Spirituality in Zoroastrianism

by Mrs. Pervin J. Mistry

The word spirituality is derived from the term "spirit". "Spirit" has no size, form or weight and therefore, it cannot be described physically. Ahura Mazda, the Divine Fravashis and the Yazatas are Divine "Spirits" having no physical existence. Their spiritual essence is present in material manifestation but the "Spirit" itself is beyond the physical.

Like "Spirit", the Soul is the purely immortal, immaterial and divine principle which resides in the heart of man. Consequently, spirituality is the experience, the direct communion between two Divine Entities: the "Spirit" and the Soul. Anyone who has had a spiritual experience knows that such an experience cannot be described with mere words and that spiritual experiences are much more profound relative to the psychic ones.

Different prophets have revealed different spiritual disciplines to their followers to attain spirituality. To put us in communion with Ahura Mazda, the Divine Fravashis and Yazatas, Asho Zarathushtra has given us the sacred "manthra spenta" which are much more than holy words/efficacious sounds written and recited in an archaic "Avestan" language, as some believe. According to the Fravardin Yasht, "manthra spenta" is the Soul of Ahura Mazda. It is the embodiment of Cosmic Energy originating from Ahura Mazda Who is the Source of Endless Light ("raevat-khvarnvat"). Manthra are rooted in "staot yasna". "Staot" means the Primordial Sound (vibrations) created by the First Ray of Light which burst forth at the beginning of Creation, and is diffused throughout Nature. Being at the very root of Nature, "staot" brings into existence the space-time continuum. The utterance of manthras based on "staot", transcend the space-time continuum in order to find the reciprocal resonance in the spiritual world of light. Being rooted in the natural laws of light and sound, the holy "manthra spenta" are not subjected to the man-made rules of grammar/language; therefore, it is improper and inappropriate to explain or understand such holy words through the medium of philology alone.

Communion between the Spirit, being of the nature of Light, and the Soul, its counter-part, is best achieved through the language of light and sound which is "staot". Yasna 30.1 specifically states that efficacious "manthra" are best for spirituality which will be attained by "yasna" (union with the Divine), through "staotacha ahurai" (Ahura Mazda's Own Spiritual Language of "staot"). Ardibehesht Yasht asserts that the utterance of "manthra" is best for the purity of the Soul in order to attain spirituality.

Spirituality is enhanced through prayers (Hadokht Yasht; yasna 28.3,.9,.10,.11; 29.4,.7; 30.1, etc.). During prayers, the Soul becomes the receptacle of higher spiritual consciousness and attunes itself in direct communion with the Divine through sound, motion and devotional thought vibrations which constitute the Divine Light (waves of energy). Sound and light, both being functions of waves of enery, the sounds of "staot" uttered physically are absorbed into the rays of Divine Light instantly. The meaning behind "ahunim vairim tanum paiti" (meaning: "the utterance of the Ahunavar prayer protects the body"), may be better understood through science which accepts the potency of sound as "energy". Besides the holy "manthra spenta", Asho Zarathushtra has given us Fire through which spirituality is achieved. Fire is both spiritual as well as physical. Being spiritual, Fire (Asha Vahishta), is a Divinity; It is equated with Ahura Mazda's Own Inner Light and Life/Energy. As energy, Fire transmutes the physical (matter) into the spiritual. It is the source of all Creation. No Zarathushti ritual is complete without the presence of Fire. In the Gathas, Asho Zarathushtra Himself expressly seeks a vision and a communion with Ahura Mazda through Fire, which is worshipped as the "Spirit Holiest" (yasna 34.4). Fire and "staot" are both Divine Energies which attune a Zarathushti to Ahura Mazda. In all Zarthushti homes, it is necessary to keep the "divo" and/or the hearth fire perpetually burning. When a Zarathushti prays "staot" in the presence of Fire, he/she communes with Ahura Mazda Himself as science now proves that every particle of light (photon) has intelligence, and Mazda is the Lord of Wisdom. "Divo" and the hearth fire are the physical manifestations of the Divine Light which permeates through time and space. Ahura Mazda, being Spirit, resides in the spiritual world while He sends His Son, Fire ("athro Ahurahe Mazdao puthra"), to adorn the Earth and propel the entire Creation towards Frasho-Kereti.

