Book 3. The Space of Love (1998)
Put your vision of happiness
Soon after returning from the taiga I went once again to the city of Gelendzhik to attend a reader’s conference on the Anastasia book. The Governor’s aide in charge of the Gelendzhik district of the Krasnodar region took me to see Academician Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin’s2 forest school.
A narrow gravel road led from the main highway into the forest, to a valley nestled amidst the mountain peaks. The road soon came to an end in front of a most unusual two-storey mansion. It was still under construction. From one of the still frameless window openings wafted the sounds of children’s voices singing a Russian folk song. This building was part of the vision Anastasia had showed me back in the taiga forest, but now it was an altogether real experience.
Without a word to anyone I made my way through various construction materials to touch this mansion with my own hands. As I approached, I saw a little girl, about ten years old, climbing deftly down a ladder. She went over to a pile of river
pebbles and began selecting and dropping stones into an old herring tin. When she started back up the ladder, I climbed up after her, in the direction of the alluring music pouring forth from above.
There on the second floor I watched as a group of kids like her, some a little older, were taking smooth pebbles out of a box and attaching them with a cement mixture to the wall, making an amazingly beautiful pattern. Two little girls at once carefully washed off each newly attached stone with damp rags. They set about their tasks in earnest, singing as they worked. No adults were present. Later I found out that the whole foundation, indeed, each brick of this structure, had been laid by a child’s hand. The children had come up with the whole design by themselves, including every corner of their building.
And this is not the only such building on the little campus. In this amazing setting children are constructing not only their buildings, their campus, but their whole future in the process. And they sing! Here a ten-year-old girl is capable of building a house, doing splendid drawings and cooking meals, not to mention knowing ballroom dance steps and mastering the fundamentals of Russian martial arts.
The children of this forest school are acquainted with Anastasia. They themselves told me about her. Three hundred pupils from different Russian cities study here.
At this school children take but a year to master the whole ten-year public-school maths syllabus, along with studying three foreign languages. They neither recruit nor produce child prodigies. They simply give the kids a chance to discover what already lies within.
Academician Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin’s school comes under the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Education. It charges no tuition fees. Even though the school does not advertise itself, it has no vacancies. Indeed, there is already a waiting list of 2,500 hopefuls for an unexpected opening.
It is hard to find words to describe the joy on these children’s beaming faces. I went to visit the school directly after the readers’ conference at Gelendzhik. I went with a small group of readers who had heard about my intended visit.
One of these readers was Natalia Sergeevna Bondarchuk, an actress and film director who is also on the board of the Roerich Society A specialist in esoterics, she gave a presentation at the conference on the Roerichs’ legacy and on esoterics in general. She talked about Anastasia far more intelligently than I.
Natalia Sergeevna was accompanied by her ten-year-old daughter Mashenka. After the conference the two of them were to go to a film festival in Anapa, where Mashenka’s beloved grandmother, the famous actress Inna Makarova, was
already staying. But Mashenka’s words came as a thunderous call to new enlightenment:
“Mamochka, please, just for three days. Just three! While you go to the festival, arrange for me to stay here at this school!”
And the delicate little Mashenka stayed for three days at the school, to the great astonishment of her mother, who sadly said:
'Apparently we don’t give enough to our children — even though we love them, we are inadvertently stealing from them.”
Natalia Sergeevna was accompanied by a film cameraman. He began shooting as soon as the children of Shchetinin’s school started talking about their communication with Anastasia and their understanding of life. I’d like to reproduce here some of our conversation with the children who were building this mansion. Natalia Sergeevna and I were the ones asking the questions:
“One gets the impression that each brick of your building here is filled with the bright energy of a great power.”
“Yes, that’s true,” answered an older, red-haired girl. “So much depends on the people who touch them. We have done all this with love, we are trying with our mental attitude to bring only what is good and happy to our future.”
“Who designed this building, the columns and paintings?”
“This was the result of our united, collective thinking.”
“Does that mean that while each one is outwardly working on their own individual task, in actual fact it represents a collective thought?”
“That’s right. Every evening we get together and plan out, or visualise, the day ahead. We come up with the images we want to see expressed in the design of our mansion. Some of the pupils here take on the role of architect — they give specific form to our common work, tie it all together.”
