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Friday, 8 January 2016

Also sprach Zarathustra

In yesterday's blog, I wrote about the Zoroastrian religion in Persia/Iran. I had never realised that we know this religion by another name: Zarathustra. Also sprach Zarathustra is a book by Nietzsche, a symphonic poem by Strauss, and also the music used in Kubrick's movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

BBC: "Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions. It was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran approximately 3,500 years ago. For 1,000 years Zoroastrianism was one of the most powerful religions in the world. It was the official religion of Persia (Iran) from 600 BCE to 650 CE. It is now one of the world's smallest religions. In 2006 the NYT reported that there were probably less than 190,000 followers worldwide at that time".

Wikipedia: "Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest religions, "combining a cosmogonic dualism and eschatological monotheism in a manner unique... among the major religions of the world." Ascribed to the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster, its Supreme Being is Ahura Mazda. Leading characteristics, such as messianism, the Golden Rule, heaven and hell, and free will influenced other religious systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, and Islam".

Some scholars believe that key concepts of Zoroastrian eschatology and demonology influenced the Abrahamic religions (Wiki). Abrahamic (a.k.a. Semitic) religions are monotheistic religions of West Asian origin, emphasising and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognising a spiritual tradition identified with him. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the largest Abrahamic religions.

Zoroastrianism and its Abrahamic derivatives are just one of the key branches in the Tree of Religions. The other key branches of that same Tree are the East Asian religions (eg, Confucianism, Daoism, Mahayana Buddhism, Shintō), Indian religions (eg, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism), African religions, American (indigenous) religions, Oceanic religions, and the classical religions of ancient Greece and Rome and their Hellenistic descendants. (Wiki)

It is speculated that there was once a Proto-Indo-European religion, from which the religions of the various Indo-European peoples derive, and that this religion was an essentially naturalist numenistic religion. An example of a religious notion from this shared past is the concept of *dyēus, which is attested in several distinct religious systems (eg, daeva, daiva, Dēuos, Deus, dia, dievas, Dionysus, Dis Pater, div(-ese), diva, diw, duw, Dyauṣ Pitār, Zeus).

The concept of a naturalist numenistic religion fits very well in Pantheism which is to some extent a hybrid of monotheism (one God) and polytheism (multiple gods). Pantheism is the belief that the Universe (or nature as the totality of everything) is identical with divinity, or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent god. Pantheists thus do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god. The 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza is regarded as its most celebrated advocate through his 1677 book Ethics.

Actually, this blog comes as a relief (deus ex machina) as I am deeply convinced that the human separation over religion is an artificial - man-made - one. Somehow we have become confused, separated and divided over the messengers (prophets) and have forgotten about the Sender and the message.