Book 5. Who are we? (2001)
The philosophy of life
I visited this man three times in all. He lives in a prestigious dacha community not far from Moscow. His two sons, who hold some sort of fairly high positions in the government hi-erarchy built their ageing father a large two-storey mansion and hired a housekeeper to look after both the house and their father. At best they come to see their father once a year on his birthday
His name is Nikolai Fiodorovich, and he’s already in his seventies. His legs ache, and so almost the whole time he sits in his imported wheel-chair. His huge mansion is designed in the best European style, with half the ground floor taken up by his study with its multitudes of shelves home to a considerable collection of books in a variety of languages. Most of these books are on philosophy, in expensive leather bindings.
Before his retirement, Nikolai Fiodorovich taught philoso-phy at a prestigious Moscow university, and has several academic degrees. In his more senior years he settled into this mansion, and spends almost all his time in his study reading and reflecting.
I got to know him thanks to the persistence of his housekeeper Galina, who came to one of my readers’ conferences. I am grateful to her for introducing us.
Nikolai Fiodorovich had read the books about Anastasia, and he was a most interesting chap to talk with. In spite of his academic degrees, this old fellow could explain in simple, straightforward terms things that had not always been clear to me in Anastasia’s sayings, as well as reveal new aspects he had discovered in them.
After the publication of my third book, The Space of Love, the office of the Anastasia Foundation forwarded several letters to me written by the leaders of various religious denominations, aggressively denouncing Anastasia, calling her a fool and a scoundrel. One of them even wrote a long letter replete with obscene language.
I was at a loss to understand why Anastasia had suddenly started provoking such unmitigated aggression among certain religious leaders, and so I decided to send some of these letters along to Nikolai Fiodorovich for his opinion. Two months later his housekeeper Galina came to see me, having looked me up at my hotel. She was very distraught and pleaded with me to come see Nikolai Fiodorovich right away, as she was concerned about his health. It was hard to resist Galina’s insistence.
Galina had a gorgeous, solid physique. Not fat, she was simply a large and physically strong Russian woman in her early forties. She had spent her whole life in some Ukrainian village, driving trucks and tractors and looking after cows. She was an excellent cook with a good knowledge of herbs, and was extremely neat. Whenever she got excited she would lapse into her thick Ukrainian accent.
I have no idea how Nikolai Fiodorovich’s sons happened to find her and set her up as a nursemaid to their father, but it was curious to see this ageing intellectual, a philosophy professor, talking with a country woman of limited educational background. Galina had been allocated a room of her own in the mansion. It would have been fine for her simply to look after the household affairs — she did this quite well — but she couldn’t help listening to what Nikolai Fiodorovich and I were saying to each other. She would invariably think up something that needed doing in our presence and start dusting a particular spot over and over again, all the while commenting aloud on what she was hearing, as though talking to herself.
This time Galina had come to collect me in the Niva,3 which Nikolai Fiodorovich’s sons had purchased so she could go grocery-shopping in the town when necessary, or drive into the woods to gather herbs, or fetch medicines for their father. I dropped what I was working on and went with her. Driving through the streets of Moscow, Galina was very quiet — she looked tense behind the wheel, and I even noticed drops of sweat on her face — until we got past the outer ring road. Once she found herself on a familiar route, she breathed a noticeable sigh of relief. Now she was much more relaxed behind the wheel and started quickly telling me about all her concerns in her mixture of Ukrainian and Russian.
“He was sure quiet back then. The man would sit the whole livelong day jest quietly in his wheel-chair, readin’ books and thinkin’ to hisself. I’d make up hominy grits or oatmeal for ’im every morning, I’d feed him and I could then go to the market or mebbe into the woods to get some herbs — for his health, ya know. I could go with a clear conscience, see, knowing he’d be sittin’ in that chair of his thinkin’ his thoughts or readin’ a book.
“But now it’s all different. I brought him the letters you sent. He read ’em. Jest two days after that he says to me: Take some money, Galina Nikiforovna, go an’ buy some of those Anastasia books, an’ then go to the market, no need to hurry home. Stay there at the market an’ watch the people. As soon as you see somebody who looks sad or sick, give ’em a book. I did this once, even twice, but there was no way he’d quiet down. ‘Don’t worry about my dinner, Galina Nikiforovna,’ says he, ‘I’ll make do myself, if I get hungry’ But I still always made it home in time for dinner.
“But the other day when I got home from the market I went into his book room as usual to give ’im some herbal tea. An’ hey, his chair’s empty, and if he ain’t lying there face down on the carpet! I rush over to the telephone and grab the receiver to dial the doctor’s number, jest like his sons told me to. They even gave me a special number, not the one everybody uses. So I call up and cry ‘Help!’ into the telephone. An’ jest then he lifts his head an’ says to me: ‘Cancel the call, Galina Nikiforovna, I’m okay... I’m jest doin’ some exercises... pushups.’ So I dash over to him, pick him plumb up off the floor and set him back in his chair. How’d he ever get hisself up off the floor with those achin’ legs of his?
“‘What kind of exercise is it,’ I says to him, ‘when someone jest lays on the floor?’ And he replies: ‘I’d already done my exercises an’ was jest restin’. No need for you to worry yer little head over.’
“The next day he’d gotten out of his chair again onto the floor to do his exercises. So I went out and bought him some dumb-bells — not dumb-bells, exactly — something called an ex-pan-der. With handles and elastic bands — you can hook up jest one band to make it easier, four when you’ve got a bit more strength. I bought him this expander, see, but he still keeps tryin’ to get up out of his chair, jest like a kid who don’t know any better. His heart ain’t any too young. An’ seein’ it ain’t too young, he shouldn’t try things too heavy all at once, he has to do it one step at a time. But he’s just like a foolish child.
