The Ringing Cedars of Russia by Vladimir Megre

The Ringing Cedars of Russia

by Vladimir Megre

  1. Anastasia
  2. Ringing Cedars of Russia
  3. The Dimension of Love
  4. Co-Creation
  5. Who Are We?
  6. The Family Book
  7. The Energy of Life
  8. 1 The New Civilization
    2 Rites of Love
  9. family homesteads
  10. Anasta

An Appeal from Vladimir Megre to his readers

ANASTASIA — Volume I

First published in 1996

Translation by Marian Schwartz

1. The Ringing Cedar

In spring 1994 I took my ships on a four-month commercial expedition down Siberia's Ob River, from Novosibirsk to Salekhard, a town above the Arctic Circle. The expedition's purpose was to establish economic ties with the regions of the Far North.

The expedition was called the Merchant Caravan. Our large triple-decker ship held the caravan's headquarters, an exhibit of what Siberia's entrepreneurs were producing, and a store. And my quarters, quite stylish for those times. We had combined two first-class cabins and furnished them with modern pieces in order to impress when we were conducting negotiations.

My caravan was to travel three and a half thousand kilometers to the north and stop at both relatively large settlements—Tomsk, Nizhnevartovsk, Khanty-Mansiisk, and Salekhard—as well as ones so small they could only be reached with freight during the brief navigable period.

In the winter, the Ob River ices over. Communication between the towns and the residents of Siberian settlements comes to a halt.

Afternoons, the caravan's ships docked at points of settlement. The crew blew the ship's whistles and then pumped loud music through powerful speakers on the upper deck, attracting the inhabitants.

We traded, bought valuable fish from the local population and the gifts of the Siberian taiga—whortleberries, dried mushrooms, and furs—and discussed establishing permanent economic ties with local hunters and fishermen.

The ships traveled at night, as a rule. If bad weather prevented us from continuing along the river, the headquarters ship would moor at the nearest point of settlement and we would hold a party for the local youth. Events like that were a rarity there. The clubs and houses of culture had become quite ramshackle over the previous years, and almost no cultural events were being held.

You can only imagine the response.

Inhabitants of a Siberian village thousands of kilometers from civilization see a beauty of a white ship sailing along the river and suddenly it turns and moors at their shore. The ship has a restaurant, a bar, and a dance hall with columns.

Not only all the young people but all the adults as well would rush to go on board, take a three-hour cruise, and then see the white beauty off, waving from shore.

The farther the caravan got from the big towns and the closer to the Arctic Circle, the broader the Ob got, and through binoculars you could observe wild animals on its shores.

Sometimes we did not encounter a single even tiny point of settlement in twenty-four hours of sailing. Nothing but taiga along the banks of the river, which was the sole transportation artery for many kilometers.

At the time, I did not yet know that at one of these kilometers a meeting awaited me that would change my entire life.

One day on our way back to Novosibirsk, I had our floating headquarters moor at a tiny village consisting of just a few small houses, tens of kilometers from any large points of settlement. We planned to stop for three hours so that the ship's crew could walk on land, the local residents could buy various goods and foods, and we could buy their wild taiga plants and fish cheaply.

I decided to take a walk on land as well. As I was going down the gangway, I couldn’t help but notice two old men standing in silence off to one side of the group of local inhabitants planning to climb the gangway onto the ship.

The older man had a gray beard and was wearing a canvas cape that went down to his heels and a hood that covered his head and looked especially odd. As I walked past the old men I said hello. The elder said nothing to me in reply, merely bowed his head slightly, but his companion greeted me.

"Hello. May your good intentions come to pass. I sense you're in charge here. Right? Can you give orders?"

"Yes, if they're sensible," I replied, and I was about to proceed on my way.

But the old man continued.

He tried to talk me into giving him fifty or so men (the ship's crew totaled sixty-five in all) for him to take into the taiga, twenty-five kilometers from where the ship was moored. Take them deep into the taiga to cut down a ringing cedar, as they put it. A cedar that, according to him, reached forty meters high. He proposed cutting it up into pieces that could be carried to the ship. We had to collect all of it without fail. The old man advised cutting each part into even smaller pieces, each taking one for ourselves, and giving the rest out to our families, acquaintances, and anyone who wanted one as a gift. The old man said this was a special cedar. The piece of it had to be worn on the chest, on a string. Moreover, you had to put it on while standing barefoot in the grass and with your left hand pressed to your bared chest. A minute later you would feel a pleasant warmth emanating from the cedar, and then a light shudder would pass through your body. From time to time, when the desire arose, you would need to use your fingertips to polish the side of the piece of cedar that did not touch the body, holding it with your thumbs on the other side. The old man confidently asserted that three months later the person possessing the piece of ringing cedar would feel a significant improvement in his well-being and would be healed of many diseases.

"Even AIDS?" I asked, after telling them briefly what I knew from the press about this disease.

The old man answered confidently, "Any disease!"

In his opinion, however, this was an easy task. The main thing was that the person possessing this piece would become better, luckier, and abler.

I knew a little about the healing properties of our Siberian taiga cedar, but for it to affect our emotions and abilities—at the time that seemed highly improbable. I thought, "Maybe the old men want to get some money from me for this, what they consider an unusual cedar." I began explaining to them that in the "outside world," in order to be liked, women wear jewelry made of gold and silver, and they wouldn't pay for a piece of wood, so I was not going to agree to any costs.

"They wear it not knowing," the answer followed. "Gold is dust compared with one little piece of this cedar, but we don't need any money for it, we can give you mushrooms, dried ones, too, but we don't need anything."

Deciding not to argue, out of respect for their age, I said, "Well, maybe someone would wear a piece of your cedar if a master carver put his hand to it and created something unusually beautiful."

To this the old man replied, "You can carve it, but it's better to polish it. And much better if you polish it yourself, with your own fingers, when that person's soul wants to, and then the cedar will be beautiful on the outside, too."

At this, the slightly younger old man quickly unbuttoned first his old jacket and then his shirt and showed me what he had on his chest. I saw a convex circle or oval. The colors in it were variegated—violet, crimson, a rust color—and comprised a puzzling drawing, and the veins of the tree looked like rivulets.

I'm no connoisseur of works of art, although I have had occasion to visit a few art galleries. World masterpieces have never summoned up any special emotion in me, but what was hanging on this old man's chest called up significantly greater feelings and emotions than a visit to the Tretyakov Gallery. I asked the old man, "How many years have you been polishing your piece of cedar?"

"Ninety-three," the old man replied.

"And how old are you?"

"One hundred nineteen."

At the time I did not believe his answer. The old man looked about seventy-five. Oblivious to my doubts, or not paying them any mind, the old man, who was a little excited, began trying to convince me that a piece of cedar polished only by the person himself would be beautiful to others, too, in three years. Then it would get better and better, especially for women. A pleasant, beneficial fragrance would come from its possessor's body incomparable to anything created artificially by man!

A very pleasant fragrance was indeed coming from the old men. I smelled it, even though I smoke and, like all smokers, my sense of smell has probably dulled.

There was one other oddity about the old men.

I suddenly began noticing in these strangers' speech phrases uncharacteristic of inhabitants of the North's remotest areas. I remember specific ones even today, even with their intonations.

The old man said, "God created the cedar as a reservoir for the energy of the Cosmos.

"A person in the state of love gives off an emission. In a fraction of a second it reflects off the planets sailing above the person and once more reaches Earth, giving life to everything alive.

"The Sun is one of the planets that reflects far from the full spectrum of this emission.

"Only emissions of the forces of light go from the person into the Cosmos. And only a beneficial emission returns from the Cosmos to Earth.

"A dark emission comes from someone abiding under the influence of pernicious feelings. A dark emission cannot ascend but rather falls deep into the Earth.

After it is reflected off the bowels of the Earth it returns to the surface in the form of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and wars.

"The highest achievement of a reflected dark emission is the effect on humans of its rays, which strengthen the pernicious feelings directly inside them.

"The cedar lives for five hundred and fifty years. Its millions of needles catch and accumulate light energy, its entire spectrum, day and night. During the cedar's lifetime, all the bodies that reflect the energy of the forces of light pass over it.

"Even a small cedar has more energy that is beneficial to huamsn than all the human-made energy installations on Earth put together.

"The cedar takes in the energy that comes from humans and through the Cosmos, stores it, and, at the right moment, gives it back. Gives it back when there is not enough of it in the Cosmos, which means in humans and everything living and growing on Earth.

"One encounters cedars—but very rarely—that store the accumulated energy but do not give it back. After five hundred years of life they begin to ring. That is how they speak, with their quiet ringing. That is how they signal for people to take them, to cut them down so that the accumulated energy can be used on Earth. And so this cedar has been asking with its ringing. It's been asking for three years. If it doesn't make physical contact with living people, then in three years it loses its chance to give up what it has accumulated through the Cosmos, loses its chance to give it back to humans directly. Then it starts burning the energy inside itself. This tortuous burning and dying takes twenty-seven years.

"Not long ago we discovered a cedar like that. We determined it had already been ringing for two years — ringing softly, very softly. It might be trying to stretch its request out for a longer time, but it has only one year left. It has to be cut down and distributed to people."

The old man spoke for a long time, and for some reason I listened. The odd old Siberian's voice first was calmly confident, then very agitated, and when he was agitated, he would polish his piece of cedar with his fingertips quickly, as if fingering some musical instrument.

It was cold on shore and an autumn wind was blowing off the river. The cold wind raked the gray hair on the old man's uncovered head in bursts, but his old jacket and shirt remained unbuttoned. His fingertips kept polishing his piece of cedar, which hung on his chest open to the wind. He was trying to explain its full significance.

Lidia Petrovna, an employee in my firm, came off the ship and onto shore. She said everyone had already gathered on board, they were ready to sail, and they were waiting for me to finish my conversation. I said goodbye to the old men and quickly boarded. I could not satisfy their request for two reasons: delaying the ship, and for three full days, would have meant a huge loss; and at the time I ascribed everything the old men said to excessive superstition. The next morning, during our planning meeting, I suddenly saw Lidia Petrovna fingering a piece of cedar on her chest. Later she told me that when I had gone on board she had hung back a little. As I began to walk away, she saw the old man look, distraught, first at me as I left and then at his older companion.

He repeated agitatedly, "How can that be? Why didn’t they realize? I don't know how to speak their language at all. I couldn't convince him. I couldn't! Nothing I said worked! Nothing worked. Why? Tell me, father."

The elder of the two old men placed his hand on his son's shoulder and replied calmly, "You were not convincing, my son. That is why they did not realize." "When I was already going up the gangway," Lidia Petrovna continued, "the old man who'd been talking to you suddenly ran up to me, grabbed me by the arm, and led me down the gangway onto the grass.

"He hastily took the string to which this piece of cedar wood was attached out of his pocket, put it around my neck, and pressed it with my own hand to my chest. I even felt a shudder in my body. He did it all so very quickly, I never had a chance to say anything to him. As I was walking away he repeated after me, 'Safe travels! Be happy! Please, come here next year! All the best, people. We'll be waiting for you! Safe travels!'

"When the ship cast off, the old man waved for a long time and then suddenly sat down on the grass. I watched them through my binoculars. I saw the old man you'd been talking to, who had later given me the piece of cedar, sitting on the grass and his shoulders quaking. The older one, with the long beard, was leaning over him and stroking his head.

* * *

Immersed in my commercial concerns, bookkeeping, and banquets celebrating the conclusion of our travels, I forgot all about the strange old Siberians.

When the ship returned to Novosibirsk I experienced acute pains and was given a diagnosis of a duodenal ulcer and osteochondrosis of my thoracic spine. In the quiet of my comfortable hospital ward, I was cut off from the daily bustle. My deluxe private room gave me a chance to calmly analyze the results of my four-month expedition and compile a business plan for the future. But my memory seemed to push all the events away and for some reason brought to the fore the old men and what they'd said.

At my request the hospital got me all the literature there was on the cedar tree.

Comparing what I read with what I'd heard on the expedition from the old Siberians, I was increasingly struck by and began to believe what the old men had said. If there was some truth in what they'd said, could all of it have been the truth?

The books on folk medicine said a lot about the cedar's healing properties. They said that all of it, from its needles to its bark, possessed highly effective healing properties. The Siberian cedar's wood is beautiful and can be put to good use by master craftsmen, and furniture and sounding boards for musical instruments can be made from it. The cedar's needles possess a high level of phytoncides and the ability to easily decontaminate the ambient air. The cedar's wood has a characteristic, very pleasant balsamic fragrance. A small piece of cedar in a home drives away moths.

The popular scientific literature also indicated that the quality of cedars that grow in northern regions is significantly higher than that of those in more southerly regions.

In 1792 Academician P. S. Pallas wrote that the fruits of the Siberian cedar effectively restored male virility and returned a person's youth, significantly increased the organism's resistance, and helped him withstand many diseases.

There were also many historical phenomena directly or indirectly linked to the cedar. Here is one of them.

In 1907 the semiliterate muzhik Grigory Rasputin, who came from a remote Siberian village, an area where the Siberian cedar grows, arrived in the capital of St. Petersburg at the age of fifty and astounded even the imperial family, to which he gained entrée, with his predictions. He possessed extraordinary virility. When they tried to kill Grigory Rasputin, they were astounded that he continued to live after he had been riddled with bullets. Could this have been because he grew up on the cedar's nuts in a cedar region?

This is how journalists of the day assessed his stamina:

"At age fifty, he could start an orgy at midday and keep up his carousing until four in the morning. He would go from debauchery and drunkenness straight to church matins, where he would stand in prayer until eight o'clock in the morning. Then, at home, after tea, Grishka would receive visitors until two in the afternoon, as if nothing had happened. Then he would select some ladies and go with them to the bathhouse, and from the bathhouse he would drive to a restaurant outside the city, where he would repeat the previous night. No ordinary person could withstand a routine like that."

Nonetheless, the numerous facts and proofs pale before the most important thing, which you can learn for yourself and after which I was left without a shadow of doubt: the Bible. In the Old Testament, in the third book of Moses (Leviticus 14:4), God teaches how to heal people, even how to decontaminate a dwelling using . . . CEDAR!!!

When I compared the facts and information I had collected from various sources, a picture took shape such that the world's known miracles paled by comparison. The great mysteries that had disturbed men's minds began to seem trifling compared to the mystery of the ringing cedar. I could no longer have any doubt of its existence. The popular scientific literature and the Old Testament dispelled my doubts.

The cedar is mentioned forty-two times in the Bible, in the Old Testament. The Old Testament Moses, who revealed to humanity the stone tablets, probably knew more about the cedar than is written in the Old Testament.

We are used to the fact of various plants in nature being capable of healing man's ailments. Cedar's healing properties are confirmed by the popular scientific literature and such serious and authoritative scientists as Academician P. S. Pallas, and this coincides with what the Old Testament says. Now, pay attention!

The Old Testament points to the cedar and only the cedar and does not mention any other trees. Doesn't the Old Testament talk about how the cedar is the most powerful therapeutic agent that exists in nature? What is this? A medicinal complex? But how should it be used? And why had these strange old men chosen one ringing cedar out of all the cedars?

But this was still not all. The following Old Testament story talks about something immeasurably more puzzling.

King Solomon built a temple of cedar. In exchange for cedar from the Levant, he gave another king, Hiram, twenty towns of his own kingdom. Incredible! Twenty towns for a certain kind of building material! True, he was rendered one other service as well. At King Solomon's request he was given men "able to hew the trees."

Who were these people? What did they know?

I'd heard that even now, in the remotest places, there were old men who had a special skill for choosing trees for construction. But then, more than two thousand years ago, everyone might have had that skill. It took special people, though. The temple was built. Services were held in it and "the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud."

What kind of cloud? Where did it come from and how did it get into the temple? What was it? Energy? Spirit? What manner of phenomenon was it, and what was its connection to the cedar?

The old men had spoken of the ringing cedar as a reservoir for some sort of energy.

Which cedar was more powerful, the Levant's or Siberia's?

Academician Pallas said that its healing properties increased as the growth approached the boundary with the forest tundra. That meant the Siberian was more powerful.

The Bible says, "You will know them by their fruits." That means the Siberian again!

Had no one ever paid any attention to all this before?

Hadn't someone compared these facts?

The Old Testament, the science of the last century, and modern science were one in their opinion of the cedar.

In Living Ethics, Elena Ivanovna Roerikh writes, "The chalice of cedar resin appeared long ago in the rituals of consecration of the kings of ancient Khorasan.

"The Druids also had a goblet of cedar resin, which was called the Chalice of Life. Only later was it replaced by blood, when the awareness of the Spirit was lost. Zoroastrian fire came from burning resin in a chalice."

So what—of all our forefathers' knowledge about the cedar, its properties, and its uses—has come down to our days and been preserved? Nothing at all? What did the old Siberians know about it?

All of a sudden, the memory surfaced of a situation from many years before that gave me gooseflesh. At the time, I'd lent it no significance, but now. . . .

At the beginning of perestroika, I, as president of the Siberian association of entrepreneurs, had had a call from the Novosibirsk Regional Executive Committee (in those days there were still Communist Party organizations) asking me to come meet with a major Western businessman. He had a letter of recommendation from the government. Present at the meeting were several entrepreneurs and regional committee staff.

Judging by his appearance, the Western businessman was a tough and unusual man of the Oriental type. He was wearing a turban and expensive rings adorned his fingers.

We spoke, as usual, about opportunities for cooperation in various spheres. Among other things he said, "We might buy cedar nuts from you." As he said this he actually tensed up, and his sharp eyes darted, probably studying the reaction of the entrepreneurs present. I remembered this well because at the time I'd wondered why it was he had changed so.

After the official meeting the Muscovite interpreter accompanying him approached me. She said he wanted to speak with me.

The businessman proposed, confidentially, that I organize deliveries of cedar nuts for him, which had to be fresh, and in addition to the official price I would have a sizable percentage for myself.

I was supposed to deliver the nuts to Turkey, where they made some kind of oil. I said I would think it over.

I decided to find out what this oil was. And I did.

On the London stock exchange, the standard for world prices, cedar nut oil cost as much as five hundred dollars for one kilogram! We were being offered two or three dollars for a single kilogram of cedar nuts.

I called an entrepreneur I knew in Warsaw and asked him to find out whether there was any possibility of selling directly to the consumer of this product and to discover the technology for extracting the oil.

A month later he replied.

"No possible solution. I could not get hold of the technology. Also, these questions of yours generally have set in motion forces in the West best left alone and forgotten."

Then I went to an old acquaintance of mine, a researcher at our Novosibirsk Consumer Cooperative Institute, bought nuts, and financed the work. This institute's laboratories produced about a hundred kilograms of cedar nut oil.

I also hired people who discovered the following in archival documents.

During the prerevolutionary period and for a short while after the revolution, there was an organization in Siberia known as Siberian Cooperator. The people in this organization traded in oil, including cedar nut oil. They had fairly luxurious offices in Harbin, China, London, and New York, and fairly large sums of money in Western banks. After the revolution, this organization fell apart and many of its members emigrated.

Krasin, a member of the Bolshevik government, met with the organization's head and suggested that he return to Russia, but the head of Siberian Cooperator replied that he would not help Russia anymore, now that he was outside its borders.

The archival materials also said that the cedar oil was made using wooden—and only wooden—presses in many of Siberia's taiga villages. The high quality of the cedar oil depended on when the nuts were collected and processed.

We were unable to determine when this was, either in the archives or at the institute. The secret was lost.

The oil's healing properties have no analog. Might one of the émigrés have given the secret for manufacturing this oil to someone in the West?

What explained the fact that the immensely healing cedar nut grew in Siberia but the oil's production was in Turkey? After all, the cedar variety found in Siberia does not grow in Turkey at all.

What forces in the West was the Warsaw entrepreneur referring to? Why should I leave this question alone? Weren't these forces pumping this extraordinary healing product out of Russia's Siberian taiga?

If we had such wealth at home, with highly effective properties confirmed by centuries and millennia, why were we buying millions, maybe even billions of dollars' worth of Western medicines and consuming them like half-wits? Why were we losing knowledge known to our forefathers? Recent forefathers, who had lived in our own century!

To say nothing of the Bible, which describes an unusual situation from more than two thousand years ago! What unknown forces were working so assiduously to wipe our forefathers' knowledge from our memory? And not only that, but trying to keep us from sticking our nose where it didn't belong. They were trying to wipe it away—and succeeding!

I was gripped by fury. I also saw that the pharmacy was selling cedar oil—in imported packaging. I bought one thirty-gram vial and had it tested. I don't think it contained more than two drops of oil. The rest was some kind of diluting agent. It didn't compare with what we had manufactured at the consumer cooperation institute. And these two diluted drops cost fifty thousand rubles! What if we sold it ourselves, rather than purchase it abroad? All of Siberia could live well off this oil alone!

We had managed to forget our forefathers' technology, and now, here we were, sniveling that we lived poorly.

All right, I thought, I could still retrieve something. I would set up production of the oil myself and let my own firm get rich.

I decided on another expedition down the Ob, to the north, taking only my headquarters ship, the Patrice Lumumba. I loaded various goods in the holds and equipped the ship's screening room as a store. I had to hire new people to work. I was not going to ask people from my own firm. My financial affairs had deteriorated while I'd been distracted.

Two weeks after we left Novosibirsk, my security team reported overhearing conversations about the ringing cedar. In their opinion, I had taken on "odd people" among the new hires, to put it mildly. I started calling in individual crew members and talking with them about the upcoming trip into the taiga. Some agreed to go even for free. Others asked for large sums of money for the operation because it had not been part of the agreement when they hired on. It was one thing to be in comfortable conditions on a ship and another to hike twenty-five kilometers into the taiga and carry out a load.

By then my funds were running short. I was not planning to sell the cedar. After all, the old men had said it had to be given away. And I believed the main thing was not the cedar itself but the secret of extracting its oil. And in general I was interested in finding out all kinds of information connected with it.

Gradually, with the help of my security team, I became convinced that I was being followed, especially when I went ashore, but to what end was unclear, as were the people behind the surveillance. I thought and thought about what to do and decided that in order not to foul things up, I somehow had to outwit everyone in one fell swoop.

2. Meeting

Without explaining anything to anyone, I ordered the ship to stop not far from where I had met the old men the previous year. I took a small launch to the settlement myself, and I ordered the ship's captain to continue along our commercial itinerary.

I hoped the locals would help me find the two old Siberians I'd spoken with about the ringing cedar the year before so that I could see the cedar with my own eyes and discuss the least expensive way to deliver it to the ship.

After tying my launch up to a rock on the deserted shore, I was about to head for one of the closest huts when I saw a solitary woman standing on the hillside and started toward her in hopes of getting the information I was interested in from her.

The woman was wearing an old quilted jacket, a long skirt, and tall rubber galoshes like many people of the remote North wear in fall and spring. Her kerchief was tied so as to completely cover both her forehead and neck. It was hard to tell how old the woman was. I greeted her and told her about the two old men I'd met here the previous year.

"That was my grandfather and great-grandfather who spoke to you last year, Vladimir," she replied.

I was amazed. Her voice was young, her diction very precise, and she used the familiar "you" right away and also called me by my name.

I could not remember the old men's names or whether we had even introduced ourselves. I thought, "We must have if she's calling me by my name." Deciding to use the familiar "you" with her as well, I asked, "And what is your name?"

"Anastasia," the woman answered, and she held her hand out to me palm down, as if expecting a kiss.

This gesture from a country woman wearing a quilted jacket and galoshes standing on a deserted shore and trying to behave like a society lady amused me. I shook her hand. Of course I did not kiss it.

Anastasia smiled in embarrassment and suggested I go into the taiga with her, to where her family lived.

"Only you have to walk through the taiga, twenty-five kilometers. That doesn't bother you, Vladimir?"

"It is a little far, of course." I replied to the woman, and to myself I thought, "It's not easy to walk twenty-five kilometers through the taiga, where there aren't any roads. I should take one of my guards, but that would mean chasing down the departed ship, and I have no way of communicating with it." So as not to waste time, I decided to go alone.

However, I did make my objective known.

"Will you be able to show me the ringing cedar?"

"Yes."

"Do you know everything about it, and will you tell me?"

"I will tell you what I know."

"Then let's go."

En route, I questioned Anastasia about how long she had been living in solitude in the taiga.

Anastasia told me that their family, their clan, had been living in the cedar forest for generations—according to her ancestors, for millennia. Only rarely did they come into direct contact with people from our civilized society. These contacts occurred not where they lived but at those points of settlement they went to in the guise of hunters or people from another settlement.

Anastasia herself had been to two cities, Tomsk and Moscow. For one day apiece. She had not even spent the night. She had wanted to see whether she was mistaken in her notions of city people's way of life. She had saved up money for the trip by selling berries and dried mushrooms. A local woman had lent her her passport.

Anastasia did not approve of her grandfather and great-grandfather's idea of passing out the healing ringing cedar to lots of people. When asked why, she said these little pieces would fan out among people doing good and ill both. More than likely, most of the pieces would be snatched up by negative individuals. As a result, they could bring more harm than benefit. The main thing, in her opinion, was to help the good. And the people through whom good was achieved. Helping everyone was not the way to alter the imbalance between good and evil; it would remain as before or get worse.

After meeting the old Siberians, I had looked through the popular scientific literature and several historical and scientific works that discussed the cedar's unusual properties. Now I tried to go deeper and understand what Anastasia was saying about the way of life the people of the cedar grove deep in the vast Siberian taiga. I thought, "To what and whom can I compare their way of life?"

I compared them with the Lykov family, whom many people know, I think, from articles in the press. That family, too, lived apart, deep in the taiga, for more than a hundred years.

When geologists chanced upon them and they were written about in the newspapers, I even recalled one headline, "Taiga Impasse," being discussed on television shows.

As I read the articles, I formed an impression of the Lykovs as people who knew a lot about nature but little of our modern civilized life. Here we had a very different situation. Anastasia impressed me as someone who had an excellent grasp of the problems of our civilized society and of something else that I did not quite understand. She knew our city life and discussed it easily, freely.

We had gone about five kilometers, deeper and deeper into the forest, and I was good and tired because there was no path, let alone a road, and I had to step over fallen trees and around bushes. But the woman walking ahead seemed to experience no weariness whatsoever, and I was embarrassed to reveal my weakness to her with a suggestion to stop and rest.

We came upon a small glade where a stream ran along the edge. The woman said, "You must be tired, Vladimir. If you like, we can rest by this stream."

"I'm not too tired, but it is time for a bite to eat," I replied, and I immediately sat on the grass at the edge of the glade, started taking sandwiches and a flat bottle of good brandy out of my backpack, and offered Anastasia something to drink.

But for some reason she would not drink the brandy or eat with me. "I'm not hungry at all, Vladimir. You eat while I bathe in the nice sun."

After these words, she took three steps away from where I was sitting, removed her jacket, kerchief, and long skirt, and placed them in the hollow of a tree. She was left wearing a light shift. When she removed the kerchief covering the greater part of her face, I nearly choked on my brandy, so struck was I by what I saw. And when she was left wearing only her light shift . . .

If I believed in miracles I would have ascribed what happened to reincarnation.

Before me stood a young woman with long golden hair and a magnificent figure. Her beauty was out of the ordinary. It was hard to imagine which of the beauties who had won the most prestigious beauty contests could vie with her for looks and, as later became clear, intellect. Everything about this Siberian hermit was attractive and entrancing.

Anastasia lay on the grass, her arms flung wide, palms offered to the sun, eyes closed blissfully. I watched her like a man bewitched, forgetting all about my meal.

Obviously sensing my stare, she turned her head in my direction, looked at me, smiled slightly, and closed her eyes again.

Her face: no makeup, regular features, sleek skin utterly unlike the weathered faces of remote Siberia's inhabitants, large, good, gray-blue eyes, and slightly smiling lips.

She was wearing a light shift, sort of like a nightgown, but I got the impression that her body was not cold, even though it was only twelve to fifteen degrees above zero Celsius.

The sun was reflected as a golden light in her upturned palms. She was beautiful and half-naked.

I looked at her. My thoughts and feelings became confused. I tried to understand what I should do now and wondered why she'd undressed, why she lay in the grass so tempting and beautiful. Well, why do women of all eras bare their legs, then their breasts, then everything with the help of mini skirts and cleavage? Isn't it to summon the men around her? "Look at how delightful I am, how open and accessible." And what can a man do then? Resist the passion of the flesh, thereby humiliating the woman with his inattention, or show her signs of attention?

In this situation, what signs of attention was I supposed to give?

She and I were alone in the taiga, which meant words were not needed, but rather something else. Should I try to kiss her? Or did she want more? I asked,

"Anastasia, aren't you afraid to walk alone in the taiga?"

She opened her eyes, turned her head toward me, smiled, and replied, "There's nothing for me to fear here, Vladimir."

"I wonder how you would defend yourself if you met up with a few muzhiks, geologists, or hunters."

Instead of answering, she just smiled.

I thought, "How can this young beauty, so extraordinarily tempting, fear nothing and no one?"

To this day, I do not understand what happened after that.

I moved toward Anastasia, who was lying on the grass, embraced her shoulders, and drew her toward me. She did not really resist, although I felt considerable strength in her resilient body. The fragrance of her hair and breath made my head spin a little, and I tried ...

But I couldn't. The last thing I remember before losing consciousness were her eyes and the words she spoke: "Never mind, Vladimir, calm yourself."

Also before this I remember being seized by an incredibly powerful and sudden fear—a fear of I don't know what—as in childhood, when you're home all alone and afraid of something.

When I came to she was kneeling in front of me. One of her hands lay on my chest and the other was waving to someone above and to either side. She was smiling—not at me but at someone who seemed to surround us invisibly or be above us.

With this gesture, Anastasia seemed to be signaling to her invisible friend that nothing bad was happening to her. Then she looked into my eyes calmly and tenderly and spoke.

"Calm yourself, Vladimir, it's all over now."

"But what was it?" I asked.

"Harmony's failure to understand your attitude toward me, the desire that arose in you. Later you'll be able to sort all this out yourself."

"What does any kind of harmony have to do with this? It's you! You yourself started to resist."

"I failed to understand it, too. I didn't like it."

I sat down and pulled my bag toward me.

"That's just great! She didn't understand it! She didn't like it! All you women do is try to seduce us. Bare your legs, display your breasts, wear high heels. It's uncomfortable walking on heels, but you do! You do and you wiggle all your charms. But the least little thing and you, 'Oh, I don't need that, I'm not like that. ' Then why do you wiggle? Hypocrites! I'm an entrepreneur, and I've seen all kinds of women. You all want the same thing, you just put on different airs. So why did you take off your outer clothing? It isn't hot! Then you go and stretch out there, you stop talking, and you smile as if..."

"I'm uncomfortable in clothing, Vladimir. I put it on when I leave the forest and join people, to look like everyone else. I lay down in the sun to rest and not bother you while you ate."

"You didn’t want to bother me. Well, you did."

"Forgive me, please, Vladimir. Of course you're right that every woman wants men to notice her, but not just her legs and breasts. She wants that one man who sees more not to walk by."

"But no one here was walking by! Just what is this more that needs seeing, if her legs are sticking out in front? You women are so illogical."

"Yes, unfortunately, life is like that sometimes. Shall we go farther, Vladimir? Are you finished eating? Are you rested?"

The idea flashed through my mind that maybe there was no point going any farther with this philosophical savage. Not only that, but she obviously possessed special abilities, since I'd lost consciousness at the mere touch of her. What should I do? Go back maybe? No, I couldn't find my way back to the river alone. I had to go forward.

"All right, let's go," I told Anastasia.

3. Human or Beast?

We continued on our way to Anastasia's home. She left her clothing in the tree's hollow. She put her galoshes there, too. She was left in her light shift.

She took my backpack, offering to help carry it.

Barefoot, the taiga beauty walked ahead of me with an unusually light and graceful gait, lightly swinging the backpack, which she held with one hand.

We talked the whole time. Talking with her on any subject was very interesting, maybe because she had rather strange opinions about everything.

Sometimes Anastasia would spin around as she walked. Turning to face me, she would talk and laugh and walk like that for a while, "ass forward," carried away by the conversation and not watching where she was going. I couldn't understand why she didn't stumble even once or stab her bare foot on a dry bare twig. There was no visible path on our way, but there were none of the usual taiga obstacles either.

As we went, she would sometimes touch or quickly stroke a leaf or the branch of a bush. Leaning over, without looking, she would tear off an herb and ... eat it.

"Just like a beast," I thought.

When we came across berries, Anastasia would hold them out to me and I would eat them as we walked, too.

Her body was not marked by any special musculature. Basically, Anastasia had an average build. Neither skinny nor fat—a well-nourished, resilient, and very beautiful body. But the strength in it, in my opinion, was considerable, and her reflexes were not bad at all.

When I tripped and started to fall, my hands stretched out in front, Anastasia turned lightning fast, quickly put out her own hand, the one without the backpack, and my chest fell against her palm and spread fingers. I fell without touching the ground.

She held my body up with one hand and righted it. At the same time she kept talking about something, not tensing in the least.

After I straightened up with the help of her hand, we continued on our way as if nothing had happened, and I thought for some reason about the gas gun in my backpack.

The taiga hermit may have been a beauty, but she had lured me into a situation where I had no protection of any kind from possible nasty accidents.

Imperceptibly, while we had been talking, we had gone a good ways. Suddenly Anastasia halted, put my backpack under a tree, and joyously informed me, "Here we are! Home!"

I looked around. A small, neat glade, flowers amid magisterial cedars, but no structures whatsoever. I didn't even see a hut. Nothing at all! Not so much as a primitive temporary shelter! But she was rejoicing as if we had come upon a comfortable dwelling.

"But where's the house? Where do we sleep, eat, and take cover from the rain?" I asked, barely restraining the alarm in my voice.

"This is my house, Vladimir. I have everything here."

A vague sense of alarm began to take hold of me.

"Where is this everything? Give me a kettle at least to boil water and an ax."

"I don't have a kettle or an ax, Vladimir, and it would be better not to make a fire."

"What are you saying? She doesn't even have a kettle! You were the one who invited me to your home, and among normal people, the word 'home' assumes a building with a roof over our head where there's a kitchen, at least one bedroom, and a pantry of food. My bottle of water is empty. You saw that when I was eating. I even threw away the bottle. Now all I have left is a couple of swallows of brandy. It's a day's walk to a river or village, and I'm very tired and thirsty. Where do you get your water? What do you drink from?"

Seeing my agitation, Anastasia became upset and quickly took my hand and pulled me across the glade into the forest, repeating as we went, "Just don't worry, Vladimir! Please. Don't get upset. I'll take care of everything. You'll rest. Get a good night's sleep. I'll do everything. You won't be cold. You're thirsty? I'll give you something to drink right now."

All of ten or fifteen meters from the glade, behind some bushes, there turned out to be a small taiga lake before us. Anastasia quickly scooped up a handful of water and brought it to my face.

"Here is the water. Drink some, please."

"What's wrong with you, Anastasia? Are you a total savage? How can you drink raw water from a forest puddle? You saw I was drinking Borzhomi. On the ship we even put river water for washing through a special filter, add chlorine, and aerate it."

"This isn't a puddle, Vladimir. Here we have clean, living water. It's good! Not half dead, like you have. You can drink this water. It's like mother's milk. Look."

Anastasia brought her hands up to her own face and drank the water from them.

I blurted out, "Anastasia, are you a beast?"

"Why a beast? Because my bed isn't like yours? I don't have a car? Or all kinds of devices?"

"Because you live like a beast, in the forest, have nothing, and apparently like it that way."

"Yes, I do like living here."

"There, you see? You confirmed it yourself."

"Vladimir, do you think the characteristic difference between human and everything living on Earth is that it has artificially created objects?"

"Yes! Or, to put it more precisely—civilized daily life."

"You consider your daily life more civilized? Yes, of course, you do. But I am not a beast, Vladimir. I am a human being!"

4. Who Are They?

Subsequently, in the three days I spent with Anastasia—observing this strange young woman living alone in the remote Siberian taiga—I tried to understand the point of her way of life and could not help but compare it with the way of life of people living in the large metropolises.

Anastasia lives in the forest completely alone. She has no dwelling, she barely wears clothing, and she does not put up stores of food. She is the descendent of people who have lived here for millennia and were the representatives of an essentially different civilization. She and her kind have been preserved to our day, in my opinion, with the help of a very wise decision, perhaps the only correct decision. They blend in among us, outwardly trying not to stand out in any way from ordinary people, and where they have their permanent residence, they blend with nature.

Finding the places where they live is hard. Man's presence in such a place can be determined only by the fact that it seems better tended, handsomer, like Anastasia's taiga glade, for example.

Anastasia was born here and is an inalienable part of nature. Unlike the great hermits we know, she did not retreat to the forest just for a while, as they did. She was born in the taiga and only visits our world briefly. A perfectly simple explanation was found for the seemingly mystic phenomenon, when that powerful fear suddenly flooded me and I lost consciousness in my attempt to overpower Anastasia. Humans have tamed the cat, dog, elephant, tiger, and eagle, and here everything around has been tamed. And this everything cannot allow anything bad to happen to her.

Anastasia told me that when she was born and before she was even a year old, her mother might leave her alone for a whole day.

"And you didn't starve to death?" I asked.

The taiga hermit first looked at me in amazement and then replied, "Vladimir, the world was created from the beginning in such a way that humans would have no need to waste the energy of their thoughts on where to get food or what kind. Everything around matures in the sequence people require. You have to eat as you breathe, paying no attention to your nourishment and undistracted from the most important thing. The Creator laid this problem on others so that humans could live and carry out our purpose."

"Do you mean to say that the hundreds of millions of people of the civilized world do not need to be going to work every day to eat properly?"

"The way of life they've chosen forces them to go to work."

"What does their way of life have to do with this? The way of life of peasants and farmers is different from a city dweller's, but they too work from morning 'til night to feed their family."

"And for you to get just one cedar nut, for example, you must have to exert quite a lot of effort. Over there the cedar cones on the tree are high above ground, a good ten meters up."

"Yes, it is high," Anastasia agreed. "I hadn't thought of that before. I'd always done it the way my grandfather taught me."

At these words, Anastasia raised her right hand and snapped her fingers. A few minutes later there was a fluffy red squirrel next to Anastasia, who was sitting on the grass.

The little beast was standing on its hind legs holding a cedar cone in its paws. Anastasia snapped her fingers a second time, paying no attention to the squirrel and continuing the conversation.

The little beast began quickly husking the cone, taking the cedar nuts out of it, and putting them in a pile. When Anastasia clicked her fingers a third time, the squirrel shelled one nut and jumped smartly onto her palm.

Anastasia raised the little beast's face to her mouth.

The squirrel passed the kernel of the cedar nut from his mouth to hers, jumped off her hand, and started shelling the next nut.

Standing on the ground holding cones in their front paws were more than a dozen other squirrels, and their numbers quickly multiplied. Anastasia slapped the grass a meter away from where I was sitting. All the squirrels started husking the cones and piling the nuts at the indicated spot. Once done with a cone, each squirrel went off for another. A few minutes later a pile of cedar nuts was towering in front of me.

At first this scene seemed fantastic, but then I recalled how at Novosibirsk's Akademgorodok, whose housing was built in the middle of a pine forest, there were lots of squirrels, which got used to people. The squirrels begged for food from the strolling residents and actually got angry when they weren't given anything. Here I was simply observing the reverse process.

I told Anastasia, "In the normal world, our world, everything is arranged differently. Just try to click your fingers at a commercial stall, Anastasia. You could beat a drum and they wouldn't give you anything. But you say, 'The Creator solved everything.'"

"Whose fault is it if humans decided to change the Creator's work? For better or worse, try to understand for yourself, Vladimir."

This was my dialog with her on the problem of nourishment. Anastasia's position is simple. It's sinful to waste thought on what was initially offered in abundance. The way of life in humans' artificial world creates problems. It turned out that the hermit Anastasia, residing in the taiga, gave no thought to her nourishment and wasted neither physical nor intellectual energy on it. At the same time, she had top-quality, organic nourishment that was ideally balanced for her organism. So we in the civilized world, it turned out, not only had to think about nourishment but also work for it from morning to night, meanwhile getting food of highly dubious quality.

We were used to our world and called it civilized. But hadn't people's modern civilization forgotten about the existence of another life, in harmony with nature? What heights could humans have reached had we devoted the millennia of our development to the natural rather than the artificial world?

We know many examples from literature, the press, and television programs of infants who have fallen accidentally into the power of wild nature being suckled by wolves. Here, generations of people had lived continuously in harmony with their environment, and their relationship with the animal world was different from ours. Furthermore, their organism may have had different properties.

I asked Anastasia, "Why aren't you cold, while I'm wearing a jacket?"

"Because the organism of people who wrap up in clothing," she said, "who hide from the cold and heat in shelters, steadily loses its ability to adapt to changes in its environment. I haven't lost this property of the human organism, so I don't particularly need clothing."

5. A Forest Bedroom

I had no gear with me for sleeping in the wild forest. Anastasia put me to bed in a dugout lair. Exhausted after our difficult journey, I fell asleep hard and fast. When I awoke, I had a sensation of bliss and comfort, as if I'd been lying on a magnificent, comfortable bed.

The lair, or dugout, was spacious and lined with tiny fluffy cedar twigs and dried grass, which filled the space with a pleasant fragrance.

Stretching, I flung my arms out to either side. One hand touched a furry hide, and I immediately made a note that Anastasia hunted in some fashion. I moved closer to the fur, pressing my back to its warmth, and decided to doze a little longer.

Anastasia was standing at the entrance to my taiga bedroom, and when she saw I'd awakened she immediately said, "May today's day come to you with good, Vladimir. And may you meet it with your own good. Only don't be frightened, please."

She clapped her hands, and the "fur" . . . I realized in horror that this was no hide. A bear began to crawl out of the den cautiously. Receiving an approving slap from Anastasia, the bear licked her hand and began hobbling away from the glade. It turned out that Anastasia had put sleeping herbs at the head of my bed and made the bear lie next to me so I wouldn't be cold. She herself had slept curled up outside, at the entrance.

"How could you have done such a thing, Anastasia? He might have ripped me to shreds or crushed me."

"It's not a he, it's a she—a female bear. It is very docile and could not have done anything bad to you," Anastasia replied. "It gets great pleasure from being given a task and carrying it out. It didn't budge the whole night. It poked its nose into my feet and fell blissfully still. It just shuddered a little when you flung your arms around in your sleep and hit it on the back."

6. Anastasia's Morning

When twilight falls, Anastasia goes to bed in one of the shelters made by the inhabitants of the forest, usually a lair. When it's warm, she might sleep right on the grass. The first thing she does when she awakens is rejoice wildly at the rising sun, the new shoots appearing on the branches, and the new sprouts emerging from the earth. She touches them, strokes them, sometimes sets something aright. Then she runs over to the small trees and slaps their trunk. Something like dust or dew showers down on her from the shaking crown. Then she lies down on the grass and for five minutes or so blissfully stretches and bends. Her entire body becomes covered with what seems like a moist cream.

She takes off at a run, jumps into the small lake, splashes, and dives in—dives wonderfully!

Her relations with the animal world around her resemble man's relations with domestic animals.

During her morning routine, many of them observe Anastasia. They don't approach, but all she has to do is look in their direction and make a barely noticeable summoning gesture, and the happy animal is off and running toward her feet.

One morning I saw her acting the fool, playing with a wolf cub as if it were a pet dog.

Anastasia slapped the cub on its shoulder and swiftly ran off. The cub ran to catch up, and when they were nearly even, Anastasia suddenly took a leap as she ran, jumped and pushed off a tree trunk with two feet, and took off in another direction.

The cub kept running past the tree, out of inertia, turned, and raced to catch up with the laughing Anastasia.

Anastasia doesn't give a moment's thought to the problem of clothing and nourishment. Most often she walks around half- or entirely naked. She eats cedar nuts, some herbs, berries, and mushrooms. She eats only dried mushrooms. She herself never gathers mushrooms or nuts and provisions and puts up no stores, even for winter. Everything is prepared by the many squirrels that inhabit these parts. There is nothing surprising in the fact that the squirrels put up stores of food for winter. They do this everywhere, following their natural instinct. What struck me was something else. At the snap of Anastasia's fingers, the squirrels close to her raced to jump into her outstretched hand and give her a shelled nut. And when Anastasia slapped her bent knee, or the earth, the squirrels made a sound, as if summoning, informing the others, and started dragging out dried mushrooms and other stores and piling them in front of her on the grass. And they did it with tremendous satisfaction, or so it seemed to me. I thought she had trained them, but Anastasia said their actions seemed instinctive, and the mother squirrel herself taught her little squirrels by example.

"Maybe one of my distant ancestors did train them, but more than likely this is just their predestination. For winter, each squirrel puts away stores that are several times more than it can eat itself."

When asked how she didn't freeze in winter without appropriate clothing, Anastasia answered with a question: "In your world, don't you have examples of man's abilities to withstand cold without using clothing?"

Then I remembered the book by Porfiry Ivanov, who went around in any cold wearing underpants and barefoot. The book also described how the fascists, wishing to test the endurance of this unusual Russian man, doused him with water when it was twenty below zero and drove him around naked on a motorcycle.

In her early childhood, besides her mother's milk, Anastasia could use the milk of various animals. They freely lowered their teats to her. She made absolutely no cult whatsoever of food, never sat down especially to eat, picked berries and plant shoots as she went, and continued to go about her business.

By the end of three days with her, I could no longer treat her as I had when we first met. After all I had seen and heard, Anastasia had become for me a creature—not a beast, because her intellect is quite high, but her memory—her memory is such that she, of course, forgets nothing she has ever heard or seen. Sometimes her abilities seemed to lie beyond ordinary comprehension, but this attitude toward her caused her much grief and distress.

Unlike people we know with unusual abilities who wrap themselves in an aura of mystery and exceptionality, she was constantly trying to explain and reveal the mechanism of her abilities, to prove that there was nothing supernatural about them or her, that she was a person, a woman, and she was constantly asking me to be conscious of that. I tried to do so as I sought an explanation for what was so unusual. I tried to consider it rationally.

The mind of someone from our civilization tries by every means possible to arrange his daily life, obtain nourishment, and satisfy his sexual instincts. Anastasia spent no time on this at all. People who end up in a situation like the Lykovs are also forced to worry constantly about feeding themselves and arranging shelter. Nature does not help them to the degree it does Anastasia.

Nor do all the various tribes living far from civilization have this contact. Anastasia explained this by saying that their intentions were not sufficiently pure. Nature and the animal world sensed this.

7. Anastasia's Ray

What seemed most unusual and mystical to me when I was in the forest was her ability to see individual people and their situations at a great distance. Perhaps other hermits possess this ability as well.

She did this with the help of an invisible ray. She said every person had one, but people didn't know about it and so couldn't use it.

"Man has yet to invent anything nature doesn't have. The equipment that makes television possible is just a pathetic likeness of this ray's scope."

Since the ray was invisible, I didn't believe in it, even though she tried several times to demonstrate and explain the principle of its functioning and find proofs and understandable explanations. Then one day . . .

"Tell me, Vladimir, what do you think waking dreams are? And are many people capable of them?"

"I think many do have waking dreams. A waking dream is when a person imagines a desired future."

"Good. That means you don't deny that humans possess the ability to model their own future and different specific situations, right?"

"Right."

"And what is intuition?"

"Intuition . . . intuition is probably the feeling when someone seems not to be analyzing what might happen or why but certain feelings suggest to him how he needs to act."

"That means you don't deny the existence in each person of something apart from the usual analytical reasoning that helps him determine his own and others' actions, right?"

"I guess I don't."

"Excellent! Good!" Anastasia exclaimed. "Now sleeping dreams! A dream—what is it? The dreams that almost all people have when they sleep."

"A dream is . . . I don't know what it is. A dream is just a dream."

"Good, good. Let it just be a dream. That means you don't deny its existence, right? You and others know that when a person is in a dream state, when his body is almost not under the control of part of his consciousness, he can see people and different events."

"Well, I don't think anyone would deny that."

"But in dreams people can also communicate, have conversations, and empathize."

"Yes, they can."

"And what do you think, can a person direct his own dream? Call up the images and events in his dream that he wishes to see? Like on an ordinary television, for instance."

"I don't think that would work for anyone. A dream happens all by itself somehow."

"You're wrong. Humans can control everything. We was created to control everything.

"The ray I've been telling you about consists of the information, notions, intuitions, and emotional sensations humans have inside and, as a consequence, the visions, not unlike dreams, that are consciously controlled by humans' will."

"How can you control a dream in your sleep?"

"Not in your sleep. You can when you're awake. Program it in advance, in a way, and with absolute precision. For you, this happens chaotically in your dream. Humans have lost the greater part of our abilities to control natural phenomena and ourselves. That is why we decided that dreaming was just a superfluous product of his weary brain. In fact, almost all people on earth . . . Well, would you like me to try to help you right now to see something at a distance?"

"Try away."

"Lie down on the grass and relax so that your body uses the least possible energy. You have to be comfortable. Nothing is bothering you? Now think about the person you know best of all, your wife, for example. Recall her habits, walk, and clothing, and where you think she might be right now, and picture all this with your imagination."

I thought of my wife, knowing that at that moment she might be at our country home. I pictured the house, a few things, the surroundings. I recalled a lot and in detail, but I didn't see anything. I told Anastasia this, to which she replied, "You don't know how to relax completely, as if you were just about to fall asleep. I'll help you. Close your eyes. Spread your arms out to either side."

Then I felt her fingers touch mine and began to plunge into sleep, or slumber. . . .

. . . My wife was standing in the kitchen of our country home. She had put a knit top over her usual robe. That meant the house was chilly. More problems with the heating system.

My wife was brewing coffee on the gas burner. And something else in the "dog's pot." My wife's face was sullen and displeased. Her movements were sluggish. All of a sudden she looked up, walked lightly to the window, looked at the rain, and smiled. The coffee boiled over on the burner and she grabbed the pot with the overflowing coffee, but at the same time she did not frown or get irritated, as usual. She took off her top. . . .

I woke up.

"Well? Did you see something?" Anastasia asked.

"Yes. But couldn't that have been an ordinary dream?"

"What do you mean ordinary? You had planned to see her!"

"Yes, I had. And I did. But where's the proof that she was there in the kitchen at the moment I saw her in my dream?"

"Remember this day and hour if you want to verify it, Vladimir. When you get home, ask her. Did you notice anything else unusual?"

"Nothing."

"Didn't you see the smile on your wife's face when she walked over to the window? She smiled and didn't get irritated over the spilled coffee."

"I did notice that. She must have seen something good out the window that cheered her up."

"All she saw out the window was rain. Rain, which she never liked."

"So why did she smile?"

"I looked at your wife with my ray, too, and warmed her."

"You mean your ray warmed her and mine, what, is cold?"

"You just looked out of interest. You didn't invest your feelings."

"You mean your ray can warm someone at a distance?"

"Yes."

"What else?"

"Receive and transmit certain information. The ray can improve someone's mood and partially drive out a person's pains. And lots of other different things depending on the energy I have and the strength of my feelings, will, and desire."

"And can you see the future?"

"Naturally!"

"The past?"

"The future and past are practically the same thing. The difference is just in the outward details. The main thing remains unchanged always."

"How is that? What can be unchanged?"

"For instance, a thousand years ago people wore different clothing. They used other devices in their daily life. But that isn't the main thing. A thousand years ago, like now, people had identical emotions. Those are not subject to time.

"Fear, joy, love. Imagine, Yaroslav the Wise, Ivan the Terrible, or a pharaoh could love a woman with exactly the same emotions as you or someone else does today."

"Interesting. Only I don't understand what this means. You say every person could have a ray like that?"

"Naturally. Even now people still have emotions and intuition, the ability to dream awake, to conjecture, to model individual situations, to dream asleep, only it's all chaotic and uncontrolled."

"Maybe we need to train somehow? Develop exercises?"

"You can if you train. Only, you know, Vladimir, there is one more indispensable condition for the ray to be subject to your will."

"What condition is that?"

"Purity of intentions is indispensable, and the ray's power depends on the power of the emotions of light."

"There you go! It's all coming clear, I think. But what does purity of intentions have to do with it? And emotions of light?"

"They are the ray's energy."

"That's it, Anastasia. This has ceased to be interesting. After this you'll add on something else."

"I've already told you the main part."

"Oh yes, you have, but there are too many conditions. Let's talk about something else. Something a little simpler."

* * *

Anastasia fills her day contemplating and modeling all kinds of situations going on in our past, present, and future life.

Anastasia has a prodigious memory. She remembers the many people she has seen in her imaginings or with her ray, as well as their inner struggles. Like a brilliant actress, she can imitate their walk and voice and think the way they do. She distills in herself the life experience of many people from the past and present. She uses this experience to model the future and help others. She does this at a great distance, with the help of her invisible ray, and those to whom she renders aid in the form of suggestions and decisions or whom she heals never suspect.

Only later did I learn that these rays, invisible to ordinary sight, come from each person, only with varying strengths. Academician Akimov photographed them using special devices and published the photographs of these rays in 1996, in the May issue of Miracles and Adventures. Unfortunately, we cannot use them as she can. Science calls something like this ray a "torsion field."

* * *

Anastasia's worldview is unusual and interesting.

"What is God, Anastasia? Is there a God? If so, why can no one see Him?"

"God is interplanetary Reason, Intellect. He is not a unified mass. Half of Him is in the extramaterial world of the Universe. This is the set of all energies. The second half of Him is diffused as small particles on Earth, in each person. The forces of darkness try to block these particles."

"What do you think is in store for our society?"

"In the future, an awareness of the true perniciousnous of the technocratic path of development and a movement back to the primary sources."

"Do you mean to say that all our scientists are underdeveloped beings who are leading us into an impasse?"

"I mean to say that through them the process is accelerating, and that means so is our awareness of the wrong path."

"Which means what? Are we building all our cars and houses for nothing?"

"Yes."

"Don't you get bored living here alone, Anastasia? Alone, without a television or telephone?"

"What primitive things you've named. Humans had all of that from the very beginning, only in a more perfect form. I have it, too."

"A television and a telephone?"

"What is a television? A device that offers information and pictures and draws up stories for the almost atrophied human imagination. With my imagination I can draw any subject, any picture, and construct the most incredible situations, and not only that but take part in them myself and have an effect on the story. Oh, I must not have expressed myself clearly. Right?"

"And the telephone?"

"A person can speak to another person without a telephone. All it takes is the will, the desire of both, and a developed imagination."

8. Concert in the Taiga

I suggested she come to Moscow and appear on television.

"Imagine, Anastasia. With your beauty you could be a photo model, or a world-class runway model."

This was when I realized that earthly things were not alien to her and, like any woman, she liked being a beauty. Anastasia started to laugh.

"The most beautiful of all, right?" she repeated and, like a child, she started playing the fool and prancing across the glade like a model down a runway.

She was funny imitating a model, putting one foot in front of the other as she walked and displaying her imaginary garments.

I started applauding, and joining in on the game I announced, "And now, ladies and gentlemen, attention! Appearing before you is the gorgeous, unsurpassed gymnast and incomparable beauty, Anastasia!"

This announcement amused her even more. She ran to the middle of the glade and performed incredible somersaults, first forward, then backward, sideways, to the right, to the left, and then leaped very high. She grabbed a branch with one hand, swung a couple of times, and flung her body to another tree. After turning another somersault, she bowed coquettishly to my applause. Then she ran from the glade and hid behind the thick bushes. Smiling, Anastasia peeked out as if from the wings and impatiently awaited my next announcement. I remembered a video of some favorite songs done by popular singers. Sometimes at night in my cabin I would watch it.

After recalling this video, without even thinking about whether Anastasia would be able to portray anything, I announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we now present the best soloists of the modern stage, who will perform their best compositions. If you would!"

Oh, how wrong I was not to trust in her abilities. What happened then was absolutely beyond belief. Having barely taken a step from her improvised wings, Anastasia began singing in the voice of Alla Pugacheva. No, she wasn't parodying the great singer or imitating her voice, she was singing, freely transmitting, not only her voice and melody but also her emotions.

However, there was something even more amazing. Anastasia accented individual words, adding something of her own. She added nuances to the song. And Alla Pugacheva's song, whose interpretation I thought could not be surpassed, evoked an entire spectrum of additional emotions and highlighted the images even more vividly, as in, for example, the following song, magnificently performed in all:

Once there was an artist,

Who had a little house and his paints,

But he loved an actress

And this actress loved flowers.

He sold his house then,

He sold his paintings and paints

And with all his money bought

An ocean of flowers ...

Anastasia put the stress on the word "paints."

She shouted the word in surprise and fear. Paints are what is most precious for an artist. Without them he cannot create. He has given up what is dearest to him for the sake of his beloved. Later, at the lyric, "far away the train bore her," she depicted the artist, the lover, watching the train pulling out, carrying his beloved away forever. She portrayed pain, despair, and anguish.

Shaken by all I had seen and heard, I did not applaud when the song ended. Anastasia bowed, waited for my applause, and when she did not hear it began a new song with even greater ardor. She performed all my favorite songs recorded on my cassette in order. And in her performance each song, which I had heard many times, was even more vivid and moving. After she had performed the last song, when she heard no applause, Anastasia went into her "wings." Shaken, I sat a little longer in silence, under this unusual impression.

Then I leapt up and began to clap and shout, "Well done, Anastasia! Bis! Bravo! All performers on stage!"

Anastasia came out cautiously and bowed. I kept shouting,

"Bis! Bravo!" I stamped my feet and clapped my hands.

She became very cheerful as well. She clapped and shouted, "Bis. Does that mean more?"

"Yes, more! More! And even more! You did so well, Anastasia! Better than they themselves! Even better than our stars!"

I fell silent and studied Anastasia closely. It occurred to me how multifaceted her soul was, if she could impart so much that was new, beautiful, and vivid to a seemingly ideal performance of songs.

She had fallen still as well and was watching me silently and questioningly.

Then I asked her, "Anastasia, do you have your own song? Could you perform something of your own that I've never heard before?"

"Yes, but my song doesn't have words. Will you like it?"

"Sing your song, please."

"All right."

And she began to sing her extraordinary song.

First Anastasia cried out like a newborn child. Then her voice became soft, gentle and kind.

She stood under a tree, her hands pressed to her breast, head bowed, as if she were singing a lullaby and caressing the baby with her voice. Her voice was saying something gentle to him. And this quiet but amazingly pure voice made everything all around—the birds singing and the insects chirring in the grass—suddenly fall silent.

Then Anastasia seemed to be rejoicing at a child just awakened. There was exultation in her voice. Incredibly high notes first hovered above the earth and then soared into infinity.

Anastasia's voice implored someone, then entered into battle, then once again caressed the child and gave joy to everything around her.

Joy settled in me as well.

When she had finished her song, I shouted merrily, "And now, my esteemed ladies, gentlemen, and friends, a unique, unrepeatable act by the first and foremost trainer in the world! Deft, bold, and fascinating and capable of taming any predator. Watch and thrill!"

Anastasia actually squealed with delight, jumped up, clapped rhythmically, shouted something, and gave a whistle. Something unimaginable began in the glade.

The wolf cub appeared first. It jumped out of the bushes, stopped at the edge of the glade, and looked around, perplexed. Squirrels were racing through the trees that surrounded the glade, jumping from branch to branch. Two eagles circled low and little creatures rustled in the bushes.

There was a crack of dry branches—and a huge bear ran into the glade, after moving aside and trampling the bushes, stopping dead in its tracks close to Anastasia. The wolf cub growled at it in disapproval. Evidently the bear had come too close to Anastasia without an invitation.

Anastasia ran up to the bear, playfully slapped its snout, grabbed its front paws, and brought it to a standing position. She seemed to have exerted no significant physical effort in doing so, and the bear itself carried out her instructions, as best it understood them. It stood there frozen, trying to understand what she wanted of it.

Anastasia took a running start, leapt high, grabbed the bear's thick mane, did a handstand, and jumped down again, turning a somersault in the air. Then she took the bear by the paw and started leaning over, pulling the bear along and creating the impression of throwing him over her shoulder. This trick would have been impossible if the bear hadn't done it itself and Anastasia hadn't merely directed him. The bear started to fall on Anastasia but at the last moment put its weight on its palm on the ground and probably did everything possible not to inflict harm on its mistress or friend.

The wolf cub was getting more and more upset. It could no longer stand still and started rushing from side to side, either growling or snarling. A few more wolves appeared at the edge of the glade, and when Anastasia "threw" the bear over her shoulder one more time, trying to do it so that it also turned over her head, the bear fell on its side and stopped moving.

The utterly distraught wolf cub, baring its teeth maliciously, took a leap in the bear's direction.

In a flash Anastasia was in the wolf cub's path, and the cub, braking on all four paws, tumbled over and struck Anastasia's leg. Immediately she put one hand on the shoulder of the cub, which obediently flattened itself to the ground. With her second hand Anastasia waved, as she had with me when I first had wanted to embrace her without her consent.

The forest around us was making aroused, though not threatening noises. You could feel its arousal in the jumping, running, and hiding beasts, big and small. Anastasia began to instill calm. First she petted the wolf cub, slapped it on the shoulder, and sent it off with a spank, like a dog. The bear lay on its side in an awkward pose, like a scarecrow. It was probably waiting for something else to be asked of it. Anastasia went up to it, made it rise, stroked its snout, and, like the wolf cub, sent it packing.

Flushed and cheerful, Anastasia ran up and sat next to me, took a deep breath, and slowly exhaled. I noticed that her breathing immediately became even, as if she had not just performed her incredible exercises.

"They don't understand acting, and they don't need to. It's not entirely a good thing," Anastasia commented, and she asked me, "Well, how was I? Could I ever get a job in your life?"

