Saturday, 20 February 2016

Q68: What is the Doukhobor Legacy?

From Valery Kalmykov, Rostov-on-Don, Russia (February 3, 2016):

В современных официальных изданиях посвященных духоборцам, а также на различных собраниях и мероприятиях очень много говориться о наследии духоборцев, которые им оставили их великие предки. Наследие, идеи и веры, которых пытается придерживаться современное поколение их потомков. Сформировать основные тезисы или понятия этого наследия, я неоднократно просил духоборцев проживающих в Канаде, но ответа внятного так и не получил. Прошу вас и читателей ответить на вопрос. ЧТО ЯВЛЯЕТСЯ ДУХОБОРЧЕСКИМ НАСЛЕДИЕМ?In today’s official publications dedicated to the Doukhobors, as well as at various meetings and events there is a lot of talk about Doukhobor heritage that was left to them by their ancestors. They strive to follow the heritage, ideas and beliefs of their descendants. To form the main points or basis of this legacy, I have repeatedly asked Canadian Doukhobors about this, but received no clear answers. I ask you and your readers to answer this question: WHAT COMPRISES DOUKHOBOR LEGACY/HERITAGE?


I believe I answered this question in my paper: ‘Doukhobor Nonkilling Legacy’, similar to Wisdom of the Ages: Unified Doukhobor Beliefs, revised from Chapter IV of my book: Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers’ Strategies for Living (2002), pages 361-378.

Context of the Doukhobor legacy
Spirit-Wrestlers or Doukhobors have been around for several centuries. ... [and now live around the world] ...
  • What have we learned from the wanderings of this group around the world?
  • What useful insights have we gained?
  • What wisdom have we discovered from the Doukhobor experience as we begin the new century?
  • Has this social movement transformed the way we look at the world?
... [My] answers take the form of a summary of 10 central Doukhobor values, propositions or commandments. The numbers of people involved in this social experiment are very small, but their ideas are pregnant with possibilities for a world without war. ...
  1. The Spirit Within
  2. The Peace Act
  3. The Work Ethic
  4. Cooperation is the Way
  5. Creativity and Inventiveness
  1. Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
  2. Singing from the Soul
  3. The Spirit of Sharing and Hospitality
  4. The Bridge-Building Tradition
  5. Roots for Survival
For me, the most important Doukhobor legacy today and in the future is 'nonkilling'.

More about Doukhobor legacy and heritage

Q21. Current Beliefs and Aspirations of Doukhobors — Feb. 20, 2009.
Q35. Why the public is interested in the Doukhobors today? — Aug. 15, 2010.
Q38. Doukhobors and Christian Mysticism? — Dec. 12, 2010.
Q57. Myth of Biblical Christianity — June 2, 2013.


  1. Dear Valery, from what I have seen as the earliest of accounts, the people who became known as Doukhobors received the greatest gift. To know Jesus Christ through the gospels of the bible. They believed in Him and who He is, took His teachings to heart, and received the power of the Holy Spirit. They lived out His instructions as best they could and through the most severe conditions held deeply to their faith in Him. They lived as the first Christians did, shared the gift they received, and grew united in their faith in Christ. To me, my duty most important with respect to founding heritage is to pass this truth to the future generations, far more important than the words of a passing “Doukhobor Leader” or historical event like the burning of arms. I personally do not put the heart of my identity in those things. As a Canadian born descendant looking at my early ancestors back in Russia, I can see their strength and unity was the fruit of their faith in Jesus Christ. They were a faith community united in Him. They put Christ above any man, leader, or social idealism. This is what I will pass to my future generations as their legacy.

    1. Dear Kim,
      In transcending the trappings of Orthodoxy and sectarianism (this means rejecting the church as an institution, even Jesus Christ as a God), Doukhobors outdistanced much of Christianity and churchism.

      They adopted the Law of Love as their central core belief in much the same way that Lev N. Tolstoy did in his Kingdom of God is Within You (1894) when he distilled the wisdom of the ages into a moral philosophy of life. They argued that this spirit dwells in each of us, even though not all are aware of it.

      In a real sense, our actions matter because we have the spirit of Love or God in each of us. Thus we should love one another so as to attain greater happiness for all. The adoption of the nonkilling philosophy (this means making wars a crime against humanity) helps us more than anything else in the establishment of a wholesome life on earth.

      With due respect, the rejection of militarism in 1895 was one of the most important legacies that Doukhobors gave to humanity. That spirit has since been encapsulated into the fundamental notion of nonkilling (which has been greatly elaborated by others at the Center for Global Nonkilling).

    2. Dear Koozma, for me personally, the part of my heritage I embrace the most is my ancestors belief in Christ and their obedience to follow His teachings at any cost. Non-killing being just a single aspect of this. His teachings reach much deeper into fulfilling every aspect of life we are faced with. For me it is complete teaching and I don't know how to transcend from what I know as perfection. What other descendants choose to embrace and pass to the future is their free will and I certainly wish no disrespect to others for their choice of focus. I especially respect any efforts for peace and non-violence toward all.
      Thanks for the opportunity to comment Koozma, Best Regards, Kim

    3. My Russian ancestors provide incredible witness and inspiration. I have read many historical accounts including first hand testimony of the people of my Russian heritage, testimonies of people like Gregory Ivanovich Sukharev, who endured unimaginable suffering because of their true belief in Jesus and strict obedience to His teachings and commandments in the bible, see:
      If this story is unfamiliar to anyone reading this post, please read it, it is worth the time..
      This ancestor tells us in his own testimony why he did what he did, and where he received his strength to endure.
      “ Because Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, strictly forbids the killing of people, and I believe in His teachings and wish to gratify His will”
      “this is contrary to God’s law which says in the Sixth commandment “Do not kill” I wish to adhere to this Commandment, because I believe in and practice the law of Christ, and I serve Him only”
      During his immense suffering he told us how he endured:
      “always held before me a mental picture of the anguish of my Lord Jesus Christ, as a consolation and support to the strength of my soul”
      “we shall trust in our Almighty Creator, Christ the Saviour”
      “the great truth of the testament of our Lord Jesus Christ. His example in suffering the throes of anguish and torment on the cross gave me strength and confidence. I fervently called upon the Heavenly Father to give me strength to survive the ordeal”
      It is very clear where our ancestor received his moral position and strength to endure. The Doukhobors in Russia were subjected to suffering and anguish beyond any other testimony I know of, so they are the greatest example to me. His level of commitment is shown by his testing, and his strength to endure is told in his own words. As a descendant of people like this I feel it must be remembered their actions were the direct result of their faith, and their faith was founded in the teachings of the bible commandments and gospels. I ask, were our ancestors such as these somehow less spiritually evolved? Did they reject the teaching found in the bible or Jesus as Lord God? Where exactly would they transcend to that would display a higher level of spirituality? Personally I will be passing on the faith of these ancestors to my generations in hope that if one day they are tested they can have the same source of strength of which to draw.

  2. Ian Prattis, Ottawa, Ontario26 February 2016 at 06:41

    Hi Koozma – the legacy is writ large in the final chapter of my new book!
    Dr. Ian Prattis, Founder Friends for Peace and Founder Pine Gate Mindfulness Community