Daniil Andreev. «The Rose of the World»
Book VII. On the Metahistory of the Ancient Rus'

VII. Chapter 2. The Christian Myth and pre-Russianism.

A more or less thorough scrutiny of a comprehensive, immensely broad and complex question of the metahistorical significance of the Orthodox Church, let alone the entire Christian Myth is a topic worth of a voluminous work or even a whole series of works. But it is clear and only natural that the inner mystical life of the Russian Church was shaped by its connection with the Christian Transmyth and those hierarchies and beings, cosmic and planetary alike, that had been revered by the Russian Church: with the Logos, Holy Mary, angelic hosts, and great spiritual figures of the all-Christian and Byzantine past. The height of their standing made it possible for them to actively help those below, in the concrete historical reality of Enrof, from zatomises, Heavenly Jerusalem, and the Synclite of Humanity.

Across many centuries, the Christian Myth had been permeating and enveloping the life of the Russian society manifesting by far in all spheres of the culture – from “wordage weaving”, the art of the written word as it was seen back then, to the crockery and clothing ornaments. But the analysis would easily reveal a great many images, saturating the arts and aesthetical canons, developed in those times that would show connection neither to the ideology nor the pantheon of Christianity.

Herbal patterns on fabrics and candle holders are as far away from the Christian Myth in its pure form as the Firebird of our tales, warrior heroes of our epic poems, architectural singularities of our terems (tower houses, translator’s note) or the stylized cockerels and fabulous animals decorating stoves, spinning-wheels, and crests of izbas (wooden cabins, t/n) are. This layer of images can be most certainly traced back to the pre-Christian world outlook, to the rudimentary and hardly ever elaborated Slavic mythology. Importantly, this world outlook manifested in the seventeenth century just in the same way as it had been in the twelfth; it was no longer noticeable or, rather, changed its look altogether only in the twentieth century. It had never been overcome or assimilated by the Christian Myth. Something else happened: a parallel coexistence of two world outlooks having two separate domains of manifestation. One of them, specifically the Christian, rapidly acquired prominence as the all-state and all-people circle of ideas, having ousted its competitor from a host of life domains, primarily – from the generalizing and systemizing thought. The other one blended with folklore, the grass-roots and applied arts, folk rites and conjurations, daily rounds of life but had never risen to the level of philosophical or, more broadly, ideological generalizations.

On the other hand, its phenomenal resilience and hardiness are truly astonishing. To a metahistorian, the resilience itself should come as an indication that this worldview wasn’t rooted in the haphazard, casual components of the people’s psyche but, rather, in something intrinsically woven into it. If we are dealing with psyche components, organic and inalienable, it is always an evidence of the hierarchies’ creative manifestations, for everything in a people that bears no trace of their workings, turns out short-lived, superficial, ephemeral. Concerning that aspect of the topic in question related to procreation, everything that showed the heightened level and intensity of sexuality is evidently touched with the muddy, heated, restlessly fluttering substance of karossa Dingra. As a matter of fact, there could have been no other outlet for her manifestations in a Christian country. Yet, another layer, primarily aesthetical, clearly shows in this world outlook. The joy of creativity which those artists and masters experienced while creating their ornaments, their tales and terems come flooding straight into our souls as we come in contact with them; the love for the world, nature, and elementals that permeated them bears witness not of the karossa but, rather, of the demiurge breezing in the souls of these creators.

This world outlook (as we are talking about the Russian national past) has now to be recovered from under the layers of the Christian Myth, either through the help of a thorough scientific analysis or by means of metahistorical contemplation and reflection. I would call this world outlook “pre-Russianism”.

Essentially, pre-Russianism is nothing but the first stage of the development of the Russian suprapeople’s Myth.

Taken alone, the Transmyth of Christianity is not and cannot be at odds with the transmyths of suprapeoples; is not and cannot be in confrontation with them. Quite the opposite: the World Salvaterra, all permeated with the powers of the Logos and Virgin Mary, that is, with the uppermost reality of the Christian Transmyth, remains, at the same time, the summit of summits dimly shining through the transmyths of suprapeoples. Historical prospects for the future would have been grim and joyless had not they been illuminated with such a hope for the future worldview wherein the Christian Myth would mutually complement other suprapeoples’ myths all merging into a harmonious whole. Yet, in the historical past the already ripe Christian Transmyth had as though eclipsed the barely emerging Myth of the Russian suprapeople. Eclipse it did as, like all historical churches with their flawed narrowness, it strived to promote its own religious aspect of the world as the only and universal truth excluding the very possibility of an alternative.

