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'A significant number of members of the Russian parliament are already engaged in Kabbalah': Israeli Jewish Congress President Vladimir Slutsker


Capital leak to Shambhala

esotericism, eliteTibetan monks create a sand mandala - a model of the universe. Russian business provides them with all possible financial assistance in this.
Photo by Artem Chernov (NG-photo)

The ruling Russian elite at all levels - the legislative, business elite, cultural and even elite of the scientific community - was gripped by a widespread (if not total) fascination with various non-traditional (esoteric) practices and support for what is called, perhaps not quite successfully, false or parascience.

The festival "Tibet: Tradition, Art, Philosophy" was held in Moscow, widely supported at the official level.

Even a very advanced fan of Buddhism, Hollywood star Richard Geer, came to participate... A real VIP queue of representatives of the highest Moscow government offices is being built for an appointment with a Tibetan healer... A round table on the ways of interaction between science and Kabbalah was held at the Moscow House of Scientists. (For example, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Mikhail Kovalchuk, Professor Sergei Kapitsa and a Kabbalistic guru someone Michael Laitman take part in this event.)

Moreover, Senator from Chuvashia, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Industrial Policy Vladimir Slutsker also teaches Kabbalah at the same time. "A significant number of members of the Russian parliament are already engaged in Kabbalah," he said at the Kabbalalist Congress in Israel in 2002 (see "NG" from 2.11.04).

Tibetan march-throw

All this resembles Elem Klimov's film "Agony" - Rasputin, blind faith in the wonderful art of Dr. Badmaev. And then and now we are talking about the moods of the elite of Russian society - both then and now the elite do not regret its millions.( However, the Russian elite a century ago, and now are not alone in their desire for enlightenment: in the 30s of the XX century, on Hitler's personal order, for five years, the SS expedition was looking for the axis of peace in Tibet.)

Back in 1909, after repeated meetings with Prime Minister Stolypin, Tsar Nicholas II, Agvan Dorjiev, a Tibetan monk, one of the teachers of the Dalai Lama XIII, obtained permission to build a Buddhist temple in the capital of the Russian Empire. This datsan has become the northernmost in the world.

Last summer, Aghvan Dorzhiev's memorial plaque was opened here. Robert Thurman, head of the Department of Religion at Columbia University, the first American to become a Tibetan monk, director of the Tibet Center of the United States, came from the United States specifically for this event. Professor Monk Thurman made a very characteristic statement: "In the United States now there are thousands of Tibetan Buddhist centers where the basics of Buddhism are studied, but we still do not have such wonderful buildings as a temple in St. Petersburg. Russians should be proud of him... And President Putin, in my opinion, should have considered it an honor to continue the traditions of royal patronage over this monument in his hometown!"

Robert Thurman can be trusted: The Times magazine named Thurman one of the 25 most influential people in America. His daughter, Hollywood star Uma Thurman, is a member of the board of trustees of the Tibetan House organization. The spiritual mentor of the "Tibetan House" is His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV (Tengjing Gyatzo).

That is, in terms of the quality of construction of Buddhist temples, we have already overtaken the United States. It's pleasing. Especially since this was done, apparently, not without the participation of private Russian business.

The fact that people from the list of the 100 richest people in Russia according to the editorial office of Forbes magazine actively donate to the restoration and renewal of the main funds of the Russian Orthodox Church is no secret. Thus, one of the major Russian businessmen, whose fortune is estimated at about $1.5 billion, heads a public organization of entrepreneurs formed on a confessional basis. Another businessman who has received the nickname "Orthodox banker" for his close connection with religious circles is also known.

But in addition to the first hundred richest people in Russia, there is a second, third, and fourth┘ And they also include people with very large capitals and personal fortunes. They, unlike many of the people on the Top 100 list, are absolutely non-public residents. And the number of these people is growing. No wonder, according to experts who discussed the emergence of the Top 100 richest people in Russia, by 2010 the number of very rich people in Russia will increase significantly. After all, more than a dozen businessmen are knocking on the first Russian "golden hundred" today. (The passage amount to get into the "golden hundred" of "Forbes" is $210 million.)

That is, it is a huge layer of rich and non-public people. The energy of their capital also requires a way out. Preferably the same non-public. "Investment" in Buddhism is an ideal field of effort in this sense. Moreover, building a Buddhist temple is still a little easier and cheaper than an Orthodox one.


Occupation for the faint of heart

No less capital-consuming sphere of human activity is esotericism, the occultism of all possible currents. Maybe the most famous of them, which has gained a lot of admirers in Russia in the last 2-3 years, is Kabbalistics.

The fact that many Western celebrities, especially from artistic and musical bohemians - Madonna, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Stella McCartney - are fond of the teachings of Kabbalah, undoubtedly played a role in this. Apparently, with the huge popularity of this exercise in the world, the capitals of the world's leading Kabbalists are measured in hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. As one of them noted, Adin Steinsalz, a famous rabbi, religious thinker and philosopher, founder of the Israeli Institute of Talmudic Publications: "Mysticism, as well as religion in general, is extremely attractive to people with unstable or damaged psyche" (see "NG" from 26.05.04).