“It’s pretty near five years I’ve been workin’ for him now, an’ nothin’ like this ever happened before. An’ I haven’t a clue myself as to what’s goin’ on in my heart. You have a talk with him, tell him to at least go easy on his exercises if he likes ’em so much. Tell him to go easy”
When I entered Nikolai Fiodorovich’s spacious study, the hearth was cheerily ablaze. The old philosophy professor was not sitting in his wheel-chair as usual, but at his large desk, writing or sketching out something. Even his outward appearance told me that something was different about him. He was not wearing his customary dressing-gown, but sported a proper shirt and tie. He greeted me with more vigour than usual, quickly invited me to take a seat and, bypassing the traditional “How-are-you’s”, started in talking. Nikolai Fiodorovich spoke fervently, passionately:
“Do you know, Vladimir, what marvellous times are coming upon our Earth? I don’t want to die — I want to live on this kind of Earth. I read the letters with all those obscenities directed at Anastasia. Thank you for passing them along to me. In many respects it was a real eye-opener. They call Anastasia a taiga recluse, an enchantress, a sorceress, whereas in fact she is a warrior par excellence. Indeed, just think about it, Anastasia is a warrior par excellence for the forces of light. Her significance and greatness are something that will be appreciated by future generations.
“The human consciousness, mind and feelings expressed in the sagas, folk tales and legends that have been passed down to us were incapable of even imagining the greatness of this warrior. Only please don’t be surprised, Vladimir, don’t get
touchy as you usually do about Anastasia. Yes, she is Man... she is a woman endowed with all — and I mean all — of human nature, with all the feminine weaknesses and virtues, designed to be a mother, but at the same time she is also a great warrior! Right this moment!
“I shall try to express myself not quite so abstrusely It all comes down to the philosophical concept. You see, Vladimir, on the shelves of my study there are a great many books. These are philosophical works of thinkers of different times and from different parts of the globe.”
Pointing to his bookshelves, Nikolai Fiodorovich listed them off one by one.
“That’s ancient rhetoric, talking about the living, animated body of the cosmos. Next to that is what’s been written about Socrates — he himself didn’t write anything. Over to the right you see Lucretius, Plutarch and Marcus Aurelius. A little lower down are five epic poems of Nizami Ganjavi. Further along there are Arani, Descartes, Franklin, Kant, Laplace, Hegel and Stendhal. All of these men attempted to learn the central essence of things, to fathom the laws of the Universe. It was people such as these Durant6 was referring to when he wrote:
“‘The history of philosophy is essentially an account of the efforts great men have made to avert social distintegration by building up natural moral sanctions to take the place of the su-pernatural sanctions which they themselves have destroyed.’
“Great thinkers,” Nikolai Fiodorovich continued, “have at-tempted, each in their own way, to get closer to the concept of the Absolute. Their philosophical concepts gave rise to religion-like philosophical tendencies which in turn passed into history. Eventually, having defied all the timid counter attempts, the dominant concept in our lifetime has turned out to be, to put it concisely, the concept of subjection to some kind of Supreme Mind. Its precise location is unimportant, be it in the infinite spaces of the Universe or localised in the essence of a particular human soul. Much more important is the fact that the concept of subjection or inclination dominates over everything else. After that come the particulars — subjection to a teacher, a mentor or a ritual.
“My collections also include Nostradamus’ prophecies. Taken as a whole, they constitute a philosophical concept, namely that man is perishable, corruptible and insignificant, and that he has a lot to learn. This concept is precisely what distorts and destroys the soul of Man. No one who adheres to this concept can be truly happy Not a single person on the Earth can be happy as long as such a concept is dominant in Man’s consciousness.
“It weighs equally upon the philosopher and the one who has never gone near philosophy in his life. It weighs equally
upon the newborn and the aged. It weighs upon the foetus in the mother’s womb. Many adherents of this concept are living today. They have been around at different times, and today their followers are proselytising human society with their beliefs in the frailty and insignificance of Man’s essence. But no! Other times are upon us! Anastasia’s words from God were like a flash of light to me. You wrote them down, Vladimir, I remember them. When Adam asked God:
“‘Where is the edge of the Universe? What will I do when I come to it? When I myself fill everything, and have created everything I have conceived?’10
‘And God replied to His son, replied to us all:
“‘My son. The Universe itself is a thought, a thought from which was born a dream, which is partially visible as matter. When you approach the edge of all creation, your thought will reveal a new beginning and continuation. From obscurity will arise a new and resplendent birth of you, and it will reflect in itself your soul, your dreams, your whole aspirations. My son, you are infinite, you are eternal, within you are your dreams of creation.’
“What a perfect, philosophically comprehensive, precise and concise response that explains it all! It stands head and shoulders above all our philosophical definitions taken together. You can see for yourself, Vladimir, the vast collection of books on my library shelves, but the one Book which is worth far more than all the volumes ever published on philosophy taken together is missing. Many have seen this Book, but few are afforded the opportunity to read it. The language of this Book is not one that can be studied, but it can be felt.”
“What language is that?”
