Thus wrote Dave!
Part one of this series is a general discussion of the events surrounding the appearance of the Magi (a.k.a. Three wise men, Three kings, Zoroastrian priests) at Christ's birth, as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible. Part two consists of my philosophic reconstruction of some basic Zoroastrian doctrine, including Creation and the dualism of Good/Evil. Part two ends with this sentiment:
In the Zoroastrian doctrine, there are no specific prescriptions which state, "do this" or "don't do that." The individual is left to think it through. The responsibility for what should be done rests with each individual. The acceptance of this responsibility becomes a way of life. The world is a moral reality and your way of life is good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.
The First Enlightenment
It's important to understand that Zarathustra was calling for each individual, male and female, to approach each situation with the mindset of individual responsibility, in a culture that has formerly known only tribal hierarchy. In this context, these notions are radical indeed!
Among tribal societies, individuals don't think for themselves, the tribe makes the decisions. If you are a member of the tribe, this is how you will live. But in this instance, each person is asked to make decisions, and to bear the responsibility for those decisions. So, we now begin to see a shift from the 'tribal' to the 'individual,' which is viewed by some as The First Enlightenment. To us this appears rationally clear, but in its time this teaching was strikingly different from the norm. According to Zarathustra, this ability to think freely and make responsible decisions is a gift to humankind, endowed by the creator Ahura Mazda (wise lord). In addition, he makes it clear that this gift of 'freewill' comes with some consequences: Reward and Punishment.
He teaches that actions have consequences; positive and negative results. We are admonished to consider/judge our actions continually, and make decisions accordingly based on possible positive or negative consequences to ourselves as individuals; do we desire the perceived outcome or not? We see alternatives of action, and we choose one. How this choice is made is an important thing. It must be made with the 'good mind;' with good intentions and good thought. This means that you recognize a flawed situation, distinct from its ideal condition, which your good mind can perceive. The fact that the situation is less than ideal should be the only reason to do the right thing; merely because it is right. This is righteousness defined.
Zarathustra defines 'evil' as that intention which violates this principle of righteousness. It is the impulse which causes us to do something/take action for some reason other than that 'it is right.' This impulse affects us because our minds our clouded by mainly two forces; Greed and Fear. When these forces move us, our focus shifts to self-interest, and we place this above the interest of 'what's right' and fail to act correctly.
In the end, all of our attempts at good judgement and right action will lead to a Final Judgement. The entirety of our thoughts and deeds will be gathered and recorded in a divine Book of Accounts. According to Zarathustra, when the soul enters the afterlife through the gates of Death, it first comes to a place known as 'The Bridge of the Separator or The Bridge of Separation.'
On one side of this bridge, all the good from the Book of Accounts is placed. All the evil, and the missed opportunities to do good are placed on the other side of the bridge. If the good outweighs the evil, the soul may cross the bridge and enter into the state of 'best consciousness.' If the evil outweighs the good, the soul will fall off the bridge and enter into the state of 'worst consciousness.' Eventually, these concepts evolved into our notions of Heaven and Hell. However, in Zoroastrian doctrine, these are specifically 'states of consciousness' of our spirits, not halls where we live in comfort or torment (materialist conception of Heaven and Hell). This idea that there are two different fates, for differently valued souls, is a foundation of the doctrine. You don't get an appeal, or to plead for mercy. Your fate (which state you enter) is the unalterable moral consequence of your life.
Thus spake Zarathustra!!
To be continued very soon...
Dave ~ Thanks for your time. I hope we get to know each other better.