Nursing Assignment Acers
Task: Understanding of the religions of the world
Task: Understanding of the religions of the world
Each week, you will read all the assigned pages listed in this syllabus. You will also write a one-page journal in which you will discuss the main ideas discussed in the reading. A complete journal entry will answer the following three questions: 1) What are three (at least) key ideas discussed in the assigned pages? 2) What struck you the most in reading these pages? 3) How does the reading affect your understanding of the religions of the world?
Describe and discuss one thing that struck you in this week’s reading assignment.
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good, all-powerful God and evil exist at one and the same time? Zoroastrian’s explan- ation is simple but at the same time profound: Ahura Mazda is the only God, and
ultimately order and goodness will win out over chaos and evil. But in the meantime
the existence of evil cannot be denied, and so it must be addressed. A great cosmic
struggle is being played out, with forces of evil aligned against forces of good. Ahura
Mazda, while not responsible for the origin of these forces of evil, orchestrates the
gradual process by which the cosmos will be purged of evil and good will prevail for all eternity.
We will investigate this cosmic struggle in detail shortly. First we note that Zoro-
astrianism embraces not just one but two forms of dualism. Interrelated with the dual-
ism of good and evil is the dualism of spirit and matter.
Spirit and Matter Zoroastrianism teaches that reality is divisible into two realms: that of spirit and thought and that of matter and physicality. Everything in existence embodies both realms. Readers familiar with Platonic philosophy will recognize simi-
larities with Zoroastrian spirit/matter dualism-and, indeed, Greek philosophy, Pla-
tonic and also Aristotelian, might have influenced Zoroastrian beliefs.
Human beings must orient themselves toward the spiritual realm in order to live
righteously and in accordance with order and ultimately to achieve salvation. And
yet, Zoroastrianism teaches a healthy regard for the body and its enjoyments, within appropriate limits. The realm of spirit and thought is the true origin of human life,
but embodiment is not a negative thing. In fact, as we will consider in more detail
later in the chapter, it is a general religious duty for Zoroastrians to have children,
thereby furthering the embodiment of the realm of spirit or thought within the
realm of matter or body. And ultimately, the final triumph of good over evil depends
on this. But in order to understand Zoroastrian teachings on this final triumph, we must first examine the dualism of good and evil and the opposing forces at work in
Order and Chaos The Zoroastrian dualism of order and chaos involves two key concepts. Asha is “order,” the true, cosmic order that pervades both the natural and social spheres of reality, encompassing the moral and religious life of individuals. Asha is symbolized by light, and therefore by the sun and by fire.
Asha is opposed by the “Lie,” or druj. Whereas asha gives rise to good thoughts, words, and deeds, druj gives rise to evil thoughts, words, and deeds. The two are fun- damentally incompatible and locked in a cosmic struggle. Soon we will focus on the
relevance of this struggle for human beings. First, we investigate how this dualism
divides the Zoroastrian pantheon of divine beings.
The Divine Realm Earlier we noted that most Zoroastrians today consider their religion to be monothe-
istic. This section on the divine realm might therefore come as a surprise, given the extensive array of deities and other supernatural beings that it describes. But in fact,
The Teachings of Zoroastrianism 327
the case of Zoroastrianism is not so different from that of other notable monotheistic
religions. The Bible makes many references to supernatural beings-seraphim, cheru-
bim, angels-other than the one God of Judaism and of Christianity. Likewise the
Qur’an, while strongly emphasizing belief in only one God, Allah, assumes the exist-
ence of other supernatural beings, namely angels, devils, and jinn (who can be good or
evil; see Chapter 13). All three of these monotheistic religions acknowledge the exist- ence of an Evil One, named Satan.
Ahura Mazda Zoroastrianism emerged from an earlier Iranian religious perspective that undoubtedly was polytheistic. Zarathustra seems to have been responsible for
declaring that one god is primary and qualitatively above all others: Ahura Mazda, the “Wise Lord” (ahura in ancient Iranian means “lord”; there is no other known ancient
usage of the term Mazda) . In later centuries, Zoroastrians came also to use the name Task: Understanding of the religions of the world
Ohrmazd to refer to their God.
Zarathustra worshiped Ahura Mazda as the only eternal deity, responsible for the
creation of the world. This is not to say that Ahura Mazda is responsible for the evil
that also has existed since the beginning of time. Zarathustra taught that Ahura
Mazda ultimately will overcome evil, and that to do so he created this world. It is in the realm of the physical world that the embodied forces of order and good do battle
against the embodied forces of chaos and evil. The final triumph will be accomplished
through the forces of good aligned with Ahura Mazda.
Divine Forces of Good Especially prominent among the forces of good are the seven Amesha Spentas, the “Beneficial Immortals,” angels who help Ahura Mazda
Integration of the dualism of spirit/matter and the dualism of order (good)-chaos (evil). The spirit of asha, personified in the yazatas (“ones worthy of worship”), is embodied in the physical world; so too is the spirit of druj, personified as the daevas, embodied in the physical world-the stage on which the cosmic struggle between good and evil is played out.