“The language of God, Vladimir. May I remind you of how Anastasia described it:
“‘The peoples of the Earth have so many words with different meanings. There are so many diverse languages and dialects. And yet there is one language for all. One language for all Divine callings. It is woven together out of the rustlings of the leaves, the songs of the birds and the roar of the waves. The Divine language has fragrance and colour. Through this language God responds to each one’s request and gives a prayerful response to prayer.’11
‘Anastasia can feel and understand this language, but what about us?... How can it be that we have let it go unheeded for centuries? Think of the logic! Cold logic dictates that if God created the Earth and the Nature that lives all around us, then every blade of grass, every tree and cloud, the water and the stars can only be His materialised thoughts.
“But we simply pay no attention to them, we trample them, break them, disfigure them, all the while talking about our faith. What kind of faith is that? Who are we really worshipping?
“‘The parade of worldly rulers, no matter what grand temples they might have built, will be remembered only by the filth they have bequeathed to their descendants. Water will prove to be the criterion, the measure of all things. Every day that passes, water seethes with more and more contamination.’12 That’s how Anastasia put it. That could only have been said by a consummate philosopher, and it behoves all of us to ponder that statement.
“Just think, Vladimir, anything we construct, even if it is for worship, is temporal, just like religion itself. Religions come
and go, along with their temples and philosophies. Water has existed since the creation of the world, just as we have. After all, we too are composed, by and large, of water.”
“But Nikolai Fiodorovich, why do you think Anastasia’s definitions are the most accurate?”
“Because they are taken from that one Book that covers everything. And their logic, Vladimir, is the logic of philosophy There’s one preceding statement, given in God’s name, in which God answers the question ‘What do you so fervently desire?’, and His answer is directed to every single entity in the Universe:
“‘Conjoint creation and joy for all from its contemplation.’
“Just one brief sentence! Only a few words, that’s all! Just a few words to express God’s aspiration and desire. None of the great philosophers have been able to give a more precise and accurate definition. ‘One must perceive reality through one’s self,’ says Anastasia. So any parent who loves their children should determine whether this may not be what they are really dreaming about. Who among us, being the son or the daughter of God, would not desire conjoint creation with our children and joy from its contemplation?
“What consummate power and wisdom are contained in these philosophical definitions of Anastasia’s! They are absolutely crucial for mankind! They are effective. The hosts of doomsayers have lined themselves up against them. They will continue to manifest themselves — not just in the form of cursing Anastasia in correspondence, but in a variety of
ways. Many small-minded preachers will gather a fistful of followers around them and look as if they are preaching truth to people — people who are too lazy to think for themselves. Anastasia has already said about these:
“‘Woe unto you who call yourselves teachers of human souls! Cool the passions of your heart, and may everyone now know: the Creator has given all to each one right from the start. The Truth has been there right from the start in each one’s soul. And we need only refrain from hiding the Creator’s great creations under the murky domain of dogma and conventions, the murk of inventions for the sake of one’s own selfish interests.’13
“These are the people who will try to pounce on Anastasia. Because Anastasia is utterly destroying their philosophy With her own philosophical concept she is actually forestalling the end of the world. And this is our reality today: we are witnessing and participating in the greatest deeds of all time. Here we are at the threshold of a new millennium, and we are entering upon a new reality. We are already living in this reality”
“Wait, Nikolai Fiodorovich. I didn’t get what you said about reality and deeds. Let’s say one — or maybe two — philosophers said something. And Anastasia says it, too — what have reality and deeds got to do with it? It’s all just words. Philosophers talk, and life goes on unfolding in its own way.”
“The life of any human society has always been constructed, as it is today, under the influence of philosophical concepts. The Jewish philosophy was one way of life, the crusaders’ philosophy was another. Hitler had his own philosophy, and we under the Soviet regime had ours. Revolution, after all, is only one philosophical concept taking the place of
another. But all that amounts to details determined by local conditions. What Anastasia has accomplished is much more global in scale. It has an impact on human society as a whole and on each member of society in particular. She said she would transport mankind across the dark forces’ window of time. She has done this, Vladimir. She has set up a bridge over the abyss which everyone may cross, and each one is free to decide whether to go across it or not.
“I am a philosopher, Vladimir. I can now see this very clearly What’s more, I can feel it. Her philosophical concept shines like a clear ray of light on the threshold of a new millennium. And each one of us, at any given moment, acts this way or that depending on our individual philosophical convictions. If these change, then our actions change accordingly. As I was sitting in my study, for example, and reading through various philosophical works, I pitied all mankind, inevitably moving toward its doom. I wondered where I would be buried, and would my sons and grandchildren come to my funeral, or whether it would be too much trouble for them to come see their grandfather. I pitied all mankind, and thought of my own death. And then along came Anastasia, with an entirely different philosophical concept, and my actions took an about turn.”
“How would you do things differently now, for example?”
“Well, I’ll tell you. Now... Now when I get up in the morning I start acting in accord with my new philosophical concept.”
Nikolai Fiodorovich got up, bracing his arms against the table. Then, holding on first to the chair, then a bookshelf, he managed to make his way on his aching legs over to one of the bookcases. He looked at the titles on each spine, then pulled out one book in an expensive leather binding and headed
over to the fireplace, leaning on various pieces of furniture as he went. Tossing the book into the blazing hearth, he explained:
“Those are the prophecies of Nostradamus about all sorts of cataclysms and the end of the world. D’you remember, Vladimir, Anastasia’s words on this? You should remember them. She says:
“‘The dates you gave, Nostradamus, for fearful cataclysms on the Earth, were not predictions. You created them out of your own thought and persuaded people to accept their implementation. Now they are still hovering over the Earth, still frightening people with their sense of despair.’ This could only have been said by a consummate philosopher and thinker, one who understands that a prophecy is nothing more than an attempt to set a direction for future developments. The more people believe in universal doom, the greater will be the number of thoughts attempting to outline the image, and it will come to pass.
