Book 5. Who are we? (2001)
Questions and answers
Anastasia’s design intrigued me. 1 wanted to think and talk about it on a daily basis. I wanted to stand up for it at all costs, defend it against ridicule and dispel the doubts of the sceptics. I talked about it at the readers’ conferences held in the city of Gelendzhik1 and at the Central Letters Club in Moscow. The majority of the participants at these confer-ences (there were more than two thousand in all, hailing from various countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as from further afield) either supported this design or at least expressed an interest. But in this chapter I shall reproduce some of the basic questions and comments by the doubters, along with my responses to them, based on Anastasia’s statements and my own convictions, as well as information I have managed to glean from other sources.
Question. In today’s world no nation’s economy can survive independent of the global economic system. Today’s
economic processes point to the need to create large indus-trial structures, the need for specialised knowledge of today’s markets and how they are set up, as well as the major direc-tions of capital flow. It does not appear that you have training In economics. Your proposal involves emphasising small-scale commodity production, which may take away from more important things and min the national economy.
Answer. It is true that I have had no training in economics. But- as to your point that large conglomerates are of prime importance to the nation’s economy, I am in complete agreement with you. I think you will also agree that a large factory, say, is economically viable for the nation only when it operates to produce goods in high demand. When a large enterprise shuts down — and such cases are not infrequent in our country, or in others — it inevitably means losses.
The state is obliged to pay workers unemployment benefits. Hundreds of thousands are forced to eke out a wretched existence on the strength of this paltry allowance. They don’t know what to do, they’re so used to relying on their production-line job to feed themselves and their families. Given these conditions, they could make better use of their new free time working intensively on their own plots of land.
One’s family domain is not just to provide a home base to spend one’s leisure time in. It can also serve as a profitable workplace, more profitable, even, than in many enterprises, even major ones. In terms of the larger picture — on the national level, that is — the state may be seen as not only made up of industrial and financial conglomerates, both large and small, but its very building-blocks consist precisely of these family nuclei.
For any family the domain can serve as a home base — an insurance policy against any possible form of nationwide economic disaster. I don’t see anything wrong with each family being offered the opportunity to provide independently for its own poverty-free existence.
I also believe that personal freedom is impossible without economic freedom. A working family, even one living in a modern city apartment, cannot be free, dependent as it is on an employer who determines one’s salary, on utility companies with the power to supply or withhold heat, water and electricity, on the availability of groceries and on the prices of food products and consumer services. The family is slave to all of these, and the children in such a family are born into a slave mentality
Question. Russia is an industrially developed country and a mighty nuclear power. And only as such will it be able to guarantee the security of its citizens. If all its residents do nothing but work the land, the country will be transformed into a purely agrarian state and thus become defenceless against external aggressors.
Answer I don’t think everybody’s necessarily going to agree to work on their plots of land right off the bat. It’ll be a gradual process, and the situation will unfold naturally, in an orderly manner. National power depends not only on possessing a sufficient number of nuclear warheads, but also on the overall economic state of affairs, including sufficiency and quality of food products. And when a state does not have sufficient food production to feed its people, it is then obliged to sell off not only its natural resources but its armaments as well, thereby strengthening the position of any potential aggressor.
The proposed design has the power to strengthen the economic position of the state as a whole, and as such offers the opportunity not only for more effective scientific and industrial development but also a more efficient combat-ready army.
In the near future, however, when this way of life has been adopted on a massive scale, I think — indeed, I am quite convinced — that it will provoke considerable interest among many citizens of other countries, including countries we don’t currently get along with. And people in those nations too will want to reshape their lifestyle the same way many Russians have done. The adoption of this design in a variety of countries will signal the start of a whole new era of peaceful coexistence among peoples.
Question. The implementation of the proposal is feasible, of course, in the more trouble-free regions of Russia. But isn’t it naive to think of implementing it in an inherently crime- prone republic such as Chechnya?
Answer. A significant lowering of social tensions, especially in the so-called ‘hot spots’, along with complete cessation of conflict through the help of the proposed project I see as something not only not naive, but absolutely realistic. If you take the northern Caucasus, for example, and its most troubled region, Chechnya, it has recently become clear (and this has been reported in the press) that the basic conflict is centred around the struggle of a small group of people for control of the republic’s oil reserves, as well as for money and power. This situation is typical of most of the ‘hot spots’ today — indeed, of most of the conflicts the world has known throughout the ages. That still leaves the question of why such a large part of the population, especially men, has been drawn into the Chechen conflict.
