More than several millennia ago, a spiritual leader in Persia had a very high vision and ideal for humanity that he labored to preach and spread. In what is now known as Iran, this priest and reformer - who we know as Zarathustra (or Zoroaster) - began with a strong conception of both good and evil, and man's choice to be a manifestation of either. He saw this choice, and the awareness of it as a choice - as not only crucial to the future of his tribe and his countrymen, but to the well being of the world at large. Along with this very basic but essential concept was Zoroaster's advocacy for man's connection and respect for nature, a cohesive society, and reverence for a higher cosmological order.

Considering Zoroastrianism's huge influence and widespread appeal, and the two thousand or more years that it helped lift up the ancient world, what can be said of its impact on other of the world's ancient religions? And perhaps more importantly, what religious, social and cultural ideas does Zoroastrianism teach that we may benefit from today? This week on MindMatters we discuss these and several other features of this ancient religion, that though mostly lost to this time, could not be more timely.

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Books mentioned during the show: Here's the transcript of the show:

Corey: Hello everyone and welcome back to Mind Matters. Today on the show we'll be diving deep into history on the hunt for Zoroaster, the alleged first of the Magi and the prophet whose ideas we're told influenced Mahayana Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And, if modern historical and archaeological hypotheses are true, his influence may even extended to the Near Eastern and European adoption of agriculture, believe it or not.

But, to say that Zoroaster had an influence and greatly impacted our modern religious values in this day and age, is really simply a truism. But, on today's show we want to discuss the time and place that Zoroaster may have lived, the influences that he had, the kind of heroic efforts that we are told he made in order to bring a religion of truth and justice and freedom to a people who we're told were the prey of bandits and warriors, nomads, and sacrificial offerings to priests, and who at every turn seemed to be inflicted by the wrath of the gods.

So on today's show we each kind of went our own way and read different material. There's so much out there to read concerning Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism that you can easily get lost if you don't have a trusted network of buddies who can recommend good information to you. And so today, if there's one thing that we hope to impart, it's a number of interesting hypotheses about Zoroaster, as well as the religious ideas that he had and how they changed throughout the ages, because the original hymns that we have of Zoroaster - the 'Gathas' -- don't really tell us a lot about the religion or the rituals or the world view that Zoroaster had. So it's been a century at least, of historical study and archeological study, linguistic study, in order to piece together the world that Zoroaster lived in, and in fact the actual impact that religious ideas may have had on humanity, including notions such as heaven and hell, the prime importance of truth and the logos in the maintenance of a righteous and well ordered society and what it means in order to live in the world. What unique values Zoroaster placed on simply cleaning your house, or maintaining a well ordered room, like Jordan Peterson would say, 'you clean your room'. The kind of religious significance that this was placed on by Zoroaster and all of his adherents throughout the ages until the final fall of the religion with the advent of Islam and religious persecutions.

But that said, he, this individual, mythical or historical or a combination of both, is in some way a father figure for not just the Western mind but the Near Eastern mind, the Western mind and the middle Eastern mind, and the great religions and many philosophies as well. So today we thought we would dive deep into that sea and see if we can plumb the depths and find something meaningful and practical that we can bring forward to apply to today.

Harrison: One of the interesting things about Zarathustra is that everyone's heard of his name. I think everyone has at least heard his name, but if you just ask a regular person on the street, they won't be able to tell you anything about Zoroastrianism. Probably the main two reasons that his name is still known today, is thanks to Nietzsche and Strauss. Nietzsche famously wrote a book ''Also Sprach Zarathustra, and then Strauss wrote a piece famously used in 2001 A Space Odyssey by Kubrick. You'd know it if you heard if you don't know it by name. And so, the name is in popular culture today and has filtered down through popular culture to us. But, what remains is what he, who he actually was, what he actually thought and did, which, up until recently -- and by recently I mean the last couple hundred years -- nobody really knew because none of the texts were translated.

