Darban I Den – having spent years in his previous incarnation as Stephen Flowers enlightening us with works on Germanic Studies, Runes, Gnosticism and the Left-Hand Path – now turns his attention to revealing and renovating ‘the world’s newest oldest religion’ – Zoroastrianism. Or as you will come to know it after reading this book, ‘The Mazdan Way.’ In so doing, he has provided us with what could be one of the most important books of the new millennium.
In a manner quite extraordinary, Flowers starts out the whole exploration on a deeply personal tone, recounting the arising of many of these ideas during the 2011 Brush fires near Austin, Texas which threatened his home, and his own hands-on experiences working in healthcare and delivering care and compassion to the sick and elderly where he “suffered the frailty of existence and learned to empathize with the downtrodden.”
If any of this causes you to pause in momentary confusion, let me assure you that will be allayed in reading The Good Religion where you will learn that the recovery and renovation of Zoroastrianism in the West is simply the most rational conclusion for anyone interested in any of the ‘good’ things that any religion has ever had to offer. As Flowers states, “This book is intended to introduce the basic beliefs and practices of the Way of the Wise Lord, a Western form of the Mazdan Religion.” In other words, this book isn’t just an anthropological study for the academically curious, this book is an attempt to change things – culture and the world we live in – truly an act of grand magic. Indeed the book fully covers every aspect of Zoroastrianism, from the ancient historical, to the ideological and cosmological to the mechanics of ritual and linguistics of mantra and prayer. Everything that is needed to introduce a whole and complete system is here.
To begin with, Ahura Mazda – the original model for ‘God’ – is pure and abstract consciousness. Not the angry and jealous old man in the sky who likes to spy on people and torture in a pit of fire anyone who questions him. Perhaps you have already overcome such archaic modes yourself and have already made the pursuit of consciousness the center of your spiritual quest; Well guess what – that in fact WAS the original religion. Pursue consciousness and wisdom, harm no one, be a responsible sovereign individual and do good things for yourself and others and help make the world a better place. It’s so simple but somehow it all got high-jacked by Paul, Mohammed and company, and twisted and perverted into the various systems of obedience, coercion, and oppression – both religious AND political – that run the world today. This is one reason Flowers refers to it as ‘the world’s newest oldest religion.’
Then you start to learn that just about everything that’s good in ANY religion – be it Judeo-Christian, Islam, Buddhism, Pagan, New-Age, Esoteric, Satanic, even Theosophy and The Fourth Way – can be found to have originated with the 1700 BCE prophet Zarathushtra (or Zoroaster as the Greeks liked to call him). As Flowers says, it is the ‘gold standard’ of religions, and if you dig deep enough in any of them the gold of Zarathushtra will eventually shine through. Flowers summarizes the nature of Zarathrustra’s astounding accomplishments nicely by noting he was:
- The First Prophet of a Universal Monotheistic Religion
- The First Theologian
- The First Philosopher
- The Originator of the ideas of Universal “Human Rights”
- The First Defender of the Oppressed
- The First Conscious Environmentalist
- The Originator of Women’s Rights
- The Originator of the Idea of Animal Rights
- The First To Discover the “Power of Positive Thought”
- The Originator of the Practice of Silent Meditation
But it would be wrong to think of this as just another religious way. Rather, it is being presented more as a sort of solution to the problem of so many different ways. As he states, “Many thinking persons have wondered at the plurality of religions in the world and pondered: ‘They can’t all be right, or wrong.’ Furthermore it seems ludicrous to say that a good person, who just happens to follow a religion different from one’s own, should be thought to be damned to hell because he is in the ‘wrong religion.’ The Mazdan Way sweeps all of this nonsense away. All people regardless of what religion they profess, who practice Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Actions in a conscious way, are in reality Mazdans.” I don’t think anyone growing up in contemporary culture hasn’t marveled at this same double standard, at least for a moment in childhood. Why do children ask such questions? Perhaps because there is an irrefutable spark of truth to them which can only be smothered by the force and group-think of conventional organized religion.
One thing that might help make Zoroastrianism easier to renovate than many other ‘dead’ religions is that it never actually died. It survived in remote Indo-Iranian cultural streams like Iran, and in western India (Bombay/Mumbai) with a sect called the Parsis. After reading the book, go do some searching for these ideas on YouTube and you will see that these remote groups aren’t really that remote anymore. Unlike many other religions Zoroastrians don’t have a problem with technology, progress, innovation, and so forth. And if you’ve read some of Flowers previous works you’re probably familiar with ideas about patterns of historic Indo-European migration cycles, and so seeing that all roads lead back to Persia, Cyrus the Great, Aryans and Zoroaster is really only one step further in the direction of truth.
Brief commentators like to make over simplified summations of Zoroastrianism, saying this is where fundamental monotheistic ideas like a single creator god, heaven and hell, and an immortal soul come from. But reading the The Good Religion you begin to see what an oversimplification this is. Somehow Zoroastrianism has managed to hang on to ideas like individuality, sovereignty, free will and consciousness – things that none of the major religions of the world seem really concerned with anymore (or in some cases are actually working against) and things that the Left-Hand Path thought it was alone in championing over the last few decades. Reading The Good Religion, you begin to realize that really the first great religion of the world WAS Left-Hand Path, but something got lost along the way. Then you start to get a sense of how important the publication of this book is at this point in history and this place in civilization.
What got lost and why? How did all the world’s religions spring from this central source, only to become systems of fear, hatred, oppression, warfare, coercion and control? One fundamental theme in The Good Religion is the idea that the real world (the world we all live in) and Man are essentially good in nature. This would seem to put the world view of Zoroastrianism in opposition not only to Judaeo-Christianity/Islam (doctrine of original sin), but also Buddhism (the world is illusion) Neo-Platonism (the world is an impure distortion), Kant (the world is indiscernible chaos) etc. For Zoroastrianism, the world is fundamentally good, it simply has a little bit of evil in it. Pretty easy to believe actually. Evil is understood as negative attitudes, defeatism, hatred, anti-consciousness etc. The things that any rational person would agree is evil, nothing to do with pedantic attempts to micro-manage our diet or sexual behavior. Z’s prescription for combating evil is not striking back with a greater evil – which has been the favored methodology of Kings and Popes for the last 2000 years – but rather the three-fold effort of Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. In other words, just focus on the good, the conscious, and the harmonious, and remember that like-begets-like.
The culmination of all this work is the formation of the Occidental Temple of the Wise Lord, or a western adaptation of Zoroastrian practice, or rather what is called “The Mazdan Way” in order to free the ideas from a specific cultural or ethnic context. As Flowers states “Our goals are nothing short of world-transformation and the ushering in of the beginning stages of the “Making-Wonderful,” the renovation of the world according to the mystery and logic of the Zarathrustrian vision.”
Read The Good Religion and you just might start to see how possible it really is.