Sicilian1's Blog

Expert Opinion and Commentary

sicilian1: Zoroastrianism, The Most Influential Religion You Have Never Heard Of.

   Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest living religions in the world. The origins of the religion are in doubt concerning specific dates as is the specific date of  birth of it’s founder Zoroaster. What is certain is that Zoroaster was of great interest to both ancient Greek and Roman philosophers who wrote with concern about his life and teachings. But what is of even more certain significance was the influence Zoroastrianism had on the Western religions of the world.

     The contribution Zoroastrianism made to the eschatology of the three major Western world religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) was eternal. Zoroastrianism brought about the concept of Heavan and Hell, the free will of humans, an end of world armeggedeon and the idea of the eternal life or death of a humans soul to be judged by God based on the type of deeds performed by the person while living.

    The faith practiced by the Hebrews prior to their exile and before their return under Persian rule and influence of the Persians ‘religion, Zoroastrianisn, had no eschatology concerning the final resting place of one’s soul. It was the mingling with Zoroastrianism that changed all that. Maybe the reason why both these faiths gelled so peaceably was because they were both founded upon a monotheistic belief.

   So because Judaism begot Christianity then Islam, the Zoroastrian influence on Judaism forever changed the way the Western world views the condition of life and the hereafter. Prior to Zoroastrian influence the Hebrew Bible makes no mention of a bodily or soulful resurrection, whether Heavan or Hell will be the final resting place, what in fact was God’s purpose for mankind and the universe or if God would come back to judge all who had lived. These ideas which are so ingrained in Western religious thought and teaching all came into being under the influence of Zoroastrianism.

    The ancient inhabitants of Persia were known as Aryans (noble ones). (Don’t confuse the term with Hitler’s perversion of it). Persia was what the Greeks called these peoples but they had always referred to themselves as Aryans. This is the land that is today called Iran. (Iran/Aryan. See the relation?). In fact Iranians refer to themselves as Persians. Not Arabs, please don’t confuse the two. A Persian is a Persian , and an Arab is an Arab. So the ancient ancestors of the Iranian peoples are the ancient Persian Empire and the practicioners of Zoroastrianism.

   Some Aryans migrated East into the Indus valley and began what would develop into what is now known as the Hindu religion. Those Aryans who stayed in their Mesopotamian home began the civilization that eventually was known as the Persian Empire.

   Zoroaster was considered an Aryan prophet or a priest in his religion and may have had a link to a royal Persian family. Like the Buddha, Zoroaster was searching for meaning in his life when one day while wandering through the wilderness he was visited by an angel who revealed God’s plan to him. Zoroaster began to preach his message but met little success and was ostracized and branded a heretic. Undettered Zoroaster was able to convince the monarch Vishtaspa to give him an audience. After a number of tries Zoroaster finally convinced Vishtaspa in what he was preaching and as a result Vishtaspa converted his entire kingdom to the new religion of Zoroaster. Zoroastrianism spred like wildfire to the Aryan peoples.

   Zoroaster taught that there was one true God who created the world and his name is Ahura Mazda.  This God had always been worshiped by the ancient Aryans and Zoroaster declared Him to be the only true God. Ahura Mazda was a personal God who was all wise, all persuasive and could not be outwitted.

 It was Zoroaster who developed the idea of a competition between the good and evil forces of the world. This was the concept of dualism that was foriegn to religion at this point in history. In Zoroaster’s teachings the problem of evil in the world was an onctological reality that was all pervasive and it was humanity’s job to confront that evil and do something about it.

Zoroaster was also the first to introduce the concept of free will. He said that all humans are born good and pure without the stain of original sin but they were given by God the option to pursue good or evil. The final destiny of their souls depended on if that that freedom of choice would be expressed in the form of virtue or selfishness. There was no pre-determination involved in Zoroaster’s teaching of God’s role in humanity. The right to act in a moral, ethical and compassionate manner rested completely in the hands of mankind. They had a right to choose to make the world good or to give into evil temptations to make the world bad. Depending on the path that was chosen the person had the ability to reach salvation in this life and the life hereafter. The concept of reincarnation was outright rejected by Zoroaster’s teachings.

    Zoroaster also introduced the idea of personal responsibilty as a result of the option of choice. The responsibility for deeds determines the human condition so in the end mankind is responsible for the world they create. Ethical standards were held in high regard by Zoroastrianism who taught the idea of good thought, word, conduct, charity, selflessness and deed.

     Ahura Mazda allows the forces of good and evil to battle. No matter how much success the evil forces have they will lose in the end because the good qualities of Ahura Mazda will tip the scale against the pervaers of evil. Ahura Mazda’s wisdom and persusion impart an incredible perception about the way the world unfolds. In the end Ahura Mazda will come back to judge all mankind.

     Before Zoroastrianism’s influence, polytheism was the popular religious practice. People prayed to many different gods for different things. It was Zoroaster who made a monotheistic belief more popular. Also Zoroaster gave evil a name, called, Ahriman, the adversary of Ahura Mazda. Ahriman was the precurrsor to the Christian version of satan. A foe ivolved in an epic battle with the benevolent creator God for the soul’s of men. It can also be seen how the wise and persuasive Ahura Mazda of Zoroastrianism evolved into the all-knowing, all-powerful Christian God.

    Whether any of Zoroaster’s teachings were in fact the result of an Heavanly revelation or a hallucination is not important. What is important is that Zoroaster’s teachings prove that since the ancient times man has been consumed with a scheme for the afterlife, how ethical and righteous behavior affect the final resting place of our souls, the interaction between good and evil and a final day of judgement for all mankind.

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June 13, 2009 - Posted by | blog, culture, history, Life, news, people, personal, philosohy, random, religion, thoughts

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