Thursday, 23 January 2020

Q84: Connect Bogomils to Doukhobors?

Rifet Bahtijaragic Bach of Vancouver, BC writes:

Could you please make some connection between Bogomils and Doukhobors?

Maps from Bogomilism, Origins (Wikipedia), and
The Doukhobors in Russia, 1802, by Jonathan Kalmakoff.

Answer by Koozma and Andrei

Bogomil means 'favored by God', or 'dear to God'. Doukhobor means 'spirit wrestler'. Both appear to have partially evolved from ancient Gnostic sects south of the Russian Empire, and may be indirectly connected.
The Bogomils were dualists or Gnostics in that they believed in a world within the body and a world outside the body. They did not use the Christian cross, nor build churches, as they revered their gifted form and considered their body to be the temple. This gave rise to many forms of practice to cleanse oneself through purging, fasting, celebrating and dancing. (Bogomilism, Wikipedia)
What little is known of Gnostic sects 2000 years ago appears similar to some characteristics of staroobryadtsy (old ritualists) and many varieties of folk-protestants in Russia, including many tribes of Spiritual Christians, like dukhobortsy — all dissidents and non-conformers to a ruling orthodox faith, heretics.

Many publications say Doukhobors may have evolved from Bogomils, but you seem to be asking exactly how they connected. It appears that at different times in different places, Bogomils and Doukhobors were both influenced by ancient Gnosticism, and Bogomils may not have directly connected with Doukhobors about 7 centuries after they formed in southern Europe.

The map shows that most of Gnosticism migrated into southern Europe, forming the Bogomils and other sects, and a few missionaries traveled north, east of the Black Sea, delivering their teachings north into the territory of the Doukhobors about 700-800 years before Doukhobors were named. This is probably the possible 'connection' you are seeking.
The Slavonic sources are unanimous on the point that Bogomil's teaching was Manichaean. A Synodikon [book] from the year 1210 adds the names of his pupils or "apostles", Mihail, Todur, Dobri, Stefan, Vasilie and Peter. Zealous missionaries carried their doctrines far and wide. In 1004, scarcely 25 years after the introduction of Christianity into Kievan Rus [Doukhobor territory], we hear of a priest Adrian teaching the same doctrines as the Bogomils. He was imprisoned by Leontius, Bishop of Kiev. In 1125, the Church in the south of Rus had to combat another heresiarch named Dmitri. (Bogolmilism, Origins, Wikipedia)
Dukhobortsy were named about 234 years ago, in 1786, 782 and 667 years after the apostles Adrian and Dmitri were documented and stopped.

Dr. Svetlana Inikova, Russian Academy of Science, has extensively researched Doukhobors and their history in Russia. In 2000 she reported:
Scholars still have not solved the question as to where or when the movement first appeared. ... This is due primarily to the scarcity of eighteenth-century historical sources, and secondarily to the difficulty in accurately identifying the dissidents described in the documents. (Spiritual Origins and the Beginnings of Doukhbor History, 2000, Doukhobor Genealogy Website.)
What little may exist of this history is probably buried in foreign archives and libraries. Finding the details and publishing in English is a task for future scholars. The spread of Gnosticism into the growing Russian Empire is generally not shown in histories that focus on the origins of Catharism in Europe.

Tarasoff concludes

I believe the Doukhobors acquired and lost many characteristics since 1786, from many cultures they encountered throughout their history. In the 1890s, Lev N. Tolstoy was a major influence.

A major contrast with Bogomils is that Doukhobors, as far as I know, were not dualists. They did not believe that the world is divided by God and Satan, but they shared with Bogomils the rejection of the church, its dogma, its hierarchy, and lavish decorations such as icons. Both called each other brothers and sisters and treated each other as such. As well they believed in unity of everything including respecting nature, and being active instead of following a literal interpretation of the scriptures. Above all, human beings were to be treated as divine — so that it became wrong to kill a member of the human family.

In brief, both Bogomils and Doukhobors believed in a radical reform of the 'church'. Their ideal conception was in being good people pure and simple. They may be indirectly connected.

See all Questions and Answers.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Putin Improves Russian Constitution

On January 15th, my wife and I watched the Russian language broadcast of Vladimir Putin’s Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, January 15, and proposed changes to the Russian Constitution. We agree that Putin was genuine and revolutionary, and presented himself as a world statesman.

Note that Russia provides an ‘open’ English translation, but Canada and the US governments do not provide translations for foreign governments.

Putin, now 67, has been in power since 1999 — more than 20 years. In 2024 his current term ends and he will step down, unless an early election is held. The system he has put in place should continue into the future. Russia deserves to maintain its moral authority in which it and the former Soviet Union won World War II and defeated the The Third Reich at a cost of over 27 million citizens.

Our impression is nearly the opposite of most Western news commentators critical of Putin for allegedly seeking to enhance his power, and his behaviour contrasts with most western politicians who appear more focused on getting reelected than serving their constituencies.

