New World said:
Gurdjieff provides here another astonishing clue. He says that the society ‘The Earth-is-Equally-Free-for-All’ set itself to establish in Asia a single religion, a single language and a single central authority. The religion they selected was “to be based in that of the Parsis, only changing it a little” (ibid., p. 1093). The language was to be Turkmen, the Turkish dialect spoken in Turkmenistan from Samarkand to Balkh. The central authority was to be established at Margelan, the capital of the Ferghanian Khanate. No reference to the Parsis, the religion founded by Zoroaster, appears elsewhere in Gurdjieff’s writings.
Intriguing!

Here's the relevant passage from Beelzebub (pp. 1090-1093):

Beelzebub's Tales said:
“Well, now, my boy, after this digression which I have made for your practical benefit, let us return again to the serious question touched upon; I shall begin with the history promised you about how the society of terrestrial beings which had as its motto ‘The-Earth-Is-Equally-Free-for-All arose and fell, because the information about this will give you the possibility to understand well just about that first and chief cause why there on your planet this terrible process of periodic reciprocal destruction by these unfortunate three-brained beings of our Great Megalocosmos must already almost inevitably proceed.

“And likewise you will learn how the, so to say, local Nature—when something unforeseen hinders its correct functioning for the purposes of the common-cosmic Trogoautoegocrat—adapts itself so that its results should correspondingly blend with the harmony of this most great cosmic law.

“The said society of terrestrial beings-men arose, as I have already told you, six or seven centuries ago on the continent Asia in a town then existing under the name of Mosulopolis.
Mosul, northern Iraq?

The date is circa late-14th century CE, going by later references to Timur (aka Tamerlane) and post-Mongol khanates. Mosul was part of the Timurid Empire at this time. So this came after the Pax Mongolica, and after the Black Death had done its worst, wiping out something like 100 million people across Eurasia in the mid-14th century.

Beelzebub's Tales said:
“And it arose from the following cause:

“Just at that period, the processes I have mentioned were flowing particularly frequently on just that same continent.

“These processes occurred partly between different communities and partly within the limits of these communities themselves; and these latter processes
afterwards came to be called ‘civil wars.’

One of the chief causes of these terrible processes which became frequent both between and within communities on the continent Asia was, at that period, a religion, then only just formed, which had been fantastically founded on the teaching of a genuine messenger of our ENDLESSNESS—Saint Mohammed.

“The foundation of the said society was then first laid by the brothers of the fraternity then existing in Central Asia under the name of ‘The Assembly of the Enlightened.’

“Here it must be noticed that in those days the brothers of this fraternity were beings who were very much venerated by other three-brained beings around them of almost the whole of that planet, and hence this brotherhood was sometimes also called ‘The-Assembly-of-All-the-Living-Saints-of-the-Earth.’

“This brotherhood of the three-brained terrestrial beings had already long before been formed of such beings who had also noticed in themselves the consequences of the properties of the organ Kundabuffer and had banded together to work collectively for their deliverance from these properties.

“And so, when on their continent Asia these terrible processes of reciprocal destruction there became already too frequent, certain brothers of the said fraternity, with the most venerable Brother Olmantaboor at their head, just decided for the first time to try whether it would not be possible to obtain by some means, if not the total abolition of this terrible phenomenon proceeding on their planet, at least the reduction of this crying evil.

“Having devoted themselves to the carrying out of this decision of theirs they then began to visit various countries of the continent Asia and everywhere very movingly preached the colossal criminality and sin of these actions of men and in this way they found many people earnestly with them.

“And as a consequence of all their impartial and truly philanthropic labors, there was formed in the city Mosulopolis the mentioned large and serious society of men-beings under the title, ‘The-Earth-Is-Equally-Free-For-All.’

“Already quite from the beginning, the members of this society of men-beings actualized to this end many things which no beings of the Earth, either before or since, were able to actualize.

“And they were able to do this, only because the program itself from the very beginning was very well drawn up in respect of its actualizability in the conditions existing there.

“Among other things, there entered into the fundamental program of this society—gradually to act in such a direction as would enable them to obtain a result—in the first place, the actualization for all the beings of the continent Asia of one common religion which they wished to base upon the teaching of the sect of what are called the ‘Parsis,’ [Parsis were Iranian Zoroastrians who fled to India during the Arab Muslim conquest of Iran] only changing it a little; secondly, one common language, and for this common language they wished to adopt what is called the ‘Turkoman’ language, [Turkmen] the oldest on the continent Asia and one whose roots had already entered into very many Asiatic languages.

