Friday, June 04, 2010

My Trip to Moscow

Please consider this a friendly sharing, a report, in a way, about my recent trip to Moscow, Russia. I hope you will find it of interest.

Originally this was to have been a business trip, to give a talk and seminar put on by my Russian publisher at "Stigmarion." Andrey is his name and he had just published "The New Children and Near-Death Experiences" in Russian, planning also to bring out two more of my books later. Andrey did advertise, sent out fliers, had posters put up, and did heavy website promotions. He rented a hall, and arranged for a talk at the White Cloud bookstore, and a magazine interview with a reporter. He did everything he could to help us get Visas; and, although the process of getting them took months, it went well. We e-mailed back and forth, made plans, and were both excited.

Well, things did not turn out as planned.

A short while before I was to leave, Andrey suddenly cancelled everything. So I cancelled everything - the plane trip, the hotel in the U.S. we would stay in coming back. But I kept hearing in prayer, "Go anyway." Two days later, Andrey wrote: "Come. Everything is in divine order." Much to my surprise, when I called the airlines back to arrange another flight, my original one never cancelled. It was still in force. When I called the hotel back, my original reservation never cancelled, it was still in force. I was stunned. Obviously, I really was to go. My son-in-law Greg was going with me. Because of leg injuries I could not go alone. So, on May 19th we took off for Russia.

The talk at White Cloud Bookstore went well, good crowd, very interested, but only 3 or 4 books sold. The magazine changed hands and the new people were not interested in me, preferring instead to focus on fashions, entertainment, and food. The seminar bombed. I wound up being stuck with a travel bill for $4,087 (I had to pay both Greg and my expenses). Whoa! This was too much. Why did I take the chance on coming here? There were obvious signs that things would not be successful and I would not get any of my money back. Why did I come?

Well, in prayer I kept hearing "Go."

So why Moscow, Russia?

I can't really give you an answer that makes sense, but I can say that before I left, I kept hearing from Guidance, "This trip will be a surprise."

Because of all the losses I had incurred during the first two decades of my work in researching near-death states (from changes in the publishing industry and nonpayment of royalties), I had become very careful of finances, almost to the point of squeezing every penny. I know that's not like the typical near-death experiencer. Believe me, I was typical, giving away more than I ever kept, at first. I had to relearn the value of money - the hard way. The trip to Moscow forced me to face this hidden pain, to bring it out again and reexamine the whole issue. Maybe I couldn't afford to lose $4,087, but what I really couldn't afford was to carry around pain from the past. I had forgiven everyone involved, but I had not fully "let go." Where money was concerned, there was still fear in me. Caution is okay, but not fear. Fear freezes us inside and stops the creative juices from showing us new and different ways to handle our situation. Fear paralizes, sooner or later.

Well, surprise, surprise, I let go of my fear and opened myself up to the miracle of being where I was and the delight to be found in each moment.

Yup, the whole picture changed. What was supposed to have been a business trip became a glorious vacation in the incredible wonderland of Moscow, Russia. Yes, you heard me right. We have not been told the truth about Russia and its people. They are loving, generous, and caring. I fell in love with Russia!

Did you know how close Moscow is to the North Pole? We had only about 3 hours of darkness at night. It seemed like always there was light, around the clock. We were told that in St. Petersberg, once a year, they had White Night - 24-hour sun. I can imagine what winter would be like. Really dark.

Moscow is a huge city with the most beautiful subways I have seen. The trains aren't that great but the subways themselves are filled with fine art, sculptures, fancy light fixtures - all of them depicting the glory of Russia, the military, the people, the farms. You had a real sense, just from the artwork, that the emphasis was on the people's republic, people sacrificing for their country - nothing about individuals or what individuals achieved. It's like the individual didn't exist.

You walk in Moscow. I mean you walk everywhere, to and from the subways, across town, up and down many floors of many buildings and sites. There are stairs and stairs and stairs. For someone with two legs that are temporarily challenged, the constant walking became a challenge of its own. I only saw two bicycles during my stay; lots of cars, but unbelievable traffic jams. I guess "road rage" is a big deal there. Perhaps that's because people do not obey traffic laws like they do here, creating lanes to travel where there aren't any - especially at intersections. The place is not the free-for-all like Seoul, South Korea, when I was there, but, almost.

The churches, those gold onion-domes are everywhere, and I could't get enough of them, had to see all I could. Our interpretor, Julia, explained that during the days of Stalin most of the churches were destroyed and religion was banned. People were taught that there is no God. Times have changed and God is back, not like here, but gaining steadily. Spirituality, prayer, meditation, monasteries, ceremonies and rituals, the importance of nature and sacredness, the way of the shaman - yup - God is back! The State no longer owns any of the churches - they own themselves and are free to function accordingly. Religious study groups and meetings are encouraged.