Chechnya used to have hundreds of illegal oil-refining op-erations, belonging to a small group of people. Tens of thou-sands of people from among the local population worked in these enterprises. When the government tried to restore law and order these people lost their jobs, leaving their families without any means of support. The principal aim of this class of people in joining the militants was to try and protect their jobs and the welfare of their families, minimal though it was. Besides, their participation in the rebel forces wasn’t exactly volunteer work — they ended up earning quite a bit more than the unemployment benefit they had been getting. Consequently, for the majority of the ordinary fighters, tak-ing part in the armed gangs was simply a job — no different from being a policeman or a Russian army officer, only better paid. As a result, many of these foot-soldiers don’t see much in the way of hope for their families’ welfare if military operations were to cease.
How can we possibly do away with unemployment in Chechnya if we can’t completely do away with it in even a single region closer to home, especially one that is comparatively well off? Let’s say the Government pours colossal resources into Chechnya and starts setting up all sorts of enterprises there to guarantee a job for everybody who wants one. But then another problem arises — the size of the pay packet offered. Say you offer a special raise for the Chechen population, then all of Russia will be working to support the Chechens, since the only way the raise can be implemented is on the backs of the Russian taxpayers as a whole. Even then, not all the money will reach its intended target, since the problem of getting allocated funds through to those who actually need them has not been resolved. In sum, we’d be faced with the same situation we have today, only with a significant increase in expenditures.
The Chechen Republic is a region favourable to agricultural production. Now let’s suppose a law granting land for family domains is already in effect. Suppose that the state is able to protect these family domains from any kind of encroach-ment. So a Chechen family receives land for its kin’s domain where everything they produce belongs exclusively to them and their future descendants, guaranteeing them a poverty- free existence and a life not ruled by bombs, and not as out-laws, but in their own splendid comer of the Earth — a piece of their Motherland which they have established themselves. I am certain that such a family will not oppose a government which has given them an opportunity like that — on the contrary they will defend such a government more zealously than they now oppose it. They will defend such a government as passionately as they would defend their family nest. They will counter any attempt by agitators to separate Chechnya from such a government, or any attempt at racial discrimination.
I am convinced that if the government launched a campaign on a sufficiently large scale, introducing settlements like that into Chechen territory, even on an experimental basis, the ‘hot spot’ we call Chechnya will be transformed into not only one of the most stable regions of Russia, but one of the major centres of spirituality on the Earth. We shall see a complete hundred-and-eighty-degree turn. When Anastasia spoke of ways to eliminate crime, I too had a hard time believing what she said. But eventually, life inevitably kept bearing out the truth of her words. And as far as the Chechen Republic is concerned...
At the readers’ conference in Gelendzhik there were more than a thousand people from ah parts of Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. I was especially struck by the fact that a delegation had come from Chechnya. Nobody had invited them specially to the conference; the Chechens came ah on their own. Later I spoke with several of them personally
At the moment we are talking about Chechnya, but are other parts of our country free of crime? It’s there ah right,
and in just about every form you can imagine. One of the causes of crime is unemployment, and the fact that people are released from prison with no opportunity to rebuild their lives in our society. Anastasia’s project is capable of solving this problem.
Question. If you give a hectare of land to everybody in Russia who wants one, there won’t be enough land to go round. Especially for the rising generation.
Answer. At the present time we are faced with a question even more acute —- namely, that there are not enough people to work the land. And I’m not talking just about wasteland and land unsuitable for farming, but arable land as well. As to the rising generation, it is unfortunately the case that every year more Russians are dying than are being born. According to Goskomstat (the government statistics agency), the Russian population is showing an annual attrition rate of 750,000 people. So the current concern is over whether there will be a rising generation at all.
At first I too was under the misconception that a family, or even a single person, living, let’s say, in a flat in a five-storey apartment block, takes up less land than a family or person with a private house and a garden plot. But, as it turns out, it’s not that way at all. Any person, no matter what floor he lives on, consumes as food all sorts of things that grow on the land. To get those growing things delivered to him, roads, trucks, warehouses and stores are required, and all of these take up land-space too. So at any given moment every individual is being supported by his own plot of land. It supports him regardless of whether the individual has abandoned it or even thinks about it at all.
