Introduction to Zarathushtra and Mazdayasni
Mazdayasni, commonly referred to Zoroastrianism, is one of the world's oldest religions, dating back to ancient Persia over 4000 years ago. It was founded by Zarathustra (Zoroaster), who taught a message of ethical behavior and devotion to a supreme spiritual deity called Mazda.
Zarathushtra's ethical teachings revolve around the concept of free will and the belief that every individual has the power to choose between good and evil. He taught that the ultimate goal of life is to choose good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, and to strive for righteousness and truth.
The Gathas are Zarathushtra’s message to all of humanity through which he encapsulates the oneness of all creation. He observes that there is an order in the cosmos, and this order is called Asha. He notices that Asha is present on earth, but not within human society, and he questions ‘why is this so’? He looks around him and finds that the world as we know it is a violent, chaotic place. Zarathushtra's vision for the world was to create a society where people lived in peace and harmony with one another and with nature. He believed that this could be achieved by forming communities that were based on truth, knowledge, and wisdom.
To progress the world from its current state to the world as it should be, Zarathushtra advocated education, meditation, and through it the synchronisation of the body (gaehta) and the mind (mainyu). He believed that people had to learn how to understand themselves and each other so they could create a community based on truth. He also emphasized finding truth in the world around us so we can continue moving forward as human beings rather than just going through life blindly following whatever our culture tells us is true or not true at any given moment in time. If we can find truth within ourselves then we will be able to see beyond what our culture tells us is true or not true and instead focus on what truly matters most in life.
Zarathushtra wanted people to be kinder towards each other so they would be kinder towards their neighbours as well as nature itself—which would ultimately lead us all into a better place. Ultimately, the fulfillment of peace and happiness is in our own thoughts, and our hands, and is the result of our actions towards everyone and everything around us.
But how does gaetha or our body stay in sync with our mainyu or mind? How does one reach this state? Is it by listening to mobeds pray? Is it by praying by ourselves every day? Listening to mobeds pray or praying by yourself can help in obtaining momentary inner peace and quiet – which is important. It has lovely psychological effects when one chants with conviction within one’s soul. This however, alone, is not enough. To reach this state one must be able to accept that there is an inevitable internal struggle that must be waged to free the mind and spirit from the subdued self. Change is logical as it stems from its initial stage throughout the process to find the final form universally acceptable as the most virtuous – the state of Asha which will help us conceive Mazda.
So how does one achieve this? Well, Zarathushtra wants the world to be constantly moving towards peace and harmony, and he has given us the tools to do this through the Gathas. Within the Gathas, Zarathushtra explains foundations of human psychology and spiritual upliftment. These foundations are Asha, Vohumanha, Urvana, Kshathra, Armaiti and Ameretat.
What's at the heart of Zarathushtra's teaching?
At the heart of Zoroastrianism is the concept of Asha, which is often translated as "truth," "order," "righteousness," or "justice." Asha is a fundamental principle of the universe, and it represents the cosmic order that governs all of creation. It is also a guiding principle for ethical behavior, as humans are called to align themselves with Asha and promote its spread in the world.
Asha is the guiding principle of all actions and is the foundation of the Zoroastrian moral code. Asha is the universal law of harmony and righteousness. When one says there should be Asha between us, or Asha in this world, one refers to a state of righteousness where there is harmony and balance amongst everything – humans and humans, humans and nature, humans and the earth and its resources. When Asha is not maintained, we see crime & war, we see animals and plants going extinct through human actions and inaction, global warming, and climate crisis and so on. Almost 4000 years ago Zarathushtra recognised that the absence of Asha results is chaos, where as its presence results in a state of harmonious being. Any thought, word, or action that promotes Asha is considered right, good and beneficial. Frashokereti (refreshing), in fact, is the ultimate action in the path of Asha that helps the sustainability, continuity and immortality of the existence. The person who follows this path is called an Ashavan.