"You were great, Anastasia, but we already have all that. Trainers in circuses show lots of interesting things with beasts. You would never break in, past the barrier of officials and all the conventions and intrigues. You're not well versed in them."

After this our game consisted of sifting through her options: where Anastasia might get a job in our world and how she might overcome the existing conventions. But no easy options were found, since Anastasia had no documents about her education, or residence permit, and no one would believe the stories about her background just on the basis of her abilities, however unusual.

Shifting to a serious note, Anastasia said, "Naturally I would like to spend time again in one of the cities, Moscow maybe, to see how accurate I've been in modeling certain situations from your life. For instance, I don't quite understand how the forces of darkness have managed to fool women to such a degree that, without even suspecting it themselves, they attract men with the charms of their body and so cannot make a true choice, a soul mate. Afterward they're the ones who suffer. They can't create a true family because ..."

She launched back into a stunning and demanding discourse on sex, the family, and childrearing, and I thought, "What is most unlikely out of everything I've seen and heard is her ability to speak about our life and know it so accurately and in such detail."

9. Who Will Light a New Star?

The second night, afraid that Anastasia would slip her bear in to keep me warm or cook up something else, I categorically refused to go to bed at all if she herself did not lie down next to me. I thought, "If she's next to me, she won't be up to anything." And I said, "This is what you call inviting me to be your guest. To your home. I thought there'd be some kind of structure here, but you won't even let me build a fire and you slip wild animals in with me at night. If you don't have a normal house, then you shouldn't be inviting guests."

"All right, Vladimir, don't get upset, please, and don't be afraid. Nothing bad is going to happen to you. If you like, I'll lie next to you and keep you warm."

This time there were even more cedar branches and dried, neatly laid grass thrown in the dugout lair, and the walls were stuck with twigs as well.

I got undressed, put my pants and sweater under my head, lay down, and covered up with my jacket. The cedar branches gave off that very same volatile fragrance which the popular scientific literature says decontaminates the air, although in the taiga the air is quite pure and easy to breathe as is. The dry grass and flowers added another extraordinarily subtle fragrance.

Anastasia kept her word and lay down next to me. The fragrance of her body surpassed all the others. It was more pleasant than the most refined perfumes whose fragrance I had ever smelled on any woman. Her body also gave off an unusually pleasant warmth that seemed to wrap around her body like a halo, and when I moved closer to her it wrapped around my body as well. It was as if Anastasia and I were inside an invisible but tangible sphere or cocoon. I may have been wrapped in an invisible aura. It was cozy and peaceful next to Anastasia. But now I had no thought of taking her, as I had the first day we met. I recalled how at our halt, during my attempt to kiss Anastasia, I had suddenly been flooded with fear and had lost consciousness. Since that incident I had had no carnal desires, even when I'd seen her naked.

I lay there dreaming about the son my wife had not borne me. I thought, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if I had a son by Anastasia! She's so healthy, hardy, and beautiful. That means the child would be healthy, too. And look like me. And maybe like her, too, but I'd rather more like me. They would be a strong and intelligent individual. They would know a lot. They would be talented and happy."

I pictured my baby son clinging to her nipples and unconsciously laid my hand on Anastasia's firm and warm breast.

Immediately a shudder ran right through my body—not a shudder of fear, but another kind, unusually pleasant. I did not pull my hand away but merely held my breath and waited for what would happen next. And then I felt her soft palm lying on my hand. She had not pushed me away.

I raised up and began looking at Anastasia's beautiful face. The white northern night made her even more attractive. I could not tear my eyes away.

Her gray-blue eyes were watching me tenderly.

I couldn't help myself. I leaned over and lightly touched and then cautiously kissed her parted lips.

Another pleasant shudder ran through my body. My face was enveloped by the fragrance of her breathing.

Her lips did not utter, as they had the last time, "Never mind, Vladimir, calm yourself," and there was no fear at all. Thoughts of a son would not leave me. When Anastasia gently embraced me, stroked my hair, and yielded her entire body to me, I felt something incredible! . . .

Only after I awoke in the morning was I conscious of a magnificent sensation, a blissful delight and satisfaction such as I had never once experienced in my life.

What was also strange was that usually after spending a night with a woman I've felt a physical weariness. Here it was entirely different, and I had the sense of some great creation.

The satisfaction was not only physical but also somehow incomprehensible, previously unheard of, unusually beautiful and joyous. The thought even occurred to me that only this feeling made life worth living. Why had I never experienced anything even closely resembling this, even though I had been with all kinds of women—beautiful, beloved, and experienced in love?

Anastasia was a young woman, a timid and tender young woman, but at the same time she had something inside her unlike any of the women I had known. What? Where was she now? I moved toward the access to our cozy lair, poked my nose out, and looked at the glade.

The glade was slightly lower than my night's abode. It was covered with a half-meter layer of morning fog.

In this fog, her arms flung wide, Anastasia was spinning.

She raised a small cloud of fog around herself, and when it had wrapped her up entirely, Anastasia took a light leap, extending her legs in a split like a ballerina, flew above the layer of fog, dropped to a new spot, and once again, laughing, spun a new cloud around herself through which the rays of the rising Sun shone, caressing her. This scene enchanted and enraptured me, and from an excess of emotion I shouted, "Ana-sta-si-a! Good morning, beautiful forest fairy Anastas-i-a!"

"Good morning, Vladimir," she shouted gaily in reply. "It's so fine, so beautiful right now!"

"Why is that?" I shouted as loudly as I could.

Anastasia raised her arms toward the Sun and laughed her happy, alluring laugh, shouting her answer to me and someone else above in a singsong.

"Only humans of all the creatures in the Universe can experience this!

"Only a man and a woman sincerely desiring to have a child from each other!

"Only someone who has experienced this lights a star in the sky!

"Only someone aspiring to create and build!

"Tha-a-ank you-ou-ou!"

Turning only to me, she added, "Only someone aspiring to create and build, not to satisfy his own carnal needs."

Once again she laughed her rippling laugh, leapt high, and stretched into a split, as if soaring over the fog. Then she ran up, sat down beside me at the entrance to our night's abode, and started combing her fingers through her golden hair, lifting it up from below.

"You mean you don't consider sex something sinful?" I asked.

Anastasia froze. She looked at me in amazement and replied, "Was that the sex your world means by that word? If not, then what is more sinful: giving yourself so that a person can come into this world, or refraining and not letting a person be born? A real, live person!"

I gave that some thought. Indeed, you could not use the usual word "sex" for my night's intimacy with Anastasia. So what had happened in the night? What word applied here?

Once again I asked, "Why is it that I have never known anything even resembling this before? I don't think many others have either."

"Understand, Vladimir, the forces of darkness are trying to develop base, carnal passions in humans in order to keep them from experiencing God-given grace. They try every possible way to suggest that satisfaction is easily come by, thinking only about carnal satisfaction, and by doing this they lead people away from the truth.

"Poor deceived women who don't know this accept nothing but suffering their entire life, spend their entire life searching for that lost grace. They're looking in the wrong place.

"No woman can keep a man from straying if she surrenders to him for the sake of satisfying merely carnal needs. If that's what happens, their life together can't be happy.

"Their life together is an illusion of togetherness, a lie, a conventionally accepted deceit. For the woman herself immediately becomes a whore, regardless of whether she is married to this man.

"Oh, how many laws and conventions has humanity devised to artificially reinforce this false union—laws spiritual and secular—all in vain. They merely force humans to play-act, to adapt to them and only feign their union. Inner thoughts have always been immutable and not subject to anyone or anything.

"Jesus Christ saw that. And trying to counter this, he said, 'Whosoever looks on a woman with desire has already committed adultery with her in his heart.'

"Then you, in your near future, tried to brand the person who abandons their family with disgrace. But nothing, no time or situation, has ever kept people's desire from seeking intuitively felt grace and great satisfaction—no matter what.

"A false union is a terrible thing.

"The children! Understand, Vladimir. The children! They sense the artificiality and falseness of that kind of union, and they come to doubt everything their parents say. The children subconsciously sense the lie in their conception, and this makes them feel bad.

"Tell me, what person would want to come into the world as a result of merely carnal pleasures? Every person would like to have been created in a great surge of love, the desire to create, not come into the world as the result of carnal pleasures.

"Those who enter into a false union will later seek true satisfaction in secret from each other. They'll take more and more new bodies or use just their own bodies in a trivial and doomed way, aware only intuitively that the true grace of a true union keeps slipping away."

"Anastasia, wait a minute. Are man and woman really so doomed if the first time they just have sex? Is there really no recourse, no possibility of correcting their situation?"

"There is. Now I know what to do. But what words can I find and where? I keep searching for those words. I've searched in the past and future, but haven't found them. Could they be near at hand? New words are just about to appear, to be born, words capable of reaching hearts and minds—new words about the ancient truth of the primary sources."

"You mustn't get so upset, Anastasia. For now say it approximately, in the words you do have. What else is needed for true satisfaction besides two bodies?"

"Awareness! A mutual aspiration to create. Sincerity and purity of aspiration."

"How do you know all this, Anastasia?"

"I'm not the only one who knows about this. The enlightened Veles, Krishna, Rama, Shiva, Christ, Mohammad, and Buddha tried to explain the essence of this to people."

"You're telling me you've read about them? Where? When?"

"I haven't read about them, I just know what they said, thought about, and wanted."

"You mean you think just sex is bad?"

"Very bad. It leads people away from the truth and destroys families. A tremendous amount of energy escapes into nowhere."

"Then why are so many different magazines published with naked women in erotic poses and erotic films with sex? All this is very popular. Demand engenders supply. Do you mean to say that our humanity is completely bad?"

"Humanity isn't bad, but the mechanism of the dark forces, which eclipses spirituality and arouses base carnal desire, is very powerful. It brings many calamities and much suffering down on people. It operates through women by exploiting their beauty, a beauty that should engender and support the spirit of poet, artist, and creator in the person. But for this, the woman herself must be pure. If she lacks sufficient purity, she will try to attract a man with the charms of her flesh, the outward beauty of an empty vessel. Thus, she deceives him, and for this deceit she herself will inevitably suffer her whole life."

"So what happens then? Through the millennia of its existence, has humanity been powerless to fight these dark forces? Then they must be more powerful than humans. Humanity could not fight them, despite the summons from the spiritual and enlightened, as you say? Does this mean they simply cannot be fought? And must they?"

"They must, without fail!"

"Who can do this?"

"Women! Women who have managed to understand the truth and their purpose. Then the men will change, too."

"Hardly, Anastasia. A normal man will always be aroused by a woman's beautiful legs and breasts, especially when you find yourself traveling or vacationing far from your girlfriend. That's how it is. No one here can change anything or make it different."

"But I did it with you."

"What did you do?"

"Now you won't be able to have this pernicious sex."

The terrible thought struck me like a shock and began to drive out the beautiful feeling born in the night.

"What did you do, Anastasia? What? Now I ... I ... what, now I'm ... impotent?"

"On the contrary, now you've become a real man. Only you'll find ordinary sex repugnant. It won't bring you what you experienced, and what you experienced is now possible only if you wish to have a child and if the woman wants the same from you. If she loves you."

"Loves me? But under those conditions . . . It might happen only a few times in my whole life."

"That's enough for you to be happy your whole life, I assure you, Vladimir. You'll understand. You'll feel it later.

"People enter into contact with just the flesh, and many times, and they don't know that no one can know true satisfaction just through their flesh.

"A man and a woman experience great satisfaction when they have united on all levels of being, in a rush of inspiration from the forces of light and aspiring to create. The Creator only gave it to humans to know this. This satisfaction is not fleeting and cannot be compared with the carnal kind. You retain the sensations from it for a long time, and all planes of being make you and the woman happy—a woman capable of giving birth to a creation in the image and likeness of the Creator!"

Anastasia held out her hand to me and tried to move closer. I quickly jumped away from her, to the corner of the dugout, and shouted, "Stand clear of the exit!"

She stood up. I crawled outside. Anastasia was standing in front of me, and there was no blame in her gaze. I took several steps back from her and said harshly, "You may have deprived me of the greatest pleasure in life. Everyone strives for it, everyone thinks about it, only they don't talk about it out loud."

"It's an illusion, these pleasures, Vladimir. I helped you rid yourself of this terrible, pernicious, and sinful impulse."

"Illusion or not, it doesn't matter. It is a universally recognized pleasure. Don't think of depriving me of other impulses you think are pernicious. Otherwise, I'll get out of here and won't want to be with women, have a drink, eat, or smoke! That's not the usual for the majority in normal life."

"Well, what's so good about drinking, smoking, and the senseless and pernicious digestion of such a huge quantity of animal flesh if so many marvelous plants have been created especially to feed people?"

"You go feed on your plants if you like them, but don't go meddling with me. Many of us take pleasure in smoking and drinking and dining well. That's how we do things, understand? That's how we do things!"

"But everything you've named is bad and pernicious."

"Bad? Pernicious? But this is precisely how most of my friends and acquaintances live. If guests come to my house for a special occasion, they sit down at the table, and I tell them, 'Here, enjoy the nuts, eat a nice apple, drink some vodka, and don't smoke. Then you would feel terrible.'"

"You mean, when you gather with friends, you mainly sit down at the table immediately and drink, eat, and smoke?"

"Whether or not it's the main thing doesn't matter. This is the usual way all over the world for all people. In some countries even there are ritual dishes, roast turkey, for example."

"Not all the people even in your world do this."

"Maybe not all, but I live among normal people."

"Why do you think the people around you are the most normal?"

"Because they are the majority."

"That is not a good argument."

"It's not for you because it can't be explained to you."

My anger at Anastasia was starting to pass. I remembered what I'd heard about medicines and physician specialists and I thought, "If she's harmed me somehow, the doctors will be able to correct the situation." I said, "All right, Anastasia, let's come to an agreement. I'm not angry at you anymore. Thank you for a marvelous night. Only you have got to stop trying to rid me of my habits.

"I'll fix the sex problem with our doctors and modern medicines. Let's go for a swim."

I headed for the lake, admiring the morning forest. My good mood had started to return when she started in again! She was walking behind me and saying, "Your medicines and doctors won't help you now. To restore everything that was, they would have to wipe what happened and what you'd felt from your memory."

Taken aback, I stopped. "Then you have to restore it all."

"I can't either."

Once again, furious rage and fear overpowered me simultaneously.

"You . . . You really are brazen! You're interfering and spoiling my life. You mean you can do vile things but I can't fix them?"

"I haven't done anything vile. You wanted a son so much. But quite a few years have passed, and you don't have a son. And no woman in your life could bear you a son. I wanted a child from you, too, and a son, too, and I can. So why are you thinking the worst in advance, that things will be bad for you? You might understand yet. Please don't be afraid of me, Vladimir. I am absolutely not meddling in your psyche. It happened all by itself. Largely at your will. You got what you wanted.

"I wanted so badly to rid you of at least one mortal sin."

"Which is that?"

"Pride."

"You're an odd one. Your philosophy and way of life aren't human."

"What about me is so not human that it scares you?"

"You live alone in the forest and communicate with plants and beasts. No one lives even close to the way you do."

"Why do you think that is, Vladimir?" Anastasia began agitatedly. "The summer people communicate with plants and animals, too, though not consciously yet. But later they'll understand. Many are already beginning to understand."

"That's just great! She's a summer person. And this ray of yours. You don't read books, but you know a lot. It's some kind of hocus-pocus."

"I'll explain it all to you, Vladimir, only not all at once. I'm trying, but I can't seem to find the right words, understandable words. Please believe me, everything I do is inherent in man. He was given it from the very beginning, from the primary sources. Each person could do this. People will return to the primary sources anyway. This will happen gradually, when the forces of light are victorious."

"And your concert? You sang all the voices and depicted my favorite singers, and even in the order on my video."

"This is how it happened, Vladimir. I once saw that video. I'll tell you later how that came to be."

"So you just remembered the words and tunes of all the songs at once?"

"Yes. What's so difficult or mystical about that? Oh, what have I said! I was showing off! I frightened you! I'm doubtless incoherent and impetuous. My grandfather called me that once. I thought he said it out of love. But doubtless I truly am impetuous. Please. . . . Vladimir. . . ."

Anastasia spoke in a humanly agitated way, and probably for that reason my fear of her almost abated. The thought of a son occupied all my emotions.

"Oh, I'm not afraid anymore, just restrain yourself a little more. Your grandfather used to tell you that, too."

"Yes. My grandfather. But I keep talking and talking. I want so badly to tell you everything. I'm a blabbermouth, aren't I? Right? But I'll try. I'll try very hard to restrain myself. I'll try to say only what's understandable."

"Does this mean you'll give birth soon, Anastasia?"

"Naturally! Only not in time."

"What do you mean not in time?"

"I should in the summer, when nature would help me nurse it."

"Then why did you decide to go ahead if it's so risky for you and the child?"

"Don't worry, Vladimir, your son will live, at least."

"And you?"

"I will try to hold out until spring, and then everything will fall into place."

Anastasia said this without a shadow of sadness or fear for her life, and then she took a running start and leapt into the small lake. Splashes of water sparkling in the sun flew up like fireworks and dropped into the lake's pure smoothness. About thirty seconds later her body slowly began to surface. She lay on the water smiling, her arms flung to either side and her palms facing up.

I stood on shore looking at her and thinking, "Will the squirrel hear her snap her fingers when she's lying with the baby in one of her shelters? Will any of her four-legged friends help her? Will her body's warmth be enough to warm the little one?"

"If my body grows cold and the child has nothing to eat, he will cry," Anastasia said softly as she emerged from the water. "His angry cry may arouse pre-Spring nature or some of it, and then it will all be fine. They will nurse him."

"You were reading my thoughts?"

"No, I assumed that was what you were thinking. It's natural."

"Anastasia, you said your relatives live in neighboring areas. Could they help you?"

"They're very busy and cannot be torn away from their affairs."

"What are they busy with, Anastasia? What do you do for days on end, if you're basically fully served by nature?"

"I have things to do. I try to help the people of your world whom you call summer people or gardeners."

10. Her Beloved Summer People

Anastasia waxed enthusiastic about the opportunities people have who communicate with plants. In general, Anastasia spoke with special awe, fervor, and absolute infatuation on two subjects: childrearing and summer people. If I told you everything she said about summer people and the significance she ascribed to them, you would have to get down on your knees before them. My goodness. She believed they'd saved everyone from starvation, were sowing good in people's souls, and were raising the society of the future. If I listed everything, I'd need a separate book. She also tried to prove and supply arguments in support of all this.

"You have to understand, the society you live in today can understand a lot by communicating with the plants being sown at dachas. It's at the dachas where you know every plant in your garden, not in the huge, impersonal fields that stupid monster machines crawl over. People feel better working at their dachas, and this has lengthened many people's lives. It makes them better, and it is the summer people who can help society understand just how pernicious the technocratic path is."

"Anastasia, whether or not that's true doesn't matter now. Where do you come in here? What does your assistance consist of?"

She grabbed my hand and pulled me onto the grass. We lay on our backs with our hands turned palms up.

"Close your eyes, relax, and try to picture what I'm going to say. Right now I'm going to use my ray to find, to see at a distance, one of those you call summer people.

She was silent for a while, then she began to speak softly.

"An elderly woman is unfolding a cheesecloth that cucumber seeds have been soaking in. The seeds have already sprouted and you can see little shoots. She's picked up one seed. And here I've hinted to her that she shouldn't soak the seeds like that because the shoots will be deformed when they're planted. That kind of water isn't quite right for nourishing them, and the seed will be sick. She thinks she has guessed this herself. And yes, that's partly true. I just gave her a little help. Now she's sharing her thoughts and telling other people about this. A small deed is done."

Anastasia told me how she modeled in her consciousness every possible kind of situation in work, rest, and interactions between people and between people and plants. When the situation she modeled came closest to the reality, contact was established, and she could see the person and sense what ailed him and what he was feeling. It was as though she entered into his image and shared her knowledge. Anastasia said that plants reacted to a person, could help him love or hate, and could have a positive or negative effect on his health.

"Here, too, I have a great deal of work. I'm busy with dacha gardens. The summer people go to their plots to see their plants as if they were their children, but unfortunately they're intuitive, their relations. They haven't yet been reinforced by a clear awareness of this connection's true purpose.

Everything on Earth—every blade of grass, every single bug—was created for humans and has its task and purpose in serving humans. The many medicinal plants confirm this. But a person of your world knows too little to make use of the opportunity he has been offered for his well-being—full use of it."

I asked Anastasia to show me by concrete example the benefit from conscious communication, so that I could verify it in practice, see it, and subject it to scientific study. Anastasia gave that a little thought. Suddenly her whole face beamed, and she exclaimed, "My summer people! My beloved summer people! They will prove everything and stump your science. How could I not have figured that out before? How could I not have understood?"

Some idea born in her had brought her tumultuous joy.

I never once saw Anastasia sad. She could be serious, thoughtful, and focused, but more often she was rejoicing in something. This time she was riotously joyous. She leapt up and clapped her hands, and the forest seemed to grow brighter. The forest stirred and responded to her with rustling treetops and the voices of birds.

She was spinning, as if in a dance. Then, beaming, she sat back down beside me and said, "Now they'll believe it! And these are my dear summer people. The will explain and prove everything to you."

I tried to return her as quickly as possible to our interrupted conversation and remarked, "That's not at all necessary. You declare that every bug was created for the good of man, but how are people to believe this who look with disgust at cockroaches crawling across kitchen tables? Are they created for our good, too?"

"Cockroaches only crawl across a dirty table," Anastasia replied, "to collect the remains of decaying pieces of food that are sometimes invisible to the eye, digest them, and then deposit the harmless waste in a secluded place. If you get a lot of them, bring a frog into the house, and the excess ones will leave immediately."

Anastasia went on to suggest that what summer people do probably contradicts the science of horticulture and without a doubt contradicts the usual rules for planting and growing various types of crops in vegetable plots. However, her assertions are so grandiose that I think everyone who has the opportunity should test them, maybe not in their entire garden, but in a small part of it, especially since it promises nothing but good. In addition, much of what she said has already been confirmed in experiments by the biologist N. M. Prokhorov.

11. From the Advice of Anastasia

The Seed Is a Doctor

"Each seed you plant contains a huge amount of universal information," said Anastasia. "Nothing man-made can compare to it for size and accuracy. This information allows the seed to know precisely, down to the millisecond, when it needs to come to life and grow, what juices to take from the earth, and how to use the emanation from the Sun, the Moon, and the stars. It knows what to grow into and what fruits to bear.

"Fruits are intended to give humans sustenance. These fruits can effectively fight and resist any illness of the human organism more powerfully than any man-made medicines that exist today or will in the future. But to do this, the seed has to know about the person's condition. In order for it to be saturated during the ripening process, the fruit needs the correlation of substances for healing a specific person and his illness, if he has one or a predisposition toward one.

"In order for the seed of a cucumber, tomato, or any other plant grown in a garden to have information about a person's health, the following is essential.

"Before planting, take one or several small seeds in your mouth and hold them under your tongue for at least nine minutes.

"Then put them between your palms and hold them like that for about thirty seconds.

"While holding the seeds between your palms, you must be standing barefoot on the plot of land where you will later plant.

"Open your palms, carefully lift the seed that lies in your hand toward your mouth, and blow the air from your lungs on the seed. You warm it with your breath, and the tiny seed gets to know what is inside you.

"After that, hold your palms open for thirty seconds, presenting the seed to the heavenly bodies. The seed will determine the instant of its ascent. All the planets will help it! And for you they will bestow on the shoots the light they need.

"Then you can plant the seed in the earth. In no case should you water immediately or you will wash your saliva and information off the whole seed, and the seed needs to take that in. Three days after planting you may water.

"The planting must be done on each vegetable's favorable days (man already knows this, according to the lunar calendar). Planting early without watering is not as terrible as planting late.

"You shouldn't remove all the weeds next to the shoot coming from your seed. You have to leave at least one of each kind. The weeds can be cut down."

In this way, according to Anastasia, the seed takes in information about the person, and while its fruit is growing, it will take from the Cosmos and Earth the maximum energy essential for this specific person.

You shouldn't remove all the weeds because they have their own purpose. Some protect the plants from disease; others provide additional information. During its growth, you must communicate with the plant. At least once during its growing period, preferably on the full moon, go up to it and touch it.

Anastasia said that fruits grown from a seed in this way and used by the person who grew them are capable of curing him of absolutely any disease of the flesh, significantly slowing the organism's aging, ridding him of harmful habits, increasing his intellectual abilities multifold, and giving him emotional peace.

The fruits will be most effective if they are used no more than three days after harvesting.

The above actions must be done with the various types of crops planted in the garden.

You do not have to sow the entire plot of cucumbers, tomatoes, and so on in this way. A few plants are sufficient.

Fruits raised by the method indicated will not only taste different from others. If they are subjected to analysis, the correlation of substances they contain will differ as well.

When planting seedlings in a scooped-out indentation, you absolutely must work the earth with your own hands and bare toes and spit in the indentation. When asked, "Why the feet?" Anastasia explained that substances (toxins, probably) containing information about the organism's illnesses are sweated out through the feet. The seedlings take in this information and convey it to the fruits, which will be capable of fighting the ailments. Anastasia advised walking through the garden barefoot from time to time.

Which crops should be cultivated?

Anastasia replied, "The variety in most gardens is sufficient: raspberries, currants, gooseberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, and any apple. It's very good to have sweet or sour cherries and flowers. The number and plot size of these crops doesn't matter.

"The essential ones without which it's hard to offer a full-energy microclimate in a garden include plants like sunflowers (at least one). It is absolutely essential that you sow an area of one and a half to two square meters in grains—rye and wheat—and leave an island of at least two square meters for miscellaneous herbs. This island cannot be sown artificially; it has to be natural. If you don't have herbs preserved in your garden, you have to bring in sod from the forest to create that island."

I asked Anastasia if one had to plant the crops she classified directly in the garden, as she specified, if there were various herbs on the other side of the fence, not far from the plot.

"What matters is not only the variety of plants, but also how they are planted, the direct communication with them, through which the saturation of information occurs," she answered. "I already told you about the main method of planting. The important thing is to saturate the piece of nature that surrounds you with information about yourself. Only then will the healing effect and the life support for just your organism be significantly higher than from the fruits alone. In wild nature, as you call it—though it isn't wild, it's just unfamiliar to you—there are lots of plants you can use to heal absolutely every existing disease. That's why these plants were created, but humans have lost or nearly lost the ability to determine them."

I told Anastasia we had many specialized pharmacies that sold healing herbs, and there were both doctors and simply healers who healed with herbs professionally, to which she replied, "The main doctor is your organism. From the very beginning, it was given the knowledge of which herb you should use and when, as well as how in general to feed yourself and breathe. It can avert illness even before its outward manifestation. And no one else can replace your organism, for this is the doctor God personally gave you and only you. I'm telling you how to give it the chance to act for your good.

"When you have established relationships with the plants in your garden they will heal and take care of you. They will independently give an exact diagnosis and manufacture the special medicine that is most effective for you specifically."

Who Bees Sting

"Every garden needs to have at least one bee family."

I told her that only a few of us could handle bees. People study in special schools for this, but even for them it didn't always work out.

But she replied, "Much of what you do for the bee family's life support gets in the way. In the last few thousand years only two people on earth have come a little closer to understanding this unique living mechanism."

"Who were they?"

"Two monks, and they have been made saints. You can read about them in your books, which are in monastery repositories."

"You mean you read church literature, Anastasia? Where and when? You don't have a single book."

"I use a more perfected method of obtaining information."

"What method? You're saying something incomprehensible again. You did promise no hocus-pocus or fantasy."

"I'll tell you about it, and I can try to teach you. Right now you won't understand, but it's simple and natural."

"All right, then, how should bees be kept in gardens?"

"You just have to make them a nest similar to what they have in natural conditions, and that's it. The only work beyond that might be to take some of the honey, wax, and other very beneficial substances the bees produce."

"Anastasia , that isn't simple at all. Who knows what this natural nest should be? If you had told me how to make it myself out of the materials we have on hand, then that would be doable."

"All right"—she laughed—"then you'll have to wait a little. I have to model it, you know, see what modern people might have on hand, as you say."

"And where to put it so as not to spoil the view?" I added.

"I'll try that as well."

She lay down on the grass, as she did every time she modeled her, or rather our, life situations, but this time I observed her carefully. Anastasia lay on the grass, her arms stretched out to the sides, palms up. Her fingers were curved, and their tips, or rather, the tips of the four fingers on each hand, were also facing pads up.

First her fingers moved the barest bit, then they stopped.

Her eyes were closed. Her body was completely relaxed. At first her face was relaxed as well, and then the barest shadow of some emotion or sensation passed across it.

Later she explained the accessibility of vision at a distance to anyone taught in a specific way.

But about the beehive Anastasia told me the following.

"You have to make a trough. You can use a log with a hollow, which you can enlarge, or make it out of boards of deciduous species. The boards should be at least six centimeters thick, the inner volume at least forty by forty centimeters, and the length at least one hundred twenty centimeters. Attach small triangular laths to the corners of the inner joints so that the corners are rounded. The laths can be glued on lightly; the bees themselves will secure them afterward. You can cover one butt end completely with a board of the same thickness and make the other end open. To do this, bend the board so that you can attach it after packing it with grass or a cloth. At the same time, cover the entire bottom with a cloth. All along the length of one of the joints, make a groove approximately one and a half centimeters deep. The grooves or single groove should stop thirty centimeters from the open butt end. This trough can be placed somewhere in the garden, on palings.

"The trough has to be at least twenty or twenty-five centimeters off the ground. Make the grooves face south. But it's even better to attach it under the roof of the house. Then people won't keep the bees from flying out, and they won't disturb the person.

"The trough has to be attached horizontally at a twenty- to thirty-degree incline.

"The open butt end has to be on the bottom. You can put the trough in the attic, too, but then there has to be good ventilation.

"The best is to attach the trough to the south side right under the roof of the house or on the roof itself. You need only provide a way to get at the trough to remove some of the honey-filled combs.

"There should be an awning over the trough to keep the sun off and it should stand on a platform. You can heat it in winter."

I pointed out to Anastasia that this kind of trough would be so heavy that the tent and platform might spoil the look of the house. "What could we do in that case?" Slightly surprised, she looked at me and said, "The problem is that your beekeepers' methods aren't quite correct. My grandfather used to tell me. Modern beekeepers have invented all kinds of hive constructions, and all of them assume man's constant interference in the bees' nest. Beekeepers swap out the frames of combs, and in winter they drag the hives and bees to another spot, and you should never do that.

"Bees build their combs a strictly defined distance apart from one another. They themselves provide an entire system for ventilation and for fighting their enemies, and any interference damages this system. Instead of collecting the honey and raising new bees, they have to fix what was destroyed.

"In natural conditions, bees live in the hollows of trees and cope with all their own problems just fine. I've told you how to keep them in conditions closest to natural ones. The benefit from their presence is very great. They are the most effective at pollinating all the plants and they raise yield, but you must know that well.

"What you might not know is that bees, on top of everything else, use their proboscis to open up the channels in the plant for additional information reflected by the planets to enter—information the plant, and therefore man, needs."

"But bees sting people. What kind of rest at the dacha is it if a person lives in constant fear?"

"Bees sting when people treat them aggressively, wave their hands, become frightened, and feel very aggressive—toward anyone, not necessarily the bees. They sense that and don't absorb the emanations from any dark feelings. They can also sting parts of the body where there are endings leading to some organ of the person that's diseased and where the protective membrane has been broken and there is other damage.

"You know how effectively bees cure the illness you call radiculitis, but this is far from the only one they can cure.

"If I were tell you about all them, and also to prove it to you, the way you want me to, you would have to spend weeks with me, not a few days. You've heard a lot about bees, and I've just made a few corrections to that information. Please believe me: they're substantive. It's very simple to install a family in a hive like this. You have to pour the bee swarm into it, but first you have to put in a piece of wax and a bee-plant. You don't need any homemade frames or combs. Later, when the families are living in at least a few neighboring gardens, the bees themselves will multiply, and swarm, and they will occupy free troughs."

"But how do you collect the honey from them?"

"Open the butt-end cover, break off the hanging combs, and remove the sealed honey and pollen. Only don't be greedy. You have to leave some of it for the bees for the winter. And the first year it's better not to collect the honey at all."

"Hello, Morning!”

Anastasia adapted her morning routine to the conditions of a dacha garden.

"In the morning, preferably at sunrise, go out to the garden barefoot and walk up to whichever plants you feel like walking up to. You may touch them, not necessarily according to some template or ritual repeated strictly day in and day out, but however you feel, however you wish. However, you must do this before washing. Then the plants will smell the substances your body has discharged through the pores of your skin while you were asleep. If it's warm and there is at least a small patch of grass nearby—as there should be—you should lie down on it and stretch for a few minutes. If a bug crawls on your body, don't drive it off. Many bugs open up and cleanse the pores on the body. As a rule, they open up the pores toxins are discharged through, toxins that bring all kinds of internal ailments to the skin's surface, allowing the person to wipe them away. If there is some body of water on your land, plunge into it. If not, you can douse yourself with water. When you do, you must stand barefoot not far from the beds and plants—even better, between the beds, or for example, one morning next to the raspberry bushes, another the currants, and so on. Don't dry off after pouring the water. Shake drops of water off your hand as if you were showering them on the surrounding plants. You also need to fling drops of water off other parts of your body with your hands. After that, you can perform your normal ablutions and use the devices you're used to."

Evening Routine

"In the evening, before you go to bed, you should wash your feet, using water with a small quantity (a few drops) of orache or nettle juice added. You can use both together without soap or shampoo. Pour the water you use to wash your feet on the beds. After which, if there's any need, you may wash your feet with soap. This evening routine is important for two reasons. Toxins come out through the sweating of the feet, ridding the organism of internal diseases, and you have to wash them in order to cleanse the pores. Orache and nettle juice do this very well. By pouring the water out on the beds, you give additional information to the microorganisms and plants about your condition that day. This is very important, too. Only by receiving this information can the visible and invisible world around you produce--by taking it from the Cosmos and Earth--everything needed for the normal functioning of your organism."

He Prepares Everything Himself

I was also interested in learning what she would say about nourishment. After all, she herself ate in such an unusual way.

"Anastasia, tell me how you think humans should nourish ourselves, what we should eat and when, how many times a day, and in what quantity. We have a lot of attention being paid to this question. There is a great deal of literature of all kinds, recipes for healthy eating, dieting advice."

"It's hard to imagine humans' way of life in the conditions of the technocratic world any other way. The forces of darkness are constantly trying to replace the natural mechanism of this world, given to humans in the beginning, with their unwieldy, artificial system, which contradicts human nature."

I asked Anastasia to speak more specifically and understandably, without her philosophical musings.

She continued. "You understand, your questions—what, when, and in what quantity people should eat—cannot be answered better than by each specific person's organism.

"Hunger and thirst were given us to signal to each person individually when they need to consume food. That is the moment most favorable for each person.

"The technocratic world cannot give people the opportunity to satisfy their hunger and thirst at the moment their organism desired, and then it began to drive people into a template conditioned by their own helplessness, while also justifying it by a certain logic.

"Picture this. One person sits for half a day barely expending energy; another performs some physical labor or simply runs, pouring sweat, expending ten times more energy. Yet they are supposed to nourish themselves at the same time.

"People should consume food the moment their organism advises them to, and there can be no other advisor. I understand that under your circumstances this is nearly impracticable, but people at their gardens, next to their dwellings, have that opportunity, and they should take advantage of it, tossing aside unnatural, artificial guidelines.

"I can say the same thing in reply to your question of what humans should eat. The answer is what is at hand at the given moment. The organism itself selects what it needs. From what is nontraditional I can advise the following. If there is some kind of animal near your dwelling (a cat or dog), watch it carefully. From time to time it will pick some herb out of the many kinds and eat it. You should pick at least a few of these herbs and add them to your food. You don't have to do this every day. Once or twice a week is enough.

"You should also collect the grains yourself, pound and grind them, make flour, and bake bread. This is especially important. The person who consumes this bread just once or twice a year gains a store of energy and the ability to activate their inner psychic forces. It will have a positive effect on his physical condition and soothe their soul. You can give this bread to your relatives, the people closest to you, as well. It will also have a highly beneficial effect on them if you give it sincerely and with good intention.

"At least once a summer, for three days, it is very beneficial for each person's health to feed themselves only with what grows in their garden, also consuming bread, sunflower oil, and a minimum of salt."

I've already told you how Anastasia fed herself. Even while she was telling her story, she would unconsciously pick one herb, and then another, chew it herself, and give it to me. I decided to try it, too. Its taste made no impression, but it wasn't revolting either.

The process of nourishing and sustaining the life of Anastasia's organism seemed to have been entrusted to nature and never interfered with her thoughts, which were engaged with other problems. Meanwhile, her health was an inalienable part of her extraordinary outward beauty.

According to Anastasia, the organism of someone who has established relations like this with the plant world and the soil of their garden can rid themselves completely of all diseases.

In and of itself, disease is a fact of humans' alienation from the natural mechanisms that are supposed to watch after our health and sustain our life. For these mechanisms, fighting any illness presents no problem, for therein lies the essence of their existence. The benefit someone can derive—someone who has established informational contact by getting close to their small garden in the natural world—is significantly greater than fighting disease.

12. Dreaming Under Your Star

I've already spoken about how enthusiastic Anastasia would get talking about plants and the people who communicated with them. I thought that living in nature as she did, she had studied only nature well but she possessed information about the planets as well. She seemed actually to feel the heavenly bodies. Judge for yourself how she spoke about sleeping under a starry sky.

"After receiving information about a specific person, the plants enter into an exchange of information with cosmic forces, but they are only intermediaries carrying out a narrow task affecting the flesh and a few spiritual planes. They never come in contact with the complex processes inherent to the human brain alone of all the planet's animal and plant world and inherent only on the human planes of being. However, the resulting information exchange allows humans to do what we alone are capable of doing: benefit from the cosmic intellect, or, to be more precise, exchange information with it. The procedure, which is not at all complicated, makes it possible to create and feel the salutariness of this effect.

Anastasia explained it as follows.

"One evening, when weather conditions permit, plan to spend your night under a starry sky.

"You must make your bed not far from raspberry or currant bushes or plantings of grain.

"You must be alone.

"Lying in your bed facing the starry sky, don't close your eyes right away. Let your gaze and thoughts roam through the cosmic bodies. Don't tense up thinking about them. Your thoughts should be light and free.

"First, try to think about the heavenly bodies most visible to you. Then you can daydream a little about what is precious to you, the people close to you, those whom you wish good.

"Don't even try to think in that moment about revenge or wishing anyone ill. The effect could be harmful to you.

"This simple procedure will revive some of the many cells sleeping in your brain, most of which never do wake up during an entire human life.

"The cosmic forces will be with you and help you achieve your most inconceivable and brightest dreams, acquire spiritual peace, enjoy auspicious relations with the people close to you, and strengthen or evoke their love for you.

"It is very useful to perform this procedure several times. It is effective not only in places where you have continuous contact with the plant world. You will feel this in the morning yourself.

"It is especially important to perform this procedure on the eve of each of your birthdays. It would take a long time to explain right now how this works, and there would be no point. Some of the explanations you wouldn't believe, and some you wouldn't understand. It will be significantly easier and briefer to talk about this with those who have already tried it and experienced its effect, for the information obtained and verified will facilitate perception of what follows."

13. Star Woman

One night during my visit with Anastasia, I had occasion to see how she herself communicates with the stars.

The night before, Anastasia said, "Vladimir, the coming night is significant for me. I won't be able to sleep next to you. But don't worry. I can call on the wolf cub, and it will guard you and the entrance to the dugout while you're sleeping."

I had no desire to sleep alone in the dugout. The access to it could not be shut off, and any beast could come in and attack a sleeping person. The beasts protected Anastasia, but they might not like me if I was left alone. They might not even do anything bad to me, but the alarm and fear would keep me from falling asleep. I asked, "Anastasia, where will you be tonight?"

"I'll be in the water on the lake, Vladimir."

"You mean you'll be swimming. Do you really have to go for a swim tonight in particular?"

"Yes, Vladimir, there is only one night like this each year, and I mustn't miss it."

I didn't try to question her as to why she had to be in the lake this night in particular. I was more interested in how I was going to keep myself safe. So I suggested, "I could go to the lake with you. I could sit on the shore while you swim."

"All right, Vladimir. Only dress warmly and let's take dry grass so if you feel like it you can sleep on it."

And that is what we did. When it grew dark, I lay down on the dry grass and watched what happened.

The night was warm and still. The tree tops were not making noise, and there wasn't even any chirring in the grass or rustling from the taiga's nocturnal inhabitants. The many stars shone unusually brightly in the clear sky.

Anastasia stood on the shore of the lake and gazed silently at its smooth surface, where stars large and small were reflected as in a mirror. Then she removed her shift and walked into the lake naked. For a while she stood up to her knees in the water. Then she sat down and cautiously stroked the water with the palms of her hands. All of a sudden Anastasia dove into the starry scattering reflected in the water. She dove carefully, without disturbing the water in the least. Surfacing, she swam slowly in a circle. Gradually she reduced the diameter of her circles until she was exactly in the middle of the lake. There she turned on her back and lay on the water, facing the sky, her hands stretched out to the sides.

Because the heavenly stars were reflected in the lake's water, she seemed to be lying in the middle of a space filled with heavenly bodies on all sides, above and below, and she herself seemed to be a part of the starry assemblage.

The water in the lake pulsed with a soft, barely perceptible, varicolored light. The starry lake and the entire space around it cast a spell, and I fell asleep thinking of nothing.

I awoke at dawn, when the stars were no longer reflected in the lake. Anastasia was sitting next to me wearing her knitted shift, her arms clasping her knees and her head resting on them. She didn't stir.

Although it was very early morning, I couldn't fall back to sleep. I wanted to find out why she had performed that strange nocturnal procedure.

I moved toward Anastasia, and stroking her hand for some reason said, "Please don't take offense at what I'm going to say to you, Anastasia."

"Speak, Vladimir. I won't take offense."

"This night was very beautiful on the lake. I've never seen such beauty in my life or experienced such a pleasant sensation. It seemed as if the lake were in the middle of the universe, not the Siberian taiga. Only you shouldn't have been in the water so long, Anastasia. You have to take care of yourself now. I don't think you should be performing the kind of procedures you did last night. After all, the water is no longer warm enough for swimming and you might catch cold or something else bad might happen. You're with child and have to take care of yourself, especially since I see no point to this procedure or ritual."

"There is a point to what I did, Vladimir."

"What?"

"My mama washed me with the water from this lake when I came into the world. Water is very, very important. It is present in all that lives and exists in the universe.

"The water of life holds all the information about the creation of life in the universe. It also holds all the thoughts and feelings humans have ever produced. Water can also sense and react to human emotions."

"Perhaps that's so, Anastasia—I don't know—but why swim in the lake at night? What do you need that for?"

"I want to learn how people have lived from their very first appearance up until the present day, Vladimir, to determine when and at what moments and ages they were happiest, what brought them the greatest happiness. Then I want to tell the people of today about this, so that they can be happy, so that our children can be happy."

"But is it really possible to know the deeds of people who lived centuries ago?"

"Yes, Vladimir. When a child is born, as he grows up he comes to resemble his parents outwardly and not only outwardly, but he also resembles the first man. He has the same blood, and deep in his memory he retains all the information, starting from the creation, only he doesn't think about that information. If he tries, though, he can remember everything."

"Let's say he can, but these memories will be only about the ancestors of a specific person."

"Naturally, Vladimir—naturally only from his ancestors about their ancestors. The memory in my cells shows me scenes from the life of my, and only my, distant ancestors."

Anastasia jumped up, ran to the lake, and cautiously touched the water, then she turned toward me and continued.

"But the water knows about the past of all people. It has in it information about everyone and everything that has ever happened in the universe. And it is helping me see this. When I'm in the water in the middle of the lake and I think, it thinks with me and searches for the right scenes. It even scans everything happening on all the planets, because it is everywhere.

The stars are reflected in the lake, and the stars are reflected in my eyes, and at that moment we are one. All the information of the Universe becomes accessible to man, for at that moment he feels like a tiny part of the Universe. The Universe rejoices when humans feel like a tiny part of it and the universe is ready to serve us, to turn what people have contemplated into a reality."

I listened to Anastasia speaking with calm confidence about the universe, stars, and water, and I thought, "Here is a beautiful young woman living in the taiga, and she has none of the daily problems we do in our technocratic world. Maybe this is why her thoughts and notions about the universe are so unusual. She speaks with such confidence about her ideas of the world that I feel awkward talking to her about my doubts about her statements." Out loud I said, "Anastasia, you analyze the life of humanity as if you were a research scientist. What period of time have you been able to examine?"

"Very little so far, just nine millennia."

"Your very little is quite a lot. And what conclusions have you drawn from what you've seen?"

"I'll tell you about my conclusions later, Vladimir, or just show you the scenes I saw, and you and other people can draw your own conclusions."

"People can draw conclusions, of course, if they believe what you've said. For instance, you say unusual things about water, but where is the proof that water stores information and reacts to human emotions on top of that?"

"I think your contemporary scientists have it."

"If so, I haven't heard anything. We have a simple attitude toward water. It's just water, a tiny part of people's environment."

"Yes, a tiny part, a living part. Hardly anyone thinks of it as a living being. You ask for proof, even though the large part of your body consists of water.

"I can tell you about actions any person can use for themselves to feel the great possibilities of living water, Vladimir."

"Tell me."

"You or those who want to experience water's healing properties must first find the spring with the water that tastes best to you.

"Bring that water home, pour it into vessels, and freeze it. Every evening put the amount of water you need for a day on the table in a handsome vessel, preferably with a piece of green fabric underneath the vessel.

"Before going to sleep, you have to say good words to the water, or you can just think tenderly about it.

"The room shouldn't be too warm because a little bit of ice should remain in the water. If it doesn't, you need to add a piece of the ice stored separately in the cold.

"It is good to add a small piece of the ice to warm water, too. And to the hot tea you drink.

"As the ice melts, it is good to think about the water with tenderness, and you can say nice words to it, as if it were a living being. You can put one drop of cedar oil into the melted water. No matter what volume of water this drop falls into, the information from it will spread throughout the water, and this information is very important.

"Before going to sleep, you can stroke the vessel of water and exhale the air from yourself onto the water.

"The next day, when you wake up, say good morning to the water. It's good to drink the water in small, unhurried sips.

"You can also wet your face with it.

"If you have any ailments in your body, the water will start to heal them and will definitely cure them. You will feel the improvement in three days.

"If you use the water for ninety-nine days, even serious diseases will leave your body, and you will see the skin on your face improve noticeably.

"If you want your body to be younger and your thinking to move more rapidly, then in addition to the water you can use cedar oil in the morning, at noon, and at nightfall, one sip each time, and also honey from various herbs and flower pollen in whatever quantity you find pleasing. But you mustn't mix them with the water. If you do this for thirty days, you will begin to think faster, and your body will be younger."

"Anastasia, what you have told me is worthy of attention because scientists and ordinary people alike can verify what you said. But how do you know all this? From your ancestors?"

"From the water," Anastasia said, and she began to laugh and spin, rejoicing at something. Then she stopped and added seriously, "I also know this from the stars."

14. Your Child's Helper and Teacher

When I asked Anastasia how a plot of land with plants—even if they're planted in a special way and are in contact with man—could help raise children, I expected to hear an answer from her about how essential it was to instill a love of nature in children, but I was wrong. What she said amazed me with the simplicity of its argument and the profundity of its philosophical thought.

"Nature and the mind of the Universe made sure that each new person was born a sovereign, a king! He is like an angel, pure and immaculate. The still open seed receives a huge stream of information from the universe. Each newborn's abilities allow him to become the wisest being in the Universe, akin to God. It takes him very little time to bestow happiness and grace on his parents. He is conscious of the essence of the universe and the meaning of human existence for a span of just nine Earth years. And everything he needs for this already exists. Parents merely need not to distort the real natural universe or separate the child from the Universe's most perfect creations.

"But the technocratic world doesn't let parents do that.

"What does an infant see with his first conscious look? He sees a ceiling, the edge of his little bed, a few scraps of cloth, and walls—the attributes and values of an artificial world created by a technocratic society. And in this world is his mother, her breast. 'That means this is probably how it should be,' he thinks.

"His smiling parents bring him clattering, squeaking objects and toys as if they were something precious. Why? He will spend a long time trying to understand why they clatter and squeak.

"He will try to make sense of this consciously and subconsciously.

"Then these same smiling parents will tie him up in cloths, and he'll be uncomfortable. He'll try to free himself, but in vain! And his only way to protest will be to cry out! A cry of protest, a plea for help, a cry of indignation. At that moment the angel and sovereign becomes a beggar, a slave pleading for charity.

"The child is offered one attribute of the artificial world after another. As a treat—a new toy, new clothes. And in this way his parents will suggest that these objects represent what is most important in the world he has come into.

"Though he is still small, he is already the most perfect being in the Universe, but they will speak baby talk with him, treating him as if he were an imperfect being. Even in those institutions where you think teaching is going on, they will again speak to him of the virtues of the artificial world.

"Only as he nears nine will they mention in passing the existence of nature, as if it were an appendix to something else, to the main thing, by which they mean what is man-made.

"To the end of their days, most people are incapable of realizing the truth. You'd think it was a simple question: What is the meaning of life? Yet it remains unanswered.

"But the meaning of life lies in truth, joy, and love.

"A nine-year-old child raised by the natural world has more a more accurate awareness of the universe than the scientific institutions of your world and many scientists recognized by your society."

"Stop, Anastasia. You mean knowledge of nature probably?

"If his life is going to be spent like yours, then I can agree with you. But modern people are compelled—whether for good or ill is another question—but they are compelled to live in our technocratic world, as you call it.

"Someone raised the way you propose will know nature and will have a feel for it but will be a total ignoramus in the other. There are also sciences like mathematics, physics, and chemistry, and basic knowledge of life and its social phenomena."

"For someone who has once known the essence of the universe, all this is trivial. If they want to, if they feels they need to make a mark in some science, then they will easily surpass those who have not known the foundations of the universe."

"Why would that be?"

"The human of the technocratic world has yet to invent anything nature doesn't have. Even perfected human-made mechanisms are but a pathetic likeness of what already exists in nature."

"Fine, let's say that's true. You did promise to tell me how a child can be raised and their abilities developed in our conditions. Only speak understandably. Show me using specific examples."

"I'll try," Anastasia replied. "I've already modeled these situations and attempted to suggest to one family what needed to be done, but they just couldn't comprehend the key point and ask their child a question. These parents had an unusually pure and capable child. He could have brought much benefit to those living on Earth. But when the parents take their three-year-old child with them to their dacha plot they bring along his favorite toys, artificial toys that displace the Universe's true priorities.

"Oh, if only they didn't do that! After all, the child could be occupied and distracted by something else more interesting than the meaningless and even harmful contact with human-made objects.

"Above all, ask the child to help you and do this in all seriousness, especially since they really will help you.

"If you are planting, ask them to hold the seeds ready for planting, or hoe the bed, or put the seed in the prepared depression themselves. While you're doing this, tell them what you are doing. For example, you can say, 'We are putting the seed in the earth and sprinkling it with soil. When the nice sun shines and warms the earth, the seed will warm up and start to grow. It will want to take a look at the nice sun so a green shoot will peek out of the soil, like this one.' Here you need to show them a blade of grass. 'If the shoot likes it, it will get bigger and bigger and may turn into a tree or something smaller, a flower. I also want it to give us tasty fruit, which you will eat if you like it. The shoot is preparing its fruit for you.'

"Each time you come to your garden with your child or they wake up in the morning, the first thing you need to suggest to them is to go see if a shoot has appeared. If you see a new shoot, rejoice.

"When you plant a seedling instead of seeds, you must also explain to the child what you are doing. If you're transplanting tomato seedlings, let them bring you one stem at a time. If they break it by accident, take the broken stem in your hands and say, 'I don't think this one is going to live and bear us fruit. It's broken. But let's try to plant it anyway.' Plant at least one broken one among the others. In a few days, when you and your child go up to the bed again with the now started tomato plants, show your little one the broken one, too, the withering stem, and remind the child that it was broken during planting. Do not speak to the child in a condescending tone. Talk to them as your equal. You have to be aware that in some ways they surpass you, for instance, in purity of intention. They are an angel. If you can understand that, you can act intuitively in the future, and your child truly will become a person who makes you happy.

"When you sleep under a starry sky, take your child with you, and lay them down beside you. Let them look at the starry sky. Don't explain the names of the planets, or how you understand their origin or destiny, for you yourself don't know that, and the dogma in your brain will only lead the child away from the truth. Their subconscious knows the truth, and it will move into their conscious mind itself. You can only tell them that you like to look at the shining stars, and you can ask your child which star they like best of all.

"Generally speaking, it is very important to know how to ask your child questions. The next year, you must offer your child their own planting bed and prepare it, giving them the chance to do everything in it they want to. In no case should you force them to do something in it or correct what they have done. You can only ask them what they want. You can help them out only after asking their permission to work with them. When you sow cereals, let them throw the grains on the bed with their own little hand."

"All right," I commented to Anastasia with suspicion. "Maybe this way the child will develop an interest in the plant world and may become a good farmer, but where are they going to get knowledge in other spheres?"

"What do you mean 'where'? The main thing is not just that they will know and feel what grows and how but that they will start to think and analyse and that the cells in their brain that will be working their entire life will wake up. They are what make him smarter and more talented than those in whom those cells are asleep.

"As for your being, what you call progress, it might be unsurpassed in any sphere, but the purity of his intentions will make them happiest of all. The contact they make with their plants will allow themto receive more and more new information continuously and to exchange information. All this will be taken in by their subconscious and transferred to their conscious mind in the form of more and more new thoughts and discoveries. Outwardly they will be an ordinary person, but inwardly . . . You call people like that geniuses."

15. Forest School

"Tell me, Anastasia, is this exactly how your parents raised you?"

She answered me after a brief pause, during which she was probably recalling her childhood. Then Anastasia sat down on the grass, stroked it with the palms of her hands and began.

"I barely remember my papa and mama in the flesh at all. I was raised by my grandfather and great-grandfather more or less the way I was just telling you, but the point is that I myself had a good feel for nature and the animal world around me, maybe without being fully aware of its entire purpose—but that's not the main thing when you have that feel.

"I continued to live in this glade without my papa and mama, but I wasn't alone.

"Around me in the grass there were lots of bugs and beetles of all kinds. I would put out my hand to them, they would jump and crawl over them, and I would examine them and think about why they were all so different. So they would be fun for me to play with or for some other reason?

"I liked the larger beasts, too. I had an interesting time with them, especially when I learned not just to walk but to run, too.

"I made friends with a wolf cub, a she-bear, and a fox. They were my friends, but sometimes we fought.

"I very much wanted to understand their language and thoughts because I wanted to understand why none of them would let me leave the glade.

"When none of the bigger beasts were nearby, I often wanted to leave the glade and go into the taiga to look around at what was going on there.

"But the moment I went any farther, one of them would always block my path. And growl at me.

"One time the she-bear even slapped me with its paw. I was so angry I decided never to look in its direction.

"It followed me around for an entire day, but I kept turning away. Then it let up a piteous wail. I felt sorry for it. I went and stroked it, and it began to lick my hand and feet joyously.

"That was when I realized that beasts talk with the intonations of their sounds and gestures, and I began to observe them closely and study their language.

"Subsequently, I realized they weren't letting me stray from the glade because that was the territory of other beasts that didn't know me the way everything in my home space did.

"From time to time, my grandfather and great-grandfather would come to the glade to visit and talk with me. They often asked me questions they wanted me to answer.

"Among us, the older generation treats a baby and a small child like a divinity, and through the child's answers verifies its own purity."

I began asking Anastasia to recall some specific question and its answer. She smiled and told me this story.

"One day I was playing with a snake. I turned around and my grandfather and great-grandfather were standing next to me, smiling. This made me very happy right away because they were interesting to be with. Only they could ask me questions, and their hearts beat in the same rhythm as mine. It's different in animals.

"I ran up to them. My great-grandfather leaned over to me, and my grandfather took me in his lap. I listened to his heart beat and combed through and examined the hairs in his beard. We were all silent. Thinking. And I felt so good deep down, so calm and joyful. Then my grandfather asked me, 'Anastasia, tell me why I have hair growing here'—and he pointed to his head and beard—'and not here?'— and he pointed to his forehead and nose.

"I touched his forehead and nose, but no answer came. I cannot speak rashly, I have to understand for myself.

"When they came the next time, my grandfather said again, 'I still keep wondering why I have hair here and not here.' And once again he pointed to his forehead and nose.

"My great-grandfather watched me closely and seriously. Then I thought maybe this really was a serious problem for him, and I asked, 'Grandfather, would you like it very much if it grew everywhere? On your forehead and nose, too?'

"My great-grandfather pondered this, but my grandfather replied, 'No, I wouldn't.'

"'So that's why it doesn't, because you don't want it to,' I told my grandfather.

"He seemed to be reflecting on this himself, stroking his beard.

"'You mean it grows here because I want it to?'

"'Of course, grandfather, you do, and I do, and so does whoever thought you up.'

"At this my great-grandfather asked me, rather excitedly, 'And who, who thought him up?'

"'The one who thought up everything,' I replied.

"'But where is he? Can you show me?' my great-grandfather asked, leaning over toward me.

"I couldn't answer him immediately, but this question stayed inside me, and I began thinking about it often."

"And you answered later?" I asked.

"Yes, about a year later, and I was given new questions. And until I answered them, my grandfathers wouldn't ask me new ones, which caused me much suffering."

16. Attention to Humans

I asked Anastasia who taught her to speak, if she barely remembered her mother and father and rarely saw her grandfather and great-grandfather. The answers I received astonished me and require interpretation by specialists, so I will try to reproduce them as fully as I can. For me their meaning started coming clear only gradually. First, after my question, she clarified.

"Do you mean the ability to speak in the languages of different people?"

"What do you mean 'different'? Are you saying you can speak different languages?"

"Yes," Anastasia replied.

"German, French, English, Japanese, Chinese?"

"If an interesting person shows up and you wish to pay them close attention, you can quickly learn to communicate in the language they're comfortable with. For instance, right now I'm speaking in your language."

"You mean Russian."

"In your Russian I try to speak using the same idioms and words you use in your speech. That was a little bit hard for me at first, since you have a small vocabulary and repetitive turns of phrase. Your emotions are weakly expressed, too. In that kind of language it's hard to set forth everything I'd like to precisely enough."

"Wait a minute, Anastasia. I'm going to ask you something in a foreign language and you answer me."

I said "hello" in English, then French. She immediately answered me, greeting me in gestures rather than words.

Unfortunately, I don't speak any foreign languages. I studied German in school but got only fair grades. In German I did remember a whole sentence that my schoolmates and I learned well. I said it to Anastasia.

"Ich liebe dich, und gib mir deine Hand."

She held her hand out to me and answered in German, "I give you my hand."

She blushed, held out her hand to me, and whispered, "You said something very nice to me, Vladimir."

She understood me no matter what language I spoke.

Stunned by what I'd heard and still not believing my ears, I asked, "Are you saying that each person can be taught all languages?" I sensed intuitively that there had to be some simple explanation for this unusual phenomenon, and I wanted to understand it. "Anastasia, why don't you tell me in my language and try to give me examples, so that I can understand," I asked, a little agitated.

"Fine, fine, only calm down. Relax, or you won't understand. But first I will teach you to write in Russian."

"I know how to write. Tell me about learning foreign languages."

"Not just write, I'll teach you to be a writer, a talented writer. You will write a book."

"That's impossible."

"Not impossible! Simple."

Anastasia picked up a stick and drew in the earth the entire Russian alphabet and all the marks of punctuation and asked me how many letters there were there.

"Thirty-three," I answered.

"There, you see? Not many letters at all. Could you call what I've drawn a book?"

"No," I answered. "This is the ordinary alphabet and that's all. The ordinary letters."

"But after all, every Russian-language book consists of these ordinary letters," Anastasia remarked. "Do you agree with that? Do you understand how simple it all is?"

"Yes, but in books they're set out differently."

"That's right. All books consist of many combinations of these letters, and people set them out automatically, guided by their emotions. This implies that first to be born is not the combination of letters and sounds but the feelings drawn by our imagination.

"The person who is going to read it has approximately the same feelings, and they are remembered for a long time. Can you remember any images or situations from the books you've read?"

"Yes," I said after thinking a moment.

For some reason I remembered Lermontov's "Hero of Our Time", and I started telling Anastasia about it. She interrupted me.

"There, you see? You can draw the book's heroes and tell me what they felt, and quite a lot of time has passed since you read it. But if I had asked you to tell me what order the thirty-three letters were set out in and how their combinations were arranged, would you have been able to reproduce that?"

"No. That's impossible. I don't remember the entire text word for word."

"That really is very hard. So the feelings of one person were conveyed to another person with the help of every possible combination of those thirty-three letters. You looked at these combinations and immediately forgot them, but you retained the feelings and images for a long time. This means that if emotions are linked directly to these signs, if there is no thought of all the various conventions, the soul forces these signs to appear in a certain order, alternating combinations of them so that the reader will subsequently feel the writer's soul. And if the writer's soul has—"

"Wait a minute, Anastasia. You have to tell me more understandably, more concretely. Show me through some example about learning languages. Who taught you this?"

"My great-grandfather," Anastasia replied.

"Tell me using an example."

"He used to play with me."

"How did he play? Tell me."

"You have to calm down, relax. I just can't understand why you're so agitated."

She continued calmly.

