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May We Not Lose the Vision  

Personal Perspective

Seventh World Zarathushtrian Congress, Houston, December 2000

Zareen Hakim



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Zoroastrianism has survived for over 3 thousand years, and while we have come to various crossroads in our history, it seems that now is the time for us to re-assess and capture its essence once again!

Imagine a world, not just a small community, where the use of one’s good mind, Vohu Mana, leads humankind to the path of righteousness.  Is this not Zarathushtra’s vision, Our Vision?  Can we work to fulfill it, and if so, how do we get there? 

Zarathustra’s vision is something that transcends ethnic, geographic, and generation boundaries.  It is at the ‘core’ of Zoroastrianism, that which ties us together, and needs to be explored and maintained in order for the religion to survive.

I understand that because of our history of persecution, we have had to keep the religion within our own walls, to protect the flame as best we could - isolation our only measure of hope…

But as much as this was a means of survival, in ways, it has proved detrimental to the growth of Zoroastrianism, and this may be why the mentality of exclusiveness remains today. 

In the worst of circumstances, we and our forefathers and mothers kept the flame alive - we kept it alive in the hopes that one day, we would be blessed with the opportunity to openly practice our religion, to see it thrive, not just survive, for the betterment of all humankind!  That time is NOW!  No longer are we in danger...After thousands of years of preserving and protecting the religion, we are free!  Let’s rejoice and continue to carry out Zarathustra’s vision! 

Presently, we as a community, know that the inevitable forces of change are upon us, but we don’t quite know what to do or how to go about channeling this change in a positive way.  What is the goal of our Zoroastrian community?  What do we want our future to look like?  Do we even want to make a difference?

Perhaps we are afraid to take the first step in what may result in change.  This is understandable, but I view change as a welcome enhancement, and not something to be feared.  After-all, change is inevitable - and change is a tool to open our minds and progress towards the future, a very Zoroastrian concept.  In fact, re-assessing the religion and re-awakening the vision, will do us some necessary good.  What better way to clarify our minds and to revitalize our collective conscience than to come together and re-educate ourselves and others on the ‘core’ elements of the religion?!  Surely, we may differ on what the vision is, but I hope that we can agree that Zarathushtra’s message is a universal one, one which grants each and every one of us the good mind, despite ethnicity. 

Zarathustra envisioned an eventual perfect world, a state of Hauvertat, which may be achieved through the conscious decisions of the Good Mind to choose the righteous path. Zarathushtra did not limit the use of the religion to his first followers - his vision was to be spread to all of humanity!

Because his vision is universal, we, alone, can not reach that eventual utopian state without sharing his message with those who choose to accept it.

In fact, to keep Zarathushtra’s vision alive, it is our obligation to educate, encourage, and welcome into the religion, all who have made a conscious decision to embrace it.

Let’s think for a moment - What are the benefits of isolating Zoroastrianism from the rest of the world?  I couldn’t think of any, either!  Some think that the religion will not remain "pure" if people from other ethnic groups practice it.  

But, if one Chooses, Accepts and Lives by Zarathushtra’s message, that person is one step closer in bringing the world towards “perfection” - that is quite the opposite of "impurity", and more importantly, is in conjunction with Zarathushtra’s vision….for he states in the Gathas in one of many examples:

“As long as I have power and strength, I shall teach all to seek for Truth and Right.”

Being a Zoroastrian is founded on personal choice.  As I view it, ethnicity does not even become an issue.  We can not rely on intra-faith marriages alone to preserve our faith.  Eventually, with ethnically mixed marriages on the rise, it would be wise to explore other ways to increase the Zoroastrian population.   

Extinction, in my opinion, is not an option.  While our ethnicity may not flourish in the future, Zoroastrianism can and will!

Let’s be excited that so many people are interested in our religion, and that families of ethnically mixed marriages want to raise their children as Zoroastrians.  Look around you - I know that many, if not all, know someone who was not born into the faith, but is carrying out Zarathushtra’s universal message far more than many of us who were born into the religion are.  Let that be an example to all, esp. to the youth.

I think the vision is what the Zoroastrian youth find comfort in, today.  This is what we feel needs to be preserved.  It’s not that we don’t believe in practicing the ritualistic aspects of the religion, but the connection becomes weak if the message is being lost.  With the influence of both Indian and North American cultures, for example, I find that I have to go further back to our roots in Iran in discovering who I am.  In the same way, I look to Zarathushtra’s early teachings in the Gathas, where he clearly communicates a universal vision!!

To find comfort in your own faith, not because you were born into it, but because it gives you meaning in life, is a truly wonderful thing.  Unfortunately, while we may not be able to preserve our ethnicity, we have enough knowledge and enthusiasm to let Zoroastrianism live on and encourage the lives of many! 

Let’s unite and attempt to re-establish the core elements of the religion - The Vision - not only for ourselves, but for humanity! 

This is no easy task, but I believe that truth will triumph in the end, whether or not we as a community decide to embrace it at this time. 

Zarathustra’s vision represents this truth and will survive, must survive - why not nurture the evolution of the vision, while we still have a chance to shape it?