Naturally I wasn’t able to give a full answer to this question right off, as I didn’t have immediate access to all the figures, but I looked them up later and can now include them here.
Russia’s land: The total land mass of the Russian Federation comprises nearly 1,710 million hectares, of which only 667.7 million hectares are fit for agricultural production. Figures for the beginning of 1996 show 222 million hectares used for farming at the time, or 13% of Russia’s total land resources. Of these, 130.2 million hectares (7.6% of the total) were classified as arable land.
At the present time Russia’s population comprises 147 million people. Hence the ‘problem’ of allocating a hectare of land to any family wishing to have one simply doesn’t exist, according to the statistics. Moreover, the real problem is quite the opposite: the population of our country is shrinking drastically And here’s what the analysts have to say in regard to the general state of the Russian population: if current trends continue, between 2000 and 2045 the number of children under 15 years of age will be cut in half, while the number of senior citizens will increase by 50%. The capacity of the population to reproduce itself will be pretty much exhausted.
Oh yes, and one more problem: the quality of the arable lands of our country
Large areas of the nation are witnessing topsoil erosion. Specialists are of the opinion that these processes have already reached a critical stage at the regional and inter-regional levels. In all of Russia’s agricultural zones erosion (or the threat of erosion) has affected 117 million hectares (or 63% of all agricultural lands). Over the last 50 years the rate of erosion has increased by a factor of 30; the rise has been especially steep since the onset of the 1990s. According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) experts, Russia is among the top ten countries of the world in terms of erosion rates, and by 2002 erosion will affect as much as 75% of our farmland. I could go on and cite even more detailed statistics about our country’s land — they’re all pretty miserable. I shall include them at the end of this book.
Now, after becoming familiar with the statistics cited above, I can confidently state that Anastasia’s project is capable of stopping the drunken orgy our nation is indulging in with its land resources. To this day it is the only effective and feasible project in existence. It envisages the restoration of the soil’s fertility through natural processes. It does not require additional capital outlays on the government’s part, and yet with one fell swoop solves the problems or ecology, refugees and unemployment, and completely eliminates the problems we today are creating for our children by our attitude to the land.
Perhaps there is somewhere in Nature a more effective and feasible project. In that case, let it be brought forward. At the moment, all some agencies are doing is demanding more money for the restoration of agricultural production by outmoded means. The government does not have the money they require. But the saddest scenario would be for such plans to be realised by borrowing money abroad and having chemical fertilisers poked into the soil to its further detriment, since we do not have sufficient quantities of manure to go round.
That money will have to be repaid with interest, the condition of the land will deteriorate even further, and the whole problem will fall on the shoulders of the rising generation. I shall do all I can to promote Anastasia’s project. Of course, government officials will hardly accept a recluse from the taiga as an authority, and I am no specialist in agriculture, and so it will be a challenge for me to prove its effectiveness before our worldy-wise politicos, but nevertheless I shall keep on trying with all the means at my disposal.
I will be most grateful to those readers who are familiar with the intrigues of the workings of our government if they can explain in a more professional language the effectiveness of Anastasia’s project to our high-ranking government officials. Perhaps this book will find its way, too, into the hands of government agencies empowered to undertake such measures, and so I am appealing to them once more with a declaration on behalf of all willing participants. I don’t know how many willing participants there are, but I am certain that their numbers are in the millions. On their behalf I make the following request, namely that the Russian government...
.. .settle the land question on a legislative basis and grant each willing family in our nation one hectare of land free of charge, affording the opportunity to each willing family to establish its own kins dofnain, dignify it and lovingly care for its own piece of the Motherland, thereby making the Motherland as a whole beautiful and happy — the Motherland, after all, consists of little pieces.
Question. In many regions of our country the ecological situation is extremely complex. One could even call it dis-astrous today Wouldn’t it be better to first direct our efforts toward the improvement of ecological conditions In general — as many ecological organisations are doing at the mo-ment — before turning our attention to individual domains?