It was very important for me to see the Kremlin and Red Square. When my first child was born - Kelly - I was in labor, five minutes apart, for 2 1/2 days, right around the time of the first of May, which is the birthday of the Communist Party. I was so concerned that my baby would be born on May 1st, that I had a long talk with the baby and then with God. Before or after, but not May 1st. I couldn't handle that. I just couldn't have a baby of mine born on that day. Like all Americans were taught then, Russia to me was a monster and Communism was a horrible threat. Kelly took his first breath on the afternoon of May 2nd. I was so relieved!

So, to the Kremlin I marched. What a surprise! The Kremlin and Red Square are a lot like Washington, D.C. - the Capitol and the Mall. The Kremlin was once a fortress (huge reddish colored walls), then it was a conclave of incredibly powerful and breathtakingly beautiful churches, then it became a walled-in seat of government. Government buldings and the President's quarters parallel the inside of several walls; but, in the greater part of the Kremlin, is a large hall for meetings, concerts, and exhibits - and churches of powerful energy and religious treasures and museums.

Especially the Church of the Assumption. You walk in there and almost immediately you leave your body and float upwards to the dome. It is a spiritual high just to walk in the door, sit on a bench, and just "drink" in the splendor, the beauty, the awe-inspiring art work, the power of God filling you, overwhelming you, holding you, protecting you, loving you. There aren't words to describe the energy of that Church!!!!!!!! The magic, the glory, the power of the Eastern Orthodox Churches in Moscow are awe-inspiring and truly unique. I've been privileged to visit some of the most powerful churches on this planet, but nothing compares to the energy I found behind the Kremlin walls. Who would have thunk it!

Yes, Lenin's tomb is just outside the Kremlin walls in Red Square. No one visits it, yet there it is - like a dark blob that won't go away. Red Square is just like the Mall in D.C. and used the same way - festivals, displays, exhibits, marches, activities of all kinds. It belongs to the people and they use it lavishly. The surface is covered with stones cut to resemble bricks, and there are painted lines from one end to the other -obviously for formal gatherings and marches. On one end is St. Basil's Cathedral - truly one of a kind - with all the different and colorful, onion-shaped domes; and on the other end a huge museum of the revolution. There is a large clock on the wall of the Kremlin which plays beautiful music on each hour. Behind the revolution museum is an area of formal gardens, an exhibition hall (Korean dancers and exhibits were there when we were - reminding me of my time in Korea). And then there is a raised area of three lovely domes, to one side a few lunch places. Surprise, surprise, in four floors below those domes, deep in the earth, is a huge and colorful shopping center!

Stalin built seven extremely large buildings that ring the city and areas, to remind everyone of the glory of Communism. Nope, they're not used for anything like that now. The one we visited is a university.

What you see throughout Moscow is a city and a people shoving aside the old and welcoming in the new. You see well-educated, free and independent people, creative people, colorful people, on the march forward - and a real emphasis on self-employment, own your own business, run things yourself. The individual has emerged from nothingness to take charge and awaken a new strength and a new vigor. Russia is very dedicated to becoming the home to the next Silicon Valley and showing the world how they have changed.

What is so surprising, so dramatic about Moscow, is the stark and unmistakable failure of Communism, and what the people are stuck with today. I mean shoddy construction, unbelievably shoddy construction - the old stuff, the hundreds of apartment buildings built during the Soviet era. People were not allowed to own anything, so a home of your own was impossible. All you could do is rent a room in an apartment building. Even today having a four-room apartment is considered a luxury. Drainage - almost none. All over the city, those huge buildings - you know how they drain water from roofs? Massive metal pipes strung down building sides that open up at the sidewalk, so water can gush across the sidewalks - right where people walk. I only found one place where these pipes drained into a grill-covered ditch. Only one. I just couldn't believe the foolishness of such designs (I could go on and on about shoddy building construction - it is so obvious, so glaring). And tiny little pods, like metal sheds, cheap metal, absolutely everywhere - they are used for tiny stores, tiny booths, tiny storage facilities, tiny garages for cars - inside buildings, outside of apartments, up and down streets. Goodness, I've never seen the like of it. One story, tiny little metal sheds - everywhere.

In trying to update and modernize, they are building skyscrapers - big and beautiful - a new business district, that is awesome.........but they forgot to plan in parking. A huge embarrassment. The people just don't understand real planning, real management. They are still saddled with the inability to "vote the bums out." That means cronies still hold a lot of the power, and corruption is rampant.

