Thus Spake Zarathustra

Sometimes an ancient prophet pops us like a zombie from the dead. Nietzsche invoked Zarathustra (the founder of Zoroastrianism) from the grave in order to put new words in his mouth, supporting Nietzsche’s theses that “God is Dead” and that people should move “Beyond Good and Evil” and do whatever their own individual “Will to Power” prompts them to do. Nietzsche saw religious morality as a slave mentality, and urged people to become Supermen (Ubermensch). Nietzsche was brilliant but his philosophy was nihilistic and misguided, and he misappropriated Zarathustra to support positions diametrically opposite to Zoroastrianism.

Zarathustra actually taught that there is a perpetual war between good and evil, with good and evil being very real spiritual realities, and emphasized the importance of the threefold path of “Good Thought’s, Good Words, and Good Deeds”. The primary choice of each person is between Good and Evil. As Bob Dylan sings “you gotta serve somebody, it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody”. To serve implies more than just following the rules, but to love and cherish the good. Jesus taught us that just following external rules is not enough, it’s what’s in the heart that matters more. One should follow the rules for the right reasons, and understand and focus on what’s behind the rules, the reasons for the rules, the underlying meaning. Ultimately one should choose good over evil because of love and appreciation for the good rather than fear of punishment for doing evil.

Many great prophets have taught us about the difference between Good and Evil, and how to live a good life. Their specific dogmas and doctrines may fade, but their teachings about how to live a good life do not fade. But it goes beyond that. Each person should also seek to find their particular role in life, to discern what is the doable good that they alone can do best. God gives people the opportunity to participate in creation, the unfolding of the underlying reality and the fulfillment of purpose.