Monday, 21 January 2019

4 gods-within us — continued

For the past 6 years, 3 friends and myself occasionally meet for coffee in downtown Ottawa . We first met at local peace events and discovered we shared a common humanity of ‘the god-within’. We enjoyed meeting for coffee, and soon called ourselves the ‘4 gods-within’.

This is my third report about our meetings which began in December 2013.


We are: Bill, a retired political scientist, author and Gandhian fellow; Mony, MBA, author and television producer and her artist husband Alberto; and me.

On January 16 we began our 2019 meeting with a flood of new ideas heralding a new era of nonkilling, love and joy.

Koozma presented two ethical stories from Jon-Lee.

Story One was about a group of alumni who got together for a visit with their wise professor. When the conversation soon turned to complaints about endless stress of work and life, the professor offered his guests coffee. He returned from the kitchen with a large pot of coffee and an eclectic assortment of cups: ‘porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain, some expensive, some quite exquisite.’ Quietly he invited them to help themselves to some fresh coffee.
As his former student had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor quietly cleared his throat and began to patiently address the small gathering. ‘You may have noticed that all of the nicer looking cups were taken up first, leaving behind the plainer and cheaper ones. While it is only natural for you to want only the best for yourself yet that is actually the source of much of your stress-related problems.’
He continued. ‘Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In fact, the cup merely disguises or dresses up what we drink. What each of you really wanted was coffee, not a cup, but you instinctively went for the best cups. Then you began eyeing each other’s cups.
‘Now consider this: Life is coffee. Jobs, money and position in society are merely cups. They are just tools to shape and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not truly define nor change the quality of the life we live. Often, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee….’
The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything. So please remember: Live Simply. Love Generously. Care Deeply .Speak Kindly.
And remember — the richest person is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least.
Story Two was about a 92-year-old wise man, whose wife just died. He was waiting patiently in the lobby of a nursing home, ready to move in himself. As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, the nurse provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.
‘I love it,’ he stated with enthusiasm.
‘Mr. Jones, you haven’t seen the room; just wait.’
‘That doesn’t have anything to do with it,’ he replied.
‘Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged....it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty
'I have with parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.
‘Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away. Just for this time in my life.
‘Wise age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you’ve put in.
‘So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories! Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.’
Remember the simple rules to be happy:
    1. Free your heart from hatred.
    2. Free your mind from worries.
    3. Live simply.
    4. Give more.
    5. Expect less.

We discussed 5 films
  1. The Good Place ’ is a fantasy comedy series on Netflix on common grounds of morals and ethics. It reminded me of my University of Saskatchewan days where I took a fascinating philosophy course on Morals and Ethics from the memorable Dr. Robert Paton.
  2. The Reluctant Saint ’ is a 1962 film about Joseph of Cupertino, a 17th-century Italian Franciscan friar and mystic, who did not seem to fit in anywhere, but found a solid place in society with simple actions of love.
  3. Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds ’ is a 5-part series on YouTube, which explores the inner and outer worlds via different philosophies. It provides us with a wider perspective in seeing ourselves as part of nature.
  4. Brother, Son, Sister, Moon’ is another classic film, an examination of the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. This man spoke to the poor in France and other parts of Europe by denouncing the wealth of the Catholic Church, while rejecting many Catholic dogmas and doctrines, especially the need for ordained priesthood, and working towards a world without wars.
  5. Roma’ is a 2018 film about life of a housekeeper in a Mexican neighbourhood Colonia Roma — highly recommended! It is said to be an antidote to our highly fast-paced Smartphone society. We need to stop, look and listen to life in our environment, and enjoy its existence.
We talked briefly about the Mondragon cooperatives in Spain, founded in 1956 by graduates of the local technical college. Its first product was paraffin heaters. By 2014, it employed 74,117 people in 257 companies and organizations in four business divisions: finance, industry, retail and knowledge. Today, they have over 100,000 members, all owners of their workplaces with votes in their businesses.

What is the essence of the god-within?

