SIBERIAN SHAMANISM. The Shamans’ Philosophy

In the morning, having woken up, they decided to go down into the valley, to the river, and to wash and cook breakfast there. The sky was overcast, and the mountain peaks could not be seen. As if there was no trace of the splendor that had delighted the eye the day before. The landscape was enveloped in thick milky fog, and it was drizzling. Nothing could be seen on the arm’s length. It was dangerous to go further. Even wild animals preferred not to go anywhere in such foul weather. Goats, wild boars and even domestic cows that had got the crazy idea to go far, bunched and waited till the weather improved. However, our travelers continued the journey along the bank of the brook. Saosh Yant wasn’t afraid, because he knew that with such a powerful and mighty shaman as Kudai Kam, he could face up to anything. Having reached the brook with the crystal clear spring water, they had a drink and began to go along it down to the river. The brook was cheerfully babbling its song of Eternity, glistening on the stones with its pearly trickles. The water roared constantly. It emanated fresh pleasing aroma. The bank was uneven and rocky. While walking on it, the young man had to be the most watchful and cautious. He looked at Kudai Kam and suddenly saw that he was walking easily and carelessly, in a matter-of-course manner. Meanwhile, he was old enough to be the young man’s grandfather. Saosh Yant couldn’t contain himself any longer and he broke the silence:

“Tell me, Kudai Kam, how come can you be walking so calmly and easily? The path here is the devil to pay!”

“Shhh! Do not take his name in vain!”

Saosh fell silent.

“I have lived like that since my childhood. I see nothing difficult in it.”

“It’s okay, I’ll get used to it some day too.”

The young man was silent for a while, then asked the shaman:

“Tell me something, Kudai Kam. One day when we were talking, you mentioned a geocentricism. Then I didn’t have time to ask you what meant by ‘geocentricism’.”

“It is,” answered Kudai Kam, “when a man lives on earth and thinks it is the Navel of the World. He measures everything by the earthly yardstick. It’s no wonder, for everybody is conditioned by their first impressions. A person perceives the rest of the world through the lens of these impressions, in his own sight. But the physical world is very small in comparison with the world of the ancestors. All the more so, with the spirit world. And such a life as the one on earth is an exception from the general rule. Because it is gruesome to look at it – even among animals one must eat another. The same is among people. Only they eat each other not physically but rather economically and morally, rising in the estimation of the crowd by means of dragging somebody else through the mud. And you may have an impression that this world is ruled by the devil, and there’s only one way out – to die as soon as possible. Since I have been to heaven, I can say that you don’t find such horrors as these anywhere else. Even the malevolent spirits mainly live near the earth. The earth is a particularly difficult place where the soul can get the experience which it cannot find in other places and which makes it more mature and helps it get to know the value of good and evil.”

“Yeah. This is undoubtedly true!”

“There’s no doubt about it. We, shamans, have always been oppressed. First lamaists (Buddhists) set the khans against the shamans so that they burnt them alive. Although the strongest ones flew out of the yurts and didn’t burn. Then Burkhanists did the same. Then we were demonized and considered evil by Christians. Muslims killed us too. Communists shot us and threw us in labor camps. And the current government is trying to throw mud at us in every possible way. We are dissident in their view, so we prevent their ideology from becoming the only one. And they want the people to obey it only and not to dare to think independently, or all the more so, to listen to shamans. This is egocentrism or geocentricism, when a man sees everything limitedly – only from the perspective of the earthly existence, thinking that it is the standard for perception. And that everywhere, in the entire world, people live as blindly, wretchedly and monstrously as here. Thinking that there is only the physical world with its laws. And here is what this way of thinking has led to: the earth is on the brink of a catastrophe. They want to destroy all the dissident as they destroyed Christ. And to defame them, just like him, in the perception of the crowd, to make people be afraid of freedom.”

Walking on the fallen brown needles and the soft green moss that lay like a large thick carpet between the larches, they were returning home. The journey was going to be long. They were going at an easy pace. Getting round the big fancifully mysterious boulders covered with bushy moss, they came to a great mountain river which roared, carrying its rapid waters from the mountain tops into the valley. The air that was slowly getting warm in the morning began to rise lazily, pulling the hoary blanket of the fog off the river and taking it away. Finally, the morning gloom dispersed and the bright sun broke through. Casting its rays on the landscape, it changed it immediately. The world began to play with bright specks of light, the colors became rich and vivid. The bright-green moss, the soft grass, the dazzling blue sky with the wisps of white clouds, even the gray rocks – everything breathed in a fresh new way. It sounded different. As if there hadn’t been any bad weather. The day was rejoicing, the birds singing. The view of the restless majestic river from the steep shore was wonderful.

Walking beside Kudai Kam, Saosh Yant kept thinking about what the shaman had said. And finally he asked:

“You see, I’ve been thinking. Is there a way on earth out of all that? I mean, if you live with the thought that you can’t change anything, you get kind of… terrified!..”

“Yes, there is a way out,” nodded the Great Kam. “If people turn to heaven and nurture love in them, if they start living not by the earthly laws, but by the law of God, they will be able to spiritualize both themselves and the world around. This possibility was given to them by Tengri, and all the prophets, all the religions have spoken of it. But many lost people are deaf to this calling and are unwilling to part with their sordid nature that makes them suffer. And when people think hard about their existence, they will be able to overcome all that!”

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