Book 5. Who are we? (2001)
We are always in a hurry to get somewhere or get something. There is hardly a single one of us who doesn’t desire to lead a happy life, find love and establish a family But how many of us will actually achieve our desire?
What determines our satisfaction or dissatisfaction with life? What determines our success or failure? What constitutes the meaning of life for each and every Man1 and for all mankind on the whole? What kind of future awaits us?
These questions have been around a long time, but nobody has managed to come up with an intelligible answer. But I wonder: what kind of country will we be living in five or ten years from now? What kind of world are we leaving to our children? We really don’t know. And, let’s face it, none of us can ever picture our own future, because we are always hurrying off somewhere... but to where?
Strange, but true: the first clear glimpse I ever had about the future of our country came not from statisticians or politicians but from Anastasia, a recluse living in the wilds of the taiga. And not only did she present a picture of a marvellous future, but showed step-by-step its feasibility even for our generation — a design, in fact, for the development of the whole country.
It was while I was on my way from Anastasia’s glade to the river2 that this firm conviction, for some reason, came to my thought: her plan is capable of changing so much in this world of ours. When we consider that everything her thought conceptualises inevitably turns into a real-life embodiment, we see we are already living in a country with only a splendid future ahead of it. As I walked along, I thought about what Anastasia had said about our country’s splendid future, which might even come about in our generation’s lifetime. It will be a country without regional conflicts, criminal gangs and diseas-es, a country without poverty And while I didn’t understand all the thoughts she came out with, there wasn’t a single thing she said this time that I felt like doubting. On the contrary, I felt as though I wanted to show everyone how right she was.
I firmly resolved to do everything within my power to bring her plan to fruition. On the surface it seems simple enough: each family should be allotted a hectare3 of land for lifetime use, whereon to set up its own ‘kin’s domain’,4 its own ‘piece of the Motherland’.5 But my thought was immersed in the details of this plan. They were utterly simple in themselves, and yet at the same time utterly incredible.
Amazing! It isn’t an agricultural scientist but a reclusive woman from the taiga that has shown that, with the right planting arrangement on a plot of land, it can take just a few short years to dispense with the need for fertilisation. Not only that, but even soil that isn’t terribly fertile will be significantly improved.
As a basic example Anastasia referred to the situation in the taiga. The taiga has been around for thousands of years, and everything grows in it, even though it has never been fertilised. Anastasia says that all the things growing in the earth constitute the materialised thoughts of God, and that He has arranged everything so that Man has no need to worry about difficulties in finding food. One needs only to try to understand the Creator’s thought and create splendid things together with Him.
I can cite an example of my own. The island of Cyprus, which I have visited, has a very rocky soil. But the ground wasn’t always this way Centuries ago the island was home to some splendid cedar forests and orchards, and its many rivers were filled with the purest spring water. The whole island was like an earthly Paradise. Then the Roman legions invaded the island and began to cut down the cedars to build their ships. Whole groves were felled. Today the larger part of the island is covered with stunted growth, the grass looks burnt even in the springtime, summer rains are a rarity and there is not enough fresh water. The residents have had to import fertile soil by the bargeload to be able to grow anything at all. So the upshot is: not only has Man failed to improve what has been created on the island, but his barbarous interference has actually made things worse.
In outlining her plan, Anastasia said that it was essential to plant a family tree, and that people should not be buried in a cemetery but right there on the beautiful terrain they themselves have nurtured. No headstone of any kind need be placed on the grave. It is a Man’s living creations, not something dead, that will serve as a memorial for his relations. And not only that, but his soul will be able to take on a material embodiment again, in his earthly garden of Paradise.
People buried in a cemetery cannot end up in Paradise. Their souls cannot be embodied in matter as long as there are relatives and friends around thinking about their death. Headstones are monuments to death. Funeral rites were thought up by the dark forces for the purpose of confining, at least temporarily, the human soul. Our Father has never produced any kind of suffering or even grieving for His beloved children. All God’s creations are eternal, self-sufficient, self-reproducing. Everything living on the Earth, from the outwardly simple blade of grass to Man, is a self-constituted harmonious and eternal whole.