I asked for comment on the latest statement of Alexander Kantor, Candidate of Historical Sciences, Clinical Psychologist, member of the European Association of University Teachers of Psychoanalysis (EAUTP, London). "Without touching on the truth-falsity issues of the mentioned spiritual practices and scientific (non-scientific?) hypotheses, I consider obvious the fact of their fetishization, that is, attributing to them special, exceptional and, therefore, mysterious and miraculous opportunities," emphasizes Alexander Matveevich. - The picture characteristic of the epochs of fin-de-siecle (the end of the century) and transitional periods in general. Instability, uncertainty, tension of situations neurotize, or even psychotize a lot of people who are already unable to think at least somehow rationally, and therefore looking for extraordinary means of salvation. And the possession of fetishes (ideas, objects, etc.) is designed to magically help a person achieve the desired goals, to protect themselves from dangers, in general, what you want.

It is very indicative in this sense that when the NG correspondent asked Steinsalz if it seemed strange to him that the centers for the study of Kabbalah are mostly educated and far from poor people, and a large percentage of them are Russians, this did not surprise the Kabbalist at all. "There's nothing strange about it for me," says Adin Steinsaltz. "There's something in Russia... spiritual. In the original national character, this trait manifests itself in both good and bad. The spiritual vacuum, which is destructive for any people, is doubly destructive for Russians┘ And as to why wealthy people are looking for the truth in kabbalistic circles, it is largely because of the fashion for the syncretic religious movement "New Age". Russia is not much different from the rest of the world. So the Kabbalistic circles are walking victoriously not only in Russia, but also in the prosperous West. No one destroyed anything there, the church was not blown up, there was a skating rink of scientific rationalism through civilization.

Another specialist in the field of Kabbalistic knowledge, our former compatriot by the way, Michael Laitman is quite in solidarity with his colleague on this issue. "The Kabbalah helps to reveal the picture of the universe to everyone," he says. "I would say so, do not listen to any opponents of the Kabbalah, touch this science yourself, and you will discover the world for yourself" (see "NG" from 26.05.04).

The tariff for such a "touch", however, is also roughly known. At least it can be evaluated. Thus, last month, two star women - Hollywood actress Demi Moore and singer Madonna - held a reception in London on the occasion of the presentation of the new book "Becoming like a God: Kabbalah and Our Fate" by Kabbalist Rabbi Michael Berg. The club's lease cost £10,000. In addition, Moore and Madonna hired additional security and paid for a buffet for 50 guests. In total, they paid £40,000 for the pleasure of hosting gurus.

It is easily predicted that in Russia there would also be a queue of those who would pay some 40 thousand pounds (the price of the average "Mercedes") to surprise a Kabbalah connoisseur with the famous Russian hospitality. By the way, did someone pay for the arrival of the same Richard Gere to Moscow?! A Hollywood celebrity would hardly dare to take such a step: on the eve of winter, to a country with a level of terrorist threat much above average - without the appropriate fee.


"Affect of elites in Russia"

This is how Alexander Kantor defines the situation. "The power elites, of course, have their own concerns," he emphasizes. "Mainly power as such, as well as health and longevity (they have daily bread). Well, this justifies the millions of costs, because they will pay off a hundredfold. But still, the fact of affective dependence of our elites on idols of miraculous knowledge and healing is striking. And also, historically stable, figurative, psychoanalysts would say, from era to era its character.

But the purely psychological manifestation of this affective behavior of the business elite has, in my opinion, a purely economic component. And it has manifested itself especially significantly in Russia in the last 2-3 years. In other words, affectation is an integral indicator of the state of the Russian business climate in general. It is not impossible to become a successful businessman in the Western sense of the word in the Russian Federation, but it is simply dangerous. And if you are "fools" - you are pleasant to the authorities, you fit into the political economic and ideological mainstream. "It is not for nothing that the power in Russia has been characterized by its comprehensiveness, domination, penetration into everything and everything, the hypercare of the subjects (not citizens), it has always been "power-property"; that is, in fact, it is irrational and magical," emphasizes Alexander Kantor.

It is difficult not to agree with the opinion of the psychologist: "The souls of the representatives of the current elites are "tormented by the narzan" of their split, mixed feelings of humiliation and superiority, identification with the owners of life and rejection from them┘ And so - he came, "the hour of referents". (By the way, for how long - in the current situation, which is rapidly taking the form of new authoritarianism?) But how you want to get out of the birth trauma of your own, existing power, to find support in yourself. And for that - to find enchantment, appropriate, gain influence, love, strength.

The effect has long been known in economic theory and has already been repeated and confirmed many times, including by domestic experts: the slightest threat to business - and it goes into the shadows. Western businessmen, who "passed the rink of scientific rationalism" in this sense, have, albeit not absolutely reliable, but still vaccinated against such fetishization of the otherworldly. It is not for nothing that among the main sponsors of the same Kabbalah are actors, pop singers, that is, people of several marginal professions and lifestyles.

Apparently, the "skating rink of scientific rationalism" has not reached us, mass "inoccration", alas, did not happen. "Modern Russian power elites need magic and fantasies of omnipotence (as a kind of alcohol and drugs) in order to fill their own spiritual emptiness and anxiety, because as long as they are unable to separate themselves from the past, become self-sufficient and autonomous," Alexander Kantor is sure. "It remains with the help of esotericism and money to be chained in the armor of a fetish, narcissistically idealizing and loving themselves to the point of unconsciousness."