Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bakhubi hamcho mah tabindah baashi;
Bamulk-e dilbari paayindah baashi.
Man-e darvish ra kushti baghamzah;
Karam kardi Ilahi zindah baashi.
Jafaa kam kun ki farda roz-e mehshar;
Baru-e aashiqan sharmindah baashi.
Ze qaid-e dojahan azad baasham;
Agar tu hum-nashin-e bandah baashi.
Barindi-o bashokhi hamcho Khusrau;
Hazaran khanuman barkandah baashi.

May your charming face ever shine like the full moon;
May you hold eternal sway over the domains of beauty.
By your amorous glance you have killed a poor man like me;
How magnanimous of you? May God give you a long life.
Pray do not be cruel lest you should feel ashamed of yourself
Before your lovers on the day of judgment.
I shall be set free from the bonds of the two worlds
If you become my companion for a while.
By your wanton playfulness you must have destroyed
Thousands of hearts of lovers like that of Khusrau.

Fundamentalism: Fallacy or Fact?

The Webster Dictionary defines "Fundamental" as: of or forming a foundation or basis; basic; essential.

Therefore its derivative word, "Fundamentalism", should mean adherence to basics and essentials, the philosophy of going back to the roots and foundations. Then how come all the fundamentalist sects and movements that we encounter are extremists, and seemingly so far from the essentials?

Fundamentalism in our society, whether it is religious, political, or sociological, generally refers to literal interpretation of the rules, written or unwritten. Whether we look at Christian or Islamic fundamentalists, or ultra-right conservative fundamentalists, or even groups such as environmental fundamentalists, what we encounter is extremism in orthodoxy, a mirror image of extreme radicalism.

So in reality, it is not fundamentalism which is the problem. The real issue is the attitudes to which we have given that label.

If we really separate this extremism from its undeservedly acquired label, we can openly look at the real value of fundamentalism.

For instance, when we look at our investment behavior, we are constantly driven by the greedy attitude of finding higher return - higher risk vehicles to maximize our gains during the limited time that we have in this world. As a result, we are constantly attracted to more and more exotic investment vehicles.

We become so technology dependent in our approaches, so involved in the games and the ups and downs of the markets, that we completely forget the fundamental rules of return.

While we hear about the derivatives, options, futures and so on, we completely forget the first and cardinal rule of investment: Buy Low, Sell High.

We all take it for granted that this simple rule is of course an inherent part of our strategy, yet when the market is low and it is time to buy, we expect it to go lower. And it doesn't, it actually goes higher. At this time, we have the belief that it is going to come down again, so we wait for it to come down, and of course it doesn't. It goes higher and even higher.

And when it is so high that it is time to sell, we acquire the false belief that the market has been going up, and it will continue to do so. Then we buy when it is high. And of course the market comes down. We then kid ourselves that it was once high and it will return to the same and higher levels. And it goes lower, and lower, and lower...

And again, when it is time to buy, we panic that there is no bottom to this trend, and we sell. And the cycle continues.

So while we laugh at the notion of Buy Low, Sell High, in reality we practice the exact opposite: Buy high, sell low. So much for sophistication of our high return vehicles.

When the fundamentals are lacking, we will simply go faster towards oblivion.

Let us consider our relationships and love life. Perhaps the most fundamental rule here is that it takes two people to form a relationship.

It is seemingly obvious, even absurd. But many of us, time and again in our lives have fantasized about a certain person. Dreamed of how it would be like when we finally get together, and continue this for months and even years. Until the other person finds somebody else and shatters our relationship.... the one that never existed.

At other times, we are in a fine and loving relationship, or so we think, and simply because we are not communicating with our partner, the other person in the relationship, we are completely shocked and surprised to find out that our partner is quite upset or even disappointed with our relationship.... and so it continues.

Even in our spiritual lives, we are so absorbed with the rules and teachings of our religion or belief that we completely forget why they were ever created.... to provide us a structured path to explore our spirituality, and ultimately to touch the divine within us, and allow it to express itself in relation to the divine outside of us; and ultimately merge the two, to make the divine within and without, one and the same.

Instead, we focus on the steps which have ossified in our lives to the extent that we have become living fossils, going about our daily lives without thinking, accusing and blaming everyone else while preaching love, trying to fix the problems of the world while completely ignoring and even avoiding our own shortcomings, even killing in the name of compassion, because our religion is the ultimate religion and our god is the ultimate supreme being. We claim that there is only one God, yet we dedicate our lives to destroying other Gods.

Again we are so absorbed in the games of religions that we completely bypass the fundamental needs of our spirit.

So from whoever that says I am a fundamentalist, we should ask: "And what are the fundamental beliefs that you follow?" And from whoever that says fundamentalism is wrong, we should ask: "How can you have the superficial and trivial without the fundamental?"

© Shahriar Shahriari
January 1997
Vancouver Canada

an article on our role as humans, from Shahriar Shahriari

Humans are God's Contractors

In traditional angelology of most spiritual beliefs, we come to view angels as obedient subjects and workers of God. Angels generally posses a higher level of intellect, sensitivity, love and knowledge than other creatures, but they lack having an independent will. God's will is their will. They cannot have a will of their own.