Zarathushtra's Teachings on Ethics - Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds
The Threefold Path
At the heart of Zarathushtra's teachings on ethics is the concept of the Threefold Path, which comprises of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. These three principles are seen as the foundation for living a virtuous life, and are believed to be the key to achieving spiritual growth and enlightenment.
Good thoughts are essential to promoting Asha in the world. When we cultivate positive and constructive thoughts, we align ourselves with the cosmic force of Asha. Good thoughts help us to see the world in a positive light, and to recognize the interconnectedness of all things. By focusing on positive thoughts, we can promote Asha in our daily lives, and help to create a more just and harmonious society.
Good words are also essential to promoting Asha in the world. When we speak truthfully, kindly, and compassionately, we are promoting the cosmic force of Asha. Our words have the power to shape our reality, and the reality of those around us. By using our words to promote Asha, we can create positive change in the world, and help to promote harmony and justice.
Finally, good deeds are essential to promoting Asha in the world. When we act ethically and morally, we are promoting the cosmic force of Asha. Our actions have the power to create positive change in the world, and to promote the betterment of society as a whole. By doing good deeds for others, we can promote Asha in our daily lives, and help to create a more just and harmonious society.
Connecting to the Threefold Path
The Threefold Path of good thoughts, words, and deeds is interconnected with the concept of Asha. When we cultivate positive thoughts, speak truthfully and kindly, and act ethically and morally, we are aligning ourselves with the cosmic force of Asha. The Threefold Path provides us with a framework for promoting Asha in our daily lives, and for living a life of virtue and purpose.
In conclusion, promoting Asha is central to Zarathushtra's teachings, and is interconnected with the Threefold Path of good thoughts, words, and deeds. By cultivating positive thoughts, speaking truthfully and kindly, and acting ethically and morally, we can promote Asha in our daily lives, and help to create a more just and harmonious society. Let us strive to align ourselves with the cosmic force of Asha, and live a life of virtue and purpose, promoting the betterment of society as a whole.
Now you can know, any thought, word and deed that promotes Asha is considered a good thought, good word and good deed.
Help me understand Vohumanha, Urvana, Kshathra, Armaiti and Ameretat.
Zarathushtra discovered that if a person used his power of thinking to think clearly and to think only of the good, then their power of thinking becomes “Vohumanah” which means an “Enlightened Mind”. It is through our Vohumanah that we can distinguish the good from the bad. I am sure you might be thinking, but how does one just think good? What really is a good thought? Is a good thought for me a bad thought for someone else? To distinguish a good thought from a bad thought one must consult oneself or a mentor and ask, does this promote Asha or does it reduce Asha in this world? Once you have an answer to this and put this to practice every day, you will see your thoughts and mind transform into a beautiful place. Will it be easy? Probably not, but it will be rewarding.
Zarathushtra discovered that everything in existence had Ravan (Energy). Ravan is non-material, often interpreted as spiritual. It is abstract. As Zarathushtra puts a purpose in his own life when he sings, “I may hereby bring gratifying pleasure, solace and joy to Urvana of Geush – the Urvan of creation” (Yas. 28.1). One our duties is to bring happiness to the Urvan of everyone and everything in existence. This is through his wise actions that arise from his wisdom.
Kshathra means power, strength, ruler, governance, authority, or management. Vairya means dominion. Together it means “Ideal Authority or Rule over self, society, an environment”. To achieve this state, Zarathushtra knew that the rulers or the leaders must be just, good and care for the wellbeing of the people in their dominion. This principle further deepens into each person where one must have mental and spiritual authority over themselves and the environment around them. It is a person's self-management, being aware of personal abilities and strengths, mistakes and weaknesses, as well as desires and goals for self-improvement. Khshathra brings out our best actions in our daily lives and when performed in accordance with Asha, Kshathra becomes Kshathra Vairya or Vohu Kshathra.
