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The Gathas, Lessons to Grow Through [i]


















Dear friends and guests, I welcome you all, with all of my heart…

I want to thank the Zarathustra’s Vision track committee members and the organizers of this congress for allowing me to speak with you.  I am here, because I am a grateful student of life.  Zarathustra’s revelations have moved my heart and mind, as well as challenged me to grow into a more enlightened, loving, and dynamic individual.  In my studies, I have come to view the Gathas, as an invaluable spiritual and intellectual resource, propounded by a prophet whose own personal and spiritual evolution is awesome.

During this talk, I hope to discuss aspects of Zarathustra’s philosophy that are dear to me.  I will also share some personal life and Gatha-derived insights on how to live more effectively.  Specifically, I want to share some thoughts on the truth, the good mind, service derived from good thinking, and love.  As I have become more aware of how these elements promote personal and spiritual growth, I have also committed myself to incorporating them into my life on a regular basis.  This, in turn, has enabled me to make greater strides towards fulfilling my personal mission.  I share with you now, in the hope of fueling a similar fire within you.  So let us begin with some fundamentals…

Ahura Mazda created the human body, conscience, intelligence, and the life force

Yasna 31.11, Insler:

“Since Thou, Wise One at the beginning didst fashion for us by Thy thinking creatures and conceptions and intentions, since Thou didst create body and breath, since (Thou didst create) both actions and words, (all these things) whereby a person with volition expresses his preferences.”

Ours is a reality in which two opposing mentalities, the just and the unjust exists

Yasna 30.3, Insler:

“Yes, there are two fundamental spirits, twins, which are renowned to be in conflict.  In thought and in word, in action, they are two: the good and the bad.  And between these two, the beneficent have correctly chosen, not the maleficent.”

We are all equal and meant to work together to promote truth and good thinking

Yasna 46.10, Insler:

“Wise Lord, whoever –be it man or woman –would grant to me those things which Thou dost know to be the best existence, namely, the truth for the truth and the rule of good thinking, (with that person) as well as those whom I shall accompany in the glory of your kind –with all these I shall cross over the Bridge of the Judge.”

We are co-creators with God.  Our understanding, our good words, and our good deeds give life to Mazda’s rule. 

Yasna 51.1, Insler:

“That good rule must be chosen which best brings good fortune to the man serving it with milk.  In alliance with truth, it shall encompass the best (for us) through its actions, Wise One.  This very rule shall I now bring to realization for us.”

As God’s co-workers, we are able to realize our divine essence through our good thoughts, words, and deeds.

Yasna 47.1, Insler:

“Through a virtuous spirit and the best thinking, through both the action and the word befitting truth, they shall grant completeness and immortality to Him.  [The Wise One in rule is the Lord through piety.]”

Zarathustra’s trials and revelations reveal vital lessons for us to-grow-by:

Zarathustra demonstrated the importance of having and staying committed to a mission

His objective was to make sense of the world around him and grow through his relationship with Ahura Mazda.  This growth would in turn enable him to better understand how to access Vohu Mana, act in accordance with Asha to manifest the Amesha Spenta and establish Mazda’s kingdom on Earth.

B.   My mission:   To deepen my relationship with Ahura Mazda and strive to embody the Amesha Spenta.

Mrs. Dina McIntyre has eloquently summarized the Amesha Spenta, by stating, “The quest for truth and righteousness (Asha) is not possible without the influence or inspiration of a benevolent spirit (Spenta Mainyu. You cannot grasp the truth or what is right without good thinking (Vohu Mana).  And if you understand a truth, speak it, or put it into action, you are in effect bringing to life in that small way the rule of truth and good thinking (Khshathra) with your service (Armaity) to that ideal.  And the ultimate reward is completeness and immortality (Hurvatat and Ameratat), that state of being, which is the perfecting or attainment of the preceding values –a state of being that is one with God –otherwise known as, the Zarathustrian Heaven.

ii.  A motto that helps to keep me moving forward, during challenging times:

If you want a thing bad enough to go out and fight for it,
to work day and night for it,
to give up your time, your peace, and your sleep for it,
if all that you dream and scheme is about it,
and life, it seems useless and worthless without it,
and if you’d gladly sweat for it,
and fret for it,
and lose all of your terror of the opposition for it,
if you simply go after this thing that you want with all of your capacity,
strength and sagacity,
faith hope, and confidence,       
and stern pertinacity,
if neither poverty, hunger, pain of body and brain
can keep you from this thing that you want,
if dogged and grim,
you beseech and beset it,
then with the help of God you shall get it!

