They say the pen is mightier
than the sword. And it definitely is.
They say it all starts with
the Word... well, that may be quite simplistic, but there is definitely an
element of truth to that too.
Actually, it all starts with
a thought. But a thought is an ephemeral thing, a whim, a passing notion,
unless it is articulated into the Word - or more accurately into some words.
But words or even groups of
words by themselves have no potency unless they are communicated. In other
words, the world can only change or be affected through conversation.
Yet another seemingly
simplistic notion, but let us examine it in more detail.
It is a well-known fact that
in the West, until such time as Copernicus and Galileo came and dethroned
the earth as the center of the universe, the Western world was not ready for
This Galilean paradigm shift
was not merely a scientific advancement. Once this notion was reduced into a
conversation, then our perspective of the world changed, and with it, our
socio-political systems evolved. Kings were dethroned, and Presidents were
It was not until Descartes
articulated his theories and thoughts - the notion that "I think, therefore
I am", and his theory of "clockwork Universe" - that the world was ready to
search for its scientific equivalent. Effectively, this Cartesian
articulation paved the way for Newton to bring his Laws of Motion, and with
it, the tools to set the Industrial revolution in motion.
Capitalism was not ready to
become a force to be reckoned with, at least not until Charles Darwin
brought his theory of evolution and with it, the conversation pivoting
around competition and the "Survival of the Fittest". And likewise, there
was no room for Lenin and his Soviet empire, at least not until there was a
Karl Marx who started the conversation about Communism.
I can enumerate many more
examples of how a thought was first articulated, and evolved into a
conversation, and with it, changed the world.
So it is not belittling to
claim that every prophet brings a new and powerful conversation. With each
conversation, the people are introduced to a new way of thinking, a new way
of looking at the world. They are given another option to be added to their
already established repository of perspectives and possibilities.
And should the new option be
powerful enough, and should the times be ready for that conversation, it
propagates like a wildfire, and before we know it, the world is changed and
affected by it.
This approach is valid for
scientific change, for social change, for political evolution, and for the
spiritual progress of mankind. In fact, it may not be an over-generalization
to claim that nothing in the human world changes without conversation.
In the time of Zarathushtra,
the prevailing conversation was one of fear, control and power. Various
people would worship various deities, mainly to appeal or appease. Their
dominant perspective was one of helplessness and being at the mercy of the
whims of the Gods and nature.
To gain some semblance of
control, they tried to plead with and please the various Gods, to have
safety and nourishment. The priestly intermediaries had developed elaborate
methodologies of communicating with the God's, and thus had become the
sources of power. They symbolized the power of the God's, and exerted their
own power and control over the masses. To summarize, this was an era when
Might was Right.
It was in these times that
Zarathushtra came with a new world conception. He articulated his worldview
in the Gathas, and started a conversation that was revolutionary for his
Through his conversation,
Zarathushtra overthrew the false Gods, and replaced them with a single Wise
Creator. Zarathushtra's conversation replaced a world that was merely a
battlefield of the whims of Gods with an orderly and benevolent universe.
Progress replaced whimsical fancies of the deities, and Righteousness
replaced Power. In Zarathushtra's conversation - goodness for the sake of
goodness alone - Right was Right.
was so powerful that it started a whole new approach to life, not only in
his homeland, but one that has permeated every major school of thought
since, and has been the foundation of scientific thinking in the West.
Zarathushtra's conversation was followed by many other conversations that
were either based on fear or power. Much of the potency of his conversation
was diluted shortly after his time, mainly through personification of the
principles, and through the creeping back in of the pre-Zarathushtrian
deities. In a way, Post Zarathushtrian Zoroastrians, because of their own
lack of understanding and ignorance, modified and changed the conversation -
sometimes to such an extent that we can hardly recognize its similarity with
So what do we do today? What
is the significance of this notion for us? And if Zarathushtra has already
had the conversation, what else can we do?
As reasonable human beings
who have found some affinity for Zarathushtra's conversation, it is
imperative for us to take that conversation and bring it to our own language
- not just linguistically, but also culturally and temporally.
The times have changed
dramatically since Zarathushtra's time, and they are changing at an
ever-faster rate. Technological advancement, progress of scientific
knowledge, accumulation of experience, and our ever-increasing ability to
communicate and share all of this information have given us the ability to
change and affect the world faster, and farther.
It is no longer enough to
just have the same conversation over and over again. With all its
timelessness, Zarathushtra's conversation can become mere poetry, and an
alluring topic of research for linguistic, archeological, and
anthropological scholars. Perhaps even another interesting topic for
philosophers - but no more.
was intended to be a living, organic, and dynamic conversation that would
branch out, explore, experiment, and fold back on itself. It is meant to be
the seed of evolution and involution in all aspects of life.
To use an analogy,
Zarathushtra's conversation is the equivalent of "pure sciences" and it is
meant to become the impetus for the "applied sciences and technology".
Zarathushtra's teachings can
be applied to politics, management, social behavior and change. It can be a
starting point for creating arts, researching the sciences and evolving
technologies. It can be used for parenting one's children or for governing a
country. The environmental issues, viewed in the context of Zarathushtra's
conversation, will have a whole new significance. The Justice system and the
Law Enforcement institutions would be set up differently. Healthcare,
education, and business will have very different conversations.
And once each sub-branch of
the conversation unfolds, at the final stages of their evolvement, they will
enfold back into the world-view that was introduced to us by Zarathushtra.
In a way, through this
perspective, the universe is much like a donut, and Zarathushtra's
conversation is the hole in the middle. Each of the resulting conversations
becomes a journey along the surface of the donut to its outer reaches and
then a return to the hole in the middle. And the approach is holistic and
connected. No part of the donut is separate from other parts, and all of the
conversations emerge from one place, evolve, and return to their origin,
connecting the cause with the result.
So our mission is to talk.
To continue the conversation. To ponder upon it, and to take it to where it
may lead us in application. Then to communicate the outcome through side
conversations, with our colleagues and contemporaries, with our families and
friends, and with whomever that may be affected by them. And then from
there, to reach for the coherent core which is none other than where we
first began - namely at Zarathushtra's conversation.
Yes. The pen is mightier
than the sword. The sword merely moves, because it is the arm that moves the
sword. But the arm is moved by the mind, and the mind is moved by the
conversation. And the pen is nothing more than the means of conducting a
form of conversation.
But to hold the Might of the
pen as the supreme objective is to go back to the pre-Zarathushtrian
conversation of "Might is Right".
To even claim that "Right is
Might" is a twisted version of venerating Might, since it makes the
objective of Right nothing more than bringing Might. And that is again a
reversal of Zarathushtra's conversation to its pre-Zarathushtrian version.
conversation, "Right may be Might, and then again, it may not be Might." But
we can always count on the fact that "Right is Right."
And so, the pen can write,
and the conversation can continue...