Answer. You yourself say that there are a lot of organisa-tions focusing on the ecological situation, but it is getting worse. Doesn’t this mean that simply focusing attention on it is not enough here, since the situation is continuing to dete-riorate and even reaching disastrous proportions?
Let us imagine a beautiful garden, with all different kinds of trees growing in just one splendidly laid out domain. Just one little corner of Paradise! Only one hectare in size. Of course that’s not sufficient for a global change, either for a country or the planet. But now let us imagine a million of such little corners and we shall see the whole Earth as a flourishing garden of Paradise. But still, it is up to each one of us in particular to start by setting up our own little corner. Perhaps then we shall be able to go from being totally focused on the subject to being totally involved in concrete actions.
Question. Do you believe that an unemployed family can get rich with the help of a single hectare of their own land? If you believe that, then tell me why today’s rural areas are at a standstill? People in these rural areas have land but they’re still going hungry
Answer Let’s consider this phenomenon together, but first I want to add a few more questions to the one you asked.
Why do millions of people say that for them four or five hundred square metres of a dacha plot has been a significant help to them in financial terms, significantly increasing the amount of food available to them, and yet rural residents with 1500 to 2500 square metres call themselves poor and starving?
Why? In addition to other factors, doesn’t the state of our well-being also depend on our level of conscious awareness? The majority of the rural population thinks that you can have a good life only in the cities, and that’s why you’ve got so many young people leaving the rural areas altogether.
I think our own recent propaganda is at least partially to blame. I’m sure you remember those glowing articles in the Soviet press in the fifties and sixties — who were the heroes back then? Miners, lumberjacks, machine operators, aeroplane pilots, sailors...
Even paintings of cityscapes invariably featured a host of smoking chimneys from industrial giants. There was occasionally a condescending reference to the collective farmer, but a Man tending his own garden plot was always negatively portrayed. They even tried building city-type apartment blocks in rural areas, thereby depriving people of their own back yard and made them work only on so-called communal land. Just as with the Auroville community in India — you could live on the land and cultivate it, but you still couldn’t have any land to call your own — all of which leads to some pretty sad results.
You hear constant talk from both politicians and the media of the widespread poverty in the Russian countryside today, just as in the majority of the population at large. There’s so much talk about it that everybody en masse ends up convinced that if you live in the countryside you must be poor. There are hardly any examples cited indicating that your well-being largely depends on you.
It must be in somebody’s interests to keep rehearsing the scenario: Don’t rely on yourself — I am the only one that can make you happy. That’s what you hear from a lot of religious leaders, as well as a lot of politicians gathering their own circle of voters around them. If you want to be poor and destitute, you can go right on believing them. I want to talk about not how to be poor, but how to be rich. When someone asks me if it is possible to live above the poverty line with one’s own parcel of land, I answer: Yes! And here’s a concrete example.
In 1999 an acquaintance of mine, a Moscow entrepreneur who had read Anastasia, invited me over for a visit. He intrigued me when he said that he could prepare a table almost identical to the one Anastasia had set before me in the taiga. When I arrived, his dining table was still empty We sat down and chatted, and Audrey (that was the entrepreneur’s name) kept looking at the clock, apologising for someone he was expecting being held up.
Before long his chauffeur arrived with two large baskets. The table was soon spread with tomatoes, cucumbers, bread and much else besides. The room was filled with tempting aromas. In a few minutes the women in Andrey’s household had laid out a splendid table. No Pepsi-cola to drink, but some marvellous, fragrant Russian kvass? Instead of French cognac there was home-made wine — on top of it all infused with some sort of herbs. The tomatoes and cucumbers were not as splendid as the ones Anastasia had in the taiga, but they were far tastier than what you could get at the supermarket or even at farmers’ markets.
“Where did you get all this from?” I asked Audrey in astonishment, and this is what he told me.
At some point on their way back to Moscow from Riazan,6 Andrey’s chauffeur had stopped the jeep at a small roadside market. They bought a litre-jar of pickles and a jar of toma-toes. Turning in to a small cafe, they decided to have a decent meal. They opened the jars they had bought and took a taste.