“It can come to pass simply because human thought is material and creates what is material. And whole sects immolate themselves in different parts of the world — that is, the ones who believe in doom immolate themselves, while the ones who have faith in the future live. And she is fearless in the face of despair. She completely destroys any notion of the end of the world when she declares:
“‘But now they will no longer come true. Let your thought join in fray with mine. I am Man! Anastasia I am. And I am stronger than you.’ And again she says: All anger on Earth, leave your deeds and make haste to me, join fray with me, try your utmost.’ And again: ‘With my Ray I shall take but
a moment to burn up the murk of age-old dogma.’ She alone has gone out to fight against the countless hordes. Against the millions who outline an image of mankind’s total doom. And she doesn’t want to involve us in this fight. She only wants us to be happy and so she says in her prayer addressed to God:
In your bright dream the coming ages all will live and share.
It shall be so! I wish it so! I am a daughter of Tours.
My Father, You are present every where.lh
‘And she will get her wish. Her philosophy is extraordinarily potent. And the coming ages will indeed live in the Divine dream, in splendid gardens of Paradise.
‘And she will not distract anyone with memories of herself. People will not build monuments to her nor reminisce about her when it is clear to everyone where true humanity lies. People will simply drink in the Divine nature, they won’t be thinking about her. But flowers will bloom in various gardens, including one splendid flower named Anastasia.
“I am old, but I am willing to serve as her foot-soldier even today You say Vladimir, that philosophy is just a bunch of words. But these words, spoken somewhere in the far-off taiga, have been enthusiastically taken in by my heart, and here you have first-hand evidence of concrete material actions: it is not mankind that is perishing in the flames, but predictions of the doom of humanity That is why the doomsayers are all stirred up and have set their forces in array Anastasia has stirred up people who have built their philosophy on such a scenario and manipulated mankind for their own purposes with the threat of the ‘inevitable’ end of the world.”
“Hasn’t anyone before Anastasia come out against the notion of the end of the world?”
“There have been a few timid — but ultimately insignificant — attempts, but they’ve hardly received any attention. Nobody, but nobody, has spoken out as she has. Nobody’s words have been accepted so readily and joyfully as hers, in any human heart. And not a single philosophical concept has ever taken hold of people this way. But hers has taken hold. It is burning up the murk of age-old dogma.
“How she does it — well, that’s not for us to grasp at the moment. There is an extraordinary rhythm in her words, and a consummate logic, possibly something else. Possibly... No, undoubtedly! ‘The Creator,’ she says, ‘has shone forth with some kind of new energy! An energy that tells us anew about something we see around us every day...’19
“Undoubtedly a new energy has made its appearance in the Universe, and more and more people in our time are starting to possess it day by day The fact is that decades and possibly even centuries, as a rule, are required to spread a significant philosophical concept. And here it’s only taken her a few years... Amazing!
“You surmised, Vladimir, that her words were simply words. But her words are so strong that — you see these hands?” He raised one of his hands, looked at it and added: “Even these old hands of mine are materialising her words. And the whole prospect of the end of the world is burning up in flames. And life will go on. These hands can still help life go on. The hands of one of Anastasia’s foot-soldiers.”
Holding on to the furniture, Nikolai Fiodorovich made his way over to the table and picked up a pitcher of water. Bracing himself with one hand against the wall, he headed over to the window. It was a challenge, but he made it. On the windowsill stood a beautiful flower-pot, in which a green shoot, still very young, was sprouting up from the earth.
“Look, my baby cedar’s come up at last. And now my hands will water it, materialising the words that are close to my heart.”
Bracing one hip against the windowsill, Nikolai Fiodorovi- ch grasped the pitcher with both hands and said:
“The water isn’t too cold for you, my dear?” After a moment’s thought, he took a swallow of the water, held it in his mouth for a little while and then, resting his hands on the windowsill, let a thin stream of water spew from his mouth onto the earth beside the green shoot.
Galina was in the study during our conversation. She was always thinking up some excuse to be in his study She would bring tea, or start dusting, all the while muttering quietly to herself, commenting on what she had heard and seen. These last actions of Nikolai Fiodorovich evoked a rather louder comment than usual:
“Now what’s the point of that? Any decent person might wonder. Here he goes doin’ tricks like that in ’is old age. He won’t ride in his wheel-chair, he goes an’ tortures his agein’ legs, makin’ ’em walk like that. An’ somehow people ain’t satisfied. Here it is nice an’ warm an’ comfy at home, but it ain’t enough for them, jes’ ain’t enough!”
I remembered Galina being concerned about Nikolai Fi- odorovich’s health and asking me to warn him about something, only now I couldn’t figure out what there was to warn him about, and I asked him:
“What have you thought up this time, Nikolai Fiodorovich?”
He was a bit emotional, but said distinctly:
“I have a big favour to request of you, Vladimir. I ask you only to respect an old man’s wishes.”
“Go ahead. I’ll be happy to oblige if I can.”
“Fve heard say you’re planning to get people together who want to start building an ecological settlement. You want to see about having a hectare of land granted each family to set up a kin’s domain.”
“Yes, I do. The Anastasia Foundation has already submitted a proposal to several regional administrations about this. But there’s been no decision on land grants as yet. They’ve offered a few small allotments, just for a handful of families each, but unless we have a minimum of a hundred and fifty families, we shan’t be able to afford the cost of any infrastructure.”