“What image is expressed in the room we’re standing in now?”
“The image of Svarog — the primordial element of heavenly fire. You can see him here in the symbols, in the pebble amulets.”
“Does your group recognise one of its own as a principal or superior?”
“We do have a leader, but by and large it is the collective thought that is at work here — lava, we call it.
“Say that again — thought is lavaГ
“That’s right — a state of mind, an image, a desire.”
“Do you all work with such great delight, everybody smiling, everybody with such sparkling eyes — everybody so cheerful?”
“Yes, our life is like that, since we are doing what we want, doing what we can, doing what we love to do.”
“You said each stone has its own pulse and rhythm?”
“Yes, and this pulse beats once a day — just once.”
“Is it like that with all stones, or do some beat twice a day?”
“Every stone’s pulse beats once a day”
“Doesn’t it seem to you that your mansion is something like a temple?”
“A temple is not a form, but a state of mind. For example, the cupolas — they simply help you access a particular state of mind. The form is moulded by feeling. And it is not by chance that the form of a cupola or hipped roof0 came to us — they represent our aspirations for heaven and the descent of Heavenly Grace.”
“This building, where every stone is laid with a good thought, is it able to heal?”
‘And does it heal?”
“Yes, it does.”
I couldn’t help looking at the girls attaching the river-pebble ornamental design to the walls of the upper room. The girls were dressed in very plain, unsophisticated attire, they were beautiful, only with an unusual kind of beauty. I thought to myself: where do we go to meet our future wives? To dance-halls, parties and resorts, eh? We see our future wives all made up wearing the latest fashions, luring us with their slender legs and other charms of their figure. All this is what we marry, and then later, when the make-up is rubbed off, you look, and there you see sitting before you a kikimora,11 and looking like a kikimora, grumbling away and demanding attention and... love. What happiness is there in living your whole life with a kikimora — what is there to talk about with her? And then she demands you support her financially too. Oh, what rotten luck! But just maybe we get what we deserve. Of course we get what we deserve. You have to be a complete idiot to marry make-up and long legs! But some of us are lucky. Some of us end up marrying, well... these girls here, the ones sticking the ornamental stones on the walls. They will be able to build a beautiful house, and to cook meals with love, they know all sorts of foreign languages, they’re wise, smart, beautiful, and when they grow up they’ll become still more beautiful, even without cosmetics. Naturally, many will want to take them to wife, but who will they agree to marry? This was a question we put to these beautiful little girls wearing their plain clothing:
“Tell me, who would you like to marry, what kind of husband would you like? What qualities should he have?”
And right away, without hesitation, the first girl responded:
“Kindness, patience... and he should be a Man who loves his Motherland. A Man with honour and dignity”
‘And what is honour, in your view?”
“For me, honour can be summed up in one saying: I have the honour of being Russian.”
‘And what constitutes a Russian Man?”
“It is a Man who loves his Motherland. First and foremost it is one who stands up for her and never fails her. Not for a moment, not even the most difficult moment. He feels himself a part of Rus.”12
‘And your children will live for the Motherland?”
‘And that means your husband must share this view as well?”
The second girl answered the question as follows:
“He should be a Man capable of giving light and warmth to other people. If he radiates light and warmth, it will be good for those around him, and our family too. A Man rich in spirit, healthy in spirit, and this can’t be compared with any other kind of riches.”
The littlest girl wasn’t asked any questions while the camera was running, but later I put the same query to her and got the following response:
“Maybe all the best men will get married while I am growing up, but my husband will still be very good, kind and happy — I shall make him that way, I shall help him the way Anastasia does.”
And I saw, and realised that Anastasia was sharing her abilities with these children. Whywith the children of Shchetinin’s school? Because Academician Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin is himself a great magician — one who has created and continues to create a big Space of Love, and it will continue to grow even bigger.
Right now these girls are little Anastasias with their light- brown braids. But they will grow up! They will spread across the Earth, creating oases like this one, until the whole Earth
is filled with them.
As I was standing there in the upper room on the second storey of this extraordinary mansion, examining the ornamental design and drawings executed by the children’s hands (though more reminiscent of the art of the ‘old masters’), I had the impression of being in the greatest, brightest and most welcoming temple on Earth. This was probably because the amount ofbright energy in this mansion, every millimetre of which had been lovingly caressed by children’s hands, was infinitely greater than in many religious temples.