After lunch Andrey told his driver to turn around and go back to the roadside market. He bought from the elderly woman behind the table everything she had, and offered to give her a ride home in his jeep. The woman lived all alone in a rather old-looking cottage with a small vegetable garden. Her lot was situated in a wee village about fifteen kilometres from the main road. Andrey’s enterprising mind was already working quickly and here is how things unfolded.
Andrey purchased a house in the country with 2000 square metres of land, on the edge of a forest, about 120 kilometres from Moscow in an ecologically clean zone. He registered the house in the name of this woman, presented her with the documents and a contract obligating him to pay her a monthly amount of 300 US dollars, while the woman in turn was to give the produce from her garden to his family, except for what she ate herself.
The woman’s name was Nadezhda Ivanovna/ she was 61 years old. And she really didn’t understand documents or believe in them. Then Andrey took her to the local rural
council and asked the chairman to read her the documents and assure her that they were in order from a legal standpoint. The rural council chairman read over the documents and said to the woman:
“What have you got to lose, Ivanna? Nobody’s asking you to give up that tumble-down hut of yours. So if you don’t like it, you can always come back.” Nadezhda Ivanovna was finally persuaded to accept the offer.
For the past three years she’s been living in a well-built house. Andrey hired workers to dig her a well and put in a heating system with a hot water furnace. They also dug and outfitted a vegetable cellar. They put a fence around the whole property, brought in all the furnishings she needed, along with a goat, some chickens and animal feed. As well as a lot of other things needed to set up a home.
Nadezhda Ivanovna’s daughter and wee granddaughter came to live with her. Since Andrey has read what Anastasia had to say about vegetable-growing, he cultivates seedlings himself, but only with seeds he obtained from Nadezhda Ivanovna. Each summer Andrey’s father, a retired restaurant manager, takes the seedlings out to her home and gladly helps the women with the garden work.
This arrangement has provided both Nadezhda Ivanovna and her daughter with work and a place to live. Andrey and his family (his wife, their two children and his father) are supplied all summer long with fresh fruits and vegetables which are really eco-clean, along with marvellous marinated produce during the winter. And all year long they have access to health-giving herbs whenever they need them.
Maybe somebody will say that the example I have cited is an exception. Nothing of the sort! Ten years back, when I was president of the Interregional Association of Siberian Entrepreneurs, many of its members tried to set up their own household plots, either for their companies or just for their families. Today you can find such services advertised in the papers. Only there is one but — it is very hard to find any capable workers, or rather, anyone who is competent to do what Nadezhda Ivanovna did. And since such people are so hard to find, let’s recall for ourselves what attitude we should cultivate toward the land. Let’s share our experiences of how to be rich and happy on our own land, and not how to be poor.
Question. Vladimir Nikolaevich, I’m an entrepreneur. I too happen to know that many well-off people use the services of rural residents who are experts at cultivating and preserving agricultural produce, which is definitely superior in taste quality to what comes out of large-scale enterprises. But if everybody follows the same path, that will mean a saturation of the market, and then how is a family going to survive on income just from its own hectare of land, if it turns out that nobody needs the tomatoes and cucumbers they grow?
Answer The land yields not just tomatoes and cucumbers, but much more besides. However, even if half the total number of Russian families have their own domains, they still won’t be able to satisfy the demand for their produce over the next twenty to thirty years, since the demand will come not just from Russians but from many people abroad, especially in the rich, developed countries. The reason is that agricultural producers in most countries have got so caught up in the business of artificial selection and chemical treatment of crops that the original form of these crops has simply got lost — and I’m not just referring to how they look but to the fulness of their content. The example of cucumbers and tomatoes, though, gives everyone a chance to be convinced independently of the following:
Go into any average supermarket — or, better still, into an up-scale supermarket (there are quite a few these days in our big cities) — and you will see very beautiful imported tomatoes and cucumbers, priced from 30 roubles^ per kilogram. They are uniform in size and a treat for the eyes, and sometimes they’re sold with the little green stems left on. But there’s no aroma and no taste. They’re mutants! They’re an illusion, a mock-up, only an external reminder of what ought to be there. Most of the world today feeds on such mutants. This is not my discovery — it’s something people are concerned about in many of what we call the developed countries of the world.