“They’ll grant the land, Vladimir. Most definitely they’ll grant it.”
“That would be good. But what about this favour you want?”
“When they start handing out land for kin’s domains, and they’ll definitely be doing this all over Russia, I would ask you, Vladimir, not to forget about an old man. Please, don’t forget to count me in. I too want to establish my own piece of the Motherland before I die.”
Nikolai Fiodorovich started getting more and more excited, his words came quickly and with passion:
“To establish it for myself. For my children and grandchildren. See, I’m growing my own baby cedar in this pot, so I can plant the seedling in a piece of my Motherland with my own hands. I shan’t be a burden to anyone. I’ll set everything up on my own hectare of land, IT1 put in a garden and plant a living fence. I’ll be able to help my neighbours. I have some savings, and I keep receiving honoraria for various articles. My sons — whatever else you say about them, they never refuse any financial help. I’ll build myself a little house there and I can help finance construction for my neighbours.”
“Now that’ll be a fine sight to see!” Galina was muttering even louder than before. “People don’t stop to think of it — how you can plant a garden when your legs don’t move. And here he is plannin’ on helpin’ his neighbours. Oh, if decent folk could only hear that! What would decent folk think? Here his sons have built ’im a house like this — he should jest live and be happy, and thank his sons and God for it. But people jes’ can’t sit still. They’ve gotta keep thinkin’ up things like that right into their old age. What might decent folk think about people like that?”
Nikolai Fiodorovich heard what Galina said, but didn’t pay any attention to her, or at least pretended to ignore her, and went on:
“I realise, Vladimir, that my decision may be treated as excessive emotionalism, but that’s not how it is. My decision is the fruit of extensive reflection. I may appear to enjoy a fine life, but that’s only an appearance. I have a mansion fully equipped — practically a palace... I’ve got a housekeeper to take care of it... My sons have done pretty well for themselves... But you know, before learning about Anastasia I was as good as dead.
“Yes, Vladimir, dead. Look, I’ve been living here for over four years now I spend most of my time in my study. I’m useful to no one, and there’s literally nothing I can have an impact on. And the same fate awaits my sons and grandchildren. It’s the fate of experiencing your death while you’re still alive.
“They call Man dead, Vladimir, when he stops breathing, but that’s not the case. Man dies the moment he stops being useful to others and is no longer in charge of anything.
“The neighbours’ houses around here aren’t quite so grand, but I don’t have any friends among them. And my sons have asked me not to announce my name even to the neighbours. There are a lot of jealous types about, wondering whose house this is — a house that’s practically a palace. Once they find out, they’ll splash my name all over the media, enquiring how I managed to finance this set-up. They’ll never believe it was my own hard-earned money. The way I sit here, I may as well be in prison, or even dead. I just sit here in my study, never go upstairs — there’s no reason for me to. Certainly I have a lot of philosophical publications to my name, but after finding out about Anastasia...
“Г11 tell you right off, Vladimir — and please don’t take what I say as a fantasy of old age — I’ll prove to you what I’m about to say is true. You realise, Vladimir — right now, right this very moment, God’s judgement is coming to pass.”
“Judgement? But where and how? Why doesn’t anybody know about this?”
“You realise, Vladimir, for so long we’ve imagined this judgement to be the coming of some kind of terrible Being from on high, with its terrible entourage. And this Supreme Being is supposed to tell each of us where we’ve been right and wrong. Then this Supreme Being is supposed to mete out punishment in due measure, sending whoever’s being judged to either heaven or hell. How primitively we’ve pictured God’s judgement!
“But God isn’t some primitive creature. He can’t judge that way He has given Man eternal freedom, and any kind of judgement is a violation of one’s person, it’s a deprivation of freedom.”
“Then what did you mean when you said something about God’s judgement coming to pass right this very moment?”
‘And I’ll say it again: God’s judgement is coming to pass right this very moment. Everyone is given the opportunity to judge himself.
“I realise now what Anastasia’s done. Her philosophy, power and logic are speeding up the processes. Just think, Vladimir, many people will believe her, and bring the idea of these splendid Divine communities to fruition. Once they believe, they’ll find themselves in a garden of Paradise. Others won’t believe and will remain where they are now. Everything in the world is relative.
‘At the moment we are not in a position to compare our life with any other, and so we think our lifestyle is tolerable. But when it is put side by side with another kind of life, when the unbelievers finally believe, they will see themselves in hell. Some people count themselves happy simply because they don’t know how unhappy they really are. God’s judgement is coming to pass right before our eyes, but it is strange to our way of thinking.
“This isn’t just my discovery I know of this psychologist in Novosibirsk who’s undertaken a study of how various population groups react to Anastasia’s sayings — she’s said practically the same thing. I don’t know her personally — I’ve only read her conclusions in print, and they’re similar to my own.
“People in various cities and towns are feeling and realising the majesty of what’s been taking place. Professor Yeriomkin, whose poems have been published in the people’s collection, is another one who’s described the Anastasia phenomenon in magnificent verse. I’d like to remind you, Vladimir, of these lines he dedicated to Anastasia:
In yon I have beheld a Man quite clearly,
Possibly:from the end of another era,
Where, midst goddesses, my own grandchildren too
Will be an embodiment of you.