Armaiti, often referred to as Spenta Armaiti is one of the most beautiful aspects of Zarathushtra’s teachings. By itself it means dynamic or progressive happiness. The way to cultivate Spenta Armaiti in one's life is by practicing reverence for life and devotion to truth. You should practice devotion to truth and love by always telling the truth and being honest with others. Being good stewards of the earth and taking care of the environment is another way to cultivate this virtue. We all urge for inner peace, love, and devotion which ultimately gives us happiness. Zarathushtra recognises this. He teaches us that happiness is not static, it's progressive, dynamic and infinite. But to find happiness, one must be willing to create it, and one creates happiness and progresses it by making others happy.
When one meditates to Spenta Armaiti, they activate their Ravan (energy) with love, happiness, and devotion towards oneself and the whole of existence. It is through this state that Zarathushtra proclaims in the Gathas that “Happiness is for those who bring happiness to others; Enlightenment is for those who bring enlightenment to others.”
Ameretat is a state of immortality, not physical, but a state of cosmic immortality. It is a state of contentment that one reaches when thoughts, words and deeds promote Asha and advance Spenta Armaiti. Such a perfect state results in an immortality of Asha and Mazda within the cosmos. It the ultimate state of being that we must strive to achieve. But this state is not something we can jump to or fast track to- this state is the by-product of living life in accordance with teachings of Zarathushtra. It’s when you think like an Ashavan, better yourself to empower your manha, energise your ravan through goodness, improve yourself through kshathra and promote spenta armaiti that a state of Ameretat will be reached.
It is in this state that we conceive Mazda within us and in every creation within the cosmos.
What is the role of fire?
My dear ones, let us take a moment to reflect on the role of fire in or faith. As Zoroastrians, we see the fire's light as a reflection of Mazda’s omnipresent wisdom. The brilliant warmth of the Atash fills our hearts with joy, it brings us closer together as a community, promoting kindness, compassion, and forgiveness within us for all those around us. By embracing the Atash of Mazda, we are able to radiate positivity and love and thereby spread Zarathushtra’s message of philanthropy, righteousness and kindness in this world while holding high the ensign of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds.
Another important aspect of fire is its ability to purify and cleanse. The faith teaches us that fire has the power to transform impurities and darkness into light and purity. This is why fire is used in many Zoroastrian rituals, where it is used to purify objects and people.
Fire is also associated with the sun, which is seen as a powerful symbol of God's creative energy and life-giving power. The sun is considered to be the source of all life, and Zoroastrianism emphasizes the importance of respecting and honoring the natural world.
We also believe in the importance of balance and the relationship between fire and water. Fire represents the active, masculine principle, while water represents the passive, feminine principle. Together, they symbolize the balance between action and receptivity, strength and flexibility, and creation and destruction.
As we contemplate the role of fire, let us remember that it is a powerful symbol of transformation, purification, and spiritual growth. May it remind us of the deep spiritual traditions of our religion and inspire us to strive for enlightenment and purity in our daily lives.
What are some of the major Zoroastrian festivals?
My dear ones, as we explore the rich and vibrant traditions of Zoroastrianism, let us take a moment to reflect on some of the major festivals that are celebrated in our community throughout the year. These festivals are an important part of our spiritual practice, and they offer us a chance to come together as a community to honor our traditions, express gratitude, and renew our commitment to our faith.
One of the most important festivals in our tradition is the celebration of Navroze, which marks the start of the Zoroastrian New Year. This festival falls on the spring equinox, and it is a time for new beginnings, growth, and renewal. Navroze is a celebration of life, and it is marked by feasting, dancing, and the exchange of gifts. It is also a time for spiritual reflection, as we look back on the year that has passed and set intentions for the year ahead.
Another important festival in our tradition is Sadeh, which is celebrated on the 30th of January. Sadeh is a celebration of fire, and it honors the power and purity of the eternal flame that burns within our fire temples. It is a time to renew our commitment to our faith and to reflect on the role of fire in our lives. Sadeh is marked by the lighting of bonfires, the exchange of sweets, and the sharing of prayers and blessings.
Yet another festival is Mehregan, which is celebrated in honor of the god Mithra. This festival is held in October and is a time of celebration and thanksgiving. It is a time to honor the gifts of nature and to give thanks for the blessings that we have received throughout the year. Mehregan is marked by feasting, music, and dancing, and it is a time to come together as a community to celebrate the abundance of life.