One of the books I've been reading is Paul Kriwaczek's In Search of Zarathustra. It's kind of like a travelogue, history. He had worked on documentaries and had traveled all over the place, and had an interest in Zarathustra and so, it's his journey to kind of track the influence of Zoroastrianism and Zarathustra in all different cultures, from the Middle East to Europe and even further east. One of the points that he makes, as you kind of alluded to in your intro Corey, is that even though Zoroastrianism isn't practiced today to the extent that is used to have been, and it's not practiced to the extent of other major world religions, not only is there still a Zoroastrianism community but some of the practices and ideas from that time have been filtered down into the cultures that exist today. Even in Iran which is currently an Islamic country, a lot of the original Zoroastrianism customs, beliefs and words, are still there and have filtered through the Islamic culture and still retain a place even if the people themselves don't acknowledge it, or are not even aware of it.

So that's one of the cool things about Kriwaczek's book. It traces some of these thoughts and how they exist today in not only Iran and central Asia, but how they influenced certain movements in Europe, for instance, through the heretical beliefs of the Bogomils and the Cathars who held these, from the orthodox Christian point of views, strange dualistic beliefs about the evil god and a good god. These beliefs seemed to track back to an Iranian Zoroastrian belief system. So he kind of goes through some of the theories on how that might have taken place, how the Zoroastrian beliefs entered Europe in Bulgaria through the nomadic Eastern steppe people, and through the Sarmatians who were actually responsible for a lot of the Gothic culture.

It's kind of just an accident of fate that it's called Gothic because it could have just as easily have been called Sarmatian, because that's essentially who these were. These steppe peoples that not only gave birth to Gothic architecture but even the social structure of Europe at the time, the knightly class feudally ruling over a peasant class. That came from a more Eastern tradition and Kriwaczek argues, probably Zoroastrian influence at least and 'the great heresy' as it was called, this Cathar belief in southern France. At one point a third of the southern French people were followers of this kind of alternative Christianity.

So it's interesting to see that even though the name is forgotten, and it was forgotten even in these times, the Cathars and the Bogomils considered themselves Christians, how the ideas still seeped through. That seems to be the case. That's what ideas do. It doesn't really matter what names get attached to them. These currents kind of flow through time and different belief systems through different people and with a historian's mind you can try to track them and see where they originally come from.

So going back a bit further, maybe we can bring up a couple of the different theories because like you mentioned, there are competing theories on when Zoroaster or Zarathustra actually lived. The more mainstream views these days are that he lived, or was born in what may be 600 BC or something like that, twenty six hundred years ago. There's another theory that he was 3,200, something like that, years ago. But some of the ancient Greek writers, Greek sources, mention that he was, like you said, nine millennia ago, 7,000 BC-ish, 6,500 BC, which is really far back in time so a lot of modern historians wouldn't go that far.

I'm not sure if we mentioned her before, but one who does is Mary Settegast. This is Mary Settegast's work When Zarathustra Spoke. She also wrote a book called Plato, Prehistorian. In this she argues that there might be something to that really early date to Zarathustra because right around that time in the archeological record, we see a shift in settlement patterns, the birth of a new agricultural form of living, and which seems to be a total break from the pre-existing society in this place and time in Persia, in the Iranian plateau and into central Asia and Turkey. This is when practices seemed to change remarkably. New practices were introduced, old ones were abandoned, and this just happens to coincide with when these ancient Greek sources say that Zarathustra was alive. So she is arguing that what we see in the archeological record is the result of the teachings of this prophet, that he instituted a new way of life. And that's what we're seeing in that historical archeological record. She also, she's a fan of the theory that the Indo European languages sprung from like Turkish sources.

Now that's what I think is maybe the main weakness of the book is that, while I do think it's very interesting, more than a coincidence that right around this time in the archeological record you have something happening that matches up with some of the few things that we can know about Zarathustra, like the emphasis on agriculture and on the bounteous nature of life and the earth and the negative attitude to animal sacrifice, to bull sacrifice, which seems to have been in the existing religious substratum that Zarathustra was operating in, there seems to have been a lot of animal sacrifice going on. And then in the archeological record we see that disappearing and a new form of life taking shape that isn't, where we don't see so much animal sacrifices. You see more of a, like a life giving attitude as opposed to a sacrificial one.