“And thirdly, there entered into the fundamental program of this society finally to bring about the organization in the center of Asia, namely, in the city
Margelan, the capital of what was called the ‘Ferghanian Khanate,’ of a chief and basic government for all the countries of Asia under the name of 'The-Council-of-the-Elders,’ the members of which had to be honorable beings from all the Asiatic communities.

“It had to be so named because only the oldest and most deservedly honorable beings could participate in it.

“According to their understanding only such beings of their planet are able to be impartial and just toward other beings of the Earth, irrespective of to what religion or nationality they belong.

“Among the members of this society then in the city Mosulopolis, there were already beings belonging to almost all the Asiatic communities.

“Among them were also those called ‘Mongols,’ 'Arabs,’ ’Kirghizes,’ and ‘Georgians,’ ‘Little Russians,’ and ’Tamils,’ and even the personal representative of the then famous conqueror Tamarlane.

“Thanks to their intensive and indeed impartial and unselfish activities, those increasing wars and civil wars on the continent Asia began to diminish, and it was anticipated that many other good things might still be done for this same end."
I don't know if we can ascribe any historical reality to this story (it's G after all!), but this idea of a 'council of elders' - though just an idea, which G goes on to explain didn't work - sounds like a kind of anti-war 'grand polity', perhaps similar in conception to regional/continental political-economic blocs today.

Anyway, his description of that council with a reference to Zoroastrianism is interesting. It has me wondering: if we take the original, non-corrupted monotheism of Zoroastrianism (or its predecessor) as the unification of the theological realm under one god, is its 'so below' component the integration of the material realm under one state, or many states under one 'Zoroastrian' regime?
 

Laura

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I'm working my way through Philip R. Davies book "On the Origins of Judaism" and just finished a chapter where he argues for a 5th century date for the writing of the core chapters of Deuteronomy, 12-26. After reading the book "King Mannasseh and Child Sacrifice", along with previously mentioned histories of the Ancient Near East, including a lot of archaeological info, I realized that the whole monotheist schtick of the Bible was obviously a creation of the returnees from exile. And that is even assuming that there were real returnees and not just a contingent of Persians sent to take over the area and convert the locals to a variation on Mazda worship.

Anyway, with that idea in my head, I'm working my way through some of the scholarship on the origins of the Bible (yeah, this can go on forever) looking for direct clues... and here, in Davies book, he is talking about this very thing in similar terms - that the writing of the core of Deuteronomy was actually revolutionary, an act of an immigrant population that sought to displace the indigenous population by claiming to be the "real Israel".

It occurred to me, as I was reading, that true Judahites returning to their land would NEVER have accepted to become the hated "Israel"; only complete foreigners who didn't know the history would have thought of doing this.

So, I stopped and re-read the related chapters and yes, indeed, it is almost pure Zoroastrianism in its legalistic/purity laws variation. (Vendidad)

An excellent text for getting into some of the materials directly is Mary Boyce's "Textual Sources for the Study of Zoroastrianism."

I think that it would be a worthy task for someone to get complete copies of the surviving texts and go through the Deut core and show how, point by point, it is nothing but a slight variation on Zoroastrianism.

It was later, after Exodus was written, that references to "bondage in Egypt" were editorially added.
 

mkrnhr

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A quick look at the Achaemenid period shows the conquests of Cyrus II the Great (c. 600 or 576 – 530 BC):



The conquest of Egypt is achieved later under his son Cambyses II in 525 BC with the help of Cypriots and Greeks.

So the apparition of Cyrus in the bible (an early messiah?) is not exactly as it seems. The Achaemenid period was known for religious tolerance, so maybe these 'returnees" where just some foreigners who had followed the waves of conquests? The bible narrative seems to justify the arrival of one or various groups into the region by inventing some remote history where the patriarchs come from somewhere else.
 

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A quick review of what Manley Hall wrote about Zoroaster describes Pythagoras as being said to have been influenced (maybe):

The teachings of Pythagoras indicate that he was thoroughly conversant with the precepts of Oriental and Occidental esotericism. He traveled among the Jews and was instructed by the Rabbins concerning the secret traditions of Moses, the lawgiver of Israel. Later the School of the Essenes was conducted chiefly for the purpose of interpreting the Pythagorean symbols. Pythagoras was initiated into the Egyptian, Babylonian, and Chaldean Mysteries. Although it is believed by some that he was a disciple of Zoroaster, it is doubtful whether his instructor of that name was the God-man now revered by the Parsees. While accounts of his travels differ, historians agree that he visited many countries and studied at the feet of many masters.
Later on there is reference to Salamanders (which relates to Zoroaster):

