Look into any history book covering that topic, and you can learn that the idea of a 'devil' and "moral dualism" was literally INVENTED by a fellow named Zoroaster, who lived around 500 BCE, in Persia. His story is both shockingly 'modern' in content, and the unquestionable source of the entire "plague" of religious persecution and Doctrinal Absolutism that devastated the entire planet over the past several millenia. It is important that we all know his story, and learn it's lessons.
Zoroaster was born into a Persia dominated by ancient Mystical Traditions surviving from Mesopotamian antiquity. Descended (like all mid-eastern cultures other than Egypt) from Sumerian, Hurite, Hittite, Babylonian and more recent waves of Mesopotamian civilization, Persia in 500 BCE was a land of "sacred orgies" presided-over by a loose confederation of shamans or mystical 'gurus' who preserved the ancient Lore of their peoples. Called 'Magi,' these shamans practiced Astrology as well as the Mystical Practices by which the powers of the Psyche can be triggered into action to produce visions and other Inner Revelations valuable to the society. Like their counterparts (and cultural cousins) in India, the Magi used a physical substance to trigger these inner states, and the orgies as well, incidentally. The Indians used a psychedelic substance called 'Soma' to Enlighten their people; the Persian Magi used a different substance, called "Haoma." Haoma was ingested at the great Festivals of the Persian calendar, and triggered a psychedelic orgy of sexual enjoyment.. punctuated by profound flashes of psychic insight into one's Inner Life and the life of "the gods." How long this had been the practice of Persia we do not clearly know, but it probably originated in great antiquity, when both branches of the Indo-Iranian cultural group dwelt together in the Fertile Crescent, before one branch settled in the Indus valley of India.
At the time Zoroaster lived in Persia, Greece was experiencing it's Golden Age; Confucius and Lao Tzu were bringing philosophic brilliance to China; the Aryan wave of colonization was sweeping into India under the leadership of a people called Brahmins; and Egypt was still Egypt.. untouched as of yet by any idea from foreign places. In short, there were half a dozen great cultural Pinnacles emerging in the Old World at much the same time, and any Persian who wished to could visit them from Persia's central location between them, and learn a wide variety of philosophic and mystical ideas.. and see great cities to stagger the imagination.
Nationalism.. Persian, Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian as well as Macedonian.. was being fanned by the cultural advancement of each society. Greeks were PROUD of Greece; Indians were proud of India; and Persians had no reason to be embarrassed by THEIR culture. But that does not preclude either jealousy of one people toward another, OR cultural anxiety over the rising strength and glory of one's neighbors. It was into this volatile situation that Zoroaster was born.. and he was as much a product of his times as we today are.
Clearly the Magi WERE "wise" men. They had presided over their society for a long time; yet they administered to their people a mind-altering substance of GREAT potency.. while having (apparently) little understanding of it's possible dangers for the human mind.
As we learned all too clearly during the 20th Century, mind-altering or psychedelic drugs (natural or artificially-produced either) can surface WHATEVER the individual Psyche has 'formenting' inside it. Millions of ordinary people have taken LSD, 'magic mushrooms,' peyote, mescaline, Ecstasy and other psychoactive compounds, without a single 'bad' experience. Others.. no doubt due to the presence in their Psyche of tremendous unresolved 'crises,' have experienced "bad trips." These drug-induced TRAUMATIC REACTIONS can range from the mildly unpleasant to the horrific; and can end a moment later, or take YEARS to heal. These dangers are very REAL.. though that does not mean that they automatically outweigh the advantages of mind-expanding techniques in general or psychedelic drugs in particular. All such bad experiences really 'prove' is the necessity of effective psychological health-services. Apparently those were not available to Zoroaster.
What Zoroaster saw in his own Haoma-induced Vision was A UNIVERSE IN CONFLICT; a great "dual godhood" composed of Ahura-Mazda the God of Light, and his arch-enemy Ahriman, the "Devil" whose exactly-matched strength made final victory for the Light possible ONLY THROUGH THE 'SALVATION' EFFORTS OF ZOROASTER and any followers he could convince to help him. In his vision, Zoroaster saw himself as Ahura-Mazda's "Prophet" who must practice and teach a DOCTRINE OF COMBAT WITH "THE DEVIL" in order to turn the tide of this Cosmic Battle in the favor of Light.