And then I had another thought come to me. Here we’ll continue to go about restoring ruined churches and monasteries using modern technology and reinforced concrete construction — not such a difficult thing to do, really — and then we’ll come to these temples with the feeling that we have done our duty and begin asking: “Lord, bless our work!” But no blessings will be received. Because during this time God will be concentrating His attention on the children constructing this extraordinary temple building. And He will be concerned that they will run out of cement and not have enough bricks and boards for the floor. And God will lovingly bless all those who help them.
And I couldn’t resist the temptation to show the world these little ‘shoots’. I couldn’t resist doing what Anastasia was so afraid of. And this is how it happened:
I was walking down the aisle between rows of kitchen tables set up outdoors for the children to work at, when I suddenly felt a soft warmth in my body, as though someone was training a heat-reflector on me. The sensation of warmth was similar to that emitted by Anastasia when she concentrated her gaze on a person. Only this time it was considerably weaker. In any case I stopped and looked in the direction the warmth appeared to be coming from. An eleven-year-old girl winnowing rice at a distant table was looking at me and smiling. I went over and sat down beside her. Up close I could see her eyes sparkling with a fiery blue light and I began to feel an even greater sensation of warmth. I asked her her name. “Hello!” she replied. “My name is Nastia.” “So, you have the ability to warm someone with your gaze, like Anastasia?”
“Did you feel it?”
“Yes, I did.”
Little Nastia indeed had Anastasia’s ability to warm a person’s body with her gaze, although not to the same extent.
Natalia Sergeevna, the actress, came and sat down with us, and the cameraman began shooting. With no trace of embarrassment and without interrupting her work, Nastia started answering our questions.
“Where do you get your knowledge and abilities from?” “From the stars.”
“What have you learnt through your communication with Anastasia in Siberia?”
“I’ve learnt how very important it is to understand and love our Motherland.”
“Why is it so important?”
“Because our Motherland is what has been created by our forebears — both distant and close.”
“Who are your parents? Where does your father work?” “My Papa is a schoolteacher. It’s nice in the school where he works too, but here it’s better.”
“Here you are all living as a single friendly, happy family Have you forgotten about your parents?”
“On the contrary. We love our parents more and more, we send them good thoughts so they can live well, too.”
The camera was running, and I very much wanted Nastia to show the sceptics her warming gaze. And so I asked her: “Nastia, now you can show many people how to warm someone with your gaze. See the camera? Look straight into the lens and share your warmth with everyone who will see this.” “To warm everybody at once — that’s really hard. I might not be able to do it.”
But I kept insisting. I repeated my request. And exactly the same thing started happening with Nastia as happened with Anastasia back in the forest, when she tried to save with her ray at a distance a man and a woman from being tortured by bandits. I described this scene in my first book.
Back then Anastasia had initially expressed reservations:
“It is not within my power,” she had said. “Everything has been, so to speak, programmed in advance, but not by me. I cannot interfere directly They have the upper hand right now”
And yet, after my repeated requests, she did what I asked her to. She did it, knowing full well that she might die in the process.
And now, after my persistent pleading, little Nastia attempted to do my bidding. Twice in a row, without exhaling, she inhaled air, closed her eyes for a few moments and then began to calmly look straight into the camera lens. The astonished cameraman fell silent. And then all of a sudden Natalia Sergeevna tore off her kerchief and put it over Nastia’s head. She was the first to notice how her body had begun to vibrate and her face had turned pale.
I realised I should not have persisted with my request — there was no point in wasting energy on unbelievers. It would only intensify their anger and resistance.
The grown-up visitors could not resist the impulse to touch the children. They touched them, hugged them and patted them as though they were kittens. And why had I brought along a whole group ofthese grown-ups? After all, I was aware that this school receives visits from all sorts of committees and delegations, and even individuals come to have a look and satisfy their curiosity, and tune into the grace emanating from its inhabitants. And they do come and tune in, and take away, but do not make any contribution of their own.
