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Middle aged heterosexual, WASP male. Semi retired, semi-sane and semi-serious. And endangered species and I'm not going quietly!!!!

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Church of Allan - The Plain Truth About God

A serialization of the book, The Plain Truth About God.

Chapter 7. Have I got a deal for you!


There has been a lot of debate about the origin of what we could call modern day Western Religion, as compared to early Hindu, pagan and tribal sects.

It is believed the concept of Monotheism, as it is practiced now, began in ancient Sumeria with the teachings of Zarathustra.

Although personally never claiming to be a prophet and only being elevated to that position many years later by his followers, his teachings were finally written down (650-700 B.C.E.) and gained wide acceptance about a thousand years after his death.

They not only had a profound influence on religion in general, but also are actually considered by some to be the foundation for Judaism, and then by default, Christianity and Islam.

** The historical Zarathustra, by some accounts, lived somewhere between 1500-2000 B.C.E., although it could even have been as late as about 800-600 B.C.E., since this is when his religion became mainstream and popular amongst the masses.

His followers, of course, attribute many wonders and miracles to him that never really happened and also claim he lived about 10,000 years ago (8000 BCE) right after the end of the last ice age.

Zarathustra, after much debate and conjecture about the duality of good and evil finally decided that there was only one God, “Ahzura Mazda” and that life in the physical world was a battle between good and evil.

As per a man’s actions, he would either cross the “sword bridge” after death, and reach Heaven, or fall and go to the abode of evil.

In the “final days,” there would be a battle between good and evil.

Evil would be vanquished and the world would be purified by a bath of fire. God would then judge the world, resurrect the dead, and His kingdom would be established on earth. (Sound Familiar?)

Zarathustra was convinced that all events of the world are based on cause and effect. He therefore based his teachings on three principles:

“Good reflection.”
“Good Word.”
“Good Deed.”

The creed recognized that all motives of human beings are based on action and reaction. So in the realm of human intercourse, when people act favorably, they receive a favorable reaction. (As in today’s Modern Age “Law of Attraction.”)

Zarathustra never assumed prophet-hood. He never claimed to be associated with God, and never ordered his followers to perform certain rituals. Rather, he urged them to try to know God and Heaven and adopt a good manner.

Zarathustra, during his lifetime, was never officially a prophet, nor can we call his spiritual path an actual “religion.”

He was a thoughtful man who recognized God because of his wisdom and never said he had been conscripted or chosen to bring any special message from God to humanity.

Zarathustra never imagined praising a God who is bribed by worship, and then rewards his worshiper with a promise of paradise.

God, to him, was not a deal maker. He was neither a buyer nor a seller, and did not need be flattered.

**“You cannot petition the Lord with prayer!” - Jim Morrison - The Doors

The God of Zarathustra was the initiator of justice, kindness, and truthfulness and guided his flock to the same principles.

Zarathustra based his philosophy on good reflection, good word, and good deed. Everyone had the liberty to choose the right way. (Free will!)

According to tradition, Zoroastrianism had only one symbol of note. “Faravahar” is the human spirit that existed before our birth and will continue to exist after our death.

Faravahar should not be confused or replaced with God, but rather looked upon as our soul!

Zarathustra also never believed in anthropomorphism of any feature of God. In no way was there any mention of the “Face of God,” or any reference to a Divine figure in a material form.

Zarathustra was reputed to have said, “God, when I was looking for you, I recognized that you are the starter and the end of everything. You are the source of wisdom and reflection. You are the creator of truthfulness and purity, and the judge for the behavior of all human beings.”

Zarathustra was against bartering to gaining power through the name of God. In other words, he did not teach any form of ritualized religion.

He was also against the needless sacrificing of animals, which was a common practice and lucrative source of income for religious leaders of that day.

Zarathustra’s philosophy frequently indicated that the three principles of good reflection, good words and good deeds lead to human enlightenment.

Therefore, there was no need for religious leaders to assume the role of mediators between God and his people. (The priesthood did not exist.)

Although Alexander the Great destroyed most of the teachings of Zoroastrian concepts and ideals, surprisingly, many survived down through the years to become Christian, Judaic, and Islamic dogma.

** Concepts such as heaven and hell, good and evil, the coming of the Savior, born of a virgin, the end-time purge of the world by fire, followed by the resurrection of the dead, and the final battle between good and evil.