Mediæval investigators of the Nature spirits were of the opinion that the most common form of salamander was lizard-like in shape, a foot or more in length, and visible as a glowing Urodela, twisting and crawling in the midst of the fire. Another group was described as huge flaming giants in flowing robes, protected with sheets of fiery armor. Certain mediæval authorities, among them the Abbé de Villars, held that Zarathustra (Zoroaster) was the son of Vesta (believed to have been the wife of Noah) and the great salamander Oromasis. Hence, from that time onward, undying fires have been maintained upon the Persian altars in honor of Zarathustra's flaming father.
He then says:

It is thought that Hermes was Moses or Zoroaster, otherwise Hermes signifies a Serpent, and the Serpent used to be an Emblem of Knowledge or Wisdom.
He ends talking about Mithra (and a book perhaps to be read):

Alexander Wilder, in his Philosophy and Ethics of the Zoroasters, states that Mithras is the Zend title for the sun, and he is supposed to dwell within that shining orb. Mithras has a male and a female aspect, though not himself androgynous. As Mithras, he is the ford of the sun, powerful and radiant, and most
magnificent of the Yazatas (Izads, or Genii, of the sun). As Mithra, this deity represents the feminine principle; the mundane universe is recognized as her symbol. She represents Nature as receptive and terrestrial, and as fruitful only when bathed in the glory of the solar orb. The Mithraic cult is a simplification of the more elaborate teachings of Zarathustra (Zoroaster), the Persian fire magician.

[...]

The rites of Mithras were performed in caves. Porphyry, in his Cave of the Nymphs, states that Zarathustra (Zoroaster) was the first to consecrate a cave to the worship of God, because a cavern was symbolic of the earth, or the lower world of darkness. John P. Lundy, in his Monumental Christianity, describes the cave of Mithras as follows:

"But this cave was adorned with the signs of the zodiac, Cancer and Capricorn. The summer and winter solstices were chiefly conspicuous, as the gates of souls descending into this life, or passing out of it in their ascent to the Gods; Cancer being the gate of descent, and Capricorn of ascent. These are the two
avenues of the immortals passing up and down from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth."
There are a number of figures (depictions) associated with words from Zoroaster and a reference to The Chaldean Oracles of Zoroaster.

Edit: {added link to the above: http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/af/af08.htm }

Very interesting, obyvatel, concerning J G Bennett's references between Zoroastrianism and Gurdjieff.
 

Kisito

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mkrnhr said:
A quick look at the Achaemenid period shows the conquests of Cyrus II the Great (c. 600 or 576 – 530 BC):



The conquest of Egypt is achieved later under his son Cambyses II in 525 BC with the help of Cypriots and Greeks.

So the apparition of Cyrus in the bible (an early messiah?) is not exactly as it seems. The Achaemenid period was known for religious tolerance, so maybe these 'returnees" where just some foreigners who had followed the waves of conquests? The bible narrative seems to justify the arrival of one or various groups into the region by inventing some remote history where the patriarchs come from somewhere else.
I do not know if my review can be helpful here. Persia is considered to be the cradle of Aryans. But in "The Persian Wars", it is explained that the Persian is claimed, be descendent of Perseus. Besides Plato also speaks of his blood ties with the Persians. And I do not know if this is Cyrus, Darius or Xeres, but one of his three kings, before the first or the second Persian war, would honor the Greek gods at Delphi. It is also interesting to compare the terminology of the Achaemenid word designating the Persian, and the Achaean word denoting the Greek, that uses Homer in the Trojan War. The Achaeans are one of the first Indo-European peoples have invaded Greece. Indo-European are part of Aryan origin. It is possible that the Greeks and the Persians have the same religious background. It is legitimate to think that Perseus has messianic traits, because his mother Danae, was a virgin. God (Zeus) in the form of golden rain fell on Danae and gave him this child (Perseus). Perseus often has the attributes of Hermes.
 

Approaching Infinity

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Laura said:
Anyway, with that idea in my head, I'm working my way through some of the scholarship on the origins of the Bible (yeah, this can go on forever) looking for direct clues... and here, in Davies book, he is talking about this very thing in similar terms - that the writing of the core of Deuteronomy was actually revolutionary, an act of an immigrant population that sought to displace the indigenous population by claiming to be the "real Israel".

It occurred to me, as I was reading, that true Judahites returning to their land would NEVER have accepted to become the hated "Israel"; only complete foreigners who didn't know the history would have thought of doing this.