IV. Realizing Zarathustra’s Heaven in our lifetime:

Truth and Vohu Mana: from whence Zarathustra drew his strength and insight

Truth and Vohu Mana are integral to living (growth, prosperity) [as opposed to not-living] 

Yasna 46.7. Insler:

“Whom hast Thou appointed as guardian for me, Wise One, if the deceitful one shall dare to harm me? Whom other than Thy fire and Thy (good) thinking, through whose actions one has nourished the truth, Lord?  Proclaim that wondrous state to me for the sake of the (good) conception.” 

My reflections on Truth and Honesty:

  1. Truths govern our reality, therefore let us commit ourselves to them, to comprehend/advance the world

  2. By nurturing an honest approach to life and seeking out the truth, life becomes eminently richer

  3. Having an internal locus of control aids one in establishing an honest dialogue with oneself

My reflections on effective Good Thinking:

  1. By thinking critically, openly, honestly, provocatively… your consciousness expands

  2. Incorporate strategies into your life that will enable you to gain greater insight into yourself, Ahura Mazda, and others (for example, meditation, thought-provoking discussions, in-depth studying, reflecting, learning from mistakes, journal-writing, prayer, etc)

  3. Explore yourself and God by interacting with others, engaging in new activities, and entertaining new ideas/concepts

Armaity: the actions which stem from good thinking, give substance to the truth  

Yasna 30.7, Insler:

“But to this world He came with the rule of good thinking and of truth, and (our) enduring piety (Armaity) gave body and breath (to it)…”

My reflections on Service to God and the Self:

  1. You, are a co-creator with God: take personal responsibility and lead by example to make a difference

  2. Challenge yourself to explore and grow through a greater understanding of the progressive mentality

  3. Speak good words, perform good deeds and as you do, the doors that line life’s corridors open to you

  4. Strive to make a difference at the level of self, family, local community, state, nation, and the world

  5. The ripple effect means that no matter what you do, you make a difference –so make it count!

3.      Love –to worship Ahura Mazda with his own enduring values

Yasna 51.22, Insler:

“I know in whose worship there exists for me the best in accordance with truth.  It is the Wise Lord as well as those who have existed and (still) exist.  Them (all) shall I worship with their own names, and I shall serve them with love.”

My reflections on Love:

  1. Love is a personal sense of responsibility that encourages one to care about all of God’s creation

  2. Treat others as you would like to be treated… closely align your actions with the Amesha Spenta

  3. By helping all of God’s creation, your connection with Ahura Mazda becomes ever-more intimate

  4. Give of yourself , because the more you give, the more you will be enriched

  5. Understand the conditional nature of your love and slowly build the bridges to unconditional love

Yasna 30.9, Insler:

“Therefore may we be those who shall heal this world!  Wise One, and ye other lords, be present to me with support and with truth, so that one shall become convinced even where his understanding shall be false.”

Thank you for your time and attention.  I hope that some of what I have shared with you has inspired you to study the Gathas and delve deeper into yourselves so that you may positively impact your own life, as well as the rest of Ahura Mazda’s creation.

May Ahura Mazda always light your path and bless you with lessons to grow by!


1.  Stanley Insler, The Gathas of Zarathustra, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1975.

2.  Dina G. McIntyre, An Introduction to the Gathas of Zarathustra, No. 8, page 13, The Gatha Studies Trust, Pittsburgh, May 1990.

[i] This article is based on a lecture given at the 7th World Zoroastrian Congress, Houston, Texas in December of 2000, and was posted on vohuman.org on July 6, 2005 courtesy of the chairman of Zarathushtra’s Vision track of the 7th World Zoroastrian Congress.