Monday, November 19, 2012

Zurvanism: Zurwan-Mithra, Sun God and the God of Time (400 BC)


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" Zurvan is also the god of destiny, light and darkness. In Zurvanism, the state religion of the Sassanides in the 3rd-7th century CE, Zurvan is the highest god and lord of the four elements."....

"'Zurvan has even faces, and on each face three eyes,' we read. He is a sevenfold god, and each of seven aspects of his complex nature has three facets. As Infinite Time his three aspects are infinite space, infinite wisdom, and infinite power.Zurvan, as finite Time and Fate, is neither good nor evil."...The Dawn and Twilight of R. C. Zaehner

Iranian Religions....The Religion of Zurvan, the God of Infinite Time and R.C. Zaehner

"The earliest evidence of the cult of Zurvan is found in the History of Theology, attributed to Eudemus of Rhodes (c. 370-300 BCE). As cited in Damascius's Difficulties and Solutions of First Principles (6th c. CE), Eudemus describes a sect of the Persians that considered Space/Time to be the primordial "father" of the rivals Oromasdes of Light and Arimanius of Darkness (Dhalla, 1932:331-332)."

"The Kālavāda and the Zervanite System....O. G. von Wesendonk......The manner in which Mānī presented to the Sāsānian court his new doctrine seems to demonstrate that the mazdayasnian theology of that period conceived time, zrvan-, as the highest principle. Zarathuštra's own doctrine had been distinctively monotheistic and spiritual. But it had fallen into oblivion and had been superseded by a polytheistic system such as was the official creed of the Achaemenian empire and such as it is recorded in the later Avesta. At a certain moment religious reaction appears to have made itself felt against the alteration of the true spirit of Zarathuštra's teaching. In trying to reconstruct this doctrine the mazdaïst theologians had hit upon speculations considering time as the supreme essence. The question, when this system may have been first evolved, will be treated later on. For the present, it may suffice to state that the Zervanite theology was officially recognized during the beginning of the Sāsānian epoch, but without leaving traces in the Avesta or in the bulk of the Pahlavī literature.".....;jsessionid=36576ECFAA26CC7D969BBB7D1282BB99.journals?fromPage=online&aid=5687516

"According to Vermaseren, the mysterious statue of the lion-headed God is the Hellenistic theosophic image of syncretic God “Zurwan-Mithra”, who is the highest God of Roman Mithraism. He is both the Sun God and the God of Time. He rules over four winds of four directions and four seasons. This is symbolized by his four wings. Sometimes four seasonal gods are depicted in the four corners in his icons. (Vermaseren, Mithras the Secret God, 12)......The lion-headed God blows out four winds and a logos-fire from his mouth to move the cosmos. These winds and the logos-fire are Roman expression of fōhat. The function of four winds is to unite four elements (fire, wind, water, earth) in spite of their essential differences in order to make a physical body of a creature. The function of the logos-fire is to put a spark (spirit) into the physical body and give it a life. When its pre-determined time will pass, the bond will disappear. The spirit left the body, and return to the Heaven (Sun). The body will disintegrate into four elements and scatter among air, water and earth. (Plato. Timaeus 41-42; Hermetica XVI)"......

Kālá (Sanskrit: काल, IPA: [kɑːˈlə], time) denotes a fixed or right point in time (compare rtu, kairos). It is also the name of a deity, in which sense it is not always distinguishable from kāla meaning "black". It often used as one of the various names or forms of Shiva, especially when referring to him in relation to his consort Kali who is, in turn, another name or form of Shiva's consort Parvati.

The Prophet Mani also used the name Zurvan to identify the Supreme God. ....Ancient Manichaean texts attest to the use of the name Zurvan numerous times.

Iranian influence is also found in the figure of the Buddha Amitabha, the way he is so closely related to eternal light and endless life is very similar to the Iranian Time God, Zurvan.

He also represents White Compassion-Essence. In many Manichaean texts this Father of Light is called Zurvan, the Father of Time.

In Zurvanism, Zurvan is the god of infinite time (and space) and is aka (“one", "alone”) deity of matter. Zurvan is the parent of the two opposites representing the good god Ahura Mazda and the evil Angra Mainyu. Zurvan is regarded as a neutral god; being without gender (neuter), passion, one whom there is no distinction between good or evil. Zurvan is also the god of destiny, light and darkness.

Zurvanism enjoyed royal sanction during the Sassanid era (226-651 CE) but no traces of it remain beyond the 10th century. Although Sassanid era Zurvanism was certainly influenced by Hellenic philosophy, whether Zoroastrian Zurvan was an adaptation of an antecedent or alien divinity of Time (Greek Chronos) has not been conclusively established.