“I memorised these beautiful lines. I want my grandchildren, too, to live among the goddesses, and therefore I want to provide this opportunity for them, I want to begin establishing for them a piece of our splendid Motherland. Just to buy a piece of property, even more than one hectare in size, is no problem for me, but it is important to me who my neighbours are. And so I want to set up my property in a circle of people who share my way of thinking. To set it up for my grandchildren. One of them will most certainly want to live there. And my sons will want to come and rest there in their father’s garden from the bustle of daily life. At the moment they come and see me only on rare occasions. But they will come to the garden I shall set up. I shall ask that I be buried in this garden. My sons will come...
“I’m talking about my grandchildren, my sons, but above all I need to create something inherent in the essence of Man, otherwise... You see, Vladimir... All at once I have acquired the desire to live and be active. I can do it. I shall become a foot-soldier and enlist in Anastasia’s cause.”
“Abu can live jest as well right where you are. Why don’t you jes’ live out a good quiet life right here?” Galina enquired.
This time Nikolai Fiodorovich took it upon himself to reply He turned to her and said:
“I can understand your concern, Galina Nikiforovna. You’re afraid of losing your job and a roof over your head. Please don’t worry — I’ll help you build a little house nearby, you’ll have your own little house and your own plot of land. YDU’11 get married — you’ll find the one meant just for you.” All at once Galina straightened up to her full height, threw her white rag down on the side-table — the rag she had been pretending to dust with all during our conversation — and placed her hands on her solidly built thighs. She looked as though she wanted to say something, but couldn’t, as though her emotional state had cut short her breath. Then, mustering up her strength, she managed to pronounce quietly:
“Well mebbe I don’t like the idea of bein’ close to a neighbour like you... Anyways, I can build my own house, jest as soon as I get my land. When I was a kid I helped my father
build a log cabin. And I’ve saved up a pretty penny. Besides, workin’ around here ain’t so pleasant. Who is there to clean up for day after day upstairs? Nobody ever goes upstairs, yet here I am, cleanin’ up like a damn fool after nobody. I don’t want to live in a neighbourhood if the neighbours don’t have their head screwed on right!”
Galina did a sharp about-turn and quickly headed off to her room. But presently the door of her room opened, and Galina re-appeared in the doorway, holding in her hands two little pots with green shoots just like those in Nikolai Fiodor- ovich’s fancy pot. She walked over to the window and put her little pots down next to his on the windowsill. Then she returned to her room and brought out a large basket filled with a whole lot of little cloth bundles. She placed the basket at Nikolai Fiodorovich’s feet and said:
“Them’s seeds. Real ones, ’cause I gathered them meself all summer long and right through the fall. They’re from real medicinal herbs. The ones they sow in the fields to sell at pharmacies, they ain’t got the power of these here. Jes’ scatter ’em with your own hand on your land — they’ll multiply your health and strength — when they’re growin’, and when you make a herbal tea with ’em and drink it in the wintertime. ’Sides, that baby cedar of yours, it’s gonna be lonely — well, there’s some friends an’ a brother for it.”
Galina pointed to the windowsill, where the three pots with little shoots were now standing, and then walked slowly to the front door, calling over her shoulder:
“Good-bye, philosophers! Maybe you already know the philosophy of death. But as for the philosophy of life, you’ve still got a lot to learn.”
As far as anyone could tell, Galina had been deeply offended by something, and she was walking away for good. Nikolai Fio- dorovich took a step to follow her, but stumbled. He then tried to catch himself by reaching out for the back of a chair, but the
chair fell over. Nikolai Fiodorovich started to sway back and forth, flinging his arms out to the side. I jumped up to offer him a hand, but I was too late. Galina, who by this time had already reached the door of the room, turned at the noise of the falling chair and saw Nikolai Fiodorovich swaying back and forth.
Quick as a wink she was at his side. With her strong arms she managed to grasp the old man whose legs had already given way beneath him, and stood there holding him to her bosomy breast. Wriggling one hand free, she picked up Nikolai Fiodorovich by the legs and carried him like a child to his wheel-chair. She sat him down in it, then took hold of a plaid rug and began covering his legs, gently chastising him:
“Some soldier of Anastasia’s you are! You ain’t no soldier, jest a green recruit!”
Nikolai Fiodorovich put his hand in Galina’s. Fixing his gaze on this drooping woman now sitting at his feet, he said, switching to the familiar form of address for the first time: “Forgive me, Galya. I thought you were laughing at my aspirations, and here you are...”
“I’m the one laughing? Y)u think I’m crazy?” Galina blurted out. “Every night I sit and think only soul thoughts. ’Bout how I’m gonna plant herbs — real medicinal herbs, ’bout how I’m gonna use ’em to feed this bright-eyed falcon here, to help
’im get his strength back. I’ll make some real soup from fresh cabbage that don’t smell of chemicals. I’ll give him some real cow’s milk to drink, not that fancy pasteurised stuff. An’ jest as soon as this of bright-eyed falcon gets hisself straightened out, mebbe I’ll even bear him a child. Me, I wasn’t laughin’, not one little bit. Fs just say in that to see how firm a decision he’d made, to see whether he might change it in midstream.” “It is firm, Galina, I’m not going to change it.”