So there's something for sure. It's very interesting to see those coincidences in the record. But at the same time, probably the one weakness is that it seems that nowadays especially with the new genetics research that's coming out, I know we've mentioned David Reich's work Who We Are And How We Got Here in the past, the genetic record seems to suggest that the best hypothesis for the spread of Indo-European languages was from these Steppes peoples but a couple of thousand years after this archeological revolution that was going on in Iran at the time.

So I don't know what I think about that yet, but for sure something weird was going on, like 8,500 years ago that has some remarkable correspondences to what we can tell from the Gathas, from the early Zoroastrian texts.

Elan: Yeah. Well the suggestion in Settegast's book and in other places is that Zoroaster was trying to instill in his congregation, in his tribes, the imperative to be a good husband, a good caretaker of the land, and to have these formations of houses and developed agriculture that showed respect and a kind of commune with nature. So that's one theory that suggests why it was that there were these nomadic, sporadic signs of civilisations several thousand years ago that had concentrated and formed these more cohesive areas in which people got together. There were towns and cities that agricultural finds suggest were these larger developments at around that time that were attributed to his thoughts and the types of ideas that he was trying to promulgate with his teachings.

So, we know that this religion was pretty powerful for its time. There are some people who think that it lasted for about a thousand years, until as you mentioned, the rise of Islam had taken that force, that belief out of the picture for the most part.

In thinking about Zoroaster and what his contributions were to thought, to religion, what his philosophy was, I came to a book called The Hymns of Zoroaster by M.L. West. This is the book [book is shown to viewers]. West is an emeritus fellow of All Souls College in Oxford. He's a fellow of the British Academy, and he first begins his book by explaining the difficulty of coming to some kind of right understanding of what Zoroaster was trying to say, given the fact that these are old languages that were being looked at, given the fact that there were other translators and academics in prior times who had come to very different understandings of what Zoroaster's hymns meant. What he comes to in his introduction, and he says take it with a grain of salt, is that he himself in looking at the hymns was looking for a kind of contextual coherence, and finding internally consistent ways within the texts to bring about what was, or what he thought was the spirit of what the hymns were all about.

So this book is in some way a good approach to getting to what Zoroaster was trying to impart to his congregation. We know a number of things because of these translations. One of the things is that he establishes in the minds of people this idea of a definite, objective moral right and wrong, which he describes as thinking right and doing right. He addresses the Ahura Mazda, which is the highest deity, as the 'Mindful Lord'. And throughout the book he addresses the Mindful Lord with questions addressing this or that struggle, or conflict in his attempt to preach his own gospel to a greater number of people.

So, there's a great deal of questioning in his texts. There's the idea that in all humility he doesn't have all the answers, and he's imparting this questioning to his own congregation to strive within themselves to create some kind of direct connection to Ahura Mazda, in doing the right things, in making the distinction between right and wrong in their daily lives.

Zoroaster was also looking for some kind of direction politically. He knew that he needed a certain amount of materialistic strength, and wealth and influence to strengthen his religion. He was very realistic about that and that comes through in the hymns as well. So, there were a number of interesting parts of the Gathas which are these short poems that are highly structured, that are in the book, that convey, I think, the spirit of what Zoroaster was all about.