So, I stopped and re-read the related chapters and yes, indeed, it is almost pure Zoroastrianism in its legalistic/purity laws variation. (Vendidad)
In the next chapter of that book, he talks about the influence of Zoroastrianism in Isaiah: Persia and its king as the anointed ruler of God's kingdom, YHWH as Ahuramazhda. Interesting stuff (he also gives a few more references to the idea of a foreign 'anointed/messiah' ruler as God's ruler on earth, which gives some context for seeing Caesar as such).

A couple thoughts on Deuteronomy, though. Gmirkin's new book is just a few weeks away from being released, so I'll be very interested to see what he has to say. Pretty sure he'll argue that Deteuronomy was composed based on Greek sources, e.g., Plato's Laws. If he makes a good case for that, it's still possible that the Zoroastrian influence still came through based on existing traditions and the already existing influences from the Persians. Will have to wait and see, and compare Gmirkin's Hellenistic sources to the Zoroastrian ones, though.

A couple quotes from Ch. 6 in relation to what you write above:

It should be added that the idea of a 'nation' that comprised both Judah and Israel (and took the name 'Israel') is much more problematic than has been recognized. In my view ... such an idea can only have emerged in Judah during the Neo-Babylonian period, when the identities and religious traditions of both former kingdoms were merged under Benjaminite leadership. Thereafter, Judah saw itself as part of this larger 'Israel', as descendants of Jacob, but either the sole survivors ... of this nation, or as the senior partner ... These chapters [Ezekiel 40-48, where this theme is also present] and their vision belong in the Persian or possibly even the Ptolemaic period, when the political reunification of Judah and Samaria may have occurred.
So maybe that gives some windows of time for when certain narratives were composed about the "return from exile".

This quote was cool:

...there is every reason to suppose, given the treatment of Persian kings in the biblical literature, that a tacit recognition of Marduk, Ahuramazda and Yhwh as the same high god was widespread in Judah, and that Second Isaiah gives us a glimpse into the process whereby the creation of the cult of the high god Yhwh was promoted in the temple city of Jerusalem so favoured, it seems, by the Persians. Yhwh became imperial: god of gods, king of kings, Most High, but his REAL capital city was Jerusalem.
...
Might we go as far as to claim that the cult of Yhwh in the Persian period was Zoroastrianism, localized and grafted onto an indigenous cult?
 

Laura

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Approaching Infinity said:
This quote was cool:

...there is every reason to suppose, given the treatment of Persian kings in the biblical literature, that a tacit recognition of Marduk, Ahuramazda and Yhwh as the same high god was widespread in Judah, and that Second Isaiah gives us a glimpse into the process whereby the creation of the cult of the high god Yhwh was promoted in the temple city of Jerusalem so favoured, it seems, by the Persians. Yhwh became imperial: god of gods, king of kings, Most High, but his REAL capital city was Jerusalem.
...
Might we go as far as to claim that the cult of Yhwh in the Persian period was Zoroastrianism, localized and grafted onto an indigenous cult?
Yup. After finishing the book last night, I was going to comment on the next chapter where Davies comes right out and says what I was thinking, but you beat me to it.

It's very helpful to read the "King Manasseh and Child Sacrifice" book to get a good handle on the real ancient Judahite religion and practices. I'm rather convinced that the figures of Abraham and Moses are modeled on the same character, possibly from some more ancient tale and the glitchy part comes in with that bit about Zipporah and Moses and the mother circumcising her son. I have the strong impression that if there was a real character behind these guys that he did, in fact, sacrifice his son and all subsequent progeny was from the second wife of Abraham, Keturah. Both names mean "incense." The story about the birth of Isaac is so bogus that it is an obvious attempt to connect the Abrahamic gang with the Jacob gang. And the Abraham gang was the Judahite bunch of child sacrificers. It is also extremely curious that no offspring of Moses seems to be an "ancestor". They appear in a line or two and then disappear from the text forever.

Davies chapter that follows on the Zoroastrian speculations is about 1 Enoch. I was very gratified to see that he saw what I've been seeing also, that parts of this text precede Genesis. I would also suggest that Enoch was heavily influenced by Zoroastrianism after it encountered and took over Babylon. The same concern with calendars pops up in Qumran, Jubilees, etc. In fact, it is the calendar issue (and Caesar's calendar) that sent me off on this wide-ranging review of things.

At this point, I think it has been SUPER helpful to read the basic histories of the Ancient Near East in order to get the whole context. It seems pretty clear to me that there was almost no literacy in Judah until AFTER the "exile" and probably very little in ancient Israel as well.