"My great-grandfather used to play with me, as if he were joking. When he would visit me alone, without my grandfather, he would always walk up, bow at the waist, and hold out his hand, and I would hold out mine. First he would squeeze my hand, then he would get down on one knee, kiss my hand, and say, 'Hello, Anastasia.'

"One day, he came and did everything the same as always, and his eyes looked at me tenderly, as always, but his lips said something incomprehensible. I looked at him in surprise, and once again he said something else and completely incoherent. I couldn't stand it and asked, 'Grandpapa, have you forgotten what word to say?'

"'Yes,' my great-grandfather replied.

"Then my great-grandfather took a few steps away from me, thought about something, and walked up to me again, held out his hand to me, and I mine to him. He got down on his knee and kissed my hand. A tender look, and his lips were moving, but he wasn't saying anything at all. I actually got scared. Then I prompted him.

"'"Hello, Anastasia." Those are the words you've always said, grandpapa.'

"'Correct,' my great-grandfather confirmed, and he smiled.

"And I realized this was a game, and he and I played like that often. First it was easy, then the game got more and more complicated, but also more interesting. I tried to observe my great-grandfather's face very carefully and remember which words corresponded to the expressions of his eyes, the wrinkles on his forehead, the movement of his lips, and his barely noticeable gestures. It began when I was three and ended when I was eleven—when people take a kind of exam that consists of closely watching the person they're talking to and being able to understand them without words, no matter what language they are using.

"That kind of dialog is much more perfect than speech, and also faster and fuller. You call this telepathy. You consider it unusual, something out of science fiction, but it simply involves an attentive attitude toward the person, a developed imagination, and a good memory. Behind it lies not simply a more perfect means of exchanging information but also knowledge of the human soul, the plant and animal world, the universe—everything, basically."

"This may all be true, but I thought you could speak any language. You just sense the person's thoughts, though, and then not immediately but after you've interacted with them for a certain time."

"Yes, that's true, Vladimir, but afterward you can remember all the words that correspond to their thoughts, no matter what language these words are spoken in. Through this game you can also learn to understand the desires of animals and birds."

17. Flying Saucer? Nothing Special

Then I asked her to show me an example of her knowledge in the field of technology.

"You want me to tell you how various mechanisms from your world work?"

"Tell me something our greatest scientists have just barely touched on. Make some great scientific discovery."

"That's exactly what I've been doing for you this whole time."

"Not for me, for the scientific world, so that they recognize it as a discovery. Make a discovery to be proved in the area of technology, spaceships, the atom, or fuel, since you say it's all so simple."

"Compared with what I'm trying to explain to you, these spheres are, oh, how can I tell it in your way, for comparison, they're the Stone Age or something."

"That's just wonderful. You think it's primitive; on the other hand, it will be understandable. You're going to prove you're right and confirm that your intellect is above mine. Tell me, for instance, our airplanes and spaceships, do you consider them perfected mechanisms?"

"No. They're quite primitive. They're confirmation of the primitiveness of the technocratic path of development."

This answer put me on my guard, since I realized that either she truly knew incomparably more than the ordinary mind could imagine or else her opinions were those of a madman. I kept trying to elicit an answer.

"What makes our rockets and planes primitive?"

Anastasia answered me after a brief pause, as if she were trying to understand what I'd said.

"The movement of all your mechanisms, absolutely all of them, is based on combustion. Not knowing more perfect, natural sources, you utilize something primitive and unwieldy with incredible stubbornness. You aren't even stopped by the ruinous consequences of its use. Your airplanes and rockets have simply laughable duration of flight, and they only rise a little bit above the Earth, relative to the Universe, and meanwhile this method has nearly reached its upper limit. But that's silly! A combustible or flammable substance pushes this unwieldy construction, what you call a spaceship. At the same time, the larger part of this ship is designed to 'solve' precisely the problem of thrust."

"What other principle of movement in the air could there be?"

"For example, like in a flying saucer," Anastasia replied.

"What? You know about flying saucers and the principles of their movement?"

"Of course I do. It's very simple and rational."

My throat actually dried up and I tried to hurry her along.

"Tell me, Anastasia, quickly and understandably."

"Fine, only don't get upset. If you're upset this will be harder for you to grasp. The principle of a flying saucer's movement is based on the energy of vacuum production."

"How's that? Make yourself clearer."

"You have a poor vocabulary, but for this to be understandable to you I must use only that."

"I'll add to it right now," I blurted, agitated: "bank, roof, tablet, air ..." and I started quickly listing all the words that came to mind at that moment. I even cursed.

Anastasia interrupted me.

"Stop, I know all the words you could use to express yourself, but there are others, too, and a whole other way of conveying information. Using it I could explain to you in a minute what might otherwise take a couple of hours. That's a lot, and I'd like to tell you about something more important."

"No, Anastasia. Tell me about the saucer, the principle of its movement, and its energy sources. Until I understand I won't hear anything else."

"Fine," she continued. "Combustion is when a solid substance is quickly transformed under a specific influence into a gaseous one, or when in the course of some reaction two gaseous substances turn into lighter ones. Everyone understands this, of course."

"Yes," I replied, "if you light gunpowder, it turns into smoke, and gasoline turns into a gas."

"Yes, more or less. But if you or all of you had purer intentions and, hence, knowledge of nature's mechanisms, you would have realized long ago that if there is a substance that can expand significantly and explode, shifting to another state, then there has to be the opposite process. In nature, these are the living microorganisms that transform gaseous substances into solids. In general, all plants do this, only with varying speed and degree of solidity and firmness of what is created. Look around you. They drink the earth's sap and breathe the air and from this produce a solid and firm body—wood, say, or, even more solid and firm, a nutshell, or a pit, like a plum has. Invisible to the eye, the microorganism does this at very great speed, seemingly feeding only on air. These microorganisms are the flying saucer's engines. They resemble the brain's microcellule, only with a very narrow function. They have just one function: movement. But they perform it perfectly and can push the apparatus to one-nineteenth of the speed of thought of Earth's present-day average statistical person. They are on the inside of the upper part of the flying saucer, between its double walls, which are about three centimeters apart. The upper and lower surface of the outer walls is porous, with micro-holes. Through these little holes the microorganisms suck in air, thereby creating a vacuum in front of the saucer. The streams of air begin to solidify even before they touch the saucer, and when they pass through the microorganisms they turn into little balls. Then these little balls increase in size, to about half a centimeter in diameter, soften, and slip between the walls to the lower part of the saucer and once again disintegrate into a gaseous substance. You can eat them if you manage to before they fall apart.

"But what are the flying saucer's walls made of?"

"They're grown."

"How's that?"

"Why are you so surprised? Think about it. Lots of people grow a fungus, in various vessels, and the fungus makes water into which they mix it something tasty and a little sour. This fungus takes on the form of the vessel it's in. This fungus, by the way, looks a lot like a flying saucer. It makes double walls, too. If to its water you add one more microorganism, solidification occurs, but this so-called microorganism can be produced or, rather, spawned, by efforts of the brain, or will, a vivid imagination."

"Can you do that?"

"Yes, only my efforts alone wouldn't be enough. It requires the effect of a few dozen people possessing the same abilities, and it has to be done over the course of a year."

"But is there everything necessary here on Earth to make—or spawn, as you put it—this flying saucer and these microorganisms?"

"Of course there is. The Earth has everything the Universe does."

"But how are the microorganisms placed inside the saucer's walls if they're so small you can't see them?"

"When the upper wall is spawned, it itself attracts them and collects them in huge quantities, the way hives attract bees. But here, too, efforts of will are required from several dozen people. What's the point of detailing all this any further, though, if you still won't be able to spawn it due to your lack right now of people with the appropriate will, intellect, and knowledge?"

"You really can't help in any way?"

"I can."

"Then do it"

"I already have."

"What have you done?" I didn’t understand.

"I told you how to raise children. And I'll tell you more. You'll tell other people. Many will understand this and their children, raised in this way, will possess the intellect, knowledge, and will that will allow them to make not only a primitive flying saucer but significantly more as well."

"Anastasia, how do you know all this about the flying saucer? Is it really through communicating with plants?"

"They landed here, and I, well, I sort of helped them repair it."

"Are they a lot smarter than us?"

"Not at all. They're immeasurably far behind man. They're afraid of him and don't come close to people, although they're very curious. At first they were afraid of me. They aimed thought-paralyzers at me. They huffed and puffed. They were trying to frighten and astonish me. I had a hard time calming them down and being nice to them."

"How could they not be smarter if they can do what humans still can't?"

"What's surprising about that? Bees make incredible constructions out of natural materials with an entire heating and ventilation system, but that doesn't mean they're above humans in intellect. There is no one and nothing in the Universe more powerful than human beings except God.

18. The Brain is a Supercomputer

The possibility of creating a flying saucer intrigued me. If you consider just its principle of movement as a hypothesis, then it is new. A flying saucer, though, is a complex mechanism and for us Earthlings not an item of first necessity.

Therefore I felt like hearing something that would be immediately understood. A "something" that would not require any investigations by scientific minds but could be applied in practice in our life immediately and bring benefit to all people. I began asking Anastasia to give me a solution to some acute problem our society faces today. She agreed, but asked, "You'll first have to formulate it, this problem. How can I solve it without knowing what you want?"

I began to think of what was most relevant today, and the following parameters of the problem came to my mind.

"You know, Anastasia, in our big cities we face a very acute pollution problem today. The air there is so bad, it's hard to breathe."

"You're the ones polluting it."

"Certainly, we are. Listen some more, only don't philosophize about how we need to be cleaner, have more trees, and so on. Take everything just the way it is today, and come up with something. Well, for instance, something to make the air in the big cities fifty percent cleaner but so that it requires no money from the treasury, no state money, I mean. And so that what you come up with is the most rational of all possible options and could be implemented instantly and be understandable to me and everyone else."

"I'll try immediately," Anastasia replied. "Have you listed all the parameters?"

Just in case, I tried to make the problem even more complicated. What if her intellect and capabilities really did prove to be much higher than our reason's conceptions allowed for? Therefore I added, "Whatever you come up with should also yield a profit."

"For whom?"

"Me, and the country, too. You live in Russia, that means all of Russia."

"By this you mean money?"

"Yes."

"And a lot?"

"Anastasia, there can never be too much profit, that is to say, money. But I need enough to pay for this expedition and cover another, while Russia ..."

I thought a little. What if Anastasia did have an interest in our civilization's material goods?

I asked, "You don't want anything for yourself?"

"I have everything," she replied.

All of a sudden I had an idea, and I realized how I could interest her.

"You know, Anastasia, let what you come up with yield enough money so that all your beloved summer people, the gardeners, all over Russia, can obtain seeds for free or on advantageous terms."

"That's wonderful!" Anastasia exclaimed. "You've thought of something fine. I'll work on this right away, if that's all you have. I like this so much! Seeds. . . . Or do you have something else?"

"No, Anastasia, that's enough for now."

I could tell the task itself had inspired her, especially the free seeds for her summer people. But at the time I was still certain that even given her abilities the problem of clean air simply did not have a solution, otherwise our many scientific institutes would have found it already.

Anastasia lay down on the grass vigorously, not calmly as usual, and flung her arms out to either side. Her curved fingers faced fingertips up and would move and then be still, and the lashes of her closed eyes would flutter from time to time.

She lay there like that for about twenty minutes and then opened her eyes, sat up, and said, "I've determined it. But what a nightmare."

"What did you determine? What's the nightmare?"

"The greatest harm is inflicted on you by your cars. You have so many of them in the big cities, and each one emits a nasty smell and substances that harm the organism. What is most terrible is that those substances mingle with and permeate particles of dirt and dust. Traffic raises this permeated dust, and people breathe in this horrible mixture. It flies in all directions and comes to rest on the grass and trees and covers everything everywhere. This is very bad. Very harmful for the health of people and plants."

"Of course it's bad. But everyone knows that. Only no one can do anything. There are cleaning machines, but they aren't up to the task. Anastasia, you've discovered absolutely nothing new. You haven't come up with an original solution to cleaning the pollution."

"I've only just determined the main source of the harm. Now I'll analyze and think. I need to concentrate for a long time, maybe even an hour, because I've never studied these kinds of problems before. I don't want you to be bored, so go take a walk through the forest."

"You go ahead and think and I'll find something to keep me busy."

Anastasia turned completely inward. After an hour's walk through the forest, I found her dissatisfied, it seemed to me, and I said, "You see, Anastasia, here even your brain is powerless. Only don't get upset. We have many scientific institutions working on this problem, but, like you, they've only established the fact of pollution. So far they haven't been able to do anything either."

She replied in a somewhat apologetic tone.

"I've sorted through all the possible options, I think, but to do this quickly and by fifty percent—I couldn't do that."

I went on the alert: she had found some solution after all.

"What percentage did you come up with?" I asked.

She sighed.

"I fell short by a lot. I came up with . . . thirty-five to forty percent."

"What?" I couldn't keep from exclaiming.

"Not so great, right?" Anastasia asked.

My throat went dry. I felt that she couldn't lie and exaggerate or minimize what she said. Trying to restrain my excitement, I said, "Let's change the conditions of the problem. Let it be for thirty-eight percent. Tell me quickly what you came up with."

"All those cars have to collect all that nasty dust, not just throw it up."

"How can that be done? Tell me quickly!"

"Up in front, oh, what do you call the part that sticks out there?"

"The bumper," I helped her.

"Right, the bumper. Inside or under it you need to make a box with holes in its top part, and there should also be little holes behind, for the air to get out. When these cars move the streams of harmful dusty air will fall into the front holes, be cleaned, and the air going out the back holes will be twenty percent cleaner."

"But where is your forty percent?"

"Right now this dust is hardly picked up off the street. But with this method there would be much less of it, so it could be cleaned up every day and everywhere. I calculated that in a month, with these little boxes, assuming they were installed on all cars, the quantity of dirty dust would decrease by forty percent. After that the percentage of pollution wouldn't decrease because other factors come into play."

"What is the size of the box, what should be in it, and how many holes should it have and at what spacing?"

"Vladimir, would you like me to attach it to each car, too?"

For the first time I saw she had a sense of humor, and I laughed out loud, picturing Anastasia bolting her boxes to cars. She started laughing, too, delighted at my merriment, and she spun around the glade.

The idea really was simple; the rest was just a technical matter. Already, without Anastasia, I could picture how all this might work: decrees from administration heads, auto inspectorate monitoring, changing filters at gas stations, turning in old ones, vouchers, and so on. A straightforward solution, like seatbelts.

One stroke of the pen and there were seatbelts in every car. And here, one stroke of the pen and the air would be cleaner. And entrepreneurs would fight for orders for the boxes, and there would be work for factories, and most of all, the air would be cleaner as a result.

"Wait a minute." I turned again to Anastasia, who was spinning in her merry dance.

"What should be in these boxes?"

"In these boxes ... in these boxes ... Why don't you think about it a little? It's very simple," she answered without stopping.

"But where will the money come from for me and for the summer people, enough for their seeds?" I asked my question again.

She stopped.

"What do you mean where? You asked that the idea be the most rational. Here I thought one up, the most rational one. It's going to be used in big cities all over Russia and they'll pay Russia enough for this idea to pay for free seeds and for you. Only you can obtain one for yourself only under certain conditions."

At the time I paid no attention to what she was saying about certain conditions and began trying to clarify something else.

"So you mean it has to be patented? Who would pay voluntarily?

"Why wouldn't they? They will, and I'll set a percentage right now. From the boxes produced, Russia would get two percent and you one hundredth of a percent."

"What's the use of your percentage? In some things you're strong, but in business you're a total neophyte. No one is going to pay voluntarily. They don't always pay even when there are signed contracts. If only you knew how many accounts receivable we had. The arbitration courts are overloaded. Do you know what an arbitration court is?"

"I can guess. But in this case they'll pay punctiliously. Anyone who refuses will go bust. Only the honest ones will flourish."

"Why should they go bust? Are you going to turn into an enforcer or something?"

"What won't you think of. My goodness. They themselves, or rather, circumstances will take shape around the cheats in such a way that they go bust."

Right then I had a thought. If you considered that Anastasia couldn't lie and, as she herself said, natural mechanisms wouldn't allow her to be wrong, that meant before making these statements she must have worked out in her mind an unprecedented quantity of information and made tremendous arithmetic calculations, while bearing in mind the huge number of psychological factors of the people who would be involved in her project. In our language, she not only solved the very difficult problem of cleaning the air but also composed and analyzed a business plan—and all this in about an hour and a half. I decided to clarify a few details.

"Tell me, Anastasia, did you do the calculations in your mind, using the percentage of clean air, the amount of money that would come from the production of your boxes installed on cars, from filter replacements, and so on?"

"Calculations were done, and very detailed ones, only not using my brain."

"Stop! Quiet. Let me finish my thought. Tell me, could you compete with the most advanced computer, say, a Japanese or American one?"

"But I'm not interested in that," she replied. "That seems so primitive and demeaning. Competing with a computer is like . . . oh, how can I explain it to you using a clear example? It's like vying with a prosthetic arm or leg, and not even a full prosthesis but part of one. A computer lacks the main thing. And the main thing is feelings."

I began trying to prove the opposite, telling her how among us people who are considered highly intelligent and respected in society play chess with a computer. But when neither this nor other arguments convinced her, I asked her to do this for me and for other people as proof of the possibilities of the human brain. She agreed, and then I clarified.

"You mean I can officially announce your readiness to compete with a Japanese supercomputer in solving problems?"

"Why Japanese?" Anastasia asked.

"Because they're considered the best in the world."

"Is that so? Why don't I do it with all of them at once, so you don't ask me to do this boring thing again later."

"Marvelous!" I rejoiced. "Do it with all of them, only formulate a problem."

"Fine," Anastasia agreed reluctantly. "But for starters, so I don't waste time on formulating one, let them solve the same problem you set for me and confirm or refute my solution. If they refute it, then they have to suggest their own. Life and people will judge us."

"Marvelous, Anastasia! Great idea! This is constructive. And how much time do you think it will take for them to provide a solution to this problem? I don't think the hour and a half you took would be enough. Let's give them three months."

"All right, three."

"I suggest letting anyone who wants to be a judge. If there are a lot of them, then no one will try to influence their opinion out of greed."

"So be it, but I'd like to talk some more with you about raising children."

Anastasia considered childrearing the main thing and always spoke about this with pleasure. My fancy of competing with computers aroused no particular interest in her. However, I was still happy to have obtained her consent. Now I wanted to call on firms that put out modern computers to join the competition to solve the problem set out above.

I decided to clarify something with Anastasia.

"What prize should be named for the winner?"

"I don't need anything!" she replied.

"Why are you talking about yourself? Are you so sure of your victory?"

"Naturally, I'm a human being."

"Well, fine. What might you offer anyway to a firm that took first place after you?"

"Well, I could suggest how to improve their primitive computer."

"It's a deal!"

19. "… In Them was life, and the life was the light of Human…”

*

— Gospel of John

One day, at my request, Anastasia took me to see the ringing cedar her grandfather and great-grandfather had spoken of. We had not gone far from the glade when I saw it. The forty-meter tree loomed over those nearby, but its main distinction was that its crown seemed to shine, creating a halo like the ones they draw on icons around the faces of saints. The halo was not even; it pulsed. At its acme a fine ray formed and receded into the heavens' infinity.

The spectacle bewitched and enchanted me.

At Anastasia's suggestion I pressed my palm to its trunk and felt a ringing—or a crackling comparable to what you might hear under a high-voltage power line, only more resonant.

"I was the one who happened to find a way to return this energy to the Cosmos and then scatter it on Earth," Anastasia informed me. "See, the bark is torn in various places. That was the she-bear climbing. I had a hard time making it carry me to the lowest branches. I clung to the fur at its nape. It was climbing and bellowing, climbing and bellowing. That's how I got to the lowest branches, and I climbed the rest to the very top. I sat there for two days and you can't imagine the things I thought of. I stroked it, and I shouted upward, but nothing helped.

"My grandfather and great-grandfather arrived. You can imagine what happened then. They stood below, keeping watch over me and demanding I climb down. I, in turn, was demanding they tell me what to do with the cedar. How to save the ringing cedar, since people hadn't sawed it down. They wouldn't say. But I sensed they knew. My grandfather—he's a sly one—wanted to trick me and started promising to help me settle things with a certain woman I just couldn't find a way to contact.

"I very much wanted to help her. Before that my grandfather had just been angry at me for spending so much time on her and not doing other things. But I knew he couldn't help me because my great-grandfather had tried twice, unbeknownst to my grandfather, and hadn't been able to either.

"Then my grandfather became totally distraught. He grabbed a branch and ran around the cedar, lashing the air with the branch and shouting that I was the most muddle-headed person in the family, I was acting alogically, I wasn't taking intelligent advice, and he was going to teach me with a switch on my rear end. And all the while he was lashing the air with the branch. What a thing for him to do! Even my great-grandfather started laughing. So did I. Right then a branch broke off by accident at the top and a glow came from it. I heard my great-grandfather's voice, very serious, demanding and imploring simultaneously.

"Don't touch it, dear granddaughter, don't do anything more, come down very carefully, you've already done everything."

"I obeyed and climbed down. My great-grandfather embraced me without saying a word. He himself was trembling and pointing at the cedar. On it, more and more branches were beginning to glow, and then a ray formed and shone upward. Now the ringing cedar won't burn. Through its ray it will give everything it has stored up for five hundred years to people and the Earth. My great-grandfather explained that the ray formed right where I'd shouted up and accidentally broken the branch when I was laughing. My great-grandfather said that if I'd touched the ray emanating from the broken branch, my brain would have burst, since there was too much energy and information in that ray, and that that was exactly how my papa and mama had died."

Anastasia placed her palms on the mighty trunk of the ringing cedar she had saved, pressed her cheek to it, was silent for a while, and then went on with her story.

"They, my dear papa and mama, had discovered a ringing cedar like this. Only my mama did things a little differently because she didn't know. She climbed a tree next to the ringing cedar, reached to the lowest branch of the ringing cedar, and broke it off, accidentally illuminating herself with the ray that blazed out of the twig. The twig was pointed down and the ray went into the ground. This is very bad, very harmful, when that kind of energy falls into the earth. When my papa came along he saw the ray and mama, who had been left hanging there, one hand with a death grip on the branch of the ordinary cedar. In the other she held the broken branch of the ringing cedar.

"My papa must have understood everything. He climbed the ringing cedar, climbed to the top. My grandfather and great-grandfather saw him break off the top branches, but they didn't glow, while the lower ones began glowing more and more. My great-grandfather said that my papa realized that a little more and he would never be able to climb down, but the ray shining up, the pulsing glow, still had not appeared, there were just more and more fine rays shining down. The upper ray appeared when my papa broke a large branch aimed upward. And although it didn't shine, he bent it and aimed it at himself.

"When it blazed up, my papa was still able to unclench his hands, and the ray from the straightened out branch shot into the sky and then formed a pulsing halo.

"My great-grandfather said that in the last instant of his life my papa's brain absorbed a huge stream of energy and information, that in some incredible way he was able to cleanse himself of all the information stored there before, and so he was able to play for time so that he could unclench his hands and direct the branch upward before the explosion."

Anastasia stroked the cedar with her palms one more time, pressed her cheek to it, and stood still, smiling, listening to the ringing of the tree.

"Anastasia, is the oil of the cedar nut stronger or weaker in its healing properties than pieces of the ringing cedar?"

"The same. If the nuts are gathered at a specific time and with a specific attitude toward the cedar. Then the cedar itself produces it."

"Do you know how to do that?"

"Yes, I do."

"Will you tell me?"

"Yes, all right."

20. You Need to Change Your World View

I asked Anastasia what kind of woman it was she'd had her conflict with her grandfather over, why she couldn't find a way to contact her, and why she needed that contact.

"You have to understand," Anastasia began her story, "it's very important when two people join their lives together that they have a spiritual attraction. Unfortunately, it all mainly begins with the flesh. For example, you see a beautiful young woman and want to be intimate with her. You still haven't seen the person, her soul. Often people join their fates solely on the basis of fleshly attraction. That quickly passes and switches over to something else. What binds people together then?

"It's not all that hard to find someone close to you in spirit with whom you can acquire genuine happiness, but in your technocratic world there are so many obstacles. The woman I've been trying to contact lives in a big city and travels regularly to the same place, probably her job. There or along the way she is constantly finding or encountering a person very close to her in spirit with whom she could be truly happy, but most importantly they would have a child capable of bringing the world much good. Because they would have created him in the same impulse as we did. But this man simply cannot get up the nerve to declare himself to this woman, and she herself is partly to blame. Imagine, he looks in her face and sees his soul's chosen one, while she, as soon as she senses anyone's gaze, immediately tightens her belt and pulls her skirt up a little higher and tries to lift it "accidentally." Well, and so on. This man immediately gets carnal feelings, but he doesn't know her, so he goes to see a woman he knows better, who is more accessible to him, attracted by these same carnal feelings.

"I want to tell this woman what to do, but I can't get through to her. Her mind won't open up to receive information for a second. She works wholeheartedly only on problems of daily life. Imagine, one time I followed her for an entire day. It was awful! Later my grandfather warned me that I was working very little with my summer people, spreading myself thin and prying in other people's territory.

"She wakes up in the morning and her very first thought is not to rejoice at the coming day but what to cook. She gets upset that she's out of some kind of food, then she gets upset that she's out of something you use to rub on yourself in the morning, either a cream or paint. She is constantly thinking about how to get it. She is constantly late and forever running, hoping that first one, then another means of transport doesn't leave without her.

"At the place she always goes to, her brain is generally overloaded—how can I explain it to you?—well, with all kinds of nonsense, to my mind. On the one hand, outwardly her brain is supposed to make her facial expression practical and perform some work assignment of hers. At the same time she's thinking about a girlfriend or acquaintance of hers and fuming at her. Simultaneously she is listening to what the people around her are saying. And imagine, it's like this day in and day out, day in and day out, like a wind-up toy.

"On her way home, when people see her she pretends to be an almost happy woman. But in fact she is constantly thinking about problems and paints, examining the clothing in stores, especially the kind that reveal her tempting charms, assuming this will bring about some miracle, although in her case the opposite happens. She comes home and starts to clean her house. She thinks she's relaxing when she's watching her television and fussing with food, and the main thing is for her to think about something good for a single second. Even when she goes to bed, everyday cares fill her thoughts.

"If she had just torn herself away from them for a minute that day and thought about—"

"Wait a minute, Anastasia. You have to explain how you see her, what she looks like, her clothing, and what she should be thinking about at the moment this man is near her. What should she do so he will try to declare his intentions to her?"

Anastasia told me everything in the minutest detail. I will quote here what I think is the crux.

"A dress slightly below the knees, green, no cleavage, with a small white collar, almost no makeup, she listens with interest to the person conversing with her."

"And that's it," I commented after hearing this simple explanation.

To which Anastasia remarked, "There's a lot behind these simple things. For her to choose just this dress, to use makeup differently, and to look at someone with genuine interest she would have to change her world-view."

21. Mortal Sin

"I also have to tell you about the conditions under which you will get the money out of the bank when there is a lot in your accounts, Vladimir."

"Tell me, Anastasia. This is a pleasant procedure."

But what I heard blew my mind. Judge for yourself.

"In order for you to take the money out of your bank account, you will have to observe the following conditions. First of all, you cannot use alcohol for three days before you withdraw the money. When you arrive at the bank, the bank's senior officer will have to use the instruments you have to verify that you have met this condition in the presence of at least two witnesses. If this first condition is met, then you can move to implementation of the second. You will have to bow at least nine times to the bank's officer and the two witnesses."

When her sense, or rather, nonsense, reached me, I jumped up and she rose as well. I could not believe my ears and asked for clarification.

"First they're going to check me for alcohol, and then I have to bow to the witnesses at least nine times in addition. Is that right?"

"Yes," Anastasia replied. "For each bow they can give you a sum of no more than a million of your rubles at today's value."

Rage, fury, and irritation, filled me.

"Why did you say this? Why? I was feeling so good. I believed you. I was starting to think you were right about a lot of things, that there was a logic to your conclusions. But you ... Now I'm absolutely certain you're not quite right. You negated it all with your last statement. There's no sense or logic to it, and it's not just me, any normal person would tell you the same. Maybe you want me to set out these conditions in your book, too?"

"Yes."

"Well, that's completely abnormal. Are you going to write your instruction to the banks or issue a decree?"

"No. They'll read them in the book, and each one will deal with you this way. Otherwise they face ruin."

"Oh my God! And I've been listening to this creature for more than two days? Maybe you'd like the bank officer to bow to the witnesses with me?"

"It would be good for him as well as you. This would bring great benefit, but I have not set conditions as strict for them as for you."

"You mean, you've only shown this favor to me? Can you even imagine what a laughingstock you've made of me? Here's what the love of an abnormal hermit can turn into!

"Only none of this is going to work. No bank will agree to serve me under these conditions, no matter how much you model your situations. Look how your dreams have gotten away from you. You can bow here in the taiga all you like."

"The banks will agree and open the accounts even without your knowledge—true, only those banks that want to work honestly. People will trust them and come to them," Anastasia continued to insist.

Irritation and rage were building up in me more and more. I was angry at myself and at Anastasia.

That's all I needed. I'd listened to her so much, tried so hard to understand what she said, and she was basically half-crazy. I started expressing myself to Anastasia in crude terms, to put it mildly.

She stood there, leaning back against the tree, her head bowed slightly forward. One of her hands was pressed to her chest, and the other was raised up, waving slightly.

I recognized this gesture. She repeated it each time she was calming the environment, so I wouldn't be afraid, and this time I realized why she was trying to calm it.

It was as if every offensive or harsh word addressed to Anastasia lashed her and made her body shudder.

I fell silent. I sat back down on the grass, turned away from Anastasia, and decided I was going to calm myself now and go to the riverbank. I wasn't going to talk to her at all anymore, but when I heard her voice behind me I was amazed that there was no insult or reproach in its tone.

"You have to understand, Vladimir, humans bring on themselves everything bad that is happening to people when they violate the rules of spiritual existence and breaks our connection with nature.

"The dark forces are trying to distract people with the hot, new attractiveness of your technocratic existence and force people not to think about the simple truths and commandments already set forth in the Bible. And the dark forces are frequently successful.

"One of people's mortal sins is pride. Most people are subject to it, this sin. I'm not going to expound for you right now on the tremendous perniciousnous of this sin. Once you've returned and decided to sort things out, you'll understand this yourself or with the help of the enlightened people who will come to see you, but for now I will just say that the forces of darkness, as the opposition to the forces of light, are seeing to it every second that humans retain this sin, and money serves the dark forces as one of their main instruments in this . They are the ones who thought it up.

"Money is like a high-tension zone.

"The forces of darkness are proud of their invention. They even believe they are stronger than the forces of light because they invented money. And they use it to distract people from their true purpose.

"This great confrontation has been going on for millennia, and humans beings are at its center. But I don't want you to be subject to this sin.

"I realize I won't get by here on explanations alone. Over the millennia humanity has not understood the explanations or comprehended the method for countering this sin. It's natural you wouldn't be able to either.

"But I very much wanted to rid you of this mortal danger, this corruption of the spirit. I thought up a situation especially for you in which this mechanism of the dark forces would falter, break down, or even work in reverse—to the eradication of sin. That's why they became so enraged.

"Their rage settled in you and you started shouting insulting words at me. They wanted me to get angry at you, but I would never do that. I realized that what I had thought up had hit its mark, and it's now clear to me that their mechanisms, which have been functioning faultlessly for millennia, can be broken. So far I've done this just for you, but I'll come up with something for the others, too.

"What is so awful about you drinking that intoxicating poison less and not being arrogant and obstinate? What were you so indignant about? Naturally, it was pride that had come into play in you."

She fell silent, and I thought, "It's incredible, but her mind, or something else there, is investing so much deep meaning into this comic, absolutely irregular situation, this bowing at a bank, and there might actually be some logic to it. I really should sort this out more calmly."

Any anger at Anastasia passed, and a sense of vague guilt arose instead, but I would not apologise then and only turned to face her, desiring reconciliation. Anastasia seemed to sense my inner state, and she immediately roused herself joyfully and quickly began talking.

22. Touching Paradise

"Your brain is weary of trying to comprehend me, but I still have much I'd like to say, and I'd like to, but you need to rest. Let's sit down again for a little while."

We sat down on the grass. Anastasia took me by the shoulders and drew me toward her. The back of my head touched her breast, feeling a pleasant warmth.

"Don't be afraid of me. Relax," she said quietly, and she lay down on the grass so that I could rest more comfortably. She lowered her fingers into my hair, as if combing it, and with the fingertips of her other hand quickly touched first my forehead and then my temples. Sometimes she lightly pricked various spots on my head with her nails. All this gave me a sensation of tranquility and enlightenedness. Then, placing her hands on my shoulders, Anastasia said, "Please listen to what sounds are around you now."

I listened, and my ear caught many differences in tonality, rhythm, and duration of sound.

I started listing them out loud: birds singing in the trees, insects chirring and clicking in the grass, trees rustling, and bird wings clapping and making noise. After listing everything I was hearing, I fell silent, continuing to listen closely, and I found this pleasant and very interesting.

"You didn't name them all," Anastasia remarked.

"Yes, I did," I replied. "Well, I might have missed something not very significant or inaudible to me—something unimportant, that is."

"Vladimir, can you really not hear my heart beating?" Anastasia asked.

Indeed, how could I not have noticed that sound? The sound of her heart beating.

"Yes," I quickly told her, "of course I hear it. I hear it very well. It's beating evenly and calmly."

"Try to remember the intervals of the sounds you're hearing. To do that, choose the main ones and remember them."

I chose an insect's chirring, a crow's cawing, and water gurgling and splashing in the stream.

"Now I'll speed up the beating of my heart, and you listen to what happens around you."

Anastasia's heartbeat quickened and, in its wake, so did the rhythms of the sounds I could hear around me, and their tonality rose.

"Astonishing! This is simply incredible!" I exclaimed. "Do you mean they are reacting so keenly to the rhythm of your heartbeat, Anastasia?"

"Yes. All, absolutely all of them: the little blade of grass, the big tree, the bugs. They're responding to the change in my heart's rhythm. The trees are speeding up their internal processes and are starting to manufacture more oxygen."

"Do all the plants and animals around people react like that?" I asked.

"No. In your world they don't understand who to react to, and you don't try to make contact with them, don't understand the purpose of this contact, and don't give them sufficient information about yourselves.

"Something like this might happen with the plants and people who work in their own small gardens, if the people do everything the way I've already told you—saturating the seeds with information about themselves and communicating with the plants more consciously. Do you want me to show you what sensation a person who has this kind of contact would feel?"

"Of course I do, but how will you manage that?"

"I'll match the rhythm of my heartbeat to yours, and you'll feel it."

She slipped her hand under my shirt. Her warm palm pressed lightly on my chest, and her heart, gradually adjusting, began beating in the same rhythm as mine.

Something amazing happened. An extraordinarily pleasant sensation arose, as if next to me were loving relatives and my mama. A softening and health appeared in my body, and in my soul a joy, a freedom, and what felt like a new understanding of the universe.

The range of sounds around me caressed me and told me the truth they knew, which I still did not fully understand but only intuited.

All the joyful and mellow feelings I had ever experienced in my life seemed to merge into a single beautiful sensation. This may be what most call happiness.

But as soon as Anastasia began to alter the rhythm of her own heartbeat, the wonderful sensation began to dissipate. I asked, "More! More, please, Anastasia."

"I can't do that for too long. After all, I have my own rhythm."

"Well, just a little more," I asked.

Once again Anastasia briefly returned to me the sensation of happiness. Then it all dissipated, leaving me nonetheless a particle of the pleasant and shining sensation in the form of a memory.

We were silent for a while. Then I once felt like hearing Anastasia's voice again, so I asked, "Was that how good it was for the first people, Adam and Eve? Lie down, revel, flourish. It's all here. Only it would get boring if there was nothing to do."

Instead of answering, Anastasia asked me a question.

"Tell me, Vladimir, do many people think like that about the first man, Adam, the way you just did?"

"Most, probably. What was there for them to do, in paradise? It was later that humans began to develop and dream up all kinds of things. Labour developed humans. We became smarter, too, thanks to labour."

"You do have to labour, but the first humanswere immeasurably smarter than today's, and their labour was more significant and demanded great intellect, consciousness and will."

"So what did Adam do in paradise? Cultivate a garden? If so, now every gardener can do that, to say nothing of horticulturalists. The Bible says nothing more about Adam's activities."

"If the Bible were to set it all out in detail, it would take more than a whole human life to finish reading. The Bible has to be understood. There is a tremendous amount of information behind each of its lines. You want to know what Adam did? I'll tell you. But first remember, the Bible says that God ordered Adam to give each creature living on Earth a name and a purpose. And he—Adam—did just that. He did something all the scientific institutions in the whole world put together have still not achieved."

"Anastasia, do you yourself turn to God and ask them for anything for yourself?"

"What could I ask for when I've been given so much? I have to thank them and help them."

23. Who Raises Our Son?

On the way to the river, as Anastasia was accompanying me to my boat, we sat down to rest at the spot where she had left her outer clothing.

"Anastasia, how will we raise our son?"

"Try to grasp this, Vladimir. You are still unable to raise him, and when his eyes look at the world consciously for the first time, you should not be by his side."

I grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her.

"What are you saying? What are you presuming? I don't understand where you come up with these unique conclusions. The very fact of your existence is unlikely, but all this doesn't give you the right to decide everything yourself, in violation of all the laws of logic."

"Please calm yourself, Vladimir. I don't know what logic you have in mind, but try to make sense of everything calmly."

"What do I have to make sense of? The child isn't just yours. He's mine, too, and I want him to have a father. I want him to have everything and the chance to get an education."

"You have to understand, he doesn't need material goods as you understand them. He'll have everything from the very beginning. In his infancy, he will receive and comprehend so much information that studying—again, as you understand it—would simply be silly. It would be like sending a great mathematician to study in first grade.

"You will want to bring the baby some pointless toy, but he absolutely doesn't need it.

"You need it for your own satisfaction: 'What a good and concerned person I am!' If you think you're creating good by providing your son with a car or something else you consider worthwhile, but if he wants something, he'll be able to obtain it himself.

"Think calmly, Vladimir. What concrete and important thing could you tell your son? What could you teach him? What have you done in life that would interest him?"

She continued speaking in a gentle, calm voice, but her words made me tremble.

"You have to understand, Vladimir. When he starts making sense of the universe, you will seem like an underdeveloped being next to him. Do you really want this? Do you really want your son to see his father as a muddlehead?

"The only thing that can bring you closer is the degree of purity of intentions, but this purity is attainable to very few in your world. You must try to achieve it."

I realized it was utterly useless to argue with her, and I cried out in despair, "You mean he will never know about me?"

"I will tell him about you and your world when he is capable of understanding it all consciously and of making decisions. What he'll do, I don't know."

Despair, pain, insult, and a terrible conjecture were roiling inside me. I felt like striking this beautiful intellectual hermit's face with all my might.

I understood everything, and I gasped for air at what I had understood.

"I understand everything! Everything! You ... you had no one to sleep with here in order to conceive a child. You were posing from the very beginning, you manipulative . . . making yourself out to be a nun!

"You needed a child. You went to Moscow. You sold your nice mushrooms and berries. You should have hustled there, taken off your jacket and kerchief. They would have snapped you up right away, and you wouldn't have woven your web and entangled me. Of course! You needed a man dreaming of a son. And you got what you were after.

"Were you thinking about a child? A son? Who was foreordained to lived as a hermit? To live the way you believe he should? And to think she was expounding the truth! You're taking on a lot, hermit. What are you, the ultimate truth? Did you ever give me a moment's thought?

"Yes! I was dreaming of a son! Dreaming of passing my business on to him, teaching him business. I wanted to love him. How am I supposed to live now? Live and know that your tiny son is crawling around in the remote taiga somewhere defenseless—without a future, without a father. Yes, this breaks my heart. You wouldn't understand that, you forest bitch."

"Maybe your heart will become sensible and everything will be fine? That kind of pain will cleanse the soul, quicken the thought, call you to create." Anastasia spoke softly.

But fury was storming inside me, the kind of rage that . . . I lost control. I grabbed a stick. I ran away from Anastasia and started beating the stick against a small tree with all my might until the stick broke.

Then I turned toward a standing Anastasia and, as soon as I saw her, incredibly, my rage began to subside. I thought, "Why did I lose control of myself again and fly into a rage?"

As she had the last time I'd cursed her, Anastasia stood there, pressed to a tree, her arm raised and her head bowed, as if she were withstanding a hurricane-force wind.

No longer angry at all, I approached her and began examining her. Now her arms were pressed to her chest, her body was trembling lightly, and she was silent. Only her good, always good eyes were watching me tenderly. We stood there like that for a while, examining each other. I thought, "Without a doubt, she is incapable of telling a lie."

She didn't have to tell me all this, after all, but she did.

She knew it would be bad for her, but she said it. Of course, this was an extreme, too. You couldn't survive speaking only the truth all the time, only what you thought. But what was to be done if she was like that and could not be different?

Everything came to pass just as it did. What happened, happened. Now she was going to be the mother of my son.

She was going to be a mother, as she said.

Of course, she would be a strange mother. Her way of life . . . her thinking . . . But there was nothing to be done for it.

On the other hand, she was very strong physically. And good. She knew nature and animals well. And she was smart, although her intellect was unique.

Still, she knew a lot about raising children. All the time she so wanted to talk about children. She would nurse our son. A woman like that would nurse him. She would get him through the hard frosts and blizzards. They were nothing to her. She would nurse him and raise him.

I had to adapt to the situation somehow. I would visit them in the summer, as if it were my dacha. In winter, that would be impossible. I couldn't take it. But in the summer I would play with my son. He would grow up and I would tell him about the people in the big cities. But right now I did have to apologize to her.

"Forgive me, Anastasia. My nerves got the better of me again."

She began speaking immediately.

"It's not your fault. Just don't curse yourself. Don't be upset. You were concerned about your son. You were upset that he would have a bad time of it. That your son's mother was like an ordinary bitch and didn't know how to love with a real, human love. Just don't worry, Vladimir. Don't get upset. You said that because you didn't know, you didn't know anything about my love, my beloved."

24. Across a Span of Time

"Anastasia, if you're so intelligent and omnipotent, does that mean you might help me, too?"

She looked up at the sky and back at me.

"There is no creature in the entire Universe capable of developing more powerfully than humans or of having more freedom. All other civilizations bow down before humans. All the various civilizations can develop and improve in only one direction, and they aren't free. They can't even begin to understand humans' greatness. God—the Great Reason—created humans and gave none more than them."

I couldn't understand—or, rather, immediately comprehend—what she said. Again, I asked the same question, asking about help without myself understanding the specific help I wanted.

She asked, "What do you have in mind? For me to heal all your physical ailments? That's easy for me. I did that six months ago, only no benefit was gained in the main thing, and what is pernicious and dark in people of your world did not diminish in you. Your little aches and pains will try to come back.

"'Witch! Crazy hermit lady! I need to get out of here as fast I can'—that's what you were thinking right now, am I right?"

"Yes," I replied, surprised. "That's exactly what I was thinking. Are you reading my mind?"

"I guess what you might think. It's written all over your face. Tell me, Vladimir, do you really not . . . well, remember me even a little?"

Her question surprised me greatly, and I started examining the features of her face more closely. Her eyes—I really did start to think I might have seen them somewhere. But where?

"Anastasia, you yourself said you've lived in the forest all this time. How could I have seen you?"

She smiled and ran away.

After a while Anastasia emerged from the bushes wearing her long skirt and brown buttoned top, with her hair gathered up under her kerchief, but without the jacket she'd been wearing on the shore when we met. The kerchief was tied a little differently. The clothing she wore was clean but unfashionable. The kerchief covered her forehead and neck. And I remembered her.

25. An Odd Young Woman

Last year, the caravan's ship had tied up at a village not far from these parts. We'd had to buy meat for the restaurant and were detained on shore for a while.

Sixty kilometers away began a dangerous stretch of the river that would not allow the ship to move at night (the navigational lights weren't operating on some stretches of the river). So as not to waste this time, we started making announcements over our outside loudspeaker and the local radio about an upcoming evening of entertainment on the ship.

The white ship at the shore twinkling with so many lights and the music pouring from it always attracted the local youth. This time, too, nearly the entire young population of the village lined up for the gangway.

First, like everyone who steps on deck for the first time, they rushed to go around and see everything. After crossing the main, middle, and upper decks, they ultimately clustered in the bar and restaurant.

The female half, as a rule, danced, and the male half tended to drink. The unusual situation on the ship plus the music and alcohol always put them in an excited state that sometimes caused the crew quite a bit of trouble. Almost always they didn't have enough time and a collective request would begin to extend their pleasure for just a half-hour, then more and more.

That time I found myself alone in my cabin, and I heard the music coming from the restaurant. I was trying to readjust the caravan's upcoming itinerary. All of a sudden I felt someone staring at me. I turned around and saw her eyes through my window.

There was nothing surprising in that. Visitors were always interested in looking into the cabins on the ship. I stood up and opened the window. She didn't go away. Embarrassed, she kept looking at me.

I felt like doing something for this woman standing all alone on the deck. I thought, "Why isn't she dancing like the others? Might she have known some misfortune?"

I offered to show her the ship and she nodded in silence. I led her around the ship and showed her the office, whose elegant furnishings always amazed visitors: the rug covering the floor, the soft leather furniture, the computers. Then I invited her to my cabin, which consisted of a bedroom-cum-office and a sitting room decorated with rugs and magnificent furniture, a television, and a video player. At the time, it probably gave me pleasure to impress this intimidated village girl with the achievements of civilized daily life.

Thinking I would completely wow her with my chic, I opened a box of candies for her, poured two goblets of champagne, and turned on a video of Vika Tsyganova singing "Love and Death." There were other songs as well on the cassette, performed by my favorite singers. She took the barest of sips of champagne, watched me closely, and asked, "It's been very hard, hasn't it?"

I'd expected all sorts of things, only not that question.

The journey had indeed been hard. We'd had difficulty navigating the river, and the crew of sailors, cadets from the river institute, were smoking grass and pilfering the store.

We were often behind schedule and couldn't get to the settlements where announcements had been made about the caravan's arrival by the scheduled time. The burden of these and other cares often gave me no chance to admire the riverbank landscape or simply get a good night's sleep.

I said something absurd to her, like, "It's all right. We'll get through," turned toward the window, and drank my champagne.

She and I talked about something else, listened to the video, and talked until the ship docked at the shore at the end of our pleasure cruise. Then I saw her to the gangway. Returning to my cabin, I noted to myself that there was something odd and unusual in that woman, and I was left with a light and bright feeling after being with her. That night, for the first time in many days, I got a good night's sleep. Now I realized that the woman on the ship was Anastasia.

"So that was you, Anastasia?"

"Yes. There, in your cabin, and I memorized all the songs I sang for you in the forest. They were playing while we were talking. Do you see how simple it all is?"

"How did you come to be on the ship?"

"I was interested in how all this happens with you, how you live. After all, Vladimir, I've always dealt only with summer people. That day I ran to the village, sold the dried mushrooms the squirrels had gathered, and bought a ticket for your pleasure cruise. Now I know a lot about the category of people you call entrepreneurs, and now I know you well.

"I am very, very guilty before you. I didn't know it would work out this way, that I would change your destiny so greatly. Only there's nothing I can do, since they determined to carry out this plan and they are subject only to God. Now you and your family will have to overcome great hardships and adversities for a while, and then it will all pass."

While still not understanding what specifically Anastasia was talking about, I sensed intuitively that something was being revealed to me that went beyond the usual notions of our existence and that this something would affect me directly.

I asked Anastasia to tell me in greater detail what she meant talking about the changes in my destiny and the hardships. Listening to her, I could not have guessed how precisely what she predicted would come to pass in real life. In her story, Anastasia once again took me back to the events of the year before.

"Then, on the ship, you showed me everything, even your cabin, you treated me to candies, offered me champagne, and then escorted me to the gangway, but I didn't leave right away. I stood on shore near some bushes, and through the bar's shining windows I could see the local youth dancing and having fun there.

"You'd shown me everything but hadn't taken me to the bar. I guessed why. I was dressed inappropriately. I was wrapped up in a kerchief, my top was unfashionable, and my skirt was very long. But I could have taken off the kerchief. My top was neat and clean, and I had smoothed my skirt with my hands carefully on my way to see you."

I actually hadn't taken Anastasia to the bar that evening because of her rather odd clothing, under which, as had now become clear, this young woman was concealing extraordinary beauty that made her stand out sharply next to anyone else. I said, "Anastasia, why did you need that bar? Would you have danced there in your galoshes? And how would you have known the dances of today's youth?"

"I wasn't wearing galoshes then. When I exchanged the mushrooms for money to buy a ticket to your ship, I borrowed shoes from that woman, old shoes, it's true, and they were tight on me, but I cleaned them with grass. And dancing . . . I just need one little peek, that's all. And how I can dance."

"Did I insult you?"

"No. Only if you'd gone to the bar with me, I don't know whether this is good or bad, but events might have developed differently, and such a thing would probably not have occurred. But now I don't regret that what happened happened."

"So what happened? What so terrible happened?"

"After you saw me off you didn't return to your cabin right away. First you stopped in to see the captain, and the two of you headed for the bar. For you, this was an ordinary event. When you walked in, you immediately made an impression on the crowd. The captain was wearing his uniform, tightly belted. You were the famous Megre, altogether elegant and outwardly respectable, well known to many on shore—the owner of a caravan that was unusual for people around these parts. You realized full well that you were making an impression on the people around you.

"You sat down at a table with three young women from the village. They were all of eighteen and had just graduated from high school. They immediately brought your table champagne, candies, and new wineglasses that were better and handsomer than the ones that had been there before.

"You took one of the girls by the hand, leaned toward her, and started saying something into her ear, and I realized this was what's called 'compliments.' Then you danced with her a few times, talking the whole time. The girls' eyes were shining. It was as if she were in another, fairytale world.

"You took her out on deck and showed the girl the ship, as you had me, brought her to your cabin, and treated her to the same things as you had me, champagne and candies. You behaved a little differently with the young woman than you had with me. You were cheerful. With me you were serious and even sad, but with her you were cheerful. I could see this well through the shining windows of your cabin, and maybe then I wished a little I could be in that girl's place."

"You're saying you were jealous, Anastasia?"

"I don't know. It was an unfamiliar emotion for me."

I recalled that evening and those young village girls trying so hard to look older and more modern.

In the morning the ship's captain and I laughed again at their nocturnal escapade. At the time, in the cabin, I realized the girl was in such a state that she was prepared for anything. But I had no thought of taking her. I told Anastasia this, to which she replied, "You still took her heart. You went out on deck, there was a fine rain, and you threw your jacket over the girl's shoulders and then brought her back to the bar."

"Do you mean to say, Anastasia, you were standing in the bushes, in the rain, the whole time?"

"That's all right. It was a fine rain, gentle. It just hampered my view. And I didn't want my skirt and kerchief to get wet. They were my mama's. I inherited them from my mama. But I was very lucky. I found a cellophane bag on shore. I took them off, put them in the bag, and hid them under my top."

"Anastasia, if you hadn't gone home and it had started to rain, you could have come back to the ship."

"No, I couldn't. You'd seen me off and you had other concerns. It was all winding up anyway.

"When the time came for the evening to end and the ship was supposed to leave, at the girls' request, and mainly at the request of the girl who had been with you, you held the ship back. Everything was in your power then, including their hearts, and you were drunk on that power. The local youth were grateful to the girls, who also felt endowed with power through you. They had forgotten all about the young men who were in the same bar and with whom they had been friends since school.

"You and the captain escorted them to the gangway. You went back to your cabin. The captain went up on the bridge, and the ship blew its whistle and slowly, very slowly, began casting off. The girl you had danced with stood on shore among her girlfriends and the local boys seeing the ship off. Her little heart was beating so hard, it was as if it were trying to burst from her chest and fly away, and her thoughts and feelings were confused.

"Behind her were the black outlines of the village houses with their extinguished lights, and in front of her the white ship was pulling away from shore forever, its many lights burning, generously pouring music over the water and the nighttime shore. You were on that departing white ship, you, who had said all those beautiful words she had never heard before, bewitching and tempting words. And all this was moving away from her, slowly and forever.

"Then she got her nerve up and in front of everyone . . . The young woman made a fist and shouted desperately, 'I love you, Vladimir!' Then again and again. Did you hear those cries?"

"Yes."

"It was impossible not to hear them, and the men from your crew heard them, too. Some of them came out on deck and laughed at the young woman."

"I didn't want them to laugh at the girl. After a while, as if realizing something, they stopped laughing."

"But you didn't come out on deck, and the ship kept moving slowly away. She thought you couldn't hear her, and she kept shouting, persistently, 'I love you, Vladimir!' Then her girlfriends started helping her, and they shouted together. I was curious to know what this feeling was, love, that made a human lose control of themselves, or maybe I wanted to help the young woman, and I shouted along with them. 'I love you, Vladimir!'

"At that moment, I actually forgot that I can't just say words, that they have to have feelings behind them, a consciousness and authenticity of natural information. Now I know how strong that feeling is. And not all that subject to reason, either.

"That village girl started pining away and drinking, and I had a hard time helping her. Now she's married and immersed in daily cares. And I've had to add to my own and her love."

The story of the young woman disturbed me a little. Anastasia's story resurrected in detail my memory of that evening. Everything truly had happened as she said. It was real.

Anastasia's unique declaration of love made no impression on me then. Now that I'd seen her way of life and become familiar with her world-view, she'd begun to seem rather unreal, even though she was sitting beside me and I could easily reach out and touch her. My awareness, accustomed to using other criteria for evaluation, did not perceive her as an existing reality. If at the beginning of our encounter I'd been drawn to her, now she no longer evoked the former emotions.

"You mean to say you consider the appearance of these new feelings in you coincidental?"

"They're desired and important," Anastasia replied. "They're even pleasant, but I wanted you to love me the same way. I realized that when you knew me and my world a little more closely, you wouldn't be able to perceive me as an ordinary person, you might even be afraid sometimes. And that is what happened. I'm the one to blame. I made many mistakes. For some reason I was agitated the whole time. I rushed and didn't manage to explain. It all ended up rather foolishly, didn't it? Am I right? Do I need to reform?"

At these words, she gave the merest sad smile, touched her own chest, and I was immediately reminded of the event of that morning, when I had been with Anastasia.

26. Bugs

That morning, I had decided to perform Anastasia's morning routine with her. At first everything was going fine. I stood under the tree a touched different shoots. She told me about the herbs, and then I lay down beside her on the grass. We were completely naked, but even I wasn't cold, perhaps, of course, because she and I had been running through the forest together. A magnificent mood, I felt a kind of lightness, and not just physical, it seemed to be inside me. It all started when I felt a tingling on my thigh. I raised my head and saw bugs of some kind, ants and, I think, beetles, on my thigh and leg. I gave a swipe to slap them, but missed.

Anastasia grabbed my hand and held it. "Don't touch them," she said.

Then she knelt before me, bowed, and pressed my second hand to the ground. I lay there as if crucified. I tried to free my hands, but nothing doing. It felt impossible. Then I gave a jerk, exerting quite a bit of effort. She restrained me without especially tensing, even smiling all the while. On my body, I felt more and more crawling, prickling, biting, and tingling bugs and I concluded they were starting to eat me up. I was in her hands literally and figuratively, and I assessed the situation. No one knew where I was. No one was going to wander in here. And if they did, they would see my gnawed bones, if they saw any bones at all. All sorts of things flashed through my brain then, and on the basis of all that, probably, my instinct for self-preservation suggested the sole possible solution. With all my strength and desperation I bit Anastasia's bared breast and at the same time shook my head from side to side. I unclenched my teeth as soon as she cried out. Anastasia let me go, jumped up, held her breast with one hand, and waved upward with the other, trying to smile. I jumped up, too, and shouted at her, feverishly shaking the crawlers off me.

"You wanted to feed me to those vipers, you forest witch, and I won't give in so easily!"

Still waving and trying with all her might to smile to everything standing guard all around, Anastasia looked at me and walked slowly to her lake, not at her usual run, her head lowered. I stood there a little longer, trying to figure out what to do now. Return to the river? But how would I find my way? Follow Anastasia? But why? Nonetheless I went to the lake.

Anastasia was sitting on the shore rubbing some herb in her palms and squeezing its juice on her breast where you could see the huge bruise from my bite. It must have hurt. But what was her purpose in holding me down? For a while I shifted from foot to foot in silence, and then I asked, "Does it hurt?"

Without turning her head, she replied, "It hurts my feelings more." Silently, she continued to squeeze the herb juice.

"Why did you think to play a joke like that on me?"

"I wanted what was best. The pores of your skin are all plugged up. They don't breathe at all. The little bugs would have cleaned them out. It's not that painful, it actually feels good."

"And the snake, it was poking its tongue in my foot?"

"It wasn't going to do anything bad to you. And if it had released poison, then that would only have been on top, and I would have wiped it away immediately. The skin and muscles on your heel are numb."

"That's from an accident," I said.

We were silent for a while. It was a foolish situation. Not knowing what to say, I asked, "How come someone, that invisible someone, didn't help you like before, when I fainted?"

"He didn't help because I was smiling. And when you started biting, I tried to smile."

I felt a little awkward. I snatched up a tuft of grass lying next to me, rubbed it in my palms with all my strength, and then knelt before her and started rubbing her bruise with my wet palms.

27. Dreams are the Creation of the Future

Now that I had learned about Anastasia's feelings and her desire to prove that she was a natural and ordinary person, no matter how very unusual she was, I realized the pain I had inflicted on her soul that morning. I apologized to her again, and Anastasia replied that she wasn't angry, but now, after what I'd done, she was afraid for me.

"How could you have done something so terrible?" I asked, and once more I heard a story that someone wishing to seem as normal as all the people living in our world should not lay out in earnest. Because no one says this about himself.

"When the ship left," Anastasia continued, "and the local youth headed for the village, I stood on the bank for a while alone, and I felt good. Then I ran into my forest. The day passed as usual, but in the evening, when the stars came out, I lay down on the grass and began to daydream, and that was when I came up with this plan."

"What plan is that?"

"You have to understand that what I know is known in part by various people of the world you live in, and taken together they know almost everything, only they don't understand the mechanism completely.

"That was when I dreamed you would go to a big city and tell many people about me and about what I've explained to you. You would do this using the same methods you usually use to convey all kinds of information there, and you would write a book. Lots and lots of people would read it and the truth would be revealed to them. They would start being sick less, change their attitude toward children, and develop a new method of teaching for them.

"People would love more and the Earth would emit more light energy. Artists would draw my portrait, and that would be the best they had ever drawn. I would try to inspire them. They would make what you call a movie, and it would be the most beautiful movie ever. You would look at all this and think of me.

"Scientists would come to see you who would understand and appreciate what I'd told you about, and they would explain a lot to you. You would believe them more than me, and you would understand that I'm no witch but a person, it's just that there is more information inside me than others.

"What you wrote would arouse great interest, and you would be rich. You would have money in the banks of nineteen countries, and you would make a pilgrimage to holy places and cleanse yourself of all the darkness inside you.

"You would think of me and love me, and you would want to see me and your son again. You would want to be worthy of your son.

"My dream was very vivid, but also possibly a little selfish.

"That is probably why all this happened. They took it as a plan of action and decided to move people across the dark forces' span of time. That could happen if the detailed plan were born on Earth, in the soul and thoughts of an earthly man. They probably perceived the plan as grandiose, and they themselves might have added something to it, so the dark forces powerfully set their work in motion. Nothing like this has ever happened before. I realized this from the ringing cedar. Its ray has become much thicker. And it's ringing even more powerfully now—it's in a hurry to give off its light and energy."

I listened to Anastasia, and at that moment the thought that she was not normal gained an even greater foothold in me. Maybe she had escaped a long time ago from some hospital and was living here, in the forest, but I had also slept with her. Now a child might be born. Quite a story. Nevertheless, seeing how serious and agitated she was as she spoke, I tried to calm her.

"Don't worry, Anastasia. Your plan is obviously unfeasible, so there's no reason for the forces of darkness and light to struggle. You don't know enough detail about our ordinary life, its laws and conventions. The problem is that we publish a great many books these days, but people don't buy even the works of famous writers very much. I'm no writer. I don't have the talent, abilities, or education to write anything there."

"Yes, Vladimir. You didn't have them before, but now you do," Anastasia stated in reply.

"Fine," I continued to try to reassure her. "Even if I do try, no one is going to publish it or believe in your existence."

"But I do exist. I exist for those I exist for. They will believe and help you just as I will help them later. And together with those people we will . . ."

The meaning of her sentence was not clear to me right away, and once again I tried to reassure her.

"I'm not even going to try to write anything. There's no point. Eventually you'll have to understand that."

"You will. They have clearly composed an entire system of circumstances that will compel you to do it."

"What, you think I'm a pawn in someone's hands?"

"And a lot depends on you. But the dark forces will try to prevent you using every means at their disposal, up to and including pushing you toward suicide and creating the illusion of despair."

"That's it, Anastasia. I've had enough listening to your fantasies."

"You think these are fantasies?"

"Yes! Yes! Fantasies." And I stopped myself short.

A thought relating to time blazed up in my mind, and I understood. Everything Anastasia had been telling me about her dreams were things she had thought last year, when I still didn't know her as well as I did now and hadn't slept with her. Now, a year later, it had come to pass.

"So you mean everything's already happening?" I asked her.

"Naturally. If it hadn't been for them, and a little for me, your second expedition would have been impossible. After all, you were barely making ends meet after the first one, and you no longer had any rights to the ship."

"You mean you influenced the shipping company, the firms that helped me?"

"Yes."

