My most recent trip to Moscow was coming to an end and I decided to pay a visit to Father Polycarp, only I wasn’t sure whether or not he was still alive. Sergei said, “If he’s dead then find his grave and just stand by it for a while.” I asked him, “If he’s dead then what’s the point?” Sergei said, “For someone like Father Polycarp it makes no difference if he’s dead or alive.”
I took my wife and my wife’s sister, and off we went. The church was closed and we went to Father Polycarp’s home. His son came out and said his father had died almost a year ago. Where is he buried? His grave is behind the church. A prayer for the sick is being read at that time by three fathers, take down their addresses.
We went to Father Polycarp’s grave, stood by it, there were tears in my eyes.
I flew back to work, daily practices: lataif, expression, dhikr.
I come into the canteen in the morning like always, I eat my eggs. I lift my head to see Nikolai sitting opposite and my jaw drops—he's a hundred years old! I look around and I’m horrified—mannequins everywhere, and they’re all almost dead!
“Dear Ruslan, can you tell me what this means?”
“Konstantin, at the level of vibration you are currently on, they seem to be dead, but when you return to your normal state, they will come to seem like normal people again.”
That evening I got home and wrote this:
This morning I was in such a state...
Something happened that swept me out of my usual state.
I go into the canteen this morning for breakfast
And to my horror I find myself in a world of shadows
Everyone is in a deep sleep, like they are just receiving
All around me are zombies, or it’s like they’re on drugs
They’re all sleeping, like they’re receiving sustenance
At the same time, almost all of them are mumbling
Half of them are talking on their cell phones
The other half are discussing the news
These speakers are backdrops and look like shadows
A lot of these backdrops are quite noisy
And these are what we call “NORMAL people”
I have no idea how I can live now among all these backdrops
These backdrops aren’t just here
They’re anywhere and everywhere...
It’s just that I never saw it before
Because I was one of these shadows myself
But now everything has changed
And I don’t know how I can live now
alone among the shadows
But like before I don’t become despondent
I go on fulfilling The Plan...
I fly back to Moscow and I have to get a new passport. But I can’t get to the passport office because it’s closed. I go the next day, it’s open but there’s such a crowd of people you can’t get in. I have to get some paperwork from the local housing authority, but it’s closed. Wherever I go, everything’s closed. I find myself in this terrible state, fear dripping from me like from a bucket, my time in prison comes back to me, the penitentiary and all the rest.
I call Ruslan, he says it’s the stage I’m in, the darkness has assailed me. And this isn’t just anyone’s darkness, it’s my own, because I’ve spent my whole life pumping my energy into this darkness. My darkness doesn’t want to let me go and it’s resisting, because it’s going to be very dull without me. He said you need to buy some gerbera daisies and put them in your home—they’ll drive out the darkness—and don’t go anywhere for a couple of days.
I lay down to sleep on my mattress, I lie on the floor by the radiator, I can’t sleep, and I think rather than just lying down like this, why don’t I start doing some Lataif?
I’m doing lataif and I fall through into a completely different world. And this is a really bright, colorful, opulent world. There are people walking about in black hats with tassels, like the professors at Cambridge, there’s a square on top of the hat and the tassels dangle off it. I follow them to a class. A woman says we’re Sufis, we’ll teach you, sit down and listen carefully. I sit down and I don’t hear a damn thing because everything they’re saying turns into beeps: “beep-beep-beep.” I point to my ears as if to say, “I don’t hear you.”
The classroom vanishes and a concert hall appears in the open air. I’m sitting on a bench in this hall and a show is being performed below, someone walks along, jumps, it’s an acrobat, there’s music playing, it’s all so opulent I realize there is nothing like this on earth and I’ve never heard anything like it. A man appears to the left of and begins whacking me on the nose. I’ve had an operation on my nose, it’s painful, agonizingly so, blood is coming out. I crack him in the chops with my left elbow and he disappears. People appear in front of me and seem to hang in the air. I realize they are asking why I hit him. I hold my nose in my right hand, wipe off and show them the blood—see this?