In the end, all of this does affect how one must "read" Paul. I would suggest that he was very familiar with the Enochian tradition derived from the Persian/Babylonian culture, and that his ideas of the "kingdom" were much in line with Zoroaster's "Making Wonderful." He was also most likely fully aware of the probable Zoroastrian nature of Second Isaiah and its acceptance of Cyrus/Persians as the Messiah. He would then have been fully able to transfer those concepts onto Caesar. Because, in the end, there is much of Zoroaster in Paul.
 

John G

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Laura said:
It's very helpful to read the "King Manasseh and Child Sacrifice" book to get a good handle on the real ancient Judahite religion and practices. I'm rather convinced that the figures of Abraham and Moses are modeled on the same character, possibly from some more ancient tale and the glitchy part comes in with that bit about Zipporah and Moses and the mother circumcising her son. I have the strong impression that if there was a real character behind these guys that he did, in fact, sacrifice his son and all subsequent progeny was from the second wife of Abraham, Keturah. Both names mean "incense." The story about the birth of Isaac is so bogus that it is an obvious attempt to connect the Abrahamic gang with the Jacob gang. And the Abraham gang was the Judahite bunch of child sacrificers. It is also extremely curious that no offspring of Moses seems to be an "ancestor". They appear in a line or two and then disappear from the text forever.
Would the Joseph-Moses connection to Cyrus-Moses that you mentioned earlier be additional Zoroastrianism related history added on to the more ancient tale for the composite character?

Laura said:
In 2002, Jan-Wim Wesselius wrote "The Origin of the History of Israel" wherein he argues convincingly that the structure of the OT from Genesis to 2 Kings is modeled on the Histories of Herodotus. He points out the striking parallels between the key figure of Joseph - who is the one who got the Israelites into Egypt in the first place - and King Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire. Some of these parallels are so precise that there is no wiggle room for evading the obvious borrowing. Further, there is amazing duplication of the genealogy of the patriarchs and the Persian-Median royal house, the most striking of which exist between the figures of Moses and King Xerxes. The main subjects of the stories about the two of them are that a leader is summoned by the divinity to bring an enormous army into another continent across a body of water as if on dry land in order to conquer somebody else's land. In both cases, the conquest ends badly, with a horrific siege, though in the case of Xerxes, it was within his lifetime, and in the case of the Israelites, it was when the Babylonians came much, much later.
 

John G

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Kisito said:
I do not know if my review can be helpful here. Persia is considered to be the cradle of Aryans. But in "The Persian Wars", it is explained that the Persian is claimed, be descendent of Perseus. Besides Plato also speaks of his blood ties with the Persians. And I do not know if this is Cyrus, Darius or Xeres, but one of his three kings, before the first or the second Persian war, would honor the Greek gods at Delphi. It is also interesting to compare the terminology of the Achaemenid word designating the Persian, and the Achaean word denoting the Greek, that uses Homer in the Trojan War. The Achaeans are one of the first Indo-European peoples have invaded Greece. Indo-European are part of Aryan origin. It is possible that the Greeks and the Persians have the same religious background. It is legitimate to think that Perseus has messianic traits, because his mother Danae, was a virgin. God (Zeus) in the form of golden rain fell on Danae and gave him this child (Perseus). Perseus often has the attributes of Hermes.
If Iman Wilkens is right about Troy being in England then you would need an even bigger setting than just Greece and Persia.
 

Laura

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Bluelamp said:
Would the Joseph-Moses connection to Cyrus-Moses that you mentioned earlier be additional Zoroastrianism related history added on to the more ancient tale for the composite character?
Not really. You have to keep in mind that a number of things were going on with the composition of the books of the bible. There is theology, and there are stories. The stories can be borrowed from some source or other as a vehicle for the theology. The style or structure of a text can be borrowed from still another source. The Zoroastrian angle is the theology, the use of Plato and Herodotus in various ways can serve multiple purposes. Basically, it's mostly historical fiction with a propaganda motive.

Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Historical fiction can be an ambiguous term: frequently it is used as a synonym for describing the historical novel; however, the term can be applied to works in other narrative formats, such as those in the performing and visual arts like theatre, opera, cinema, television, comics, and graphic novels. ...

Historical fiction, as a contemporary Western literary genre, has its foundations in the early 19th century works of Sir Walter Scott and his contemporaries in other national literatures such as Frenchman Honoré de Balzac, American James Fenimore Cooper, and later Russian Leo Tolstoy. However, the melding of "historical" and "fiction" in individual works of literature has a long tradition in most cultures; both western traditions (as early as Ancient Greek and Roman literature) as well as eastern, in the form of oral and folk traditions, produced epics, novels, plays and other fictional works describing history for contemporary audiences.
There's somewhat more to it than that and I would recommend "The Invention of Tradition" edited by Eric Hobsbawm. The first account by Hugh Trevor Roper about the invention of Scottish traditions, the kilt, etc, will knock your socks off in amazement.
 

c.a.

