Zoroaster…one of the Great Spiritual Masters on this Earth, almost unknown to the masses.
Zoroaster, also called Zarathustra, was an ancient Persian prophet who founded the first world religion – Zoroastrianism. The legend says he was the only human child born on this Earth who did not cry at birth but laught.
Born at a time when the peoples of the Iranian plateau were evolving a settled agriculture, Zoroaster broke with the traditional Aryan religions of the region which closely mirrored those of India, and espoused the idea of a one good God – Ahura Mazda. What became known eventually in the west as Zoroastrianism was also the first to link religious belief with profound attachment to personal morality. In Zoroastrian eschatology there is much which has become familiar from reading the Jewish and Christian testaments: heaven, hell, redemption, the promise of a Sashoyant (Messiah), the existence of an evil spirit Ahriman and – most striking of all – the prospect of a final battle for the salvation of man at “the end of time” between Ahura Mazda and Ahriman leading to the latter’s final defeat.
The “dualism” of Zoroastrianism is known in the “West,” but is mostly misunderstood. In the Gathas Spenta Mainyu, the “Holy Creative Spirit,” is opposed to Angra Mainyu, the Hostile Spirit. This conflict takes place in the human heart and mind, not in the material Universe. It is the constant struggle between good and evil in human beings. This is _ethical_ dualism, the dualism of Good and Evil. In later traditions this changed into a dualism that took in the material world, dividing the Universe into two camps, each ruled by the Good God or the Evil Spirit. This is called “cosmic” dualism.
Zoroastrianism does not teach or believe in reincarnation or karma. Zoroastrians believe that after life on earth, the human soul is judged by God as to whether it did more good or evil in its life. Those who chose good over evil go to what Zarathushtra referred to simply as the “best existence,” or heaven, and those who chose evil go to the “worst existence,” or hell. Zoroastrianism was one of the first religions to give the afterlife a moral dimension.
Zoroastrianism also believes in the progress of sacred time, and the eventual end of time. The belief is that the collective good acts of humanity will slowly transform the imperfect material world into its heavenly ideal. This is known as the “frasho-kereti,” or “making-fresh,” that is, renewal. At the end of time everything and everyone will be purified, even the souls in hell – so hell is not eternal.
Zoroastrian ideas of moral dualism, heaven and hell, sacred time, and angelic beings have influenced Judaism and Christianity, during long centuries of contact between these faiths in the Middle East.
The most important thing about Zoroastrianism is the dedication to ethical and moral excellence. The motto of the faith is: GOOD THOUGHTS, GOOD WORDS, GOOD DEEDS. This threefold path is the center of the faith. One knows what is good through the Divine help of Vohu Manah (Good Mind) and divinely inspired conscience (Daena).
According to tradition, Zoroaster lived for 77 years, thus indicating that he died about 551 bc. After his death, many legends arose about him. According to these legends, nature rejoiced at his birth, and he preached to many nations, founded sacred fires, and fought in a sacred war.
He was viewed as a model for priests, warriors, and agriculturalists, as well as a skilled craftsman and healer. The Greeks regarded him as a philosopher, mathematician, astrologer, or magician. Jews and Christians regarded him as an astrologer, magician, prophet, or arch heretic. Not until the 18th century did a more scholarly assessment of Zoroaster’s career and influence emerge.