Here too, I think, she is right. Just look at how things have turned out. Today scientists tell us that human thought is material — but if that’s the case, it means that the deceased person’s relatives, in thinking of him as dead, thereby keep on holding him in a deadened state, which torments his soul. Anastasia maintains that Man, or, more precisely, Man’s soul, can live forever. It has the capacity to constantly re-embody itself anew, but only under certain conditions. These conditions are brought about by a kin’s domain established according to Anastasia’s design. I am simply a believer in this design. As to proving or disproving her claims about life and death, I’ll leave that to esoteric scholars who are no doubt more qualified for the task.
“I say, you’re going to get a lot of opposition on that one,” I observed to Anastasia. To which she only laughed and replied:
“It will all happen very simply now, Vladimir. Man’s thought is capable of materialising and changing the shape of objects, predetermining events, creating the future. So it works out that any opponents who try to argue for the frailty of Man’s existence only end up destroying themselves, for they will bring about their own decease by their very thoughts.
“Those who are able to comprehend their purpose and the meaning of infinity will start to live a happy life, eternally re-embodying themselves, for they themselves will produce with their thoughts their own infinity of happiness.”
I liked her plan even better when I began to calculate its economic potential. I have become convinced that any Man, with the help of a family domain he establishes according to Anastasia’s design, can ensure a poverty-free existence for himself as well as for his children and grandchildren. It is not merely a question of providing one’s children with good food to eat or a roof over their heads. Anastasia said that the fence around the domain must be made of living trees, and that at least a quarter of the hectare should be given over to forest.
That means about 300 trees. They’ll quite likely be cut down in, say, eighty to a hundred years, yielding about 400 cubic metres of lumber.7 Even today, lumber well-dried and processed for finishing fetches at least one hundred dollars8 per cubic metre, meaning a total income of $40,000. Of course, one shouldn’t cut down the whole forest at once, just the number of mature trees that are needed at the time, and then immediately plant new ones in their place. The overall value of a kin’s domain set up according to Anastasia’s design may be estimated at a million dollars or more, and any family can build one, even those with an average income.
The house can be quite modest to start with. The main treasure will be the plot of ground, accurately and aesthetically laid out. Even today, wealthier citizens are paying big money to firms specialising in landscape design. There are about forty such firms in Moscow right now, and they are always busy For upwards of $1,500 they will take just the hundred square metres of ground around your house and turn it into a landscape designed with detailed accuracy and aesthetic beauty.
It costs around $500 to plant a single conifer about 6 metres high, but people who want to live in beautifully appointed surroundings are willing to pay big money for that. They end up paying it because it never entered their parents’ heads to establish a family domain for their children. You don’t need to be rich to do something like that, you need only to get your priorities straight. How can we raise our children properly if we ourselves don’t grasp such simple things? Anastasia’s right when she says that education begins with ourselves.
I myself have had a strong desire to establish my own family domain — to take a hectare of land, build a house and — most importantly — to put in all sorts of plantings around it. I want to set up my piece of the Motherland just as Anastasia described, and have it surrounded by other people’s beautifully appointed plots. Anastasia and our son could establish themselves there too, or at least come visiting, and eventually our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Maybe our greatgrandchildren will want to work in the city, but they will still be able to come to their family domain to relax.
And once a year, on the 23rd ofjuly, the All-Earth holiday, the whole extended family will gather at home. I shan’t be around then myself, but the domain I set up will remain, and the trees and garden it contains. I’ll hollow out a little pond and put in some hatchlings so there’ll be fish. The trees will be planted in the special arrangement outlined by Anastasia. Some things my descendants will like, others they may want to change, but either way I shall be remembered.
And I shall be buried in my own domain, with the request that my grave not be marked in any way. I don’t want anyone putting on a show of grief or making a sad face over it. In fact, I don’t want there to be any grieving at all. I don’t want a headstone with an inscription, just fresh grass and bushes growing over the body — maybe some sort of berries too, which will be useful to my descendants. What’s the point in a grave-marker? There isn’t any — only grief. I don’t want people coming to my domain to remember me with sadness, but with joy Yeah, they’ll see how I’ve set things up, and arranged all the plantings!...