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Laura said:
Palinurus said:
That's good enough. I did notice some text conversion errors so they must have scanned the book. But it will work. You should start at the beginning and read the entire book.
Laura, I beg to differ about this.

Naturally, when the link was given I immediately checked it out. What I discovered was a limited paraphrase and/or summary by someone else (K.E. Eduljee) of only three chapters (9, 10, and 11) from the work of Zaehner. It might suffice as an introduction, but the complete work cannot be found at that site and I have serious doubts about the veracity of that site itself. It might have its own agenda in these matters.

This link gives a complete overview of the contents of Zaehner's work so one can see what's missing.

My two cents. :rolleyes:
Then that's a better answer. I only quickly scanned a couple of paragraphs which included quotes (apparently) and there were text errors. I assumed from the organization of the files that it was the complete text.Sorry that I don't have time to go over everything with a fine-toothed comb these days. I'm pretty much dancing as fast as I can considering I can barely walk!

Thank you Laura and Palinurus.

Just got to get a copy of the most original.
It is a fascinating read of guidance and Knowledge :grad:

 

Gateway

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Session 16 July 2016 said:
Q: (L) I see. Well, maybe we should begin with some of the questions that are from that abstract level since that's where we are. In the course of my recent research, I keep going deeper and deeper and further back following one thread after another. While I have touched on the topic of Zoroastrianism in the past, I had never gone into it as deeply as I recently decided to do. As a consequence, I ended up reading several scholarly tomes on the topic. It seems there are two schools. One school thinks that Zoroaster was a fairly late phenomenon, probably 7th century BC. The other school relies on the linguistics - the philology I guess they'd call it - and they claim that the language of Zoroaster must date back to the second millennium BC - that is, somewhere between 1600 and 1200 BC. That would put Zoroaster in the timeframe of, say, Akhenaten. In brief, Zoroaster claimed to have had a vision, or so the story goes, that revealed to him the One God, Ahura Mazda, and he promoted a religion of almost pure monotheism as well as being more or less the originator of the idea that human beings have the free will to choose good or evil. He also was the first to come up with ideas of messianism, eschatology. It was an apocalyptic religion in the sense of being revealed, but also that there were to be revelations about the end of time - time of course being a very important concept in his religion as it developed. So, I guess the first question I want to know is: Is there any possibility that Akhenaten was influenced by Zoroastrianism? Is that a possibility?

A: Not just a possibility, but a certainty.
Zoroastrianism still exists at present now and as told existed at Akhenaten days. So it seems a key clue likely is knowing when Zoroaster did live. Indeed scholars mostly date him from 628 to 551 BCE but before that the consensus weighted around 10th century BCE. And according in particular to the old tradition Zarathustra was born on 6th of Farvardin 30 before Zarathustrian religious era (26 March 1767 BCE). Yet ancient Greek such as Eudoxus of Cnidus and Aristotle date him at least 6,000 years before Plato's days.

And considering the Avesta in addition to this chronologic perspective we have also Jamshid, a Persian king seen as a myth derived from the Vendidad, who is told to have ruled for hundreds of years a high standard civilization where the subjects also enjoyed large longevity and under a system of social stratification similar (IMO) to that of Atlantis, which after long last plunged in deterioration and darkness.

So, when he indeed did live?

Just some thoughts.
 

MK Scarlett

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I was reading a book just after the August session, a book named "Les Gathas", by Khosro Khazai Pardis, book wrote in Persian and translated in French by the author himself. After searching today and FWIW it appears that the author has also translated this book in English: _https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gathas-sublime-book-Zarathustra/dp/1517480205/ref=sr_1_1/256-2330719-3237018?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473776901&sr=1-1

and it is also available in Persian: _https://www.amazon.fr/Gathas-Persian-Sublime-Book-Zarathustra/dp/1517301599

On the English link, it also appears that the book was translated in Spanish but I could not find it on Amazon.es.

The author also gives this link to a Website (in Persian, English and French) about his work and book: _https://www.gatha.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=250&Itemid=69&lang=

The book is divided in two parts:
- Historical study
- Gathas Songs

This being said, I wanted to offer a quick translation of what the author have to say about Gathas and Zarathousthra.