Whatever reverence a metahistorian may subjectively feel toward the Christian Myth, however highly he may value its role in the cultural history of Russia, he or she would hardly forego the feeling of grief and regret, even some unconscious resentment while studying any of the medieval Russia’s arts. He or she would feel that those sprouts of the intrinsically national world outlook that had attempted to manifest themselves, at least through arts were frost-bitten and stifled.

The overarching formula was “The world lies in wickedness”. Hence the love for it, the childlike vivacity, sunshiny mirth, and spontaneity barely dared to reveal themselves in the vivid colors of the homeware, in the fairy-talish and toy-like, I would say, laughing style of glazed tiles and engravings, in the backdrops of icons where flowers, celestial bodies, and fabulous animals create a stunning setting emanating a touchingly pure, pantheistic love for the world.

The monastic ascetism was weighing down. Hence the creative acts of Dingra were relegated to the lower crust, to the very bottom of human life. The contact between spirituality and the physical aspect of love seemed a profanity. On a wedding night, icons were thoroughly curtained, for love, even hallowed with the sacrament of marriage, was a sin.

Overlording was the Christian pantheon. Hence a soul, sensitive to whiffs coming from the hierarchies of the suprapeople and elementals dared not even to grow cognizant of their existence which had no place in the Christian pantheon, which was not sanctified by the church authorities. The precepts for the knowledge of God and the knowledge of the world were exhausted with the Old and New Testaments; any independent thought process was deemed as suspicious, if not heretical.

Art was largely seen as a “satellite” way of expressing the very truths of the Christian Myth. Therefore, secular art could not take shape, sculpture was seen as heathenry, poetry languished in the bounds of folklore, dancing was barely tolerated even as decorous khorovods (circle dances, t/n), and sprouts of drama were mercilessly uprooted.

Having crossed-checked all this, it would be interesting to take a look at an art form in the artifacts of which pre-Russianism and the Christian Myth had been able to coexist alongside as though having divided the territory between themselves and keeping nearly apart even mechanically, while, strangely enough, complementing each other. I am referring to some schools of church architecture, from tent-shaped temples to so-called “Naryshkin Baroque”. The singularity of those artifacts that is most vividly seen, perhaps, in St. Basil’s Cathedral, is particularly stunning in the contrast between the exterior and interior. Turning your soul into all smiles, the contagious vivacity of these motley onions (onion-shaped domes, t/n) and pot-bellied uprights, these walls made into fairy-tale like gardens with merry patternworks from one side… But, once inside, you enter as though into a different culture which, strikingly, remains almost as Russian: barred little windows, narrow shutters, low vaults, rigid norms, stern faces, semigloom. Ousted to the outside, the Myth of the suprapeople is juxtaposed with the Myth of Christianity – oppositional to the world, forming the inner space, self-contained, and intolerant. Pre-Russianism and Orthodoxy. Neither a synthesis, nor a blending, but an almost mechanical segregation of domains. In terms of dialectics – a thesis along with its antithesis.

One may object: having been cleansed off the layers of centuries, the frescoes and icons of our temples would reveal much brighter colors, more cheerful patterns of ornamentation than is normally thought of. True, but if the influences of pre-Russianism did reflect as cheer in some of the paintings, time was working against it dampening the brightness of colors with the soot from the candles and icon lamps, unavoidable and inalienable attributes of the cult. A uniform local color was being created that aptly corresponded to low passageways, little windows, and the overall minor scale mood of the divine service. This combination of ways reached the utmost cohesion and expressiveness precisely in the interior of St. Basil’s Cathedral with its segregation of the inner space into a great many isolated cells whence the divine service could not be seen, only heard, and the setting was best suited for solitary inner prayer. All in all, starting from the borrowed Byzantine single-domed temples to the Empire style churches of the nineteenth century, doesn’t the appearance of Russian shrines bewilder one with its contrast between the interior and exterior, between form and content? Oh, it is far, far from being a harmony! The Russian temple is harmonious, true, while we behold it from without: whether it be a snowy-white cube with a golden helmet or a multicolored, tower-like, seemingly ever mirthful flower with its twisting wooden or stone petals. Inside, it is also harmonious, though the harmony is different. But between these two harmonies lives a chasm of mutual misunderstanding and deeply seated animosity. In the church architecture, the Christian Myth (for reasons largely unbeknownst) still tolerated and calmly accepted this territorial coexistence with the Myth of suprapeople(*1). In other spheres of culture and life, as I have already pointed out, it was much worse. It should come as no surprise that, under such conditions, pre-Russianism could evolve neither into an autonomous system, nor into a teaching. It could not even grow into an awareness of its own existence. For such an awareness, there have to be some sort of pivot, axis, central image belonging exclusively to a certain myth; the pivot point was not there. The influence of the demiurge and Navna upon individuals and the people overall did not cross the threshold of the consciousness; whatever was experienced in the soul was entirely attributed to the activities of other echelons, those of the Christian Myth.