A decree was passed in Germany, for example, mandating product labelling to include information about the presence of artificial additives, and people who can afford to are boycotting these products. Products grown in eco-clean regions, using only limited quantities of chemical fertiliser, cost a lot dearer in the West. Only the current Western agricultural system does not permit farmers to grow produce that is ecologically clean through and through. Farmers in Western countries are obliged to use not only hired labour but all sorts of technology besides, including weed-destroying chemicals and chemical fertilisers, in their efforts to maximise their profit margins.
Let’s say a Western farmer, and there are some of these already, wants to grow eco-clean produce, and even take what Anastasia said into account. You may remember she said that it wasn’t necessary to destroy all the weeds, since they too perforin significant functions. But let’s say a farmer still wants to grow this kind of produce, if only for his family and friends. Right off he’s faced with a challenging problem: seeds. Artificial selection has done its work — the original varieties have long since disappeared in the West. And there are few of them left even in Russia. Especially after imported seed stock was allowed on the Russian market.
If people use their own seed stocks, the variety of vegeta-bles will gradually see a restoration of their original proper-ties — drawing from the soil everything needed by Man — but a complete restoration will take decades. In Russia, possibly thanks to both poverty and the abundance of small private plots, many people are using their own seeds, and this turns out to be their greatest asset, the effects of which will soon be multiplied a hundredfold in monetary terms.
We’re talking about seeds, about the necessity of growing crops in eco-clean zones and the avoidance of chemical ferti-lisers — all this is very good, something they’re talking about in a lot of countries... But that’s it — only talk. There’s still a very real shortage of healthful and tasty agricultural produce In the world, especially in the developed countries. But that’s not all! The processing and preserving are of the utmost importance.
In spite of all the efforts of our technocratic world, our highly equipped technological complexes are unable to match many Russian grandmothers in their production of marinated tomatoes, cucumbers and cabbages of superior taste quality What’s the secret? Apart from the many pearls of wisdom, few people realise that once the tomatoes or cucumbers are plucked from the beds they have been growing in, no more than fifteen minutes should go by before they are sealed in preserving jars. The shorter this period the better. This is what preserves the marvellous aroma, the ethers and the aura. The same applies to the additives — dill, for example.
Water is extremely important. What good can we possi-bly derive from using chlorinated, dead water? We can boil it, steam the jars, but there are people who take spring water and add huckleberries, among other things... Would you like to try it yourselves? Just take a tumbler, fill it a third full of huckleberries, then fill it up with spring water, and you will be able to enjoy drinking this water even six months later.
fiou will also notice the strikingly distinctive, superior quality of the fruits and vegetables presewed for the winter, one jar at a time, by these many Russian ‘crackerjacks’. These products’ preeminence in quality of taste over produce from even the most well-known food companies in the world is something each one of us can confirm for ourselves by simply comparing the two.
Now let’s say a family living in its domain has canned a thousand litre-jars of tomatoes and cucumbers. The result is first-class produce, surpassing all others in many respects. In terms of taste quality and eco-clean production there is none like it anywhere on the planet. This produce becomes a highly desirable commodity for the tables of many consumers in various countries of the world, including American billionaires and tourists at Cyprus’ famed hotel resorts. And it will say on the iaoels: From auanovs domain, From Petrovs domain, From Sidorov’s domain? etc.
Of course entrepreneurs won’t be interested in selling just a thousand litre-jars. But let’s say there are three hundred family domains in a community, they would end up with three hundred thousand jars, and that would get a major business firm’s attention. I would imagine that initially a jar would cost the same as one currently in the supermarket, somewhere around a dollar, but once people actually taste it, the price will go up, maybe as much as dozens of times.
I mentioned cucumbers and tomatoes just as an example. There’s a whole lot of things that a domain can produce — for example, wines, liqueurs, sweet berry wines — from currants, raspberries, blackberries, sweet rowanberries — and so much else besides. Each person can make up their own ‘bouquet’, improving it more and more as time goes on. And no super-expensive elite wines will be able to compete with them. There aren’t any wine-making materials anywhere in the world like those you can get in Russia. Besides, wines can be prepared using herbs according to ancient recipes, and can be made healthful and vitamin-enriched.
Anastasia says that soon the hand-embroidered Russian kosovorotka10 will be considered the most fashionable garment in the world. So this is another line to think along. During the winter months families can prepare hand-made wood- carvings.
