A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Oriental Philosophy

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ORIENTAL PHILOSOPHY. The oriental philosophers endeavoured to explain the nature and origin of all things, by the principle of emanation from an eternal fountain of being. The formation of this philosophy into a regular system has been attributed to Zoroaster, an ancient Persian philosopher, who adopted the principle, generally held by the ancients, that "from nothing nothing can be produced." He supposed spirit and matter, light and darkness, to be emanations from one eternal source.

The active and passive principles he conceived to be perpetually at variance; the former tending to produce good, the latter, evil: but that through the intervention of the supreme Being the contest would at last terminate in favour of the good principle. According to Zoroaster, various orders of spiritual beings, gods, or demons, have proceeded from the Deity, which are more or less perfect, as they are at a greater or less distance, in the course of emanation, from the eternal fountain of intelligence; among those, the human soul is a particle of divine light, which will return to its source and partake of its immortality: and matter is the last, or most distant emanation from the first source of being, which, on account of its distance from the fountain of light, becomes opaque and inert, and whilst it remains in that state is the cause of evil; but, being gradually refined, it will at last return to the fountain from whence it flowed.[1]

Original footnotes[edit]

  1. Enfield.