What begins as West's flushing out of some of these poems that are attributed to Zoroaster, or that could have been very well canonised later on by some of his followers:

"In prompting men to do these things, the Devas are seducing them away from the peaceful settled existence in which they are relatively secure from premature death. The Devas themselves are misled by the evil will, which makes them think evil. And hence comes the evil speech with which that evil will induces the wrongdoer to take over responsibility for the evil deed. From here on Zoroaster speaks no more of the Devas, only of human evil doers. The powerful man is guilty of many offenses against peace in his efforts to win a name for himself, as a warrior, or as a patron of great sacrificial banquets. But these offenses are known to the Mindful Lord who keeps all men's desserts in mind. Wherever he and right are respected, let his edict be broadcast, namely that the good will be rewarded hereafter and the bad punished. According to this edict, the outrageous aforementioned of which Zoroaster declares his own innocence, are capital offenses which, following the trial of the sinner by molten metal, will be visited with the severe penalty that the Mindful Lord ordains. These evil practices of cattle slaughter go back to Eema, the mythical institutor of animal sacrifice. Zoroaster being innocent of them is content to submit himself in the Mindful Lord's judgment."

And on the other side of the page, just so you can get a sense, are the original parts that West kind of flushes out. Now when you read this you kind of get the sense that there is almost an Old Testament sense of right and wrong and judgment that Zoroaster is trying to impart on the people who are listening. In that sense I thought that his writing, if it is his writing in particular, was highly influential.

Corey: Yeah, like I said in the intro, the Gathas don't really spell out an explicit unified cosmology. But when you read that, there are definitely hints of this cosmology that was held and it's rooted in the Indo-Iranian worldview and the Devas. They had their own particular meaning in the Indian cosmology, the Indo-Iranian cosmology and they were gods. They were maybe gods of war, gods of things that Zoroaster himself thought were evil. And in his vision when he was attaining the mantle of prophet, he saw that these gods were evil and that the thing that was evil about them was something that was moral. It was something that was shared across the universe, something that divided the universe in two so that it was not a religion of might makes right, but it was an ethical religion based on truth and justice, and that the god in the Gathas, which is slightly different from the god that, in the later versions was the god of truth, was truth. Ahura Mazda was everything that was light and Ahura Mazda also had his immortals that were also different aspects of what it meant to be a good being, a good being of anything; the rightful order. I can't remember all of the seven different immortals, all the different aspects of truth, this was the duality.

It was an interesting duality in the sense that it wasn't matter versus spirit, but it was a duality that was shared and a struggle that was instituted by these twin spirits of the truth versus the lie, though I'm not quite sure where the lie comes from to start with. But the truth and the lie were at odds against one another since the time of creation because Ahura Mazda fashioned the world and then the lie saw it's opportunity to attack, because now that there was matter, there was the opportunity to inflict pain and suffering. So from that moment on all of creation was mixed with the evil force and the good force doing battle, eternally. Everything in the universe was in some way connected to that and a symbol of that.

So if you were a man and you were behaving in these ways that were ethically questionable, even men who weren't doing their own job, things like men who weren't taking care of the cattle, or they weren't working or they were lying, these individuals were conduits for the forces of evil. And the more that you embraced this then you would be judged on the bridge of judgment, or something along those lines, in the afterlife. And if the scales are wanting then you go to the house of the lie, whereas if you do more virtuous things and you have been a conduit for the truth, then you go to the house of the truth.

But, the sequence of the creation of the universe, and then the mixture of evil and good in this creation because of evil's opportunistic sense to inflict suffering, would then some day in the future result in the separation once again between those individuals who made the choice to pursue the truth versus those individuals who made the choice to pursue evil. So as a human being it was your duty to pursue the truth, but not only just for yourself, but even matter. Matter itself could be perfected and you could help matter on its way to finding its own way out of the grasp of evil, which is just such an interesting value, an interesting idea to have. I could see why Mary Settegast in her book When Zoroaster Spoke, could see that this could be a main driving force behind individuals cultivating the land and beginning to use advanced fire kilns in order to create pottery, and really informing matter like pottery in a way that was designed to help the matter itself escape the clutches of evil by teaching it something, by turning it into something that is beautiful because your job as a human being was to assist all of creation in the daily battle between these cosmic forces, these twin spirits of the truth and the lie.