1 The Church’s struggle against the pre-Russianism Myth could be seen, for example, in the prohibition of tent-shaped temples in the eighteenth century so as to force a return to the canonical Byzantine style.
If anything can surprise us here, it is the fact that pre-Russianism was not obliterated after all. Even more so: one may get an impression that someone had been curbing the hostilities of the Christian Myth, that some being, century after century, had guarded the feeble seedlings of pre-Russianism from being trampled down by the belligerent church. The demiurge, having partaken himself of the Christian Transmyth but free from human limitations, had tended this sphere of the people’s spiritual potentialities for the faraway, glorious ages to come; Navna herself had nurtured it with a shimmering spiritual dew.

Evolving from even deeper wisdom yet, the wisdom of self-sacrifice and self-restraint, shines in the fact that Yarosvet did not allow the Myth of pre-Russianism to vigorously sprout, to fully blossom. What would that have led to? Had pre-Russianism grown self-aware, been formed into a system, claimed the role of the dominant ideology, its gruesome tooth-and-nail fight with Christianity would have been unavoidable. Had they fought, one of them would have been destroyed. But the highest wisdom beholds both as precious, as justified by the same Truth hidden in them under the guise of two. Should Christianity be eradicated in Rus’ or justification of the [physical] world by pre-Russianism fall silent, one of the two strongholds of the imminent synthetic culture would vanish. Both have to be well preserved till those distant times when not their mutual destruction but transition into a more harmonious stance toward the world and toward God free from the narrowness, the epochal parochialism of the one and the instinctive non-intellectuality of the other, is made possible. For we have only determined the inhibiting influence of the Christian Myth upon the Myth of the suprapeople. The very process had a flip side. Not an illusionary play of some random shadows but the highest reality of the Christian Transmyth – Heavenly Jerusalem and spheres of the World Salvaterra had been glimmering behind the Christian Myth. The very contact with these values of the highest order (let alone those lives sublimated with a spiritual feat, saintliness) would reveal the undrainable source of spiritual powers giving a powerful impulse to the growth of the inner self. This self-realization, of course, was primarily bound with the ascetic, monastic way; the worldly righteousness, though respected, was looked down on as a lower, preliminary stage for a monastic life. Had Orthodoxy elaborated and implemented the ideal of righteousness encompassing civic, family, social, and statehood virtues, that would have led to achievement of such a stage in human perfection that has yet to be seen in the world. In other words, it would have been possible under two scenarios: had the mission of Christ been accomplished rather than interrupted and a new outpouring of cosmic spiritual powers poured down from the macrobramfatura into Shadanakar to weaken Gagtungr and thereby greatly expedite the transformation of humanity.

In the fithteenth century, Sylvester set in motion an undertaking the significance of which is not yet fully realized. “Domostroy” (Domestic Order, t/n) is an attempt at creating a grandiose religio-moral code aimed to establish and enact precisely the ideals of secular, family, and social morality. It was a tremendous task: its scale was commeasurable to what Confucius had brought for his people and culture. It’s all too easy, of course, to blame Sylvester for not measuring up to the scale of such a task. But one can choose another perspective from which to look: shouldn’t the man of precisely this low stature have embarked on this task as this did not allow him to fully comprehend either the tremendousness of it, or its impossibility at that stage of the cultural and religious development? Had even one of the spiritually mature persons in the medieval Russia dared to bring forth such an undertaking precisely because their spiritual foresight and wisdom had prompted the untimeliness of it? – Sylvester, as is known, managed to compile a rather well-knit, seemingly stout, totally vapid system stunning with its lack of grace. It had neither the magnitude with which everything inspired by the demiurge is marked; nor the spiritual beauty inherent in all Navna’s involtations; nor the fervency surging in creations graced by the hierarchies of the Christian Transmyth. It was a totally different spirit: extremely self-righteous, intrusively demanding, narcissistically dogmatic, sanctimoniously concealing the ideal of the social inertia under the guise of the God-pleasing reinforcement of social harmony – the harmony never seen in real life. The epochs to follow will see many a time of completely different literary works, different doctrines with this heavy, chunky, strong-willed spirit – that of the demon of statehood.