Putin introduced his proposals with this introduction:
The Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly is delivered at the very beginning of the year for the first time. We need to address large-scale social, economic and technological tasks facing the country more quickly and without delay. … Our society is clearly calling for change. People want development, and they strive to move forward in their careers and knowledge in achieving prosperity, and they are ready to assume responsibility for specific work. Quite often, they have better knowledge of what, how and when should be changed where they live and work, that is, in cities, districts, villages and all across the nation … And, I repeat, they must be actively involved in this process.
Putin said although the potential of the 1993 Constitution is far from being exhausted, he suggests ‘a number of constitutional amendments for discussion, ... for the further development of Russia as a rule-of-law welfare state where citizens’ freedoms and rights, human dignity and well-being constitute the highest value.’

Here are Putin’s main proposals for a public vote:
  • Education National Project — Across the vast country, more day nurseries, teacher training, computers, student lunches, teacher aides and support. More university scholarships for medical specialists and technology.
  • Birth rate — Financial support for 2 child couples.
  • Internet — Free to all citizens.
  • Democracy — Move some powers from the President to the Duma (Parliament).
  • Medical — Enhanced free healthcare and medicine.
  • Wages, Pensions— Living minimum wage.
  • Military — No budget change. Now about 10% of USA budget. No threat of war.
  • Residency — Any future President should live in Russia continuously for 25 years.
  • Citizenship — Civil servants barred from holding multiple citizenship.
  • President term limit — 2 consecutive terms.
  • State council — Increased scope and powers.
In compliance with Putin’s proposals, 18 of the 23 members of the Federal Cabinet of Russia stepped down, and 5 remained. Most news focused on Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev who was replaced by Mikhail Mishustin.

Many speculate that Putin will try to manage the more strategic and powerful State Council for the rest of his life. ('The World Is Experiencing a New Form of Autocracy,' The Atlantic, March 2020.)

Russian insider, Abbas Gallyamov, a former government speech writer, reported on his Facebook page (January 21, 2020) that Putin removed 3 people strongly disliked in certain parts of society — the ministers for culture and education, and a deputy prime minister who oversaw sport at the height of a doping scandal. Previously the Kremlin said it would appoint who it wanted and didn’t care if people didn’t like their choice. Now the logic has changed and the authorities do not want to irritate society. It appears that public opinion matters. But, the new cabinet needs more business leaders to improve the economy. In general, there are no major changes to government ideology.

Russia-born writer Dmitry Orlov explained in his blog what Putin is trying to accomplish and ended with '... three elements ... missing ... from the proposed constitutional changes: titular nation status for Russians, their right of return, and right of self-determination for long-term de facto independent regions.'

In general, my wife and I believe that Russia is emerging with a new human face in a changing world, while most ‘Western media ... was aghast. “What is Putin up to?” ’ …’ What’s going on? … ‘’a major shakeup’.

I must repeat: Bashing Putin and Russia is Dangerous (November 4, 2016).

Despite the confusion in Western media, Putin's proposals have received many positive reviews:

4 gods-within us — continued in 2020

On Friday January 17, the 4 of us held another one of our adhoc coffee get-togethers at a local cafe in Ottawa, Ontario. We met for 1.5 hours.

We began by reviewing our domestic activities since we last met in the fall of 2019.

Oral Tradition

Our major discussion was the role that oral tradition and folk singing has played over the centuries as a conduit for people to share their inner messages with themselves and the world. This was especially useful for much of human development when most were illiterate. Oral tradition carried the message from one generation to the next.

We observed that folk singing, when done authentically, helps humans to breathe deeply from the bottom of their stomachs, providing more oxygen for our bodies to function. By doing this, it enhances our self-image and self-well being, thus affecting our personal health.

Intuitive Spanish artist Alberto suggested that deep breathing gives us access to the inner spirit and our connection with the divine. For him, this is the real genius of genuine folk singing which connects many generations through time, giving us the feeling of depth and eternity resembling the divine.

Bill shared the following, summarized:
I was impressed by an interview of author Karen Armstrong with Michael Valpy in January 11, 2020 Globe and Mail (she is the author of The Lost Art of Scripture) where as a comparative religion scholar she states that she found that all world religions have one thing in common — a spiritual dimension where human is seen as an image of the Divine.

Karen says: ‘The origins of the divine were presented as performances. They were sung, recited, acted out. They were intended to transport the audience into a transcendental spiritual dimension.’ At another place she explains that ‘until the 18th century most people listened to the scriptures. It sung or performed. Because most people couldn't read and before the invention of printing it was impossible to own a copy of the Bible. So you listened to your scripture and it was sung .…’ (Karen Armstrong explores the purpose of sacred texts in The Lost Art of Scripture, The Globe and Mail, January 7, 2020.)