"Then you ruined me and harmed them. What right do you have to interfere? On top of that, I left the ship and I'm sitting here with you. They could be stealing me blind. You must know how to hypnotize. No, something even worse. You're a witch, full stop. Or a crazy hermit. You have nothing, not even a home, and you're philosophizing here in front of me, you sorceress.

"I'm an entrepreneur! Do you have any idea what that is? I'm an entrepreneur! I may perish, but my ships are still on the river, bringing people goods. I'm the one supplying them, giving people the goods they need, and I could for you, too. And what can you give me?"

"Me? What can I give you? I can give you a drop of heavenly kindness and peace. You will be a clear-eyed genius. I am your image."

"Image? And who needs it, your image? What good comes of that?"

"It could help you write your book for people."

"Oh, please! Again with your mysticism!"

"I never do anything bad to anyone. I couldn't. I'm a human being! If you're so concerned about earthly goods and money, then wait a little longer, and it will all come back to you.

"I'm guilty before you for dreaming so and because you're going to have a hard time for a while, but somehow nothing else came to mind then. You don't see the logic. You have to be compelled by the circumstances of your world."

"Oh, please." I couldn't restrain myself. "You mean you're still going to try to force me? You're doing this, but you still want to appear an ordinary human being."

"I am a human being. A woman!" Anastasia was agitated, as was evident from the way she exclaimed, "I have only wanted what is good and light. I want you to be cleansed. That's why I came up with the idea then of a pilgrimage to holy places and a book. They accepted it, and the dark forces are always struggling with them, but they never win on the main thing."

"Are you telling me that with your intellect, information, and energy you're going to stand on the sidelines as an observer?"

"Given the degree of conflict between the two great principles, the effect from my efforts is insignificantly small. Help is needed from many others from your world. I'm going to search for them and find them, the way I did when you were in the hospital. Only you have to get a little more conscious yourself, too. Fight what is indecent in yourself."

"What is so awful about me, what bad thing did I do in the hospital? And how did you heal me if you weren't there?"

"At the time you simply didn't sense my presence, but I was by your side. When I was on the ship, I brought you the branch from the ringing cedar that my mama had broken off before she died. I left it in your cabin when you invited me there. You were already sick then. I could tell. Do you remember the branch?"

"Yes," I replied. "The branch really did hang in my cabin for a long time. Many of the crew saw it. I took it to Novosibirsk. But I didn't lend it any significance."

"You just threw it out."

"I didn't know."

"That's right. You didn't know. You threw it out. And my mama's branch didn't have time to vanquish your disease. Then you lay in the hospital. When you get back, take a close look at your case history. You'll see on the chart that although they used the very best medicine, there was no improvement. But later they brought you cedar nut oil. The doctor, who followed medical protocols strictly, shouldn't have done it, but he did what does not exist in a single one of your medical prescription manuals and has actually never been done at all. Do you remember?"

"Yes."

"You were treated by the woman who is in charge of one of the best clinics in your city. But her department has no connection with your ailment. She kept you there, even though one floor up in the same building was the department for your ailment. Right?"

"Yes!"

"She stuck needles in you, turning on music in the half-dark room while she was doing it."

Anastasia was saying everything that had in fact happened to me.

"Do you remember that woman?"

"Yes. She was in charge of the former provincial party hospital."

All of a sudden Anastasia, looking at me seriously, said a few snatches of sentences that struck me immediately and even sent a shiver through my body. "What kind of music do you like? . . . Good. . . . Like this? It's not too loud? " She said those sentences in the voice and intonation of the doctor who had treated me.

"Anastasia!" I exclaimed.

She interrupted me.

"Keep listening, for God's sake, and don't be so surprised. Please try, try at last to understand what I'm telling you. Rouse your intellect just a little. All this so far is very simple for man."

She continued.

"This woman doctor, she is very good. She is a real doctor. I got along easily with her. She is good and open. It was I who didn't want you moved to a different department. The other was profiled for your ailment and hers wasn't. But she said to her superiors, 'Leave him here and I'll heal him.' She sensed she could. She knew your ailments were merely a consequence of 'the other.' And she tried to fight that 'other.' She was a doctor.

"And how did you behave? You continued to smoke, drank whatever you wanted, ate spicy and salty food, and all this despite a bad ulcer. You denied yourself nothing, no pleasures whatsoever. Somewhere in your subconscious it set in, though you yourself have no suspicion, that you're not afraid of anything and nothing will happen to you. I did nothing good. The opposite, more than likely. The darkness in your consciousness did not diminish, but consciousness and will did not increase either. When you were well, you sent your employee to wish her, the woman who saved your life, a happy holiday, and you yourself never called her even once. She was waiting for that, she loved you like . . ."

"She or you, Anastasia?"

"We, if that's more understandable to you."

I stood up and, not knowing why, took a couple of steps away from Anastasia, who was sitting on a fallen tree. A mixture of feelings and thoughts had given rise to increasing vagueness in my attitude toward her.

"Once again you don't understand how I can do this. You're frightened. But it's easy to guess that I do it with my imagination and by accurately analyzing all the possible situations. And once again, you thought I—"

She fell silent and bowed her head over her knees. I stood in silence and thought, "Why does she keep saying all these unbelievable things? She says them and gets upset that they're incomprehensible. Evidently she doesn't understand that no normal person could accept them, and consequently her, as normal."

Then I did walk up to Anastasia and brushed aside the lock of hair that had fallen on her face. Tears slipped from Anastasia's big, gray-blue eyes. She smiled and said something unlike her: "What a woman, right? Right now you're amazed by the very fact of my existence and can't believe your eyes. You don't believe completely and can't grasp what I'm telling you. The fact of my existence and my abilities seem astonishing to you. You've completely ceased to perceive me as a normal human being, and believe me, Vladimir, I'm a human being and no witch.

"You consider my way of life astonishing, but why doesn't the other seem astonishing and paradoxical? Why do people, who deem the Earth a cosmic body, the greatest creation of the Supreme Reason, each process of which is His greatest achievement, torment and put such effort into damaging it? A man-made spaceship or airplane seems natural to you, but that entire piece of equipment is made from the broken and smelted parts of the greatest living natural mechanism.

"Imagine a being who smashes up a flying airplane to make himself a hammer or scraper from the parts and is proud if his primitive tool works out. That being doesn't understand that you can't go on smashing an airplane indefinitely. How can you not understand that you can't torment our Earth like that?

"The computer is considered a triumph of reason, but few suspect that a computer is like a brain prosthesis. Can you imagine what would happen to a person if he used crutches while having normal legs? The muscles of his legs would atrophy, of course. A machine can never surpass a human brain that's constantly in training."

Anastasia wiped away the tear slipping down her cheek with the palm of her hand and once again continued persistently to set forth her incredible conclusions.

At the time, I could not have guessed that everything she said would excite many people and rouse scientists' minds and even as a hypothesis would have no analog in the world.

According to Anastasia, the Sun is something like a mirror. It reflects the emanation, invisible to the eye, that comes from the Earth. This emanation comes from people who are in a state of love, joy, and certain other emotions of light. Reflected off the Sun, they return to Earth in the form of sunlight and give life to everything earthly.

She cited a number of arguments, although they were not that easy to understand.

"If the Earth and the other planets used only the grace of the Sun's light," she said, "the Sun would go out, burn unevenly, and its illumination would not be uniform. There is no unilateral process in the Universe, nor could there be. Everything is interrelated."

She also took words from the Bible: "And the life was the light of men."

Anastasia also said that feelings were transmitted from one person to another by reflecting off cosmic bodies. She demonstrated this with an example.

"None one living on Earth can deny that he can feel when someone loves him. This feeling is more palpable when you're next to the person who loves you. You call this intuition. In fact, invisible waves of light emanate from the person who loves you. But even when that person is not nearby, if his love is strong, it is also palpable. With the help of this feeling, by understanding its nature, you can work miracles. This is what you call miracles, mysticism, or incredible abilities. Tell me, Vladimir, did you just feel a little better with me? Lighter, warmer, fuller?"

"Yes," I replied. "For some reason I felt warmer."

"Now look what happens to you when I focus even more on you."

Anastasia lowered her eyelashes slightly, slowly took a few steps back, and stopped. A pleasant warmth flooded my body. It intensified but didn't burn. It wasn't too hot.

Anastasia turned and began to move away slowly, hiding behind the thick trunk of a tall tree. The pleasant warmth did not diminish, but something new was added. It was as if something were helping my heart drive the blood through my veins, and now with each beat I had the impression that streams of blood were instantly reaching every vein in my body. I broke out in a heavy sweat, and my feet became wet.

"There, you see? Now do you understand it all?" a triumphant Anastasia said as she emerged from behind the tree, confident she had proven something. "After all, you did feel when I went behind the tree's trunk, and our feelings even intensified when you didn't see me. Tell me about them."

I told her and then asked, "What does the tree trunk prove?"

"What do you mean? The waves of information and light were going straight from me to you. When I hid, the tree trunk should have distorted them powerfully, since it has its own information and illumination, but that didn't happen.

"The waves of feeling fell on you, reflected off cosmic bodies, and even intensified. Then I performed what you call a miracle. Your feet began to sweat. You hid that from me."

"I didn't think it was important. What's the miracle in feet sweating?"

"I drove all kinds of ailments out of your organism through your feet. You should be feeling much better now. Even outwardly it's noticeable. You're less round-shouldered."

Indeed, I did feel better physically.

"You mean you concentrate like that, you dream, and you get what you want?"

"More or less."

"And this always works for you, even when you dream of something other than healing?"

"Always. Unless it's an abstract dream. If it's detailed down to the smallest events and doesn't contradict the laws of spiritual being. That kind of dream can't always be constructed. Your thoughts have to go very, very fast, and there have to be the corresponding vibration of feelings. Then it will definitely come to pass. This is natural. This happens to many in their life. Ask people you know. You may find among them those who have dreamed something and that dream has come true, either wholly or in part."

"The details and my thoughts have to race very fast. Tell me, when you dreamed of poets, artists, and the book, did you detail those? Did you think your thoughts fast?"

"Extraordinarily fast. And all specifically, in the tiniest detail."

"And now, do you think it will come true?"

"Yes, I do."

"Were you dreaming of anything else then? Have you told me everything about your dreams?"

"No, I haven't."

"Then tell me everything."

"You . . . You want to hear what I have to say, Vladimir? Is that true?"

"Yes."

Anastasia's face beamed, as if illuminated by a flash of light. Inspired and excited, she launched into her incredible monologue.

28. Across the Dark Forces' Span of Time

"On that night of dreamings, I thought about how to move people across the dark forces' span of time. My plan and awareness were precise and real, and they approved.

"The book you write will contain unobtrusive combinations and letter formulations that will give rise in most people to feelings of goodness and light. These feelings can fight physical and emotional ailments and will facilitate the birth of the new awareness intrinsic to the people of the future. Believe me, Vladimir. This is not hocus-pocus. This corresponds to the laws of the Universe.

"It's all very simple. You will write the book and be guided exclusively by your feelings and soul. Otherwise you won't be able because you don't have the writing skills. However, with feelings you can do anything.

"These feelings are already inside you. Both mine and yours. You're still unaware of them. They will be understood by many. Embodied in symbols and combinations, they will be more powerful than Zoroastrian fire.

"Hide nothing that has happened to you, even what you treasure most. Emancipate yourself from any shame and don't be afraid to be ridiculous. Make peace with your pride.

"I revealed myself to you entirely—body and soul. Through you, I want to reveal myself to all people, and now this has been allowed me.

"I know the mass of dark forces that will come crashing down on me and resist my dream, but I'm not afraid of them. I'm stronger and will live to see what I have conceived.

"And I will live to give birth to and raise my son—our son, Vladimir.

"My dream will break many mechanisms of the dark forces, which have had a pernicious effect on people for millennia, and will compel many to work for good.

"I know you can't believe me right now. The conventions and many postulates engendered in your brain by the preconceptions of your world's existence act as an obstacle for you.

"The possibility of time travel seems an unlikely possibility to you. But your concepts of time and distance are relative. It is the degree of consciousness and will, not the second and meter, that characterize these dimensions. The purity of the intentions, emotions, and feelings characteristic of the majority determines the point in the Universe and time where humanity is.

"You believe in horoscopes and in your total dependence on the disposition of the planets. This belief was achieved through the mechanisms of the dark forces. This belief slows the time of the parallel of light and gives the parallel of darkness a chance to move forward and grow bigger. This belief is leading you away from an awareness of the truth and the essence of your earthly existence.

"You have to analyze this carefully. Just think. God created humans in Their image and likeness. Humans have been given the greatest freedom, the freedom to choose between the darkness and the light. Humans have been given a Soul. Everything visible is in humans' power, and people are at liberty—even with respect to God—whether to love Them or not. No one and nothing can govern humans against their will. God wants humans' love in exchange for Their own, but God wants the love of a free human who is perfect and resembles Them.

"God created everything visible, including the planets, which provide order and harmony for every living thing—the plant and the animal worlds—and help the human flesh, but they absolutely do not govern humans' soul or reason. Neither the planets nor the stars direct humans, rather through our subconscious, humans move all the planets. If one human wanted a second Sun to blaze up in the sky, it wouldn't. Things are arranged to prevent a planetary disaster. But if all people simultaneously wanted a second Sun, it would appear.

"Compiling a horoscope requires, above all, taking into consideration the basic parameters: the human's level of temporal awareness, the strength of their will and spirit, the aspirations of their Soul, and the degree of its participation in the moment of present daily life. Favorable and unfavorable days, magnetic storms, and high and low pressure are freely vanquished by the will and consciousness. Haven't you ever seen a happy and joyful person on an overcast day or in bad weather or, on the contrary, a sad, depressed person on the most propitious sunny day?

"You think I’m fantasizing like a crazy woman when I talk about how the letter combinations and formulations I place in the book will heal and enlighten people. You don't believe me because you don't understand. But in fact it's very simple.

"Here I am right now speaking your language, trying to use your turns of phrase and even intonations. It will be easy for you to remember what I've said because this is your language, inherent to you alone, but also understood by many people. It contains no incomprehensible words or rare idioms. It's simple and therefore understandable to the majority.

"But I'm changing it just a little, maybe introducing a few words, just a little bit. You're in an agitated state right now, so when you remember this state you'll remember everything I told you, and you'll write down what I've said. That is how my letter combinations will wind up in the book you write.

"They are very important. They could work miracles, like prayer. After all, many of you already know that prayers are specific combinations of specific letters. These combinations have been constructed by enlightened humans with God's help.

"The dark forces were always trying to take away humans' ability to make use of the grace emanating from these combinations. For this, they even changed the language, introduced new words and removed old ones, and distorted meaning.

"Previously, for example, your language had forty-seven letters; now there are only thirty-three left. The dark forces introduced other combinations and formulas of their own, stirring up what is base and dark, and tried to distract people with carnal desires and passions. But I brought the primordialness of the combinations to the fore using only today's letters and symbols, and they will now be effective.

"I worked so hard to find them! And I did it! I gathered and collected all that was best from different times. I collected a lot. I concealed them in what you will write. As you see, this is simply a translation of a combinations of signs from the depths of eternity and the infinity of the Cosmos, precise in meaning, significance, and purpose.

"You must write about everything you've seen and hide nothing—not the bad, not the good, not the cherished—and then they will be preserved. You will be convinced of this yourself, please believe me, Vladimir. You will be when you write it.

"In many who read what you are going to write, feelings and emotions will arise that they still do not understand or grasp completely. They will tell you this. You'll see and hear them tell you this. And they will have feelings of light, and later many themselves will understand with the help of these feelings a lot more than you will have written.

"Just write a little. When you are convinced that people are feeling these combinations. When ten, a hundred, a thousand people tell you this. Then you'll believe it and write it all. Just believe. Believe in yourself. Believe in me.

"In the future I'll be able to tell you something even more important, and they will understand and feel it.

"But even more significant is the rearing of children. You were interested in knowing about saucers and mechanisms, rockets and planets. And I so wanted to tell you more about raising children, and I will, I will tell you this when I've planted more consciousness in you.

"However, you need to read this when the sounds of man-made, artificial mechanisms aren't getting in the way. These sounds harm people and lead them away from the truth. Let the sounds of the natural world created by God remain. They bear the information of truth and grace, and they help your consciousness. Then the healing will be much more powerful.

"Once again, of course, you doubt and don't believe in the healing power of the word. You're thinking that I . . . But there is no hocus-pocus or fantasy in this whatsoever, nothing that contradicts the laws of spiritual existence. When feelings of light appear in people, they have to have a favorable influence on absolutely all the bodily organs. The feelings of light are the most powerful and effective means for countering any illness. God healed with the help of these kinds of feelings, and so did the saints. Read the Old Testament and you'll be convinced yourself. Some people of your world can also heal with the help of these feelings. Many of your doctors know about this. Ask them, if you don't believe me. After all, it's easier for you to believe them. The stronger and lighter this feeling, the greater its effect on the person to whom it is directed.

"I could always heal with my ray. When I was a child, my great-grandfather taught and explained it all to me. I've done this many times with my summer people. Right now my ray is many times stronger than my grandfather's and great-grandfather's. They say this is because the feeling called love has appeared in me. It is very big and pleasant, and it burns a little. I would like to give it to everyone and to you. I would like everyone to feel good and everything to be good, the way God intended."

Anastasia had delivered her monologue with extraordinary inspiration and certainty, as if she had shot it into space and time. Then she fell silent.

I looked at Anastasia, stunned by her unusual fervor and certainty, and asked, "Anastasia, is that all? Are there no more nuances to your plans, your dream?"

"The rest of the details are trivial, Vladimir. Inconsequential. I created them in passing, as easily as two times two. There was just one complication that concerned you, but I've solved it."

"Please tell me in more detail. What was the complication that concerned me?"

"You have to understand. I've made you the richest man on Earth. I've also made you the most famous. This will happen in a little while. But when the dream was being specified, before it had taken off, caught up by the forces of light, the dark forces . . . they're always trying to add something harmful of their own—different side effects that ruin those it concerns and various people.

"My thoughts raced very very fast, but the dark forces caught up anyway. They abandoned many of their earthly affairs and tried to launch their own mechanisms around my dream, and that was when I came up with something. I outwitted them, and I made all their mechanisms work for the good.

"The forces of darkness were at a loss for less than an instant, but that was enough for my dream, caught up by the forces of light, to race off into the infinity of light, out of the dark forces' reach."

"What did you come up with, Anastasia?"

"Unexpectedly for them, I made the dark forces' span of time, during which you will have to overcome various difficulties, a little longer. To do this, I had to deprive myself of the possibility of helping you with my ray. They were perplexed, not seeing any logic in it on my part. Meanwhile, I shone it very very quickly on the people you will be communicating with in the future."

"What does all this mean?"

"People will help you and my dream, with their small, almost uncontrollable rays. But there will be lots of them, and together you will make my dream a material reality. You will be transported across the dark forces' span of time, and you will bring others with you.

"You will not be arrogant and greedy when you're rich and famous because you'll understand that money is not the main thing, that it can never give you warmth or the sincere complicity of a human soul. You will understand this when you go across this span of time and see and meet these people. And they will understand, too."

"But the bows to the bankers. . . ."

"Just in case, I devised your relations with the banks as well, because you don't take care of your body at all. At least with the bowing you'll get some exercise when you withdraw money from a bank, and so will some bankers. I don't care if this is a little silly. On the other hand, there will be no sinful pride in you.

"So it has come to pass that all the difficulties and obstacles the dark forces have come up with in their span of time will temper you and those around you. They will make you more aware and safeguard you later on from the dark temptations they are so proud of. Their very actions will safeguard you, which is why they were at such a loss for a fraction of a second. Now they will never chase down my dream."

"Anastasia! My sweet dreamer. My fantasizer."

"Oh! You've done something very fine. Thank you! Thank you. You said it well, 'My sweet.'"

"You're welcome. But I did also call you a fantasizer. A dreamer. You aren't offended?"

"Not at all. You still don't know how exactly my dreams always come true when they're vivid and detailed. This one will definitely come true. It is my favorite and most vivid one. And this book will work out. People will find they have unusual feelings and these feelings will summon people to . . ."

"Wait a minute, Anastasia, You're starting to get carried away again. Calm down."

* * *

Very little time had passed when I cut off Anastasia's fervent speech, which seemed nothing more than a fantasy.

I didn't quite understand her monologue's meaning. Everything she said seemed too fantastic. Only a year later did the editor of Miracles and Adventures read the manuscript containing that monologue and emotionally present me with the most recent issue of his magazine (May 1996).

I was gripped by emotion when I read its contents. Two major scientists, Academician Anatoly Akimov and Academician Vlail Kaznacheyev, both spoke in their articles about the existence of a Supreme Reason, the close relationship between humans and the Cosmos, and rays that emanate from humans but are invisible to ordinary vision. Special instruments were able to register them, and in the journal were two photographs of these rays coming from people. But science had only begun to talk about what Anastasia had not only known since childhood but had simply used in her daily life in her efforts to help people.

How could I have known a year ago that the woman standing before me wearing her worn and only skirt and clumsy galoshes, fingering the buttons on her top agitatedly, Anastasia, would truly possess tremendous knowledge and the ability to influence human destinies? That her spiritual bursts really were capable of countering what was dark and ruinous for humanity?

That a folk healer famous in Russia, the chairman of the Russian foundation of healers, would assemble his assistants and say, "We are all bugs before her?" and add that the world had yet to know a power greater than hers. He would regret my long failure to understand her.

Many would sense an energy of tremendous power emanating from the book.

Poems would come sprinkling down like spring rain washing away the mud, after publication of the first small print run of the book, whose author, I think, is she.

Esteemed reader, you are now holding this book in your hands. Reading it. Whether it is summoning up feelings in your soul, only you can judge. What are you feeling? What is it calling you to do?

Anastasia, left alone there in the taiga, in her glade, will keep using her ray of goodness to dispel the obstacles arising before her dream. She will keep gathering and inspiring more and more new people to make her dream come true.

Thus, in a difficult moment, three Moscow students would come to stand by my side, without proper monetary compensation for their labor (helping even me materially). Earning money where they could, they—especially Lyosha Novichkov—would spend night after night typing the text of Anastasia on their computers.

They would not stop typing even when their difficult semester began.

And Moscow printing press no. 11 would issue a print run of two thousand, bypassing the need for a publisher. Yet even before this, the journalist Evgenia Kvitko from the Peasant Gazette would be the first to talk about Anastasia in the press. Later would come Katya Golovina, from Moscow Pravda, then Forest Gazette, World of News, and Radio Russia. Disdaining tradition, Miracles and Adventures, which published famous luminaries of academic science, would devote several issues to Anastasia and print the following: "In their most daring dreams, academicians have not achieved the insights of Anastasia, the sorceress from the Siberian taiga. Purity of intention makes humans omnipotent and omniscient. Humans is the pinnacle of creation."

Only the serious press in the capitals would publish Anastasia. It was as if Anastasia herself chose it, bypassing the tabloids, thus carefully safeguarding the purity of her dream.

But this became clear only a year after I'd met her, and then, not understanding her, not fully believing her, and relating in a unique way to what had happened, I tried to shift the conversation to a topic closer to me, entrepreneurs.

29. Strong People

The highest opinion of you as an individual

is the opinion held by the people around you.

Anastasia spoke a lot about the people we call entrepreneurs and their influence on society's spirituality. Then she picked up a twig and drew a circle in the earth. Inside the circle, she drew many more little circles, and in the middle of each of those she put a dot. On either side of this circle, more circles. It was as if she were drawing a map of the planets inside the earthly world and adding a great deal more to it.

She said, "The big circle is the Earth, the planet people live on. The small circles are small collectives of people who are bound together by something. The points are the people who lead these collectives. Whether or not the people around those leaders are doing well or badly will depend on how these leaders treat the people, what they have them do, and what kind of psychological climate they create through their influence. If the majority are doing well, a light emanation will come from each of them and from the collective as a whole. If they are doing badly, then the emanation is dark."

She hatched over some of the little circles, making them dark.

"Of course, many other factors will affect their inner state, but in this span of time, while they're in this collective, the main factor will be their relations with their leader.

"It is very important for the Universe that light emanate from the Earth as a whole—an emanation of the light of love and good. As the Bible says, 'God is love.' I feel sorry, very sorry, for the people you call entrepreneurs. They are the most unfortunate of all. I so wanted to help them, but it's hard for me to do that alone."

"You're wrong, Anastasia. We consider the most unfortunate to be the pensioners, people who don't know how to find work and provide themselves with the necessary housing, clothing, and food. An entrepreneur is a person who has all this to a greater degree than others. He has access to pleasures others can't even dream of."

"What kind, for example?"

"Well, even if we take the average entrepreneur, he has a modern car and an apartment. He has no problems at all with clothing and food."

"What about joy? Satisfaction in something? Look."

Once again Anastasia drew my attention to the grass and, like the first time, when she'd shown me the woman gardener, began showing me other scenes.

"There, you see? There he is sitting in the car you call stylish. See? He's alone in the back seat, and it's warm and cozy in the car. His experienced chauffeur is driving very smoothly. But look at how tense and pensive the face of the entrepreneur sitting in the back seat is. He's thinking, making plans, he's afraid of something. Look, he's picked up what you call a telephone. He's worried. There! he's received the information. . . . Now he has to assess it quickly and come up with a decision. He's all tense. He's thinking. It's ready, his decision has been made. Now look. Look, he's sitting calmly, apparently, but there is doubt and alarm on his face. No joy at all. Outside his car it's spring, but he neither sees nor feels the spring."

"It's work, Anastasia."

"It's a way of life, and there's no break from the moment he wakes up to the moment he falls asleep, and even in his sleep. He doesn't see the budding leaves or the springtime rivulets. He's perpetually surrounded by envious rivals who want to take away what he has. The attempt to wall himself off from them with what you call security and a fortress-like house does not bring complete peace, since the fear and worry are inside him and remain with him always. So it is until he dies, and just before the end of his life he regrets that he had to leave everything behind."

"The entrepreneur does have joys. They come when he achieves a desired result and carries out a plan he's made."

"That's not true. He doesn't have time to rejoice in what he's achieved because it's followed by another plan, a more complicated plan, and it all starts in again, only with greater difficulties."

The forest beauty was drawing me a very gloomy and sad picture about the outwardly prosperous stratum of our society, and I didn't want to believe this picture. I tried to refute her.

"Anastasia, you forget their ability to achieve the goal they've set and obtain the good things in life, the admiring looks of women, and the respect of those around them."

"An illusion," she replied. "None of that exists. Where have you seen a respectful or admiring look from someone gazing at the passenger of a stylish car or the owner of the richest dwelling? There's not one person who would confirm what you've said. Those are looks of envy, indifference, and irritation. Even women can't love these men because their emotion is tainted by the desire to possess not only this person, but his property as well. In turn, these men cannot truly love a woman because they can't free up enough space for such a great emotion."

The search for further arguments was pointless, since what she'd said could only be confirmed or refuted by the people she was talking about. As an entrepreneur myself, I had never given any thought to what Anastasia said, had not analyzed the number of my minutes of joy, and I certainly could not do that for others. Entrepreneurs just don't snivel or complain. Each strives to look successful and content with his life. This is probably why for most people the image of the entrepreneur is someone getting nothing but good things from life.

Anastasia was picking up not the outward manifestation of feelings but the subtler ones concealed within. She defined man's condition based on how much light she saw. It seemed to me that I could see the scenes and situation she saw more from her voice. I told Anastasia this.

She replied, "I will help you right now. It's simple. Close your eyes and lie on the grass with your arms out to the sides. You have to relax. Mentally imagine the whole Earth. Try to see its color and the blue glow coming from it. Then narrow your imagination's ray, don't let it take in the whole Earth but make it narrower and narrower until you see specific details. Look for people where there is the most blue light. Narrow your ray even more and you'll see one person or several. Try it again with my help."

She took my hand and lined her fingers up with mine, resting their tips in my palm. The fingers of her other hand lying in the grass pointed up. Mentally I did everything she said, and there arose before me, though not very distinctly, a scene of three people sitting at a table and conversing excitedly. I couldn't understand what they were saying. I heard no speech of any kind.

"No," Anastasia said, "these aren't entrepreneurs. We'll find them now."

She kept leading me on with her ray, going into offices big and small, private clubs, feasts and brothels. The blue glow was either very weak or absent altogether.

"Look, it's night there already, but he's still sitting alone in his smoke-filled office. Something's not right for this entrepreneur. And this one, look how pleased he is, in a pool, and the girls beside him. He's high, but there's no glow. He's simply trying to forget, and his self-satisfaction is artificial.

"This one is at home. There's his wife, and his child is asking him something. The telephone rings. There, look, he's serious again, and even the people close to him have receded into the background."

And again, one after the other, every possible situation was illuminated, some outwardly good and some not very, until we came across a horrifying scene.

Suddenly, we saw a room, probably in some apartment, a fairly respectable one, but lying on a round table was a naked man. His hands and feet were tied to the table legs, his head dangled, and his mouth was sealed with brown tape. Sitting at the table were two young, solidly built men, one with a buzz cut, the other with slicked-down hair. In an armchair set back under a floor lamp sat a young woman. Her mouth was taped, too, and a fabric cord below her breasts strapped her to the chair. Each leg was tied to a leg of the chair. She was only wearing a torn slip. An emaciated older man was sitting next to her drinking something, probably brandy.

There was chocolate on the small table in front of him. Those sitting at the round table were not drinking. They poured a liquid—vodka or alcohol—on the lying man's chest and lit it. "They're settling a score," I realized.

Anastasia moved her ray away from the scene, but I exclaimed, "Bring it back. Do something!"

She brought the scene back and replied, "I can't. It's all in the past. This can't be stopped. It had to be done before. Now it's too late."

I watched as if a spell had been cast over me and all of a sudden clearly saw the woman's eyes, which were filled with horror and begging for mercy.

"Do something! If you have a heart, do at least something!" I shouted at Anastasia.

"But this isn't in my power. This was preprogrammed, and not by me, and I can't intervene directly. They're stronger now."

"So where is this goodness of yours, this ability?"

Anastasia was silent. The terrible scene clouded over slightly. Then the old man drinking brandy suddenly disappeared. Suddenly I felt a weakness through my whole body. I also felt my hand that was touching Anastasia start to go numb. I heard her somewhat weakened voice. She could barely get the words out.

"Take away your hand, Vladimi ..." She couldn't even say my whole name.

Rising, I pulled my hand away from Anastasia.

My hand hung as if numb, the way you get pins and needles sometimes, and it was all white. I wiggled my fingers and the numbness started to pass.

I took one look at Anastasia and was horrified. Her eyes were closed. The pink had drained from her face. Her hands and face seemed to have no blood at all under the skin. She lay there as if lifeless.

The grass around her for a radius of about three meters was also white and wilted. I realized something horrible had happened and I shouted, "Anastasia! What's happened to you, Anastasia?"

She did not react to my cry in any way. Then I grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her no longer resilient but rather limp body. Still her perfectly white, bloodless lips were silent.

"Can you hear me, Anastasia?"

Her eyelashes raised a very little and her lackluster eyes looked at me, no longer expressing anything. I grabbed a flask of water, lifted Anastasia's chin, and tried to get her to drink, but she couldn't swallow. I looked at her and thought feverishly about what I should do.

Finally her lips stirred ever so slightly, and she whispered, "Move me somewhere else . . . to a tree."

I lifted her limp body, carried her away from the circle of white grass, and lay her next to the nearest cedar. After a while she began to come around a little, and I asked, "What was it that happened to you, Anastasia?"

"I tried to carry out your request, Vladimir," she answered softly, and a minute later added, "I think it worked."

"But you look so awful. Did you almost die?"

"I broke the natural laws. I interfered where I shouldn’t have. This took all my power and energy. I'm amazed it was enough."

"Why did you take that risk if it was so dangerous?"

"I had no choice. You wanted it. I was afraid not to carry out your request, afraid you would stop respecting me entirely. You would think I was just talking, always talking, and I couldn't do anything in real life."

Her eyes looked at me imploringly, and her soft voice shook a little when she said, "But I can't explain to you how it's done, how this natural mechanism works. I feel it, but I can't explain it so you'd understand, and your scientists still couldn't either, probably."

She lowered her head and fell silent, as if summoning her powers. Once again she looked at me with pleading eyes and said, "Now you'll consider me crazy or a witch even more."

All of a sudden I had a strong urge to do something nice for her, but what?

I wanted to say I considered her a normal, ordinary person, a handsome and intelligent woman, but I didn't have the sensation of an ordinary relation toward her, and she with her intuition would not have believed me.

Suddenly, I remembered her story about how her great-grandfather usually greeted her when she was a child. How her gray-haired great-grandfather had knelt on one knee before little Anastasia and kissed her little hand.

I went down on one knee in front of Anastasia, took her still pale and slightly cold hand, kissed it, and said, "If you are a crazy woman, then you are the best, noblest, smartest, and most beautiful crazy woman of all."

A smile finally touched Anastasia's lip again, and her eyes looked at me gratefully. The color began to return to her cheeks.

"Anastasia, that scene was fairly dreary. Did you choose it especially?"

"I was looking for at least one example, a good one, but I couldn't find one. They're all in the grip of their worries. They're face-to-face with their problems, and they have almost no spiritual communication."

"So what can be done? What can you suggest other than pity for them? But I have to tell you, these are strong people, these entrepreneurs."

"Very strong," she agreed, "and interesting. They seem to be living two lives in the space of one. One life is known only to them, not even to the people close to them; the other is their outward life, for those around them. But I think they have to be helped by strengthening spiritual and sincere communication among themselves. They need to strive openly for purity of intention."

"Anastasia, I will probably try to do what you've asked. I'll try to write the book and create an association of entrepreneurs with pure intentions, but only as I myself have understood this."

"It will be hard for you. I won't be able to help you enough, I have so little strength left. It will take me a long time to restore it. For a while now I won't be able to see at a distance with my ray. Even now I don't see you very well with my ordinary vision."

"You mean you're going blind, Anastasia?"

"I think it will all be restored. Only it's too bad that for a while I won't be able to help you."

"You don't need to help me, Anastasia. Try to safeguard yourself for our son and help others."

* * *

I had to leave and catch up with the ship. I waited for her to look almost like her former self, at least outwardly, and climbed into my boat. Anastasia grabbed the handle on its bow and gave it a shove. The boat was picked up by the current and carried off.

Anastasia was standing almost to her knees in the water, and the hem of her long skirt was wet and floating on the waves.

I pulled the outboard's cord. The engine caught, rending the silence I'd grown accustomed to over the last three days, and the boat jerked forward, gathering more and more speed, moving away from the taiga hermit standing in the water all alone by the shore.

All of a sudden, Anastasia got out of the water and ran down the shore to catch up with the boat.

Her hair, streaming in the oncoming wind, looked like a comet's tail. She was trying to run very fast, probably using all her strength in doing so, trying to do the impossible: catch up with a fast-moving boat. But even she couldn't do that.

The distance between Anastasia running along the shore and the boat slowly increased.

I felt sorry for her useless efforts, and wishing to put an end to the distressing moment of parting as quickly as possible, I jammed the throttle down with all my might. The thought flashed through my mind that Anastasia might think I had once again been frightened by her and was running away. The engine roaring in anguish made the bow rise above the water as the boat rushed forward, increasing the distance between us even faster.

While she . . . Lord! What was she doing?

Anastasia had ripped off her wet skirt, which was getting in the way of her running, as she ran and tossed the torn clothing aside. The speed of her running increased, and something incredible happened. Slowly the distance between her and the boat began to diminish. I could see an almost sheer cliff up ahead in her path.

Continuing to press the now unyielding throttle, I thought the cliff would stop her and put an end to this tortuous scene. But Anastasia kept up her swift running, and from time to time she stretched her hands out in front of her, as if groping the space with them. Had her vision really deteriorated so much that she didn't see the cliff?

Without slowing her pace in the least, Anastasia ran up the cliff, fell to her knees, raised her hands to the sky, and began to shout more or less in my direction. I heard her voice through the engine's wild roar and the water's noise, I heard what seemed like a whisper: "Sand-bar a-head, sand-bar, sun-ken logs."

Quickly turning my head, still not fully realizing what was happen, I turned the wheel so abruptly that the boat heeled sharply and nearly started taking on water.

A huge submerged log, popularly called a toplyak, one end stuck in the sandbar, the other barely poking out of the water, just grazed the speeding boat. A direct strike would have ripped through its thin aluminum bottom.

When I had escaped to the river's channel, I looked back at the cliff and whispered in the direction of the lonely kneeling figure, which was becoming an ever littler spot.

"Thank you, Anastasia."

30. Who Are You, Anastasia?

The ship was waiting for me in Surgut. Captain and crew awaited orders. But I just couldn't concentrate enough to decide on our route, so I gave orders to extend our stay in Surgut, have a party for the local population, and hold a consumer goods and services show.

My thoughts were occupied by the events connected with Anastasia. I bought a lot of popular scientific literature in a store, books about unusual phenomena and people's abilities and the history of the Siberian land. I locked myself in my cabin as I tried to find an explanation in books.

A few questions arose concerning our life. One of them will not quit me even now: Is our system of education and childrearing sufficient for grasping the essence of being and for each person to set priorities in his life correctly? Does that system help or hinder us in making sense of man's essence and purpose?

We have created a huge system of education. We teach our children and one another on the basis of this system: in kindergarten, school, higher education, and graduate school. This system has allowed us to invent things and fly into the Cosmos. Following it, we build our own daily life accordingly. With its help we try to construct our own happiness.

We try to understand the Cosmos, the atom, and various anomalous phenomena, which we love to discuss and describe in sensational articles in the press and scientific publications. Only one phenomenon do we for some reason persist in skirting—and skirting very diligently! We give the impression of being afraid to talk about it, afraid because it so easily demolishes our fundamental system of education and scientific conclusions and laughs at the realities of our daily life! We try to pretend there is no such phenomenon, but there is and will be, no matter how much we turn away from it or evade it.

Isn't it time we took a closer look at it and perhaps, through the combined efforts of human minds, answer this question: Why have all the great thinkers without exception, the people who have created religious and philosophical teachings, the different teachings that the majority of humanity follow (or at least try to follow) been hermits before creating their teachings? Why have they secluded themselves, and in most instances in the forest? Note, not in some super-academy, but specifically in the forest.

Why did the Old Testament Moses go alone into the mountain wilderness for so long and then return to reveal to the world the wisdom set forth on the stone tablets?

Why did Jesus Christ seclude himself even from his disciples in the desert, mountains, and forest?

Why did a man by the name of Siddhartha Gautama, who lived in India in the mid-sixth century BC, seclude himself in the forest for seven years?

Then hermit Siddhartha Gautama came out of the forest and gave people his teaching—a teaching that to this day, millennia later, excites so many men's minds. People build large temples and call this teaching Buddhism. Later they called this man the Buddha.

Why did our not-so-very-distant ancestors, who are now historical figures, like Serafim of Sarov or Sergius of Radonezh, also go into the forest as hermits and after a short period of time attain wisdom of such depth that the kings of the world crossed trackless expanses to go see them?

Monasteries and magnificent temples were erected on the site of their hermitage. Thus Troitse-Sergiev Lavra, in Sergiev Posad, in the Moscow region, for example, attracts crowds of people even today. And all this began with just one forest hermit.

Why? What or who helped these people achieve wisdom? What gave them knowledge and brought them closer to understanding the essence of being? How did they live, what did they do, and what did they think about while they were secluded in the forest? Who taught them?

These questions began suggesting themselves to me a while after my contact with Anastasia. Then I began to read everything I could find about hermits.

But I have yet to find the answer, because nowhere is it written what happened to them there.

I think the answers need to be sought through joint efforts. I am trying to describe the events of my three-day sojourn in the Siberian taiga forest and my feelings from my encounter with Anastasia in the hope that someone will be able to grasp the essence of this phenomenon and make sense of our way of life.

From everything I've seen and heard so far, only one thing is indisputable: people who live as hermits in the forest, including Anastasia, see what is going on in our life from an angle distinct from ours. Some of Anastasia's notions are 180 degrees opposite those commonly accepted. Who is closer to the truth? Who should judge this?

My task has been merely to set forth what I saw and heard in order to give others the opportunity to respond.

Meanwhile, I was also interested in whether a feeling of love could truly be born in Anastasia just because, while trying to help a village girl, she had cried out, "I love you, Vladimir!"

Why did the simple words we utter, often without investing sufficient worthy feeling in them, affect Anastasia, despite the difference in our age, and despite the difference in our views on and way of life?

The popular scientific literature provided no answers. Then I picked up the Bible and found the answer. At the very beginning of John's gospel, it says, "In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was GOD."

How many times had that struck me—such a laconic and precise definition of this amazing book!

A great deal became clear to me all at once. Not knowing cunning or deceit, Anastasia cannot utter words blithely. I remembered what she'd said: "I actually forgot that I can't just say words, that they have to have feelings behind them, a consciousness and authenticity of natural information."

Oh my God! How unlucky she was! Why say these words to me, a family man, no longer young, subject to the many temptations of our world, ruinous and dark temptations, as she herself said? With her inner purity, she deserved someone completely different, but who could love her, with her unusual way of life, mind set, and intellect? At first glance, she appeared to be an ordinary, only unusually beautiful and attractive young woman, but later, when you started to communicate, she seemed to be transformed into a being living beyond the bounds of the rational.

These feelings may have arisen in me because I didn't have sufficient knowledge or understanding of the essence of our existence. Others might perceive her differently.

I recalled that even in parting I had no desire to kiss or hug her. I don't know whether she wanted that. What did she want anyway?

I recalled her telling me about her dreams. What a strange philosophy of her love: organize a community of entrepreneurs in order to help them. Write a book with her reflections for people. Transport people across the dark forces' span of time.

And she believed it! She was convinced all this would come to pass. I'm a fine one. I gave her my word I would try to organize a community of entrepreneurs and write a book. Now she was probably dreaming of this even more. She should have come up with something a little simpler and more realistic.

An incomprehensible compassion for Anastasia arose in me. I imagined her waiting in her forest and dreaming that everything would actually happen. If she was just waiting, just dreaming, that was fine. For all I knew, she might still begin to make certain attempts and direct her ray of goodness, expend her soul's colossal energy, and believe in the impossible. Although she had demonstrated to me the possibilities of her ray and tried to explain its mechanism, my consciousness had not accepted it as a reality. Judge for yourself. According to her, she directed her ray at a person, shone an invisible light on him, and bestowed on him her feelings and desire for what was good and light.

"No, no, just don't think I’m interfering in the psyche or violating the soul and reason. Humans are free to take or reject these feelings, to whatever extent he likes and they're close to his soul, however much of these feelings he can hold inside. Then he will become lighter outwardly, too, and your illnesses will abate, either in part or in full. My grandfather and great-grandfather can do this, and I could always do it. My great-grandfather taught me when he was playing with me in my childhood. But now my ray has become many times more powerful than my grandfather's and great-grandfather's because, they say, this unusual emotion called love has been born in me. It is very bright and even burns a little. I have so much of it and I want to give it."

"To whom, Anastasia?" I asked.

"To you and to people, anyone who might accept it. I want everyone to feel good. When you start doing what I've dreamed of, I'll bring many of these people to you, and together you . . ."

Recalling all this and picturing her, I suddenly realized I couldn't not try at least to do what she wanted. Otherwise, doubts would torment me the rest of my life and I would be left feeling I had betrayed Anastasia's dream. It may not be very realistic, but she wanted it so passionately.

I made a decision for myself, and the steamer set out straight for Novosibirsk.

I assigned its unloading and the disassembly of the exhibit equipment to the CEO of my firm. I tried to explain myself to my wife and left for Moscow.

I left to make—or at least attempt to make, at least in part—Anastasia's dream a reality.

To be continued...

RINGING CEDARS OF RUSSIA — Volume II

First published in 1997

Translation by: Marian Schwartz

1. Extraterrestrial or Human?

Before relating further events connected with Anastasia, I want to thank all the religious leaders, scientists, journalists, and ordinary readers for their letters, religious literature, and commentary regarding the events set forth in my first book.

All kinds of definitions have been applied to Anastasia. The press has called her "Mistress of the Taiga," "Siberian Sorceress," "Soothsayer," "Divine Manifestation," and "Extraterrestrial."

So to the question of one Moscow journalist, "Do you love Anastasia now?" I replied, "I can't sort out my own feelings." Then and there the rumor went out that I was incapable of understanding her due to my spiritual incompetence.

But how can you love if you can't figure out whom you're loving? After all, to this day no one definition has been applied to Anastasia. I have attempted, basing myself on her assertion ("I am a human being, a woman"), to convince myself that this is so and to find explanations for her unusual abilities. At first, this all went well.

Who is Anastasia?

A young woman born and living as a hermit in the deep Siberian taiga, raised after her parents' death by her grandfather and great-grandfather, who also lead a hermit's life.

Can the wild beasts' devotion to her be considered unusual? There is nothing unusual about it. All kinds of animals live together peacefully in a peasant's yard and treat their master with respect.

It was more difficult to define the mechanism that allowed her to see at a distance, know about various events in detail (even those that happened a thousand years ago), and sort through our present-day life freely. How did her Ray work, healing people at a distance, penetrating deep into the past, and gazing into the future?

In his works devoted to analyzing Anastasia's statements and actions, K. I. Shilin, a philosophy professor and corresponding member of the Moscow Aviation Institute, has written:

Anastasia's creative potential is universal and not a purely individual gift from God or Nature. Each and every one of us is connected to the Cosmos.

A solution to the impending disaster can be seen in the harmonious synthesis of cultures and principles. The development of these cultures of a harmoniously pure Childhood yields the "feminine" type of culture. This type of culture has been expressed most fully and vividly in Buddhism, but also in our Anastasia. For this reason, I give the following chain of identities:

Anastasia = Tara = Buddha = Maitreya

Anastasia is a perfect human being akin to God.

Whether or not this is so is not for me to judge. However, I can't understand why then she doesn't write down her teachings, as all enlightened people akin to God have, but instead has spent her twenty conscious years working with her summer people.

Nevertheless, reading scientists' statements, I was able to conclude that she was not crazy, because scientists have at least hypothesized about what she was saying and are conducting experiments in specific areas.

For example, when I asked, "Anastasia, how do you discern various situations from a thousand years ago and how are you able to see even the thoughts of the great men of the past?" she replied, "The first thought and first word were the Creator's. His thoughts live on today, surrounding us invisibly and filling the universal dimension, reflected in material living creations, which were created for what is most important, man.

"Man is the Creator's child, and like any parent, He could not wish less for His child than He himself had. He gave him everything and more: the freedom to choose. Humans can create and perfect the world through the power of our thoughts.

"Any thought produced by a human being cannot vanish into nothingness. If it is light, it fills the dimension of light and stands on the side of the forces of light; if it is dark, on the opposite side. Today, any person can make use of any thought ever produced by people or the Creator."

"Why, then, doesn't everyone use them?"

"Everyone does, but to varying degrees. In order to use them, you need to think, and not everyone can do that because of the daily hustle-and-bustle."

"You mean, all you have to do is think about it, and everything will work out? You can even know the thoughts of the Creator?"

"To know the thoughts of the Creator, you have to achieve the purity of intentions inherent in Them and also the speed of Their thought. To know the thoughts of the enlightened, you need their purity of intentions and the speed of their thought.

"If a person's intentions are not pure enough to communicate with the forces of light, the dimension in which shining thoughts live, then that person will draw their thoughts from its dark opposite and will come to torment themselves and others as a result."

I don't know whether the explanation by academician A.E. Akimov, director of the International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, for these statements of hers is oblique or direct, but in his article "Physics Recognizes the Super Intellect," which appeared in the journal Miracles and Adventures, he writes,

There have always been two approaches to knowing Nature. One is represented by Western science—that is, knowledge gained by the methodology possessed by the West: proof, experiment, and so forth.

The other is Eastern—that is, knowledge received from without, by esoteric means through meditation. Humans do not obtain esoteric knowledge, it is given to them.

It just so happened that at a certain stage, this esoteric path was lost, and another path arose that was extremely complex and slow. Over the last thousand years we have followed this path and have arrived at knowledge known in the East three thousand years ago.

I have an intuitive conviction that those were right who said that the matter that fills the entire Universe on the field level is an interconnected structure. In "The Universe as Supercomputer," from his book Summa Technologiae, Stanislaw Lem postulates a gigantic Universal Brain, something like a computer. Imagine a computer that, given a volume of the observable universe (with a radius of about 15 billion kilometers), is filled with elements roughly 10-33 cubic meters in volume.

Such a brain filling the entire Universe is, of course, equipped with possibilities we can neither picture nor dream of.

But if you bear in mind that in reality this brain functions according to the principle not of the computer but of torsion fields, then it becomes clear that "manifestations of the Absolute of Schelling or the Sunyata, of ancient Vedic literature, are in fact a computer. Besides that, there is nothing more in the world. Everything else is one form or another of the Absolute."

Here is what scholars have said about Anastasia's long-distance Ray. In "Living Rays and the Living Field," in the May 3, 1996, issue of Miracles and Adventures, the academician Vlail Kaznacheyev, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, wrote:

Vernadsky was probably correct when he posed the question of how the ideal and the intellectual are moving the planet Earth into its new evolutionary phase. How? This cannot be explained straightforwardly merely through labor, bursts, or technogenic activities.

The facts indicate that man, the operator, can change many electronic instrument displays remotely. He seems to push down the instrument's scale, moreover from afar.

We have work under way right now in Novosibirsk on remote communication with Norilsk, Dikson, and Simferopol. Work is also under way with the Tryumen triangle and an American center in Florida, through which remote communication with a man, an instrument, and an operator is being established reliably and precisely.

We have encountered an unknown phenomenon: the interaction of living substance at tremendous distances.

Unfortunately, the scientists' articles contain many terms I don't understand and citations of works by other scientists. It's hard to read them all, let alone understand them.

Nonetheless, I did gather that science knows about man's ability to contact another person or object and to manipulate an instrument at a distance.

Science also knows about the universal data base. Anastasia probably uses this. She calls it the dimension of the forces of light, or the dimension where all the thoughts humans ever produced reside.

Modern science talks about this, too, and calls it a supercomputer.

From there I had to make sense of how I, who had never written in a literary way and who had no education for doing so, had managed to write a book that was exciting people.

When I was in the taiga, Anastasia had said, "I will make a writer of you. You will write a book, and many people will read it. It will have a beneficial effect on its readers."

Now, this book has been written, and I must assume this was all her doing. Now we must determine how she influences other people's creative abilities. So far, though, no one has been able to do that.

One could easily assume, of course, that I myself have a little talent and that once I obtained the interesting information from her, I described it. Then everything seemingly would fall into place. There were explanations for everything.

No need to spend any more time reading the scientific and religious literature or asking specialists questions. Then Anastasia revealed a new phenomenon which no one who has helped me so far has been able to explain.

If you remember, in the first book I wrote what she said two years ago: "Artists will paint pictures, poets will write poetry, and a film will be made about me. You will look at all this and think of me."

When I asked Anastasia's grandfather, "So, can she predict the future?" he replied, "Vladimir, Anastasia does not predict the future. She models it and makes it a reality."

Words—this is all just words. We say all kinds of things. I did not attach any special significance to them, considering them allegorical, because I couldn't even contemplate just how everything Anastasia said would become a precise reality. But the incredible does happen.

What Anastasia said is steadily becoming reality.

First the poems started streaming in. I published some of them in the first Russian edition of the book. Then people also began to open "Anastasia houses" in various cities. In the first of them, in Gelendzhik, paintings devoted to Anastasia and nature by Moscow artist Aleksandra Vasilievna Saenko were exhibited.

I walked into this house and took a look at a wall hung with large pictures. It was as if the space around me had metamorphosized.

Anastasia looked at me from many pictures with her good eyes. And the subjects! Some of them came from the as-yet unpublished second book. There was the shining sphere that sometimes appears next to Anastasia.

Later, I learned that this artist paints with her fingertips rather than a brush. Most of these pictures had already sold but were left at the exhibit because people kept coming to look at them.

The artist gave me one picture, which depicted Anastasia's parents. I could not tear my eyes away from her mother's face.

Offers began coming in from various studios to make a movie about Anastasia. I was already beginning to take this for granted.

Touching the pictures and pages of poetry with my hands, listening to the songs, and viewing the frames of film shot, I attempted to make some sense out of what was happening.

Here, the Moscow Research Center which studies phenomena connected with Anastasia concludes:

The greatest spiritual advisors known to humanity through their religious teachings and philosophical and scientific investigations have not affected human potential as rapidly as Anastasia has.

Their teachings produced a tangible manifestation in real life centuries and millennia after the moment they appeared.

In mere days and months, in some unknown way, bypassing moral teachings and religious treatises, Anastasia has directly affected emotions and provoked emotional outbursts, a creative surge fulfilled in real creations by all kinds of people who have been in mental contact with her. We can perceive them in the form of the works of art inspired by their impulses toward what is light and good.

How does this hermit, alone in the deep Siberian taiga, at the same time seem to hover over the real spaces of our life?

How does she materialize her creations through other people's hands? They are all about the light, the good, Russia, nature, and love.

"She will strew the world with a great poetry of love. Like a spring rain, poems and songs will wash our entire Earth of its accumulated dirt," Anastasia's grandfather said.

"How will she do this?" I asked.

"With the energy of her own aspirations, she will radiate inspiration and illumination through the force of her dream," he replied.

"What is this force hidden in her dream?"

"The force of Human the Creator."

"People are supposed to receive reward, esteem, money, and status for their creations. Why does she give them away?"

"She is self-sufficient. Her own satisfaction and the sincere love of just one person are the highest rewards for her," Anastasia's grandfather replied.

These answers have yet to make complete sense to me. Trying to comprehend who Anastasia is and to determine my own attitude toward her, I continued to listen to various opinions about her and to read about spiritual matters.

Over the span of a year and a half, I consumed more literature than in all the previous years of my life. But what did that yield? I was able to draw only one indisputable conclusion for myself: "Many intelligent books that lay claim to historical authenticity, spirituality, and sincerity may contain false information."

I was led to this conclusion by the situation connected with Grigory Rasputin. In my first book about Anastasia, I quoted a historical novel by V. Pikul, At the Final Line.

The novel talks about the semiliterate muzhik Grigory Rasputin, who came from a remote Siberian village, an area where the Siberian cedar grows, and who traveled to the capital of the Russian Empire in 1907. He amazed the imperial family with his predictions, gained access to the family, and slept with a great many noblewomen.

When people were trying to kill him, they were amazed that after ingesting potassium cyanide that had been sprinkled into his glass he could still get up from the table and go out to the mansion's courtyard. Then Prince Yusupov fired a pistol at the fallen Rasputin at point-blank range.

Even riddled with bullets, Rasputin continued to live. They threw his wounded body off a bridge and into the water. Then they fished him out and set him on fire.

Mysterious and enigmatic Grigory Rasputin, who amazed everyone with his stamina, had grown up in cedar territory.

This is how journalists of the day evaluated his stamina: "At age fifty he could start an orgy at midday and keep up his carousing until four in the morning. He would go from debauchery and drunkenness straight to church matins, where he would stand in prayer until eight o'clock in the morning. Then, at home, after his tea, Grishka would receive visitors until two in the afternoon, as if nothing had happened. Then he would select ladies and accompany them to the bathhouse, and from the bathhouse he would drive to a restaurant in the country, where he would repeat the previous night. No ordinary person could withstand such a routine."

I, like many others, formed a dissolute image of Grigory Rasputin that corresponded to these statements. But fate offered other information for me to contemplate.

Here is what Pope John wrote about Grigory: "Today the Holy Monk's body, which was never found, is emerging from the river unharmed. And his secret sons will enter the Ark with a prayer."

What does this mean? On the one hand, they write that he is a profligate; on the other, a Holy Monk. Where is the truth? Where is the lie?

I also happened to come across the text of Grigory Rasputin's notes written during his journey to the Holy Land (they were brought to Paris by a Soviet refugee named Lobachevsky):

The sea calms you without the slightest effort. When you rise in the morning and the waves "speak," and splash, and gladden you. And the sun shines on the sea as if it were very quietly rising, and at the same time the human Soul forgets all humanity and looks on the sun's gleam; and people's joy is ignited, and their Soul senses the book of life and the wisdom of life—indescribable beauty!

The sea arouses us from the dream of vanities and much is thought in and of itself, without the slightest effort.

The sea is space, but the mind is even more spacious. There is no end to human wisdom; it cannot be contained by all the philosophers. There is also the supreme beauty, when the sun falls past the sea and sets and its rays shine.

Who can appreciate these glowing rays? They warm and caress the Soul and console by bestowing health. Minute by minute, as the sun goes behind the mountains, man's Soul grieves a little for its marvelous rays. The light fails.

Oh, what silence! Not even the sound of a bird. Man moves from reflection to pacing the deck, recalling without trying his childhood and all his vanity, and he compares this silence of his with the world of vanities, talks to himself softly, and wishes he had someone with whom to relieve the tedium his enemies have driven upon him.

So who were you, Siberian? Grigory Rasputin the Russian? Where can I find the truth written about you and where the lie? How can I tell them apart? What should I rely on to make sense of your essence and purpose? With the help of what great works, might I sort out the Truth from the lie?

Where is the spirituality and sincerity, and where is the claim to omniscience? Perhaps I should try with my own heart. I have never written poetry, but I want to dedicate my first poem to you, Grigory Rasputin.

People are reading Anastasia, and the poems that have come out of that are sincere. I have tried my hand, too. Here is what I came up with for you. Forgive me if it doesn't always sound like poetry.

Dedicated to

Grigory Rasputin

Semiliterate? Semiliterate.

From the cedar forests, and so?

Well, barefoot. Russia's Siberia

Will wear out many pairs of boots.

I'm off to see the tsar. To help

Our Little Father live a little longer.

I'm off to Russia, Mother Russia.

To have her sip from the ringing cedar!

What? Hussars? Dissolute, you daring

Lady killers and men of courage?

So look, just look, how you should

Let loose! Oh, you, wise men!

Petersburg in Paris clothes,

Don't let corsets squeeze your heart!

The gazes of society ladies trembled

When the Siberian suddenly appeared.

And when he left for matins

To pray for others' sins,

He heard Her whisper low,

She alone implored him, "Go."

Befuddled, growling like a brute,

The season of the beast swallows the flesh.

You held yourself like a Soul aflame,

And now you can't be doused. Go.

You cannot keep the beast in check

For long, but one moment, you will save.

I am Russia! Shall I regret it?

Never will you sing again.

Go back to your cedars and I'll take heart!

Whatever you may want, just ask. . . .

"If I were with you at the bathhouse,

I would flog at good-for-nothing you

With birch and needles,

Russia! I will stay with you!"

Time grumbled like a rabid dog,

Bullets lodged in Grishka's chest that day.

The darkness gnashed its teeth:

"Crawl, Siberian! Crawl away."

For half an instant you will

Hold me back, but then

You will receive such punishment

As the Earth has never known!

A hero now, a lecher you will be—

Your face on vials of poison.

And those descendants you have saved

Will spit upon your Soul, muzhik.

Crawl away. I am all-powerful now,

All-mighty! Fly up to the heavens if

You can. Just a moment. Can't you see?

Only give back my coming moment!

"Oh! for some Madeira, a bathhouse!

I would show you then.

Siberian, you say. I'm a muzhik.

Why nag me, you plaguey dunce?"

Shot and drowned, then set afire

On the outskirts, torn and gnawed.

His ashes will fly on the wind of Spring,

Over Russia, even now.

"Hey, muzhik," the darkness rasps,

"Where's your grave? Your eyes?"

You cannot get back the days of your life.

Your heirs at your images will gaze.

Show them! I give you the power!

Show them the accounts unpaid.

Perhaps you want to shed a tear?

Grishka spat lead bullets:

"Oh, he's bad, Satan—first accounts, then a tear."

So how about it, muzhiks? Time to splash?

The bathhouse's here.

Grigory Rasputin came out of the cedar forests and entered the life of prerevolutionary Russia. He tried to avert the storm of revolution, and he perished.

Anastasia lives among the cedars as well and is also trying to do good for people and to avert something. But what destiny has our society prepared for her?

My frequent thoughts about my time with Anastasia in the taiga were quite unusual. When I recalled individual episodes, my memory reproduced them in fine detail and once again showed me the expression of Anastasia's face, the intonation of her voice, and her gestures.

2. A Money-making Machine

In my first days with Anastasia I treated her like a hermit with a unique world-view. Now, after all I'd heard and read about her, after her subsequent inroads into our life, she became an anomaly. My mind got all mixed up.

Having made an effort to cast aside the flood of information and conclusions, I am trying to return to the simplicity of my first impressions and to answer the question I'm often asked: "Why didn't you bring Anastasia out of the taiga?"

I very much wanted to bring Anastasia out of the taiga, but I realized I could not do this by force. I had to try to prove to her the logic and utility of a sojourn for her in our society.

I mulled over which of her abilities could be used to the benefit of her, people, and my firm. Suddenly, I realized that I had before me a beauty, Anastasia, a genuine money-making machine.

Her abilities could easily heal people with every possible ailment. Moreover, she would not make any kind of diagnosis but simply drive out of the organism at once all the ills that had settled there. By some unknown means, she cleanses man's flesh, removing the dirt that has accumulated in it, including every possible ailment, if there. She doesn't even touch the body. I'd experienced this myself.

She concentrates completely. She looks with her good gray-blue eyes without blinking. Your body seems to warm from her gaze. Then your feet begin to sweat profusely. All kinds of toxins come out through the sweat.

People pay a lot of money for medicines and operations. If one doctor doesn't help, they go to another. They go to psychics and bioenergy therapists to be cured of just one illness. They sometimes spend weeks, months, years—and Anastasia's treatment takes just minutes.