In terms of ethics, the unfading value of the Russian Christian Myth is not in the attempts to create an all-people ethical code but in the actual development of the austere monastic way. Russian culture or, rather, metaculture owes the way of ascetism to its illustrious saints. The history of medieval Russia is marked with none of the creators of comprehensive philosophical and scientific teachings, few artistic geniuses, a host of heroes (though successive generations have lost the majority of their names) and not a constellation but a whole starry night of saints. Hundreds of their names have been kept by the church. Such a proportion, again, was determined by the potency of the Christian Myth with its discrimination across different kinds of spiritual creativity inherited from Byzantium.

Whatever stance one may have toward ascetic principle as applied to the living conditions, ideals, and psychological climate of the twentieth century, it is out of the question for a metahistorian whether the strict discipline of this way with its utmost concentration of inner powers is conducive to the mystical connection of the human being with the highest echelons of the spiritual world. Certainly so! Had not the most complete self-isolation from the sweeping storms, passions, and worries of the “earthly world” been conducive, what could have possibly been? With the narrowness in the understanding of such things, the average consciousness of our age is avenging to average consciousness of Kievan and Muscovite Rus’ with its own, reversed narrowness. The accusations of egotism, narcissistic yearning for salvation which followers of the ascetic way sometimes receive are only justifiable in regard to those having profaned this way; in regard to those being called saints, these accusations are grounded either on ignorance or some misunderstanding. Only a consistently materialistic viewpoint operates with mere logic, for it sees no value in one’s inner doing unless it brings about rapid and tangible results from without. Should we confine ourselves with materialism though, it would be pointless and impossible to have started “The Rose of the World” in the first place. One’s inner doing in general, and self-isolation in a cell in particular, open up something in a person that makes possible his or her serving and helping humanity out of reclusion. What is more: the religious worldview does not see life in the physical world as divorced from its otherworldly continuation; precisely in the spiritual realm it becomes possible for a saint like for no one else to take advantage of those mighty spiritual weapons, those means of helping humanity and all physical worlds, those means of fighting the dark principle which he or she had suffered for and developed over decades through self-mastery and self-purification. From the metahistorical perspective, the existence of not only Nilus of Sora or Seraphim of Sarov but also saints of a lower standing, of a lower spiritual magnitude, with a less direct influence upon the people’s psyche and morality, even those anonymous holy ones is of a much greater importance for a metaculture than the vegetation of thousands of spiritual second raters. There, they have their own “arithmetic”. Let us remember that whereas gavvakh and eiphos, radiations of jealousy, greed, avarice, and malice replenish the loss of energy in the camp of demons, emanations of spiritual joy, religious delight, and awe become the subtlest of “building materials” in the zatomises: conjubilation revitalizes the angelic host; the emanations of sublime love between man and woman ascend to the worlds denoted here as the Waves of the Eternal Femininity, the faraway azure glimmers of which we can apprehend in the moments of delight; as for compassion, inspiration, the flames of creativity in people, these strengthen the abode of the Logos of Shadanakar.

Karamazov’s “devil” attempted, of course, to caricaturize these regularities by reducing them to absurdity: in his words, the soul of one ascetic is the worth of a whole constellation. Be that as it may, our mind would be shocked and exasperated if it could ascertain these odd regularities of otherworldly “arithmetic”. Yet, would it not seem as strange, if we were to remember that the existence of Pushkin is more important for Russian poetry than the poor poems written by millions of people. It doesn’t mean, of course, that the value of people is only gauged against their stance toward poetry or holiness.
The gift of saintliness is a gift just like that of genius or the unbendable rod of the heroic mindset which makes possible not just a single act of extraordinary bravery (many are capable of this) but of turning one’s life into a heroic romance. These three gifts (just as the gift of the kin-guardian which I will touch on later) can be explained as follows: a certain human being with an exceptional inborn predisposition to be inspired by the light hierarchies is sent a daemon (as a rule, it happens in childhood; sometimes, in a riper age). Daemons, messengers from the world of the winged humanity where the mission of Christ had finished victorious, and humanity itself far outpaced us in its spiritual development, see one of their major tasks in helping the lower planes of existence lagging behind and yet capable of ascending. Keeping vigil over people endowed with a lightful gift, that is, having a special mission, daemons become mediums through whom the mind and will of such people are transfused with the Providential forces’ emanations. It is the perception of their existence that gave rise to the firmly held views such as the convictions of many poet-geniuses in the presence of inspiring muses, of religious figures – in their accompanying guardian angels, and of some thinkers – in the literal influence of daemons upon them.

