Not having what you want won’t make you saintly. If you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, you might as well go ahead.
Tonight, we are talking about Zoroastrianism or Zarathustrianism. Both are accepted by current adherents of which there are very few compared to what there once were. Their religion is the oldest revealed doctrine religion on the planet, and has had a powerful influence on each of the other contemporary religions of that region.
Older than Hinduism? Ah, Hinduism is structured differently than say Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and has no centralized authority. In fact, it can be argued to not be a single religion at all, while Zoroastrianism itself is. Unlike the big three, it has no real schisms, no denominations. The only point of difference between its followers is the calendar they subscribe to, and even that is being gradually resolved.
In the Zoroastrian faith, the world has two divine beings, Ahura Mazda, the source of all good, and Ahriman, the source of all evil. Ahura Mazda means roughly “Lord Wisdom”, whereas the other is known as the Father of Lies, and everything in the world according to Zoroastrianism behaves as it does because of the nature of these two deities.
Now the divine being of light, Ahura Mazda, is not necessarily a being set apart from humanity. His existence is described as immanent in creation, and in fact, an understanding of the supreme being is instead pursued through contemplation and devotion to discreet aspects of the supreme being known as Yazatas or bounteous immortals. Similar to Hindu Brahmanical teaching perhaps in a sense, the teachings of their holy book are distinctly non-monastic as withdrawal from the world is thought to be an attempted abdication of one’s spiritual involvement in the great work described in their prophecy.
Are Yazatas people? They are not people, no, more like living principles, active embodiments of discreet parts of the good divine being. The daevas fill a similar role as manifestations of Ahriman. Where Ahriman would be the Father of Lies, the daevas or demons would be individual lies.
So they are like the deadly sins and virtues? In a sense. Zoroastrian cosmology is more physical than most contemporary religionists are accustomed to, so their prophecy of the ultimate fate of the universe is based more on the nature of the two beings than a loose moral evaluation.
The liars are against each other, no unity. You have it right. They believe that ultimately the Lord of Light will be the only divinity remaining in our world, not through any demonstration of superior power, no force of will, but through simple creative abundance. The way of Ahriman is such that he and his creatures will self-destruct.
Ahriman will destroy himself through his own actions? Yes. Ahriman and Ahura Mazda are in a sense equal divinities, equally a part of our universe, but it’s why in Zoroastrian belief demons are considered to interact with humans. They have a legitimate place in creation, and the place of humanity in the whole scheme of things is to take part in what could be seen as the ongoing creative process.
In fact, an encounter with the manifestations of the Lord of Light would not seem radically different from one with Ahrimans daevas. They both challenge the human being they appear before in order to determine their moral alignment, their essential character. Where they differ is not in the first contact, but in what proceeds from that.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.