That reminded me of two such sources: Flamenco dancing and singing from Spain and the Sindhi Sufi and Bhagat traditional singing and dancing from the Indus Valley, the Sindh province of Pakistan. The lyrics in those songs and the style of singing reflect yearning and longing by lover (seeker) and the beloved (divine) coming right from deep within, from one's spiritual heart. Those traditions have continued for centuries in those two cultures. Examples:
Koozma spoke about the oral tradition of the Doukhobors. He gave a contemporary example in Canada of a Doukhobor singer Ron Kalmakoff from Saskatchewan who moved to British Columbia and after many years following the passing of his grandmother, returned to visit her graveside and the community where she grew up. He then composed a beautiful nostalgic, emotional ode to his grandmother.


Koozma mentioned Vladimir Putin’s Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, January 15, and proposed changes to the Russian Constitution. He said it was a 'game changer' showing the President as a world statesman and Russia as an evolving nation for the better.

Previous 3 reports: 4 gods-within us — 2013, 2014, 2019

Sunday, 12 January 2020

World Beyond War Global Conference
Ottawa May 26-31, 2020 CANCELLED

Update April 2, 2020: Both CANSEC 2020 and the 'No to CANSEC' rally have been postponed to June 2021. People not Bombs! You can't kill a virus with bullets. Only after massive public pressure from our peace coalition, 7,700+ letters sent, and 19 days after a pandemic was declared, the cancellation followed. The World Beyond War conference has been rescheduled and will be held in Ottawa June 2021. The peace movement is now working to shut down CANSEC.

Political cartoon
M. Wuerker, POLITICO.

See the latest updates on the big event 'Divest, Disarm, Demilitarize' planned for Ottawa, Canada May 26-30, 2020 with major collaboration by dozens of peace groups led by World Beyond War. [With the cancellation of the CANSEC event in 2020, the new venues including the World Beyond War conference can be forwarded to June 2021.]

See the promotional video. Look at the Schedule, About, Speakers, Media Toolkit (5 items on Google Drive), Rides & Lodging Board for messages, and Contact form. Share on Facebook. Help to billet out of town guests.

The 6-day 2020 WBW Conference workshops, training, panel discussions, films, art, music, dance, and nonviolent action will be held at various locations in Ottawa.

Join this international coalition of individuals and organizations which will converge on Ottawa to say 'No to CANSEC', Canada's biggest annual weapons expo. This event promises to be a peace highlight of the year for Ottawa and Canada. Dozens of peace groups will join as endorsers and sponsors, including Quakers and Mennonites; the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace plans to hold its 60th Anniversary in Ottawa at this time.

As citizens of the world, come and join us as passionate builders of peace and goodwill. Our children and grandchild deserve a viable future. We are responsible in preserving life for the new generation and saving our world from destruction.

More from my blog

Friday, 10 January 2020

Stop wars! Stop the killings!
— A Poem for Our Times

My ancestors the Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors
in 1895 burnt their guns calling on humanity
to stop wars once and for all —
or face the fate of dying together as fools.

We were inspired by the Russian writer Lev N. Tolstoy
who influenced Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
in the use of nonviolence and love in solving human problems.

Yet wars have continued with hundreds of millions killed
slaughtered on the battlefields of hell.
When will we ever learn?
The stench of mass murders
affects us all — mothers, fathers, young and old.

It robs us of the human potential for
creating peace on earth
with free healthcare, free education,
housing, clean environment, and more.
Our heritage as human beings is at stake,.

Have we not heard of the wisdom of
‘Thou shalt not kill’?
Have we not known that pointing a gun at another person
is not a friendly act?

Why are we making millions
from perpetual wars
through the manufacture of
weapons of mass destruction?
Humanity Wake Up!

Are we deaf to the wisdom of our ancestors to
‘Stop Wars! Stop the killings!’
‘Do we not know that we are our brothers and sisters keepers?’.
How many ears will it take to hear
the cry of children orphaned by war?
When will we ever learn?

At the forthcoming arms show in Ottawa of 12,000 people
gathered to see the latest free market killers,
a few brave souls will gather at the gates with signs
‘Stop the murders’.’Stop the killings’.
‘Stop manufacturing killer weapons’.
Close down CANSEC.

When will we discover
peaceful alternatives to violence and wars?
When will we stop becoming rich from wars?
Or have we been hijacked by the almighty dollar,
killing our competition, grabbing oilfields or whatever?

Statesmen and women of the world
stand up and be counted.
Stop playing chess with our lives.
And media workers, cease being pawns
of the military industrial complex — your job
is to seek the truth and share it with the world.

The sacred choice is in our hands, my dear friends:
Life, love, beauty and humanity;
or the Stone Age of human extinction?
That is the question of the new decade.
Is anyone listening to the current words of wisdom:


This poem was written for the 5th World Beyond War Conference in Ottawa, May 26-30, 2020.

Peace groups will oppose the 2020 CANSEC weapons show in Ottawa on May 30-31, 2020. Please come out and support the movement to save humanity from the scourge of war.