“Well, if that’s how it is, then don’t chase me out to the neighbourhood. Don’t hand me over to some other suitor.” “I wasn’t chasing you out, Galya. It’s just that I had no idea you wanted to be with me some place other than this well-appointed mansion. I am happy to accede to your wishes, Galya. I am immeasurably grateful to you. I simply had no idea...” “What’s there here to have no idea about? What woman would turn away from such a determined soldier as yourself? Oh, I’ve read about Anastasia, how I’ve read about her!... Took me a long time, it did — had to read syllable by syllable, but still I got it right off. All us gals today need to become like Anastasia. So I’ve decided to be a little bit of Anastasia to you. All us gals need to become a little bit like Anastasia. She ain’t got too many soldiers jes’ yet, only a bunch of green recruits, still wet behind the ears. Us gals are gonna make ’em strong, an’ make ’em well!”
“Thanks, Galya. That means, you, Galina Nikiforovna,23 have read the books — and pondered them during your evenings?” “For certain. I’ve read all the books on Anastasia an’ thought about them during my evenings. Only please don’t address me as a stranger any more. I’ve been meaning to ask you for a good long time now. Just call me Galya.”
“Okay, Galya. I was intrigued by what you said when you were offended — really intrigued. You said we already know the philosophy of death. But as for the philosophy of life, we’ve still got a lot to learn. What a concise formulation of two contrary philosophical tendencies. A succinct definition indeed: the philosophy of death and the philosophy of life. Simply amazing! Anastasia is the philosophy of life. Yes! Of course, of course! Just amazing!”
Stroking Galina’s hand excitedly and tenderly, Nikolai Fio- dorovich exclaimed:
“You’re a philosopher, Galina — I had no idea!”
Then he said, turning to me:
“There’s absolutely no doubt there is so much more we need to figure out, both from the philosophical point of view and through the help of esoteric definitions. I am trying to evaluate Anastasia as Man — a Man such as we must all become. But there are certain unexplainable abilities she has which prevent us from fully appreciating her as a Man like us.
“Vladimir, I remember your describing an episode in which she saved people at a distance from being tortured. She saved them, but she herself, if you recall, lost consciousness, went white all over and even the grass turned white around herd4 What kind of device was operating here, to make both her and the grass turn white? I’ve never heard of anything like that before, even though I’ve tried asking esoterics about it. It’s not something either philosophers or physicists — or esoterics — know anything about.”
“Whaddya mean, they don’t know ’bout it?” Galina burst into the conversation, still sitting on the floor at Nikolai Fio- dorovich’s feet. ‘An’ what’s there to think about, when we need to scratch their eyes out?”
“Whose eyes, Galya? Do you have your own opinion on this phenomenon?” Nikolai Fiodorovich enquired in surprise. Galina was only too ready and willing to provide an answer: “It’s as plain as the nose on your face! Jest as soon as a Man is attacked by somethin’ rotten, by some sort of wretched news or threats, or cussed in anger, he goes all white. Turns pale, you know. He turns pale when he don’t return that anger, but burns it up within ’imself — meaning he gets all shook up, and burns up the anger within ’imself, and this makes ’im go all white. You see lots of examples like that in life. Anastasia too can take this rot and burn it up within herself, and the ground goes all white, tryin’ to help her, and as for me, well, I think you gotta scratch its eyes out — the eyes of any kind of rot, I mean.”
“Wow! Really! Many people turn pale,” Nikolai Fiodorovich exclaimed in surprise, fixing his gaze on Galina, and then added: “but Man truly turns pale when he does not reciprocate someone’s insult, but tries to keep a stiff upper lip and hold it within. He burns it up within himself, as it turns out. Why, that’s true! How simple it all turns out to be! Anastasia burns up within herself the energy of aggression aimed at her. If such energy were reciprocated, it would fail to dissipate in space but would go off and find some other target.
‘Anastasia doesn’t want anyone to be a target. Just think of all the filth that will be aimed at her! So much has been building up over centuries, and is being produced even now by the adherents of the philosophy of death. Who is strong enough to withstand such an onslaught? Tell me, who? Stay the course, Anastasia! Stay the course, noble warrior!”
‘And stay the course she will,” Galina chimed in. “We’re gonna help her now. I’ve started givin’ away your books down at the market, and the gals that have been readin’ ’em now stand around on a street-corner in klatches. I gave ’em some cedar seeds too. They planted ’em. An’ I told ’em about the
healin’ herbs too. The gals say: 'We’ve gotta do somethin’!’ Sure, we ain’t gonna beat up our husbands, like one of ’em there on the comer suggested. But we better think about who we’re gonna have a child with.”
“What are you talking about, Galina?” Nikolai Fiodorovich asked in surprise. “Don’t tell me you have your own activist group already?”
“No way! What kind of ‘activist group’ might that be? We jes’ stand around on the street a bit an’ chit-chat about life.” ‘And where did the idea of beating up on men come from? What arguments motivated that?”
“Whaddya mean, what arguments? How come our men don’t come through for us? They want us to give ’em a child, so we give ’em a child, but then there ain’t no nest for our young ’uns. An’ if you can’t make a nest, why ask for a child? What gal’s gonna be happy with her man when her kid jes’ wanders around aimlessly right before her very eyes?
“Teacher’s come to us twice already Teacher says some sort of psych factor stops ’em from gettin’ ahold of themselves — it’s all because of some kinda loan they’re waitin’ for from some foundation overseas. It’s a ‘syndrome’, she says. Lack of self-confidence. An’ this psych syndrome digs up all sorts of reasons to avoid buildin’ a nest.
‘An’ the teacher went an’ told the gals that these loans have to be paid back in a certain number of years. Maybe twenty, maybe thirty, I don’t remember. I only know, they need to pay back a little bit more than they’ve been given. So it’s like a man today ends up sellin’ his own kids?”