I calculated that if she spent even fifteen minutes per patient and for this charged just 250,000 (although many healers take even more), the fees would come out to a million rubles an hour. But this was far from the limit. There were operations that cost as much as 30 million rubles.

I thought I had come up with a good business plan in my mind. I decided to clarify a few details and asked Anastasia, "You mean you can drive any ailment out of a person?"

"Yes," Anastasia replied. "I think so."

"How much time do you need to spend on each person?"

"Sometimes a great deal of time."

"How much is a great deal?"

"Once I had to spend more than ten minutes."

"Ten minutes is nothing. People spend years getting cured."

"Ten minutes is a great deal if you bear in mind that in that time I have to concentrate and stop my mind from reasoning."

"That's all right, reasoning will wait. You know so much as it is. I've come up with something here, Anastasia."

"What?"

"I'm going to take you with me. I'll lease a fine office in a big city and advertise that you will heal people. You will do people a lot of good, and we will have a good income."

"But I already do heal people sometimes. When I model different situations with my summer people in order to help them comprehend the world of plants around them, my ray drives out their illnesses, too, only I try to make sure not all of them."

"So they don't even know it's you doing this. Not only does no one pay you any money, but they don't even say thank you! You get nothing for that work."

"Yes I do."

"What?"

"Joy."

"Fine, then. You can feel joyful and nice, and the firm can make money as well."

"But what if someone doesn't have money to pay for healing?"

"There you go, getting into all the different little nuances. Thinking about that isn't your business. You'll have secretaries and an administrator.

"You should be thinking about healing, improving, attending seminars to share your experience. Do you yourself understand how this method of yours, your ray, works or what mechanisms are set in motion?"

"I do understand. And this method is known in your world, too. Doctors and professional scientists know about it. Or they feel its beneficial effect. In hospitals they try to speak with patients encouragingly, to improve their mood.

"Doctors noticed a long time ago that if a person is depressed, illness is hard to cure and medicines don't help, but if you treat a person with love, the illness will go away faster."

"Then why isn't anyone trying to figure this out and develop this method of healing to the degree you have?"

"Many scientists are. Also, many people you call folk healers use this method, and it works a little for them.

"Jesus Christ and the holy saints used this method to heal people. The Bible talks a lot about love, because this is an emotion that has a beneficial effect on man. It is the most powerful of all."

"Why do healers and doctors only do a little, while you do so much and so easily?"

"Because they're living in your world and, like everyone from your world, they have to let in pernicious emotions."

"What are these pernicious emotions, and what do they have to do with this?"

"Pernicious emotions, Vladimir, are spite, hatred, irritation, jealousy, envy . . . and others. They and others like them make people weaker."

"You mean you're rarely angry, Anastasia?"

"I'm never angry."

"Fine, Anastasia. It doesn't matter what leads to this effect. What matters is the final result and the benefit that can be derived from it. Tell me, do you agree to come with me and work healing people?"

"Vladimir, my home and my land are here. Only by being here will I be able to fulfill my destiny. Nothing gives a human more strength than their homeland, the Dimension of Love created by their parents.

"I can heal people and rid them of physical discomfort at a distance as well, with the help of my ray."

"Fine, then. If you don't want to go, heal at a distance. You and I can come to an agreement on the place where those wishing to be healed will come. They'll pay their money, and at a specific time you'll heal them. We'll draw up a schedule. How about it?"

"Vladimir, I understand that you want to have a lot of money, and you will. I'm going to help you. Only there's no need to make it this way.

"In your world people take money for healing. There's no other way in your world. But I would rather do this for no money. Also, I cannot heal everyone one after the other because I haven't understood in which cases healing brings benefit and in which harm. But I will try to understand this. And as soon as I figure it out . . ."

"What nonsense is this? How can healing a person bring harm? Or do you mean harm to you?"

"Healing physical ailments often brings harm to the very person healed."

"Anastasia, your notions of good and evil have been turned on their head by all your philosophizing. Society has always honored doctors, even though they haven't worked for free. Even the Bible doesn't condemn this. So put your doubts aside. Curing a person is always a good thing."

"Understand, Vladimir, I have seen. . . . My grandfather showed me by example the harm healing can inflict when it is not well thought out and the patient themselves does not take part in the healing."

"What a unique philosophy you have here. I'm offering you an extremely profitable joint business. What do the examples have to do with this?" However, Anastasia told me the following story, which forced me to think about the necessity of treating everyone indiscriminately.

3. Healing for Hell

"One day I saw, with my Ray, a solitary old woman working in her plot. Agile, thin, always joyful. She immediately caught my interest. Her plot was very small. Lots of different things grew in it, and grew well, because she did everything with love.

"Then I found out that the old woman took everything she grew in a basket to busy places and sold it. She herself tried to sell rather than eat her first fruits, when they are more expensive among you. She needed the money to help her son.

"She had given birth to him at an advanced age and been left without a husband. Her relatives had had nothing to do with her. As a child, her little boy drew, and she dreamed he would become an artist. He tried to go study somewhere a few times, and eventually he did. A couple of times a year, he returned to visit his old mother.

"For her, these visits were the greatest joy, and each time she saved up money and made provisions. She canned the vegetables she grew on her plot for her son's visit and gave it all to him.

"She loved him very much, and her dream was that her son would become a fine artist. She lived for this dream. The old woman was good and cheerful. Then I did not look at her for a while. When I saw her again, the old woman was very sick.

"It was hard for her to bend over to work in her plot with her plants, and stabbing pain shot through her body every time she leaned over. But she turned out to be very inventive. She made her planting beds narrow and long.

"She had taken the legs off an old stool, placed it between the beds, sat on it, and weeded the beds—moving all over her plot on her seat. She pulled her basket behind her on a rope, and she rejoiced that she was going to have a good harvest.

"The harvest really did promise to be good. The plants sensed her and reacted accordingly. The old woman realized she was going to die soon, and in order to cause her son the least trouble, she bought herself a coffin and wreath and basically made all the preparations for her own funeral.

"But she also wanted to bring in her harvest and make provisions for her son for the winter before her death. At the time, I attached no significance to why, with such close contacts with the plants in her garden, she was so ill.

"I thought it might be because she herself ate almost none of the fruits from her plot. She would sell them and with the money she made try to buy whatever was cheaper.

"I decided to help her, and one day, when she went to bed, I started warming her with my Ray and driving her ailments out of her body. I could feel something resisting the Ray, but I still tried. I probably did this for more than ten minutes until I got what I wanted, until I healed her flesh.

"Later, when my grandfather came, I told him about the old woman and asked him why something had resisted my Ray. He pondered this and said I had done something bad. Then I got upset. I asked my grandfather to explain why. He paused and then said, 'You healed her body.'"

I interrupted. "And what was so bad that you could have done to the old woman's soul?"

Anastasia sighed and went on.

"The old woman stopped ailing and did not die. Her son came to see her earlier than usual. He only came for two days and said he had abandoned his studies and didn't want to be an artist and was working at something else that brought him an income.

"He had married. Now he would have money. And she shouldn't put up all those jars for him because shipping them was more expensive now.

"'You should eat better yourself, mother,' he told her.

"He left without taking anything. In the morning the old woman sat down on her porch and looked at her little plot, and her eyes held terrible desolation, sadness, and unwillingness to live. Imagine, a healthy body, but as if there were no life in it. I saw, or rather felt, her terrible desolation in and despair.

"If I hadn't healed her body, the old woman would have died at the right time, died peacefully, with a beautiful dream and hope. Now she was desolate but alive, and this was many times more terrible than physical death. Two weeks later, she died."

4. A Private Conversation

"I realized that physical illness is nothing compared with emotional torments, but at the time I still couldn't heal the Soul. I wanted to find out how this could be done, if at all. Now I know that it can.

"I've also realized that physical illnesses arise in people not only as a result of their removal from Nature or the dark feelings they allow themselves. They—illnesses—can also be a mechanism for warning or even saving someone from significantly greater torments.

"Illnesses are one mechanism, one means of communication between the Great Intellect—God—and humans. Humans' pain is Their pain as well. But there's no other way. How else can you be told, for example, 'Don't throw all kinds of things that aren't good for you into your stomach'?

"After all, you aren't listening to reason. So reason speaks to you through pain. But you take painkillers and once again go back to doing it your way."

"So you think, in the end, people shouldn't be treated or helped when they're indisposed?"

"There should be help, but above all help with a precise understanding of the ailment's primary cause.

"It is essential to help them understand what the Great Intellect—God—is trying to tell them. But this is very hard. You can make a mistake. After all, pain is a private conversation between two who know each other. The interference of a third party often does more harm than good."

"Then why did you drive the illnesses out of me? You mean you harmed me?"

"All your illnesses will return unless you change your way of life and your attitude toward your surroundings and yourself—unless you change some of your habits. They caused your illnesses. I did no harm to your Soul."

It was clear to me that I could not convince Anastasia to derive income from her powers until she understood something about it perfectly. My business plan collapsed.

Probably noticing my vexation, Anastasia said, "Don't get upset, Vladimir. I will try to comprehend everything quickly, and right away. If you really want to help people and yourself and not just make money, I will tell you about the ways that people can cure themselves of many illnesses without the undesirable effects that arise when outsiders interfere in their fate. If you want to listen to this. . . ."

"What else can I do? There's no changing your mind anyway. Tell me."

"There are several main reasons for illnesses of the human flesh: pernicious feelings and emotions; an artificial routine for eating food; the composition of that food; the absence of short- and long-term goals; and a false notion of one's essence and purpose.

"One can counter diseases of the flesh by using positive emotions and many plants, and by rethinking one's own essence and purpose one can do a lot to change one's physical and emotional condition as well.

"I have already told you how to restore the lost link between humans and plants in your world, and it's easier to become aware of everything else through personal and direct contact with these plants.

"The Ray of Love can also heal many illnesses in someone close to you and even extend their life by creating a Space of Love around them.

"But humans themselves, too, if they have been able to call up positive emotions from within, can with their help dull pain, heal their flesh from illness, and even counter poisons."

"What do you mean by 'call up,' and how can you think good thoughts if your tooth or stomach hurts?"

"Pure, vivid moments of life and positive emotions will vanquish pain and disease, like guardian angels."

"What if someone doesn't have enough pure and vivid moments to call up healing positive emotions, then what should they do?"

"They need to come up with something immediately that makes them appear. They will appear when the people around you treat you with sincere Love. Go and create that kind of situation. Create it by performing a deed for those around you. Otherwise, your guardian angel will not be able to help you."

"I wonder whether I have them and how strong they are? How can I call them up?"

"You can do this with the help of memories. For example, the memory of something good and pleasant from your own past. Use this memory to feel the grace that was inside you. Do you want to try right now? I'll help. Give it a try."

"All right, let's try."

"Lie down on the grass, please, and relax. You can remember starting from the present moment and going backward into the past. You can recall your childhood and proceed up to the present day. You can remember all at once your most pleasant minutes and the feelings linked with them."

I lay down on the grass. Anastasia lay down beside me and placed her fingers on mine. I thought that her presence would keep me from concentrating on my memories, so I said, "It would be better for me to be alone."

"I'll be quiet. When you start remembering, you'll forget about me. And you won't feel the touch of my hand. But I'll help you remember everything faster and more vividly."

5. Guardian Angel, Where Are You?

The chronicle of the events of the life I’ve lived began with my childhood. The memories extended up to the moment when I was playing on the sand with the village youngsters, and then broke off. In my soul there was an incomprehensible agitation. Not a single event from the entire life I’ve lived elicited any positive emotions or feelings that resembled those I felt within me the morning after my night spent with Anastasia. Or those that arose in me when she showed me the rhythms of the surrounding natural world by attuning them to the rhythm of my heartbeats. (I have described this situation in the chapter “Touching Paradise.”) But I figured that these splendid sensations had been created in me only by Anastasia, that they were not mine. They were artificial, presented to me by Anastasia. I unconsciously compared them to sensations I’d had in my life, and found nothing analogous. Over and over again, I ran the memories from my life back and forward, like film footage. All the events were connected with aspirations to achieve something, to get something. I would get each thing I wanted, but no satisfaction would ensue. Instead, a new desire would arise… And the most recent years of my life, when those around me figured everything was working out so great for me, agitated me even more. The cars I’d acquired, the women, the banquets, the gifts and the congratulations – they seemed empty and unnecessary.

I stood up abruptly and said, with irritation – maybe to myself, maybe to Anastasia, “People don’t have these healing sensations in their lives! At least, I don’t have them in mine. And you might not be able to find them in many others’ lives, either.”

Anastasia stood up, too, and calmly noted:

“Then you need to create them as quickly as possible.”

“What do you mean, what do I need to create? What?”

“First of all, you need to realize where the greatest significance lies, the meaning. Just now you reviewed your life. But even though you had the opportunity to analyze and look at it as if from the outside, you were all the same unable to take note of what is significant. You kept latching onto the ordinary – as you understand them – values. Tell me, in what situation have you managed to even come close to the sensation of happiness?”

“There were two situations, but something kept me from experiencing them as completely happy.”

“What situations were those?”

“Back at the beginning of Perestroika I was able to get a long-term lease of a river liner. It was the best passenger liner in the Western Siberian river fleet. It was called the Mixail Kalinin. The papers for long-term rental of the liner were finalized. I drive up to the pier and there it stands – a beauty! – and I step on the deck of my ship for the very first time.”

“And did your joyful sensations get much stronger as you stepped onto the deck?”

“You have to understand, Anastasia – there are many different problems in our life. When I stepped onto the ship, the captain met me. We went to his cabin. We each drank a goblet of champagne. We chatted. The captain said that the water pipes had to be flushed out, or else the Health Department wouldn’t give us permission to set out on our voyage. And the captain also said …”

“And so, Vladimir, you submerged yourself in all the concerns and problems connected to the liner’s operation.”

“Yes, I submerged myself. There were a lot of them.”

“Vladimir, it is characteristic of artificially-created matter and various pieces of machinery to bring more problems than joy. And their aid to humans is illusory, as well.”

“I don’t agree with you. Maybe pieces of machinery do create problems all on their own – they need to be repaired and serviced. But on the other hand, you can achieve a lot with their help.”

“Such as what, for example?”

“Even love.”

“Vladimir, artificially-created objects hold no sway over true love. Even were all of them in the world to belong to you, you would be unable to get your hands on the true love of even one woman with only their help.”

“Well, you just don’t know women. And yet, you pass judgment. Now me, I actually did get it.”

“Did get what?”

“Love. I got it without any trouble whatsoever. I had loved a certain woman very powerfully. For more than a year. But she wasn’t very inclined to go off anywhere alone with me. When the liner came into the picture, I invited her to visit it, and she came. Can you imagine how great that was?! She and I were sitting alone at a table in the ship’s bar. Champagne, fabulous wine, candles burning, music – and not a soul around. Only us in the empty bar of my ship. She alone was before me. I set the ship sailing and didn’t bring anyone else on board, so I could be alone with her. The ship is sailing along the river. Music is playing in the bar. I invited her to dance. She had a fabulous figure and bust. I pressed her to me, and my heart began beating joyfully, and I kissed her on the lips! She didn’t pull away – she embraced me back. Do you understand? She was right next to me, and I could touch her, kiss her. All of this was thanks to the ship, and you say – nothing but problems.”

“And what happened to you next, Vladimir?”

“That’s unimportant.”

“All the same, please recall.”

“I’m telling you – that’s unimportant. It’s of no consequence.”

“May I tell you what happened there, on the ship, with you and this young woman?”

“Give it a shot.”

“You had a lot of alcohol to drink. You made a point of trying to drink as much as possible. Then you put down in front of her the keys to your cabin, your fabulous quarters, but you yourself – you went down into the hold. You slept for nearly twenty-four hours in a small sailor’s cabin. And do you know why?”

“Why?”

“There came a moment when you saw a strange expression on the face of the young woman you loved, a vacant smile. Intuitively, without yet realizing it, you understood that she, your beloved, was daydreaming: ‘How happy I’d be if it weren’t Megre sitting at the table with me in the bar of this ship, but my beloved.’ The woman you loved was dreaming of another, of someone she liked. She was dreaming that he owned this ship, and not you. You were under the control of dead matter. You had linked your live feelings and aspirations with it and were killing them.”

“You don’t need to go on, Anastasia. These memories are unpleasant to me. And all the same, the ship played its part. You and I met thanks to the ship.”

“It is preexisting feelings and flights of the soul which construct the sum events of the present, and only they affect the future. And only their running start and the beat of their wings are reflected in the heavenly mirrors. And only their flights and aspirations will be reflected in the sum events of earthly existence.”

“How am I to understand that?”

“Many aspirations of your soul and mine – and perhaps even of our genitors near and distant – might have preceded our meetings. Perhaps one impulse alone of a cherry tree growing in the garden of your country house did this. But not a ship.”

“What’s a cherry tree in my garden got to do with it?”

“Upon reviewing your life many times, you assigned no significance whatsoever to this cherry tree and to your own feelings that were connected to it, but precisely these feelings were the major event of the recent years of your life. The Universe did not respond to your ship. Think about it: what in the world could a primitive, creaking mechanism that doesn’t know how to think and self-actualize mean for the Universe? But a cherry tree… A small Siberian cherry tree, for which you didn’t even leave any space in your memories, roused the universal expanses and altered the course of events connected not only to you and to me. Because it is alive and, like all that lives, is inseparably linked with all creation.”

6. The Cherry Tree

"Vladimir, remember everything you connect to this little tree. Remember starting from the moment you first touched it."

"I'll try, if you think it's important."

"Yes, it's important."

"I was riding in a car. I don't remember where I was going. I stopped near the Central Market. I asked the driver to get out and buy some fruit. I myself sat there and saw people leaving the market dragging all kinds of saplings."

"You saw them and were amazed. At what?"

"Imagine, their faces were so joyous and content. It was raining and cold outside, and they were lugging these saplings with roots wrapped round with rags. The saplings were heavy but their faces were content, while I was sitting inside a warm car feeling sad.

"When the driver returned I went to the market. I walked and walked among the sellers and bought three small cherry saplings. When I tossed them in the trunk, my driver said one tree wouldn't survive because its roots were chopped off too short and I should throw it out right away, but I kept it.

"It was the best-proportioned one. Then I planted them myself in the garden of my country house. For the cherry tree with the chopped-off roots, I threw more black earth into the hole, peat moss, and some fertilizer, too."

"Through your efforts to help it with fertilizers you burned the cherry tree's two other small roots."

"But it survived! In the spring, when the trees budded out, its branches came to life. Tiny leaves appeared. Then I went away on my commercial expedition."

"But before that, every day, for more than two months, you drove to your country house and the first thing you did was walk over to the little cherry tree. Sometimes you stroked its branches. You rejoiced in its leaves and watered it. You drove a stake into the ground and tied the trunk to it so the wind wouldn't break it.

"Tell me, Vladimir, how do you think plants react to people's attitude toward them? Do they sense a good or bad attitude?"

"I heard or read somewhere that house plants and flowers do. They can even wilt when the person taking care of them goes away. I've heard about scientists' experiments: data sensors were attached to different plants, and the arrows on the instruments went one way when someone approached them with aggression and the other when someone approached with good."

"Vladimir, that means you know that plants react to manifestations of human feelings. And just as the Great Creator planned, they try to do everything they can to provide for man. Some bear fruits, others try to call up positive emotions in people with their beautiful flowers, and still others balance the air we breathe.

"But there is one other thing no less important for their purpose. Those plants with which a specific person comes into direct contact form a Space of True Love for them—that love without which life on Earth is impossible.

"Many dachniks long for their plots because that's where this Space has been formed for them. The little Siberian cherry tree you planted and cared for also tried to do what all plants do to fulfill their destiny.

"Plants can form a powerful Space of Love for people if there are a lot of them, if they are diverse and people are in contact with them and touch them with love. Together they can create for humans a significant Space of Love that has a propitious effect on the soul and heals the flesh.

"You see, Vladimir, all of them together, when there are a lot of them. But you were only taking care of one plant. Then the little Siberian cherry tree tried to do alone what only several different plants can do together.

"Its aspirations were called up by your special attitude toward it. You understood intuitively that out of your surroundings only this one little tree was not asking you for anything, not dissembling, trying just to give back, and that is why, weary after a stormy day, you would visit the cherry tree, stand there and look at it, so the tree tried.

"Before the dawn's first little ray of sunlight its leaves tried to catch its reflection in the brightening sky. When the Sun went down, it tried to use the light of a bright star. And it did manage in a small way.

"Its roots, skirting the burning fertilizer, were able to take what they needed from the Earth. And the Earth's sap streamed through the tree's veins a little faster than usual. One day you came and saw little flowers on its delicate branches.

"There were no flowers on the other saplings, but this one was blossoming. You rejoiced. Your mood lifted, and then . . . Remember what you did when you saw its flowers, Vladimir."

"I really did rejoice. For some reason my mood lifted, and I stroked its branches."

"You tenderly stroked its branches, and you said, 'Good heavens, my beauty, you've blossomed!'

"Trees bear fruit, Vladimir. But they also form a Space of Love. The cherry tree very much wanted you to have that.

"But where was the little tree to get the strength to repay the human for what it had received from him? It had already given everything within its powers, but it had also received unusual kindness. That was when it wanted to do more! By itself!

"You left on your extended expedition. When you returned, you were walking through the garden toward the cherry tree. Walking and eating cherries you'd bought in the market. When you came up to it you saw three red berries also hanging on your cherry tree.

"You stood in front of it, weary, ate the market cherries, and spat out the pits. Then you picked one berry from your tree and tried it. It was a little sourer than the market ones, so you didn't touch the two that were left."

"I'd had my fill of the other cherries, and its berry really was sourer."

"If only you'd known, Vladimir, how much benefit for you those little berries contained. How much energy and Love. It had collected everything beneficial for you both from the bowels of the Earth and from the universe's expanses and put it into these three berries. It had even let one of its branches wither so those three berries could ripen. You tried one and didn't touch the remaining two."

"But I didn't know. Still I liked the fact that it could bear fruit."

"Yes, you did. And then . . . do you remember what you did that time?"

"Me? I stroked the cherry tree's branches again."

"You didn't just stroke them. You also leaned over and kissed a little leaf of the branch resting in your palm."

"Yes, I did. Because my mood was so good."

"And something incredible happened to the tree. What else could it do for you if you hadn't taken the fruits it had cultivated with such love?"

"What?"

"It trembled from the human kiss and thoughts and feelings inherent in human alone but produced by the little Siberian cherry tree flew up into the light dimension of the Universe to give back what it had received from the human.

"To thank the human for his kiss of Love and warm him with the light emotions of Love. Counter to all laws, its thought raced through the Universe and did not find embodiment.

"The realization that embodiment is impossible is death. The Forces of Light returned to the tree the thought it had produced so that it could destroy it in itself and not perish. But it wouldn't!

"The little Siberian cherry tree's ardent desire remained unaltered, unusually pure, and reverent. The Forces of Light didn't know what to do. The Great Creator did not alter the established laws of harmony. But the cherry tree did not perish.

"It did not perish because its thoughts and aspirations, its emotions, were unusually pure, and according to the laws of the universe nothing can destroy pure love. It hovered over you and dashed about, trying to find embodiment. Alone in the Universe it tried to create a Space of Love for you.

"I came to your ship in order to try to help somehow and to embody what the tree desired, still not knowing to whom it was addressed."

"You mean your attitude toward me is due to your desire to help the tree?"

"My attitude toward you, Vladimir, is just my attitude. It's hard to say who is helping whom, the cherry tree or me? Everything in the Universe is interconnected.

"You have to perceive reality yourself. But right now, if you'll let me, I'll make what the cherry tree wished a reality. May I kiss you for it?"

"Of course you may. If that's what's needed. And when I return, I'll eat all its berries."

Anastasia closed her eyes. She pressed her hands to her chest and softly whispered, "Cherry tree, feel this. I know you can. Right now I'll do what you wanted to do. This will be your kiss, cherry tree."

Then Anastasia quickly placed her hands on my shoulders without opening her eyes, drew close, touched her lips to my cheek, and fell still.

A strange kiss, a simple brush of the lips. But it was different from every kiss I had ever known. It called up an unusually pleasant sensation I had never known before. The technique of moving the lips, tongue, or body is probably not important here. The main thing is probably what is concealed inside the person and revealed by the kiss.

But what was concealed inside this taiga hermit? Where did she get all her knowledge, special abilities, and feelings? Or could everything she said be merely the fruit of her imagination?

But then where did the unusually mellow and bewitching feelings that warmed my entire insides come from? Maybe, through our joint efforts, we can uncover the secret with the help of the following situation, which I had occasion to witness.

7. Who is to Blame?

One day, Anastasia tried to explain to me something about her way of life and faith, but she couldn't find the appropriate and understandable words she must have wanted so very much to find.

Then Anastasia quickly turned to face the Ringing Cedar and placed her palms on its trunk. Something incomprehensible began to happen. Looking up, addressing either the Cedar or someone high above, she suddenly began speaking with passion and inspiration—first in words, then in sounds.

She was trying to explain, prove, plead for something. Insistent, demanding notes were interspersed in her monologue. The crackling—the Cedar's ringing—intensified. Its Ray became brighter and thicker. Then Anastasia spoke imperiously:

"Answer me. Answer! Explain! Give it to me! Give it!" At this she shook her head and even stamped her bare foot.

The pale illumination from the Ringing Cedar's crown rushed toward the ray, and the ray suddenly broke off from the Cedar and flew up, or dissolved. Right then, though, another Ray appeared that went up toward the Cedar. It appeared as a bluish fog or cloud.

The Cedar needles pointing down were illuminated by the same kind of cloudlike, barely noticeable little rays, and these rays streamed toward Anastasia but did not touch her. They seemed to disappear, dissolving in the air.

When she imperiously stamped her foot again and even slapped the Ringing Cedar's huge trunk, the shining needles began to stir and merged their little rays into a single cloudlike ray. But that ray, going down toward Anastasia, did not touch her either. It dissolved in the air as if evaporating, first about a meter away from Anastasia, then half a meter.

I recalled with horror that her parents had probably died from just this kind of Ray.

Anastasia stubbornly continued to plead for and demand something, the relentless way a spoiled child asks his parents for what he wants. Suddenly the Ray burst toward her and lit her up like a flashbulb.

A small cloud formed around Anastasia and melted away. The ray coming from the Cedar dissolved, and the little rays coming from the needles went out. The small cloud around Anastasia melted away. It had either entered her or dissolved in space.

Beaming and with a happy smile, she turned around, took a step in my direction, and stopped, fixing her gaze past me. I turned around. Anastasia's grandfather and great-grandfather walked out into the glade.

Taking slow steps and leaning on a stick that looked like a shepherd's crook, her tall, gray-haired great-grandfather, walking slightly ahead of her grandfather, came up to me and stopped. He seemed to be looking through me. I couldn't even tell whether he could see me or not.

He stood there silently, then he bowed slightly without greeting me or saying a word and headed toward Anastasia. Her grandfather is fidgety but very simple. His entire appearance says that he is a cheerful and good person.

Coming up to me, her grandfather immediately stopped and shook my hand very simply. He started to say something, but nothing he said then has stuck in my mind. For some reason, both he and I began nervously watching what was happening next to the Cedar.

Her great-grandfather stopped about a meter short of Anastasia. They stood there for a while, silent, looking at each other. In front of the gray-haired elder, her hands lowered to her sides, like a schoolgirl standing in front of a strict examiner, Anastasia looked like a guilty child, and her agitation was palpable.

In the tense silence that fell, the deep, velvety, and precise voice of her gray-haired great-grandfather rang out. Without greeting Anastasia, has asked sternly, pronouncing his words slowly and precisely, "Who may bypass the Light and Rhythm we have been given and address Them directly?"

"Anyone may address Them! Originally, They Themselves spoke to humans with great joy, and now They want this," Anastasia replied quickly.

"Are all paths to Them foreordained? Can many living on Earth know them? Can you see those paths?"

"Yes. I have seen what has been foreordained for people. I have seen that the future depends on the consciousness of those living today."

"Their Children and their enlightened followers who have known Their Spirit did enough to make the flesh of the living understand?"

"They did and are doing everything, not sparing their own flesh. They bore and are bearing the Truth."

"Can they who see these things doubt in the reason, goodness, and greatness of Their Spirit?"

"They have no equals! They are one! But They want contact. They want to be understood and loved the way They love."

"Is it permissible to be impertinent and demanding in your contact with Them?"

"They gave a tiny particle of Their Spirit and reason to each person living on Earth, and if the small particle in humans, Their particle, does not agree with what is generally accepted, that means They, and They specifically, will not accept everything in what is foreordained. They think. Can Their thinking be called impertinence?"

"Who is permitted to accelerate the pace of Their thinking?"

"Only the permitter is permitted."

"What are you asking?"

"How are we to make those who don't understand, understand, those who don't feel, feel?"

"Is the fate of those who do not accept the Truth determined?"

"The fate of those who do not accept the Truth is determined, but who bears responsibility for the failure to perceive the Truth? They who have not perceived it or they who have not delivered it?"

"What? You mean, you? . . ." her great-grandfather spoke agitatedly and fell silent.

He stood looking at Anastasia for a while in silence. Then, leaning on his cane-crook, he slowly dropped to one knee, took Anastasia's hand, bowed his gray head, kissed her hand, and spoke:

"Hello, Anastasia."

Anastasia quickly knelt before her great-grandfather and began speaking in amazement and agitation.

"What are you doing, granddad dear, like when I was little? I'm big now."

Then she put her arms around his shoulders, rested her head on his chest, which was covered by his gray beard, and fell still. I knew she was listening to his heart beat. She had loved listening to his heart beat since she was a child.

The gray-haired old man, kneeling on one knee and leaning on his cane-crook with one hand, stroked Anastasia's golden hair with his other.

Her grandfather became agitated and nervous and ran up to his father and granddaughter kneeling there. He stepped lightly around them, spread his arms, and then suddenly also dropped to his knees and embraced them.

First to rise was her grandfather. He helped his father get up. Her great-grandfather looked closely at Anastasia one more time, slowly turned, and began moving away. Her grandfather quickly began talking, although to whom wasn't clear.

"Everyone keeps spoiling her. So does He. Look at what she's gotten into. She pokes her nose in wherever she wants. There's no one to teach her better. Who is going to help the summer people now? Who?"

Her great-grandfather stopped. Slowly, he turned around, and once again his deep, velvety voice spoke precisely:

"Granddaughter dear, do what your heart and Soul tell you. I will help you with your summer people myself." Turning around, the magisterial, gray-haired old man walked slowly from the glade.

"I'm telling you, everyone keeps spoiling her," her grandfather began again.

He picked up a switch saying, "So I'm going to teach her right now," he minced toward Anastasia, swinging the switch.

"Oh no!" Anastasia clapped her hands, feigning fright, then she burst into laughter and dodged her grandfather as he approached.

"Now she thinks she can run away, too. As if I couldn't catch her!"

And he started running toward Anastasia with unusual speed and ease. She ran away laughing, looping through the glade. Her grandfather didn't lag behind, but he couldn't catch up either.

All of a sudden her grandfather gasped and plopped down, grabbing his foot. Anastasia quickly turned, her face filled with concern. She ran up to her grandfather and held out her hand. There she fell still. Her cascading, infectious laughter filled the glade. I looked closely at her grandfather's pose and understood the reason for her merriment.

Her grandfather was squatting on one leg and was holding the other stretched out in front of him not resting on the ground. But he was rubbing the leg he was sitting on, as if it were injured. He had outwitted Anastasia but not deceived her.

As later became clear, he had meant for her to notice the discrepancy, how comic his pose was, right away. While Anastasia was laughing, her grandfather grabbed her by the arm, picked up his switch, and gave Anastasia a light flick with it, as if she were a naughty child.

Through her laughter, Anastasia tried to playact that it hurt. Despite his unceasing restrained laughter, her grandfather put his arms around her shoulders and said, "All right. Don't cry. Do you catch it? Serves you right. Now you're going to listen. Here I've started training an old eagle. It may be old, but it still has strength and remembers a lot. But she gets into everything, heedless."

Anastasia stopped laughing, watching her grandfather attentively, and exclaimed, "Granddad dear! . . . My dear sweet granddad! An eagle! . . . You mean you already know about the baby?"

"There was a star!"

Anastasia wouldn't let her grandfather finish. She hugged him around the waist, lifted him off the ground, and started spinning. When she put him down on the ground, her grandfather tottered and said, trying to be stern, "Is this how you treat your elders? I'm telling you. A poor upbringing." And waving the switch, he set off quickly to catch up with his father.

When her grandfather came up to the trees at the glade's edge, Anastasia shouted after him.

"Thank you for the eagle, granddad dear, thank you!"

Her grandfather turned around and looked at her:

"Only, please, dear granddaughter, be . . ."—his tone of voice was too gentle, and breaking off his sentence he added a little more sternly—"Watch out." And he disappeared behind the trees.

8. Answer

When we were left alone, I asked Anastasia, "Why were you so happy about that eagle?"

"A little one very much needs an eagle," she answered. "Our child, Vladimir."

"To play with?"

"Yes. Only the play has tremendous meaning for his later knowledge and sensations."

"I see." Although I didn't quite see what kind of play it could be with a bird, even if it was an eagle.

"But what were you doing by the Cedar? Praying or talking with someone? What happened with you and the Cedar and why did your great-grandfather speak so sternly to you?"

"Tell me, Vladimir, do you think there is something reasonable? Does Reason exist in the invisible world, the Cosmos, the Universe? What do you think?"

"I think it does exist, if even scientists talk about it, and mediums, and the Bible."

"And this 'something'—call it what is closest to you. We need this so we can have an identical definition. For instance, say, Reason, Intellect, Being, Forces of Light, Vacuum, Absolute, Rhythm, Spirit, God."

"Let's say 'God.'"

"Fine. Now tell me, does God try to speak to man? What do you think? Not through a voice from the heavens, but through people and the Bible, to suggest how to be happier, for instance?"

"But God did not necessarily dictate the Bible."

"Who do you think did?"

"It could have been people who wanted to devise a religion. They sat down and wrote it collectively."

"You think it was that easy? People sat down, wrote a book, and came up with topics and laws? This book has lived on for more than a millennium and is the most widespread and widely read book to this day!

"In the last few centuries many other books have been written, but very few can compare to this. What do you think this means?"

"I don't know. Ancient books have existed for many years, of course, but the majority of people still read contemporary literature—novels and all kinds of detective novels. Why is that?"

"Because you barely need to think when you read them. When you read the Bible, you have to think quickly and answer many questions for yourself. Then it becomes understandable. It opens up.

"If you wittingly treat it like mere dogma, then all you have to do is read and remember a few commandments. But any dogma imposed upon you from without rather than comprehended from within you precludes the possibility of a Human-Creator."

"What questions do you have to answer when you read the Bible?

"For a start, try to figure out why the Pharaoh wouldn't let the people of Israel leave Egypt."

"What's there to think about? The people of Israel were in slavery in Egypt. Who wants to free his slaves? They worked and brought him revenues."

"The Bible says that the people of Israel had put a curse on the entire Egyptian land more than once. They had even destroyed first-born children and animals. Subsequently those kinds of sorcerers were burned on bonfires, but the Pharaoh would not just free them.

"Answer another question. Where did the Hebrew slaves get enough goods and chattel and livestock to wander for forty years? Where did they find weapons to capture and destroy cities in their path?"

"What do you mean where? God gave them everything."

"You think only God?"

"Who else?"

"Vladimir, humans have complete freedom. They have the opportunity to make use of everything of the light that God originally gave, but they can also make use of other things. Humans are a union of opposites. See, the nice Sun is shining. This is God's creation. It is for everyone. For you and me, for the snake, grass, and flower.

"But the bee takes honey from the flower and the spider poison. Each has its own purpose. No bee or spider would do otherwise. Only the human being! One human can rejoice in the Sun's first rays, another curse them. Human can be both a bee and a spider."

"You mean God did not do everything for the Hebrews? Then how can you determine what God does and what is ascribed to Them?"

"When humans do something significant, the two opposites are always involved. Humans exercise their right to choose. What else they take depends on their purity and consciousness."

"All right, let's say that's true. Do you mean when you were standing by the Cedar you tried to talk to Them?"

"Yes, I wanted Them to answer."

"And your great-grandfather didn't like that?"

"My great-grandfather believed that I spoke and demanded rather disrespectfully."

"You really were demanding. I saw it. You stamped your foot and pleaded. What did you want?"

"I wanted to hear an answer."

"What answer?"

"You see, Vladimir, God's essence is not in the flesh. They can't shout to everyone from the heavens, at the top of their lungs, how to live. But They want everyone to be all right, which is why they send Their Children, humans who could penetrate to some degree to the reason and the Soul.

"Their Children go on to speak in different languages to other people—sometimes in words, sometimes with the help of music and paintings or in deeds of some kind. Sometimes people listen. Sometimes they drive them out and kill them—like Jesus Christ, for example. And God sends Their Children again. But always only some of the people listen to them. Others don't grasp it, and they break the laws of happiness."

"I see. Is this why God is going to punish humanity with planetary disaster and Judgment Day?"

"God doesn't punish anyone, and They don't need disasters.

"God is Love. But this is how it was all planned from the beginning. Created. When humanity reaches the point of failure to grasp the essence of the Truth. When the dark principles manifested in humans reach a critical point.

"To prevent total self-annihilation, a planetary disaster carries away many human lives and destroys the pernicious, artificially created system of life. The disaster is a lesson to those left alive.

"For a certain span of time after the disaster, humanity lives in a terrible hell, but it is a hell of their own making. It is those left alive who land in hell. Then their children live for a time as in the Primary Sources and reach a point that could be called Heaven. Then there are deviations again, and it all starts over. And so it goes for billions of years in earthly calculation."

"If everything has been repeated so inevitably for billions of years, what did you want?"

"I wanted to know how, and with the help of something short of a disaster, I could make people see sense. You see, I've calculated that disasters occur not only through the fault of those who do not grasp the Truth but also from an insufficiently effective means for delivering It.

"So I asked Them to find that method—to reveal it to me or someone else. It doesn't matter who. What matters is that we have it and it works."

"What did They tell you? What is Their voice like?"

"No one can say what Their voice is like. It's as though Their answer is born in the form of your sudden discovery of your own thought. After all, They can speak only through Their particle, which is in each person, and this particle transmits information to everything else in people through the rhythm of vibrations.

"That's why one gets the impression that a person alone does everything themselves, because people themselves really can do a lot. Humans are like God, after all. Each person has that tiny particle which God breathed into them at birth. They have given half of Themselves to humanity.

"But the forces of darkness do everything they can to block its effect and distract people from contact with it and, through it, with God. It is easier to struggle with a small particle when it is alone, especially when it has no connection to the Basic Force.

"When these particles unite and aspire to the light, it is much harder for the dark forces to win and block them. But if just one particle living in just one person has full contact with God, then the dark forces cannot conquer that person—their Spirit, their Reason."

"You mean you called on Them for the answer born in you as to what to tell people and how to avert a planetary disaster?"

"Yes, more or less."

"And what answer was born in you? What words must you speak?"

"Words. . . . Words alone pronounced in the usual way are simply not enough. So many have them have been said already. Nonetheless, humanity as a whole continues to move into the abyss.

"Haven't you heard words about how smoking is bad and drinking alcohol is bad? All kinds of people say this all the time, including your doctors, in the language most comprehensible to you, but you persist in doing it.

"You persist, despite your deteriorating well-being. Even pain does not keep you from these and other pernicious habits. God tells you, 'Don't do that.' They tell you through pain.

"This isn't even your pain; it's Theirs. Yet you keep taking painkillers and doing what you please. You don't want to think about why you hurt.

"Humanity knows all the other Truths as well, but it doesn't observe them. The Truths are betrayed for fleeting, illusory pleasure. That means some other way must be found that allows us not only to know, but also to feel other pleasures.

"The person who knows them can compare and will understand everything themselves. They'll unblock their own God-given particle. You shouldn't just frighten people with disaster or blame those who don't grasp the truth. Everyone bearing this particle, this truth, must understand the need to search for a more perfect means of interpretation. My great-grandfather agreed with me."

"But that's not what he said."

"There was a lot my great-grandfather said that you didn't hear."

"If you understood each other without words, then why did you speak the words I did hear?"

"Don't you find it insulting to hear people in your presence speaking a foreign language you don't understand when they also know yours?"

I thought it over. "Either I believe everything she says, or I don't. She herself believes it, of course. She doesn't simply believe, she acts. Maybe I can try to cool her ardor somehow, or she's going to knock herself out." So I said to her, "You know, Anastasia, I think maybe you shouldn't knock yourself out like this—you know, demand as intensely as you did by the Cedar. A bluish illumination, or fumes, even fell on you from the Cedar. Your grandfathers had good reason to be upset. This has to be dangerous.

"If God did not give any of Their Children an answer that explains everything to people most effectively, that means the answer doesn't exist. Planetary disaster may very well turn out to be the most effective means of explanation. Or else They will take offense and punish you, to stop you from butting in, as your grandfather says."

"They are good. They do not punish."

"But they don't tell you anything either. Maybe they don't want to listen to you, and you're just wasting your energy."

"They listen and answer."

"What do they answer? Do you know something now?"

"They suggested where I could find the answer, where to search for it."

"They suggested? To you? Where?"

"In the union of opposites."

"How's that?"

"Here, for example. The merger of two opposites of human thought into a new dynamic unity in the commentary of the Avatamsaka resulted in the philosophy of Huayun and Kegon, embodying the greatest perfection of world-view elements and parallels to models and theories, as in your modern physics."

"What?"

"Oh, excuse me, please. What am I doing? I let myself get lazy."

"What are you apologizing for?"

"Forgive me for saying words you don't use in your own speech."

"That's it exactly. I don't. They're incomprehensible."

"I'll try not to do that anymore. Please don't be angry with me."

"I'm not. Just explain in normal words where and how you'll search for this answer."

"Alone I won't be able to find it at all. It can only be seen through the joint efforts of the particles in different people with opposite thinking.

"Only through our joint efforts will it appear in the invisible dimension where thoughts reside. This dimension might also be called the Dimension of the Forces of Light. It is located between the material world in which people live and God.

"I will see it and so will many others. Afterward, it will be easier to achieve universal consciousness and to carry humanity across the dark forces' span of time so that the disasters will not reoccur."

"But more concretely, what should people do now to make it appear?"

"It would be good if lots of people woke up at an agreed time. For instance, if people woke up at six o'clock in the morning. And thought about something good—it doesn't matter what specifically. What matters is that the thoughts be thoughts of light.

"You could think about your children, about those you love, and also about how to make things good for everyone. Think like that for just fifteen minutes. The more people do this, the faster the answer will appear.

"Time zones on Earth are different because of its rotation, but the images created by the light thoughts of these people will merge into a single, bright, and saturated image of consciousness. The simultaneity of the thinking about the forces of light intensifies each person's ability many times over."

"Oh, Anastasia. You're so naïve. Who is going to agree to get up at six o'clock in the morning in order to think for fifteen minutes? People get up at that early hour if they have a job, for example, or they need to catch a plane for a business trip. Each person will say, 'Let others do the thinking and I'll sleep in.' You'll have trouble finding helpers."

"Couldn't you help me, Vladimir?"

"Me? I don't get up that early unless I have to. And if I do somehow, what good would I think about?"

"Well, the little son I'm going to bear, for instance—your son. How good he will feel when the Sun's rays caress him, the pure and beautiful flowers are near him, and the fluffy squirrel plays with him in the glade.

"Think about how good it would be if all children were caressed by the Sun and no one ever upset them. Then think about who you're going to say something nice to and smile at that day, how good it would be if this beautiful world lasted forever, and what you, you specifically, need to do to make that happen."

"I will think about my son, and I'll try to think of something else good. But what's the point? You're here in the forest thinking, and I'm in a city apartment. There are only two of us. You say it takes a lot of people. But until there are a lot more, why should we make this pointless effort?"

"Even one is more than none. Two together is more than two. Later, when you write the book, people will appear. I will sense that and rejoice in each one. We will learn to sense one another, to understand and help one another through the dimension of the forces of light."

"Everything you say still requires faith. I don't completely believe in this dimension of light where ideas reside. It cannot be proved because it can't be touched."

"But your scientists have concluded that thought is material."

"Yes, but this still doesn't make sense to me, since it can't be touched."

"But when you write the book you will be able to touch it and hold it in your hands. Like materialized thought."

"Again about the book! I told you I don't believe in it. Especially in the fact that you, with the help of combinations of letters known to you alone, will be able to call up feelings in readers, feelings of light that will help them comprehend something about this."

"I've told you how I'll do this."

"Yes, you did, but I still can't believe it. If I do try to write it, I'm not going to tell everything right away. People will laugh. And you know what I'll tell you honestly, Anastasia?"

"Tell me honestly."

"Just don't be hurt, all right?"

"I won't."

"I have to verify everything you've told me with our scientists and compare it with what different religions and modern teachings have to say about this. Right now we have a lot of different educational courses and theories."

"Verify it, of course. You should."

"Also, I can sense that you are a good person. Your philosophy is interesting and unusual. But if I compare your actions with the actions of other people, those who are concerned about the soul and ecology, then you appear the most backward of them all."

"Why is that?"

"Judge for yourself. All the enlightened people, as you call them, have gone into seclusion. Buddha went into the forest for seven years, secluded himself, and created an entire teaching. He has many followers in the world. Christ took to the desert alone for forty days, and now his teaching is admired."

"Jesus Christ secluded himself several times, and he thought deeply when he was walking."

"All right, say it's more than forty days. Say it's as much as a year. The elders who are now considered saints were ordinary people. Then they went into the forest as hermits for a while. On those sites, monasteries arose, and they came to have followers, right?"

"Yes, that is right."

"But you've been living in the forest for twenty-six years, and you don't have a single follower. You haven't come up with any teaching. You ask me to write a book. You're grasping at it like a straw. You dream of putting your signs and combinations in it.

"Well, if it hasn't worked out for you as it did for others, maybe that means there's no need to try. Maybe others more capable will think of something, and without you. Let's live in a simpler, way, closer to reality. I'll help you adapt to our life. You aren't hurt?"

"No."

"Then I'll tell you the whole truth, all of it. So you can understand yourself."

"Tell me."

"You have unusual abilities, that's without a doubt, and you can obtain any information, as easy as two times two. But now tell me when this Ray of yours appeared."

"As with all people, it was given to me at the very start. Only my great-grandfather taught me to understand I had it and make use of it when I was nearly six."

"So that means since you were six, you have been capable of seeing what was going on in our life, right? To analyze and help, even heal at a distance?"

"Yes, I have."

"Then tell me what you did for the next twenty years."

"I've been telling and showing you. I worked with my summer people, as you call them. I tried to help them."

"All these twenty years, day in and day out?"

"Yes, sometimes even at night, if I wasn't terribly tired."

"All this time you've been working hard with your summer people, like a crazy fanatic? Who forced you to do that?"

"No one could force me. I have done it myself—that is, ever since my great-grandfather suggested it to me and I realized that this was good and very important."

"I think your great-grandfather suggested that you work with the summer people because he felt sorry for you. After all, you grew up without parents. So he gave you the easiest and simplest assignment. Now he sees you've come to understand something more and has let you work on something else and abandon them."

"But that something else is connected with the summer people, and I'll keep working to help them. I love them very much and would never abandon them."

"We call that fanaticism. You lack something a normal person has. You must understand. Summer people are far from the main thing in our lives. They have no influence on social processes. Dachas and gardens are just small farms.

"The people go there to relax after their main work or when they retire. And that's all. Do you understand? That's all! And if you, with such tremendous knowledge and abilities are working with summer people, that means there is something psychologically deviant about you.

"I think you should see a psychotherapist. If this deviance can be cured, then you may truly prove useful to society."

"I want very much to be useful to society."

"Then let's go. I'll take you to a psychotherapist at a good private clinic. You yourself say there could be a planetary disaster. Then you could help ecological societies and science."

"Being where I am now will make me more useful."

"Fine, then you'll return and take up a more serious matter."

"What kind of more serious matter?"

"You'll decide for yourself. I think something connected with averting ecological disaster, for example, or some other planetary disaster. By the way, when do you think it will happen?"

"There are already local hot spots at several points on Earth. Humanity has long been readying more than enough of everything for its own destruction."

"But when will it be global? When will the disaster come to pass?"

"This might happen in roughly 2002. But it could be averted or postponed, as it was in 1992."

"You mean it might have happened in 1992?"

"Yes, but they postponed it."

"Who are 'they'? Who postponed it?"

"Disaster on a planetary scale of 1992 was averted, thanks to the summer people."

"What?"

"All over the world many different people are fending off the Earth's disaster. The disaster of 1992 did not come about, thanks primarily to the summer people of Russia."

"And you. . . . That means you! . . . At age six you understood their significance? You foresaw it? You acted diligently. You helped them."

"I knew the significance of the summer people, Vladimir."

9. Dachnik Day and a Whole Earth Holiday!

"But why thanks to the summer people, and Russia's specifically? What's the connection here?"

"You see, Vladimir, the Earth may be big, but it is very, very sensitive.

"Although you're bigger than a mosquito, too, if one lands on you, you feel its touch. The Earth feels everything, too—when It gets sealed in concrete and asphalt, when the forests growing on It are chopped down and burned, when its bowels are gouged out and powdered fertilizer is sprinkled on It.

"It can hurt. But It still loves people the way a mother loves her children. The Earth tries to bury its malice deep down. Only when It runs out of strength does that malice burst out in volcanoes and earthquakes.

"We must help the Earth. Kindness and considerate treatment give It strength. The Earth is big but extremely sensitive. It senses when It is touched gently by even one human hand. Oh, how It senses and longs for that touch!

"For a long time, people in Russia considered the Earth the property of everyone and of no one in particular. People did not perceive of It as their own. Then in Russia, things changed. The government began giving people small plots of the Earth for dachas.

"It is no accident that these plots were very, very small and that large machinery could not be used on them. But Russians, who had longed for the Earth, received them joyfully, rich and poor alike, because nothing can break the human tie with Earth!

"After receiving their small plots, people began to sense this intuitively. Millions of pairs of human hands touched the Earth with love. It was with their hands, not machinery, that people gently touched the Earth at their small plots.

"And It sensed this. It sensed the touch of each individual hand and found the strength to hold on."

"So what does this mean? Should we put up a statue to each summer person as the planet's savior?"

"Yes, Vladimir, they are saviors."

"But you don't need to build so many monuments. Better you should declare a universal holiday—or at least a day off or two—and name it 'Summer People Day' or 'Whole Earth Day' on the calendar."

"Oh! A holiday!" Anastasia clapped her hands. "What a wonderful idea. A holiday! We absolutely must have a cheerful and joyous holiday."

"Just shine your Ray on our government and on the deputies in the State Duma. Let them pass a law."

"I won't be able to get through to them. They're in their daily grind. They have many decisions to make and no time at all to think. Also, it doesn't make much sense to raise their consciousness.

"It would be hard for them to become aware of the full reality. They wouldn't be allowed to make decisions that are more correct than the ones being made now."

"Who wouldn't allow the government and president?"

"You. The masses. Most of the electorate. You call correct decisions 'unpopular measures.'"

"Yes, you're right. We do have a democracy. The most important decisions are made by the majority. The majority is always right."

"The greatest consciousness has always been reached first by individuals, Vladimir, and the majority only after a while."

"If that's true, then why have democracy and referendums?"

"They're needed as shock absorbers, to prevent any sudden jolts. When the shock absorbers fail, there is revolution. Revolution is always hard on the majority."

"But a holiday for summer people isn't a revolution. What's bad about it?"

"That kind of holiday is a good thing. It's definitely needed. It must be created as quickly as possible. I'll try to think how to make it happen faster."

"I'll help you. I have a better idea of which levers in our life will be effective. I'll write in the newspaper . Better, I'll write about summer people in your book and ask people to send telegrams to the government and State Duma: 'We request that you declare a Summer People Day and a Whole Earth Day.' Only what date?"

"July 23rd."

"Why the 23rd?"

"It's the appropriate day. Also because it's your birthday. After all, this marvelous idea is yours."

"Fine. So let people send in their telegrams. 'Make the 23rd of July a legal holiday: Dachnik Day and Whole Earth Day.'

"As soon as government officials and Duma deputies start reading these messages, they'll begin to think about the reasons why people are sending them. Then you zap them with your Ray!"

"I will! I'll zap them as hard as I can! The holiday will be light and beautiful. Everyone! Everyone will rejoice and the whole Earth will fill with joy!"

"But why should everyone rejoice? The holiday is just for dachniks."

"We have to make sure that everyone rejoices and feels good. This holiday will begin in Russia and it will become the most beautiful holiday on Earth—a holiday for the Soul."

"How will it be celebrated the very first time in Russia? After all, no one will know how."

"On that day, each person's heart will suggest to them what to do. But I'll create a general model right away."

Anastasia went on to speak, precisely pronouncing each letter. Inspired, she spoke quickly and with inspiration. Her speech rhythms, her sentence structure, and her pronunciation were unusual:

"Let Russia rise at dawn that day. Let all people as families, with friends, and singly approach the Earth and stand on It with feet bare. Those who have their own small plots where they cultivate fruits with their own hands, let them greet the Sun's first ray among their plants and touch each kind.

"When the Sun rises, let them pick and eat one of each kind of berry. They won't need anything more until the midday meal. Let them tend their plots until their meal. Let each think about life and where their joy and purpose lie.

"Let each think lovingly of those dear to them and of friends and of why their plants grow and give each its own purpose. Before the meal, each should have at least one hour of seclusion. It doesn't matter where or how, but it must without fail be in seclusion, where he can be alone and look inward for at least an hour.

"Let the entire family gather for a meal—those living together and those who have come from far away that day. Let them prepare the midday meal from what the Earth has yielded for that hour. Let each place on the table what their heart and Soul desire.

"Then let the members of the entire family tenderly look each other in the eye. Let the oldest and youngest say grace and let calm conversation flow around the table. The conversation must be about the good and about whoever is by their side."

Anastasia drew the scene extraordinarily vividly. I could feel myself sitting at the table with people beside me. Caught up in the holiday, believing in it—or rather that it had already taken place—I added, "The first toast should be made before the meal. Everyone should raise their glass and drink to the Earth and to Love." I felt as though I were already holding a glass.

And all of a sudden she said, "Vladimir, let there be no intoxicating poison at the table."

The glass disappeared from my hands. And the entire holiday scene vanished.

"Anastasia, stop it! Don't spoil the holiday!"

"Oh well, if you want it, let there be wine from berries on the table, and it should be sipped."

"Well, all right, let it be wine, just so we don't change all our habits right away. What will we do after the meal?"

"Let people return to their cities. They can harvest the fruits of their small plots of the Earth, carry them in baskets, and share with those who have none.

"Oh, how many positive emotions there will be on that day! They will conquer many diseases, those diseases that mean death and those that have lingered for years will go away. On that day, let he who is incurably or slightly ill greet the stream of people returning from their little plots.

"Their rays of Love and Good and their fruits will heal and vanquish diseases. Look! Look! A train station! A stream of people with colorful baskets! See how people's eyes are shining with peace and good."

All of Anastasia seemed to be beaming as she became more and more inspired by the holiday idea. Her eyes no longer simply gleamed joyfully, they seemed to shoot off blue sparks. Varied but always joyful nuances changed her facial expression, as if scenes from the Great Holiday were streaming tumultuously through her mind.

Suddenly, she fell silent. Bending one knee and raising her right arm up, she pushed off the ground with one foot and shot up like an arrow over the Earth. She jumped nearly to the Cedars' first branches.

When she descended, she waved her arm and clapped, and a bluish illumination flooded the entire glade. What Anastasia went on to say seemed to be echoed by each tiny bug and blade of grass and each majestic Cedar.

Anastasia's sentences seemed to be strengthened by a great invisible force. They weren't loud, but I had the impression that each and every vein of the vast Universe heard them. I too interjected my own phrases, because I couldn't stop myself, as she began.

"On that day, visitors will come to Russia! All who were born by the Telamons of the Earth! The prodigal sons will return! Let people all over Russia wake at dawn on that day.

"And let the strings of the Universal harp sound a happy melody throughout the day. Let all the bards on the streets and in homes play guitars. And let he who is very old be young again that day, as he was many, many years ago."

"Will I be young, too, Anastasia?"

"You and I will be young, too, Vladimir, as people will be young for the first time. Old people will write their children letters, and children will write to their parents. Let babies take their first step in life and enter a joyous, happy world. On that day there will be nothing to upset children. Let the grownups be their equals.

"And the Gods will drop to the Earth. On that day, let all the Gods be embodied in simple images. And God—the one, Universal God—will be happy. On that day may you be very happy with love and the shining Earth!"

Anastasia was carried off by her scenes of the holiday. Becoming more and more inspired, she spun through the glade, as if in a dance.

"Stop! Stop!" I shouted to Anastasia, suddenly realizing she was taking this all seriously. She was not just saying words. I realized that she was modeling scenes of the holiday with each word and oddly constructed sentence.

With her characteristic persistence, she would go on modeling and dreaming of it until her dreams became a reality. She would dream like a fanatic! She would try for her summer people as she had been for the twenty years before this. I shouted in order to stop her.

"Haven't you realized? This is a joke, this holiday! I was joking!"

Anastasia stopped short. The moment I looked at the expression on her face, my Soul felt a pang. Her face was as distraught as a child's. Her eyes looked at me with pain and regret, as if I were some kind of destroyer. And she spoke in almost a whisper.

"I took you seriously, Vladimir. I've already modeled it all. And a link has been woven into the chain of events of people's upcoming telegrams. Without them, the sequence of events will be destroyed. I accepted what you said, believed in it, and produced it.

"I felt you were speaking sincerely about the holiday and telegrams. Don't take back what you said. Just help me with the telegrams so that I can help with my Ray, as you said."

"All right, I'll try. Please calm down. Maybe no one will want to send those telegrams."

"There will be people who will understand. People in your government and Duma will feel it, too. And there will be a holiday! There will! Look."

Once again the scenes of the holiday went racing off. Now I have written about this. Go and act as your heart and Soul command.

10. The Bard's Ringing Sword

"Why did you construct your sentences so oddly when you were talking about the holiday, Anastasia? And you pronounced the words so that each letter sounded so distinct."

"I was trying to reproduce the picture of the holiday in its details and in detailed images."

"But what do the words have to do with this? What is their significance?"

"Behind each word I reproduced numerous events and joyous scenes. And now they will all become a reality. After all, thought and word are the Great Creator's main instrument, and of all those made flesh, only humans have been given this instrument."

"Then why doesn't everything people say come to pass?"

"When they break the thread between Soul and word, when the Soul is empty and the image faded, then the words are empty, like noise, and they foretell nothing."

"This is some kind of fantasy, and, really, you believe it all like a child."

"What fantasy, Vladimir, if I could cite masses of examples from your own life of the power the word assumes if an intrinsic image is formed behind it?"

"Give me example I can understand."

"An example? As you wish. A person stands on stage in front of an audience and speaks words. For example, an actor says the same words, and people hear them more than once. But people are only going to listen to a certain actor with bated breath. Another they won't. The words are the same, but the difference is enormous. What do you think? Why does this happen?

"The same goes for the actors. They study at the institute for a long time—some with top grades, some just so-so. Later in rehearsal, they memorize texts so they can say them expressively.

"They're taught at school how to enter into the image behind the word. Later, in rehearsal, they try to reproduce it. If an actor knows how to form the invisible images behind ten percent of the words they utter, the audience will pay close attention.

"But if they can insert an image into half the words they utter, you call that actor brilliant, for their Soul will speak directly to the Souls of their audience. People will cry or laugh when their Soul feels everything the actor hoped to convey. That is what the Great Creator's instrument is."

"But you, when you say something, how many words can you invest with images? Ten percent or fifty?"

"All of them. My great-grandfather taught me that."

"All of them? Wonderful! All the words?"

"My great-grandfather said that an image can be inserted into all the letters, so I learned to construct an image behind each letter."

"Why each letter? A letter has no meaning."

"A letter does have meaning! In Sanskrit, each letter has sentences and words behind it. There are letters in them too, and behind those many more words, and so infinity is concealed in each letter."

"Well that's just great. So here we are, just mumbling all our words."

"Yes, very often the words that have come down through the millennia are spoken just like that. They come down, cutting through time and space, and the forgotten images that stand behind them to this day yearn to touch our Souls. They safeguard our souls and fight for them."

"What words are these? Do I know even one of them?"

"You do—as sound, I think. But people have forgotten what stands behind it."

Anastasia lowered her eyelashes and was silent for a while. Then very quietly, almost in a whisper, she asked, "Vladimir, pronounce the word 'Bard.'"

"Bard," I said.

She winced, as if in pain, and said, "Oh, the indifference and banality with which you spoke that great word! You blew your forgetfulness and emptiness on the candle's flickering flame, a flame carried through the ages and perhaps addressed to you or distant relatives living today. Neglect of the Sources is the desolation of the present day."

"What didn't you like about my pronunciation? And what should I remember that's connected with the word?"

Anastasia was silent. Then in a softly resonant voice she began pronouncing sentences that seemed to come out of eternity:

"Long before the birth of Christ, people lived on Earth, our forefathers known as Celts. They called their wise teachers druids. Many peoples who inhabited the Earth then honored the druids' knowledge of the material and spiritual worlds.

"The Celts' warriors never bared their weapon in a druid's presence. In order to attain the initial druid level, you had to study individually with the Great Spiritual Preceptor—a druid priest—for twenty years.

"One who had been initiated was called a 'Bard.' They had a moral right to go among the people and sing, to instill Light and Truth in people with their song, using their words in order to shape images that healed the Soul.