At first, the author is explaining how in India, the Asuras (their beneficent Gods) have been demonized while in Iran they kept their Ahuras (their beneficent Gods) and the Indian Devas who were beneficent for Indians people became for Iranians evil Gods, the Daevas.

Then he writes:

- Compilation named Avesta on which Christians and Greeks as well have established their erroneous comprehension of Zoroastre is due to the religion from West Iran, zurvanism. It is this last one which name come from Zurvan, God of infinite time, which promoted the idea that Ahura Mazda et Angra Mainyu would have been two perfect twins from their father Zurvan.

- Zurvanism is an herited religion from pre-Zoroastrianism with some elements took from Zoroastrianism.

- Zoroastrians whom refused to convert to Islam have been forced to flee to India and became the Pârsîs.

- Most of the texts from the Avesta are foreign to Zarathousthra, some of them even being later than 2,000 years.

- Mozart, in its Magic Flute made of Zarathousthra, under the name of Sarastro, the master of mysteries whom initiate the two heroes Tamino and Pamina.

- The comparative linguistic studies clearly show that Zarathousthra is born, has grown-up and died at 77 years old in the North-West of Iran.

- About datation of Gathas, it seems reasonable to the author to keep as low limit the date of 1700 BC, and Zarathousthra would be born in 1778 BC. For Zoroastrians who follow the calendar from the Gathas composition, 2016 is the year 3759.

- His grave has not been discovered yet, but some clues make think that it could be in the town of Mazar-e-Sharif in the North of the Afghanistan.

- One of the best translation of the name of Ahura Mazda is "God of Life and Wisdom".

- Ahura Mazda, abstract idea, spiritual concept which inhabit the summit of the zoroastrian system, is the only one god who constantly creates, maintains and makes the world go on in an orderly way. He has no specific place, He is in everything existing because He is the existence itself.

- In a significant grammatical construction, the term "Ahura Mazda" is both male and female and this God represents the equality between men and women, one of the root of the zoroastrian system: Ahu (existence) is male, -ra (who has) is neutral and mazda (infinite wisdom or suprem wisdom) is female.

- He is a progressive God generating a dynamic universe in which everything is transformed and progressing towards Perfection (Haurvatat).

- The Zarathousthra's message is universal because Ahura Mazda is the God of Creation and of all the living beings, animals and plants included.

- Ahura Mazda owns six attributes which are pure abstractions, without individuality nor mythology; they are energies and positives forces which make progress and grow-up. Those attributs are link ones to others as rings on a chain: if one ring is missing, the others lose their functions.
The six attributs are ranked in the book by the frenquency of their mention in Gathas:

  • Asha "Accuracy" in the meaning of "fair"/"right"(162 instances)
  • Vohu Manah "Right thought" (127 instances)
  • Khashatra "Self-mastery" (64 instances)
  • Armaiti "Serenity" (40 instances)
  • Haurvatat "Evolution toward perfection" (14 instances)
  • Ameretat "Immortality" (14 instances)
And the functions of those six attributs are developped one after the other, the next "step" depending on how one managed the previous one:

Asha "Accuracy" in the meaning of "fair"/"right", has not to be seeked, it has to be lived and live apart from Asha leads to crisis, suffering and unhappiness. To be a good Zoroastrian living in harmony with Gathas, it is not enough to be "right": one also have to fight deception and lie by all its strenght. Zarathoustra constantly insists on the fact that "one does not fight the deceiver but deception in him (deceiver), as we do not fight the ennemy but animosity in himself (ennemy)".

Vohu Manah "Right thought", created the World and everything inside in his thought and by his thought. As it is the thought which determinates the way we want to give to our words and actions, it is then extremly important that we know, from the beginning, which direction to give to our thoughts and to do that, we must know at first the targets we have set for our life. The "Right thought" shapes on the personal plan, the channel of communication with Ahura Mazda.

Khashatra "Self-mastery", represents the power which has for aim to control negative and destructive emotions which occur in our inner world. Gathas recognize that the best power of a human being is the one he has on himself. This power does not consist in an act of will nor in the elimination of desirs nor in intelectual rationals; this power comes from a specific look on life, constructed over the time and through which we understand and interpret the events in which we are confronted.

Armaiti "Serenity", is a very high spiritual level characterised by a calm and impertubable spirit toward external and internal agitations. Zarathousthra wants "Serenity" spread out in his country, but his country is the World and his people, all people.

Haurvatat "Evolution toward perfection", is a process as the World and human condition have not been created perfect: World needs evolution until perfection. The process of creation is not finished yet, they are many things to improve in this world: illness, sorrow and multitude of unfulfilled desirs, separation from beloved ones we lost, ignorance, cruaulty and greed, lies and deceptions... The main and primordial role apportioned to women and men on this Earth - which is also the aim of their creation - is to enhance and make progress this world to the Perfection.

