Friday, August 12, 2011

The Zoroastrian Faith and Interreligious Dialogue

The corresponding video can be viewed at:

8/12/2011 10:44 am (et) Moderator: logs in on 8/12/2011 10:44 am (et).
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8/12/2011 11:00 am (et) Moderator: Welcome! This is Rebecca from the InterFaith Conference (IFC) and I will be your moderator. As this is still new, let me explain how this will work. On the right, you will see a video playing of our current topic to get the conversation going. If you have a comment and/or question send it along to me, the moderator. As long as I deem it appropriate, the comment will be posted to everyone and the speaker will have the opportunity to answer your question.
8/12/2011 11:00 am (et) Moderator: Today, our topic is ‘The Zoroastrian Faith and Interreligious Dialogue.’ We will be featuring a reflection from Mr. Adi Davar, Founding President of the Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Washington. He is joined by Mr. Cyrus Desai and Mr. Kersi Shroff, both Board Members of the Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Washington.
8/12/2011 11:00 am (et) clarkifc: private message to Moderator: logs in on 8/12/2011 11:00 am (et).
8/12/2011 11:00 am (et) Moderator: As always, I would like to remind you of the rules of our engagement. This is a respectful place where we come together to learn more about the religions of the world. Whether you agree or disagree, we welcome your comments and questions that are posed in a respectful manner. Please no profane or offensive remarks, they will not be posted. Also, this is a place of learning, so please refrain from ‘soapboxing.’ If there are any issues or questions about this, they can be submitted along with the comments pertaining to our topic. I am here to make this a pleasant and educational experience for all, so enjoy and remember there are no stupid questions, just hostile ones!
8/12/2011 11:00 am (et) Moderator: You can now view the beginning comments on the right. As you listen, please feel free to start sending questions or comments (YES, we want your comments). Also, the video will remain within the sidebar, so feel free to return to it as you wish. Our chat window automatically refreshes to keep the flow going, but if you wish to view the whole of the conversation, just hit the archive button. And lastly, PLEASE do not use double quotes as it led to some issues.
8/12/2011 11:01 am (et) Moderator: Hold on one second, YouTube is a little behind me today!
8/12/2011 11:02 am (et) Moderator: Alright the video is now ready, sorry for the confusion!
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8/12/2011 11:14 am (et) Kersi Shroff: If there are any quwestions, pl. send them now.
8/12/2011 11:15 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: If 'good thoughts, good words, good deeds' is just the KEY to the practice of the religion, then what IS the practice of the religion?
8/12/2011 11:15 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: Could you explain a little bit more about the beliefs? You say they overlap some, but where exactly? Moderator said:
8/12/2011 11:16 am (et) upatel: private message to Moderator: logs off on 8/12/2011 11:16 am (et).
8/12/2011 11:17 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: I agree with Laura, it seems that there is a wide berth in what actual practice would be as most people have differing views on 'good'
8/12/2011 11:18 am (et) Kersi Shroff: Apart from the rituals of the religion, and there are many, Zoroastrians are implored to use their Good Mind (Vohu Mano) to make the rigfht decions in life that leaqd towards righteousness
8/12/2011 11:18 am (et) Adi Davar: It is that by practising the keys, one progressively adsvances one's soul and by so doing, help progress the world around you and Ahura Mazda's universes
8/12/2011 11:18 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: Are there many dogmatic beliefs?
8/12/2011 11:19 am (et) Moderator: clarkifc said: I am also troubled by absolute truthfulness. Adi not only said it was a teaching of Zarathustra, but was also true in Judaism and Christianity. Judaism teaches that life is the highest priority. So if one needs to lie, for example, to save a life, saving a life is the highest priority. Doesn't this contradict
8/12/2011 11:19 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: it seems the Mind is the key to everything else? If this is the case, then Zoroastrianism bares some deep similarity to Buddhism
8/12/2011 11:20 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: Does collaboration with Buddhists come more easily then with other traditions within IFC then?
8/12/2011 11:21 am (et) Moderator: Clark said: You said that Abraham taught that there was only one God, but that that god was an idol. It is my understanding that Abraham was NOT an idol worshipper. Is that correct?
8/12/2011 11:21 am (et) Kersi Shroff: To use the mind towards a good end requires actions that accomplish that purpose. For example, charity ahnd goodness towards others and helping the needy.