What's more, we generally find some hierarchy of angelic beings, starting from the Archangels at the very top, reporting directly to God, and overseeing the work of the ordinary angels and through them, the lesser angels.

Yet all of them work for the same system - the system of creation - in a very coherent and organized manner. They all know their place, lack ambition and have no desire of their own, except to serve the system and fulfill the will of God.

We also generally hear accounts of the fallen Archangel and his cohorts, the fallen angels - usually referred to as "the adversary". The adversary was the one who had the audacity to disobey the will of God, and allowed his own will and desires dictate to him - for whatever reason or justification.

Beneath the Angels, we find the lesser beings, with little intellect and knowledge, living a primitive existence, with not much sensitivity towards love and intuition - and generally having no idea of the will of God. Yet this pitiful creature is given the power of having an independent will. This creature has the right to choose - to go along with God and work in unison with the host of heavenly inhabitants, or to oppose the will of God, and align itself with the adversary. And generally this creature is held responsible for its choices - either in this life or in the next.

I was contemplating these ideas when suddenly I saw an image of the corporate structure. We have the Board of Directors and Shareholders holding their representative, the CEO, as the Supreme Power dictating the will of the Corporation. Then we have the employees, in their various Arch-managerial, middle management or functional levels.

And we get the case of the employee whose ideas are overlooked, who then goes and builds a corporation of his own, only to compete with the corporation he was originally working for. He becomes "the adversary" or "the competitor".

And of course we have the disgruntled and underutilized/underpaid employees who defect to the "adversary's" corporation - the fallen angels if you will.

But what is the role of man in this scenario? And that is when it hit me.

Man is this pitiful creature called the "independent contractor" who is just as likely and as free to work for "the Corporation" as he is to work for "the Competitor". And no grudge is held against him. Of course, he will have to face the consequences, either on this contract or the next. The consequences of being paid well or not, having job satisfaction, having continuity, building a worthy resume etc.

The point of this contemplation was not to bring Creation to the level of Free Enterprise Economy. The purpose of this comparison was to give us a better perspective of our relationship to God. To recognize the amount of freedom we have been given in this life, and the opportunities - as well as adversities - that lie along our path as we move through this contract called life.

And it gives us a recognition that our contract is temporary, and the payoff and prospect of further contractual opportunities are also directly related to our performance now. And that the opportunities are just as great as the responsibilities that we are willing to take on.

All because we are God's Contractors on earth.


Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds
Can be practiced by Anyone!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Why is fire such an important element in Mazdayasna?

I believe that fire represents enlightenment. It is the physical symbol of the enlightened self, freed from all impurities and in full control.
On its own, fire can burn eternally with the natural input of oxygen. Likewise, on its own our own mind is good and pure and can remain like this if we input good thoughts, say good words and do good deeds.
Fire also clears everything in its way, likewise our mind can clear all negativity if we work with it in the right way. It will destroy all wrongs in our mind by overcoming them with positivity.
However, it is not only fire which symbolises this in Mazdayasna, it is light in all forms, from the Sun, to the stars, to lightning, to a candle flame. When we pray we face the "direction of light" i.e. the East, or when it is dark we have a flame burning. This is not because we worship fire, but because it so brilliantly displays the qualities of enlightenment.

This is me
The Ashem Vohu prayer is taken from the Gathas, the thought-provoking writings
of the prophet Zoroaster. I try to say this as part of my morning meditations,
I try to couple it with a breathing exercise in which I breathe in and out
repeating the word Harmony in my mind. I find this gives me a positive mind for the
day and the Ashem Vohu helps me to keep good thoughts.

Virtue is good; it is the best;

It is everlasting happiness; everlasting happiness comes to him

Who is virtuous for the sake of virtue, which is the best.

In Mazdayasna thought we as human beings have two choices, Positive thinking which leads to positive actions and consequences, and Negative thinking which leads to negative actions and consequences.
In the Mazdayasna cosmology there is no dualism between Good and Evil, God and Devil. God lives within us all and we create our own "demons."
The most basic, yet most efficient Mazdayasna motto is Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds. If we follow this basic formula we will reep good consequences for ourselves and for the world at large. If not, then we will reep the fitting consequences. However, we can at any time choose between the two, and Ahura Mazda is our supreme wise guide, not a dictator. In Mazdayasna we are treated as intelligent beings who do not need a list of do's and don'ts. The choice is ours!

The Divine

Ahura Mazda

Ahura is an Indo-Aryan word denoting "Force," and Mazda means "Wisdom." Hence in Mazdayasna we have a supreme all-guiding force of wisdom. But this Ahura Mazda is not to be found in the Heavens or somewhere lofty and inaccessible, it is the Spirit deep within our souls. This was the name by which Zarathushtra addressed his Divine.

My favourite poem describes the location of Ahrua Mazda perfectly:

Oh Thou Blesséd Vision
Thou Light I Desired
That I Might Find Thee
Beyond I Aspired
Seeking Transcendence
I Quested In Vain#
That Which I Sought Without
Within Me Remained

Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds