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Soroushian, Dr. Mehrborzin






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The designation of year 2003 by UNESCO as the 3000th anniversary of Zoroastrianism brought about through the efforts of the government of Tajikistan provides a long overdue opportunity for humanity to be made aware of one of the most fundamental aspects of its heritage.  Although, Zarathushtra is believed to have lived closer to 4000 years ago, the opportunity presented by this anniversary declaration should be seized upon to create awareness of the unique contributions of Zarathushtra to the advancement of human thought and humanity. [ii]

To propel humanity forward from its current state, a fundamentally progressive and responsible outlook is required. Zarathushtra’s vision being a fusion of a world-view and a personal way of life emphasizing individual’s central role in all matters of humanity, is uniquely suited for that purpose. 

As one of world’s foremost philosophers, social reformers, moral teachers, and environmentalists, Zarathushtra’s lasting legacy is his contribution to the development of human thought and humanity. [iii] A few examples of the fundamental impact of his contributions include:

  1. His idea that life is to be lived to its fullest and that there must be upwards movement and progress as we go through life, rather than static and cyclic repetition of existence in any form or shape has given humanity a sense of future as an end goal.

  2. His other point of heavenly and hellish existence being a conception of our mind and a direct consequence of our action in this world rather than a reward in the afterlife stands as a shining example of his contribution to giving humanity a sense of reality and to save it from superstition and vulnerability.

  3. His overwhelming emphasis on the importance of seeking and championing the righteous and truthful order, and such quests being the foundation for defining one’s relation with others, including divinity, is what sets Zarathushtra’s vision so far apart from that of others. His articulation of the need for individuals to divorce themselves from self-interest ― when self-interest is at variance with the righteous order ― to determine what the righteous order is in every situation, is of particular significance.

  4. Zarathushtra’s emphasis on individuals making life-promoting and righteous choices and being agents for bringing about goodness and progress rather than scapegoat a supernatural and all-powerful God that has so often been peddled by most institutionalized religions as responsible for all occurrences in this world, is the ultimate tribute to an enlightened world-view meant to liberate humanity from the yolk of superstition an ongoing drain on man’s spirituality.

    His dismissal of an imaginary god whose acts of love or vengeance are hawked as being responsible for bringing about solace, or playing havoc in people’s lives is very noteworthy. The logical explanation of natural occurrences following statistical and scientifically explainable patterns means humanity no longer needs to fear an all powerful God and to be victim of spiritual exploitation.

  5. His emphasis on positive thinking, positive and life-promoting morals, and his shunning of negative thoughts and actions is the ingredient for a healthy mind-set and outlook so much needed by humanity to reach its full potential.

  6. Zarathushtra’s world view, emphasizing an action-oriented life, based on active promotion of the righteous order, can lead the way to a cohesive human existence in stark contrast to the fractionalization and tribalization of humanity that self-serving institutionalized religion bodies have re-enforced.

In a fitting tribute to the man whose legacy we are celebrating after the passage of so many centuries, let us actively dedicate ourselves to his ideals.  To do so, and consistent with his proclamation that one must actively seek and promote the truth, we must use this opportunity presented (through the efforts of the government of Tajikistan) as well as every other opportunity to create awareness of the vision of Zaratushtra for humanity. Humanity stands to gain enormously from this awareness.

Based on the request from Mrs. Toxy Cowasjee to be a guest editor for this special issue of Hamazor dedicated to this UNESCO declared anniversary, I invited a number of knowledgeable Zartoshties to share their insights with you.

[i]Appeared in the 3000 year anniversary of Zoroastrianism (UNESCO declaration) special  issue of HAMZOR (publication of the World Zoroastrian Organization) issue 3, 2003,  pps. 18-19.

[ii] The contents of this article are excerpts from the article, Historical perspective on Zoroastrianism, by the same author appearing in: ĀTAŠ-E Dorun: The Fire Within Jamshid Soroushian Commemorative volume II, 1stBooks publishers, Bloomington, IN, 2003.

[iii] Sakhai, Kambiz, Communicative Reason and Medieval Iranian Thought, 1st Books publishers, Indianapolis, 2000.