Perhaps Anastasia was right when she said:
“In trying to gain the grace of a holy place, think what you might offer in return. And if you have not learnt to emit light yourself, then why take it and bury it in yourself, as though in a grave?”
I too had come to the school more out of curiosity than anything else. It was thanks to Anastasia that I had been
so graciously received by Academician Shchetinin, and the children had prepared a feast for me and my whole entourage. And it was far more than food that we took away from the table. The sparkle in the children’s bright eyes gave us infinitely more, and what were we to give them in return? A patronising pat on the head? I was so angry with myself that I withdrew from the group and went off on my own to think.
All of a sudden I became aware of the two girls whose ac-quaintance I had made — Lena and Nastia —• standing at my side.
“Just relax,” Nastia said quietly “Grown-ups are always that way. They want to pat our heads and give us a hug. They think hugging is the most important thing. And you’ve been on pins and needles the whole day Come along with us to our glade, and we’ll tell you about Anastasia. I know what space she is in right now.”
When we arrived at the glade, the cameraman who had joined us proposed:
“Let’s get another interview with the girls. We’ll get some excellent shots here — look what a splendid landscape there is, and no one’s around to bother us.”
“Maybe not,” I hesitated. “We’ve probably tired them out already with so much questioning.”
“But still they’ll be delighted to talk with you. They don’t really like visitors and journalists coming around here. We’ve got a golden opportunity under our noses. It’d be a shame to let it slip by. Please understand my professional interest.”
I grabbed the microphone and told the girls:
“We have to do another interview with you. I’ll be asking you some questions and you answer them. Is that okay with you?”
“If you need to, go ahead and ask,” replied Lena, and Nastia added: “Of course, of course, we’ll be happy to answer.”
The girls took up a position right beside us and straightened their long brown braids. They looked me straight in the eye, waiting for my first question.
After two rather trite questions I fell silent, suddenly realising that these were the type of hackneyed, stereotyped questions they got from all the grown-up visitors, committee members and journalists, whereas in fact they were capable of answering questions on themes most adults would never even have cross their minds in their whole lifetime. A Cossack hetman was right when he said:
“My son’s been studying here only three months, and I already feel there’s a lot more I need to become aware of myself and quickly, or I’m going to look positively stupid next to him.” In any case, aren’t we talking down to the children with our immature questions, inadvertently implying they’re not capable of responding to anything more? I stood silently before these girls, holding the microphone in my hand, and saw in their faces how concerned they were for me. They realised I had lost my train of thought and didn’t know what I should talk with them about. I admitted as much to them:
“You know, I really don’t know what to talk to you about, or even what questions I should be asking.”
And then ensued an utterly comic situation. Here we were, the cameraman and I, two stout grown-up fellows, and there in front of us were these two young girls, enthusiastically giving each other support, without a second’s hesitation explaining to us how to do an interview, how to make conversation with another human being.
“Just relax,” they insisted. “You’ve got to learn how to relax. The most important thing is to be sincere and talk about anything you’re concerned about.
“Don’t think about us. Of course you should think about any other person you’re talking with, but you don’t need to think about us if you find that too hard. Just relax.
“Just ask your questions from the heart, well be able to answer, don’t worry about us.
“As long as you’re having trouble, let us tell you something ourselves...”
The girls were walking around the meadow, smiling, feeling the blades of grass and talking. The depth of their understanding of the Universe, the purity emanating from their heart, their eyes sparkling with kindness, literally immersed us in a sense of peace and confidence. The cameraman shot from a distance, not bothering to attempt switching camera angles. Later I would spend hours watching and re-watching the videotape Natalia Sergeevna subsequently gave to me. I would be fascinated by these little charmers with their light- brown braids walking through the glade. They will grow up! There are three hundred of them at the school.
I am writing about this school not to prove anything to anyone, but to gladden the hearts of those who have come to feel and understand Anastasia through my books.
If anyone feels irritated by what I write and how I write it, they need not read my books at all. I have already had my fill of criticism — over my writing style, my grammatical mistakes and the suggestion of a commercial ulterior motive. In any case I am still working on my next book. If you don’t like my books, don’t bother reading the next one. The events it describes are even more penetrating than the ones recorded in the volumes to date, and my style is getting better, but not by very much. Both the contents and the style could make you quite distraught.