FEZANA recently put out a research paper titled “Laudato Si: Insight of Spenta Armaity”. The entire document can be accessed on FEZANA’s website. Below is a short primer.
The Encyclical of Pope Francis Laudato Si , subtitled On care of our common home resonates with the values of Prophet Zarathushtra, of caring for the environment. Dr Neville Gustad Panthaki has written a special paper ‘Spenta Armaity’ for the Parliament of World’s Religions, Salt Lake City 2015, outlining the Zoroastrian philosophy for preservation of the environment.
This paper can be used as resource material in interfaith dialogues at local levels by individuals when discussing the topic of multifaith approach to addressing the issues of climate change /care of the environment. The author may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
In keeping with the Zarathushti Action for Climate Change, Meher Sidhwa, representing FEZANA will be attending the Paris Conference of Nation States (COP) December 2015. The cover image graphic has been designed by Delzin Choksey (Tantra)
Laudato Si! Insight of Spenta Armaity
Neville Gustad Panthaki.
In Commemoration of: Oct. 2, 2015 (Fasli Mehrgan: Meher Roj&Mah) / Oct. 4, 2015 (Feast Day: St. Francis of Assisi)
On May 24, 2015, Pope Francis I (formerly Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires) released his second Encyclical (declaration to Catholics) entitled Laudato Si. The chosen title, “Praise Be To You”, is purposeful for the association that it is meant to create and indicative of what follows, as it originates from the Canticle of the Creatures which is a medieval prayer composed by St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). St. Francis, along with St. Catherine of Siena, are the two ‘national’ patrons of Italy, and among the most popularly adored and venerated figures around the globe (St. Catherine is regarded as one, of six, patron saints of Europe). This is not coincidental, nor is it unrelated to the present discussion to note that the majority of ‘popular’ (admired, adored, endorsed) religious figures irrespective of creed, are those associated with acts of love, welfare and charity, rather than for their stringent adherence to dogma. Global spirituality is composed of figures who expressed their humanity in service, and their praise of divinity via the cultivation and conservation of the treasures of nature.
St. Francis, the founder of the Franciscan Order, is venerated not only as patron of Italians (humans) but of animals (nature) and of lepers (the marginalized/downtrodden/outcaste). This provides insight as to why institutionalized global religions have been unsuccessful in banishing ‘popular’ elements such as the ‘veneration of Saints’, pilgrimage, mela, urs gatherings, or ritual re-enactment, despite judgements against their ‘blasphemous nature’ and threats of excommunication against transgressors. One might discern that devoid of the physical expressions (exercise?) of love, encapsulated as a cultural production of affirmation explicitly manifest as a communion with environment and fellowship with humanity, that religion is a reductionist philosophy of pedantic intellectualism whose scope is neither universal nor ‘popular’ (elitist).
Even respected religious reformers such as Zarathustra and Martin Luther, admitted that elements of ‘popular’ belief could not (and in fact, should not) be undone or unfounded with the stroke of a pen or commandment. Both Mazdayasni and Lutheran liturgical practises, by the authority of their very founders, retain many of the celebratory aspects of the systems which preceded them (Perso-Vedic Pantheon, Pre-Reformation Latin Christendom). There was an acute awareness that in ‘reforming’ religion, the aim was to promote social welfare and transformation rather than remove popular engagement between people and their environment by creating a new dogma of oppression. Ritual and belief is only harmful when it restricts the human spirit and denigrates creation. Luther retained certain sacraments, ceremonies, vestments, and architecture of the church. Witness the Khordeh Avesta whose many Yasht (hymns) begin with “Ahura Mazda spake to Zarathustra that….(insert deity or attribute of divinity) is worthy of worship”. Ritual for the sake of popular commitment and expression is essential for the participatory and democratic nature of any fellowship system and is legitimate so long as there is a holistic comprehension of the interdependence between all aspects of creation and their emanation from a single source.