- Roerich, H. Infinity I, 15
My story is with my community, which is now globally scattered in search of a better place. My motherland is beautiful, yet its socio-political ecologies are teetering on the edge and borders of dwelling. I feel tears every time I begin to think about these open spaces, forests, and the seas, the rivers, the lakes that are as magnificent as my cultures. Buddhism in Ukraine lives through life-worlds, with the people, and in our cultural consciousness of freedom. Buddhism is a Way to that self-realization.
Buddhism in our history is a story of survival on the Way to freedom: freedom from all kinds of habits, attachments, regimes, languages, and even stories themselves. The beauty of a cultural history is a layered memory, a timeless truth of the first civilization that brought the Vedas and Sanskrit to India, where they have been present ever since. We believe that Ukraine, the heartland of the Proto-Indo Europeans, gave birth to the Vedas that were native to the Great Teacher, the Buddha. Buddhism in Ukraine is with people, with Spirit and a Space of Freedom.
We understand Buddhism through a personal standpoint. My generation has been living with Buddhist ethics as liberation from dogmas we took for granted. After the reformation of the Soviet Union, we felt Buddhism through the teachings of Agni Yoga, The Living Ethics by Helena Roerich and Nicholas Konstantinovich Roerich. The Living Ethics opened to us a sense of “becoming” as natural consciousness and cultural development.
“I am Buddhist,” a lot of young people used to say in the late 90s. This statement had many layered meanings that spoke to use in the language of soul. “I am free from religion,” we all echoed, and tried to grasp the meaning of the Eternal and our, as human purpose, here and now.
One of our cultural leaders at the time, rock star Boris Grebenshikov, brought from Nepal the winds of changes and a new hope of peace with our land, the forgotten Buddhist space of our new culture. One of his albums,Russian Nirvana (1994), spoke to us about the global unity of Dharma with humor. “Our Mother Earth will tremble, enlightened...” This was particularly important because his song tied the Buddhist story with the stories of our land: “Volga, Mother, the Buddhist river....”
Buddhism in Ukraine encompasses the personal and the communal (trans-personal) with its cosmic powers. Buddhism is with the Teachings of the Living Ethics that was brought and written by Helena Ivanovna and Nicholas Roerich. It has not been a part of a structural dogma but is a present creative flow of consciousness, inspiration, and, indeed, aspiration to become Buddhas, to affirm Life as it Is.
Buddhism is a way to Self-realization through our own skandhas. For Helena Roerich, “exoterically they are form, sensation, consciousness, motives, knowledge. Each of ouractions and thoughts created vibration and precisely these vibrations are the skandhas. Thus, the skandhas make up the sum total of the subjective and objective human” (293). Our skandhasare with our own culture and the “One Culture of Light”. Our Buddhism is the way from the local to the cosmic space of Consciousness.
Buddhism in Ukraine is our cultural consciousness of its peoples, places, and spaces. Buddhism in Ukraine as a philosophical concept is becoming a Way of Wisdom, One to all peoples. This way has been present since the dawn of times, and we, as a community, are on the Pathway of the Great Spirit, the Great Teacher, Maitreiya.
Cosmic transformation, in contact with personal energy, creates the conditions for good fortune. Thus spoke the Buddha.
Editor’s note: Olga Shugurova is a PhD Student at the Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University (North Bay, Canada) with specialization in educational sustainability (Buddha Dharma), indigenous knowledge and methodologies, spiritual ecology and cultural psycho-spiritual development.
“Education, for me, is a living culture of individual and communal growth, the nature of change and preservation, sustainability and harmony. I think education is about global and local peace, understanding and compassion, the virtues of the Living Ethics. I graduated from York University (Environmental Studies) with a Masters with Excellence in 2009 and since have obtained my Teaching Circles Certificates, Teaching Certificate and Relational Mind Certificate following Spiritual Healing Methods and Indigenous Frameworks. My research is rooted in the cultural wisdom and heritage of the world's most prominent traditions and grounded in New Science in connection with the Russian Academy of Sciences. I respect Nikolai Kozurev's work, Vernadsky's studies, Tsiolkovsky's studies, Spinoza, Agni Yoga (Roerich Helena and Roerich Nicholas), Blavatsky Helena, The Great Buddha, Jesus, Sai Baba, and more. Following the Great Teacher, The Buddha, I've traveled around the world's most beautiful places in Nepal, Mustang, the White Sea, Manitoulin Island... The Earth, Buddha Dharma, has become one home in unity with the Universe that speaks to me at heart.”