Ameretat "Immortality", does not mean eternity as infinite time, but a "beyond the time" concept: Life will go on in the World of thought, Manahya, which is located outside physical world laws and possess its own standards.
About the Zarathousthra's mission, the author explains that for Zarathousthra, humans, plants and animals, minerals and soil, all of them have a soul. They all can suffer or be happy, because they all were created by the Ahura Mazda's thought.

Zarathousthra calls himself the Manthran " the one who teach words awakening the thought" aka Manthras. While he has a lot of questions addressed to Ahura Mazda, he does not seek for direct and immediate answers because he knows that these answers will not be of any help if they are not assimilated. Because of this interrogative process, the Gathas approach seems stunningly modern: it is based on awakening and thought stimulation, on enlargement and renewal of the point of view of each person about life.
About Good and Evil (Chapter 5), this was very interesting, especially if other studies say the same, on the contrary of what is mostly found in books and Website (including Wikipedia):

On his way about doubts and questions, doing a lot of observations, meditation and reflexions, Zarathousthra discovers one of the fondamuntal law of the existence: dichotomy of phenomenons and forces. In this world, each force or each phenomenon identifies itself and take the meaning by the strenght or the phenomenon which constitute its opposite. The Good is identified as such because Evil does exist, the light is known because darkness exists, etc. Each one of elements of these couples represent nor a positive aspect which leads to happiness nor a negative one which leads to suffering. This dual aspect of things only works with respect to human beings and living beings in general. The zoroastrian dualism is an ethic one which has meaning only on the level of the human thought. A God of Evil, rival of Ahura Mazda does not exist with Zarathousthra, on the contrary to the medieval opinion. There is no god of Evil who would fight the Good in the Gathas: There is only one God and his name is Ahura Mazda.

Of course, the late parties of the Avesta mention 64 times an autocreated generating evil entity whom the name is Angra Mainyu. This latter is totally absent in Gathas, which put clearly the obvious difference between Gathas and Avesta.
About Life and non-life:

In the zoroastrian spirit, death is not a negative thing and it is not opposit to life. The non-life is not the death; in fact, if one define life as evolutive and progressive process, analogous to the creation, the non-life is about absence of creation, absence of creative and progressive force of Ahura Mazda, Spenta Mainyu and this is this absence which hurts and make suffer. It is the absence of light which creates darkness, in other words, darkness has no existence in itself.
About free-will:

The human being can choose between two shapes of thought which lead to two way of life, the Good or the Evil. Not only he can, but he has to: One cannot have one foot in the Good and the other one in the Evil. That's why Zarathousthra talks about "Big Event of Choice": choose its own way of life, believes, preferences, etc. is a big event, extremly important but difficult. But many people on this Earth take this choice with levity or even are not aware of it. In Gathas, the power to choose is a fundamental right.

On the contrary of the Knowledge that we acquire, the Wisdom is innate and ask only for development. Wisdom is higher than Knowledge because when Knowledge is not under the leadership of Wisdom it is destructive.

This free-will makes each person responsable of its happiness or misfortune. This responsibility give a meaning for the living of human beings and show the direction which is to help Ahura Mazda to correct imperfections of this world.
And about creation:

The driving forces of the creative thought of Ahura Mazda are named Spenta Mainyu, litteraly "the thought which makes continually progress, renove and renew this world". Spenta Mainyu has been wrongly translated by "Holy Spirit" by the first Christians translators.

Men and women, to realise a happy life and participate to the creation of a happy world must harmonize their thoughts, their words and actions with the strenght of the Ahura Mazda ones.

This evolution to Perfection works as well for Ahura Mazda himself to the extent where this autocreated being is gifted of driving, evolving and progressive dynamics: He is evolving continually with all creation and with all his creations.

Originally, Ahura Mazda had created in his thought a perfect univers where happiness was absolute. However, during the material realisation of this u nivers, mistakes happened, especially with the apparition of lie and deception. Consequently, Evolution to Perfection is necessary to upgrade this world.
About the Thus spoke Zarathustra wrote by Nietzsche, the author has this to say:

One can say that the Zarathustra from Gathas and the one from Nietzsche can be heard as spokespersons of one thought, but applied to two diffrent timelines and two different cultures.
I hope this was not too boring as I found the reading of it very interesting. A lot fit with what C's and Laura's researchs have to say about our World. :)
 
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