A Marathon 8 hour Workshop on Zoroastrianism

At ZTFE UK, A Life Well Lived – A Marathon 8 hour Workshop on Zoroastrianism

A life well lived

                                                                     By Bapsy Dastur

Khojeste P. Mistree’s association with Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (ZTFE) is a long standing one. A life member since the early 1980s, Khojeste has given talks at ZTFE, beginning soon after completing his studies at Oxford University, where he read for a degree in Oriental Studies and since then he has been a frquent visitor.

His recent eight hour marathon workshop on Zoroastrianism, on Sunday, 2 June, 2019,  attended by over a 100 participants, was a runaway success and was probably the largest workshop ever held at ZTFE.

Known for his articulation and a clear interpretation of the classical theology of the faith, this time Khojeste surpassed himself. In a world torn by threats of war, the agony of dispaced refugees and the flexing of muscles by powerful nations, the title itself had  special relevance, “ A Life well Lived – Zoroastrian Values in Todays Word”; And his talk exhibited the need to draw strength from one’s own value system and to believe that hope and optimism isnt a bad thing, and can if promoted, enhance productively, life as lived on earth. Khojeste conveyed this with  remarkable alacrity, citing hope, optimism, harmony and the discernment and appropriation of the Good, as the basis of bringing about progress in the world, giving even non- Zoroastrians and scholars, present at the workshop, a valid justification to uphold the Zoroastrian rational for doing Good. He was reassuring, promising that a world directed and dominated by Zoroastrian values can make the world a better place to live in. His emphasis was on the “microcosm of the self”the need for the inner being of a person to adopt Zoroastrian values and emerge as ‘ a Warrior of Truth and Promoter of Peace’ .

Mistree’s narration of the Bundahishn, the creation of the world by Ahura Mazda, and the antagonism of the Evil Spirit, transported those who attended, on a cosmic journey, almost like an epic episode from Star Wars.

Like a master story teller, he posited an advocacy of Zoroaroastrianism, taking the participants from the birth of Zarathushtra and its many attendant legends, through the time line of the Creation Story, the cosmic battle field in which the forces of Good triumph over those of evil, the splendid moment of harmony, when the 7 creations are created by Ahura Mazda and the ethicality of Zarathushtra’s revealation in a period when right was defined by the unrestrained exercise of brute power.

One was left with the feeling that enforcing the world of a rational wise and omniscient divine being, Ahura Mazda, on earth, and helping to perpetuate a Good world, as defined by the cosmology of the faith, is foundational to the understanding of Zoroastrianism and one that can be easily adapted by anyone. As one of the participants said you don’t have to be a Zorostrian to bring about these values and perpetuate this understanding of the world, as it should be,  making it relevant today.

The audience at the talk

He stressed that in Zoroastrian thought, Knowledege and Wisdom eclipses power and its surrogate use of force and every Zoroastrian has a role to play in extending wisdom and enhancing knowledge to bring harmony into the world. The idea that, the microcosmic adaptation of the Good brings about the perpetuation of Good in the larger world, was an engulfing idea which reasonated with many participants.

Khojeste advocated the Zoroastrian idea of charity by quoting the Denkard “ That a generous person is most praiseworthy who seeks to become wealthy…and who gives it to worthy people.”

The topics discussed, ranged from the esoteric understanding of the Ashem and Yatha prayers, to the sacred fire as a living being, fuelled by the breadth of Ahura Mazda, to the complex ritual practices of the faith, reflecting the depth and understanding of Khojeste’s command over the faith.

As they always say, where there are Parsis there is always food, and in the Zoroastrian month of Dae, day of Bahram, 1388 Y (3 June 2019), it was appropriate that the workshop held as it was, in the memory of Sheroo Framroze Darukhanawalla, especially the lunch, with offerings of  fragrant biryani, cashew chicken and rice firni for desert, nourished the soul of Sheroo Darukhanawalla, a devout Zoroastrian, as much as it did the participants of the workshop.

6 comments

  • Hello Bapsy,

    It was a pleasure reading your synopsis of the event led by Khojeste Mistree. The content of your article was indeed impressive. It very nicely encompassed various components of our beautiful religion. I had my grandson Faredoon read it as well – the one that you met as a Navaria during your visit to Bombay in December 2017 at the Wadiaji’s Atash Behram. It was very refreshing for me then, when I met a true Zarathushti such as you, and reading your article now, makes me feel the same way.

    God Bless you!

    Best Regards,
    Er. Jal Dastur

  • Jehangir H Patel

    Are such learning events available to non-attendees on video (eg Youtube)? Besides keeping them available for posterity, they can be very powerful in informing and motivating our youth (eg https://youtube.com/user/JordanPetersonVideos/videos).

  • Khojeste Mistree has always been an inspiring speaker whenever I have attended his talks in the past, and I have got a copy of his book “Zoroastrianism An Ethical Pespective” which I bought many years ago when he gave a talk in Northern California. May Ahuramazda give him long healthy life so he may continue to inspire young and old with faith and admiration for our great religion.

  • Is this talk available on video and if so, is it in English?

    Thank you,

    Judy

    “We tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.” Gaius Petrionius Arbiter Roman General, First Century A.D.

    • Judy – you’ve certainly succeeded in confusing (at least myself). What is the point of this quote? Seems totally irrelevant! The only context I could think of is that you may be implicitly suggesting that the talk given by the speaker is just that – creating the illusion of progress and producing confusion… At least that’s the flavour I get – forgive me if I’m really off base. Then again you’re asking whether the video is available in English? Sorry, I’m lost!!

  • Shirin J Mistry

    G’day Bapsy and all those lucky enough to be present at yet another soul uplifting marathon that only our dear Khojeste can conduct! Needless to say that I have turned a lighter shade of green as we in Melbourne have enjoyed his enlightening oration for fourteen and a half hours more than forty years ago and then some of our youth actually sat through sixteen hours at Harrietville, VIC simply soaking it all in, some sixteen years ago! That he speaks my kind of language goes without saying but that he makes perfect sense to our youth is what makes Khojeste the jewel in our crown! May Anura Mazda grant us all many, many years of his service in the Zoroastrian cause for it shall be good for all the world!
    Shirin J Mistry

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