8/12/2011 11:21 am (et) Cyrus Desai: zarathushtra asks to USE the mind
8/12/2011 11:22 am (et) Cyrus Desai: he says "reflect with a clear mind"
8/12/2011 11:22 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Clark: when I think about creeds that use the term 'absolute' I think in terms of a highest goal to reach for by intent, if not in reality. Such a goal is like a carrot on a stick. Each religion may have its own Absolute (like your example of Life in Judaism)
8/12/2011 11:22 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: So in using the mind would we all be set on the same track then? As of now people seriously differ on what is good, so are those people not using their mind correctly?
8/12/2011 11:23 am (et) Adi Davar: The mind is the key to everything. It receives conscience thru one's Daena (voice of Conscience in modern terms. With one's free mind that each man has been given, he has to decide whether to follow the guidance or not. The choice is upto each individual.o
8/12/2011 11:23 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: So there is one absolute way of doing good then?
8/12/2011 11:24 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: How do you face the different opinions that are sure to arise in an organization such as IFC?
8/12/2011 11:24 am (et) Cyrus Desai: we believe that Z teaches about freedom of chice but goes on to say that all choices have consequences
8/12/2011 11:25 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: In terms of common beliefs with other religions (especially the Abrahamic), so far I see the idea of ONE GOD and FREE CHOICE (free will of humans). What else is common?
8/12/2011 11:25 am (et) cherryhappyness: private message to Moderator: logs off on 8/12/2011 11:25 am (et).
8/12/2011 11:25 am (et) Cyrus Desai: this concept is so true today. each one can make up their own mind, but should think of the universal consequences
8/12/2011 11:26 am (et) Adi Davar: On Abraham, He merely represented the invisible creator thru an idol, as some religions do. But his creator was that for his tribe or people, while Zoroaster offered it to all who chose to believe in Ahura Mazda and his teachings.
8/12/2011 11:26 am (et) Kersi Shroff: Zoroastrian concepts on eschateology can also be tracede in other religions.
8/12/2011 11:27 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: What are some SPECIFIC examples of what Z considers to be GOOD choices vs bad? (I imagine the common things like truth, justice, not killing, etc)
8/12/2011 11:27 am (et) Cyrus Desai: as Adi says, the concepts of TRUTH & Good Mind appears in Judaisim, Christianity Islam etc
8/12/2011 11:27 am (et) Kersi Shroff: Righteousness requiires moderation and understanding of point of view of othgers.
8/12/2011 11:28 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: However, I think I can see some strong differences as well, some Christian traditions have a tradition of depravity when it comes to anthropology, but that seems in strong contention to the faith you have in a man's mind
8/12/2011 11:29 am (et) Kersi Shroff: On choices facing mankind, peace, support to others would be specific choices.
8/12/2011 11:29 am (et) Cyrus Desai: Truth: z eg of Truth: the sun rise in the east and sets in the west
8/12/2011 11:30 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Susan: by 'depravity' you mean the idea that man is born in sin? In contrast to Jewish and Muslim ideas on human nature. What is the Z stance on intrinsic human nature
8/12/2011 11:31 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: Yes, that's what I meant specifically in the Reformed traditions
8/12/2011 11:31 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: didn't the idea of a messiah also originate with Zoroastrianism?
8/12/2011 11:31 am (et) Cyrus Desai: there are no admonitions (like 10 commandments) in Zism. each one is free to make choices, but the consequences of choices exist
8/12/2011 11:31 am (et) Kersi Shroff: Zoroastrianism gives its believers a simple philosophy to live life with but to prepared to face the consequences of wrong choices.
8/12/2011 11:32 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Do you agree with the theory that in the 6th century Babylonian Exile Jews came into contact with and picked up new ideas from Z?
8/12/2011 11:33 am (et) Moderator: clarkifc said: Thanks, Adi, for your reply regarding Abraham and the way he represented God as an idol. But I don't recall any passages in the Hebrew Bible in which Abraham is worshipping God as an idol. Am I missing your point?
8/12/2011 11:33 am (et) Kersi Shroff: Zoroaster prophesised that a messiah or savior (Saoshyant) would appear. It is beleived that the three Wise Men were therefore in such a search at the birth of Jesus Christ.
8/12/2011 11:33 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: 'consequences of choice' - now that sounds like the Indian (Hindu, Buddhist, etc.) idea of karma
8/12/2011 11:34 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: Not to mention being judged at the end, Laura
8/12/2011 11:34 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I suppose the Bible might be a biased source for representing Abraham in a tradition that later rejected idolarty (revisionist?)
8/12/2011 11:34 am (et) Cyrus Desai: laura, Cyrus the Great brought the Jews to freedom from Babylon, and gave them lands and money to rebuild their temples.
