From: Dina G. McIntyre
Date: 10 Jul 2000
I read with great interest your very lovely posting. And I feel great affection and respect for your father, as you describe him, althought I do not know him.
If you want to learn more about the Zarathushti religion, this website, and www.vohuman.org are both good resources.
Although the later Zoroastrian literature has graphic and horrific descriptions of hell (in my view as a way of controlling social behavior), the Gathas imply that heaven and hell are states of being. Not geographic places to which we go after death. The Gathas also imply that everything we do comes back to us, so we literally create our own hells, but not in some fiery furnace after death, rather in our own lives.
As for reincarnation, most Zoroastrians do not believe in it, but I do, based on what I have seen in the Gathas. Zarathushtra taught that life is an evolution or progression towards perfection or completeness (haurvatat). If that is true (and I believe it is) it could not have escaped Zarathushtra's attention that none of us is perfect by the time we die. So of necessity, there would have to be some other opportunities (whether back here on earth, or in some other reality, or both) for this perfecting process to continue. A fiery hell, where people are tortured, cannot serve any useful purpose in the evolution towards perfection. It could only change behavior through fear, or a desire to have the torments cease. That is not true change. So the traditional notion of hell does not fit Zarathushtra's original teachings.
The religion as originally taught is, in my view, incredibly beautiful, and relevant to our lives today. But the religion as practiced (like all religions) is often quite different. I hope you won't let that turn you off.
As for associations, some Z associations are very welcoming to children of "mixed" marriages. But in every association except one, you will find a few "traditionalists" who may cause you grief, and many wonderful folks who will welcome you. The one association which has no "traditionalists" is the Zarathushtrian Assembly, located in California. It's web site (when operational) is www.zoroastrians.com. (I hope I have that right. I am giving it from memory. If it does not work, let me know and I will look it up for you). If you have any more Qs or need any help, please do not hesitate to contact me at my e mail address. I would love to help you in any way I can.
Wishing you the best,
Dina G. McIntyre.