Harrison: One of the great scholars of Zoroastrianism, R.C. Zaehner says, (shows book to viewers) -- this is from The Dawn And Twilight Of Zoroastrianism -- he calls Zoroastrianism the religion of free will 'par excellence', because rooted in the very structure of the universe is this idea of choice. Arguably, that's probably where we get a lot of our modern ideas about free will, from Zarathustra, this ancient prophet, that there is a choice to be made and that the world is not deterministic.

So everything isn't predetermined by god, for instance like you see in a lot of later theologies. What it really comes down to is the choice of each person, what they're going to do in their lives, which force they're going to align themselves with, the truth or the lie. I want to get into some of the practicalities and how the belief system took shape, because there were several periods to Zoroastrianism. There's the early ones, like in the hymns that we try to divine, what were the original teachings. And then for hundreds or thousands of years depending on the timeline you're looking at, there's a whole series of developments that can be discerned in the texts to some degree, to the point where we get to the last few hundred years of Zoroastrianism, so before Islam became a thing and conquered the region.

So one of these texts from this period, I think it's called a Sasanian period, when Iranian rulers of that time reinstituted Zoroastrianism after the five hundred years of seeming neglect after the region was conquered by Alexander the Great. There was a renewed push to reinstitute Zoroastrianism as the state religion, something that Kriwaczek talks about in his book. There was this head priest guy who seemed to be kind of a slightly nefarious figure who was behind reinstituting the religion in a totalitarian form. But you can get an idea of what the belief system was like and what the Zoroastrians actually believed and practiced. So that's where this book comes into play.

Also, The Teachings Of The Magi also by Zaehner (shows book to viewers), and in this one he's not looking at those early periods. He's looking at the form that Zoroastrianism took in these last few hundred years of the religion essentially. There's one document called The Select Councils of the Ancient Sages, that lays out the core beliefs and practices of Zoroastrians. This is framed as what a good Zoroastrian should believe by the age of fifteen, the questions they should be asking and the answers they should have, questions like 'who am I', to 'whom do I belong', 'for whence have I come' and 'whither do I return', 'from what stalk and lineage am I' and 'what is my function and duty on earth' etc. And so then it gives the answers.

It's very interesting the kind of things that this document actually shows. I'll read a few passages and then maybe some of Zaehner's commentary. For instance, the document says:

"My first duty on earth is to confess the religion, to practice it, and to take part in its worship and to be steadfast in it, to keep the faith in the good religion of the worshippers of Ohrmazd ever in mind, and to distinguish profit from loss, sin from good works, goodness from evil, light from darkness, and the worship of Ohrmazd from the worship of the demons.

My second duty is to take a wife and to procreate earthly offspring, and to be strenuous and steadfast in this. My third duty is to cultivate and till the soil; my forth, to treat all livestock justly; my fifth, to spend a third of my days and nights in attending the seminary and consulting the wisdom of holy men, to spend a third my days and nights in tilling the soil and in making it fruitful, and to spend the remaining third of my days and nights in eating, rest, and enjoyment."

So one of the comments that Zaehner makes is that Zoroastrianism is a very earthy religion, quite literally in agriculture. It's unlike the Gnostic beliefs and religions that came up after Christianity, those Christian Gnostic groups, like the Cathars and Bogomils, who saw the physical world as evil incarnate, the creation of an evil being. The Zoroastrians saw the earth, the material world as good in nature, so not to be just written off as this evil creation that must be killed or overcome, but actually this is the life we have and we have to actually live it and live it well, that there is goodness in the earth and that is expressed in the bounteous nature of the soil.

You find this in Christianity too if you look in the gospel of Mark, or in the writings of Paul. In Mark for instance, the parable of the sower, there is this central idea in Christianity of the good earth, the earth that brings forth plants essentially, good fruit, that there is something inherently good about life, about the soil in which life grows. And, you find this early on in Zoroastrianism and even the idea that one of the main duties of the Zoroastrian is to make babies. To be a perfect, which was one of the kind of sages of the Cathars, you had to avoid any kind of fornication or children because to actually have children would be to create more evil vessels to entrap human souls.