And, because of this, the minute you get off the plane in Moscow, it hits you - smog! That acid stuff, like it was back in the forties and fifties in Los Angeles. Well, maybe not quite that bad, but almost. In the air there hangs this thick blanket of brown, sometimes yellowish brown, from smokestacks belching continuously - all for the sake of industry/modernization and short cuts to handling results. The smog dulls your brain, affects your breathing, and leaves you thirsty - even after taking a drink, your mouth and throat feel parched. Pay attention to this folks: do not reduce our Clean Air Protection laws for the sake of encouraging more business. Don't do it. We need those laws. You dilute them and you will pay for that shortsightedness with people's health and the alertness and clarity of available brain-power and vision.

Yet, believe it or not, the city is full of birds, more so than anywhere else I've been - mostly crows, sparrows, and nightingales. We were sung to sleep every night by nearby nightingales filling nearby trees. Trees everywhere. There is a law there now that you cannot chop down a tree without written permission from a regulator. Yes, Moscow, and perhaps the whole of Russia, is finally becoming environmentally aware. Why so many birds with constant smog? I don't have an answer for that, except to say, somehow, the birds are adapting - and so are the trees, except that many of them are malformed in the upper branches.

Please hear me: Russia has a long way to go in dealing with and turning around a legacy of horror and brutality. In esoteric traditions, Russia is known as the "Great Bear Who Eats Her Cubs." No one has suffered more from Russia than its own people. They have suffered under tyrannts and idiots for centuries, never able to have even a reasonable government, rulership, or lifestyle. And they have endured. The Russian soul is deeper than deep and more passionate than imaginable. Their history is nothing short of a series of nightmares, yet their soul is alive with color and joy and love - love of land, each other, and God. Make no mistake about that. Even the Mafia, the crime syndicate of Russia, cannot dampen the Russian soul.

What you see today is that soul struggling to find an identity. Edgar Cayce, one of the most-documented psychics of all time, once said "Russia is the hope of the world." You can see the beginnings of that now, the beginnings of an awakening in Russia that may duplicate or parallel what happened in our country after we won our independence from Great Britain and began to flex new muscles and great hope. Putin-like men are everywhere - he is so admired people want to look like him. Putin understands his country, his people. Yes, he is KGB, he may indeed be in league with the criminal element - still, his determination to rebuild his country and bring it up to speed in the world today, to establish a modern power in a modern world, is unmistakable. I now admire the man. No, I don't trust him, but I admire him. And I love Russia and what is happening there - the people, they are Russian's greatest treasure.

Did I tell you the food is good? Those people really know how to cook. Did I tell you that as part of their wedding ceremony, the new bride and groom go to the Kremlin's wall where the eternal flame burns at the tomb of the unknown and pay their respect? Did I tell you the women over there wear very little that covers even less, especially the young women, and the guys dress in shabby clothes - all the style now? Did I tell you about the sad part of the new freedoms? Couples are having a tough time getting together as they do not want to give up their freedom and commit, or work on a relationship. Men use this as an excuse not to support babies and their mothers. Those men who do commit, however, make some of the best fathers I have ever seen.

What did I learn in Russia? That growing pains are just as hard on a country as they are for individuals. That if you unleash the creative spirit in people they can solve any problem and redefine any question. That to deny individual rights is to enslave a people. That to educate and challenge and encourage the individual, allow him or her the freedom of choice and the freedom of religion and the freedom to communicate at will, is the only real formula for success, happiness, and achievement. You see this in Russia. These truths are emblazoned across the faces of people on every street, packed into every train, and on every walkway. Americans who work in Russia seldom leave. Does that surprise you? It did me.

I don't know if anything will ever come of my trip there. Andrey of Stigmarion has asked that I send him a selection of my articles and papers, so he can have them translated and put on his website. He also wants to publish some of my creations, such as "The Frost Diamond," a children's coloring book (available free on my website).

You never know about ripples, what comes from what we do. I know I will always cherish my trip to Russia, and spending time with Andrey and Julia, and, oh, those incredible churches. Greg feels the same way, and has vowed to learn Russian just in case he can ever go back.

Don't believe all the rhetoric about Russia that you hear in this country. There's a lot of good there. Cayce just might be right. Russia's soul is in search of a new identity - a better one than ever before. And I feel privileged to have seen this, and to have some of my work available for those who are interested. I will be forever grateful to Andrey and Julia and their many kindnesses, and for the Guidance I hear in prayer that said "Go. This will be a trip of many surprises.

Blessings to all of you, PMH