It all comes down to the folk saying: If you want to be happy, be it. You could also say: If you want to be rich, be it. The main thing is: not to program yourself for poverty. You should attune your expectations to wealth. It makes a lot more sense to think about how to become wealthy, and not to constantly tell yourself it’s impossible.
Question. Anastasia maintains that it is a lot easier for young couples to hold on to their love for each other in a domain such as you describe than in a typical apartment. Please tell me whether you have discussed this point with psychologists or people who research family problems, and if so, what do they have to say about this, and what makes it happen?
Answer. I haven’t talked about this with any academics. Just what precisely makes the love last longer is not something
that frightfully interests me. The main thing is that it hangs in there. The fact that it happens is something you could possibly confirm for yourself after thinking it over. Consider where you would like to see your own son or daughter living — in a city flat, which is like a sack made of stone, or in a house surrounded with a magnificent garden?
Consider what you would like to feed your daughter, or son, or grandchildren — tinned goods or fresh, ecologically clean produce? And in the long term, do you want to see your children living healthy lives or living off the local pharmacy? Ask any young woman who, other things being equal, she would prefer to marry — someone who had set up his life and his future family nest in a concrete apartment block or in a house with a splendid garden? I think the majority would choose the latter.
Comment. The regeneration of any country can begin only on the basis of its spiritual rebirth. Certain members of our government, including the President, have realised this and started talking about spirituality. Anastasia is considered by a majority of readers to be a highly spiritual individual, living according to the laws of God the Creator. She speaks of spiritual values, while here you are leading people astray, calling them in particular to get involved in business on their own plots of land, thereby leading them away from spirituality
Response. In the long term, I think that nobody will ever be able to lead mankind away from true values. It’s good that our leaders today are talking about spirituality As for Anastasia’s sayings, even though I didn’t always understand them myself at first, yet later they would still spill over into some kind of concrete reality. Concrete reality is more meaningful to me than philosophical musings, and so here I am talking about concrete things, which I consider most important on the spiritual plane as well. The world probably has a great many concepts of spirituality and God.
After talking with Anastasia and trying to make sense out of what happened, such concepts started coming together for me too. For me God is a person. A good, smart and life-affirming person. A person aspiring to a happy existence for people, His children, to all alike and to each Man in particular. God is the Father, loving and caring for each one of us. Yet to each Man He has given complete freedom of choice. God is the wisest person, striving every moment to do only good for His children. And His Sun comes up each day, the grass and the flowers grow. Trees grow, clouds sail by and water gurgles, ready at any moment to quench any Man’s thirst.
And I don’t believe, and nothing can ever make me believe, that our wise Father could ever think spirituality is something to be attained only by incessant talk about it without specific concrete actions.
Ever since the so-called Iron Curtain fell, our country has been flooded with hordes of all sorts of people passing themselves off as religious preachers, and quite a few home-grown ones have popped up as well. All trying to tell us what God the Father wants of us. Some say we need to eat a special way, others teach us the best words to use in addressing God. Still others — the Krishnaites, for example, maintain that you have to jump up and down and chant mantras from morning ’til night. For me, all that’s balderdash. I can imagine no way of paining God more than through antics like that — all that jumping up and down and wailing. Any loving parent tries to see to it that his son or daughter carries on his father’s work, taking part in conjoint creations with him.
God’s first-hand creations are all around us. And what can be a higher manifestation of our love for God than a caring attitude to them, or building our lives, our own well-being and that of our children with the help of these Divine creations?
All these antics and meditations have not made us any happier — either our country as a whole or any of its citizens
individually; And the reason they have not made us happier is that they are leading us in exactly the opposite direction — away from truth, away from God. Their efforts have been intense and constant, tossing out all sorts of new variations in their antics as truth. Doctrines come and go. Some of them which have been around for ages now only provoke mirth, while others pop up for a few years and then disappear without a trace like a flash in the pan, leaving only a trail of dirt, garbage and ruined lives in their wake.
To my question as to why we are constantly compelled to listen to various rantings about God from all sorts of preachers, and why God does not speak His own words to us directly, Anastasia replied:
“Words? 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
God talks with us every moment, but is it not our spiritual apathy that makes us unwilling to hear Him? All I have to do, comes the thought, is chant a mantra or jump up and down and heavenly manna will fall my way which will make me happy and choose me as rider over all. Presto — no sooner said than done! And here we have to spend years setting up our Paradise, waiting until our trees grow and bear their fruit and our flowers blossom... Yet if we don’t do that we are not only rejecting God, we are actually insulting Him — degrading Him with our antics and pompous verbalisations.