Everything disappears and I’m standing by a swamp, the smell coming off it is hideous. Behind me there’s wall, in front there’s the swamp, a plank has been thrown into it. I realize I have to move forward, along the plank, and I go. The plank buckles and the stinking goo of the swamp gets in my shoes. I think to hell with them, I'll be back soon. A man is standing in front of me on the plank, he doesn’t let me pass and doesn’t move himself, behind me another man keeps shoving me, I’m sick of it already. I give the one in front a push in the side, throw him off the plank into the swamp, crack the one behind me with my right elbow, and he flies off the plank as well. I find myself at the point where the swamp ends.
A man stands with his back to me, turns around and nods his head in such a way as if to say—what do you want? I hold my nose in my right hand, wipe off and show him the blood. The man sneers, turns to the side, a huge wooden barrel appears beside him, the word “BLOOD” inscribed on it. He starts drinking the blood from the barrel and slowly drops down onto his back with the barrel. Two men appear on either side of him and bear him up to stop him falling.
I wake up, it turns out I’m lying on my mattress by the radiator and I don’t understand a damn thing—what was that? It’s the early morning now, my state of mind is perfect, like never before. I realize there’s a green light for me everywhere now.
I go to the passport office and there’s no one there. A beautiful woman opens the door and says, “Take a seat here, let me see your papers.” She writes something down and says, “There are some mistakes on your paperwork.” I think, “Alright, looks like I’ll have to do everything again now then.” “Don’t worry,” she says, “I’ll sort it all out. All done, go back to your project, when you come back you can get your new passport.”
I went to the housing authority—I still had to go there—and everything was settled very straightforwardly.
That morning I went to see Father Polycarp, stood by his grave.
I went to Tver, I talk to Ruslan about the Sufis and the barrel of blood. Ruslan says this is called a “spiritual experience.”
“The first thing is they want to speak with you, and you’re not listening—‘beep-beep-beep’—in other words, you don’t understand a word, so they have to show you, that’s the Sufi way.
“The second thing is the man hits you on the nose, so it’s the fear of pain that you need to work on.
“The third thing is the stinking swamp—that’s your life. You must walk along a narrow plank—this is The Path—but you exhibit aggression, you need to work on this.
“The fourth thing is you show the man your blood—that’s self-pity. He sneered and told you before your reach this place I am in, you will give a barrel of blood such as this.”
I arranged to speak with Ruslan on Skype every week from then on, so that he could see the state I was in and would be able to fix it in time.
If I had had any remaining doubts, now there were none.
I started reading the poems of the Sufis: Rumi, Attar, Ferdowsi, Nizami.
I realized that before I was only reading the poems, and now I understood that the events had really taken place. Majnun going to his Leyli, all tattered and dirty, barely alive, and the animals following after him, protecting him. Or Sheikh Sanaan lying under the Christian woman’s window. “I love you,” he says, “so much I cannot live without you,” and she tells him something like,
“Put on a zunnar, drink wine and go herd pigs, in a year we’ll see how I’ll still be mocking you, I’ll find a new way.”
I fell head over heels in love with Vera, my wife’s sister. I liked her before, too, only not like that! I began composing verses, writing letters every day, I was sick of the jealousy. Not that it’s important to me what society thinks, I spit on all that, but the thing is, I need her like a hole in the head, why should I be in love with her?
Ruslan gave me a new practice for working on things like fear of physical pain, the feeling of shame, loathing, jealousy, envy and stupefaction.
I had conquered jealousy, and it had become easier, but I wasn’t sure what would happen when I saw Vera. Alright, let’s see—whatever happens, happens.
Before the vacation, I talk with Ruslan on Skype and he says I shouldn’t do anything more because the level of suppressed desires has now opened up to me and that would be game over, as they say.
A couple of days before the vacation, I wrote this poem:
So it’s time to take a vacation again,
The shift has gone by in a flash like a game.
The wise dhikr has spun and the hu has flown by,
A vivid awareness has quickly arrived.
The wicked sense of guilt has died,
The fear of pain, jealousy, dreams expired.
And I sense this world as something new!
Everything in it is full of meaning now!
Everything is wonderful, opulent and pure!
And You are a beautiful, marvelous story!
Soon I’ll depart to that World of Doors,
Soon You will slip into the World of Shadows.
I was never able to reach You, I strove,
And I strove, but in the end I was on my own.
I shall pluck fragrant apples from the apple trees,
Find beautiful, warmhearted books to read.