These beliefs filtered down to Judaism and from there they came to Christianity and finally Islam.

There are scholars who consider Zoroastrianism to be the mother religion of all the present day Western World’s faiths.

It is probable that the Jews were influenced by the Zoroastrian faith in those days -and originally took on the concepts of heaven and hell, God’s evil adversary Satan, the resurrection and the final purification of the world, the virgin birth, any many others, and adapted them as their own.

There are other similarities too. Certain purification observances such as the impurity of menstruation etc. are found in our modern faiths.

** Indeed, the very idea of the “Messiah” could well be Zoroastrian in origin.

Zarathustra’s religion was the prominent one in Iran until the conquest by Arabs around 1300 years ago.

To preserve the Zoroastrian faith, a band of Zarathushtrians sailed to India about 1300 years ago and settled in the now familiar Indus Valley where they were, and are now, called the Parsees (from “Pars” i.e. Iran).

Although one of the oldest of religions, Zoroastrians have been decimated over the centuries, first by Alexander the Great, and then by everybody else who happened to come along.

At last count, the total world population of the followers of Zarathustra numbered around 150,000.


**Q: What did a Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?
A: “Make me one with everything.”
The vendor prepares the hot dog and gives it to the monk.
The monk pays him and asks for the change.
The hot dog vendor says, “Change comes from within.” :-)

**“Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology, and covers both the natural and spiritual.” “It is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity!” - Albert Einstein

Although Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, it is difficult to imagine a religion that would be much closer in spirit (no pun intended!) to the views of an agnostic or atheist. Nonetheless, a spiritual leader who now has some 350 million adherents throughout the world started it.

The Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, founded it in Northern India.

He was born in what is now Nepal in 563 B.C.E. Although leading a privileged life that was pre-determined for him, he followed the practice of the time and left his wife and children to lead the life of an ascetic.

First, he studied Brahmanism, but rejected its tenets.

He did acknowledge that the basis of Hinduism was correct in declaring that “suffering” was the basis for all of humanities ills and foibles.

This concept of suffering will be addressed in detail later on in the book, along with its parallels to other religions, and theologies.

Through his insights, Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment in 535 B.C.E. and assumed the title Buddha.

Siddhartha Gautama’s story is one of rejection and then acceptance.

He became disillusioned with Hindu teachings concerning creation and the self, but remained close to Hinduism in his acceptance of the belief that existence continues through many lives and controlled by the laws of Karma.

He rejected useless speculations that go beyond human experience, such as creation, God and the nature of a future life.

He urged a pattern of conduct and meditation leading to enlightenment and freedom from sorrow.

His belief was that man has no soul but is only a combination of elements controlled by Karma!

He taught that when man is free from the illusory attachment to this world he becomes free from rebirth and attains “Nirvana” or nothingness.

What happens then is beyond our powers to know so it is not worth idle speculation.

*”All that we are - is the result of what we have thought.”—Buddha

Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism is simpler and more direct in its approach to the correct way to lead your life.

It begins with the “Eightfold Path” which is a combination of three qualities that lead to eight courses of action in the quest for “Nirvana.”

** The first is “Wisdom” that is achieved through the right view and right thought.

** The next is “Morality” which is practiced by right speech, right action and right livelihood.

** Finally there is “Meditation.” It depends on right effort, right mindfulness and right contemplation.

According to the Buddha’s way, our lives of transience, sorrow and selfishness can be helped by the “Four Boundless States” of loving kindness, compassion, The five hindrances to a life well lived almost sound like the “seven deadly sins” of the West.

They are:

1- Aversion and ill will

2- Sloth and torpor

3- Restlessness and worry

4- Skeptical pride.

5- Sensuous lust

When this is followed with devotion and dedication, we achieve a state of grace, which we call the “Ten Perfection’s,” as opposed to the “Ten Fetters.”
“Ten Perfection’s” “Ten Fetters to Existence”

1. Generosity 1. Self-delusion

2. Morality 2. Doubt

3. Renunciation 3. Clinging to Ritual

4. Wisdom 4. Sensuous Lust

5. Energy 5. Ill Will

6. Patience 6. Greed-for material existence

7. Truthfulness 7. Greed-for immaterial existence

8. Resolution 8. Conceit

9. Loving-Kindness 9. Restlessness

10. Equanimity 10. Ignorance

Just as in Zen Buddhism, when all these practices are followed the enlightenment that comes might not do much for the next life but it sure will make the adherent grounded and stable in this existence.