TRUNGPA....Nowness is sometimes referred to as the fourth moment. That may sound more mystical than what is meant. You have the past, present, and future, which are the three moments. Then you have something else taking place, which is called the fourth moment. The fourth moment is not a far-out or extraordinary experience as such. It is a state of experience that doesn’t even belong to now. It doesn’t belong to what might be, either. It belongs to a non-category—which provides another sense of category. Thus it is called the fourth moment. That is the state of vipashyana, or the state of non-ego. The Tibetan term for this is lhakthong dagme tokpe sherap, which means “the knowledge of egoless insight.” It is a very real experience in which nothing can be misunderstood. It is such an overwhelming experience. The experience comes at you. You experience it precisely and in great detail.....

By itself, Zurvanism is inherently non-dualistic, though some flaws could be seen. The gods of Zurvanism are the demons of the Vedanta: Asuras of Zurvanism (such as Ahura=Asura Mazda) are non-Suras (gods) of Vedas, as in both Sanskrit and Persian the prefix “a” stands for denial. Also compare: “Daeva” in Persian means demon, “Deva” in Sanskrit means god.


The following discussion took place during a translation meeting on The Rain of Wisdom at the 1979 Vajradhatu Seminary. Present at the meeting were the Vidyadhara (VCTR), Robin Kornman (RK), Jud Levinson (JL), Larry Mermelstein (LM), John Rockwell (JR), and Scott Wellenbach (SW). This edited transcript represents only a fraction of the entire discussion, which will appear soon on the Nalanda Translation Committee's website under Translation Offerings:
VCTR: That is why it is called the "fourth moment beyond the three." It is so minute. It is subtle and vajra, like the middle of space.
JL: Therefore it is outside of time.
VCTR: Yes.
JL: Therefore there is no karma.
VCTR: Yes.


In Australian Aboriginal mythology, The Dreaming or Altjeringa (also called the Dreamtime) is a sacred 'once upon a time' in which ancestral Totemic Spirit Beings formed The Creation.

Fred Alan Wolf opens chapter nine of The Dreaming Universe (1994) entitled The Dreamtime with a quote from The Last Wave, a film by Peter Weir: Aboriginals believe in two forms of time; two parallel streams of activity. One is the daily objective activity, the other is an infinite spiritual cycle called the "dreamtime", more real than reality itself. Whatever happens in the dreamtime establishes the values, symbols, and laws of Aboriginal society. It was believed that some people of unusual spiritual powers had contact with the dreamtime


The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep - Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

"If we cannot carry our practice into sleep,if we lose ourselves every night, what chance do we have to be aware when death comes? Look to your experience in dreams to know how you will fare in death. Look to your experience of sleep to discover whether or not you are truly awake." The yogas of dream and sleep are used in the Bon and Buddhist traditions of Tibet to attain liberation. Included are detailed instructions for the dream yoga including foundational practices done during the day. Dream practices are followed by sleep yoga, also known as the yoga of clear light. It is considered a more advanced practice to stay aware during deep sleep. Most Westerners do not even entertain this as a possibility. " ...Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

"In ancient Tibet, the dream state was known as "Fourth Time", a malleable realm where the past, present, and future meet."

Düsum Khyenpa ..... (1110 – 1193) was the 1st Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu (ka rma bka’ brgyud) school of Tibetan Buddhism. Düsum Khyenpa literally means "Knower of the Three times" (or past, present and future). It was given to him to refer to knowledge of the three forms of time he gained at enlightenment including the "timeless time" of enlightened awareness.

The later Zurvanites represented the Holy Spirit as being identical with Ahuramazda. So, in the beginning, either the two spirits of good and evil (Y 30:3) already existed, or Ormazd and Ahriman are twin sons proceeding from the more fundamental principle, Zurvana Akarana (Limitless Time). Zurvana Akarana gave birth to the past, the evil spirit, and the future, the good spirit, whence the slogan, “Here Ormazd, there Ahriman”. This might have been Zoroaster’s original belief. Difficulties in translation and interpretation of a partly forgotten language might lead us to misread the Gathas.

"The Bhojakas, who followed centuries later (600–700 C.E.), believed that they emanated from the body of their sun god. They also proclaimed themselves to be the descendants of Zarathustra. In India they created a mixed solar religion from the doctrines of the Avesta (the teachings of Zarathustra) and Mahayana Buddhism. From the Buddhists they adopted fasting and the prohibitions on cultivating fields and trade. In return, they influenced Buddhism primarily with their visions of light. Their “photisms” are said to have especially helped shape the shining figure of the Buddha Amitabha. Since they placed the time god, Zurvan, at the center of their cult, it could also be they who anticipated the essential doctrines of the Kalachakra Tantra.....Like the Kalachakra deity we have described, the Iranian Zurvan carries the entire universe in his mystic body: the sun, moon, and stars. The various divisions of time such as hours, days, and months dwell in him as personified beings. He is the ruler of eternal and of historical time. White light and the colors of the rainbow burst out of him. His worshippers pray to him as “father-mother”. Sometimes he is portrayed as having four heads like the Buddhist time god. He governs as the “father of fire” or as the “victory fire”. Through him, fire and time are equated. He is also cyclical time, in which the world is swallowed by flames so as to arise anew."....


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….November 2012


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