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Nice post, Michael. Thanks for deciding to continue your blog.

My father's people, the Armenians, inhabited what is today Turkey and Northern Syria. They were devout practitioners of Zoroastrianism, perhaps even the original devotees along with the people known as "Persians".

The ancient land of the Armenians became the first official Christian kingdom(s) - well before Rome made that choice. The reason that they did so readily is, as you note, the similarities between the religions and the promise of a savior born of a virgin. It was an easy and reasonable switch. So I would say that you are right on target Wikipedia or no Wikipedia :-)

Great overview!

I first learned about Zoroastrianism in 1984, when I bought a book called (IIRC) "The World Bible," scriptures from all of the major religions. It truly is an interesting religion.

I don't have any additions to make--you pretty much covered all I know--and then some.

IIRC, there are a few hundred thousand Zoroastrians living in India, where they are known as "Parsees" (from "Persians"?).

"the dog is sacred in Zoroastrianism."

The cat was sacred in ancient Egyptian religion. The lamb is Christianity's unofficial animal. What about other religions—anybody have any nominations?

Nice post Micheal. Yes, Zoroastrianism seems to be the source of much of what we consider Christian thought. The spiritualism parallels are particularly interesting. One thing you didn't mention is the idea of Satan as a person, and more than a mere demon, probably first comes from Zoroastrianism. The idea of good and evil battling it out at the end of the world is also from Zoroastrianism. I believe the Magi in the bible were also followers of Zoroaster.

"Oh, and for the dog lovers out there: the dog is sacred in Zoroastrianism. This in itself strikes me as a pretty good recommendation of the religion."

Not bad. But is there a religion where the horse is sacred? :)

BTW, do you have a dog, Michael? I've noticed before that you seem to like them. Some of the most important relationships of my life have been with animals - and still are (in the nicest possible sense).

"The cat was sacred in ancient Egyptian religion. The lamb is Christianity's unofficial animal. What about other religions—anybody have any nominations?"

The cow is sacred in Hinduism, of course. I believe the snake was sacred to many ancient religions. The Garden of Eden story may have cast the snake as the villain in response to rival religions that honored snakes. Some feminist anthropologists have argued that prehistoric peoples practiced a goddess religion in which the butterfly was sacred, though more mainstream anthropologists say that the "butterfly" symbol was actually a double-headed axe.

Besides liking dogs, Zoroaster also reportedly had a high opinion of the rooster.

"do you have a dog, Michael?" I do like them, but I live in a condo, and I don't think a dog is a good pet for an apartment dweller, so I don't have one.

Great post. Just FYI, Edgar Cayce identified Zoroaster's father as a past life of Jesus of Nazareth. Read more here. I also have a web page about the similarities between Zoroastrianism and Judaism and Christianity. It's a fascinating subject because Zoroaster's teachings greatly influenced many religions.

An extract from a book about the historical development of religions, written by NDEer Nanci Danison:-

“According to Zoroastrianism, the present age is a time of great crisis, but “Saviors will come from the seed of Zoroaster, and in the end, the great Savior” shall restore all goodness. One such savior, according to Zoroastrian teaching, will be born of a virgin, bring about the resurrection of the dead, and make humankind immortal. It is not difficult to see connections between the anticipated Zorosastrian savior and the Christian savior, Jesus.” (Wray and Mobley, Birth of Satan, 87).

This book is Nanci Danison making her case for what she learnt in the afterlife about the development of religions, particularly Judea-Christianity. She compares what she learnt with what bible scholars say about how Christianity developed (ironically her book was criticized for being too well-researched by some reviewers, who were expecting only her afterlife memories). Particularly noteworthy is the fact that (allegedly) the biblical Jesus was a myth. Nanci does however concede to the possibility of a historical figure called Jesus from Nazareth, who might have something to do with the origins of the mythical Jesus.

On the same page Nanci points out particular claims from the gospel writer Luke could not have possibly been true. The example cited is that of Jesus being thrown out of the synagogue at Nazareth for reading scripture, and being chased up a hill by an angry mob who were intent on tossing him off the edge of the cliff (somehow he got away). Archaeological excavations have apparently proven there were no synagogues in Nazareth, and thus no rolls of scripture (and apparently no hills either). Also the idea that a man from a peasant village could read is highly questionable, given that the literacy rate for the region stood at about 5%.

A common counter-argument to this is the claim that these are shared rather than derived beliefs. However it is hard to see how anyone could reasonably come to that conclusion when presented with striking examples such as those mentioned in this blog post. And anyway, even the idea of shared beliefs arguably detracts somewhat from the alleged divine origins of the scriptures.

So is the Holy Bible a pack of porkies? Probably.

Having said all this Nanci presents a diplomatic conciliatory tone in the book by conceding to the fact that spiritual truths do become naturally entwined within most religions due to possible residual memory traces of divine truths we might have whilst inhabiting humans.

“Zoroastrianism also rejects spirit-body dualism, conceiving of both Earth and heaven in similar terms.”

I reject this as well. At least the manner in which this separation is commonly conceived. I think really there is only one reality. We only perceive and access a very small portion of reality whilst in physical form, and hence it is semantically meaningful at make a distinction between a ‘spirit realm’ and ‘physical realm’. But this separation is not literal, as there is only one reality. What we call physical matter is really only configurations (for lack of a better word) of energy which from our limited perspective appear solid, but would appear entirely illusory from higher perspectives of reality.

We might regard Earth life as mundane whilst here, but imagine for a moment an existence consisting purely of a mental life. The idea of taking physical form (or at least being fooled into believing you are inhabiting a physical realm) would seem very miraculous and very non-trivial. Having said this, the grass still looks greener on the other side, at least when hearing the accounts of those claiming to have experienced the spiritual realm.