Probably one of the best examples of this way of life is the serenity and peace that surrounds the “Dali Lama” of Tibet.

A few brief notes on Sikhism, Taoism, and Confucianism:

**Historians and specialist in Eastern religions believe Sikhism is a syncretistic religion, taking its roots from not only Hinduism, but also the Sufi movement of Islam.

The Sikh Holy Texts consist of hymns and writings by the 10 Gurus (all regarded as re-incarnations of the first, Guru Nanak) attempting to build a close, loving relationship with God, who is a single formless God with many names.

This belief is similar to the followers of Islam who also believe in a single God with 99 names, and only He can be worshipped.

They follow the Hindu religion in the belief of re-incarnation but at the same time reject the “caste system” and regard everyone as having equal status.

Devout Sikhs, aside from not cutting their hair and wearing it rolled up and covered on their head, wear the ceremonial dagger called the “Kirpan.”

**Back around 500 BCE the Chinese philosopher “Lao-Tzu” wrote the “Tao Te Ching” (or “The Way and its Power” / I-Ching) and laid the groundwork for Taoism in the Far East.

This is a philosophy and religion that must have inspired filmmaker George Lucas since “The Way” is the natural order of the universe, or the “Force” that flows through all living things.

*Duct Tape: It’s like the force, one side is dark, the other light, but together, they bind the universe. - Lao-Red Green

“Tao” is less a Deity than a transcendent reality however, since Taoists seek equilibrium above all else.

Many traditional practices such as acupuncture and “Chinese Medicine” are founded on this principal.

It is no wonder the Tao symbol is the Yin/Yang circle divided into equal areas of light and darkness, symbolizing equilibrium and the harmony of opposites.

**Although Confucianism is more of a philosophy than a religion, to many people, Confucius (or Kung-fu-tzu) is no more than a one-line joke.

Few have heard or read any of his teachings yet the truth and importance of his words still resonate today.

Confucius’ teachings developed according to times that are common to us all.
According to his writings, the days in which he lived were a time of moral chaos in which common values were widely rejected or simply disregarded.

Crime was on the rise, the gulf between rich and poor was broad and growing. Government was corrupt and distrusted by the people and a general feeling of apathy and suspicion pervaded society.

Confucius can perhaps best be termed the greatest “poet” of all time since his sayings and gems of wisdom not only caught on, but have been passed on to us over these thousands of years!


Our newest, and by far the most progressive of the major world religions, started in Persia/Iran when Siyyid Ali-Muhammad (1819-1850 C.E.) assumed the title Bab, which means the Gate.

In May 1844, he announced the “Declaration of the Bab.” He explained that the purpose of his mission was to herald the arrival of “One greater than himself,” who would fulfill the prophetic expectations of all the great religions.

This date is regarded as the founding of the Baha’i Faith. His followers became known as Babis and right from the start, 20,000 were martyred for their beliefs.

His movement caused religious unrest and led to his execution in 1850 by order of the Shah’s chief minister and at the instigation of Muslim clerics.

In 1863, one of the Bab’s followers, Mirza Husayn-‘Ali-i-Nuri (18171892), a prominent follower of the Bab to whom he had given several indications of his future station, confided to some of his followers that he was the manifestation predicted.

In April 1863, he began proclaiming his station openly and publicly to the world at large. He assumed title became Baha’u’llah by which he was generally known.

Baha’i beliefs promoted major social changes when originated in the 19th century. They supported gender and race equality, world government, freedom of expression and assembly and world peace. In many ways, they were a century of more ahead of many other faiths and followers are heavily involved in promoting theses concepts today.

In addition, unlike many other religions, Baha’i views scientific inquiry as essential to expand human knowledge and deepen their member’s faith. They do feel that science needs to be guided by spiritual principles so that its applications are beneficial to all of humanity.

The Baha’i teachings promote the elimination of all forms of prejudice and uphold equal dignity and respect for all peoples. This, regardless of their racial, religious or national background.

It advocates the equality of men and women, the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth and economic justice for all peoples. Universal education and the dignity of the individual are also central Baha’i principals.

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://God-101.blogspot.com

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