Let the music now magically play and play on,
Let wine flow, the life in my soul is begun!
I flew into Moscow and like a madman began buying everything, disks and books by the hundreds, different things for my wife, I stopped at nothing, and when I’d spent a million I pretty much calmed down.
My wife and I went to visit Vera, we stepped into her apartment. Vera met us, we drank tea, nothing much happened to me. I was sitting in the kitchen and decided to wait in the car, I read dhikr for ten minutes or so.
A song came on in the car—one of Versinky’s poems—something about a member of a chain gang. I drove, enjoying myself, the music played through my whole body, I felt real freedom and indescribable elation. I went home, put the same song on my laptop, put on my headphones, and there was no damned elation at all. I asked Ruslan, what was the meaning of this? He told me when you listen to music in the car or through speakers it is felt by the second body, the ethereal body, but when you listen through headphones it is felt only by the mind. The distinction is a bit like that between swimming in a pool or pouring water in your ears. I read A New Model of the Universe, by P.D. Ouspensky. He writes that his pupils have tried to perform an “inner prayer of the heart,” as described in The Way of A Pilgrim, and none of them could do it, because in that description there weren’t enough clues as to how it should be done. I found this book about the pilgrim, read it all the way through and started performing the practice, only I came up with a different prayer. After a little while it paid off beautifully. Now it switches itself on and works when I get up and go somewhere. For example, I’m sitting working at the computer, I get up to go for a smoke, and that prayer switches itself on in my heart immediately. The sensations in my body are incredible, the closest comparison would be like the state before orgasm. It was the end of December, a little over a year since I’d been practicing, I was on vacation. Ruslan told me to come early to Tver tomorrow and he would perform an initiation for me. Then, in accordance with the tradition, we would drink armagnac and I’d spend the night at the little cottage in Tver.
My wife baked me some pies for the journey and I decided to go to bed early so that I could leave for Tver at 10am, the weather was lovely.
My wife was then pregnant for the second time. I look at her and I just don’t get it, she’s blowing up like a ball.
Everything was fine five minutes ago, and suddenly it feels like she’s about to pop! I call my mother—what should I do? I call an ambulance and my wife gets taken to hospital. I have to go to the hospital in the morning, bring my wife all the things she needs, hell knows where this hospital is, where is this place? Outside it’s snowing, the streets are covered, accidents everywhere, you can’t drive too fast, I limp along at 10kmph. It takes me two hours just to get to the hospital. I drive to Tver, and everywhere it’s the same, snow, wind and accidents, I arrive in the evening at 11pm. I look around at everyone and they’re all sitting there as if they know I’m going to be late.
Ruslan said it happens a lot, it’s called environmental resistance. The environment doesn’t want me to receive my initiation, and I have to use super strength. I was initiated and received a silver medallion.
I fly back to the project, begin performing the mystic practices, they are more to my liking than the spiritual practices. I’m being pulled in all directions, there’s so much energy, and I begin to receive an understanding of all these different topics as if out of nowhere.
Rumi writes about a Sodomite who wore a dagger in his belt. Another Sodomite asked him, as they indulged in the sin of Sodom, “What’s the dagger for?” He answered, “If anyone plots any ill against me, I can rip open his stomach with this dagger!” The Sodomite moved back and forth on him and said, “Thank Allah I am plotting no ill against you!”
So I come to the canteen and I twig that sitting opposite me is one of the big bosses, he’s a total asshole and he has these expensive glasses, maybe a thousand dollars’ worth—no more than the dagger Rumi writes about perhaps?
A new project has begun, and in accordance with Kazakh tradition a ram must be slaughtered in order to give it a good start. They bring out the ram, we stand and wait for the imam to arrive and slaughter it. Outside there’s snow, wind, wet, you can stand and wait, cold, but there’s nowhere to go, the big bosses are all around, you can’t leave. Suddenly I feel my heart start thumping—what’s going on? It turns out the imam has arrived and is walking towards us. He looked at me, said nothing, and went and slaughtered the ram.
Ruslan later explained that this imam is involved in mystical practices and, perhaps, reads dhikr. He also felt me with his heart, but didn’t say anything, because his mission was to slaughter the ram.