We ended with this question. Invoking ‘the higher God’ was creatively refrained towards the ‘inner god-within’ as a way to get to the core of humanity. Instead of invoking Jesus Christ, Buddha, Allah, etc., why don’t we simply invoke ourselves by our actions as showing the way of love, beauty, compassion, and nonkilling? Is that not the essence of truth into the mysterious realm of spirituality? After all, are we not real energy-driven instruments of these practical qualities that make us human?

The story of the Greek Gods and Godesses is history. Most people today would acknowledge that ancient story of divine and semi-divine figures as mythology and religion.

In the 21st century, can we now acknowledge that man is connected to divine energy? Can we now publicly proclaim ‘I am an instrument of love and compassion?’ Or ‘I am an instrument of peace?’ When congruent, our intent and our actions of the gods-within form the strategic map of reality as part of one common humanity of brothers and sisters in spirit. The old ethical maxim (‘Do unto others as you wish them to do onto you’) has been enriched. The traditional wisdom masters of the past (Jesus Christ, Buddha, Allah, Lev N. Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., etc.) would be pleased.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Lev Tolstoy and American Philosophy

Lev Tolstoy and American Philosophy” (Лев Толстой и американская философия), including Canadian Doukhobors, was an open lecture with a Microsoft PowerPoint slide presentation given in Russia on October 11, 2018, at 5 pm by Dr. Irina A. Anosova.

This lecture stems from her 1995 PhD dissertation: "American Philosophy in the Context of Leo Tolstoy’s Spiritual Legacy." While researching Tolstoy, she became interested in Doukhobors, contacted Koozma, and came to Canada in 2005 and 2010 for field research. This short lecture was an overview of her message to appreciate Tolstoy and Doukhobors.

She was the second speaker for the event “Tolstoy Library: a century-long project” (Библиотека Толстого: проект длиною в век) celebrating the 190th birthday of Lev Tolstoy and the 100th anniversary of the Lev Tolstoy Library (No 2) on Vasilievsky Island, a bourough in the center of St. Petersburg, Russia.

Tolstoy Library and event poster.

The library was founded in 1918 and named in 1920 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of L.N. Tolstoy. The library displays history, art, film and video, has meeting rooms and about 89,000 books.

Anosova's 23-slide presentation was in Russian, which she sent to Koozma to post online. We translated, edited, and added links. Slide #18 (Doukhobor meetings) was added because she mislabeled slide #17 (USCC dove formation, 1999) as a “regular Doukhobor meeting.”

Download the enhanced Microsoft PowerPoint slide file (PPT 5,436 KB). <2018_Anosova_Tolstoy_American_Philosophy.ppt>

Dr. Anosova (centre) showing title slide in the library "green room".

Dr. Anosova reviewed the many American philosophers who influenced Tolstoy, and explained Tolstoy's connection with Canadian Doukhobors. She began with American transcendentalism from the 1700s through the mid 1800s (Franklin, Jefferson, Paine, Channing, Emerson, Thoreau); progressed to nonresisters (Mennonites, Quakers, Ballou, Garrison); then introduced Doukhobors.

Several photos gathered during her 2010 trip across Canada were used — women pulling plow, painting of a village in Saskatchewan, USCC centennial, USCC human dove formation, staff of the Doukhobor Discovery Centre, and ending with a tribute to Koozma J. Tarasoff for all his help.

Other speakers presented the website “All of Tolstoy in one click” (Весь Толстой в один клик), readings from Tolstoy's three novels, the exhibit “Discovering Tolstoy again” (Открывая Толстого заново), and a Tolstoy family tree poster.

The event was announced in a poster (above), formal press release (below), then reported on a news blog with 6 photos (bwlow) taken at the event attended by about 15 people. We hope many will see this story and the slides.

More by Dr. Irina Anosova,
Dept.of Philosophy, St. Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts, Russian Federation.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Gubanov, Russian Doukhobor Artist Dies

Губанов Владимир Петрович (1951-2018)

Vladimir (‘Volodia’) Petrovich Gubanov will long be remembered as an outstanding talented Russian Doukhobor sculptor and artist. He died December 17, 2018 at his home in the town of Nebug, Tuapinsky district, Krasnodar krai, on the Black Sea, 130 km. (80 mi.) north of Sochi. He was 67 years old.

