European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies

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Great words on Zoroastrianism by Paul du Breuil


Prof.Paul du Breuil is one of the greatest French specialists of Zoroastrianism.
He was prematurely dead in 1991, after leaving remarkable works particularly on the influence of Zoroastrianism on Judeo-Christianism and the European Renaissance.
A collective homage to his memory rendered in a book published by D. Théarios, in 1996  under the title “ Zarathoustra et le Renouveau Chrétien de l’Europe”.    
So the question is: to those who learn about Iran through the sad events of this country; to the people who learn about Zoroastrianism for the first time, what kind of image will they have of what they see? What are the Zoroastrians themselves going to present as image of their true civilization as the original Iranians? The Zoroastrian community ought to oppose today's fanaticism with a bright image of Zarathushtra's ethics, and to convince people by their common noble behavior wherever they are.
 In the fear of losing their cultural identity, it's fair that Zoroastrians save their religious tradition as part of their heritage. But to the eyes of Humanity, priority must be given to the highest thought of Zoroaster. If someone were to ask the Zoroastrians what they are doing for the betterment of humanity, will they answer with the practical meaning of Yasna 30 (Let us be among those who work for the transfiguration of the world'), or with the renovation ritual of Frashokereti? (Frashkart)?
 We must be aware that a neo-Zoroastrian philosophy may rise from Zoroastrianism just like the Theosophical Movement in 1875 issued from the discovery of Hinduism and Buddhism through Western people like Annie Besant. Zoroastrians have also something to teach to the occident. Indeed, we feel that a religion which taught that God was wise and good, the friend of man, while every other religion was teaching the fear of a choleric and terrific God; a religion which taught that the human spiritual destiny depends on our good thoughts, words and deeds, while other religions were still looking for divine omens out of animal guts; a religion which considered women as equal to men while so many others, as well as most of the Greek philosophers, like Aristotle, denied that women even had a soul; what can such a religion tell us nowadays in a world torn by the evil powers of political domination, of the atomic weapons race able to destroy the whole of humanity and its planet; a world of increasing technocracy ruling the whole society like a cybernetic system and putting a dangerous end to any personal moral free will. Before any other spiritual Guide, Zoroaster condemned all forms of exploitation of man by man, and of persecution of animals. In the Gatha, the defense of cattle, especially the ox, of which the Prophet knows the soul and hears the complaint (Yasna.29),
Being a most sincere admirer of Zoroastrianism, I feel confident that the future of Zoroastrianism is dependent upon a Greater understanding of the spirit of Gatha and the moral virtues praised throughout history as permanent features of Zoroaster's noble character. I feel certain that the future of Zoroastrianism will depend upon the delicate matter of conversions. Not being a Zoroastrian I feel I should offer no advice on this point, but it is clear that one-day or another the community will have to face the inescapable facts of History.
 Spirituality goes beyond the concept of time and space. A religion has always its prophetic dimension. Thus, a religion cannot be stuck to its past, it Is also present and is turned towards the future in its highest ambitions.
 Let us have behind us the painful division of conservative and progressive believers. 0n one hand Zoroastrianism is certainly the religion of a People. This people must keep its own cultural and religious identity as a token of respect to its ancestors. But, on the other hand, this people also keeps the greatest and the brightest concept of religious universalism ever edicted in history of religion. It is the idea that beyond human religions ruled by tradition and ritual, there is a metaphysical and universal community acting as an ecumenical and invisible Church of all righteous Fravartis of men and women having the best thoughts, words and
deeds. They cannot be known as direct followers of Zarathushtra, yet they are praised in Fravardin Yasht (Yasht 13) chapters 17, 21, 94,143. They are those who fight against evil powers and whose sacrifices bring on Earth a fire of new light and hope. They are those who work for the transfiguration of the world as requested by Zarathusthra. The faithfulness of Irani Zarthoshtis and of Parsees to their cultural identity, to preserve and protect it as such, is not incompatible with a wholesome though selective opening of their religion to the world as an example of human dignity, of courage and of universal ethics.
 This is not a mere dream. From their long and troubled history, Zoroastrians have been the first oriental People choosing to follow the Western mirage. Now they have come to the point of no return. They have nonetheless to face a decisive evolution. It is not only a challenge for survival. Because, for a People holding such an ethical faith there is no other choice than to merely survive as a forgotten archaeological human community, interesting only the scientists, or to forsake every fatalism and to rise to the true universal dimension expected by Zarathushtra’s pressing spiritual request. Then, to take the word of the Gospels, 'You will be among the true salt of the Earth if you let your Light shine before men that they may see your good deeds .

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