I come in to work one Saturday, after lunch, and I see there’s a single letter in my mailbox. I’m due to go on vacation on the Monday, so I think, great, no one’s going to be screwing with me—there’s only one letter. I open it, and it says I’m fired. I get a call from the personnel department: come over, sign these papers.
I went home, but where could I go? I’m on the plane and I’m thinking: the work is in full swing, the welding is done, I’m the only one who knows how to certify the welding tech, and yet they’ve fired me.
There was no way I could accept this whole situation. Ruslan gave me a practical exercise for acceptance. I'm sitting at home on the balcony, I do not and I cannot accept it—how could I? A month goes by, I’m sitting on that same balcony and I think: “Why can’t I accept it though? I’ve got enough money for eight months, in that time I’ll find another job better than that one. Enjoy your freedom, have a beer!”
As soon as I’d accepted the situation I immediately got a call from work: “We weren’t thinking, we fired you, we’re sorry, come back, no one else can do your job.”
I later discovered that this is a necessary stage on The Path. Either you change jobs, in other words a person completely changes their life, or, as in my case, you lose your job for a period time, so that person gets the chance to realize something and take stock.
My ego, which until I got fired was pretty strong, cracked, it was rocked and it crumbled. Now I don’t tell anyone to go to hell, only in extreme circumstances, whereas I used to tell everyone to go to hell without a second thought.
I was sick of the boss, such an asshole, the dagger just wasn’t enough for him, or those thousand-dollar glasses. I didn’t know what to do, maybe it really was time to leave? I was practicing “expression” one Sunday, but little by little that boss crept his way into my imagination, I’d had enough. I took him and I set fire to him, I put the fire from a volcano on him—come on and burn you bastard!—and I swept the ashes into a mystic symbol. I came in to work on Monday and he got fired in spectacular fashion while another one got burned at work and flew out to Italy!
Adilet later tells me something like you can’t use magic for your own personal ends. I ask Ruslan and he says I can in two circumstances: when they threaten my family or me personally, and when they get in the way of my spiritual work. That boss threatened me and got in the way of my spiritual work, so I burned him rightly and lawfully.
My wife gives birth to triplets, I sit in my studio apartment, on the balcony like always, and I think, time to move out of this studio to a three-room apartment, or life’s going to be impossible, the noise, the crying, mess everywhere—but where would we move to? No one will give me any credit, because I work in Kazakhstan and I have no idea how to arrange any of it anyway. No one will give my wife any credit either, she worked in a library before, the salary was ludicrous.
It’s alright, I think, one way or another it will all sort itself out, I’m going to the dentist. I walk out of the doctor’s onto the street, my jaw drops, I’m smoking and something comes over me: “Walk through that door, into the estate agents, there’s a girl sitting there, and she’s going to solve all your problems.” I walk in, there are five men sitting there and this one girl—so of course I go to her.
At this point in time, work on the three-room apartment is now complete and I have already moved in. The building that the apartment is in is one building along from where my mother lives. Everything worked out in the most convenient way possible, overall. I’m sitting on the balcony in my own home in Moscow, a cigarette in one hand and a glass of brandy in the other. I’ve just lit the cigarette, and I’m about to take a sip of brandy, when the thought comes to me: what would have happened if I’d thrown myself off the roof back then? And then something comes over me, I vanish from this world and I find myself in a different one. I have a vision: I was born only recently, I’m still quite young, and I’m sitting in the arms of this plump woman. She pushes me towards her tit and I have no way out. The television’s blaring through the whole room, there’s some show on, like a quiz show, the furniture in the room is cheap, it’s about to fall apart, and this woman is talking on her cell phone endlessly about some bullshit or other.
If you were going to give ten points for one scenario and minus ten points for another then the place where I was born again would be a minus ten, no question, it would be hard to even think of anything worse. She spends a long time chatting, a long time feeding me, I get tired of her.
I came back into this world, to my balcony. I drink the brandy in a single gulp, look at my cigarette, and not even a millimeter has managed to burn down while I’ve been away. I go back in, look at my wife, at the furniture, at my situation—it may not be a ten but it’s a good eight, and the important thing is I get to do things and make decisions here. And there was a lot more interesting stuff but you can’t write everything down, because on The Path something new happens every day that will never be repeated.