"Roman legions attacked the Celts. The final battle took place by a river. The Romans saw women with their hair loose walking among the Celtic warriors. The Roman military leaders knew that when those women walked among them, they had to outnumber the Celts sixfold in order to defeat them.

"Neither those Roman military leaders nor present-day historians have been able to figure out why this was so. But they knew it had something to do with those unarmed women with loosened hair.

"The Romans advanced a host outnumbering the Celts ninefold. Backed up to the river, the last family of Celts were perishing.

"They stood in a semi-circle, and behind their backs a young woman was nursing a tiny baby girl and singing. The young mother was singing a light and not sad song, so that fear and sorrow would not settle in the little girl's soul and so that she would have images of light.

"When the little girl broke away from her mother's teat, their gazes would meet, and the woman would break off her song, each time tenderly calling the little girl 'Barda.'

"There was no more defending semi-circle. A bloodied young Bard holding a sword stood on the path between the Roman legionaries and the nursing woman. He turned to the woman, their eyes met, and they smiled at each other.

"The wounded Bard was able to hold off the Romans until the woman had descended to the river, placed the tiny girl in a boat, and pushed the boat from shore.

"With his last effort of will, the bloodied Bard threw his sword at the young woman's feet. She raised the sword, and she fought the legionaries on the narrow path for four hours straight, not letting them through to the river. As the legionaries tired, they spelled each other on the path.

"The Roman military leaders watched in silent astonishment but could not understand why strong and experienced soldiers were unable to so much as scratch the woman's body.

"She battled for four hours. Then she burned up. Her lungs dried out from dehydration, for she hadn't had so much as a drop of water, and blood spewed from her beautiful cracked lips.

"Slowly dropping to her knees and falling, she was able to send one more faint smile after the boat carrying Barda, the little singer of the future, downstream. The word and the word's image she saved have been carried down through the millennia to us today.

"The human essence is not only in the flesh. Immeasurably greater and more significant are invisible feelings and aspirations, and sensations are only partly reflected in what is material, as in a mirror.

"Little Barda became a young woman, then a woman and mother. She lived on Earth and sang. Her songs gave people only light emotions, and like an all-healing Ray, they helped disperse the Soul's gloom.

"Many mundane hardships and deprivations sought to extinguish the source of this Ray. Invisible, dark forces tried to break through to it, but they could not overcome the sole obstacle—those standing on their path.

"Human essence is not in the flesh, Vladimir. The Bard's bloodied body sent into eternity a smile from the light of his Soul, reflecting the Light of the invisible human essence. The lungs of the young mother holding the sword burned up, and blood spewed from the cracks in her lips that had received the Bard's smile.

"Vladimir, believe me now. Understand. Hear the ringing of the Bard's invisible sword deflecting the onslaught of that which is malicious and dark on the path to his descendants' Souls. Please, Vladimir, pronounce the word once more: 'Bard.'"

"I can't. I can't say it with the proper significance yet. Later I definitely will."

"Thank you for not pronouncing it, Vladimir."

"Tell me, Anastasia, since you can say. Who today directly descends from that nursing woman and the young woman, the songstress Barda? And the warrior Bard who fought on the path? Who could forget such a thing? Whose stock is it?"

"Vladimir, think about why this question arose in you."

"I want to have a look at him or at those who have failed to remember such a thing, to remember or sense their kinship."

"Maybe you want to make sure it isn't you who has failed to remember?"

"What do I have to do with . . . I see, Anastasia, don't answer. Each person should think about it."

"Good," she replied and then fell silent, gazing at me.

I, too, was silent for a while under the impression of the picture Anastasia had drawn, then I asked her, "Why did you choose this particular word?"

"To show you how the images that stand behind the words in the real world will soon become a reality. Thousands of guitar strings are going to sound now under the fingers of Russia's present-day bards. Also, when I dreamed all this, in the taiga, they were the first to feel it. Their Souls. . . .

"At first a flame flickered in just one, and a delicate guitar string trembled, and then the Souls of others picked it up and responded. Soon many people will hear their songs. They—the bards—will help see a new dawn. A dawn of enlightenment for people's Souls. You will hear their songs. New songs, songs of dawn.

11. A Sharp Turn

After my three-day stay with Anastasia I returned to the ship, and for a few days I was in no condition to get into my firm's affairs. I could neither decide on the ship's further route nor reply to the radiograms receive d from Novosibirsk.

Both the hired workers and some of the crew took note of my neglect and began stealing. My guards and the police of Surgut, where the ship had docked, detained the thieves and drew up the reports, but I had no desire to attend to these situations properly.

It's still hard to say why my contact with Anastasia had such a powerful effect on me.

I'd had visits from many representatives of the most varied religious sects before. They told me they wanted to do something good for society, and they always asked for money.

Sometimes I donated just to get rid of them, without particularly grasping what they were about. Why bother, if the conversation always ended with a request for money?

Unlike all those "religious," Anastasia did not ask for money. Moreover, I couldn't imagine what, if anything, I might give her. Outwardly she seemed to have nothing, but she gave the impression that she had everything. I ordered the steamer to head straight for Novosibirsk. I locked myself in my cabin and thought long and hard.

More than ten years in business and directing collectives had taught me a great deal. The ups and downs had developed my ability to find solutions to many different situations. This time, though, the situation was worse than ever before. All my misfortunes came crashing down simultaneously. My firm's collapse seemed inevitable.

One of my "well-wishers" at the firm had already spread a rumor that kept mounting: "Something happened to him. He's lost his ability to make effective commercial decisions." That is to say, "save yourself if you can." And they did. Upon my return, I saw how they had. Even my relatives had joined in the general pilfering. "It's all going under, anyway!" they reasoned.

Only a small ineffectual group of old workers tried to counter the collapse, but when my ship returned and they saw the kind of literature I'd started to read, my psychological condition frightened them.

I evaluated the situation that had come about perfectly soberly. I realized full well that I could not correct the situation with this group of people. Even those who had once hung on my every word would doubt any decision I made.

I very much wanted to tell someone about Anastasia, but it didn't seem possible that they would understand. Doing that might land me in the loony bin. As it was, my family had started talking about treatment.

My milieu tacitly demanded commercial projects from me, and they had to be successful. My new enthusiasms were viewed as insanity or a nervous breakdown. I really did begin thinking about different things in our life.

"What is happening in it?" I thought. "You roll out a commercial operation and make money, but there's no satisfaction. You immediately want more. It's been like this for more than ten years! Where is the guarantee that this rat race won't continue to the end of my days and that satisfaction never will come?

"One person doesn't have a ruble for a bottle of vodka, and he gets upset. A billion isn't enough for a billionaire to acquire something new—and he gets upset, too. Maybe it's not a matter of how much money you have."

One morning, two of my old entrepreneur colleagues, directors of large commercial firms, came to see me in my office. We began talking about a society of entrepreneurs with pure intentions and of our own aims. I wanted to share it all with someone.

They kept the ball rolling and agreed here and there. We talked for a long time, and I already began to wonder whether they had really understood everything right away, since they had spent so much time on the conversation.

Then my driver told me, "Vladimir Nikolayevich, they came to you at the request of people who are worried about your health. They wanted to find out what you were thinking about all the time, what's bothering you. In short, whether you're crazy or not. Whether they should call in doctors or wait for this to pass."

"And what do you think of me?"

For a while he didn't say anything, and then he spoke softly.

"You worked well for ten years. Lots of people in town thought you a great success. Now everyone in the company is afraid of being left without any salary at all."

That was when I realized how far the concern about me had gone, and I told the driver, "Turn the car around."

I returned to the firm. I called an emergency meeting. I appointed directors for different areas. I gave them full freedom to act in my absence. I told the driver to pick me up early in the morning for a trip to the airport. At the airport, he handed me a warm bundle. I asked, "What is this?"

"Pirozhki."

"You mean, you feel sorry for me because I'm crazy, so you're giving me pirozhki?"

"It's my wife, Vladimir Nikolayevich, she couldn't sleep. She spent all night cooking. She's never baked before, she's still young, but she got it into her head. She insisted I give them to you. She wrapped them in a towel, they're still warm. She says you're not coming back soon. If you come back at all. . . . Farewell."

"All right, thank you."

A few days later, he left the firm.

* * *

I shut my eyes in my plane seat. The plane was heading straight to Moscow, while I had yet to determine the route of my life from now on.

Only when I arrived at Moscow's Vnukovo airport did I realize that I had enough money in my wallet to spend ten modest days in the capital.

The workers at my firm and my family were hardly going to be able to deal with the debts that had mounted, and they would have to sell my property, which meant I could expect no help from home.

Of course, I could have righted things myself had I stayed in Novosibirsk. But that would have meant concentrating on the firm's daily affairs, and I didn't see how I could do that after the events in the taiga and the promise I'd made to either Anastasia or myself.

Even now it's hard to tell whether Anastasia's influence or my own consciousness and desire guided my actions.

I was aware that I was ruined. I knew from the many examples of my colleagues that in this kind of situation there was no point relying on relatives, friends, or former workers. Everyone was going to treat you like a leper.

You could win for ten years and then make a mistake—just one—and receive the contempt and neglect of your milieu. This had happened to many well-known entrepreneurs.

In this situation, you must count only on yourself and find a solution to your seemingly hopeless situation.

Dropping off my suitcase—which held a sweater, a few shirts, and a few other small items—at a hotel, I headed out to wander through Moscow. I tried to comprehend the significance of what Anastasia had said about Russia's entrepreneurs.

I arrived at the Russian League of Cooperators and Entrepreneurs, which had been headed up by Vladimir Alexandrovich Tikhonov, an academician at the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Science whom we had elected back at the beginning of perestroika. The building where the league's presidium was based still stood, but many offices were vacant.

Vladimir Alexandrovich had died a year and a half before. I was told that six months before, the chairman of Russia's business roundtable, Ivan Kivilidi, and his secretary had been poisoned. Membership in the League had dropped off sharply.

One of the three remaining workers from the League office knew me and, at my request, gave me one of the unused offices, two telephones, a computer, and a fax machine. The league had no money for organizational work, so I had to act independently.

I spent the night in this office in order to save time and money on a hotel. The cleaner's arrival woke me at six in the morning. The lack of a TV set allowed me to work until midnight.

The drastic shift in my circumstances—from my comfortable cabin (where at my ring, they'd bring me anything I wanted to eat or drink) to an office unequipped for living—did not bother me in the slightest and even created greater opportunities for work.

I thought through and wrote out provisions for the society of entrepreneurs, composed letters of appeal, and sent faxes in the mornings, when the communications systems at other companies weren't overloaded.

By various means—newspaper announcements and chance meetings, for example—I assembled a secretariat made up of Muscovites from various professions who had grasped the significance of the imminent new Russian society of entrepreneurs.

The secretariat included three Moscow students as well. The first was Anton Nikolaikin, who had come to repair a broken computer. Later, when he learned about the work organizing the society, he brought his friends, Artyom Semyonov and Alexei Novichkov.

They began work on an electronic version of "Russia's Gold Catalog" and were able to write a highly professional program.

12. The Russian Society of Entrepreneurs

The idea of the society was to include entrepreneurs from firms that had worked in the Russian market for at least a year and were sincerely interested in honest partnership both with each other and with those for whom they were working as well as with their own collective.

Representatives from several public entities tried to convince me that entrepreneurs today had become passive toward any kind of association, that the euphoria of faith had passed and that membership in various associations that anyone could join simply by paying a small dues had declined catastrophically.

They thus tried to prove to me that organizing a society in which membership required heightened demands on both the individual entrepreneur and the enterprise itself was an absurd idea altogether.

The problem was that getting information about the society's organization, principles and structure to regional entrepreneurs in Russia would take about half a billion rubles for printing and postage, since only ten percent of the materials received would yield a positive response.

There was no such sum. The league leadership took some of the dues they received and used it for leasing their offices but they had no other source of income.

Seeing the discrepancy, the league had stopped paying anything at all for organizational expenses, even though the sums contributed by entrepreneurs were intended specifically to finance organizational expenses.

The league leadership was forced to use the money that came in from entrepreneurs for overhead. The society's office workers had started being paid late. I had to leave the league, abandoning the second computer bought with the funds of entrepreneurs who had joined the society.

"How can that be?" The students were perplexed, having written several computer programs basically at their own expense. "We're doing work that this public organization's own charter says it's supposed to perform but they're treating us like tenants and couldn't care less about entrepreneurs."

The league had its own arguments: "We have to pay the lease on the offices." I tried to continue the work from the entrepreneurs' trade unions using what was left from paying the office workers but ran into the same problem.

Then after learning about several other public associations I suddenly saw that they all had a name but no membership. They were like private clubs and cared only about their own internal needs.

At this point, Russia had no public organization that served a significant number of entrepreneurs and those organizations it did have were like private clubs. The reasons? Among other things, I thought about the depersonalization of dues.

For some reason, each organization after its creation subsequently began to act in the name of entrepreneurs without consulting the majority.

I left the trade unions and ended up without any means of communication or money to survive.

The Muscovites who had worked in the office on the promise of pay were forced to quit.

I was on my own now or so I thought. But the three Moscow students—Anton, Artyom, and Lyosha—had no intention of abandoning what they had started. Anton took his own money which he had saved up for his vacation and paid the month's rent for the apartment I'd rented.

They waited for me to find a solution to the fix we were in and continued their work creating the society. They were caught up by the idea itself. They believed in it. But all I could see was an impasse. Then news arrived from Novosibirsk.

13. Toward Suicide

Someone from Novosibirsk who had come to Moscow on business of his own came to see me one evening. He brought a bottle of vodka and some snacks. As we sat in the kitchen of the one-room apartment I'd rented, he told me about the state of affairs in my family and firm.

They were deplorable. My firm had been forced to give up one of its offices downtown because it couldn't pay the rent.

The auto parts store had gone out of business. The firm's workers had tried to switch to selling shoes, but all they netted was more debt. Full responsibility lay with me.

"And you're here doing no one knows what. Many people believe you've lost your mind. You should have first put your affairs in order at the firm and then got involved in this incomprehensible business of yours. No one believes in you anymore."

As we were finishing off the bottle, he asked me, "Do you want me to tell you honestly what I think people expect of you?"

"Tell me," I replied.

"They want you to commit suicide or disappear for good. Judge for yourself. Without start-up capital right now, you can't start any business at all, and you not only don't have start-up capital now, you can't even feed yourself. Not only that, your debts are piling up. There is no example in the world of anyone digging himself out of this kind of situation.

"But if you were gone, it would all be written off with your death, and they would divide up what remains of your property. Your wife says you're a Leo and have always led an extravagant life, but your horoscope says you're supposed to die in poverty. Why did you go on that second expedition? No one can understand it."

Even though we had done some serious drinking, when I woke up the next morning I remembered every detail of our conversation. His arguments had been weighty and convincing. An impasse in Novosibirsk, an impasse here in Moscow. The people working alongside me everywhere were suffering, and so was my family.

I couldn't fix everything because there was no solution. My death could end these sufferings. Of course suicide is a bad thing. But the logic of events dictated that my suicide would make the lives of others easier. If that was true, then it was justifiable, and I had no right to live.

So I decided to kill myself. This actually reassured me. Gone was the need for a tortuous search for a way out of my current situation, since I'd agreed that death was that way out.

I gave the apartment a quick cleaning and wrote my landlady a note saying I wasn't coming back. I decided to go to the trade union office to put the society's papers in order. Perhaps someone would pick up this work at some later date. But how was I going to commit suicide if I didn't even have the money for poison?

Then I thought, so it wouldn't look like suicide, I would make it look as though I'd gone for a swim. Like a walrus, I'd dive in and drown. I set out. However, in the connecting passage at the Pushkinskaya subway station, I suddenly heard two young women playing a familiar melody on their violins.

Before them lay an open case into which people were tossing money. Musicians earn money that way in lots of subway passages. But these two young women, their violins, and the melody floating in the rumble of trains and noise of the passages made lots of people slow their step.

It made me stop altogether. Their bows were playing the melody that Anastasia had sung in the taiga.

In the taiga, when I had asked her to sing something of her own, not one of the tunes I knew, I had heard this unusual, strange, and enchanting song without words. At first, Anastasia cried out like a newborn child. Then her voice became very soft and very gentle.

She stood under a tree, her hands pressed to her chest, and her voice seemed to be lulling and caressing a tiny infant and telling him something. Her very soft voice made everything around us hush and listen.

Then Anastasia seemed to be rejoicing at a child just awakened, and her voice rose exaltedly. Incredibly high notes hovered smoothly, modulated, and then flew up and filled the space, delighting all around.

I asked the young women, "What were you playing?"

They exchanged looks and one of the women replied, "I was improvising."

The other added, "And I was following her."

Here, in Moscow, in the grip of the idea of creating a society of entrepreneurs, which seemed to have become my main step in life, I had barely thought about Anastasia. Now, on the last day of my life, as if saying goodbye, she had reminded me of herself.

"Please, play a little more of what you were playing," I asked the girls.

"We'll try," the older one replied.

I stood in the subway passage, listened to the violins' entrancing melody, recalled the taiga glade, and thought, "Anastasia! Anastasia! It's just too hard to do what you contemplated in real life.

"Dreaming is one thing, but making your dream a reality is quite another. You made a mistake in structuring your plan. Organize a society of entrepreneurs and write a book. . . ."

I felt as if I'd been hit with an electric shock. As I repeated these words to myself over and over, I sensed something wrong in them, something broken. There, in the taiga . . . in the taiga . . . Anastasia had said them a little differently—but differently how?

Switching the words around, I came up with this: "Write a book and organize a society of entrepreneurs."

Of course! I had to write the book first. The book was supposed to solve all my problems and, most of all, spread information about the society. How much time I'd wasted! Furthermore, my personal life had become so complicated. Fine! I would act.

Now it was at least clear how to act. Of course, someone who doesn't know how is unlikely to write a book that people would read, but Anastasia believed it would work out. She kept trying to convince me of this. All right. I must try, I must. I have to follow this through.

14. The Ringing Cedars of Russia

I went back to my apartment. Spring was already caressing Moscow. There was half a bottle of sunflower oil and sugar in the kitchen. I had to replenish my pantry so I decided to sell my mink cap. A real fur cap, not a molded one, costs considerable money.

Of course, the season was over, but I could still get something for it, I thought, as I headed toward one of Moscow's many markets. I approached fruit sellers and goods sellers.

They looked at the cap but were in no hurry to buy. I had decided to lower the price when two men walked up to me. They twirled the cap in their hands and touched the fur.

"I should try it on. Why don't you ask someone for a mirror?" one of them said to his comrade, and he suggested we step aside. We moved into a secluded spot at the end of a row of stalls and started waiting for his comrade and the mirror. We didn't have long to wait.

He came up quietly from behind, and the blow to the back of my head made me see stars. Everything grew hazy. Braced against the fence, I managed not to fall, but when I came to, my buyers were gone, and so was the cap. Two women clucked solicitously.

"Are you all right? Those pigs. You should sit, here's a box."

I stood by the fence a little longer and slowly walked away from the market. There was a fine spring rain. Trying to cross the road, I stopped at the curb to look around. My head was roaring with pain.

I wasn't paying attention, and a car passing close by doused my trousers and jacket hem with muddy water. Dazed, without moving from where I was, I got splashed again—this time even in the face—when the wheels of a truck hit that same puddle.

I stepped away from the curb and took shelter from the rain under a kiosk awning, trying to decide what to do next.

They wouldn't let me on the subway looking like this, of course. I could walk the three stops to the apartment were I was staying, but the police might pick me up looking like this, taking me for a drunk, a bum, or simply a suspicious individual. Just talk your way out of that and try to prove your innocence while they're clarifying things. What would I tell them anyway? Who was I now?

Right then I saw this man. Stepping slowly, he was carrying two boxes with empty bottles and looked like the homeless men and drunks who often hang around commercial stands pouring alcohol. Our eyes met and he stopped, set his boxes on the asphalt, and started talking to me.

"What are you standing there for, scoping things out? This is my territory. Off you go," he told me calmly but authoritatively.

Not wishing, not even strong enough, to argue with him or wrangle, I replied, "I don't need your territory. I'll come around soon and leave."

But he continued the conversation.

"Where will you go?"

"Where I go is none of your business. I'll go, and that's that."

"But will you make it?"

"Yes, if no one stops me. Stand back."

"You're not going to stand or walk anywhere for long in the shape you're in."

"What business is it of yours?"

"Homeless?"

"What?"

"Oh, a newbie. All right, you can rest here for now."

He picked up his boxes and walked away. He came back with a bundle and began talking to me again.

"Follow me."

"Where?"

"You'll be my guest for a few hours or 'til morning. Dry out. Then you'll be on your way."

Following him, I asked, "Is your apartment far?"

He replied without turning around.

"You'll be dead before you get to my apartment. I don't have an apartment here. I have my deployment."

We walked up to a door that led to the cellar of an apartment building. He told me to stand to one side, looked around, and when none of the residents was nearby, opened the lock with something resembling a key.

It was warmer in the cellar than outside. Hot water pipes specially stripped of their insulation, probably by homeless men, heated it. A heap of rags lay in one corner.

On this pile fell the dim light that penetrated the dusty glass of the cellar window. We proceeded to the far, empty corner.

He got a water bottle out of his bundle, opened the top, took some water in his mouth and sprayed it all around, like an atomizer. He explained:

"That's to keep the dust down." Then he moved aside a board standing in the corner. From the gap that formed between the building wall and the partition, he pulled out two sheets of plywood covered with a big piece of cellophane and then a few more pieces of cardboard, also covered in cellophane. He used them to set up two improvised cots on the floor.

He took a tin can out of the corner and lit the candle set inside it. The can's half-opened lid was clean and slightly bent in a semi-circle and served as a reflector.

This simple device shone light on the edge of the plywood and the small space between them. He spread a newspaper and began to take from his bundle a piece of cheese, bread, and two boxes of kefir. Neatly slicing the cheese, he said, "You're still standing? Have a seat. Take off your jacket, hang it on the pipe, and when it dries out, you can clean it. I have a brush. Let the pants dry on you. Try not to get them too wrinkled."

He also took out two sealed hundred-gram cups of vodka, and we sat down to eat. There was cellar dirt all around, but the corner he had fitted out was quite clean and cozy.

When we clinked glasses, he introduced himself.

"Call me Ivan. We dispense with patronymics here."

His maneuvering with the improvised cots and the food neatly laid out on the newspaper, despite the cellar's dirty floor, created an atmosphere of cleanliness and coziness in his cellar corner.

"Do you have anything softer to sleep on?" I asked after our supper.

"You can't keep rags here, they get dirty and start to stink. Over in that corner my neighbors . . . Two of them, they come sometimes. They've created a pigsty with their rags."

In talking with him and answering his questions, without even noticing it I had told him about meeting Anastasia and her way of life and abilities. About her ray, her dreams, and her aspirations.

He was the first person I'd told about Anastasia! Even I don't understand why I told him about Anastasia's eccentricities, her dream, and how I'd given her my word to help her. I had tried to organize a society of entrepreneurs with pure intentions but had made a mistake. I should have written the book first.

"Now I'll write it and try to publish it. Anastasia said she needed the book first."

"Are you really sure you can write it, and then publish it on top of that, without any money?"

"Whether I’m sure or not, I don't know. But I'm going to act along these lines."

"So there is a goal and you're going to move toward it?"

"Yes I am."

"And you're sure you'll reach it?"

"I'm going to try."

"Yes. . . . A book. . . . You need a good artist to design the cover and design it from their Soul, consistent with its intention and goal. Where are you going to find an artist without money?"

"I'll have to get along without an artist or a design."

"You need to do this right, with a design and according to your intention, properly. If only I had paper, brushes, and good paint. I could help you. Only all that's expensive nowadays."

"You mean you're an artist? A professional?"

"I'm an officer. I've liked to draw since I was a child. I belonged to all kinds of clubs. Later, when I carved out the time, I painted pictures and gave them to friends."

"Then why did you become an officer if you wanted to draw all the time?"

"My great-grandfather was an officer, my grandfather, too, and my father. I loved and respected my father. I knew, felt, how he wanted to see me, and that's what I tried to become. I made it to colonel."

"Which service?"

"Mainly the KGB. That's what I left."

"Because of cutbacks or were you fired?"

"I resigned, I couldn't take it."

"Take what?"

"You know, there's this song. The words go, 'Officers, officers, your heart is in their sights."

"Someone tried to kill you? An attempt on your life? They fired at you, as payback for something?"

"Officers get shot frequently. But officers have always headed toward the bullets, in defense of those behind, never suspecting that their hearts were in their sights and the fatal shot would be fired from the rear. With accuracy. An exploding bullet. Straight for the heart."

"How's that?"

"Remember the pre-perestroika days? The holidays—May 1st, November 7th—and the tremendous columns of people shouting 'Hurrah,' 'Glory,' and 'Long live?'

"I and other officers, not just from the KGB, we were proud that we were the shield for these people. We protected them. This was the meaning of life for the majority of officers.

"Then came perestroika and glasnost, and we began to hear other shouts. It turned out we were pigs, we KGB officers. Executioners. We were defending the wrong people and the wrong system. Those who had marched in columns under red flags formed up into other columns and started marching under other flags, and they decided we were to blame.

"I have a wife, nine years younger, a beauty . . . I loved her . . . I still do. She was proud of me. We had a son, just the one. What's called a late-in-life child. He's seventeen now. He was proud of me too at first—respected me.

"Later, when all this started, my wife became cold. She wouldn't look me in the eye. My wife became ashamed of me. I turned in my badge and took a job as a guard for a commercial bank. I hid my uniform as far back as I could. But my wife and son's unspoken questions hung in the air all the time.

"You can't answer unspoken questions. They saw the answers in the newspapers and on the television screen. Apparently, we officers didn't care about anything but our own dachas and repression."

"But they did show the elegant dachas of military leaders on television, not touched up."

"Yes, they did—untouched-up dachas. Only those dachas would look like pathetic henhouses compared to what many of their accusers have now.

"You had a ship over there. And a lot more than a general's dacha. But that general first went to military school and dug trenches. Then he moved from barracks to barracks as a lieutenant.

"He wanted to have a dacha, a house, for his children—the same as everyone. Who knows how many times during the night he had to jump out of his warm bed in that same dacha to end up in field conditions?

"Russia used to value its officers. It gave them estates. Now they've decided a dacha with fifteen hundred square meters of land is too much for a general."

"Everyone used to live differently."

"Differently. Everyone. But on top of everything else, they always accused officers first of all.

"Officers went out on Senate Square. They were thinking about the people. Those officers later went to the gallows, the mines, Siberia. No one rose up in their defense.

"They fought the Germans in the trenches for tsar and Fatherland. Safe behind the lines, the revolutionary patriots were already preparing their welcome home by loading their guns with bullets for their hearts worse than lead ones.

"'White Guards, brutes'—that's what they called the officers who returned from the war, after trying to bring about order. Chaos all around, everything collapsing. All the old values—material and spiritual—torched and trampled.

"It was hard for them, those officers, and so they went, putting their officer's uniform on over clean linen. They went on the psychological attack. Do you know what a psychological attack is?"

"It's when they try to frighten the enemy. I saw it in a movie. In Chapaev, the White Guard officers are marching in formation, and they're being strafed by machineguns. They fall, but they close ranks again and go on the attack."

"Yes. They fall and go. But the problem is they weren't doing the attacking."

"So why did they go then?"

"In military practice, the goal of any attack is the capture or physical annihilation of the enemy, preferably with minimal losses for your own side. You could head into machineguns and take cover in trenches only when you had consciously or unconsciously set a different goal."

"What goal?"

"Maybe, counter to the logic of the military art, at the price of your own life, to show, to call on those shooting to think, while they were killing the marchers, to understand them rather than to fire on them."

"But then their death resembles the death of Jesus on the cross, doesn't it?"

"It does. We'll have cause to remember Christ again. The beardless cornets and the generals marching in formation were forgotten. Perhaps even now their Souls, wearing clean linen and an officer's uniform, are facing the bullets we've let loose and calling on us to think it over."

"Why call on us? When they were shot at, we didn't even exist."

"You didn't then. But the bullets are flying today, too—new bullets. Who is firing them, if not us?"

"It's true. The bullets are flying today, too, and why for so many years? Why did you leave home?"

"I couldn't take the looks."

"What looks?"

"We were watching TV one night. My wife was in the kitchen. My son and I were watching together. Then one of those political broadcasts began and they started talking about the KGB. Obviously, they laid it on thick. I picked up a newspaper, pretending I had no interest in the broadcast.

"I wanted my son to switch to another program. He wasn't interested in politics at all. He loves music. But he didn't. I rustled the newspaper and stole a look at him. I saw my son sitting in the chair. He'd dug his nails into the arms so hard that his hands were white. I myself didn't move a muscle.

"I realized he wasn't about to change channels. I held out as long as I could, hidden behind the paper. Finally I couldn't take it. I crumpled the newspaper, cast it to one side, stood up abruptly, and said, shouted, 'Will you finally turn it off? Will you?'

"My son stood up, too, but he didn't make a move toward the television. He was facing me, silently looking me in the eye. But the broadcast continued, and my son was looking at me.

"That night I wrote him a note. 'I'm leaving for a while. I think this is how it has to be.' And I left for good."

"Why for good?"

"Because."

We were silent for a long time. I tried to get more comfortable on the plywood and drift off, but he started talking again.

"You mean, Anastasia says, 'I'll carry people across the dark forces' span of time? I will and that's that!'"

"Yes, she does. And she believes she will."

"She needs an elite regiment. I'd be a soldier in that regiment."

"What regiment? You misunderstood. She rejects violence. She wants to convince people somehow. She's trying to do something with her ray."

"I think—I have a feeling—she'll do it. Lots of people will want to be warmed by her ray. Only a few will understand that they need to exercise their own brain a little, too. We need to help Anastasia. She's alone. She doesn't even have a platoon. Look, she summoned you and asked you, and you're lying around a cellar like a bum. Some entrepreneur!"

"You're lying around here, too, Mr. KGB."

"All right, sleep, soldier."

"It's kind of cold in your barracks."

"So, that can happen, too. Curl up and conserve your warmth."

Then he stood up, pulled a cellophane packet out of the crack, and covered me with what had been in the package. The three stars on his tunic's epaulette gleamed next to my face in the candle's dim light. I warmed up under the tunic and fell asleep.

Through my sleep, I heard the homeless men go to their corner with the rags and demand a bottle from the colonel for my lodging, and he promised to pay them back the next day, but they insisted he pay up immediately and threatened him.

The colonel moved his plywood cot, placing it between me and the homeless men, and said, "Touch him over my dead body." With that, he lay down on his plywood, shielding me from the homeless men. Then everything quieted down. I felt warm and peaceful. I woke up to the colonel shaking me by the shoulder.

"Up and at 'em! Rise and shine! We've got to get out of here." Dawn had barely broken outside the dingy cellar window. I sat up on the plywood. My head hurt badly, and I was having a hard time breathing.

"It's early still. It's not even dawn."

"A little longer and it'll be too late. They set fire to cotton wool with powder. It's an old trick. A little longer, and we'd have passed out from suffocation."

He walked over to the window with some kind of rod and started prying out the frame. The bums had locked the door from the outside. He pulled out the frame, smashed the window, and climbed onto the windowsill. The cellar window let out onto a concrete recess and was covered by a grate.

He started working on the grate, trying to wrest it from its mounting, but was having no luck. I stood there leaning against the wall. My head was spinning. The colonel poked his head through the window and ordered, "Squat. There's less smoke down low. Try not to move. Breathe in as little air as you can."

He pushed out the grate with his shoulders. He moved it aside and helped me out.

We sat on the concrete pavement next to the cellar window, silently breathing the pre-dawn air of awakening Moscow. Gradually, the dizziness passed. It was cold, and each of us was silently thinking his own thoughts. Then I said, "Your neighbors aren't very friendly. You mean they're the bosses here?"

"Here everyone's his own boss. They have this racket. They bring in a new guy and take a payment from him for the billet. If he refuses to pay, they slip something in his glass or smoke him out while he's asleep, they way they tried to do us, and then they take what they want for themselves, if there's anything to take."

"So you, Mr. KGB, you look on all this indifferently. You could have smacked them good over things like this. Or did you just sit in offices shuffling papers the whole time, as an official, and know nothing about intake?"

"I had to sit in offices and not sit in offices, both. Knowing about intake is one thing. Doing it is very different. An opponent or enemy is one thing. A person is another. And I can choose to ignore it, if it gets to be too much."

"You call these guys people? While you're ignoring them, they rob people. They're prepared to kill."

"They are prepared to kill. But you can't stop that by physical means."

"You philosophize while we nearly died. We barely scrambled out, but others might not."

"Yes, others might not."

"There, you see? So why are you philosophizing instead of acting?"

"I can't beat people. I'm telling you, I can ignore it. Why don't you get going to your deployment. It's dawn already."

I stood up, shook his hand, and left. After a few steps he called out to me.

"Wait up! Come back for a second."

I walked over to the homeless colonel sitting on the concrete paving. He was sitting there, his head hanging, silent.

"Why did you call me?" I asked.

After a pause he began, "You think you can get there?"

"Yes, I can. It's not far. Just three stops. I'll get there."

"I mean, can you achieve your goal? Are you certain? Write a book and publish it?"

"I'm going to act. First, I'll try to write it."

"Anastasia said you were supposed to be able to?"

"Yes, she said that."

"Then why didn't you do that right away?"

"I thought the other was more important."

"So, you can't carry out her orders exactly?"

"Anastasia didn't give orders. She asked."

"She asked. . . . So she worked out the tactics and strategy herself. But you went and decided to do it your own way and just mucked up everything."

"That's what happened."

"That's what happened. You need to pay better attention to your orders. Here, take this."

He held out something wrapped in a small cellophane packet. I unwrapped it and saw through the cellophane a gold wedding ring and a silver cross on a chain.

"Dealers will pay you half its value. Give it to them for that. It might keep you going. If you need somewhere to stay, come here. I'll deal with them."

"What are you doing? I'm not going to take this!"

"Don't think about it. It's time. Go. Come on! Forward!"

"I'm telling you I won't take it!" I tried to give him back the ring and cross but I ran into his commanding and at the same time beseeching look.

"About face. Forward! March!" He spoke in a constricted whisper that brooked no argument, and after a pause, as I was leaving, he whispered, "Just get there."

When I reached my apartment, I wanted to go to sleep or even just lie down. But I couldn't get the homeless colonel off my mind. I put on clean clothes and started out to see him. On my way I thought, "Maybe he'll agree to stay with me. He's equipped for anything. He's practical and neat. Not only that, he's an artist. Maybe he'll draw a picture for the book's cover. It would be easier to make the rent money together. I don't have anything to pay next month's."

At the approach to the cellar window we had crawled out of at dawn, I saw a cluster of people—building residents, a police car, and an ambulance.

The homeless colonel lay on the ground with eyes shut and a smile on his face. He was smeared with wet earth. His dead hand grasped a piece of red brick. A wooden box lay smashed next to the wall.

A forensics man was writing in his notebook. He stood next to the corpse of another man with a twisted face and crumpled, threadbare clothing.

In the small crowd, probably of building residents, a woman kept chattering excitedly.

"I was taking my little dog for a walk, and he, the one smiling, was standing on the box facing the wall, and three of them, bums they looked like, two men and a woman with them, walked up to him from behind. One of the bums jerked the box out, and the man crashed from the box to the ground. They started kicking him and cursing at him. I shouted at them. They stopped beating him.

"This smiling one stood up. He had a hard time standing up. He told them to leave and that he didn't want to lay eyes on them ever again. They started cursing him again and made for him. When they got close, he just karate-chopped the one who had jerked out the box in the throat, without even taking a swing.

"I didn't see him take a swing, but he hit him so hard that the other man doubled up and started choking. I started shouting again. The other two fled immediately. First the woman and then the man ran after her. This smiling one was clutching his heart. He should have sat or lain down then and there if he was having a heart attack, but he went back to his box.

"He walked slowly and moved it to the wall. Holding onto the wall, he climbed onto the box. He stood up on it. He was in such a bad way, you could see it. He started sinking.

"He was sinking and still drawing on the wall with his red brick, and he kept drawing to the ground and lay face up next to the wall. I ran up to see. He wasn't breathing, but he was smiling."

"Why did he climb on the box?" I asked the woman.

"Yes, especially if he was having a heart attack?" someone in the crowd echoed.

"You see, he still wanted to draw. When those three bums crept up on him, he was drawing. That must be why he didn't notice them. My little dog and I were out walking for a long time, but he stood on his box the whole time drawing. He didn't turn away from his drawing once. There's the drawing, higher up." The woman pointed to the building's brick wall.

Written in red brick on the building's gray wall was a circle for a sun, a cedar branch in the middle of it, and along the edges of the round sun, around the circle, some uneven letters.

I got a little closer to the wall and read, "The Ringing Cedars of Russia." There were also little rays coming from the Sun. There were only three of them. The homeless colonel hadn't had the time to draw more. Two short rays and a third ray extended, twisting and fading, to the very base of the wall on the ground where the dead homeless colonel lay smiling.

I looked at his smiling, dirt-smeared face and thought, "Perhaps at the last moment of his life, Anastasia was able to touch him with her Ray and warm the Soul of this man a little at least and carry it into the infinity of light."

I watched them load the bodies of the dead into the van. They tossed "my" colonel in like a sack. His head struck the floor of the truck. I couldn't take it. I tore off my jacket, ran up to the van, and demanded that they lay my jacket under his head.

One paramedic swore at me, but the second silently took the jacket and placed it under the colonel's graying head. The vans left. I felt empty, as if nothing had happened. I stood and looked at the drawing and writing, illuminated by the morning sun. My thoughts were confused.

I had to do something for my KGB man, this officer of Russia who had died here. But what? Then I decided, "I'll put your drawing on the cover of my book, officer.

"I will definitely write it. Even though I still don't know how to write, nevertheless I'll write it, and not just one. I'll put your drawing on all of them, as an emblem. I'll appeal to all Russians in the book:

"'Russians, don't fire your invisible, exploding, bullets, your bullets of cruelty and callousness, into the hearts of our officers.

"Don't shoot your White, Red, Blue, or Green soldiers, your warrant officers and generals in the back. The bullets you fire from the rear are worse than lead ones. Don't fire at your officers, Russians!"

**************

I wrote quickly. Every once in a while, Anton, Artyom, and Lyosha, the student programmers, would stop by with something to eat.

They didn't know about Anastasia yet, but I explained to them that the problem of organizing the society could be solved with the help of the book I had to write. So they went ahead and typed the text on computers.

Lyosha Novichkov did most of this work. He would come every few days, bring back typescript, and pick up a new chapter. This went on for two months.

One day Lyosha returned with the final typed chapter of the first book, a disc with the complete text, two bottles of beer, a small sausage and something else to eat, and twenty thousand rubles and set it all out on the kitchen table.

I asked him in amazement, "Where did you get this kind of money, Lyosha?"

He lived with his mama on extremely limited means and didn't always have enough for the subway and sandwiches.

"The semester's started, Vladimir Nikolaevich," Aleksei replied. "I've done drawings for a few students and various programs for some who either are too lazy or can't. This is what I've been paid."

"And are you passing the semester yourself?"

"Yes. I have one more exam left, and in two days they're taking me to muster for a month, to Kineshma. I'm glad you were able to write Anastasia. Now if you correct anything, Artyom will finish up the typing, but Anton's already mustered."

"Lyosha, how did you ever take your exams, do drawings for other people, write programs, and also type and print Anastasia every day?"

Lyosha was silent. I turned to the kitchen table to put the cooked sausages on the table. Lyosha had laid his arms and head on the pages of the typescript about Anastasia that were lying on the table and was sound asleep.

15. Guessing the Secret

Standing in the kitchen of a small Moscow apartment in front of a table with lukewarm sausages and Lyosha Novichkov sleeping on the pages of my book about Anastasia, I promised myself I would find a way to accumulate capital again and get back my ship so that I could send it on the same route that first led me to Anastasia.

But it wouldn't be for trade, as before. I'd send the ship during the White Nights, so that Lyosha Novichkov, Anton and Artyom, and everyone who had worked so hard, despite the confusion, often neglecting their own material good, to organize the society of entrepreneurs with the purest intentions could enjoy a nice vacation in the very best cabin.

What sort of idea is this, and why does it grip people so? Why had it become so dear to me, too? What secret did it hold? I had to sort this out and pin it down, try to solve its mystery and purpose. Why were people so lit up by the dream of this taiga hermit? What was hidden in it? How could I guess its secret?

Moscow Truth reporter Katya Golovina tried to get to the bottom of it by asking the students, "What moves you? What do you get out of this?" But they couldn't give her a clear answer. They merely said, "This is something worth my while." They too are acting intuitively. But what stands behind this intuition?

**************

Two thousand copies of the first slim volume about Anastasia were printed at Moscow Printing Press No. 11 at the press's expense.

Why did Gennady Vladimirovich, general director of the Grutsya Press, decide to print the book of an unknown author? Furthermore, why did he, despite the financial difficulties, use higher-grade offset paper instead of newsprint?

I sold the first volumes myself near the entrance to the Taganskaya subway station. Later, my first readers began to help me. An elderly woman sold it every day near the Dobryninskaya subway station. She explained in detail to everyone who came up to her that it was a good book. Why?

Later readers began selling it as well at vacation resorts outside Moscow. They wrote announcements themselves and organized meetings with readers vacationing there.

Yuri Nikitin, the commercial director of the Moscow Publishing Sales Concern, suddenly for some reason decided to prepay the press for another two thousand copies. His actions were odd.

He drove to see me and said, "My son and I are going abroad for a tennis tournament. The plane's this evening. I needed to bring in my payment before then." He paid for the new print run. When the time came to pick it up, Nikitin announced, "We don't sell books at all in the summer. I'll take a few bundles and you can deal with the rest yourself. If any money comes of it, you'll give it to me."

Ever since work on the manuscript began and up to the present day there have been many why's connected with this book. It is like a living thing. It drew people to it and with their help forced its way into public life.

I wrote off the events connected with it as coincidences. Nevertheless, all these coincidences fit into a chain of logically structured links. Now I can't distinguish coincidence from the logical result of events. It's become hard to tell them apart.

16. Father Feodorit

The moment came when I felt I could meet with Father Feodorit. In the taiga, I had asked Anastasia, "Are there people in our world who have the same abilities and knowledge as you, but who don't live as far away?"

"In various corners of the Earth there are people whose way of life is different from the technocratic one," Anastasia replied. "They have different abilities. But even in your world, there is someone you could easily reach winter and summer. The strength of his Spirit is great."

"Do you know where he lives? Can I see him and talk with him?"

"Yes."

"Who is he?"

"He is your father, Vladimir."

"What? Oh, Anastasia, Anastasia. . . . I so wanted to hear proofs that you were right, but it's all come out just the opposite. My father died eighteen years ago and is buried in a small town in Bryansk Province."

Anastasia was sitting on the grass and leaning against a tree, her knees pulled close. Silently looking me in the eye, her gaze was a little sad and regretful. Then she dropped her head to her knees. I thought she was upset over her mistake regarding my father, so I tried to console her.

"Anastasia, don't get so upset. You probably made that mistake because, as you yourself said, you have so little strength left." (This conversation occurred after she had lost consciousness trying to save a man and a woman from retribution, an incident I described in the first book.)

Anastasia was silent a little longer, then she lifted her head and once again looking me in the eye, said, "I do have less strength, but not so much less that I could make a mistake."

Then she went on to relate events that had occurred twenty-six years before, to set forth the past accurately and in detail, while lending it the nuances of private feelings.

Somehow, I was able to understand that from the outward, barely noticeable facial expression, posture, and eyes, you can determine the thoughts of whoever you're talking to. But how she viewed the past as if it were a documentary remains a mystery.

Anastasia herself could not explain this in normal, understandable language either.

She said, "Not far from Moscow is the Troitse-Sergiev Monastery, located in Sergiev Posad. Behind its thick ancient walls there is a seminary, an academy, churches, and an abbey.

"The churches are open to the public, and anyone who wants to can come and pray in this holy place of ancient Russia. Even in the days when believers were persecuted, they were not destroyed and there was the seminary, academy, and abbey, where co-partaker monks served God behind these walls.

"Twenty-six years before, on the day I came into this world, a young man walked through the gates of the Troitse-Sergiev Monastery. He visited the museum and then proceeded to the main church. A tall, gray-haired monk was reading the homily in the church. Both his height and his rank were exalted.

"This was Father Feodorit, the archpriest of the Troitse-Sergiev Monastery. The young man listened to the homily, and when Father Feodorit moved away, he followed him into the treasury. The church's servants did not stop the young man. Walking up to Father Feodorit, he began talking to him about the homily.

"Father Feodorit spoke with him for a long time. The young man had been baptized, but he did not possess sufficient faith, did not observe the fasts, did not take communion, and did not attend church regularly, but that day a friendship began between Father Feodorit and the young man.

"When the young man would come to the abbey, Father Feodorit would talk to him and show him holy objects to which ordinary parishioners did not have access. The monk gave him books, which he lost. The monk put a cross around the young man's neck, but the cross was lost as well.

"The monk gave the young man a second cross, an unusual one—the cross opened up like a locket—but it too was lost. The monk even brought the young man to his meal and sat him down at the same table with the abbey's monks. Each time, he gave him a little money. He never reproached him for anything and indeed always looked forward to his visit.

"This went on for a year. The young man spent time at the abbey every week, but one day he left and a week later had still not come. The monk waited. A month passed and then a year, and still the young man did not come. The monk waited.

"Now twenty-five years have passed. The monk has been waiting. For twenty-five years, Vladimir, your spiritual father, the Great Monk of Russia, Father Feodorit, has been waiting for you."

"I went far away from the abbey. To Siberia. I've thought about Father Feodorit from time to time," I replied as if trying to justify myself to myself or someone else.

"But you didn't write him a single letter," Anastasia noted.

"I want to see him."

"And what will you tell him? Maybe how you made money, were lucky in love, and simply lost your way? How many times were you on the brink of ruin but at the last moment disaster pulled back?

"He himself will see all this when he takes one look at you. He has been praying for your sins and has saved you so many times with his prayers. He still believes the way he did twenty-five years ago. He wanted something else from you."

"What, Anastasia? What does he know? What does he want?"

"I haven't been able to sort that out. He sensed it intuitively. Tell me, Vladimir, do you remember your conversations with him? Do you remember what you saw in the monastery treasuries?"

"I remember it all very vaguely. It was a long time ago, after all. I can only remember individual episodes."

"Try to remember them, and I will help you."

"Each time, Father Feodorit talked to me in different places in the abbey. I remember certain underground or half-underground rooms. I remember the dining hall, the long table, the monks eating dinner at it, and me with them. This was during some fast. The food was Lenten, but I liked it."

"Did you have unusual sensations or feelings when you visited the abbey?"

"Once after dinner, I went out through an abbey passage into the monastery's inner courtyard and headed for the gates. They were closed to parishioners. The courtyard was empty. The thick high walls kept the noise of the town out. All around there was nothing but churches and silence.

"I stopped. I thought I heard magnificent music. I needed to leave. A monk was standing on duty by the gates in order to let me out and draw the bolts on the gates. But I kept standing there listening to this music, and then I walked slowly toward the gates."

"Did you ever hear that music again? Did you ever experience that feeling?"

"No."

"Did you ever try to hear the music again and call up this sensation?"

"Yes, but I never could. I even stood in that same spot when I went the next time, but unfortunately . . ."

"Try to remember something else, Vladimir."

"You're interrogating me. You told that part of my life twenty-six years ago so accurately, you tell me what I felt then."

"That's impossible. Father Feodorit did not make specific plans, but he was counting on something intuitively and did something great and significant for you, something known only to him. I too only sense it intuitively: he was thinking of something significant and did a great deal for that—a very great deal.

"But why he associated what he desired with you, who hadn't even the elementary abilities for quickly arriving at faith remains a puzzle. Why twenty-five years of this dissolute life of yours did not break this faith is also a puzzle.

"And why do you, who was given so much, continue to do nothing? I can't understand it. After all, nothing in the Universe vanishes without a trace. Please try to remember at least a few individual episodes from the meetings and conversations with your Father."

"I remember a hall or some kind of treasury in the religious academy or seminary, but maybe this was one of the abbey's underground rooms. Some monk opened a door for Father Feodorit, but he himself did not go in. Father Feodorit and I went in together. There were pictures on the walls and things on the shelves."

"You expressed surprise there twice. At what?"

"Surprise? Yes, of course, it did surprise me. Amazed me, in fact."

"What did?"

"One picture. It was black and white, as if it had been drawn with pencil. It was a very precisely drawn portrait of a person."

"So what surprised you so much?"

"I don't remember."

"Try to remember, Vladimir. Please try to remember and I'll help you. A small room, you and Father Feodorit are standing together in front of this picture—you a little in front—and the father says to you, 'Step a little closer to the picture, Vladimir.' You took a step forward, then another step . . ."

"I remember! Anastasia!"

"What?"

"The picture of this person was drawn with just a single line. A pulsing, spiraling line. Drawn as if they had placed their pencil, or whatever people draw pictures with, in the middle of a sheet of white paper and drawn their instrument in a spiral without picking up, but pressing on it to broaden the line, or barely touching the page, which made the line very fine, but never breaking off.

"The spiral line ended at the edge of the page and the result was an amazing picture, the portrait of a human."

"That picture needs to be exhibited for viewing by everyone who wishes to see it. Someone may be able to decode the information put into it. Through that pulsing line depicting a human being, people are supposed to become aware of something."

"How?"

"I don't know yet. Well, for example, the dots and dashes might look like some kind of alphabet or musical notation. I'm only suggesting. Either one is possible or even something else. When you go back, ask them to exhibit it for general viewing or to publish it somewhere. The person who can decode this line-spiral will turn up."

"But who is going to listen to me?"

"They'll listen to you. But that time you experienced something else very unusual. Can you remember what it was?"

"In that room or an adjoining space. . . . Yes, in a very small space there was a handsome raised carved wooden chair, or maybe it was an armchair, that looked like a throne. Father Feodorit and I stood there looking at it. Father Feodorit said no one ever touched it."

"But you did. You even sat on it."

"Father Feodorit himself suggested I do that."

"And at that moment something happened to you."

"Nothing. I sat there and looked at Father Feodorit, and he stood there and silently looked into my eyes. He just looked."

"Please remember, Vladimir, try to remember your inner feelings. They are what is most important."

"Nothing special, just these thoughts racing through my mind, very quickly, like a cassette tape on fast forward so that the words blurred into unintelligible sounds."

"Did you ever try to make sense of them, Vladimir? Afterwards, did you ever feel like stopping that tape in order to hear it at normal speed and understand the sound it was making?"

"How's that?"

"To give some thought to the essence of being."

"No, I didn't. You're not making sense."

"Did you understand everything Father Feodorit said to you? Could you remember precisely just one sentence, even if it has no connection to all the rest?"

"Yes, but I really can't remember what it's connected with."

"Tell me."

"'You will show them.'"

Anastasia, who had been sitting under the tree, suddenly stood up, her face beaming. She placed her palms on the Cedar's trunk and pressed her cheek to it.

"Yes! Of course!" Anastasia exclaimed. She clapped her hands and began speaking joyfully.

"Truly you are great, monk of Russia! You know, Vladimir, there is one thing I can definitely say now about Father Feodorit. He made many of the world's teachings ridiculous by pointing to the main thing."

"We didn't talk about any teachings at all. We discussed ordinary everyday topics."

"Yes! Of course! Ordinary ones! Father Feodorit talked to you about what was bothering you. He showed you sacred creations, treating them with respect but not servile, ostentatious veneration.

"Given high rank, he was simple and, most important, reflective, perhaps especially in your presence. He didn't express a single dogma. Compared to him, aren't the proselytizers ridiculous—those who have flooded into Russia expounding their dogmas and taking people away from the main thing?

"He walled you off so well from dogmas that you take even me for a naïve hermit. But it doesn't matter who I am. What matters is not to get away from the main thing."

"What main thing?"

"What there is in each person."

"But how can each person know the teachings of the sages of the West or East, India and Tibet, if he's never even heard of them?"

"Absolutely all the essential information is placed in the human being, Vladimir, in each person, from the very beginning. They are given it immediately at birth. Like their arms, legs, heart and hair. All the teachings of the world, all the discoveries, derive only from this Source.

"Just as parents try to give each child of theirs everything, so too the Great Creator gives each person everything immediately. Nothing made by people—not the mountains of books, not the most modern and future computers, all taken together—will ever be able to hold even a portion of the information already contained in a single person. You just have to know how to use it."

"Then why don't people make all these discoveries? Why doesn't each person create a body of teachings?"

"Someone will receive a grain of Truth from the total volume. They will repeat It admiringly and believe that It has been given to them alone, and that It holds the foundation.

"They will repeat It to others and try to force them to think about It alone as fundamental and singular. Consequently, they shut themselves off from the complete body of basic information. Knowledge of Truths does not lie in your professing them but in your way of life."

"What way of life is characteristic for those who know the Truth best?"

"A happy one!"

"But knowing the Truth requires awareness and purity of intentions."

"Mysticism! Fantasy!" Anastasia laughed and added through her laughter, "Were you reading my thoughts?

"There is no mysticism here—simply an attentive attitude toward the person. You always reduce everything to purity of intentions and awareness."

"Mysticism! Mysticism!" Anastasia repeated, laughing. "You're reading my thoughts. This is fantastic!"

I couldn't resist her amusement and burst out laughing, too. Then I asked, "What do you think, Anastasia. Will my spiritual Father Feodorit receive me if I go to see him? Will he talk to me? Won't he be upset?"

"Of course he'll receive you and rejoice in your coming! He will receive you however you are. Only he will experience greater joy if you have grasped and done at least something with the information you possess. Stop the fast-forwarded tape, Vladimir, and you'll understand a lot."

"Is my Father still living in the same abbey? At the Troitse-Sergiev Monastery?"

"Your Father, this great elder of Russia, now lives in a small hermitage in the forest not far from the Troitse-Sergiev Monastery. The hermitage's rules are stricter than the abbey's, and your Father is the hermitage's abbot. The hermitage lies in the forest, in an uncommonly beautiful place.

"There are just a few small buildings with cells, as well as a small wooden church in this forest hermitage. It's unpainted and its cupola ungilded, but it is very, very beautiful, comfortable, and clean, and it has two heating stoves. Unlike most other churches, candles are neither bought nor sold there.

"Nothing there is bought or sold. No one and nothing has defiled it, and parishioners have no access to the hermitage. Father Feodorit is praying in this church right now. He prays for the salvation of the Souls of all people and you.

"He is praying for offspring who have forgotten their parents, praying for parents forgotten by their children. Go to him and bow. Ask him for absolution. The strength of his Spirit is great. Bow to Father Feodorit for me as well."

"Fine, Anastasia, I will. And you know, first I will probably try to do what you've asked."

* * *

When I arrived at Sergiev Posad, the little town outside Moscow previously called Zagorsk, I walked through the gates of the Troitse-Sergiev Monastery, as I had twenty-seven years before. I headed immediately toward the entrance to the active abbey.

Before, when I introduced myself I could easily summon Father Feodorit. But now the monk on duty replied that Father Feodorit was not the archpriest. There was a Father Feodorit in the abbey, but he lived in the forest apart from the abbey.

Parishioners did not go there. I told the monk that I knew Father Feodorit, and to convince him I named the sacred objects of the monastery that Father Feodorit had shown me.

He then told me where the forest hermitage was located. I was inexplicably agitated as I approached the small wooden forest church. It was unusually beautiful, blending harmoniously into its natural environment. Paths led to the church from the few small wooden monk cells situated not far from it.

Father Feodorit and I met on the forest church's wooden porch. I became flustered even as I recalled Anastasia's words: "Don't be embarrassed and try not to be surprised when you meet your Father." However, the vague sense of confusion would not pass.

Father Feodorit was old and gray, but no older than twenty-seven years before. We sat on blocks of wood, on the forest church porch, and were silent. I tried to say something, but I couldn’t find what I needed to say.

He seemed to know everything anyway and it made no sense to utter the words. It was as if we had parted only yesterday, not twenty-seven years before.

I had brought Father Feodorit my book about Anastasia, but I hadn't given it to him. I'd shown the book to various priests. Some had looked at it and said they didn't read such books. Others asked what it was about and, after my brief story, pronounced Anastasia a pagan.

I didn't want to distress Father Feodorit, and I didn't want him to reject her. Whenever anyone tried to say anything bad about Anastasia, a feeling of antagonism arose in me.

I had even argued with a priest at the Novospassky Monastery. He pointed out two women in black scarves and dark clothing to me and said, "That is how God-fearing women behave."

I answered him, "If Anastasia is cheerful and full of life, that may be what God wants. It is more pleasant to look at people full of life than on downcast people like those two."

Agitated, I took out my book and handed it to Father Feodorit. He took it calmly and placed it in his open hand. Slowly he stroked it with his other palm, as if sensing something with his hands, and said, "Do you want me to read it?" Without waiting for my answer, he added, "Fine, leave it with me."

Two days later, in the morning, I went to see Father Feodorit again. We sat in the forest on a very small bench, near Father Feodorit's cell. We were talking about everything. His conversational manner hadn't changed from twenty-seven years before, but one very strange circumstance would give me no rest. Why did Father Feodorit look even a little younger than he had twenty-seven years before? Suddenly, interrupting his own thoughts, he spoke.

"Vladimir, your Father Feodorit died."

At first I was upset. Then I asked, "Who are you, then?"

"I am Father Feodorit," and he looked at me with a barely noticeable smile.

Once again I asked, "Tell me, where is his grave?"

"In the old cemetery."

"I want to see it. How do I find it?"

He did not answer about the grave, saying only, "Come see me when you have the time."

And then something completely incomprehensible began to happen.

"It's time for dinner," Father Feodorit said. "Let's go, and I'll feed you." I sat at the table in the small dining house. There was a pot of borscht on the table, mashed potatoes with fish, and stewed fruit. He ladled out the borscht for me, and I began to eat. Father Feodorit himself did not eat. He just sat at the table.

When I started eating the potatoes, I liked them very much. Then I remembered—they tasted exactly as they had at the abbey dining hall twenty-seven years before. I had remembered that all my life. My head was spinning.

On the one hand, this was another Father Feodorit next to me; on the other, he was speaking and behaving exactly as he had before. I remembered how once, many years before, when we were in one of the abbey's rooms, Father Feodorit had suggested we have our photograph taken together. I'd agreed.

He called in a monk with a camera who took our picture. I decided to clarify the situation. I knew that monks did not like to pose.

I thought that now I would suggest that Father Feodorit and the forest church be photographed on color film. If he refused, that would mean he was the wrong Father Feodorit, not mine. So I suggested, "Let's take our photograph together."

Father Feodorit did not refuse, and we took our picture. I photographed that beautiful church, too. It turned out well, even though my camera was quite basic.

As I was leaving, Father Feodorit gave me a small travel Bible. Inside it was written not in verse, as in most Bibles, but as prose, as in books. He explained, "When you quote the Bible in your book, you have to specify the chapter you're quoting."

To my request that he receive and speak to people wishing to meet with Anastasia, so they would not have to travel so far into the Siberian taiga, Father Feodorit replied, "You know, I still haven't sorted this out entirely for myself. Come alone for now, when you have the time."

Father Feodorit's refusal disappointed me, but I did not insist. Talking with him about different things, I concluded that in Russia's monasteries there are elders whose wisdom and simplicity of explanation greatly exceed the many proselytizers of both imported religions and our own.

Yet why are you silent, you wise elders of Russia? Because of your own understanding, or do dark forces prevent you from speaking? You come to church for a service in a language people don't understand.

This drives crowds to pay money to hear missionaries speaking in a language they don't understand. Maybe that's why swarms of Russians travel to sacred places overseas, forgetting their own.

I always felt very good after being with Father Feodorit. He spoke more simply, clearly, and understandably than the many missionaries I'd heard since meeting Anastasia in order to understand what she said. I wanted others to feel good, too.

When will you speak up, wise elders of Russia?

17. The Space of Love

After the first printing of my book about Anastasia sold out I received a royalty. I went to what is now the All-Union Exhibition Center. For some reason I liked spending time there.

I walked past the many snack bars and open shashlyk stands luring me with delicious smells and I fought the desire to buy all this delicious food. Although I had money in my pocket—and a considerable sum, to boot—I decided to be thrifty.

Then something incredible happened. I heard Anastasia's voice, not loud but perfectly distinct: "Buy yourself something to eat, Vladimir. Buy what you want. You don't need to deny yourself nourishment."

I took a few more steps past open shashlyk stands and once again the voice asked, "Why are you walking by? Eat a little, please, Vladimir."

"Good heavens, what an hallucination!" I thought.

I walked toward a bench on the promenade, a little away from people. I sat there and quietly whispered, leaning over, so people wouldn't think I was talking to myself.

"Anastasia, am I really hearing your voice?"

In reply I heard right then, distinctly and clearly, "You are hearing my voice, Vladimir."

"Hello, Anastasia. Why haven't you spoken to me before? I have so many questions. Readers ask questions at gatherings and there are a lot I can't answer."

"I have spoken. I have been trying to speak to you the whole time but you don't hear me.

"The day you decided to commit suicide I even shouted, I was so upset. It didn't help. You didn't hear me. Then I had an idea and started singing. Two young women started playing this song on their violins in the subway. They heard it and began to play along.

"As soon as you heard the melody of the song I sang for you in the taiga, you thought of me. I was so upset then I nearly lost my milk."

"What milk, Anastasia?"