In addition to the utterance of "manthra spenta", performance of prayers/rituals, and the preservation of Fire, Asho Zarathushtra has also given us the spiritual munition of sudreh-kusti, dokhmenashini, purity rules (also known as "vidaevodat/Vendidad" or the anti-pollution rules), and "boonak-pasbani" (preservation of spiritual genes).

Can spirituality be taught? The answer is No. The prophets are the Divine Messengers because they each experienced the sacred communion with the Holiest Spirit by seeking the guidance and help of their own Fravashi (the "guru" within). They each went into the "cave" and "mountain" within their own heart, with only Faith and Devotion as their offerings. Can we rid of the darkness within our homes by lighting lamps outside? Similarly, if the light of Faith and Devotion is not lit within our own heart, will we get illumination from any outside source or "guru" ? No. Spirituality is an inherent, evolutionary quality gained by perseverance on the steep climb towards Frasho-Kereiti.

Teachers are of two kinds: one who is WITHIN and the other who is a "ratu" (a holy, pious teacher). In our scriptures, the teacher-disciple relationship is mentioned by words such as "ahu and ratu"; "Zarathushtra and Zarathushtratemo". However, the disciple must first light his own lamp within, to signify his readiness/worthiness for a teacher. This "readiness" reflects the degree of obedience the disciple has for the teacher and the teachings. The teacher is there only as a Guide; it is the disciple who has to ultimately walk the Path of his own ability and effort, being aware that "Spirit" gives only spiritual gifts and universal blessings,not gifts of kind.

It is important to remember that none of the prophets ever acquired their spiritual wisdom in a university. If universities could "teach" wisdom (spirituality), the world would be different! Philisophers theorize by observing the physical laws; prophets reveal spiritual laws through their direct communion with the "Spirit". Philologists study the rules of grammar and syntax; prophets reveal the language of the "Spirit" through "manthra" rooted in cosmic waves. Theologians also theorize; communion with the "Spirit" is a state of "being" (at one with the "Spirit"), not "thinking" (theorizing)! No amount of "head-learning" prepares a candidate for a spiritual experience because it is a mystic experience. While knowledge is acquired and is the achievement of the mind, wisdom is the quality that evolves to be a possession of the immortal, immaterial and divine Soul.

Spirituality is not different from religiosity. Prophets who have had the highest spiritual experiences, were all very religious. In fact, they all had religious experiences during their communion with God (Spirit). They attuned themselves with the Supreme White Light and personally experienced Its Divine Working through the different colours of the spectrum and established their different religions accordingly. Religion being a pathway to God, religiosity is spirituality itself. Spirituality is indeed the highest religious experience possible. It is the yearning of the Soul to merge with The Spirit in immortality. "Yasna ameretatem" (yasna 34.1): spirituality/immortality is achieved only through prayers (manthra), and rituals (yasna and "staot"), which is religion!

Finally, it must be noted that while it is necessary to cultivate the mind which is the essential link between the body (physical) and the Soul (spiritual), it is important to remember that the mind is the means of acquiring, and not the source of, wisdom. In yoga, tranquillity of the mind must prevail so that the Soul can communicate with the Spirit, unhindered. Vohu Mano, the Archangel, as a proper noun, refers to Bahman Amashaspand who is One (united) with Ahura Mazda. As an adjective, "vohu mano" or the "good" mind refers to a spiritually enlightened mind. Only a spiritually enlightened mind and not the mundane intelligence can successfully overcome the fetters of the dual mentalities and pave the way for the Soul to attune with the Spirit. The term "enlightened" mind refers to one which is truly "righteous", that has seen the Light of Wisdom, i.e. spirituality. If our subcelestial mind could possess a glimmer of Vohu Mano (Bahman Amashaspand), we would be immortal and thoroughly Spiritual! We would be "Spirit"! And, beyond discussing spirituality!

Pervin J. Mistry

Aug. 29, 1997

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