We also celebrate Gahanbar, which are seasonal festivals that mark the changing of the seasons. These festivals are celebrated four times a year and are dedicated to the elements of earth, water, air, and fire. Gahanbar is a time to honor the gifts of nature and to reflect on the balance and harmony that exists within the natural world.
Lastly, we celebrate the festival of Yalda, which falls on the longest night of the year, typically around December 21st. Yalda is a celebration of light and the triumph of good over evil. It is a time to come together with loved ones, to share food, stories, and blessings, and to celebrate the warmth and light of the human spirit.
As we reflect on these major festivals of our tradition, let us remember the deep spiritual significance that they hold and the role they play in our spiritual growth and connection to the divine. May we come together as a community to celebrate these festivals with joy and gratitude, and may they inspire us to deepen our commitment to our faith and to the values of love, compassion, and unity that lie at the heart of our religion.
What are Amesha Spentas?
In Zoroastrianism, the Amesha Spentas are not only seen as spiritual beings, but also as attributes that we should strive to embody in our daily lives. Ahura Mazda, the highest deity, created these divine beings to help guide and protect humanity. Each of the seven Amesha Spentas represents a specific aspect of life and the universe.
First is Vohu Manah, representing Good Mind or Righteousness. Vohu Manah is the embodiment of all that is good and pure. To follow Vohu Manah is to cultivate a mind that is clear, focused, and free of negativity. This attribute teaches us to seek truth and righteousness in all things, to be honest and just, and to make choices that benefit not only ourselves but others as well.
Second is Asha Vahishta, representing Truth and Order. Asha Vahishta is the embodiment of all that is right and just in the universe. To follow Asha Vahishta is to seek truth in all things, to be fair and just in all our dealings, and to promote harmony and order in the world around us. This attribute teaches us to uphold moral principles, to be honest and fair, and to respect the laws of nature.
Third is Khshathra Vairya, representing Power and Dominion. Khshathra Vairya is the embodiment of all that is strong and powerful in the universe. To follow Khshathra Vairya is to cultivate strength, courage, and perseverance in all aspects of life. This attribute teaches us to stand up for what is right, to be fearless in the face of challenges, and to use our power and influence for good.
Fourth is Spenta Armaiti, representing Devotion and Piety. Spenta Armaiti is the embodiment of all that is devoted and pious in the universe. To follow Spenta Armaiti is to cultivate a sense of reverence and respect for all life and to dedicate ourselves to spiritual growth and self-improvement. This attribute teaches us to be kind and compassionate, to seek knowledge and understanding, and to live a life of service to others.
Fifth is Haurvatat, representing Wholeness and Perfection. Haurvatat is the embodiment of all that is complete and perfect in the universe. To follow Haurvatat is to cultivate a sense of wholeness and completeness in all aspects of life. This attribute teaches us to seek balance and harmony in our thoughts, emotions, and actions, and to strive for excellence in all our endeavors.
Sixth is Ameretat, representing Immortality and Everlasting Life. Ameretat is the embodiment of all that is eternal and everlasting in the universe. To follow Ameretat is to cultivate a sense of inner peace and tranquility, and to embrace the idea that our actions in this life have eternal consequences. This attribute teaches us to focus on the eternal aspects of life, to live with purpose and meaning, and to prepare ourselves for the afterlife.
Finally, we have Ahura Mazda, the highest deity, who represents the ultimate source of all goodness and truth in the universe. Ahura Mazda is the embodiment of all that is divine and holy, and his role is to guide and protect humanity in its quest for spiritual enlightenment and fulfillment. Zoroastrianism views God as a loving and benevolent entity, who seeks to help humanity through its trials and tribulations, and who ultimately desires for us to find peace and happiness in this life and the next.
In summary, the Amesha Spentas represent not only spiritual beings, but also attributes that we should strive to cultivate in our daily lives. By following the teachings of these divine beings, we can improve ourselves and our world, and ultimately