Gubanov 1995, Canada (left and centre) and 2014 Georgia (right).  

Canadian Doukhobors met him in 1995 during his 4-month expedition across Canada. He produced nearly 40 portrait sketches of Doukhobors, many of which were published in Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers’ Strategies for Living (2002).

In an August 1995 interview, Volodia said:
I believe the Doukhobor movement has a future. As a Doukhobor I believe that people must preserve planet earth. If people are quiet about wars, then there is no future for our civilization. (Spirit Wrestlers ..., page 223). 
Vladimir was invited to Canada to commemorate the 1995 Centennial of the 1895 arms burning by Doukhobors in Russia. He came with sketches of Russian Doukhobors, several oil paintings, and a huge mural: "The Doukhobors' Destruction of Weapons", oil on canvas, 100 x 200 cm. The mural was promoted on this poster-calendar 'Spirit of '95'.

Click here to enlarge poster.

Vladimir Gubanov was born in the Doukhobor village of Orlovka (map by Johnathan Kalmakoff), Bogdanovskoy district, Georgian S.S.R. — near the site of the 1895 arms burning. His father herded cattle on the kolhoz (collective farm), but later in the 1970s left for Nalchik, in northern Caucasus. The Gubanovs resided across the entire former Soviet Union and Vladimir’s grandfather was exiled to a Koylma gulag labor camp in Siberia for 10 years because he owned 11 cows instead of the allotted one per family and was charged under Stalin with the crime of being a kulak.

In 1974 Vladimir left home to study art in Rostov-on-Don, Moscow and the Far East. In 1989 he completed studies at the Stroganov Moscow State Academy of Arts and Industry. He eventually landed a job at the large health-spa hotel resort "Molniya Yamal" in Nebug, where he continued to paint, do interior design and sculptures on commission.

He soon acquired a plot of land less than a kilometer uphill from the resort to build his own art studio and home. Slowly it became a modern three-story motel apartment designed in the shape of a ship (from above), with studio (muzei-masterskaya) and gallery (kartinnaya galereya) where he made and displayed his art. In 1993 he dedicated part of the gallery as a Doukhobor Cultural Centre to promote the world-wide Doukhobor movement, where he hoped to host international conferences. The Gallery was incorporated in 2006.


For the Doukhobors, Vladimir had planned a renaissance in the development of culture with a balance between individual and social needs. He said: ‘If we lose our culture and our social charter, we will lose our soul.’ In his studies, he discovered that the first Doukhobors were not vegetarians, they were not against dancing and song, and bowing to the ground was not essential. He urged Canadian Doukhobors to embrace the use of all the creative resources to attract youth to their social movement. Vladimir Gubanov was indeed a renaissance man with deep respect for culture and the future of humanity.


More
  1. ‘A Russian Artist’s Odyssey to Preserve the Future’. In Koozma J. Tarasoff, Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers’ Strategies for Living (2002), pages 223-225.
  2. Koozma J. Tarasoff. ‘The Events that Shook the World in 1895’. In Ahimsa Nonviolence, Vol. II, No 3, May-June 2006: 244-246.
  3. Tolstoy & Doukhobors — 42 image CD’. Spirit Wrestlers Blog, Sept. 8, 2011.
  4. Владимир Губанов (Vladimir Gubanov), Odnoklasniki, last updated 31 May 2014. — Similar to U.S.A. Facebook.
  5. International Doukhobor Meeting-Exhibit. Proposal to Build Bridges between East and West'. November 11, 2016.
  6. Koozma J. Tarasoff and Andrei Conovaloff. Images — paintings and drawings depicting the event (see image 6) in ‘Historic 1895 Burning of Guns: descriptions, selections and translations’. See image 6. Updated May 21, 2018.
  7. Leo Tolstoy and the Doukhobors: Conscientious Objection’. Gandhi Information Centre, 2019.
  8. Visual Arts and Nonkilling. A mural commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Arms Burning in Russia.’ #3 in Nonkilling Arts Research Committee Letter: Vol. 3, N. 1 (January - February 2019).