8/12/2011 11:34 am (et) Adi Davar: Zoroastrians do not believe innocentchild isborn in sin. He determines whether he is going to live a life of being and doing good, or wickedness and untruths, and to progress or not progress his soul and the world/universe. He pays for the way he has lived by the choices he has made in life, in his afterlife.
8/12/2011 11:35 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: this three wise men (in the gospel birth narrative) - they were Z priests?
8/12/2011 11:35 am (et) Cyrus Desai: yes
8/12/2011 11:36 am (et) Moderator: Sampson said: How would you say that your religion affects you in the day to day living?
8/12/2011 11:36 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: So what is the afterlife like?
8/12/2011 11:36 am (et) Kersi Shroff: The three wise men belonged to the priestly Magi tribe of Zoroastrians
8/12/2011 11:37 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: paying in the afterlife - so another belief in common is we have just ONE life (no reincarnation in Z?) and then are JUDGED (by God/AM?) to go to heaven or hell. This is a Z belief too?
8/12/2011 11:38 am (et) Cyrus Desai: one of our tenets is good thought (is good), good words (are better) and good deeds (are the best, We are taught to be ACTION oreiented
8/12/2011 11:38 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: And if there is an absolute good, what happens to the person who truly believes they are doing good, but are not?
8/12/2011 11:38 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: And what about the idea of the devil? It seems that Z is often presented as a DUALISTIC religion that pits good (God) against evil (devil) with humans needing to make a choice as to which side they stand on and serve? Is this a reasonable image of Z cosmology?
8/12/2011 11:39 am (et) Adi Davar: What one does in daily life, affects on's family, the society around you, and eventually, your country and the world. There is no reincarnation in Zoroastrianism. If you have led a good life, one's soul become s part of the energy of Ahura Mazda and allegorically enters the Abode of Wisdom, Song and Light. Ift
8/12/2011 11:39 am (et) Cyrus Desai: eg,. Z are known for their honesty. In the days when cah was king, banks in India and Pakistan employed mainly Zproastrians.
8/12/2011 11:40 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: we have to think before we speak and speak before we act. But 'walk the talk' would seem to apply to Z
8/12/2011 11:40 am (et) Adi Davar: If one lives a life of wickedness the soul enters the abode of Woe and misery, but neither of these are physical abodes.
8/12/2011 11:41 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: this focus on acting in the world (deed oriented) is also core to Judaism (which is more about deed than creed)
8/12/2011 11:42 am (et) Adi Davar: Walking the talk is the essence of Zoroastrianism. Action is the key.
8/12/2011 11:42 am (et) Moderator: Sampson said: So there is no specific way to become part of the energy of Ahura Mazda? As opposed to the abode of woe and misery?
8/12/2011 11:43 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I don't think I saw the answer to my earlier question about Z influence on early (6th century) Judaism and, by extension on Christianity and Islam
8/12/2011 11:43 am (et) Adi Davar: By following the path of good thiking, pursuit of asolute righteousness, devotion to all wi the depth of your inner energy.
8/12/2011 11:43 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Sampson: yes there is a way - Do GOOD. But I do not think we have yet heard SPECIFICS about just what IS considered 'good' in Z
8/12/2011 11:45 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: But I guess no one truly knows all the specifics of doing good according to their tradition
8/12/2011 11:45 am (et) Cyrus Desai: judaism after the exile absorbed many features of Zism. the koran also talks about Light and Wisdom which is intrinsic in Zism
8/12/2011 11:45 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: I mean Christians are all over the board when it comes to issues
8/12/2011 11:46 am (et) Adi Davar: As was said before, the specifics of what is good, is happiness for others, charity to society, not just to Zoroastrians, and shunning of all wickdenss and untruths. God does not make wars, it is choice made by man in following the wrong aspects of his mind.
8/12/2011 11:47 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Susan: would be most difficult to get ovr 2 Billion people to all be on the same page
8/12/2011 11:47 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: Well yes, but as a Catholic not even the entire Magisterium is on the same page at all times
8/12/2011 11:48 am (et) Cyrus Desai: Rmember the problem is not the religion but th religious!
8/12/2011 11:48 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: This also seems to have seeped beyond religion, I mean the Greek concept of eudaimonia sounds very similar
8/12/2011 11:48 am (et) Adi Davar: Everyone in the magestrium has a free mind and it is upto them to choose.
8/12/2011 11:48 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: 'happiness for others, charity to society, ...and shunning of all wickdenss and untruths.' - who could reject such concepts as anything but 'good'? Seems these are things that most religions would agree are good goals to reach for
8/12/2011 11:49 am (et) Adi Davar: Yes.
