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Buddhism the Russian way


Russia has always had the image of a country where the orthodox religion is very present, which is mostly true. Although buddhism had developped in Russia in XVI century, it still remains exotic for Russians. However, one can say that russians may be distinguished in those who try to discover new things, who never stop searching for the exotic, and the others – those who are much more conservative and who crtiticise the first ones.

boudd-orthodoxe.jpgThe image of buddhism in Russia is very special. On one hand, some people consider it as a religion but on the other hand in mind of a Russian person it represents more a philosophy, for buddhism is a way of thinking very different from the one that has been in Russia during the communist period.

The religion has been a support for Russian people through the whole history, the faith always helping them during the most difficult moments. The orthodoxy is a quite strict religion, it implies the absolute faith in the power of God, renunciation of the vanity, a very modest way of life and the fasting several times a year. The rejection of God and his rules, belonging to any other religion and living without being baptised are considered as sins. The position of the orthodox religion is that men are not supposed to be worried about feeding their bodies and especially not about satisfying their needs, for the body is vicious, but they have to feed their souls. The body is mortal but the soul is eternal. Of course, nowadays less and less of russians follow all the rules, and more and more of them are obviously dissapointed by the orthodox Church, which appears to be extremely hierarchical and becomes corrupted since the fall of the socialist regime. But it is almost impossible to picture a Russian with no religion, so people search for a more humanistic religion which would valorize more their own personnality, that would put in front the research of the harmonie with the world, the nature, people, themselves. Loads of russians find all the answer in buddhism.

The orthodox religion seems overbearing, it implies a certain number of rules that insist on believing and not on knowing. The orthdox religion does not explain anything while buddhisim implies a spiritual connection between the eacher and his pupil, which inspires the trust and gives the hope of reaching the Knowledge, the missing “I”. Buddhism is based on one’s experience, on the way he has completed instead of an autority, it tries to analyse one’s problems. While for the orthodox Church the mistakes are sins that can only be erased through a pray or a confession.

In the majority of Russians mind stays the image of the religion as a form of he power over people – God being there to guide us and not to help us. He does not recognize the moral freedom, but the obligation, for he establishes many rules to follow. The main forbidding in buddhist religion consists in never to hurt anybody, but all the other decisions are left for the person to make.

The body and the soul’s roles are also different in these two religions. The orthodox idea is based on the hierarchy : body is nothing but soul is everything, for body is weak and it’s needs lead us on the way to sin, it is cosidered that body and mind don’t form one being. Buddhism has a more humanist opinion about boddy, giving it the responsability for the person’s emotional life.

However, the orthodox religion critic is not always a motivation for a Russian who starts practising buddhism. On the contrary, the majority of the Russian bouddhists have a very respectful opinion about the orthodox religion, they recognise it’s values and it’s conception, that shows these people’s postion, according to which every religious tradition is important even if they have left it for an other one. For them, there is no only the knowledge that exists but also the path to the Knowledge that goes through all other religious knowledges. It is true though that the Russian buddhists are more open towards the orthodoxes than the other way around, but they still accept staying in Russia living most of the time in small communities. Nevertheless, their presence becomes more and more visible because buddhism interests Russians more and more.

Lada Dibrova for www.buddhachannel.tv

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