So there's a very cynical attitude in a lot of the Gnostic beliefs that arguably were influenced by Zoroastrianism, as opposed to the original idea which was very pro matter and pro life, but not to the extent that everything's rosy because the earth still was a battlefield,, but it was a battlefield like in each individual, and the choices that they made. The way to defeat evil was basically for a human being to live their life in good thought, good words and good deeds. That was how the battle was won, through the manifestation of goodness in the earth, in the world.

So I want to read some of the other things that are in this document. It says:

"Forit is plain that of thoughts, words, and deeds, it is deeds only that are the criterion for the will is unstable, thought is impalpable, but deeds are palpable indeed and by the deeds that men do are they made known."

So, here we have again Zoroastrianism probably as the origin of the idea that you should be known by your deeds and not by your words, judged by your deeds and not by your words, it's not strictly by your words. There was this kind of unified ideal in Zoroastrianism, I mentioned it: good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. It was important to have all three. So your intentions didn't really matter if you're just a person with good intentions that didn't actually do anything, that was worthless. The most important thing was actually to get things done, to actually live a life of kind of truth and goodness and to actually manifest that in the way you live your life.

So, one other. Let's see if I can find one other interesting quote here. I'll go to Zaehner's commentary on it. He summarizes what's going on here. I'll read a couple of passages maybe from these couple of pages:

"Over against God stands the Devil, Ahriman. He, like god, is a pure spirit. He and Ohrmazd (Ahura Mazda) are eternal antagonists and sooner or later a struggle between them becomes inevitable. God is all goodness and light, Ahriman all wickedness and death, darkness and deceit. We shall see later how god is forced to create the universe as a weapon with which to defeat Ahriman."

So the reason for the material world, is actually that it is a creation of god in order to defeat evil. Again, very, very much at odds with a Gnostic belief that the material world is the creation of the Devil and therefore something to be trampled on, spat upon. No, the world is not only the soil in which goodness can grow but it's actually for the express purpose of defeating evil. That's the purpose for the material world. It's like a trap as Zaehner describes, a trap in which to lure evil so that it can then be defeated.

So as he writes, "Being God's creation, man belongs to him but god nonetheless depends on man's help in order to defeat his eternal adversary. Evil is not by any means identified with matter, as in the case with the Manicheans." So, this is where he says what I just kind of paraphrased;

"It is a trap set by God for the Devil, a trap in which the latter is enmeshed and which so weakens him that in the end Ohrmazd is enabled to deal him the death-blow."

So, it's a very interesting way of looking at the world that I haven't really seen expressed explicitly in any other kind of mainstream religion, at least not in any kind of popular, well known way. When you get into this stuff and read what the Zoroastrians actually believed, on one level it's interesting to see the kind of strange world view that's uncommon. It's almost like some kind of weird fantasy, sci-fi world where the set up, the rules of the game, the rules of the world, the rules of the system of what's going on that's just a very interesting world to find yourself in, where you are the ground of battle, you are at the forefront of the battle against evil and it's taking place within you and that it all has to do with your choices and how you manifest yourself in the world.

So, I'm going to read again from Zaehner. As this little text shows:

"Man's role in the world is to cooperate with nature on the natural plane and to lead a virtuous life of 'good thoughts, good words, and good deeds' on the moral plane. Thus no religion has been as strongly opposed to all forms of asceticism and monasticism as was Zoroastrianism. It is man's bounden duty to take himself a wife and to rear up for himself sons and daughters for the very simple reason that human life on earth is a sheer necessity if Ahriman is to be defeated.

Similarly, no other religion makes a positive virtue of agriculture, making the earth fruitful, strong, and abundant in order to resist the onslaught of the enemy, who is the author of disease and death. On the natural plane, then, virtue is synonymous with fruitfulness, vice with sterility. Celibacy therefore, is both unnatural and wicked. On the moral plane all the emphasis is on righteousness or truth, for evil is personified as the 'lie', and on doing of good works in which Ohrmazd himself 'has his dwelling', for, as the author of our little texts sensibly remarks, deeds are the only criterion by which alone a man can be judged."