8/12/2011 11:49 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: Did Z. have influence in Greece as well/
8/12/2011 11:49 am (et) Adi Davar: The Greeks became wiser 1800 years after Zoroaster, if you beliveve what you say.
8/12/2011 11:49 am (et) norm.cohen: private message to Moderator: logs in on 8/12/2011 11:49 am (et).
8/12/2011 11:50 am (et) Cyrus Desai: what is eudomonia?
8/12/2011 11:50 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: 'human flourishing'
8/12/2011 11:50 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: at least that is the closer translation
8/12/2011 11:50 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: And what about the Ayran theory with regards to earlier influence in India? Seems the centrality of the fire ritual in both Z and Hinduism as well as the Soma/Haoma use is a common connecting evidence
8/12/2011 11:51 am (et) Adi Davar: Zoroastrians have suffered for their beliefs through the ages, but have stuck by their choice in following the message of Zoroaster.
8/12/2011 11:52 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Today, is it true that most Zoroastrians are Indian? How and when and why did they get from Persia to India?
8/12/2011 11:53 am (et) Cyrus Desai: re the aryan, hinuism followed many rituals. Zarathushtra ranted all rituals and all deities and particularly abhored the ritual of Homa (soma) amongst the hindus.
8/12/2011 11:53 am (et) Moderator: Sampson said: Do you believe that Zoroaster is the only prophet?
8/12/2011 11:53 am (et) Cyrus Desai: all thes were reintroduced in Zism 200 to 300 years ayter Zarathushra
8/12/2011 11:54 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Where did we (supposedly educated on all religons) get such wrong associations with Z (dualistic, use of homa, etc)
8/12/2011 11:55 am (et) Cyrus Desai: NO! Zarathushtra in the Gathas talks about about the coming of future soshants (prohets)
8/12/2011 11:55 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: so, a few centuries after Zoroaster, the religion he started deviated from his real teachings? How and when did it get BACK to the real teachings?
8/12/2011 11:55 am (et) Moderator: Sampson said: when will that be?
8/12/2011 11:55 am (et) Adi Davar: We are responsible for the distorted beliefs.
8/12/2011 11:56 am (et) Adi Davar: These changes were introduced after the time of Zoroaster.
8/12/2011 11:57 am (et) Cyrus Desai: after Zarathushra by preists
8/12/2011 11:57 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: In Z's days, those 'future' prophets would have been the Hebrew Prophets, Jesus, Muhammad...
8/12/2011 11:57 am (et) Adi Davar: There is a movement for going back to the fundamental teaching of Zoroaster as found in the Gathas.
8/12/2011 11:58 am (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I suppose every prophet's teachings become 'distorted' after generations pass (Islam and Mormons also teaches this idea - thus the need for renewed revealtion)
8/12/2011 11:58 am (et) Moderator: Alright everyone, we are coming to the end of out ime today, I hope you enjoyed the conversation!
8/12/2011 11:58 am (et) Moderator: Please wrap up any concluding comments
8/12/2011 11:59 am (et) Cyrus Desai: yes, Moses was one of the Soshyants. Today Mahatma Gandhi, MLK would also be considered "prohets"
8/12/2011 11:59 am (et) Moderator: Susan said: That's interesting as they don't come from the same traditions
8/12/2011 11:59 am (et) Adi Davar: Per Kersi: Thanks for the opportunity to present some features and clarify some misunderstandings.
8/12/2011 11:59 am (et) Cyrus Desai: Thanks to Rebecca for this enlightning project
8/12/2011 12:00 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I still feel quite a bit in the dark and confused about Z - the REAL principles vs the destorions
8/12/2011 12:00 pm (et) Adi Davar: Pl. contac us for further such clarifications.
8/12/2011 12:00 pm (et) Moderator: Thank you for your participation today. If you would like to reach our speaker please contact me at Next week we will be discussing ‘The Future of Interreligious Dialogue,’ with Rev. Clark Lobenstine, Executive Director of IFC.
8/12/2011 12:00 pm (et) Cyrus Desai: laura, please do write to us.
8/12/2011 12:00 pm (et) Adi Davar: Laura, pl. write to us. We were a bit disjointed because of technical problems.
8/12/2011 12:00 pm (et) Moderator: Also, this is a new effort on our part so we welcome your feedback! Any comments will be helpful. If you have any suggestion please feel free to email me at
8/12/2011 12:01 pm (et) Moderator: This moderated chat room is just one example of the many programs which the InterFaith Conference is doing. If you are able and willing to financially support the InterFaith Conference’s vital year-round work, please donate now using the donate button on our website - You can also find out more about us and sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter.
8/12/2011 12:01 pm (et) Moderator: Again my email is for further communication.

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