Paranoid Schizophrenia is the modern term for the "Fear-induced fragmentation of the Psyche, resulting in opposing 'personalities' who struggle for control of the individual." Zoroaster would today be diagnosed as such, and treated (probably with "anti-psychotic" drugs that limit the mind's ability to produce psychic 'visions'.) But in 500 BCE, Zoroaster's literally MAD Vision was not recognized for what it was; rather, it was seized-upon by the very same inner crisis-level conflict within Persian society that had triggered Zoroaster's "private madness".. and there followed a very PUBLIC madness based upon his psychotic vision. Within a matter of years, the Magi themselves were forced into his 'camp' by a sword-wielding cadre of fanatical "believers" caught-up in Zoroaster's Vision of their special "mission" to save the world by defeating "the Devil" wherever they found 'him.' Needless to say, they 'found' him everywhere but in their own camp.
Within his own lifetime, Zoroaster's madness had labeled every other spiritual tradition, however noble or lovely, as "the Devil's handiwork," and called upon "the Faithful" to rid the world of such 'impurities.' Every society bordering Persia was horrified to find their Sacred Mysteries defamed and attacked as 'evil.' Persia, meanwhile, was profoundly UNIFIED by this cultural madness.. and the zealot's passion lead their forces to many military victories against "the Devil" in foreign places.
If this sounds all too familiar to those who have studied the history of Judeo-Christian societies or the Islam which so clearly derives inspiration from it's predecessor, that is simply inevitable. Zoroastrianism emerged in a Persia centrally-located between all of the great cultures of it's day; and the Doctrine of Dueling Devils spread like wildfire to every nation on which Persia bordered.. leaving in it's wake a Nightmare in which every culture labeled everyone ELSE "Devil-worshippers" and THEMSELVES "The Saviors of the World" and 'the Chosen People Of Light.'
What had previously been a quite Mystically-inclined neighboring culture of Israel would soon close itself to 'foreign devils;' neighboring Indian Brahminism would become quite intolerant of 'foreign ideas;' and the ascending power called Rome would be born with Doctrinal Absolutism running in it's veins. "Religion" as we know it took the place of Spirituality, and the great slaughter "in the name of God" began. There is not a nation in the Old World untouched by the "plague" of 'devils,' though Egypt held-out long against it before falling under succeeding waves of Macedonian, Roman and Islamic "Righteousness."
NO, THIS IS NOT PLEASANT TO HEAR. But it happens to be THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE PAST 25 CENTURIES.. during which 'Holy War' has been waged by virtually EVERYBODY on earth, AGAINST virtually everybody else on earth.. and all of it because of Zoroaster's Bad Trip.
Mental Illness DOES sometimes go into 'remission.' Healing CAN follow even the most horrific of inner distress. Psychoanalysts seek to reveal to the patient the origins, stresses and underlying issues that lead to the fragmentation of the Psyche.. and often-times, this allows 'synthesis' or REUNIFICATION OF THE SELF to occur. We must acknowledge ourselves as Socioanalysts, and apply the same principles to human society, if we are ever to heal the horrible madness of our planet. WHAT CAUSED ZOROASTER'S PARANOIA? It was not Haoma, nor the stress of watching wealthy neighboring states gaining power on the borders, nor was it anything 'wrong' in the Persian 'gestalt' itself; it can only have been THE HORROR OF WARFARE ITSELF coupled with IGNORANCE of the inner workings of the mind.
We today must teach each other the inner workings of the mind, to prevent a million MORE Zoroasterian 'Crusades;' and we must also recognize the psychic DANGER posed by a military "machine" that views human life and spiritual values as 'secondary' to "National Interests." We must face these "demons" which drove the ancient world MAD, or face future waves of it aimed at each other in turn.
But above all else, we must recapture the PRE-madness Spirit of our species; a Spirit which took DELIGHT in the different cultures of the world, and saw in foreign places and foreign practices, no threat; but another Wonder to add to our own store of beauty and inspiration. Madness is healed only by SANITY. Let us find that ourselves, after all these Dark Ages.. and return to the world we were before 'devils' surfaced from Nightmare, and ravaged our planet. Let us recapture MYSTICAL SPIRITUALITY to replace the religious doctrinalism which once destroyed it and us along with it. It is all we can do, now that the Nightmare is past.