So, you can actually see some of the influence of Zoroastrianism on the mainstream religions, on Christianity today, for instance. So while it may be kind of foreign in some ways when you're looking at it, there are still things that seep through, like this idea that I haven't mentioned yet of the end of the world, the eschaton, the apocalypse, the end of the world. That's a Zoroastrian idea, the idea that there will be a reckoning, a time to come when there will be a great judgment and a great transformation of creation. That's a Zoroastrian idea. The idea of the resurrection of the dead is, again, a Zoroastrian idea, probably one that was the source for that idea in Judaism first and then in Christianity.

So again we see these ideals seeping through and expressing themselves in these new clothes, essentially, with these new religions that sprung up, but that there is this kind of seed of these original ideas still within them that has carried on for all these years. So Even mainstream Christianity, even mainstream religions today, the big monotheisms that have billions of followers, some of their central ideas can be traced back to Zarathustra, which should come as a surprise to a lot of people I think.

Elan: Well, in reading about Zoroaster's ideas, one thing that came very strongly across was that he was a reformer. He was trying to moderate the more extreme and unproductive and destructive elements of living among his people with these ideas that he was inspired to share. The idea is that he was, or had an experience or a vision that had, or was the impetus for him to begin as a kind of progenitor of his own religion.

So in that sense he has something in common I think with the Apostle Paul which reminded me a bit of a book that I'd been reading just recently by Timothy Ashworth. It's called Paul's Necessary Sin - The Experience of Liberation. In that book he says,"All my attention was engaged with the interrelationships of different words and contexts in the text itself," which also reminded me of this book that I was reading from a little earlier by M.L. West, who is also trying to bring what is the spirit of Zoroaster's ideas forward, so that even if there were these literal things that may be missed in the translation, there's some strength in these texts, that people who have looked at other translations, and people who have given deep thought to early Christianity or in this case, Zoroastrianism, have in recent years been able to convey with their own understanding.

And so it's very interesting to me that you have these two different translations of different religions that are both trying to convey what is the 'spirit' of the religion. And I think that Settegast does this too in When Zarathustra Spoke because, by the end of the book she's also affirming agriculture as this Zoroastrian-inspired commune with the earth which, she attributes to the advent of alchemy and this kind of understanding of the spiritualization of matter, that all of the alchemists and even famous scientists like Isaac Newton and others, were all inspired by this long lineage and respect for the material world, to get at it's very essence, to get at its most spiritual form, if you will.

This speaks, I think, to Zoroaster's very practical idea of 'working with what we have', of not looking forward necessarily to the eschaton or to when judgment will come, but to have that kind of figure into his own thinking about being his own ponerologist, if you will, of weeding out all of those corrupting elements in his own society, all of those priests who were conveying and sharing lies that were damaging to his people, all of the naysayers and raiders of other people's herds and cattle. On every level, he was trying to reform his society, first with his own congregation, and then with perhaps the wider tribe that he was surrounded by. And then even the hope was that this kind of new morality that he was sharing, would spread out to even larger areas, which is exactly what happened.

So, very impressive, and I think we can get into that a little bit in part two, which is what we plan to do for the next show.

Corey: Well yes we do. Hopefully we will be doing part two on this show because it's a very fascinating topic. We hope that as you're listening to this you'll get a chance to take a look down below and see some of the books, some of the material that we've been referencing, and if you're interested in the value system, and you're interested in contending with different value systems and how history and just randomness has changed some of these values and seeing maybe where they took shape, what they first may have looked like, what initially inspired individuals to believe in monotheistic gods, this is definitely a place, definitely a place to start that search.

And on that note we hope that you share this with everyone on Facebook and you 'like' it, and then you share it on twitter, and then you have a great week! Thanks for listening everybody. We'll see you again next time.