"My breast milk, the milk for our son. I've given birth to him, Vladimir."

"Given birth . . . Anastasia, are you having a hard time? How are you doing alone with the child in the taiga? How is he? I remember you said, 'But it won't be at the right time.'"

"Everything's fine. Spring awoke early and is helping me now. Our son is fine, he's a sturdy boy. He's already smiling. His skin is a little dry, like yours, but that's all right. It will pass.

"Everything will be fine, you'll see, it's going to be harder for you now than us. But take another step. Finish writing.

"I know how hard it was for you and there are some hard times yet to come but you must continue. Continue on your path."

"Yes, Anastasia."

I wanted to tell her that writing the book was harder than doing business. I wanted to tell her about the situation in my family and firm—basically about all the unexpected reversals of the previous year.

I wanted to tell her how I nearly ended up in the loony bin. I wanted to give my opinion that she shouldn't lure people with her dreams anymore but I thought, Why upset a nursing mother? She might lose her milk.

So I said to her, "Don't you worry over trifles, Anastasia. I'm not having any particular difficulties whatsoever. Just think, I wrote a book. That's easier than compiling a business plan.

"When you compile a business plan, you have to anticipate so many different nuances but here you sit down and describe what's already happened. Like in the joke about the Chukchi: 'I sing what I see.'

"And also . . .

"You know, Anastasia, they may seem mere fantasy, but your dreams are coming true. It's hard to believe but they are.

"Here it is, the book has been written. You dreamed of it and now it exists. People truly are reading it with interest. The big city newspapers are writing about it now.

"Readers are composing poems about you, nature and Russia. I found the painting in the Troitse-Sergiev Monastery treasury you and I spoke of. The picture has survived and is called 'One as One.' I'm going to publish it.

"Imagine, the bards—you remember telling me about the bards?"

"Yes, I remember, Vladimir."

"Just think, that's starting to come true, too. At one readers' conference, a dark blond man came up to me, handed me an audiocassette and said curtly, in military fashion, 'Songs for Anastasia. I beg of you, accept them.'

"Journalists, readers and associates of the Moscow Research Center who had come to the conference listened to the cassette in silence. Then different people started copying it. Copying it and searching for the short, dark blond man, who wasn't much to look at but who had turned up so suddenly and left just as suddenly.

"He turned out to be a submarine officer from St. Petersburg—the scholar Aleksandr Korotynsky.

"He later told me how their submarine had been raised after an accident, how a chain of coincidences had confidently led him to the cassette so that he could hand it to me.

"Aleksandr Korotynsky turned out to be a bard as well. His song 'Temple' contains entire sentences spoken by you. Like these, remember?

Don't believe what others tell you

When they say all this will pass.

Many are those who see the Temple,

But few will go inside.

Our life may race

Through different stages,

But each and every one of us

Has made their own choice.

"Also, Korotynsky doesn't have a singer's voice, he practically speaks the lyrics. But this confirmed what you said about the power of words connected to the soul by invisible threads. The bard Korotynsky demonstrated this in real life."

"Thank you, bard, for the light joy you have brought people, for the cleansing of souls, thank you," Anastasia said.

"Imagine, another officer! Grutsya is an officer, too, and he was the first to print the book. Furthermore a homeless colonel drew the picture for it.

"And the pilot, the regimental commander, who helped sell the books.

"Now the first to bring songs was an officer, too. Why does your Ray set fire to officers' souls? Do you shine it more on them than others?"

"My Ray has touched many but aspirations are ignited only where there is something to burn."

"Your dream, Anastasia, is becoming a reality after all. People are picking up on it, understanding it. The homeless colonel understood. I met him by chance and I'm sorry he died.

"I saw him lying there, dead. His whole face was smeared with dirt but he was smiling. Dead but smiling. Was it you who did something with your Ray? What does it mean when a person dies with a smile?"

"That man who was with you—he's with the bard right now on the invisible path. His smile will save many hearts from bullets more terrible than lead."

"Your dream is entering our world, Anastasia, and the world seems to be starting to change. Some people have sensed and understood you. Powers have appeared in them out of somewhere and they are making changes.

"The world is getting a little better. But you're still there, in the taiga, in your glade. I couldn't live in the conditions you do, just as you couldn't live in our world.

"Then why is your love needed? Your love makes no sense and to this day I can't understand my own relationship to you. Why should I, when it's clear as it is that we will never be together? Side by side."

"We are together, Vladimir. Side by side."

"Together? Where are you? When people love, they try to stay by each other's side always, to embrace and caress. You're unusual. You don't need that."

"I do need that—the same as everyone—and I have it."

"But how?"

"Like right now. Don't you feel the breeze's gentle touch and its fond embrace? And the warm touch of the Sun's ray? How the birds sing for you and the leaves rustle on the tree you're sitting under! Listen closely. Isn't it an unusual rustling?"

"But this—everything you've named—is for everyone. You mean this is all you?"

"Love that has dissolved in space for one person can touch many souls."

"Why dissolve love in space?"

"So the Dimension of Love will always be near your beloved. Here is love's essence and purpose."

"All this doesn't seem to make sense. And your voice . . . I've never heard at a distance before, and now I do. Why?"

"It's not the voice you're hearing at a distance. You have to listen with your heart, not your ears, and you will learn to with your heart."

"Why learn that when you can always speak with your voice like now?"

"I won't always be able to."

"But you're speaking right now, I can hear you."

"My grandfather is helping us now. Talk to him for a while. I need to go feed our son and I have many other things to do. I so want to do it all."

"So your grandfather can but you can't. Why?"

"Because my grandfather is somewhere nearby right now. Very close to you."

"Where?"

18. Anastasia's Grandfather

I looked from side to side. Anastasia's grandfather was standing almost next to a shop pushing a piece of paper someone had dropped on the lawn toward the trashbin with his stick. I leapt up. He and I shook hands.

His eyes were cheerful and good, and he was easy to be with. Not like her great-grandfather. When I saw her great-grandfather in the taiga, he was silent the entire time, and his eyes looked into space as if he were looking through you.

Her grandfather and I sat down on the bench and I asked him, "How did you get here and find me?"

"It's not so difficult with Anastasia's help."

"My goodness, she gave birth. She said she was going to, and she did—alone, in the taiga, not a hospital. It must have hurt, right? Did she cry out?"

"Why do you think it should have hurt?"

"Well, when women give birth, it hurts. Some even die in labor."

"It only hurts when the person is conceived in sin, as a result of carnal pleasures. The woman pays for this with labor pains and the torments of life thereafter. If the conception came about with other aspirations, the pain merely intensifies the birthing woman's sense of the great joy of creation."

"What happens to the pain? How can it intensify joy?"

"When a woman is raped, what does she experience? Pain, of course, and revulsion. But when she gives herself freely, the same pain shifts into other sensations. It's the same kind of difference in labor."

"You mean Anastasia gave birth without pain?"

"Naturally without pain. And she chose an appropriate day, warm and sunny."

"How did she choose? After all, women give birth unexpectedly."

"Unexpectedly when they conceive inadvertently. The mother can always delay or speed up the baby's appearance by a few days."

"Didn't you know when she was supposed to give birth? Didn't you try to help her?"

"We sensed it that day. It was a beautiful day. We went to her glade. At the edge of the glade, we saw the bear. The bear was roaring in insult. Roaring and pawing the earth as hard as it could. Anastasia lay on the same spot where her mother had given birth to her, and the little bundle was alive on her breast. The wolf cub was licking him."

"But why was the bear roaring? What was it angry about?"

"Anastasia had called for the wolf cub, not the bear."

"It could have approached itself."

"They never approach without being asked. Imagine the pandemonium there would be if they approached without being asked, whenever they wanted."

"I wonder how she's doing with the child now?"

"You could go and take a look, if you're wondering."

"She said I shouldn't be around him until I cleanse myself of something here. First, I must travel to holy places, but I don't have the money."

"What do you care what that alogical woman said? You're the father. You should act as you see fit. You could buy him all kinds of rompers and diapers, little jackets, and rattles, and you could demand she dress the child normally and not torment him. Otherwise he's completely naked in the forest."

"I wanted to see my son as soon as I heard about him. That's what I'll do. You hit the nail on the head about her being alogical. That must be why I have these incomprehensible feelings for her—first amazement, now respect—but still there's something else I don't understand.

"But it's not like love for a woman. I remember what it felt like before when I would fall in love with a woman. Now it's something else. It's probably impossible to love her in an ordinary way. Something interferes. Maybe it's her being alogical that interferes."

"Anastasia is alogical, Vladimir, not stupid. Her apparent alogic derives from forgotten spiritual laws from the depths of the Universe and may also create new ones.

"The forces of light and darkness fade away sometimes because she seems to stand outside the bounds of logic, but later the simple Truth of being known to all suddenly flares up more brightly. We can't always understand our Anastasia either, even though she is our granddaughter. She grew up before our eyes. But since we don't always understand, we can't help in any substantial way.

"Because of that, she is often alone in her aspirations, completely alone. She met you and opened up to you and others completely through the book. We wanted to prevent that. We wanted to prevent her love. Her choice seemed incomprehensible and absurd."

"Even now I don't understand her choice. Readers ask questions, too. 'Who are you?' 'Why did Anastasia choose you?' I can't answer. I realize that it would be more appropriate for her to have a scientist or a religious man by her side.

"He would be able to understand and love her. Together, they would bring about much more good, while I have to change my life and sort out many issues that have long been clear and understandable to others more enlightened."

"Do you regret that your life has changed?"

"I don't know. I'm still trying to make sense of it all. As to why she chose me, I just can't say. I've searched for an answer but haven't found one."

"How have you searched for the answer?"

"I've been trying inwardly to figure out who I am."

"You may be outstanding in some way. Am I right?"

"I think there may be something. They say like attracts like."

"Vladimir, did Anastasia talk to you about pride and egotism? Did she talk about the consequences of that sin?"

"Yes, she said it was a mortal sin that led people away from the Truth."

"She didn't choose you, Vladimir. She picked you up. She picked you up as something no one needed and that had had its day. We didn't figure this out right away either. Are you hurt?"

"I don't quite agree with you. I had a family, a wife and daughter, and my business affairs were going fairly well. I might not be outstanding, but I'm not so bad that I had to be picked up like a bum or someone unneeded and abandoned."

"Lately there had been no love between you and your wife. You had your own life and interests, and she had hers. Only daily life kept you together—or rather, the inertia of past feelings that had faded more and more with time.

"You and your daughter had nothing to talk about. Your business did not interest her. Only to you did it seem important. It brought in material income. Today income, tomorrow nothing or a loss, ruin.

"And you were ill. You had nearly destroyed your stomach. With your dissolute way of life you would never have scrambled out of your illness. It was all over. There was nothing left."

"What's it to you? What does she need me for? An experiment? Had she done some kind of calculation?"

"She simply came to love you, Vladimir, sincerely, as she does everything. And she's happy she did not take anyone from your world who was capable of bringing joy to another woman. She did not put herself in a privileged position. She is glad to be like all women."

"You mean this is her whim? She wants to be like all women? I smoked, I ran around. . . . Just think! What self-sacrifice for a whim!"

"Her love is sincere, without whim or calculation. At first, her acts appeared alogical to the forces of light and dark, to us and others, but in reality she shed a bright light on the concept and meaning of Love—not with words, teachings, or moral admonitions, but by the real accomplishments in your life.

"The forces of light and the Creator speak through her Love. They don't just talk, they demonstrate it in waking life in a way no one ever has before. See what the power of woman, the power of pure Love, is like.

"In the moment before death, she can give new life. She can lift up her beloved, tear him from the tenacious paws of darkness, and carry him into the infinity of light. She can surround him with the Dimension of Love and give him a second life, eternal life.

"Vladimir, her Love will restore your wife's love and your daughter's respect. Thousands of women will gaze at you ardently. You will have complete freedom of choice. And if, out of all the diversity of the outward manifestation of love, you are able to see and understand this one, she will be happy.

"In any event, you will be famous and rich and nothing will be able to ruin you. The book you wrote will fly over the world and not only make you money but give you and others strength greater than material or physical strength."

"The book truly is beginning to sell well. But I wrote it myself, though some people say that Anastasia helped, too, in some way. What do you think? Is this my book alone, or did I write it with her participation?"

"You went through all the motions of a writer. You chose the paper and ran a pen over it, describing what had happened. You set forth a few of your own conclusions in language characteristic of you alone. You arranged for the book's publication. Your actions in no way differed from a writer's usual actions."

"You mean the book is mine alone? Anastasia did none of it?"

"No, she didn't. She didn't run the pen over the paper."

"You talk as if she nonetheless did help in some way. If that's the case, say so more clearly. What did she do?"

"Anastasia gave up her life so you could write this book, Vladimir."

"There, you see? This is all completely incomprehensible. Why? How could she, while living in the forest, give up her life for some book? Who is she? She says, 'a human being.' Others call her an extraterrestrial, a goddess. You can get totally mixed up. I wish I could reach some sort of clarity for myself."

"It's all very simple, Vladimir. Humans are the only creature in the Universe who live on all levels of existence at once. Most people in their earthly essence see only the earthly, materialized manifestation. There are those who sense other invisible essences as well.

"The people who call Anastasia a goddess do not sin before the Truth. The main difference between humans and everything else that exists is that humans have been given the ability to create the present and future with our thoughts by creating shapes and images that subsequently materialise.

"The future depends on vividness and harmoniousness, how swift the Human-Creator's thought is, and how pure their intentions. In this sense Anastasia is a goddess, for the speed of her thought and the images she shapes are so vivid and pure that she alone has proved capable of countering the entire dark mass of opposites.

"Alone. However, we have no idea how long she is going to be able to withstand this. She keeps waiting and believing that people will grasp this and help her, that they will stop producing darkness and hell."

"Who is producing darkness and hell?"

"The soothsayers who believe and talk about disaster and the end of the world are themselves producing thoughts and shapes of the end of the world. Many predictions of the universal demise of humanity indeed bring it closer by their thoughts and shapings. There are a great many of them, and as they search for salvation and the promised land themselves, they never suspect that hell has been prepared specifically for them."

"But those people who talk about and believe in Judgment Day and disaster, don't they sincerely pray for the salvation of their Souls?"

"This is belief not in light and love, which God is and moves by, but in fear. Furthermore, they are readying this fearful thing for themselves. Think about it, Vladimir. Try to imagine. Here you and I are sitting on this bench. You see lots of people in front of you.

"All of a sudden, some double up with painful seizures. Supposedly, they are sinners. Around us on the ground are many decomposing bodies, but you and I are sitting here untouched, observing.

"Our bench seems to be in heaven. But won't your Soul explode from the horrible picture before you? Isn't it better to die, to fall asleep the moment before that insight?"

"But what if all the saved righteous people are taken to the promised land, which is free of decomposing bodies and horrific scenes?"

"When news arrives from the far end of the earth about the death of someone dear to you, don't you feel sadness and grief in your Soul?"

"Probably anyone would get upset."

"Then how you can you conceive of a heaven for yourself when you know that most of your fellow countrymen, friends, and relatives have already perished and others are dying in terrible suffering?

"To what degree does a Soul have to harden, what abyss of gloom does it have to plunge into, in order to rejoice while being aware of what is happening? Souls like that aren't needed in the kingdom of light. For it is they who create darkness."

"Then why do humanity's great teachers, who have written all kinds of teachings, talk about the end of the world and Judgment Day? Who are they then? Where are they leading people? Why do they speak this way?"

"It's hard to tell what they intend. Perhaps, having assembled crowds around themselves, they will produce a turnaround in consciousness due to the attractiveness of their ideas."

"People can produce a turnaround now. Yet those who came before, did they leave behind their teachings?"

"They, too, could have prepared a shift in thinking in hopes that their followers would carry it out and reveal the Truth. They may be waiting for events to teach the majority the dead end their path leads to, and events may help them turn those who come with and believe in them toward the light."

"If you knew all this, why did you keep silent in the forest for so many years? Why didn't you try to explain this to someone before? Anastasia said your clan has led this unique way of life for millennia, preserving the Truth of the Primary Sources, from generation to generation."

"In the different corners of the world there are people who have preserved a non-technocratic way of life, preserving the abilities inherent in humans alone.

"At various times, they have tried to share their awareness, but they have always perished before they could say the essential thing. They produced powerful shapes and images, but too many opposed them."

"You mean they would trample and destroy Anastasia, too?"

"In some incomprehensible way, Anastasia has been able to oppose them—at least, so far. Perhaps due to her being alogical or . . ." The old man fell silent, running his stick pensively over the ground, drawing incomprehensible symbols.

I thought a while and then asked him, "Why did she keep repeating to me, 'I am a human being, a woman,' if she is a Goddess, as you say?"

"In her earthly, materialized life, she is simply a person, simply a woman. Although her way of life is somewhat unusual, she, like all people, can be full of joy and sorrow, can love and want to be loved. All she possesses is inherent in humanity. A human in its original form.

"Her abilities that struck you as so strange do not seem so fantastic now that you have learned what your science says about them. Scientists will find explanations for many more of her currently incomprehensible abilities. They will all be trying to prove that she is simply a human being, simply a woman.

"There is one phenomenon you cannot understand merely by encountering it, although this awaits you. Science will not be able to explain it. My father doesn't even know what it is. We call something like this an anomaly. But I beg you, Vladimir, don't identify this phenomenon with Anastasia.

"It can occur alongside, but not in her. Try to find the strength inside yourself to see and feel the human being in her. She is trying to be like everyone else. For some reason, she feels it is important and necessary to prove she is a human being.

"This is hard for her because in doing this she cannot violate her principles. But doesn't each person have principles of their own?"

"What is this phenomenon you haven't defined and science cannot make sense of?"

19. An Anomalous Phenomenon

"When we buried Anastasia's parents, she was very little. She couldn't walk or talk at all. My father and I dug the earth with the wild animals' help. We spread twigs over the bottom of the pit, laid the bodies of Anastasia's parents in it, covered them with grass, and sprinkled them with earth.

"We stood silently over the funeral mound. Little Anastasia was sitting close by in the glade, examining a bug crawling over her hand. 'It's good she can't yet comprehend the grief that has come to her,' we thought. Then we quietly left."

"What do you mean 'left'? You're telling me you abandoned a little girl who still didn't have her wits about her?"

"We didn't abandon her. We left her where her mother had given her birth. We have a concept: Shambala, Homeland. Homeland—rodina—comes from rod, 'birth', 'family', 'kin'. Parents.

"Before a child appears in the world, their parents must shape a Space for them, a world of Good Will and Love, and give them a small piece of homeland—a rodina—which, like the womb, both protects the body and bestows kindness on the Soul. It gives him the wisdom of the universe and helps him acquire the Truth.

"What does a woman who gives birth inside stone walls give her child? What kind of world has she prepared for them? Did she even think about the world in which her child would have to live? The world will treat them as it pleases.

"It will try to subject the little human being to itself and make a slave of them, a cog. The mother becomes nothing more than an observer because she did not prepare a Space of Love for her child.

"You see, Vladimir, Anastasia's mother was treated by the Nature that surrounded her and the wild animals big and small the same as anyone who lived the way she did: as a friend, a wise and good Divinity who had created around herself a world of Love.

"Anastasia's parents were cheerful and good people. They loved each other very much, and they loved the earth. The Dimension that surrounded them returned their Love. Little Anastasia was born in the Dimension of this Love and became its center.

"Many wild animals do not harm newborns. A cat can nurse a puppy and a dog a kitten. Many wild animals are capable of feeding and nursing a human offspring. But these animals have become wild for you.

"For Anastasia's mother and father, they had a different purpose. The wild animals treated them differently. Anastasia's mother gave birth to her in the glade, and many animals observed the birth. They saw the human woman they respected becoming a mother and giving birth to another human.

"When they observed the birth, their feelings for their human friend—their love for her—became intertwined with their own maternal instinct, giving birth to something new, elevated, and light.

"The entire, absolutely the entire surrounding Dimension, from the tiniest bug and blade of grass to the outwardly menacing wild animal, was prepared to give its life without thinking for this little being.

"Nothing could threaten her in this Dimension of Homeland that was created and given by her mother and was all around her. Everyone would nurse and cherish this human being.

"For Anastasia, the little glade was like her mother's womb. The little glade was her living Homeland, mighty and good, and indissolubly linked to the Universe—to all the Great Creator's creation—by a living thread not made by human hand.

"The little glade was her living Homeland, her inheritance from her mother and father and from the One and First Father. We could not take its place. So after we buried Anastasia's parents, we left. Three days later, on a hike to the glade, we sensed a tension in the air and heard the wolves whining. Then we saw . . .

"Little Anastasia was sitting quietly on the burial mound. One cheek was dirty. We realized she had been sleeping on the grave. Tears were slipping from her eyes and falling on the mound. She was weeping almost without a sound, just letting out a sob once in a while. She kept stroking the burial mound with her little hands.

"Unable to speak, she said her first words at this mound. We heard them. First she said them syllable by syllable: 'Ma-ma,' and then, 'Pa-pa.' She repeated them a few times.

"Then she uttered more complicated words: 'Ma-moch-ka, pa-poch-ka, ma-moch-ka, pa-poch-ka. I'm Anastasia. I'll be here without you now. Right? Just with my grandfathers? Right?'

"My father was the first to realize that back when we were burying her parents, little Anastasia, sitting in the glade and examining the bug, had grasped the full depth of the grief that had befallen her. By an effort of will, she had not shown her feelings, so as not to upset us.

"She had taken in the wisdom and strength of the Primary Sources with her mother's milk. Nursing mothers have that opportunity, Vladimir. They can give their infant, while they are nursing, not only their milk but understanding and the wisdom of the ages, all the way back to the Primary Sources.

"Anastasia's mother knew how this was done and made full use of this method. The very fullest.

"Since Anastasia did not want us to see her crying, we did not go out into the glade or approach the grave, but we could not move from that spot. So we stood there, watching what was happening.

"Little Anastasia, resting her little hands on the burial mound, was trying to stand on her little legs. It didn't work the first time, but she did eventually manage to stand.

"She stood there swaying, her arms held out slightly to the sides, and finally took her first timid step from her parents' grave, and then one more. Her little feet got tangled in the grass, and her little body lost its balance and started to fall. But her fall . . . it was unusual.

"At the moment of her fall, suddenly, a barely visible bluish illumination flooded the glade, altering the Earth's gravitation locally. It touched us with a blessed languor as well.

"Anastasia's little body did not fall but rather dropped slowly and smoothly to the ground. When she got back up on her feet, the blue light disappeared, and gravity returned to normal.

"Taking cautious steps and with periodic halts, Anastasia walked up to a small twig lying in the glade and was able to pick it up. We realized she had decided to tidy the glade the way her mother used to.

"The still tiny little girl carried the dry twig to the edge of the glade. But once again she lost her balance, started falling, and dropped the twig.

"As she fell, the blue light flared again, altering the Earth's gravity once more, and the twig flew off to a stack of dried branches lying at the edge of the glade.

"Anastasia stood up, looked for the twig, and couldn't find it. Then she held her little arms out to the side and slowly tottered toward another twig. Before she could lean over, the twig began to rise, as if a breeze had blown it aside.

"It cast the dry twig to the edge of the glade. But there wasn't enough wind around for that to happen. Some invisible someone was carrying out little Anastasia's desire.

"But she wanted to do everything herself, the way her mama had. Probably in protest against the help from her invisible ally, she raised her little arm up and waved it slightly.

"We looked up and saw it. Hanging over the glade, pulsing and radiating blue light, was a small spherical cluster. Many fiery charges, like multicolored lightning, darted inside its translucent covering. It looked like ball lightning, but big. But it was intelligent!

"We couldn't understand what its intelligence consisted of or what it was.

"In it we sensed a hitherto unknown and unseen might, yet we felt no fear. On the contrary, from it came a pleasant, languorous Grace, and we had no desire to move. We felt only like being."

"What made you decide it possessed unprecedented might?"

"My father noticed it. Even though the day was clear and the sun shone, the leaves on the trees and petals on the flowers had turned toward it rather than the Sun. Its bluish illumination held more power than the Sun's rays.

"It also changed the Earth's gravitation at the moment Anastasia's little body was falling, locally and precisely—so precisely that she dropped smoothly without losing contact with the Earth.

"Anastasia spent a long time collecting twigs, sometimes crawling, sometimes taking small, slow steps, walking through the glade, until she had picked them all up herself. The fiery, pulsating sphere directed itself toward the tiny child, but it no longer helped her clear the twigs. It was as if the mighty sphere had understood and obeyed the gesture of the child's little hand.

"Expanding and dissolving in the Dimension, contracting and producing flashes inside itself that looked like energy produced and extinguished by something unknown, it would vanish for an instant and then reappear, as if agitated and having rushed through the Universal Dimension with unimaginable speed.

"The time came when Anastasia usually fell asleep. We never force children to sleep, rocking them to the point of dizziness. At that time Anastasia's mama would simply lie down at the edge of the glade in the same place and seem to fall asleep, showing her by example.

"Little Anastasia would crawl over to her, press up against her warm body, and calmly fall asleep. This time, too, Anastasia went over to where she usually took a nap with her mother. She stood there and looked at the spot where her mother had always slept at that time, but now her mama wasn't there.

"We didn't know what she was thinking about at that moment, but once again a teardrop gleamed in a sunbeam on little Anastasia's cheek. The blue light immediately began to pulse through the glade, blinking irregularly.

"Anastasia looked up, saw the pulsing cloud, sat down on the grass, and watched it steadily. Under her gaze, it fell still. She looked at it for a while. Then she held both arms out to it, as she did when she summoned one of the wild animals.

"Right then, the sphere blazed with a great many powerful lightning bolts, which broke the bounds of the blue covering, and flew like a fiery comet toward her little hands.

"Able to clear everything in its path, it appeared by Anastasia's face in an instant and began to turn and with its lightning bolt seemed to tear away the teardrop shining on her cheek. All the flashes were immediately extinguished, and the sphere in the hands of the child sitting on the grass now glowed blue.

"For a while Anastasia held it, examined and stroked it. Then she stood up, lifted the blue sphere, stepping carefully, carried it a ways and placed it where she had slept with her mama. She stroked it again.

"It lay there and seemed to fall asleep, as Anastasia's mama used to. And Anastasia lay down on the grass beside it. She was sleeping on the grass, curled into a ball, when it suddenly flew up, vanishing into the heavens and then dissolving low over the glade, as if covering her with itself.

"Then, once again contracting into a small, pulsing sphere, it ended up next to Anastasia sleeping on the grass and stroked her hair. This was a strange and unusual stroking. It took and lifted each strand separately with its delicate, shining, quivering lightning-rays.

"Subsequently as we were arriving to visit Anastasia in her glade, we saw it several times more. We realized that for Anastasia it was something natural, like the Sun, the Moon, the trees, and the animals all around her.

"As with everything about her, she talked to it, but she also distinguished it from everything else, although this distinction had few outward signs.

"We felt she treated it with slightly more respect than everything else, but sometimes she gave it a little trouble. She never gave anyone any trouble, but with it, for some reason, she allowed herself to. It reacted to her mood and satisfied her whims.

"When Anastasia turned four, on her birthday, at dawn, we stood at the edge of the glade and waited for her to wake. We wanted to observe quietly as she rejoiced at the dawning of the spring day.

"It appeared a moment before her awakening, glowing blue and then dissolving throughout the glade. We saw a living picture, enchanting and beautiful, not made by human hands.

"The entire glade and the surrounding trees, grass, and bugs were transformed. The Cedars' needles were illuminated in different soft colors. The squirrels leaping on the branches trailed melting rainbows of light. The grass shone a gentle green.

"An even more vivid, multicolored illumination came from the many bugs moving in the grass, and together they comprised a living, flowing carpet of extraordinary beauty constantly transforming its beautiful, elaborate patterns.

"When she awoke, Anastasia opened her eyes, saw the extraordinary living picture full of enchantment, and jumped up, looking around.

"She smiled the way she always smiled in the morning, and her surroundings reacted to her smile with an even brighter illumination and quickening. Then Anastasia dropped carefully to her knees and began to examine closely the grass and the bugs moving and shining in different colors.

"When she looked up, she seemed both to be concentrating and a little worried. She looked up, and even though there was nothing overhead, she stretched her little arms to the sky. The still air instantly stirred, and the blue sphere appeared in her hands.

"She held it near her face, placed it on the grass, and stroked it tenderly. We heard their conversation. Only Anastasia spoke, but there was the full sense that it understood what she said and was silently trying to respond. Anastasia spoke tenderly to it and a little sadly.

"'You are good. You are very good. You wanted to please me with beauty. Thank you. But put it back, please. Put everything back the way it was before. And never change it again.'

"The blue sphere started pulsing, rose slightly above the ground, and lightning bolts flashed within it. But the shining picture did not disappear. Anastasia looked carefully at the sphere and spoke again.

"'Each little bug, beetle, and ant has a mama. Everyone has a mama. Mamas love their children just the way they're born. It doesn't matter how many legs they have or what color their body is. You changed everything. How are the mamas going to recognize their children now? Put it all back the way it was, please.'

"The sphere blinked slightly, and everything in the glade returned to the way it had been. It dropped by Anastasia's feet again. She stroked it and said, 'Thank you!' Then she fell silent, gazing attentively at the sphere. When she spoke, her words struck us.

"'Please don’t visit me anymore. I'm happy with you. You always try to do only good and to help, but don't visit me. I realize you have your own very big glade.

"'You think very fast, so fast I can't understand you right away. Only later do I understand just a little. You move faster than everyone, lots faster than the birds and the breeze. You do everything very fast and well, and I realize this is because you have to get everything done and do something good in your own very big glade.

"'But when you're with me, that means you're not there and there's no one to do good in the other glade. Go. You need to look after your own glade.'

"The blue sphere contracted into a very small mass and flew up. It dashed around the space, flared more brightly than usual, and once again sped like a fiery comet toward Anastasia, who was seated, and fell still next to her head. Many trembling rays reached toward Anastasia's long hair and stroked each strand individually to the very tip.

"'Well, what's keeping you? Hurry to those who are waiting for you,' Anastasia said softly. 'I will do everything good here myself. It will be nice for me to know that everything is good in the big glade, too. I will feel you. And you must think of me, but only sometimes.'

"The blue sphere rose up, but not with ease, as usual. It rose from Anastasia in irregular bursts, vanishing in the space. But it left something invisible around her.

"Any time something negative happens, something Anastasia doesn't want, the surrounding dimension falls still, as if paralyzed.

"You lost consciousness when you tried to touch her against her will. She halts this phenomenon by raising her arms, whenever she can do so in time. As before, she still wants to do everything herself.

"We used to ask little Anastasia a question: 'What was that shining thing that dropped to the glade, what do you call it?' She thought for a short time and replied, 'You could call it Good, dear grandpas.'"

The old man fell silent, but I wanted to hear more about how little Anastasia lived in the forest, and I asked him, "What did she do afterward? How did she live?"

"She just lived," the old man replied. "She grew up, like everybody else. We suggested that she help the summer people. Since she was six, she could see people at a distance, to sense and help them. The summer people fascinated her. Now she believes that the summer people phenomenon is a smooth transition toward comprehending the essence of earthly being.

"She has been shining her ray diligently for twenty years. She has warmed the plants in their small gardens. She has healed people. She has tried to explain to people in a low-key way how they need to treat their plants, and it's all worked out wonderfully for her.

"Then she began observing other aspects of human life. It was fate that brought her together with you. It also created this idea: 'Carry people across the dark forces' span of time.'"

"Do you believe she can succeed?" I asked.

"Vladimir, Anastasia knows the power of Man-Creator's thought and would not allow herself to declare herself just like that. That means she has some kind of power. Now she will not veer from this path or retreat. She's persistent. That's from her father."

"That means she's taking action. She's trying to produce her own thought-images, and we here are merely discussing the spiritual. We're like children wiping our runny noses. Some people ask me, 'Does Anastasia exist or did I dream her up?'"

"People cannot ask such a thing. People immediately sense her when they come in contact with the book. She is in it, too. Only illusory people can ask those questions, not genuine ones.

20. Illusory People

"I'm talking about perfectly genuine people, like those two young women. See?" I pointed to two young women standing five or six meters from our bench.

The old man looked at them closely and said, "I think one of them, the one smoking, isn't genuine."

"What do you mean, not genuine? I'll go up to her right now and do some harm to her rear end, and you'll hear a plenty genuine howl or curse."

"Vladimir, what you see before you right now is merely an image, one created by the postulates of the technocratic world. Look closely. The young woman is wearing uncomfortable high-heeled shoes that pinch.

"She is wearing those shoes only because someone else dictates the kind of shoes she should now wear. She has on a skirt made of a material that resembles leather but isn't. It even harms the body, but she wears it, submitting to a dictate, creating the image it desires.

"Look, she is brightly made up and arrogant, outwardly independent, but only outwardly. Her whole appearance doesn't match the genuine her. The image dictated by other people's thoughts and shapes have jammed her genuine self. The illusion has no soul and blocks out the living Soul. Her soul remains captive to this image."

"You can say all you like about the Soul, captivity, and the dictate of some image. The truth of it is hard to sort out."

"I'm old now and I can't keep up with your thoughts. I can't speak convincingly, the way Anastasia can." The old man sighed and added, "Will you let me try to show you?"

"Show me what?"

"I'm going to try to destroy the illusory, nonliving image, just for a while. To free the young woman's soul. Observe closely."

"Go ahead."

The smoking young woman was haughtily telling her girlfriend something cruel. The old man observed them closely and intensely. When the young woman looked away from her girlfriend and fastened her gaze on a passerby, the old man's eyes followed her gaze.

Then he stood up, gestured to me to follow him, and headed for the young women. I followed him. The old man stopped half a meter from the young women and began to stare at the one smoking. She turned her head toward him, blew cigarette smoke in the old man's face, and said with some irritation, "What do you want, granddad? Doing some begging are you?"

The old man sustained a pause, probably gathering his wits from the smoke cloaking his face, and said in a tender and calm tone, "Take the cigarette in your right hand, daughter. You need to try to hold it with your right hand."

The young woman obediently switched the cigarette to her right hand. But that wasn't the main thing. Her face suddenly changed completely. The haughtiness vanished. Everything in the young woman changed: her face, her posture. She even spoke in a completely different tone of voice.

"I'll try, grandfather."

"You should have a child, daughter."

"It would be hard for me on my own."

"He will come to you. Go and think about your hand, think about your baby, and he will come. Go, daughter, you must hurry."

"I will." The young woman took a few steps, then stopped and, turning to her girlfriend, called to her in a calm voice unlike her previous irritated one.

"Come with me, Tanechka."

They left.

"That's really great! You could tame any woman that way," I said when we sat back down on the bench. "Terrific. Just like some kind of super-hypnosis. Mysticism!"

"It isn't hypnosis, Vladimir, and there's no mysticism to it whatsoever. This is simply paying close attention to the person. The person, not the artificial image that overshadows the genuine person. The real self responds immediately and gathers strength when people address it specifically and ignore the illusory image."

"But how were you able to see the invisible person behind the visible image?"

"It's all very simple, I assure you. I merely observed a little. The young woman was holding the cigarette in her left hand. She searched for something in her purse with her left hand, too. That means she's left-handed and if a little child holds their spoon or does something else with their left hand, their parents try to explain that they must do it with their right.

"She was happy with her parents. I realized that when she let her eyes linger on the man and woman walking along holding a little girl by the hands. So I said something to her that her parents might have said when she was a child.

"I tried to say it in the same tone and voice her parents might have used, when she was little and direct and still not covered up by an imposed image. She—that little girl, the genuine person—responded immediately."

"But you talked about giving birth. What was that about?"

"She's pregnant. More than a month pregnant already. This child does not need an alien image. The little girl inside this young woman wants the child very much, so she and her illusory self are battling it out. Now the little girl will win!"

21. Why Doesn't Anyone See God

"Anastasia told me when she and I were in the taiga together that no one sees God because their thoughts work with such great speed and density. It makes me wonder why They don't slow them down so that people can look at Them."

The old man lifted his stick and pointed to a bicyclist riding by.

"Look, Vladimir. The bicycle wheel is spinning. The wheel has spokes, but you don't see them. They're there, you know that, but the speed of revolution keeps you from seeing them.

"To put it another way, the speed of your thoughts and your visual perception won't let you see them. If the bicyclists were to go slower, you would see the wheel's spokes blurred.

"If they stopped, you would see them clearly, but the bicyclists themselves would fall. They would not reach their goal since they had stopped their movement, and all for the sake of what? So that you could see that they were there? But what does this give you? What does it change in you? Around you?

"You would know for sure they were there, and that's all. The bicyclist could get up and continue their movement. But others would also want to see and for their sake the bicyclist would have to fall over and over. To what end?"

"Well, to be able to look at them just once."

"What would you see? After all, the bicyclist lying on the ground would no longer be a bicyclist. You would have to use your imagination.

"When God changes their speed of thought, they are no longer God. Wouldn't it be better for you to learn to speed up your own thought? When you speak with someone who thinks very slowly, doesn't this irritate you? Isn't it tortuous to slow down your thinking to match theirs?"

"You're right. To adjust to a fool you have to become a fool yourself."

"It's the same for God. For us to see them, they need to slow their own thinking to our level, to become like us. But when They do this and send Their Children, the crowd, gazing on them, says, 'You're not God or the child of God. You're a pretender. Either perform a miracle or you'll be crucified.'"

"But why shouldn't a child of God perform a miracle, if only to get the unbelievers to leave them alone and not crucify them?"

"Unbelievers aren't convinced by miracles. They are tempted. They burn the creators' miracles in bonfires, shouting, 'We burn the works of the forces of darkness!' Not only that, if you look around, God has created countless miracles. The Sun rises, and in the night we have the Moon. The bug in the grass is also miraculous, after all, and the tree . . .

"Here we are, you and I, sitting under a tree. Who could invent a mechanism more perfect than this tree? It's just a particle of Their thought—and there are materialized particles of thought, alive, moving about underfoot, flying above us in the blue, singing for us, caressing our body with a ray of warmth. They are Theirs, they are all around, they are for us.

"But how many are incapable not just of seeing but also of feeling and understanding? Not even perfectly, maybe only making use of it, but at any rate not distorting or destroying miraculous living creations.

"As for Their Children, they have but one lot: to raise humans' consciousness through their words by slowing down their thought and daring to be incomprehensible."

"But here Anastasia said, 'Merely uttering words will not raise humans' consciousness to a significant level.' I agree. Humanity has uttered many words, but what has come of it? There are more than enough unfortunate destinies around us, and we might see a disaster on Earth."

"That is quite correct. When words are not from the Soul, when the threads connecting them to the Soul are broken, words are empty, featureless, faceless. My granddaughter Anastasia has the ability to create images not only in each word but also in the sound of each letter.

"Earthly teachers, Their sons, alive and incarnate today, will acquire such power that the human Spirit will beam over the darkness."

"What do children and teachers have to do with this? Only she has these abilities, after all."

"She has already begun passing them all out. After all, even you were able to write a book. Readers showered poems on the world, and new songs have been heard. Have you heard them?"

"Yes."

"So you see all this will be multiplied many times over in spiritual teachers if only they come in contact with the book. Where for you it may merely be words, they will feel living images, and the power will be multiplied in them."

"They'll feel it, but I don't? Am I completely insensitive? Why did she talk with me, then, and not them?"

"You are not capable of distorting what you've heard, and you have nothing you might add. Writing is set out more clearly on a blank sheet. But even your thought will speed up, too."

"All right, say it does, so I don't lag behind the others. Basically, everything you're saying seems correct. Here in Russia, we have one religious leader—followers call him their teacher. He told them, 'Read the book about Anastasia. It will stir you,' and many of them did buy the book."

"So, you see, he understood it, sensed it, and for that reason he could help Anastasia and you. Did you even thank him for his help?"

"I never met him."

"You can say thank you with your Soul."

"Silently, you mean? Who's going to hear that?"

"He will hear with his Soul."

"There's one other nuance here, too. He spoke well about the book, and also about Anastasia, but he said I wasn't a real man. 'A real man did not meet with Anastasia,' he said. I heard this myself on television and then read it in the newspaper."

"And who do you think you are, perfection?"

"Well, maybe not quite perfection . . ."

"Then there's no point taking offence. You should try to be a real man. My granddaughter will help you. Whoever Love is capable of lifting will rise to the heights. Not everyone is fated even to contemplate such a thing. The Creator requires incredible speed of thought."

"What speed does your thought operate at? It's not an ordeal to talk with me?"

"Everyone who leads a way of life like we do has a speed of thought that significantly exceeds that of people of the technocratic world. Our thought isn't slowed by constant concern over clothing, food and much else.

"But it is not an ordeal for me to talk to you because of my Love for my granddaughter. She wanted it so much and I am happy to do at least something for her."

"Is Anastasia's speed of thought the same as yours and your father's?"

"Anastasia's is faster."

"How much faster? In what ratio? Say, how many minutes would it take you to think through what it takes her, say, ten minutes?"

"To think through what she produces in a second takes us several months. This is why she sometimes seems alogical to us as well as why she is completely alone. But we can't help her substantially because we don't always immediately understand the point of her actions.

"My father has stopped talking altogether. He keeps trying to match her speed so that he can help her. He is trying to make me do the same. But I'm not even trying. Papa believes this is out of laziness. But I love my granddaughter very much and simply have faith that she is doing everything correctly. I'm happy to do anything she might ask of me, and so I've come to see you."

"Then how did Anastasia talk to me for three days?"

"We wondered, too, for a long time. After all she might have gone out of her mind. Only recently did we understand. While talking with you she did not stop her own thinking. On the contrary she actually accelerated it—accelerated it and transformed it into images.

"Now, like your computer programs, they will be revealed to you and to those who read the book. They will be revealed and will speed up by leaps and bounds the movement of human thought, bringing them closer to God.

"When we understood this, we decided that by devising this she had created a new Law in the Universe. Now it's clear, though, she was simply using a previously unknown capability of pure and sincere Love. Love has remained the Creator's mystery. Yet she has revealed yet another great capacity and power of that Love."

"Does her speed of thought allow her to see God?"

"Hardly. She does live in the flesh, after all. God is in the flesh, too, but only half of Them. Their flesh is all the people on Earth. Anastasia, as a small particle of this flesh, sometimes grasps something. Occasionally achieving unthinkable speed of thought, she may sense it more than others do but this happens for her for brief segments of time."

"And what does it give her?"

"In a single instant she perceives Truths, the essence of being and a consciousness that wise men spend their whole lives trying to achieve, passing on and perfecting their teachings."

"You mean she shares the knowledge of the lamas of the East and the wisdom of the Buddha and Christ and knows yoga?"

"Yes. She knows more than has been said in the treatises that have come down to you. But she finds them lacking, since there is no harmony for all of us living on Earth today, and the movement toward disaster continues.

"Therefore, she constructs her inconceivable combinations. She says, 'Enough of teaching people precepts. Enough of tempting them with Adam and Eve's apple. We need to let them feel—yes, feel!—what Humans sensed before, what They could and couldn't do.'"

"You mean to tell me that she really might be able to do good for all people? If that's so, then when will this good begin?"

"It already has—only small shoots, but that is only so far."

"Where are they? How can they be seen or felt?"

"Ask those who read the book. They are in them. After all, she has evoked light thoughts in many. That can no longer be denied. Many will tell you this. She did this with her signs. It's incredible, but it worked.

"And you yourself, Vladimir, think. What were you and what have you become? Vladimir, the model program is being revealed in you, and her Soul is being revealed in people. The world in you is beginning to change, as it changes the images around you.

"We cannot grasp it completely, as she can. What lies on the surface and is manifest, we can also sort out. What helps her bring about this reality remains a mystery.

"We could make an extra effort to solve it, of course, but I don't want to be distracted from the beautiful reality being born. The day's beautiful dawning must be admired.

"When you start trying to lay out why it is happening, you get, instead of enchantment, digging around, which leads to and changes nothing."

"My goodness! It's all so unusual and so complex. Still, I was hoping that Anastasia was just a hermit, only unusually good and beautiful and a little naïve."

"I'm telling you. There is no need to dig around and wrack your brains. If what I've said is too difficult, let her remain a beautiful and good hermit for you, since that is how she appeared to you.

"Others will see something else. You were given what you were given. Your consciousness is not ready to take in anything else, and this is fine. Try simply to admire the dawn, if you can. That is the most important of all."

22. The Dawn in Russia

"The dawn will begin for everyone in Russia when each person lives better materially. The economy as a whole will improve and each person will be better off.

"The entire material environment depends on Humans' Spirit and consciousness."

"So be it. There's no sense to the sages' philosophies when you're hungry and naked."

"You need to make sense of why all this is happening. Each person does so for themselves. Don't look for others to blame. Only changes in yourself will change everything around you, including your well-being. I agree with you. People are not going to be able to believe it all right away.

"But Anastasia did say, 'We have to do without admonitions. We simply have to show people,' and she has. Now what she has foreordained must be carried out.

"In three years, Siberia's settlements large and small—forgotten and abandoned settlements where nobody remains but old people whose children make no effort to visit—will become many times richer. Life will go into full swing, and many children will return. Furthermore she is going to offer much more.

"She will reveal many secrets and restore the Primary Sources' knowledge and people's abilities. Russia will be the richest country. She will do this in order to prove that spirituality and knowledge of the Primary Sources are more important than technocracy's vain attempts. A new dawn will rise from Russia over the whole Earth."

"What do I have to do for this to happen?"

"Reveal the first secret my granddaughter disclosed to you. Tell in your book how healing oil needs to be obtained from the Cedar nut. Conceal nothing."

Everything inside me suddenly rebelled so, my breath caught in my throat. Unable to sit still, I jumped up.

"Why? Why should I suddenly do this? For everyone, for free. Any normal person will take me for an idiot.

"I organized an expedition and invested everything I had in it. Now my firm is ruined. Anastasia asked me to write a book and I did. Now we're quits. Your aspirations and philosophy are hard for me to understand. I'm just setting them out since I promised Anastasia I would.

"Now about the oil, all that's clear to me. Now I know how much can be had for it. I'm not going to give the oil technology away to anyone. I'll put together a little money from the books and start producing it myself.

"I have to recover everything. Get back my ship and my firm. Buy a laptop so I can type the next book.

"I don't have a home now. I have nowhere to live. I want to buy a house trailer and as I get rich I want to erect a monument to Russian officers who are still alive but whose Souls have been mortally wounded.

"We have torn their soul asunder with our callousness at different times and people have defiled their honor and conscience. The very people for whom officers of all times have gone into battle.

"While you're there sitting peacefully in the forest, people here are dying. There are plenty of different 'spiritual people' around. All they talk about is spirituality but they don't really want to do anything. Now I will at least do something. But to give it away just like that! To everyone! Not on your life!"

"Anastasia did set aside an income for you. I know: three percent from oil sales."

"What are those miserable three percent to me when you can get three hundred for the oil! I know world prices now. And what they sell is many times weaker in healing power. I've checked it out. They don't know the right way to extract it. Now I alone know. Everything she said has been confirmed.

"There are no analogs to it in the world for healing power but only if everything is done correctly. Science confirms this as well. Pallas said it can restore youth. Now give it up, just like that!

"You've found yourself a patsy. I've dug through so much literature and sent people to the archives to confirm what she said. And they did. Lots of money went for that, too."

"You checked it all out because you couldn't believe Anastasia right away. You wasted money and time due to your lack of faith."

"Yes I did check it out. That's what had to be done but now I'm not going to be a fool. 'Dawn for everyone'—well, 'dawn' is just great but at dawn I'll still be a fool. I wrote the book. All the way she asked.

"I remember her repeating, 'Hide nothing—not the bad, not the good. Swallow your pride. Don't be afraid to be ridiculous and misunderstood.' I didn't hide anything and what came of it?

"I come across like a complete idiot in it. People tell me that to my face—that I have no spirit, that there's so much I don't understand. I'm uncouth and coarse. A thirteen-year-old girl from Kolomna even wrote me a letter: You can't do that, she said.

"One woman came from Perm and said right on my doorstep, 'I want to look at what Anastasia found in him.' 'Hide nothing—not the good, not the bad. Swallow your pride. Don't be afraid to be ridiculous and misunderstood.' She did know everything!

"She came out well in the book. That's what people say. But what about me? And all because of her. If it weren't for the baby, I'd let her worry about these things. Just think! I wrote everything sincerely, as she requested, and people say to me, 'You're insensitive and a coward.'

"Of course, I'm a complete idiot, I did this to myself. I obeyed her. I wrote things about myself that I'll never live down to the end of my days and when I die everyone is going to have a good laugh.

"This book has turned out to have a life of its own. It will outlive me! Even if I myself stop printing it, what's the good of that? They're already putting out underground print runs. They're trying to photocopy it."

All of a sudden I stopped myself short after glancing at the old man. A teardrop was slowly rolling from his eye. I sat down beside him. He looked down in silence, and then he spoke.

"Understand, Vladimir, my granddaughter Anastasia can foresee a lot. She wanted nothing for herself. Neither fame nor income. She took on some of the fame, subjected herself to danger, but saved you. And the fact that you look the way you do in the book is her doing. That's for sure.

"But by this she didn't demean you. She saved you. By taking on herself the bulk of the dark forces all by herself. And you, in response to her—the pain of misunderstanding and irritation. Think about it. Is it easy for a woman who creates merely out of love to withstand that?"

"What kind of love is it that makes a fool of her beloved?"

"He who people call a fool is not a fool, but he who takes flattery for Truth, is. Think. How would you like people to regard you? Above everyone else? Very intelligent? All that could have been done in the first book, but then pride and ego would have destroyed you.

"Few even of the enlightened have been able to resist these sins. Pride creates an unnatural image of a person and it overshadows the living Soul. This is why past philosophers and present-day geniuses can create so little.

"Having merely made the first stroke, in the grip of ego, they lose what was given them to begin with. But my granddaughter Anastasia had the good sense to shield herself from the flattery and admiration that breed pride. They can't get you now.

"She is saving you from many other misfortunes. She is protecting both your Spirit and your flesh. You will write nine sincere books. The land of the Dimension of Love will begin to shine! And then, when you have crossed the t's in the ninth book, you will be able to understand who you are."

"And what is that? You can't tell me now?"

"Who you are right now isn't hard to say. You are who you are right now. You are what you feel yourself to be. Anastasia may know who you will become. And she will wait, living each instant with Love. The fact that people sitting in their apartments tell you you're a coward—that's nothing. You must take it with humor.

"Advise them to go into the taiga for three days without gear. Sleep with a bear in a den. To make it complete, take along a lunatic. Isn't that exactly what Anastasia seemed to you to be at first?"

"Yes, more or less."

"Let the critic try to sleep with their own lunatic companion in the forest depths to the howling of wolves. Do you think they could?" the old man asked slyly.

Suddenly, when I saw the picture he'd drawn, I started laughing. The old man and I laughed together.

Then I asked him, "Can Anastasia hear what we said?"

"She'll find out about all your doings."

"Then tell her not to worry. I'll explain to everyone how to extract the healing oil from the Cedar."

"Fine, I'll tell her," the old man promised. "Do you remember everything you heard from Anastasia about the oil?"

"Yes, I think I do."

"Then repeat it."

23. How to Extract Healing Oil from the Cedar Tree

Basically, it's not all that hard. We have modern technology, too. I'm not going to set it out. But there are some nuances that aren't quite the usual, and I will talk about them.

When you collect the cones, you must not strike the Cedar with mallets or logs, the way gatherers do today. This reduces the oil's healing power drastically. It is essential that you use only those cones the Cedar itself relinquishes.

They fall in the wind, and you can knock them down with your voice, as Anastasia does. They have to be picked up off the ground by people who are not unkind, and it's good when a child's hand picks up the cone. Generally speaking, all that follows needs to be done with good will and with light intentions.

"People like this can now be found in Siberian villages," Anastasia told me. What significance this has is hard to say. However, while the Bible also says that King Solomon sought people who knew how to chop down trees, it does not say how these people differed from ordinary people.

The nuts obtained after the cones are shelled have to be pressed for oil within three months. After that the quality deteriorates drastically. During the pressing, the kernels must not touch metal. The oil should not touch metal at all.

It can cure any disease; no diagnosis need be made. It can be used as a food, added to salads, or you can take a spoonful a day, preferably at sunrise, but even in the afternoon. In the light of day, not at night—that's the main thing.

"Have you thought that people might be offered fake oil?" I told the old man. But he replied with a certain cunning or cheerful humor.

"You and I are going to erect a barrier to fakes right now. And we'll earn your percentage."

"How will we do that?"

"You have to think, you're the entrepreneur."

"I used to be, but now it's not clear who I am."

"Let's think this through together. You correct me if anything's wrong."

"All right."

"The final product should be verified with instruments by those capable of verifying: doctors, scientists, specialists, and so on."

"Yes, that's right, they can issue a certificate."

"But the instruments might not catch everything. There also needs to be a tasting."

"Possibly. Tasters determine wine quality. Nothing can replace them. But wine tasters know very well how wines taste. They have their excellent sense of smell, for both aroma and taste. But who is going to verify the oil with a tasting?"

"You should."

"But how am I going to do that? I've only eaten ordinary oil. When we made it, we didn't follow the technology Anastasia said to. Not only that, I smoke."

"You shouldn't smoke or drink alcohol for three days before you're going to test the oil. Or eat meat or fats. Or talk to anyone for three days. Then you'll try it and be able to determine by its taste whether it's good or fake."

"What do I compare it to?"

"With this here." The old man took a wooden stick approximately two fingers thick out of his canvas bag. Another stick poked out of one end, acting as a stopper.

"This is genuine oil. Try it. You won't confuse the taste with anything else. But first let me try to drive out the smoking and other things that have built up in you."

"What do you mean 'drive out'? The way Anastasia did?"

"Yes, more or less."

"But she said that only the person who loves is capable of removing pains in the person loved with a Ray of Love. And warm his body so that his feet even perspire."

"With a Ray of Love. That's all correct."

"But you can't love me. The way she does."

"But I love my granddaughter. Let's try."

"Let's."

The old man squinted and began staring at me without blinking. Warmth flooded my body. Only it was much weaker than from Anastasia's gaze. It wasn't working for him. But he kept trying. So hard that his hands shook.

My body warmed up a little, but only a little. The old man still wouldn't give up, and I waited. All of a sudden my feet started to perspire, and there was a freshness in my head, and smells. . . . I could pick up the smells in the air.

"Oof! It worked," the old man said wearily, resting his elbows on the back of the bench. "Now give me your hand."

He opened the stick stopper and poured the Cedar oil onto my palm from the thicker stick. I licked it off—and a pleasant warmth began to run over my palate and in my mouth. And all of a sudden I smelled the scent of Cedar. It would be hard to confuse it with anything else.

"Will you remember now?" the old man asked.

"Yes. What's so hard about it? Once I ate a potato in a monastery. I remembered that for a long time. Twenty-seven years later I still remembered its taste. But how will people know that it's been verified? That it's genuine oil?

"And the price for it is too high. For a single gram of plain oil diluted with something they charge thirty thousand. I've seen it myself. In imported packaging. For that kind of money all kinds of people would freely go for fakes."

"Yes, money is running the show right now. We need to give this some thought."

"There, you see? A dead end!"

"Anastasia said that this money could be turned to good. Let's try to think along those lines."

"People have long given thought, for example, to how to ensure vodka from fakes. But . . . They change labels and stoppers, they come up with excise stamps, and nothing comes of it. They've always sold the surrogate and they always will. Today you can photocopy any stamp."

"Can you print money, too?"

"Money is a little harder."

"So let's do this. Let's glue money to the reverse of the bottle, like labels, so those wimpy pieces of paper work for the good."

"What do you mean, glue money? What nonsense is this?"

"Give me a bill, please. Some kind of money."

I gave him a thousand ruble note.

"There you are, it's all clear. You take the bills, tear them in half, glue one half to the box or something else. Hide the other. You can think of where. Or put it in your bank for safekeeping.

"The two halves, there, you see, have identical numbers, and anyone who wants to verify the oil's authenticity can check his number."

"Well, granddad," I thought. "You have a good head on your shoulders." And out loud I told him,

"There is no better protection against fakes. You're amazing!"

He burst out laughing and, through his laughter, said, "Then give me a percentage. A kickback!"

"A percentage? What percentage? How much do you want?"

"I want everything to be good," the suddenly sober old man said. Then he added, "Besides the three percent, take another one from the sale for yourself. On the packaged oil. And give it out for free to those you believe need to have it. Let it be a present to people from me and you."

"All right, I'll take it. You came up with some wonderful ideas. You're amazing."

"Wonderful? That means Anastasia will be happy for us. Otherwise my father always considers me lazy. But you think I’m amazing, is that right?"

"Yes, amazing!" And we laughed again. I added, "Tell Anastasia that you could have been an excellent entrepreneur."

"For sure?"

"For sure! You could have been a New Russian, and how!"

"Then I will tell Anastasia. I will also tell her about how you revealed everything about the oil to people. You won't regret revealing it to everyone?"

"What's there to regret? It's brought a whole lot of bother. I'll write the third book quickly, as I promised, and then I'll go back into business and trade, or something else normal."

24. The Title!

(Dear reader, I don't know how to name this chapter.

Please, make your own title if you can)

I decided to tell Anastasia's grandfather about my new assistants, too.

"Right now a lot of articles are being written about Anastasia. Both scientists and religious associations are talking about her. They each interpret her a little differently. One creative collective, very spiritual and tactful people, suggested that I contract with them. They'd pay me to hand over the exclusive right to publicize and comment on Anastasia's statements in the media. I agreed."

"For how much did you agree to sell them Anastasia, Vladimir?"

The import of his question and its tone had a rather unpleasant effect on me.

I replied, "What do you mean, 'sell'? I told them more about Anastasia than was written in the book. I told spiritual people so that they could comment independently and explain her statements. They want to meet with her, too. They're even prepared to finance an expedition themselves. I agreed. What's bad about that?"

The old man was silent. Without waiting for the old man to speak, I added, "The fact that they offered me money for the exclusive rights—that's how it's done here. Services are rendered for payment. They will get more from their publications."

The old man was silent a little longer, his head bowed, and then, as if thinking aloud, he began to speak.

"You mean, you, being enterprising, sold Anastasia, and after deciding that only they were the most spiritual and competent in the world, they bought her."

"You put it so oddly. What did I do ultimately that was so bad?"

"Tell me, Vladimir, did it ever occur to you or those 'spiritual people' to ask, find out, or understand with whom Anastasia herself might want to speak and when? Do people visit you without your consent? After all, she has never invited any of them to visit."

"If she doesn't want to see them, she doesn't have to. She didn't sign the agreement."

"But you did! She is prepared to reveal what she knows to everyone, but she has the right to choose the means of communication herself. If she chose a book and your language, who has the right to dictate or demand anything else? She made her choice, but someone wants to change it, and for very clear ends.

"She won't talk to people who have set themselves above everyone else because she knows that their ego will distort the Truth sacred to her, turn it around, and suit it to themselves."

"Why paint it all in such a black light in advance? These people are interested in many teachings. They're very spiritual."

"They've decided that they are the most spiritual of all. Spiritual egoism crowns the most mortal sin: pride."

I was annoyed with myself but didn't understand why. I hadn't received the money for the agreement yet, so I could break it. But a little while later, once again, seeing nothing harmful in it, I signed an agreement with a spiritual center giving them exclusive rights to my own interviews.

Once again, their tact and spiritual knowledge had seduced me, especially since the agreement concerned only me and I had the right to dispose of myself. Nevertheless, once again both they and I had fallen into a trap, and once again it came out that I had indirectly sold Anastasia and they had bought her.

This time it wasn't Anastasia's grandfather but a Moscow reporter who read the agreement and said indignantly, "You fool. You're selling Anastasia cheap. Read the contract closely and give it careful thought.

"You've ceded to others the right, unilaterally, to interpret everything connected with Anastasia and use it on the most powerful information channel as they see fit. At the same time, you've given up your own chance to protest their opinion, no matter what it is."

It's difficult to determine the truth of this. Instead, I'll cite here a few provisions from this contract.

1. Subject of the agreement:

1.1. The author transfers exclusive rights to the video filming of himself, as well as the use of other video materials connected directly or indirectly with the production of the "Anastasia" television video programs (henceforth, "the program"). Said transfer of rights to the Executor shall extend to all the countries of the world.

1.2 The Executor is obligated, using his own financial means, to produce three programs 30-40 minutes in length apiece, on professional BETACAM carriers, in the amount of 1 (one) apiece.

1.3 With the consent and understanding of the situation by the Author and Executor, any interaction with video or film studios, television, including cable television, as well as any video filming on any equipment, as well as the use of video materials on this topic, shall be carried out only and exclusively by the Executor.

The Author does not have the right, as long as the Agreement is in effect, to give video interviews or produce any video materials that utilize directly or indirectly the same concepts and terms as in the programs.

In general, analyzing the events connected with the writing, publication, and distribution of Anastasia, I concluded that those who call themselves "strongly spiritual" have a flip side, which they themselves fear and which spurs them to constantly assert and allude to their spirituality. They are probably afraid people will see their flip side.

It's simpler with entrepreneurs. Their actions and aspirations are more open, less veiled, and consequently more honest, both to themselves and to those around them—society in general. I may be wrong, but you can't deny the following facts.

The Anastasia text was typed by three Moscow students. They had no hope of any speedy remuneration for their labor. They never talked about anything spiritual at all.

The director of Moscow Printing Press No. 11, retired officer G. V. Grutsya, published the book at his own expense. The print run was small and promised only losses. Grutsya, an entrepreneur, never spoke of anything spiritual, either.

The next print run was paid for by Nikitin, the director of a Moscow commercial firm, but later it became clear that he did not sell the books he printed. He gave me most of the print run to sell and set no due date for repayment. He didn't talk about anything spiritual either.

