Monday, August 16, 2010

The Essene Teachings of Zarathustra

Book Review: The Essene Teachings of Zarathustra by Edmond B. Szekely
(Academy Books 1974

This is a very short book perhaps complementary to his translation of the Zend Avesta.The first part is about research into Zoroastrianism through archaeology and literature and the conclusion that very little detail is known about both the history and tenets. Szekely says there were three Zoroasters: the first was a Sumerian philosopher around 5000 BCE who synthesized what he calls the Heliolithic traditions of the time– the second was an Iranian who compiled material from those previous traditions of the Sumerian civilization – the third was a Median priest from about 500 BCE who revived the fading teachings of the previous Zoroaster. Who know if this is true or even close – but I doubt most scholars would agree – although there may be some partial truth to more than one person in different time periods.

Next there is a legend recounted where a Persian King asks Zoroaster to quickly teach him the laws of nature and the universe – wherein Zoroaster hands him a grain of wheat from the earth and says, “In this small grain of wheat are contained all the laws of the universe and the forces of nature.” There is much more to this story but essentially the king learns from a visiting Indian philosopher that the grain refers to the “indestructible and mysterious power of life itself. The king and the philosopher went back to visit Zoroaster in his garden and learned: “that life and work, study and leisure, are one and the same; that the right way to live is a simple, natural life.” The legend has it that the Indian philosopher returned and summed up what he learned as the hymns of the Rig Veda (certainly Indo-Iranian in style and culture but unlikely to be from Zoroaster).

The Avesta is called the Book of Life and connects man to the universe in several ways:

1) The Mother of Life (Soil) – the secret process by which energy moves and is transmuted in the soil is called the wheel of life, 2) The Water of Life (Moisture) – the initial phase of all life processes requires it – the water cycle in nature is equated to the circulation of blood in humans, 3) The Father of Life (Sun) – which governs the manifestations of life. 4) The Breath of Life (Air) – according to the author – there is vast detail on the science of breathing – more even than in the Indian yoga systems – perhaps this is worth looking into. 5) The Fire of Life (Vitality) – the author is adamant that this refers to cultivating internal rather than external fires. 6) The Brother Tree – trees are considered the most perfected form of the vegetable kingdom – and the best food for man is said to come from trees. Trees are regarded as harmonious. 7) The Master of Life (Man) – the most conscious part of nature. Man’s code is – good thoughts, good words, good deeds. 8) The Light of Life (Ancestors and Culture) – the light comes from the ancestors and illuminates the culture of man. The author interprets this to mean that one should study the teachings of all those beings of the past – distant ancestors – no matter the religion or philosophy – and suggests that the Avestas are most liberal and comprehensive. 9) Eternal Life – life is taught to be a form of cosmic energy and it is said that life exists on numerous planets and solar systems and all forms of life are connected.

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