HQuoted from Book 4, Chapter 11: “Three prayers”.
Of course you can refuse to listen to Anastasia, and especially to me. But ultimately, at some point you will walk into a springtime forest or garden, where you will stand still and listen to your heart. Many people’s hearts will most certainly hear the Father’s voice. As to the question of what God can do in the face of the energies of annihilation holding sway on the Earth, to say nothing of so many people taking His name in vain even as they strive to gain personal power over others, the Father (according to Anastasia) has replied:
“I shall come up as the dawn at the inception of the oncoming day By caressing all creations on the Earth without exception, the rays of the Sun will help My daughters and sons understand that each one in their own soul can hold conversation with My Soul.”12
He believed — and still believes — in us, affirming:
“There is one main defence against all the many and varied causes leading one into dire straits, against all the barriers that a lie can throw up in one’s face — namely, the fact that My daughters and sons aspire to the conscious awareness of truth. A lie inevitably has its limits, but truth is limitless — it will impart itself as a conscious awareness to the hearts of My daughters and sons.”
So, there is no excuse for tardiness in retrieving from one’s heart the conscious awareness of God’s son — not of a slave or some half-crazed bio-robot jumping up and down to the jingling of a bell.
But how much can one ask of the Father — “Give me!” “Grant me!” “Set me free!”? Isn’t it time we ourselves did something pleasing for our Father? And what could be pleasing or bring joy to Him? In response to a question like this, Anastasia once referred to a simple test we can make use of
to verify the authenticity of the many religious concepts and tendencies we are faced with. She described it this way:
“When your heart is stirred by something someone says, claiming to speak in the Father’s name, take a look at how the preacher lives his own life, and then imagine what the world would be like if everybody started to live that way.”
This simple test can help verify a lot of things. I tried imagining what mankind would be like if everybody to a man started chanting mantras from morning ’til night the way the Krishnaites do, and the immediate result was the end of the world. Now imagine how it would be if every Man on the Earth started growing his own garden. The Earth, naturally, would be transformed into a blossoming garden of Paradise.
As an entrepreneur — all right, a former entrepreneur, but still one at heart — I like specifics, and perhaps that’s why I consider ‘spiritual’ someone who can take actions which will be beneficial to the Earth, his family, his parents and, consequently, God. If someone who calls himself spiritual cannot happify either himself or the woman of his heart, or his family or children, then that is a false spirituality.
Question. Anastasia spoke of a fundamentally different approach to education for children, and a new school. Is this something feasible only in the kind of community she has designed, or in our major urban centres too? What does Shchetinin think about this? Back in your first book you quoted Anastasia as saying she considers raising children a top priority and was always trying to bring up the subject, whereas you seem to be constantly avoiding it — it almost never comes up in your books. Why?
Answer. Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin set up his boarding school in the forest. As soon as the foundation is laid for the first community consisting of families’ own domains, we shall have to ask Mikhail Petrovich to work out a special programme for the future school. And if he cannot teach in it himself, I shall ask him to at least send his best pupils to it, and select appropriate instructors from among those cur-rently teaching.
I don’t think setting up a school like that in today’s urban centres is really feasible. Anastasia’s sayings aside, let’s just think back to our own schooldays. You hear one thing at school, another in the street and still something else at home. While you are trying to figure out where the truth lies, trying to get a complete picture of the world, half your life goes by I think we have to try and start living a normal life ourselves before trying to educate our children. And once we have got a life set up that’s worthy of human existence, then we can take care of our children in partnership with the school, working in harmony, complementing each other.
Anastasia, indeed, often speaks about bringing up chil-dren, but she doesn’t talk about anything resembling a system scheduled according to days, hours and minutes. And quite often what she says is not all that clear. She says, for example, that a child’s education begins with your own education, with setting up a happy existence for yourself, with your own attempts to get in touch with God’s thoughts. And one of the principal points in this education is precisely the setting up of a splendid kin’s domain.