A Zoroastrian Educational Institute



HomeArticlesAuthorsBook ReviewCommunityLibraryProminentsRegisterStoreArticle SubmissionAbout Us





Personal Perspective


Shahriari, Shahriar



Related Articles:

Related Links:


















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 Democracy.

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 elected.

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 times.

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.

Zarathushtra's conversation 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.

Unfortunately, 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 Zarathushtra's conversation.

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.

Zarathushtra's conversation 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.

In Zarathushtra's 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...