Farhang Mehr

To a social scientist, religion represents an ideal culture and a model lifestyle; the prophets stand as exemplary social leaders who intend to effectuate social reforms through changing individual mental attitudes and behaviors. To me, Zoroastrianism is the lifestyle par excellence.

In his first sermon, Asho Zarathustra speaks of the two lifestyles – good and evil – and observes that the wise elect the good life and unwise go astray. Furthermore, the prophet invites his eager listeners to ponder with illumined minds on the two ways of life and decide for themselves which path they would like to follow, since they will bear the natural-rational consequences of their actions.

In his second sermons, Asho Zarathustra preaches the employment of Holy Wisdom (Vohu Manah) and sublime Truth (Asha Vahishta) for the realization of good life from evil. He promises the enjoyment of Ahura Mazda’s power (Khshatra) to those who choose the good life – a power that leads to serenity, love, and service to others (Armaity).

Additionally, he informs his listeners that constant consultation with Holy Wisdom, the practice of Righteousness, the employment of powers in constructive pursuits, the exercise of serenity, and lastly, service to others, brings wholeness, perfection (Haurvatat) and finally immortality (Ameretat) to the followers of the good life.

The aforementioned characteristics provide ever increasing goodness (Spenta Mainyu), which emanate from the Lord of life and the Wisdom (Ahura Mazda). Spenta Mainyu is a primordial force that is exclusively goodness and conscience (positive creativity). Having the faculties of wisdom (Manah), conscience (Daena) and insight (Baodah), human beings shall distinguish between the two lifestyles.

Freedom of choice (Varena) constitutes the most precious of Ahura Mazda’s bounties. Also, man has been endowed with the faculties of wisdom, conscience, and insight to discern right from wrong and thereby determine the path to take.

The angel guardian, Fravashi, the spiritual prototype of man, does it utmost to guide individuals on the path of truth ad righteousness. With freedom of choice and the abilities to make the choice, one must reap what one sows, and receive the consequences of one’s decisions and actions (Mizdeh).

The guidelines for a good life are laid down in the Gathas (the holy scripture) and are epitomized in three simple and unambiguous maxims: good thought (Humata), good word (Hukhta), and good deed (Huvarshta). The Gathas also define goodness which denotes constructiveness, augmentation, harmony, love, peace and progress. Spenta Mainyu expresses constructiveness and augmentation (creativity); Asha embodies peace and progress, and Armaity connotes harmony and love.

Individuals possessing the speaks of Spenta Mainyu are co-workers of Ahura Mazda and thus enjoy happiness (Ushta) throughout life. One who does not make use of inherent faculties and does not lead the desired life-style, will alienate oneself from the source of goodness, and live in disharmony and unhappiness. He will become an evil person.

In Zoroastrianism, Daena also signifies religion (Din in Farsi) purporting the interchangeability of good conscience and religion. Asha indicates the immortal law that regulates the cycles of the universe, connoting the interchangeability of Ahura Mazda’s law with truth and justice. Hence, law, truth and justice are interrelated.

In Zoroastrianism, the description of lifestyle and reality of evil minds is rationally resolved in the theory of moral dualism. With a belief in man’s freedom of choice, even cosmic dualism can be reduced to the final justice of man reaping what he sows and the final triumph of good over evil.

The hope for the final triumph of Spenta Mainyu (exclusive goodness and constructiveness) spurs man to adopt the good life-style.

Zoroastrianism as a way of life emphasizes the imperative of leading an active and fruitful life. Idleness is condemned and monasticism is discouraged. Life is the battlefield of Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainyu, good and evil, constructiveness and destruction, augmentation and waste. Men are co-workers of Ahura Mazda (the creator) and trustees of creation. Hence, each man is entrusted with the task of keeping nature and its elements pure and unpolluted, otherwise man would suffer misery, witnessing decay of the universe. In such a case, the perpetrators guilty of defilement of water, soil, air and fire, would be chastised by the Guardian Angel of each element, which are, respectively, Anahita, Zam, Vayu, and Atar. Zoroastrianism then, prescribes ecological consciousness.

Equality of human beings, irrespective of sex, ethnicity, color, et cetera, is enshrined in the Zoroastrian way of life. Emphasizing the dignity of man, Asha Zarathushtra warns his followers not to surrender to the authority of an unjust ruler. To me, a social scientist, Zoroastrianism presents a highly reasonable, practical and noble life style. For that reason, I practice and remain true to it.
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