The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
.Iranian Religions: Zoroastrianism
What Zarathushtra Has Given To All Mankind
By Robert Scott Nelson
Based on a speech given to the Zoroastrian Association of Kansas on the occasion of NovRuz 2004 celebrated on April 3, 2004 in Kansas City. The text of the lecture was featured in USHAO journal, Volume V no. 3, May-June 2004 publication, Mr. Virasp Mehta-Editor in chief.
Dr. Jahanian, I am very grateful and honored to celebrate Novruz and the birthday of Asho Zarathushtra, with you, the People of Zarathushtra.
I would like to speak to you tonight about what Zarathushtra has given to all of mankind.
Hundreds and hundreds of years ago there was a righteous man who saw injustice in his world. He saw corrupt kings and priests, slavery and wantonness. He spoke out against these things and against superstition, and blood sacrifice to pagan gods. He spoke of the One God, the God of Light and Wisdom. He changed the hearts of men toward this God. This man was not Asho Zarathushtra, he was the grandson of Abdul-Muttalib of Mecca and we call him Mohammed.
Hundreds of years before this, there was a righteous man who saw injustice in his world. He saw corrupt kings and priests, slavery and wantonness. He spoke out against these things and against blood sacrifice. He spoke of the One God, the God of Light and Wisdom and he changed the hearts of men toward this God. His name was Yeshua ben Yousef. The Greeks called him Jesus.
Five hundred years before this, there was a righteous man in the East who spoke of the One God of Light and Wisdom, an Emanation of pure Light that manifests in the souls of each of us. He turned the hearts of men inward in search of this God. This man’s name was Gautama, the Buddha.
Hundreds and hundreds of years before this, there was a righteous man who saw slavery and injustice in his world. He spoke of the One True God of Light and Wisdom. He changed the hearts of his people toward this God and led them to freedom. This was Moses, the inheritor.
Before this, there was a Great Man, A king who spoke out against the pagan gods of his time and against superstition and blood sacrifice. He spoke of the One True God of Light and Wisdom and he changed the religion of his Empire to the worship of this One God. His name was Amenhotep IV of Egypt, but he changed his name to Akhenaten, Worshiper of the One.
But before all of this, hundreds and thousands of years ago, came Zarathushtra of the Spitama clan, a righteous man who saw injustice in his world. He saw corrupt kings and priests, savagery and lawlessness. He spoke out against these things and against superstition, and blood sacrifice to pagan gods. He spoke of the One True God, the God of Light and Wisdom and he changed the hearts of men toward this God forever after. Such is the Power and Importance of Zarathushtra’s message, that it echoes in the hearts and minds of men from the most ancient of times to this very day.
Unfortunately, it has been the tendency of the Western and Semitic Religions to fall away from these pure philosophies, so that now many of their beliefs bear little resemblance to the original teachings of their prophets. It has been forgotten that in their own book, Cyrus the Persian is named as the anointed Messiah and Savior. Some would eventually make their prophet into a God, and adopt a mythology that would include the blood sacrifice of their own Prophet. They have forgotten that on the birth of their prophet, he was visited by Zarathushtrian priests. They now prefer to call these visitors Wise Men, Kings or even Shepherds. They have forgotten that it was Zarathushtra who taught us about absolution and the five daily prayers.
But it was Zarathushtra who taught us these things and much, much more. He was the First Prophet, and it was he who gave us the concept of the One God, not fashioned in the image of man, but as the Primal Emanation of Power that creates all things and establishes the progressive nature of the Universe. He taught us the Law of Progressive Truth and of the Progressive Mentality that manifests in all of us, if we only seek it out. He taught us the importance of Freedom, Equality and Justice. How revolutionary were these concepts, espoused by Zarathushtra almost 4000 years ago? So revolutionary that the Western World did not comprehend them for thousands of years.
It is not only in the world of religion that Zarathushtra has made immeasurable impact. The Philosophies of the West owe much to him. The followers of Plato, in fact, so venerated Zarathushtra that they assigned him to an age of great antiquity, 6000 years before Plato’s own time. We now know that this cannot be correct, but it demonstrates their great respect for the philosophies of Zarathushtra. The more modern philosophies of Leibniz, Schopenhauer, Hegel and Hume, the greatest philosophers of their time, can be seen to closely parallel the metaphysics of Zarathushtra.
Even Science is now confirming many of Zarathushtra’s teachings. We are only now beginning to recognize the importance of the relationship between Light and matter on a sub-atomic level, and how Light influences the way that matter manifests in the physical universe. Science is telling us now that we may indeed be beings of Light; that Light may indeed be the impetus for all creation, or the means by which physical matter comes into being. Going further, we now recognize that all systems in the natural world are affected by elements of both Order and Chaos in an eternal struggle for supremacy. However, when any system tends toward Chaos, patterns begin to emerge and Order takes over, resulting in the ultimate triumph of Order over Chaos, Good over Evil, Wisdom over ignorance. It can be said that this inevitable progress and evolution is built into the very fabric of the universe. These are concepts first espoused by Zarathushtra and it tells us that he truly comprehended the nature of our Universe. Science is also telling us now of a phenomenon sometimes called the Butterfly Effect, in which every action, no matter how small, affects every other action and occurrence after that. This theory states that a butterfly flapping its wings in Kansas City will affect the weather in Paris and everywhere else. What follows is that every decision we make affects not only the rest of our own lives, but the lives of everyone else around us. The result is that each time we take an action, no matter how small, it either works in harmony with nature or it works against the progressive nature of our Universe, and therefore God. Are these not the very Truths that Asho Zarathushtra taught us, so long ago?
How did this legacy of Zararthushtra’s message come down to us? It is a miraculous story of struggle. While empires rose and fell around them, the Zarathushtrian people and their heritage survived. The Miracle is that, through thousands of years of Conquerors, persecutions, exile and migration, somehow, the Zarathushtrian People held on to their ancient Truths. For this reason, while we celebrate the life and message of Zarathushtra, we also celebrate the People of Zarathushtra.
This is why it is so important, the wonderful work that Farakh does with these beautiful children. With eyes to the future it is important to perpetuate the legacy of Zarathushtra. The times of the Kavis and Karapans are not over. Kings and priests are still corrupted by power; therefore, the power of the Zarathushtrian Message is as important today as ever before. Because today many are choosing between dangerous fundamentalism and total religious apathy, they must learn that the God of Light, their own God, does not want human sacrifice or oppressive moral codes. He simply wants us to choose with Wisdom. The World must relearn the simple and progressive Truths of Zarathushtra. Not in an effort to convert the World to Zarathushtrianism, but to remind them of the purest and most beautiful aspects of their own religions.
Zarathushtra said, in Yasna 49, Verse 6
In this very spirit, we must seize every opportunity to spread the Truths of Zarathushtra, so that we all may continue the Good Works that he began so long ago; the establishment of Strong Families, a Just Society and a World blessed with Righteousness.
Thanks be to Ahura Mazda, the One God of Light and Wisdom, and Thank You all.
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