"So is the Holy Bible a pack of porkies? Probably."

I've often suspected it might be. But the best bits read like profound psychological insights expressed before academic psychology was invented. Certainly the parables.

Mark writes: "We might regard Earth life as mundane whilst here, but imagine for a moment an existence consisting purely of a mental life. The idea of taking physical form (or at least being fooled into believing you are inhabiting a physical realm) would seem very miraculous and very non-trivial."


Not sure about this. According to accounts which I have read it is actually possible to experience physicality in the afterlife via 'manifesting'. So would a physical experience really seem so magical in light of this fact?

"According to accounts which I have read it is actually possible to experience physicality in the afterlife via 'manifesting'."

I do hope so! I would be lost on the 'other side' if I couldn't ride and care for my horses. There's nothing and no one in the world that I love more than animals - especially horses.

Rob writes: “Not sure about this. According to accounts which I have read it is actually possible to experience physicality in the afterlife via 'manifesting'. So would a physical experience really seem so magical in light of this fact?”

I have had lucid dreams which are every bit as real as the physical world I experience in waking life; the feel of solid ground beneath my feet as I walk along, the shifting feeling of my body weight under gravity as I move (and g-forces if I am flying), intricate tactile sensations, and a visual clarity that either rivals or surpasses (more commonly) real life. In fact strictly speaking all we ever experience in our waking life are mental events. There is nothing we ever directly experience which is not a mental event. But there is a key difference – we buy into it. We totally believe ‘real life’ is real. Of course this applies to normal dreams as well, but as far as I am aware they do not have the real-life nature of lucid dreams. Certainly mine don’t anyway.

We can of course know intellectually that what we experience as physical reality is not real, but that intellectual knowledge in itself would not normally take away very much from the compelling feeling that our ‘physical’ world is real. In my case it certainly doesn’t.

I also am familiar with NDE accounts which describe the phenomenon of manifesting. In fact, supposedly, our reality is in some sense a collective manifestation anyway. Allegedly we have the ability in our natural spiritual state to manifest what humans perceive as physical reality. But if all one has ever experienced is a manifestation accompanied by an acute awareness of the non-real nature of that manifested reality, it would still seem quite far out to have an experience of physicality that completely fools us, as does our ‘physical’ world.

Scholars are almost unanimous that Jesus was a real historical figure; although there are a lot of mythology associated with him and all the other "dead-and-rising God-men-saviors" in history. And it is true the Bible is filled with errors and contradictions. But it must be remembered that Jesus appears in a large number of NDEs. And one particular NDEr, Howard Storm, was informed by Jesus during his NDE that the reason he could only see the contradictions whenever he read the Bible was because the Bible had to be read spiritually (i.e., metaphorically) and not literally. For example, Edgar Cayce gave a very interesting dream interpretation of the Book of Revelation. The reason Zoroastrian Magi astrologer-priests are on your Christmas cards is because they saw the "star of Bethlehem" -- a conjunction of Jupiter (the planet of kings) with Saturn (ther planet of Israel) and knew that a great king was about to be born to Israel. So, one mustn't throw out the proverbial "baby" with the "bath water" when it comes to historical figures and the mythology surrounding them. For example, it is possible to be a good Christian and believe the "Resurrection of the Dead" on Judgment Day does not mean "dead bodies coming out of tombs", but rather "live babies coming out of wombs". Even the resurrection of Jesus could have been merely a spiritual after-death communication and not a literal "Lazarus-type" resuscitation. The idea of corpses coming out of their graves like "Night of the Living Dead" at the End of Days never really appealed to me.

It's true that Jesus appears in many NDEs - although we should be careful about this, because in many cases the person reports seeing a glowing energy source or a vaguely angelic figure and simply labels it "Jesus."

In any event, NDErs see Hindu deities and other religious figures also. I suspect this has everything to do with the way one's personal belief system colors the experience, and little or nothing to do with the reality of such figures - though I guess one could argue that if enough people believe in a certain mythical or legendary figure, then the figure could achieve a certain quasi-reality as a thought form or archetype.

I don't doubt there was a real historical Jesus, but I suspect that nearly all of what we know about him is invented or heavily embellished.

MP: It's true that Jesus appears in many NDEs - although we should be careful about this, because in many cases the person reports seeing a glowing energy source or a vaguely angelic figure and simply labels it "Jesus."

Yes, one has to be very careful. Within the community of NDE researchers there is some concensus on this. For want of better descriptions of these awesome presences, one chooses the holy figure which is the most important in their culture.

For atheistic NDE'rs this is something they tend to struggle with. They know it is divine what they have encountered, but have no word for it.


I am very cautious about the Church's view of Christianity and Jesus simply because when the state became aware that there was a powerful message within the early Church ,the state under the Emperor Constantine swallowed the teachings whole and transplanted everything onto existing setups and effectively stole it from the people , one week it was the pontifax maximus and next week he became Pope and all our holy days are the old pagan days transformed and the council of Nicea threw out everything which did not fit with the idea of Jesus being the actual son of god and nothing else and the leaders had authority under God and it kept the whole rotten structure going until now which is why people are turning away from it
But thanks to this blog entry I have found which I believe is the way towards the truth of god and existence which the early followers glimpsed and which is a powerful message which would have been dangerous to rulers of then and even nowadays
Thank you

Speaking of NDE and religion, have anybody ever heard of Chuang Tzu, one of the Taoism founding father? Seems like his entire philosophies are build on his OBE/NDE. For those where are interested, here is a link to paper discussing the similarities between Chuang Tzu teachings with NDE experiences:

http://www.newdualism.org/nde-papers/Hermann/Hermann-Journal%20of%20Near-Death%20Studies_1990-8-175-190.pdf

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