My thoughts kept intertwining in a kind of joyful anticipation of something grand: I’d better begin as quickly as possible, somehow start the ball rolling. I’ve got to get back to the city quicker, but it’ll still be another ten kilometres just to get through this forest. If only I could get through it sooner!
And all at once, out of the blue, statistics on Russia’s forest lands floated to the surface of my memory I didn’t remember all the figures, but here’s what I saw one time in a statistical report:
“Forests constitute the basic type of vegetation in Russia, covering 45% of its land mass. Russia has the most extensive forest reserves in the world, amounting to 886.5 million hectares in 1993, with a timber volume of 80.7 billion. This means Russia holds 21.7% and 25.9% (respectively) of the world’s forest and timber resources. The higher figure for timber reflects the fact that in terms of its wealth of mature and productive forests, Russia is way above the world’s average.
“Forests play a huge role both in the gas balance in the at-mosphere and in regulating climate on our planet. According to B.N. Moiseev’s calculations, the gas balance of Russia’s forests is 1,789 million tonnes11 for carbon dioxide and 1,299 million tonnes for oxygen. Annual carbon deposits in Russia’s forests amount to 600 million tonnes. These huge volumes
of gas exchanges significantly contribute to the stabilisation of the gas composition and climate of the whole planet.”
Just look at what’s happening! I’ve heard it said some kind of special mission lies ahead for Russia — but that’s not in the future, it’s already unfolding.
Just think: people all over the planet — to a greater or lesser extent, it isn’t important — are breathing Russia’s air. They’re breathing the oxygen produced by this very forest I’m walking through right now. I wonder whether it’s simply oxygen that this forest is supplying all life on the planet with, or maybe something even more important besides.
My solitary walk through the taiga this time provoked no feeling of trepidation within me as it did before. It felt pretty much the same as walking through a safe park. In contrast to a park, of course, there are no laid out pathways, and my journey was sometimes blocked by fallen trees or thick underbrush, but this time there was nothing that irritated me.
Along the way I would pick berries — raspberries and currants, for example — and for the first time my attention was drawn to the tremendous variety in appearance even among the same kind of trees. And the vegetation, too, was arranged in so many different patterns — no two scenes were alike.
For the first time I really examined the taiga, and it seemed a kinder place than before. No doubt this impression was due in part to the awareness that it was right here in the taiga that my very own son was born and was now living. And then, of course, there’s Anastasia... My encounter with this woman has changed my whole life.
In the middle of this endless taiga is Anastasia’s little glade, which she has no desire to leave for any length of time. She would never exchange it for any — even the fanciest — apartment in town. At first glance the glade appears to be just another empty space — no house, no tent, no household facilities — and yet look at how she brightens with joy every time
she approaches it! And now on my third visit I’ve caught a similar feeling, something like the sense of comfort one feels upon returning home after a difficult journey.
Funny things have been taking place lately all over our world. It seems that, for millennia now, human society has been struggling for the happiness and welfare of the individual, but when you come right down to it, it turns out that this same individual, even though he lives at the very centre of society, at the centre of the most modern and civilised city, finds himself more and more often in a state of helplessness. He gets into a traffic accident, or gets robbed, or constantly falls into the grip of all sorts of aches and pains — he can’t live without a drugstore nearby — or some dissatisfaction he can’t even explain to himself provokes him into suicide. The suicide rate is increasing particularly in civilised countries with a high standard of living. Mothers from various regions of the country are seen on TV pleading for help for their families threatened with starvation because they can’t afford to feed their children.
Yet here is Anastasia, living with a little boy all alone in the taiga, in what can only be called another civilisation. Not a single thing does she ask from our society. She needs no police or home security forces to protect her. She gives the impression that nothing bad can possibly happen in this glade to either her or her child.
It’s true: we live in different civilisations, and she proposes to take the best of both these worlds. In which case the lifestyle of many people on the Earth will change, and a new and joyous commonwealth of humanity will be born. This commonwealth will not only be interesting — it will be new and unusual. For example...