“Why would you make a comparison like that, Galina?” “Whaddya mean, why? The men we’ve got today, they’ve been foolin’ around, lookin’ to borrow money An’ who will have to pay it back? For certain that’ll be their kids — the kids that are still jes’ young ’uns. Leah, an’ the kids who ain’t even born yet. And our kids’ll have to pay back even more than
their dads have borrowed! When the gals began graspin’ this picture of the future, they started goin’ crazy over concern for their kids — they felt like bashin’ their men’s snouts in. As for me, I thought we better not wait for help from anywhere, it’s time we ourselves started helpin’ these poor men of ours.
“I once tried a taste of that overseas sausage, an’ my heart broke out in tears, an’ I really wanted to send a piece of our Ukrainian bacon to whoever made that sausage, along with some of our own home-made sausage. Oh my dear God! People in those countries have no idea how sausage should taste!
“There’s no point in talcin’ loans from people like that — that’s bad money, it’s no good at all, it’ll bring us nothin’ but harm. As for beatin’ up, I told you only one gal proposed whippin’ all them men, the other gals didn’t go along. What’s the point? So you can knock the last bit of sense out of ’em? Even so, the gals tell each other how miserable their men have made their lives. And I boast a bit, I say my man’s come to ’is senses. He’s already started makin’ a nest.”
“Your man? Who is he?”
“Whaddya mean, who is he? I’ve been tellin’ ’em about you. How you’ve gone an’ planted a baby cedar, how you sent me to buy you a draftin’ board with a large ruler — the one on the table over there,” Galina indicated, pointing to the drafting table next to Nikolai Fiodorovich’s desk. “I told ’em how you asked me what trees are best to plant around the hectare, and made drawin’s on sheets of paper at your desk, and sketched out a loverly community, where good people can live. You didn’t have enough room on your sheets of paper, so you asked me to bring you bigger sheets, an’ the board an’ the ruler too.
“I told the gals ’bout that, an’ we all went together to choose the drafting board. We chose the biggest and best we could find, an’ it sure cost a lot. The gals said to me: ‘Don’t be stingy, Galina.’ They helped me, an’ I could see the envy in their eyes. The bitches were jealous that my child would be
born in a marvellous garden, in his own native ground, with good people all around. An’ I ain’t mad at them for bein’ jealous — after all, everybody wants to be happy.
“They pooled their money together an’ bought me a camera so’s I could take a picture of your sketch. So I took the camera, an’ they showed me what button to press and where I should look through to take a snap. Only I never got the courage to ask your permission so I never pressed the button.”
“You did the right thing, Galina, not taking a photo of my design without permission. When I’ve finished, then perhaps I shall publish it as one proposal for the new settlement.”
“That’s gonna take you a long time, and the gals right now can’t wait to see this loverly, beautiful future, at least to sneak a glimpse. You’ve managed to come up with a lovely drawin’ on one of them large sheets.”
“What makes you think I shan’t soon complete it? Everything’s almost all ready to be published — I have the plans, and colour drawings too.”
“That’s what I said — you already have a beautiful picture. For certain it shouldn’t be published for people to use, but you could still show it to the gals — the ones I meet with — an’ I’ll just say it’s not quite right yet.”
Nikolai Fiodorovich quickly wheeled himself over to the drafting table. I followed. There on the table lay plans, done in coloured pencil, of several domains of the new settlement. The drawings showed little houses, and gardens, and a living fence made out of various kinds of trees, and ponds too... The overall impression was a fine, beautiful arrangement of everything.
“Where did you notice a mistake or an inaccuracy?” enquired Nikolai Fiodorovich of Galina, who had by now joined us at the drafting table.
“You didn’t put any Sun in the picture. An’ once you get the Sun in, you have to put in shadows too. An’ if you’re goin’ to put in the shadows, you’ll see that you can’t plant any tall trees
along the eastern fence — they’ll give too much shade on the plant beds. The trees should be planted on the other side.” “Really? Maybe you’re right... I wish you’d told me earlier. But this is only a draft so far... Anyway Galina, did you say you’re going to have a child?”
“Well, it’s like this. You keep on doin’ your exercises for now. But once you stand on your own native ground, you’ll crawl out of your catacombs. An’ I’ll feed you with what grows in your native soil, an’ give you a healin’ tea to drink. An’ spring’ll come, you’ll see, an’ everythin’ on that native ground’s gonna come alive, and bloom. An’ you’ll feel your own strength again. That’s when I’m gonna have my child.” Once again Galina sat down on the carpet at Nikolai Fio- dorovich’s feet and put her hands on one of his arms resting on the side of his wheel-chair. Even though she wasn’t exactly a spring chicken, Galina had a strong, powerful and attractive body — she could even be called tender and beautiful. Their conversation became more and more friendly in tone, as though they were immersing themselves in some kind of phi-losophy of life, while I stood around slightly stupefied, feeling like a third leg. So I managed to get a word in edgewise: “Excuse me, Nikolai Fiodorovich. It’s time for me to be going. I don’t want to be late for the plane.”
“I’ll have some pies ready for you in a flash,” said Galina, getting up. ‘An’ some preserves for your trip — I’ll get you back to Moscow in a jiff.”
Nikolai Fiodorovich slowly got up from his chair. Bracing himself with one hand against the table, he extended the other to me in a gesture of farewell. His handshake was firm, it no longer felt like that of an old man.
“Give my greetings to Anastasia, Vladimir. And please let her know that the philosophy of life will definitely triumph here. Our thanks to her!”
“I’ll tell her.”