Summing up, we can say that the absolute value of the Christian Myth is contained within itself; its practical positive influence upon the metaculture of Russia was in revealing to the suprapeople, the subject of knowledge, the height and depth of the uppermost spheres of Shadanakar which the demiurge himself is aspiring for bearing along the suprapeople as his creation. The Christian Transmyth contains (the Christian Myth reveals it only partially) the planetary obligement that lies beyond or higher than any zatomises, any elementals or hierarchies. From all the existing and sufficiently defined cultures of humanity, only two were capable of going beyond the local boundaries and spreading their tenets nearly all over the globe: Romano-Catholic and North-Western. Whatever underlying causes of that may be identified by historians – socio-economical, geographical, or cultural – and however unsatisfactory these might be, for a metahistorian appreciating their relative significance and mechanism, the primal cause will certainly lie elsewhere. He or she will search for this cause in the fact that the Christian Myth, primordially connected not only with Eden and Monsalvat but also with the reality of the Heavenly Jerusalem and the World Salvaterra itself, communicated to the European spirit its true stature and readied it for a truly worldwide mission.

Two other Christian metacultures, Byzantine and Abyssinian (Ethiopian, t/n), were so badly stifled, so much in the clutch of demonic forces that one of them ceased to exist in Enrof altogether, and the existence of the other was hopelessly arrested. The fifth metaculture permeated with rays of the Christian Transmyth was that of Russia. Due to a host of internal and external reasons, it had been developing slower than its Western sisters; yet, it overcame many a deadly threats, endured staggering onslaughts, and, by the turn of the second millennium, came out on the world stage intimidating allies and foes alike with its panhuman potentialities.

It is true that other international religions were connected, if only partially, with planes of Shadanakar standing higher than metacultures of zatomises. Their stature also appeared capable of communicating global tasks to their suprapeoples. Yet, the metahistorical gaze would discern three planes in the Muslim world. One – reflecting the transmyth of precisely the Muslim suprapeople and oriented solely toward that transmyth, that is, zatomis Jannet. Another – giving a variation, somewhat debased and distorted yet grounding in the spiritual reality, of the Christian Transmyth. And the third – as if striving to burst into the metabramfatura yet unconscious of the Planetary Logos’s existence and thus having bound and doomed itself to nondevelopment of any panhuman potentiality in the religion of Islam. Glimpses of the global aspiration scintillating in millions of souls enraptured by this religious stream in the first centuries of its existence made possible its fascinating outpouring, its expansion across a host of countries; but this psychological aspiration toward globalism wasn’t ontologically panhuman. Precisely for this reason, Islam as an outpouring religion lost the momentum too soon and does not aspire for further proliferation larger than what had been achieved in distant centuries.

The Buddhist contemplation with the exception, perhaps, of the “abjijna” state of Gautama Buddha himself does not probe beyond Nirvana. Or, rather, the worlds of the highest aspect of the Buddhist Transmyth do not strive to grow aware of the uppermost planes of Shadanakar. The feeling of profound hopelessness, incredulity in the transformation of worlds permeates this religion throughout. This is quite natural for all religions that had appeared before the Planetary Logos’ incarnation in Enrof. It is understandable that this hopelessness also paralyzed any panhuman yearnings. What may come here as a surprise is that Buddhism had mobilized sufficiently enough to outpour in the first place, though its proselytism is long past. As for Hinduism, the very reason reflected on its fate and fortunes except with one historical singularity: by and large, proselytism has remained foreign to this religion.

By contrast: the Russian suprapeople’s consciousness had intuited, through the Christian Myth, the globality of its mission from the very beginning – not a mission of a global dictatorship but of some higher truth which it was to annunciate and establish in the world for the benefit of all. This reveals itself in the intonation of Kievan and Muscovite chronicles, in the naïve ideology of epic poems that see its warrior heroes as bearers and champions of the highest spiritual truth beaconing to everyone willing to expose themselves to it. Furthermore, this self-awareness generates ideal images of Holy Rus’: not great, nor powerful, nor gorgeous but holy(*2); finally, the idea of the Third Rome sees the crystallization of this feeling with utmost clarity.

In regard to the slowness of the development, apart from the causal approach, can’t we view it teleologically? Is it impossible that, in the realm of the world metahistory, it would be only expedient for the Russian culture to step onto the world arena when it actually did? However, here we are touching on the problem that, at the moment, would be too premature to consider.

2 It would be edifying to compare it with the ideal image of the French people: la belle France (beautiful France) or the Indian: Bharat-Mata (Mother India)

to the next part: 7.3 The Era of the First Witzraor
to the previous part: 7.1. Kiev Rus as a Metahystorical Phenomenon
to the beginning: «The Rose of the World». Table of contents
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