It was later that the "spiritual" people got in on the act and surreptitiously released a print run of forty thousand copies. When their "spiritual" behavior came to light, they talked about their spirituality and desire to create something light. They promised to pay royalties.

They're still promising to this day. This is not an isolated instance. In general, "spiritual" folk have a great disregard for payments, especially when they owe them.

As for the transfer of exclusive rights, I decided to declare on the pages of this book: "I will not transfer the exclusive right to the interpretation of Anastasia's statements to anyone ever again. If anyone declares his privilege, people should know that I did not give it voluntarily."

Why do I say "voluntarily"? Soon after, threats from anonymous sources came showering down on the Moscow journalist who helped me break the contract. Who are they? What do they want? That's "spiritual people" for you!

They've turned spirituality into a racket, but I know all about scams, and there are people involved, too. I want to tell them to be more cautious with those kinds of con artists. Think long and hard before making any decision. Sort out calmly where the "spiritual people" are herding you.

Furthermore, in the first book I wrote that I had suggested to Anastasia that she come and appear on television herself, but she refused. At the time, I couldn't understand her reasons. Now what she'd foreseen had become clear. Even after the book came out, many interpretations of her statements appeared. There were all kinds.

There were interesting ones and debatable ones, but apart from everything else, I began to see clearly the desire of individuals to interpret her in support of their own interests. There were even direct statements: "Do you think you're the only one who has the right to talk to her?" "You don't understand everything. Let others communicate with her and more good will come of it."

But she's not an object that can be transferred to someone. She's a Human Being! She herself has the right to decide how to act and with whom to speak and what about. It has become increasingly clear that a visible and invisible mass of dark forces has indeed assailed Anastasia in the form of fanatics and self-interest.

"I know that a mass of dark forces is going to come crashing down on me, but I am not afraid of them. I will manage to give birth to and raise our son so that he can see what I have dreamed of. And people will be carried across the dark forces' span of time," Anastasia said in the first book.

They raise their children to age eleven. That means she can hold on for at least ten more years.

"What about after that?" I asked her grandfather. "Will she inevitably die?"

"It's hard to say," the old man replied. "Everyone else has died significantly earlier, and she has gone down a path that has led to physical death more than once, but each time, at the last moment, a forgotten law powerful in its priority has blazed up, illuminating the essence of the Truth of earthly being and left her with life in her earthly body."

The old man fell silent and once again began meditatively scratching signs in the ground with his stick. I was thinking as well. "I had to go and get mixed up in this story! Of course, I can't abandon it all now. Maybe before, but now I can't because of the child. Anastasia has given birth to our son.

She should be dealing with the baby and raising him, but she still hasn't abandoned her dream of carrying people across the dark forces' span of time. And she won't, because she's so stubborn. A woman like that won't.

Who's to help this naïve woman? If I stop doing what I promised her, then no one will be left at all. She'll go to pieces—something nursing mothers shouldn't do. Let her first wean the child.

I asked the old man, "Is there anything I can do for Anastasia?"

"Try to understand what she says and wants. Then you'll have mutual understanding instead of casting about. A warm wave will warm your heart, and a new dawn will rise over the world."

"Could you be more specific?"

"It's hard for me to be more specific. Sincerity is important in a lot of things. So do what your heart and Soul tell you."

"She spoke of a little out-of-the-way Russian town. As if it could be richer than Jerusalem and Rome. Because of the many holy places of our ancestors in its vicinity.

"Apparently, they are more significant than the temples of Jerusalem, but the locals' lack of awareness keeps them from seeing it. I want to go there and change that."

"This can't be done quickly, Vladimir."

"Well, I didn't know it was impossible, and I promised Anastasia I would. Now I need to change it somehow."

"Since you don't know it's impossible, you will. Good luck! But it's time for me to go."

"I'll see you off."

"Don't waste your time. There's no need to see me off. Think about what you're doing."

The old man rose and held out his hand.

I watched Anastasia's grandfather retreating down the lane and thought about my upcoming trip to Gelendzhik, recalling what Anastasia had said about it. Here is how the conversation about it began.

25. Your Holy Places, Russia!

I asked Anastasia, "Does one come across Ringing Cedars often?"

"Very, very rarely," she replied. "Maybe two or three times in a thousand years. Right now, besides this saved one there is one other, and it could be sawed down and used as intended."

"What does that mean, 'used as intended'?"

"The Universe's Great Intellect, God, who created humans and everything around them, must have given people the opportunity to recover the abilities they'd lost and take advantage of the wisdom that has accumulated in the nonmaterial world.

"This wisdom has existed from the very beginning, but due to their sinfulness humans lost the ability to perceive it.

"My grandfather and great-grandfather told you about the Ringing Cedar and its unusual healing properties but they did not explain that its rhythms and pulsations are close to the Great Intellect. If these are combined they can be multiplied by the rhythms that many people have in them.

"If such a person places their palm on the warm trunk of a Ringing Cedar and runs it down the trunk, stroking it, they will have the chance to communicate with the infinite volume of wisdom.

"They would then be capable of comprehending a great deal of the area they was thinking about at the moment of contact and would think about subsequently. This would happen in each person to varying degrees. I am telling you about the Supreme Manifestation."

"But why does it have different effects? You mean it chooses?"

"It acts identically. Its rhythm and vibration are invariable always. However, some people can tune into it and feel it in full while others sense it only slightly.

"Many people will not feel anything at all right away. But comprehension will come gradually even to them. At least, the possibility of understanding will increase."

"I don't understand. What is it choosing?"

"Vladimir, I've told you. It's not about the tree, but the person. . . . There! I've found it, an example: music! You see, when music is heard . . . music is also vibration and rhythm. But some people listen to it closely and feelings arise in them, sometimes even tears of joy and tenderness. Others listen to the same music indifferently or don't want to listen at all.

"It's the same with the Cedar. Only those capable of sensing and understanding will hear a large amount, revealed in them gradually at those moments when the person wants to think seriously.

"Women may acquire the strength and wisdom of the Primary Sources, fulfill their purpose and make their chosen man, themselves and the child born in Love happy. Here, too, the miracle does not lie in the Cedar but in human aspirations. The Cedar merely helps them and is not foremost in the achievement of good."

"Incredible! This is like some beautiful legend."

"You don't believe it? You consider what I've said a legend? Then why did you try so hard to get to these parts and want so much for me to show you the Ringing Cedar?"

"Well, I don't consider all of it a legend. After your grandfather and great-grandfather's story about the Cedar I didn't believe it at first, either.

"Later, when I got home from the expedition, reading the popular scientific literature, I became acquainted with what scientists had to say with respect to its healing properties and was struck that both scientists and the Bible were of the same opinion.

"But nowhere is it even approximately stated about the possibility of sensing through the Cedar a connection with the Intellect or God, as you talk about it."

"You didn't read the scientists' statements or the Bible carefully, or else you did not attach significance to the main thing. Otherwise, you would not have doubted me."

"What could I have missed? The Bible for instance, only speaks of the Cedar in two places: when God teaches how to heal people with its help and later on how to decontaminate a dwelling."

"But the Bible also speaks of King Solomon as one of the wisest of rulers and most respected by his people. King Solomon is a historical figure, after all, not a legend."

"And so?"

"The Bible says that this king build a temple to God out of cedar and next to it a house for himself out of cedar as well. Furthermore, in order to obtain the cedar he hired more than thirty-thousand workers who brought it from another country.

"To fell the cedar trees Solomon went to another king, Hiram, with a request to give him men 'that can skill to hew timber.' For this cedar, King Solomon gave twenty towns of his own kingdom.

"Just think. Why did this wisest of rulers need to go to such expense to build a temple and house out of a material less sturdy than what he had at hand?"

"Why?"

"You could have found the answer in the Bible, too: 'And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord: So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord' (3 Kings 8).You can find indirect proof in the statements of your scientific luminaries, too."

"That's great. I guess I can believe it. You mean it reveals many secrets for people. Show me the Ringing Cedar that can be harvested. I will bring it to some town where it will be easier for the people from all over the world who want to touch it."

"Where today will you find a town like that where the inhabitants will not defile this sacred object, will ensure its protection and create the proper conditions for people to approach it?

"I'll try to find it. Why did you decide that this would be hard to do?"

"The consciousness of people today is too constrained by the programs of the technocratic world. They're starting to resemble biorobots."

"What biorobots?"

"The technocratic world is set up in such a way that people invent all kinds of mechanisms and social postulates allegedly to make their life easier. In fact, the easing is illusory.

"People are themselves becoming robots of the technocratic world. They are constantly short of time to think about the essence of being, to listen to others or to give serious thought to their own fate.

"They're like programmed robots. Here you see with your own eyes and hear with your own ears but it's hard for you to believe."

"Anastasia, my situation is different. I can't call myself a strong believer. Basically, I believe, but probably not the way others do. We have a lot of genuine believers these days.

"Many read the Bible. They will catch on immediately when they see how much the Bible says about the Cedar. They'll believe and treat your piece of Cedar carefully."

"Faith comes in different forms, Vladimir. Often a human holds a Quran, Bible or another book of the Sources' wisdom and says they believe. They even try to teach others but in fact they are simply haggling with God: 'See, I believe in you. Give me credit for that just in case.'"

"What is it then, faith? How should it be expressed?"

"In one's way of life, world-views and understanding of one's own essence and purpose, and in one's corresponding actions and attitude toward one's environment—in one's intentions."

"You mean simply believing isn't enough?"

"Simply believing isn't enough. Imagine an army. All the soldiers down to the very last man believe in their commander but they don't go into battle. They believe in him so strongly that they think he will conquer by himself. So the soldiers sit there and watch their commander meet the enemy's host alone. They shout to him, 'Go on! Go on! We believe in you strongly!'"

"Not bad, the example you've drawn. That particular absurdity doesn't happen."

"This absurdity goes on in real life."

"Then cite an example from our concrete, real life, not something made up."

"Fine. There is a town in Russia. It is called Gelendzhik. It is a place for people to relax from the daily bustle, meditate and come into contact with sacred objects.

"There are many different holy places in the town itself and its environs. The significance of these holy places is greater than those in Jerusalem, greater than the pyramids of Egypt.

"This town could be one of the richest cities in the world—richer than Jerusalem and Rome—but the town is dying. It is a resort town. Its buildings and different hotels are vacant and falling down. The local authorities' materialistic consciousness keeps them from seeing the valuables that could make this city flourish.

"Promoting their town, they talk about the sea, artificial treatments and how their hotel rooms have cupboards and refrigerators. They don't even mention the holy places. They themselves know or want to know little about them. They have other priorities.

"This town has many who call themselves believers. They are of many different confessions. Some of them actively teach others their faith. What faith?

"They have violated their environment and are even violating the Commandments of the books they respect. For instance, the Bible says, 'Love thy neighbor.'

"But before you can love your neighbor, you have to know something about him. You cannot love what you do not know. They consider themselves believers but they do not know about their neighbors or their parents who lived on holy ground and bequeathed to them an inexhaustible treasure—Holy Places.

"They carried down through the millennia bursts of wisdom and the light of their own Soul. Many call themselves believers but they do not notice what is holy all around them—the sacred objects bequeathed by their ancestors to help them."

"What are the sacred objects in this town?"

"You see, Vladimir, next to Gelendzhik grows the Cedar of Lebanon mentioned so many times in the Bible. This living, direct creation of God, about which so much was said even before Jesus Christ appeared on Earth, grows next to this town. It's only a hundred years old.

"It's still an adolescent but it's already very beautiful and strong. It grew there because it was planted by a worthy man, a writer named Korolenko.

"Because he was revered for a while, they built a fence around the Cedar. But now the house where this man lived is falling down and people ignore the tree."

"Do the believers?"

"Many people in this town who consider themselves believers pay no attention to this Cedar or to the other great sacred objects of their ancestors. They are destroying them and the town is dying."

"You mean God is wreaking vengeance, punishing them?"

"God is good. They never wreak vengeance but what can They do when their creations are ignored?"

"Incredible! Such a tree really exists? That needs checking out."

"It does exist. There are many other sacred objects in the town's environs but the people regard them from the standpoint of the technocratic world-view, the same way people regard the pyramids of the Wise Pharaohs."

"What? How do you know about the existence of Egypt's pyramids?"

"Thanks to the generations of my ancestors I have preserved in myself the ability to communicate with the dimension where thoughts and wisdom reside. Communicating with them makes it possible to learn about everything you think of interest."

"Wait! Wait a minute. Let me verify this. You mean to tell me you know the secrets of the Egyptian pyramids?"

"Yes. Just as I know that the researchers of these pyramids have consistently focused on the material. They have been interested mainly in how they were constructed, their size, the ratio of their sides and what was hidden inside, what objects were there.

"They have considered those who lived during the age of the pyramids' construction to be superstitious. They have appreciated the pyramids merely as a means for preserving valuables, the pharaoh's possessions, his body, his fame. That is why they have gotten away from the main, intelligent thing."

"I don't understand you, Anastasia. What intelligent thing have they gotten away from?"

Anastasia was silent for a while, as if gazing into infinity and began her astonishing tale.

"You see, Vladimir, in remote antiquity, people living on Earth possessed abilities that allowed them to be much smarter than people today. The people of the Primary Sources could simply use all the information in the database that fills the Universe.

"This information of the Universe was created by the Great Intellect, God. Enriched by Them, people themselves and their thoughts, that information is so grandiose that it can answer any question. It works unobtrusively. The answer to a question asked by a human arose instantly in their subconscious."

"What did this give them?"

"Those people did not need a spaceship to fly to other planets. If they wished they could see what was going on there anyway.

"Those people did not need a television or a telephone entangling the earth with communications lines, or writing for the information you obtain from books. They could it retrieve instantly through other means.

"Those people did not need a pharmaceutical industry. When necessary they could obtain all the best medicines with a wave of the hand because such cures exist in nature.

"Those people did not need today's means for getting around. They did not need cars and complexes producing food because everything was given them as it was.

"They realized that climate changes on one part of the Earth were a signal to resettle in another so that the former Earth could rest. They understood the Cosmos and their planet.

"They were thinkers and understood their purpose. They perfected planet Earth. They had no equals in the Universe. In intellect, only the Great Intellect of the Universe himself—God—was higher.

"Approximately ten thousand years ago, among the human civilization that had settled in what is now Europe, Asia, the northern part of Africa and the Caucasus, individuals began to appear in whom the connection with the Intellect of the Universe was partially or entirely blunted.

"From that moment humanity's drift toward planetary disaster began—whatever the disaster, be it ecological, nuclear or bacteriological, as the scientists predict and the ancient religions say, describing them allegorically."

"Wait, Anastasia. I don't quite understand how you link the appearance of these disabled people with planetary disaster."

"You chose the modern word 'disabled' for them very correctly. Yes, they were disabled, defective people. What does a person require who lacks vision?"

"Someone to guide them."

"Who lacks hearing?"

"A hearing aid."

"Lacking arms or legs?"

"Prostheses."

"But they were missing something significantly greater, the connection to the Intellect of the Universe, and consequently that knowledge which could be used to help perfect and run the Earth. Imagine the crew of a super-modern spaceship that suddenly loses ninety percent of its intelligence.

"Not understanding anything, they begin to pull down the paneling to start a fire in their cabin. They pull instruments off the console and make decorations and toys out of them. The spiritually disabled can be likened to a dimwitted crew just like this.

"Just like them, these—as you put it—defective, disabled people first invented the stone ax and spear, and eventually went as far as the tip of a nuclear warhead. To this day, their thought continues with unbelievable persistence to smash perfect creations and to replace them with their own primitive creations.

"Their generations began to invent more and more, while stressing the Earth's natural mechanism with all kinds of artificial social arrangements. Then people began to fight with each other.

"These mechanisms and machines could not exist on their own as natural things can. Not only could they not reproduce themselves but they could not even restore themselves if they were damaged, like a tree can for example.

"The technocrats needed many people to service these mechanisms and so turned some of the people, basically, into biorobots. Since they lack the individual capability of knowing the Truth, these biorobots are very easy to control.

"For example with the help of artificial information technologies you can install a program in them: 'We need to build communism.' Then you can create symbols, signs and flags of a certain color for them. Later using the same technologies you can install in different people a different program—'Communism is bad'—and use other symbols and colors.

"These two groups with different programs will hate each other to the point of physical annihilation. All this started ten thousand years ago when people deprived of their connection to the Intellect became increasingly numerous.

"Really you could call them lunatics, too, because no living creature despoils the Earth the way they do. In those distant times few remained who could still make free use of the Universal wisdom.

"They hoped that when humanity reached the point that the tainted air became hard to breathe, the polluted water dangerous to drink and the artificial technical and social systems of life support they had created unwieldy and broken down due to increasingly frequent accidents, people would think hard.

"People standing at the brink of the abyss would think hard about the essence of being and their life's meaning and purpose. Then many of them would want to attain the Truth of the Primary Sources which is only possible if the abilities of the Primary Sources are recovered.

"Few people living ten thousand years ago still had these abilities. Primarily, these were those at the head of the communities, the tribal leaders. They—or rather, others following their instructions—began to build special facilities out of heavy stone slabs.

"Inside, a chamber was created, a room about one and half by two meters and about two meters high, sometimes more, sometimes less. The slabs were placed at a slight angle inside. Sometimes these chambers were cut out of a monolithic stone, sometimes they were hidden underground with barrows over the top.

"In one of the chamber walls, in the slab, they made a conical opening about thirty centimeters in diameter. Ideally, they capped it with a fitted stone stopper.

"People who had not lost the ability to use the wisdom of the Universe went into them, these burial chambers. Those who were still alive and those who were born even thousands of years later could go to them and get an answer to whatever question concerned them.

"For this, they had to sit by the chamber and meditate. Sometimes the answer came right away, sometimes later, but it always came, because these facilities and those who had gone into them for eternity served as an information receiver. It was easy to connect through them to the Intellect of the Universe.

"These stone facilities are the prototype of the Egyptian pyramids. The pyramids are weaker receivers even though much bigger but their essence, their purpose, is the same.

"The pharaohs buried in Egypt's pyramids were also thinkers and they had partially retained the capability of the Primary Sources.

"But in order to get an answer to a given question with the pyramids' help, people had to come to the pyramid, not one by one but in large numbers all at once.

"They stood along each of the four sides and aimed the gaze of their eyes and the gaze of their thoughts toward the pyramid's top, as if sliding up its slanted sides. At the peak peoples' gazes and thoughts focused on a single point thereby shaping a channel through which contact was made with the Intellect of the Universe.

"The same can be done today and the desired results achieved. At the focal point of the mental gazes, energy similar to radiation is formed. If you put a device at the top of the pyramid, at the focal point, it will register the presence of this energy. Unusual sensations will appear among the people standing below as well.

"Were it not for the sinful pride of modern humans, the false but commonly held notion that the civilizations of the past were more foolish, people today could figure out the pyramids' true purpose.

"Modern researchers have paid more attention to the means of their construction and never have been able to determine how it was done. Yet, it's all simple. During construction they always used, along with physical strength and various contrivances, thought energy which reduces gravity.

"Entire groups of people possessing these abilities helped the pyramids' builders. There are people still among us today who can move small objects with their minds.

"Immeasurably more significant than the pyramids for their effectiveness in establishing contact with the Universe's Intellect are the smaller stone facilities that predate the pyramids."

"Why, Anastasia? Because of their construction? Their shape?"

"Because living people went to die in them, Vladimir, and their death was unusual. They went into eternal meditation."

"What do you mean, 'living people'? Why?

"In order to create the possibility of restoring the power of the Primary Sources for their descendants. An elderly person, as a rule, one of the most wisdom-filled leaders or parents, sensing their imminent demise, would ask their relatives and the people close to them to place them in this stone chamber. If they considered them worthy, they did.

"They moved the heavy, massive slab roof aside. They entered the stone chamber and the roof was closed over them. The person found themselves totally isolated from the outside material world. Their eyes saw nothing and their ears heard nothing.

"This complete isolation, this impossibility of letting even their thoughts return, but also not yet crossing over into another world, the shutting down of the usual sense organs, vision and hearing, created the possibility of total communication with the Reason of the Cosmos, of making sense of many worldly phenomena and actions.

"Most of all the possibility lay open of subsequently passing on what has been understood to those who remained among the living and the generations to follow. Today you call approximately the same state 'meditation' but that is child's play compared to meditation into eternity.

"Subsequently people would come to this stone chamber, pull off the cap closing the opening and think and consult with the thoughts hovering in the chamber. The Spirit of Wisdom was always there."

"But Anastasia, how can you prove to people today the existence of these facilities and that people went inside them into eternal meditation?"

"I can! That is why I am telling you."

"How?"

"Very simply. After all, these stone chambers still exist today. Today you call them dolmens. You can see and touch them and verify everything I'm saying."

"What? Where? Can you show me such a place?"

"Yes. In Russia, for example, in the Caucasus Mountains, not far from the towns now called Gelendzhik, Tupase, Novorossiisk, and Sochi."

"I'll verify that. I'll make a special trip to see them. I just don't see how this could be. I'll verify that."

"Verify it, of course. Local inhabitants know about them but ascribe no significance to them. Many dolmen have already been looted. People do not understand their true purpose. They do not know they can use them to contact the wisdom of the Universe.

"Those who went into eternal meditation can never be embodied in anything material. They sacrificed eternity for the sake of their descendants, and their knowledge and possibilities went unclaimed. Here lies their greatest grief and sorrow.

"But serving as proof that people long ago went there to die is the placement of the skeletal bones discovered in the dolmens. Some died lying down, some sitting in the corner or reclining, leaning against a stone slab.

"People today have established this fact, and it has been described by your scientists, but again, they have not thought it significant. They are not doing serious research on the dolmens, which are being dismantled by local residents, who use the stone slabs for construction."

Anastasia lowered her head sadly and fell silent. I promised her, "I'll explain it. I'll explain everything to them. They won't loot or smash them. They won't scoff at them. After all, they just didn't know."

"Do you think you'll be able to explain?"

"I'll try. I'll go to those parts and try to explain. I don't know how yet. I'll find these dolmens, bow to them, and explain everything to people."

"That would be good. Then, if you do go to those parts, please bow to the dolmen in which my foremother died."

"Incredible! How can you know that your foremother lived in those parts and how she died?"

Anastasia replied, "How can you not know how your ancestors lived and what they did, Vladimir? What they wanted and strove for? My foremother deserves to be remembered. All my mothers knew her wisdom, and that wisdom helps me today.

"My foremother was the woman who knew perfectly how, when nursing a baby, to give it the ability to use the Intellect of the Universe. Back then, people in the civilization she lived in had stopped thinking it significant, just like today's people.

"When nursing a baby you mustn't get distracted by anything extraneous. You need to think only about the baby. She knew what to think about and how, and she wanted to pass her knowledge on to all people.

"My foremother wasn't that old, but she began asking the leader to put her in a dolmen, because this leader was old and the new one would never have carried out her request. Women were let into the dolmens only rarely.

"The old leader respected my foremother and valued her knowledge, and he gave her permission, but he couldn't force the men to move the dolmen's heavy slab aside and then close it over my foremother. Consequently, the women, and only the women, did this work.

"But no one has gone to my foremother's dolmen in a long time. They aren't interested in the knowledge she so wanted to pass on to everyone. She wanted children to be happy and make their parents happy."

"Anastasia, if you want, I'll go to this dolmen and ask her how infants should be nursed—what should be thought about and how. Will you tell me where it is?"

"Fine, I'll tell you, but you won't be able to understand her. You're not a nursing mother. You don't know what a mother nursing her infant feels. Only women, nursing mothers, can understand her.

"Just go up to this dolmen and touch it. Think something good about my foremother. She will like that very much."

We were silent for a while. Stunned by the precise directions to the dolmens, which could be verified subsequently, I did not express my doubts about their existence.

However, I did ask her to show me proof of the possibility of contacting the wisdom of the Universe, which was invisible and incomprehensible to me.

To which Anastasia replied, "Vladimir, if you constantly doubt everything I say, then even my proofs will remain incomprehensible and unconvincing, and we will have to spend a lot of time on them."

"Don't be angry, Anastasia, but your unusual reclusive way of life . . ."

"How can it be reclusive if I have the opportunity to be in contact not only with everything on Earth, but significantly more as well? On Earth there are so many people who are surrounded by their like and who are utterly lonely, cutoff recluses. It's not so bad when a person is alone. It is much worse when he is alone among people."

"All the same, if the dimension where, as you put it, the thoughts produced by human civilizations reside, had also been spoken of by one of our scientific luminaries, then people would believe them more than they do you. That's how modern humans are. For them, science is the authority."

"There are people like this. I have seen their thoughts. I can't name their names. But these are probably major scientists by your standards. They have the opportunity to think a lot. You should go look for proof, and when you return, compare it with everything I've said."

* * *

When I arrived in the Caucasus, I found the dolmens in the mountains not far from Gelendzhik. I photographed them on color film. The workers in the local history museum knew about the dolmens as well but they didn't attach much significance to them.

I also found the dolmen in which Anastasia's foremother was buried. I bowed to it and put flowers on the moss-covered stone portal.

I looked at the dolmens—visible and tangible confirmation of what Anastasia had said. By that time I had reread the Bible and 3 Kings about King Solomon and his attitude toward the Cedar.

No scientist myself, I had no plans to sift through the many scientific works to confirm what Anastasia had said.

But incredibly this young hermit from the deep Siberian taiga had confirmed it remotely, and in the language of modern science. People themselves brought and sent me scientific works that spoke about the existence of the Intellect of the Universe.

In the beginning, I quoted statements by Professor V. Kaznacheyev, a member of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and director of the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, and Professor A. Akimov of the Russian Academy of Natural Science's International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics, published in Miracles and Adventures in May 1996.

* * *

I wrote this chapter about the holy places of Gelendzhik. A worker at the Druzhba sanatorium typed it up on the computer, and the manuscript was read by sanatorium employees even before publications. And you know what happened. . . .

On 26 November 1996, at ten-thirty Moscow time, an event occurred that outwardly seemed anything but sensational or unusual. Nonetheless, I am convinced that it was an event of planetary importance.

A group of women was walking toward a dolmen located in the mountains not far from the village of Pshada in the Gelendzhik District. These were workers from the Druzhba sanatorium: V. T. Larionova, N. M. Gribanova, L. S. Zvegintseva, T. N. Zaitseva, T. N. Kurovskaya, A. G. Tarasova, L. N. Romanova, and M. D. Slabkina.

Unlike tourists, who occasionally visit these places to admire the beauties of nature and gaze idly upon the solitary dolmen in the mountains, these people, perhaps for the first time in a thousand years, were walking toward the dolmen in order to honor the memory of their distant ancestor.

They wished to honor the memory of a person who lived more than ten thousand years before, a wise leader of their clan. He had voluntarily had himself immured alive in the stone vault so that he could convey the wisdom of the Universe down through the millennia to his descendants.

It's hard to say how many millennia his efforts went begging. Traces of our century's vandals were imprinted on the ancient slabs in the form of graffiti and the dolmen's portal was wrenched open.

The people who came to the dolmen, at least in the last century, had no thought of the man buried here, his wisdom, wish and desire to give himself for the sake of the living. Attesting eloquently to this, unfortunately, are the prerevolutionary as well as more recent monographs I became acquainted with.

Scientists, researchers and archeologists were more interested in the dimensions of the dolmen itself. Amazed, they tried to determine how slabs weighing many tons had been fashioned and erected.

Here, looking at the women standing by the dolmen and at the flowers they had brought and laid at the portal, I thought, "How many centuries or millennia has it been since you were given flowers, our wise ancestor? What is your Soul feeling right now? What might be happening in this instant in the astral world?

"Do you, our distant forefathers who are yet so close, view these flowers as the first sign that your efforts have not been in vain? And that your modern descendants—some of them, at any rate —aspire to a more conscious existence?

"These are only the first flowers. There will probably be more and more. But these are the first, the most eagerly awaited, and you will help those living now to attain the wisdom of the Universe, the comprehension of being. You are our distant forefathers."

Taking part in this trip to the dolmen was E. I. Pokrovsky, the medical doctor for the Gelendzhik Sanitary and Epidemiological Service (SES). He had been invited by tour guide and local historian V. T. Larionova for the purpose of measuring the dolmen's background radiation.

She told me that once, during an excursion to the dolmen, one of the tourists had a Geiger counter with him and the instrument was set off, showing a high level of radiation.

This tourist then called V. T. Larionova aside, so as not to alarm the other tourists, showed her the instrument and informed her of the presence of radiation near the dolmen.

The local SES worker had a fairly precise instrument in a special case. He started producing readings of the earth's background radiation before the approach to the dolmen and continued doing this as we got closer and finally at the dolmen itself and even inside it.

While the group of women was listening to V. T. Larionova, I became increasingly agitated at the thought that right now this SES worker making the measurement recordings would announce them for all to hear and this would be not a tourist's remark but an official conclusion. People might stop coming to the dolmen altogether when they learned about its elevated radiation.

Anastasia told me that this energy, similar to radiation, can appear and disappear. It is manageable and has a beneficial effect on man.

But what do the statements of an admittedly not very ordinary woman mean to us, modern people, compared to the assertion of modern science and the cut-and-dried reading by a modern instrument, especially regarding radiation, which modern humans so fear?

Oh my God, I thought. Poor Anastasia! She so wanted people to treat these ancient, unusual burial sites of our forefathers differently, with care.

Now, after the announcement of an official conclusion, at best, no one would come near them, and at worst, they might be destroyed altogether. They wouldn't even be used for construction, as before.

But if there really is this Intellect of the Universe, if Anastasia really does have no trouble making use of it, then let Them come up with something.

E. I. Pokrovsky walked up to the group of Druzhba workers standing by the dolmen and read out the instrument's findings. They were incredible. Astonishment, then joy, gripped me.

According to the readings, the background radiation of the earth and environment, at least as we got closer to the dolmen, had actually decreased.

This was incredible as well because the group of people, while approaching the dolmen, had gone through areas with higher background. Their clothing and they themselves standing by the dolmen should have carried along the radiation on their clothing and shoes.

Despite this, the device had shown a reduction in background radiation. It was as if some invisible someone had said, "Don't be afraid of us, people. We are your distant parents. We wish you good. Take our knowledge, children!"

Suddenly I realized: Anastasia! It was thanks to her, after all, that this event had occurred. It was she, thousands of kilometers from this dolmen, who had drawn an invisible line through the millennia, uniting those living today with the most ancient civilization. She had made a breakthrough in the awareness of the aspiration for good.

Perhaps this has affected only a small number of people for now, but this is just the beginning. And it is absolutely real. For before me is a real dolmen, and the women and the flowers they brought are real and tangible.

The scientific literature says that dolmens are encountered near Tuapse, Sochi, and Novorossiisk, and in England, Turkey, North Africa, and India.

This confirms the existence of a very ancient civilization with a unified culture and the possibility of its branches communicating with each other, despite great distances. Undoubtedly, as Anastasia's information spreads to other dolmens as well, if they have been preserved, the attitude toward them will change.

The reaction of the people of Gelendzhik serves as proof of this. However, the first excursion that redisovered the astonishing information about the dolmens was conducted in Gelendzhik by "the luckiest and happiest woman," as Valentina Terentieva Larionova—a tour guide and local historian with thirty years' experience, as well as a deputy of the local council—described herself.

But this was still not all. A group of local Gelendzhik historians led by Larionova, after comparing the known facts, talking with old-timers, and studying the lives of the saints, confirmed the existence in the environs of Gelendzhik of the sacred objects Anastasia had spoken about.

Most of Russia's unique sacred objects go unmentioned in even a single information booklet. These are the Cedar of Lebanon, the Mount of Saint Nina, a hermitage, and the healing spring called the Holy Hand. There, people who have been cured tie cloths to the tree.

In the Gelendzhik area, a church is now being restored. A town church of Troitse-Sergiev Monastery is being built. I looked at all this and thought, "In just one small place in Russia, so many holy objects. A healing spring.

"Russians travel over the hills and far away to worship foreign Gods. How many other forgotten sacred objects are there in your lands, Russia, and who will discover them?"

I have done what I could. This is a miserable amount, of course, but I now have hope that Anastasia will show me my son.

I bought rompers, toys, and baby food and headed to the Siberian taiga to see Anastasia again and my son.

To be continued...

THE DIMENSION OF LOVE — Volume III

First published in 1999

Translation by: Marian Schwartz

1. Another Pilgrim

Here it is! The Ob, the great Siberian river, is before me once again. I have made my way to this northern village, where regular transportation ends, and now stand on the banks of the Ob. To get to where I can proceed on foot across the taiga to Anastasia's glade, I have to hire a boat or launch. Near one of the many boats hauled onto the shore, three men were disassembling their fishing tackle. I greeted them and said I was prepared to pay well for someone to take me to a certain place.

"It's Egorich who does that here. Takes half a million for the trip," one of the muzhiks replied.

I was immediately put on my guard by the information that someone here specifically transported people to a small Siberian village forgotten in the middle of the taiga. It was just twenty-five kilometers from there to Anastasia's glade. Also he charged a very high price, which meant there were takers. Demand determines supply. However, there's no haggling in the North.

So I asked, "How can I find this Egorich?"

"Somewhere in the village. Probably by the store. Over there, those kids horsing around by his launch, Egorich's grandson Vasyatka is with them. He'll check. Go ask him."

I'd barely said hello when Vasyatka, a sharp kid of about twelve, suddenly fired off this patter:

"You need to go? To see Anastasia? I'm on it! Just a sec and I'll get my granddad!"

Without waiting for an answer, Vasyatka skipped off to the settlement. It was obvious to me that he didn't need an answer. Evidently all the strangers in these parts had the same goal, in Vasyatka's opinion.

I made myself comfortable on the riverbank and began to wait. Having nothing to do, I looked at the water and thought.

From bank to bank here, it was probably a kilometer wide. In the middle of the taiga, a land unseen even from an airplane, water has been flowing gradually through the ages. What has it taken from the past without leaving a trace? What does the Ob water still remember? Maybe it remembers how Ermak, the conqueror of Siberia, pinned to the banks of the Ob by his foes, deflected their attack alone, sword in hand, but his blood seeped into the water from his mortal wound, and then the water carried his weakened body off somewhere. What had Ermak conquered? Might his actions have been something like modern-day racketeering? Today only the river could compare, probably.

Might the forays by Chingiz Khan's host have been more significant for the river? In antiquity, his horde was considered great. In Novosibirsk Province there is a district center called Ordinskoye—from orda, Russian for "horde"—where there is a settlement called Chingiz. Might the water recall how Chingiz Khan's horde retreated with their stolen loot, how they tied up a young Siberian girl and the mighty vizier implored her with passionate speeches and besotted eyes to go with him without resistance, of her own free will? The girl said nothing and lowered her eyes. All the vizier's soldiers had already fled, but he kept talking to her, kept begging for her love. Then the vizier threw her and a sack of gold across the croup of his steed, leapt into the saddle, and made a dash for the bank of the Ob on his faithful horse, saving himself from pursuit. His pursuers caught up. The vizier threw them gold, and when his sack was empty the vizier began ripping off his precious medals, awarded for conquering various countries, on the grass, at the feet of those who had chased him, but he would not let the girl go. Covered with foam, his steed had carried him to the dugouts on the bank of the Ob. Carefully, the vizier took the firmly bound girl from his steed and placed her in a boat. Then he jumped in after her. But while he was pushing the boat off from the bank, an arrow from the pursuit, which had just caught up, pierced him.

The current bore the boat away. The vizier, shot through by the arrow, lay on the stern and did not even watch the three boats of rowers drawing closer and closer with the soldiers. He looked tenderly at the maiden, who sat there calmly, silently, and was himself silent. He didn't have the strength to say anything. The Siberian girl looked at him, too, then glanced at his pursuers and barely smiled, either at them or something else, tore the ropes from her arms and threw them into the water. The young Siberian girl took up the oars. And the pursuit's dugouts could not catch up with her boat, where the wounded vizier lay.

Where, into what times, did the water's current carry them, and what now, in this instant, was the cloudy river water carrying away in its memory about us?

Would the river think the big cities most important? Today, Novosibirsk, a huge city, stands on the Ob's banks, closer to its sources. Can you feel its size and grandeur, River? Of course, it is clear to me that you might say the river water, once life-giving, is so dirty that no one can drink it. But what are we supposed to do? Where can we dispose our factories' waste? After all, we're developing, not like our ancestors. We have lots of scientists now who live in the many academic towns around Novosibirsk. If we don't pour our sewage into you, we will choke ourselves. Even now, the stench has made it hard to breathe in the city, and in some districts you can't tell what it is exactly that stinks. Try to understand all this, River. You know what kind of equipment we have now. Diesel ships glide over you now, not silent dugouts. My ship has moved over your waters, as well.

I wonder whether the river remembers me. Me on the ship, the largest passenger ship we had. The ship wasn't new, of course, and at full steam all its diesel engines and propeller made such a racket, we could barely listen to music in the bar.

What does the river consider most important and retain in its memory? Before, I would look at its banks from the high deck of my ship, from the windows of the aft bar, to the sounds of Malinin's songs and ballads:

On a fine white horse, I'd ride to town,

For the tavern mistress's smile fair,

On the bridge, I caught the miller's scowl,

And with the tavern's mistress spent the night.

At the time, the people going about their business on the banks had seemed trifling and insignificant. Now I was one of them.

I also thought about how I was going to convince Anastasia not to prevent me from having contact with my son. Such a strange situation had come about. All my life I'd dreamed of a son. I'd imagined playing with him when he was little. Then raise him. When my son grew up he would be a good helper to me. We would be in business together. I have a son now, and though he's not near me, it's still nice to know that a being so close to me and so desired exists on this earth. Before my departure, I'd taken tremendous satisfaction in buying all kinds of unnecessary children's things for my baby. Buying is one thing. Whether I would be able to give them was still a question. If I'd had my son by an ordinary woman, whether from the country or the city—it didn't matter—everything would be simple and clear. Almost any woman would like to know that the father of her child was concerned and trying to give the child everything he needed and to take part in his upbringing. If a man doesn't do this voluntarily, many women sue for support. But Anastasia was a taiga hermit, and she had her own views on life, her own understanding of values. Even before my son's birth, she told me, "He has no need of any material goods as you understand them. He will have everything from the very beginning. You will undoubtedly want to bring the baby some pointless rattle, but he absolutely doesn't need it. You need it for your self-satisfaction: 'How good and concerned I am.'"

My goodness. "He has no need of any material goods." But what can a parent give his newborn then, especially his father? It's still too soon to give the nursing infant a fatherly upbringing. How can I express my love toward him then? How can I express my concern? The mother nurses him, so it's easier for her. She's already involved, but what is the father supposed to do? In civilized conditions, he can help around the house and worry about the family's material well-being. But Anastasia doesn't need all that. She has nothing but her taiga glade. Her hearth takes care of itself and actually takes complete care of her. Therefore, it will also serve the baby when it sees he comes from her. I wonder what kind of money it would take to have something like that? Buying or leasing five hectares of land long term isn't that hard now, but how and for what money can you buy the love and devotion of a wolf, bear, bugs, and eagle? Anastasia herself may not need any of our civilization's achievements, but why should the child suffer for his mother's world-view? The child doesn't even have normal toys. Here, too, she sees everything her own way. "A child does not need pointless rattles. They harm him. They lead him away from the truth," she says.

I think her statements are either utter superstition or at least have a definite kink. Did humanity really invent so many different toys for children for nothing? But so as not to argue with Anastasia, I didn't buy any rattles but I did buy an erector set that had this written on the box: "Play for the development of children's intellect." And I bought the disposable diapers the whole world uses. And baby food, too. Which simply delighted me with its convenience of preparation. You open the box, and inside is a hermetically sealed, waterproof foil package. You cut open the packet with scissors, sprinkle the powder into warm water, stir, and it's all ready. There are different kinds of powder: buckwheat, rice, and other cereals.

It also says on the box that it contains various vitamin supplements. I remember before, when my daughter Polina was still very little, I had to go to the community kitchen every day for her food, while here I'd bought a box and you could feed my child without any problem. You didn't even have to cook it. Mix it in water and that's it. I knew Anastasia did not boil water and therefore before buying a lot I bought one box. I tried mixing the powder in the box with room temperature water, and it dissolved. I tasted it and it tasted fine, only bland because there was no salt, though for children it probably shouldn't have salt. I decided Anastasia wouldn't be able to find any arguments against this powder. It's absurd to refuse this kind of convenience. And she would have to have some respect for our technocratic world. It not only produces weapons but thinks about children, too. However, what worried me most from what Anastasia had said—primarily because it was incomprehensible—was the following: Anastasia had said that for me to have contact with my son, I had to achieve a certain purity of intentions and cleanse myself internally, only I didn't know what specifically I was supposed to cleanse myself of.

It would have been easier to understand if she had said I had to shave, or stop smoking, and, when I approached the child, wear clean clothing. But she spoke of consciousness and internal cleansing. Where do they sell the brush to cleanse something inside you? What was so very dirty inside me? I may not be better than others, but I'm no worse, either. If every woman started presenting the man with demands like this, one big purgatory would have to be set up for humanity. This is illegal. I've brought Anastasia an excerpt from the Civil Code which says that one parent does not have the right to deprive the other without grounds of the opportunity to see his own child, even if the parents are divorced. Of course, our laws mean little to Anastasia, but this is still a weighty argument. After all, most people follow the laws. I also could have spoken more sternly with Anastasia. She and I should have equal rights to the child. I'd had the idea of speaking more sternly with her before, too, but now I'd had second thoughts about my original decision. Here's why: in my backpack, along with everything else, were readers' letters. I didn't take them all because a great many letters come in. They wouldn't have all fit. In many letters readers regard Anastasia with understanding. They call her a messiah, a taiga fairy, a goddess, and dedicate poems and songs to her. Some speak to her as if she were their closest friend. This stream of letters compelled me to make a great effort to make sense of my own actions and statements.

I had to sit on the bank by Egorich's launch for three hours or so. Night was approaching when I saw two men coming toward me and Egorich's grandson with them. The first, elderly, looked to be about sixty. He was wearing a canvas raincoat and rubber boots and had a flushed face. He'd obviously been drinking because he swayed slightly as he walked. The other, younger, about thirty, was sturdily built. When they came closer I saw streaks of gray in the younger Siberian's dark brown hair. The older man started to speak as soon as he got close.

"Hey there, traveler! Want to see Anastasia? We'll take you. Get out five hundred thousand for carriage plus two bottles."

I already knew I wasn't the only one trying to get to Anastasia, which was why his fee was so high. For them I was just another pilgrim going where Anastasia resided. But I still asked, "Why do you think I need to see some Anastasia and not just go to the village?"

"Okay, the village, if you say so. Get out your five hundred anyway. If you don't have five hundred, we won't take you to the village."

Egorich was not speaking very nicely to me.

"They take that much money for transport and aren't friendly," I thought. "Why is that?"

I had no choice but to agree, though. But instead of being happy about the money and, most importantly, the two bottles of vodka, which he sent his younger partner off for, Egorich treated me with even more hostility. He sat down on a rock next to me and muttered to himself.

"The village. . . . What village? Six houses of people barely alive—the whole village. Nobody needs that village."

"Do you take visitors to see Anastasia often? Is it a good business transporting them?" I asked Egorich to get the conversation going and temper his hostility. But Egorich answered with irritation.

"Who invited them? Uninvited dolts hauling themselves there. Nothing stops them. Did she invite them? Did she? No! She told one about her life. He wrote a book. Fine. Write. But why give away the place? We never did. He meets her once and writes about her whole life, and gives away the place. Even the old women realized she'd have no peace if it was given away."

"You mean you've read the book about Anastasia?"

"I don't read books. Sasha, my partner, likes to read books. But we won't take you to the village right away. Too far. The propeller on the launch is kind of weak. We'll go as far as the fishing shack and spend the night there. In the morning Sasha will take you the rest of the way while I fish."

"So be it," I agreed, and I thought, "It's good Egorich doesn't know I'm the author of the book about Anastasia."

Sasha, Egorich's buddy, brought the vodka. They stowed the fishing tackle in the boat, and then Egorich's grandson Vasyatka nearly scotched the trip. He started asking Egorich for money for a new radio.

"I've already hauled a pole over for the antenna and figured out how to put it up," Vasyatka said, "and I have the wire for the antenna. When you attach the antenna to the radio you catch lots of different stations."

2. Money for Tomfoolery?

"See what a smart grandson I have?" Egorich boasted with a warmth in his voice. "Curious, and skillful. Good job, Vasyatka. Someone needs to give him some money."

The hint was clear, and I started getting out my money, but Vasyatka, emboldened by the praise, continued.

"I have to hear absolutely everything about the cosmonauts. Ours and the Americans. When I grow up I'm going to be a cosmonaut myself."

"What's that? What's that you said?" Egorich was suddenly on his guard.

"When I grow up I'm going to be a cosmonaut."

"Well, you won't get any money from me for that kind of utter tomfoolery, Vasyatka."

"It's not tomfoolery at all to be a cosmonaut. Everybody likes cosmonauts. They're heroes and they get shown on television. They're flying around the Earth all the time in big old spaceships. They talk to all kinds of scientists directly from space."

"And what good comes of their yammering? They're flying there while there are fewer and fewer fish in the Ob."

"Cosmonauts tell all the people about the weather. They know in advance what the weather's going to be on the whole Earth tomorrow," Vasyatka continued to defend science.

"Big deal. You can go to granny Marfa. Ask granny Marfa and she'll tell you the weather for tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and next year. And she won't take any money. What about your cosmonauts? Your cosmonauts are squandering Petka's money. Your father's money."

"The state gives the cosmonauts lots of money."

"And where is this state of yours getting the money? Where the hell does the state get it? From Petka, your father. That's where the state gets the money. I caught fish and Petka sold it in town, and he wanted to be a smart businessman, but the state says to him, "Pay taxes, give us all your money, we have lots of expenses. And in the Duma they keep yammering, worse than women at a well. They thought it all up, made it all up, and they think they're geniuses. They have all kinds of conveniences there, they use nice clean toilets, smart ones, but the water in the river keeps getting dirtier. You're not getting any money, Vasyatka, until you air that tomfoolery from your head. And I'm not going anywhere anymore, I'm not going to make money for tomfoolery."

It was probably the drink that made Egorich flare up so strongly that he nearly turned down the trip. Later, after he'd drunk some vodka straight from the bottle Sasha'd brought and lit a cigarette, he calmed down a little and we climbed into the launch. He never did give Vasyatka any money, and he kept muttering something about tomfoolery under his breath the whole way.

The launch's old motor rattled badly, making it hard to talk. We made our way in silence to an old fishing shack with just one small window. The first stars were appearing in the night sky.

Egorich, who had finished off the bottle of vodka started on the bank in the launch, muttered to his Sasha, "I'm off to sleep. Set up here by the fire or on the shack floor. Come dawn, take him to our spot."

Egorich had already bent over to enter the shack's tiny door, but he turned around and repeated sternly, "Ours! Under-s-stood, Sasha?"

"Understood," Sasha replied calmly.

When we were sitting by the fire and eating fish baked in the coals, I asked Sasha a question about what Egorich said that had put me on my guard.

"Alexander, can you tell me what this 'spot' of yours is where Egorich told you to take me?"

"Our spot is on the bank opposite the village, and from there you can get to Anastasia's glade," Alexander answered me calmly.

"That's great! You accept all that money and don't take me where I need to go?"

"Yes, that's what we do. That's all we can do for Anastasia to make up for our guilt before her."

"What guilt? And why did you admit this to me? How are you going to put me off at 'your spot' now?"

"I'll moor the launch wherever you say. As for the money, I'll give you back my share."

"And why are you doing this for me?"

"I recognized you. I recognized you immediately, Vladimir Megre. I read your book and saw your photo on the cover. I'll take you where you say. Only I have to tell you . . . You need to treat what I tell you calmly. Reasonably. You shouldn't go into the taiga. You won't make it. Anastasia's gone. I think she went deep into the taiga. Or somewhere else we don't know about. You won't make it now. You'll die yourself. Or hunters will shoot you. Hunters don't take kindly to outsiders on their lands. They deal with outsiders at a distance so as not to subject themselves to excess danger."

Outwardly Alexander was speaking almost calmly, only the stick he was using to stir the fire was shaking clumsily, and the sparks were shooting up like fireworks, disturbingly, into the night.

"Did something happen here? What? You recognized me, so tell me. What happened? Why did Anastasia leave?"

"I'd like to tell someone," Alexander replied in a subdued voice, "to tell someone who could understand. I don't know where to start to make you understand or to make me understand."

"Tell it simply, the way it was."

"Simply? It's true. It's all very simple, so simple it will shock you. Listen calmly and, if you can, don't interrupt."

"I won't. Get to the point. Don't drag it out."

3. Uninvited Guests

Alexander started speaking with Siberian calm, but I could still sense the inner agitation in this young, graying Siberian's soul.

"When I read your book, Anastasia, I was a graduate student at Moscow University. I was fascinated by philosophy and psychology. I was studying the religions of the East. With enthusiasm. And all of a sudden: Anastasia. Not at the back of beyond, but right next to my home, in Siberia, where I was born. Such tremendous power, logic, and meaning I felt in her words! I felt something dear and significant to me. Compared with this unusual feeling rising in me, foreign teachings paled. I abandoned it all and rushed home, as if I were rushing from the dark to the light. I wanted to see Anastasia, talk to her. I came home and started going with Egorich in the launch to the spot on the bank that you described in the book. Egorich and I figured it out. From time to time, others, too, began to try meeting Anastasia. They would ask questions about that spot. But we didn't take anyone to it. The locals had the sense to figure it out and not encourage the pilgrims. One day, though, we, or rather I, without Egorich, took a whole group to the spot."

"Why did you do that?"

"At the time I thought I was doing the right thing, for the good. There were six of them. They seemed to be two prominent scientists with major resources. Or those who backed them and had sent them had major resources. The other four were guards, armed with revolvers. They had other weapons in their arsenal, too, and walkie-talkies. They asked me to be their guide, and I agreed—not for the money. First I talked to them for a long time. They didn't try to hide the fact that the goal of their expedition was to meet Anastasia. Their leader, a handsome, gray-haired man, Boris Moiseyevich, realized that Anastasia alone could do more for science than many scientific institutes.

"They planned to take her out of the taiga and create conditions for her to live in a nature preserve and to provide security. Boris Moiseyevich said, 'If we don't do this, someone else will, and anything could happen. Anastasia is an unusual phenomenon, and we're obliged to protect and study it.'

"Boris Moiseyevich's assistant, Stanislav, an intelligent young man, was basically in love with Anastasia, although long-distance. I agreed with their arguments. They rented a small ship from a cooperative. They brought barrels of aviation fuel to the ship in a van.

"When we reached the spot, they set up their tents on the high bank and radioed their location to the helicopter.

"The helicopter was equipped for aerial and video photography and had some other unusual equipment on it. Every day, the helicopter flew low over the taiga, photographing sector by sector.

"Every day, the two scientists examined the shots. Occasionally they themselves rode in the helicopter to places that interested them. They were searching for Anastasia's glade, where they planned to land. I imagined the racket the helicopter would make landing in Anastasia's glade, terrifying every living thing. I thought about Anastasia's little baby and how the roaring helicopter might frighten him, too. I started suggesting to the scientists that after they'd determined the glade's location they not land the helicopter there. I suggested to the scientists that after they'd discovered the glade from the helicopter they make a map and go to the glade on foot. But Stanislav explained that it would be hard for Boris Moiseyevich to make such a long journey through the taiga. Stanislav also shared my concerns about disturbing the peace of the taiga's inhabitants, but he assured me that Boris Moiseyevich would be able to gradually reassure both Anastasia and the baby. On the fourth day it all happened."

"What happened?"

"When the helicopter had flown off for another video shoot and we were doing whatever we were doing, one of the guards saw a solitary female figure approaching our camp from the direction of the taiga. He told Boris Moiseyevich. Soon after, the entire camp was watching the approaching woman. She was wearing a light blouse and a long skirt, and her kerchief was tied so as to cover both her forehead and her neck. We stood there in a group, with Boris Moiseyevich and Stanislav in front. The woman walked up to us. There was neither fear nor embarrassment on her face. Her eyes . . . her unusual eyes looked gently, benignly, at the people, and this gaze warmed us. She seemed to look not at everyone at once, but at each one individually. An incomprehensible excitement gripped us all. As if each had forgotten everything and was reveling, luxuriating, in the warmth that radiated from her extraordinary gaze. No one even invited her to sit down after her journey.

"She was the first to speak. In a calm and incredibly kind voice she said, 'Good day to you, people.'

"And we're standing there in silence. Boris Moiseyevich was the first to speak to her.

"'Hello,' he answered for everyone. 'Would you please introduce yourself? Who are you?'

"'My name is Anastasia. I have come to you with a request. Call back your helicopter, please. It is bad for these parts. You're looking for me. Here I am. I will answer the questions you have that I can answer.'

"'Yes, of course, we were looking for you. Thank you for coming yourself. This solves so many problems,' Boris Moiseyevich began. He did not invite her to sit down either, although there was a table and folding chairs next to the tent, and he did not ask Anastasia to step aside with him. Her unexpected appearance must have unnerved him, too. He immediately began talking about the purpose of our visit.

"'Yes, very good. You came to see us yourself, and we have actually come for you. Don't be alarmed. We'll call back the helicopter.'

"Boris Moiseyevich gave instructions to the senior guard to radio the helicopter commander and bring him back to camp. The instruction was immediately carried out. Then he turned to Anastasia and began speaking with her more calmly and confidently.

"'Anastasia, the helicopter will come right away. You will get in it with our colleagues. You will show our colleagues the glade where you live with your son. The helicopter will land where you indicate and you will collect your son. We will take you and him to a nature preserve outside Moscow. Everything in the preserve will be set up as you say. The way it should be. No one will disturb you there. This preserve is under continuous guard. After you settle there, the guard will be increased. Only occasionally, at a time convenient for you, scientists will come to talk to you. These will be people who have sufficiently prepared. You will find interacting with them interesting, and your interpretations of certain natural and social phenomena and your philosophy will be interesting to them. If you wish, you will have a most worthy assistant. This person, who will be constantly by your side, will be able to catch your meaning quickly. Despite his youth, he is already a prominent, talented scientist. In addition, he is in love with you long-distance, and I think you are worthy of each other and could be a handsome, happy couple. He is worthy of you not only because of his learnedness but also because of his way of life. He is here.' Boris Moiseyevich turned toward Stanislav, gestured to him, and called him forward.

"'Come closer, Stanislav. What's wrong with you? Introduce yourself.'

"Stanislav walked up, facing Anastasia, and although a little embarrassed, began to speak.

"'Boris Moiseyevich seems to be my matchmaker. This may seem unexpected to you, Anastasia, but I truly am prepared to propose to you. I am prepared to adopt your son and treat him like my own child. I am prepared to help you resolve many problems, and I ask you to think of me as a friend.'

"Stanislav bowed his head to Anastasia elegantly, took her hand, and kissed it. He was elegant. A fine specimen. If Anastasia had worn different clothes, they might indeed have looked like a handsome and notable couple.

"Anastasia replied to Stanislav gently and seriously.

"'Thank you for your kind attitude toward me. Thank you for your concern for me.' She added, 'If you indeed feel strong enough to direct your love and make the life of another person happier and fuller, then remember that among the women you know, the women around you, there may be someone dissatisfied with life, a woman unhappy over something. Turn your attention to her. Love her, and make her happy.'

"'But I want to love you, Anastasia.'

"'I am happy with someone else. Do not waste your efforts on me. There are women who need you more.'

"Boris Moiseyevich decided to help Stanislav.

"'This other man you have come to meet, Anastasia? Of course, you mean Vladimir. He is far from the best our society has to offer.'

"'These kinds of assessments coming from you will not change my feelings. I cannot control my feelings.'

"'But why did you meet with Vladimir specifically? A man far from spirituality and science or even a normal way of life. He is just an ordinary entrepreneur. Why did you fall in love with him specifically?'

"At a certain point I suddenly began to understand," Alexander continued. "Boris Moiseyevich, Stanislav, and the entire group that had come with us had a specific goal: to collect—to snatch—Anastasia by any means and use her only in certain interests of their own, even against her will. It didn't matter whose idea it was, their own or an order from higher up. They were going to try to carry out what had been conceived. No arguments, even the weightiest, were going to stop them. Anastasia may have realized this as well. There is no doubt she could not have failed to know, to sense their intentions. Nevertheless, she continued to treat the men standing in front of her like good, dear people. She spoke sincerely and frankly with us about what was most precious, and this attitude and sincerity restrained, or rather, repulsed, any violence. So fully did she parry the attempts by Boris Moiseyevich and Stanislav to cool her attitude toward you that she rendered their arguments on this topic meaningless.

"They say a woman in love sees only the good in the man she loves, no matter what he's done or what he is in fact like. But her arguments were of a different sort. When my first excitement after Anastasia's appearance had passed, I was able to switch on my voice recorder very quietly.

"Later I often listened to and analyzed what Anastasia had said. I remember everything. . . . And this 'everything' has turned my consciousness around."

"What's turned your consciousness around?" I wondered how Anastasia had spoken about me.

Alexander continued.

"After Boris Moiseyevich asked, 'Why did you fall in love with him specifically?' Anastasia replied simply at first.

"'It's pointless to ask me that. No one in love can explain why they love the one they love. For every woman in love, only one man is the best and most important in the world, only her chosen one. And for me, my beloved is the best.'

"'Still, even you, Anastasia, cannot fail to understand the absurdity of your choice. It may have been an accident, but it's still absurd. Your will, abilities, and analytical mind should cool your initial impulse and explain to you just how unsound this person is compared with others. Give this some thought.'

"'My thoughts speak quite to the opposite. In this case it is pointless to waste time on them. They merely increase the puzzling necessity of what occurred. Everything must be accepted as it is.'

"'Accept absurdity? Paradox?'

"'It only looks that way at first glance. You have journeyed far from Moscow. You met with difficulties reaching this spot on the bank. You ask me a question about my love. But you do not suspect that this is a paradox—that events in Moscow shed greater clarity regarding this love. You would do better giving thought to them there. You did not have to come so far.'

"'What events occurred in Moscow?'

"'They are simple outwardly, but only outwardly. As you say, Vladimir is a simple and in no way remarkable, sinful man who abandoned everything and went to Moscow from Siberia immediately after meeting me. He went to keep his promise to me: to organize a society of entrepreneurs with the purest intentions. He no longer had any money, but he acted.

"'In Moscow there is a two-story building at 14 Tolmakov Lane. People once worked there who headed up the first association of entrepreneurs. Then the association's leaders left. The association was dying.

"'Vladimir walked into that building, and its deserted offices, big and small, began coming to life. There he wrote all kinds of letters and appealed to entrepreneurs. He worked in his office from early in the morning until late at night and stayed there to sleep. People came to see him. People turned up and began helping him, people who believed in him and what he was doing. I asked him to do this when he was at my glade in the taiga. I told Vladimir how important this was.

"'I constructed and laid out a plan of action for him. The goals could be reached by carrying out the plan constructed by my dream in sequence. But he was supposed to write the book first, and with its help, clarify a great deal and disseminate the information. The book was supposed to find and unite entrepreneurs with pure intentions and give him the means to carry out this plan.

"'But Vladimir did everything the way he himself understood and considered correct. He barely thought of me. He understood the significance of what had been conceived and lived for it. Following his own path, he broke the sequence.

"'He could not reach his goal this way, but he did not know this and acted with incredible persistence and inventiveness. Other people came to help him who believed in the idea. Slowly shoots of a new association of entrepreneurs poked through. It was unbelievable, but he did accomplish a little. They had gathered, entrepreneurs with the purest intentions. A list of their addresses exists, and you can be convinced yourselves.'

"'We've read that list. It was published in the first edition of the book. But I must disenchant you, Anastasia. Disenchant you. The list also includes enterprises like Kristall, a Moscow factory that produces alcoholic beverages. Its output is incompatible with the concept of what is spiritual.'

"'Everything in the world is relative. Kristall may not be the worst compared to others. In addition, we are talking about intentions capable of changing everything. Today's matter is the fruit of yesterday's intention.'

"'I cannot agree with that statement. However, your Vladimir was unable to organize an association of entrepreneurs with pure intentions. I assure you, Anastasia, you have bet on the wrong man.'

"'By disturbing the outline of events, Vladimir could not arrive at his goal. He did not have the elementary resources or funds to disseminate information even beyond Moscow. Unfavorable circumstances took shape and he lost his offices for continuing his work, his means of communication and lodging. He left the building, which is on Tolmakov Lane in Moscow. He left with a small group of people—the Muscovites who had been helping him. He left without any money to survive. He could not pay his assistants' wages, having no housing or even winter clothing. He had left and been left by his family. And do you know what he spoke about with that small group of Muscovites as they headed for the subway down that frosty street? He discussed how to start all over. Even in that state he was building a plan and trying to do something. He is an entrepreneur. They, the Muscovites, followed, listened, and believed him. They loved him.'

"'What for, if I may ask?'

"'You will have to ask them, those Muscovites, why, what they saw in him. Go to the building on Tolmakov Lane and ask the building guard why, while taking turns on their shifts, they brought food in jars and different packets of food and each time tried to feed him supper. They tried to do this in such a way as not to insult him with their offering. These men, these guards, who did not work for him, cooked all kinds of soups and borschts at home and brought them, so that he could have a little home cooking. They loved him. Why?

"'When you go to that building, also talk to the pretty woman who worked there as a secretary, a former actress, she played the lead in Through Hardships to the Stars, she played a good alien. She played it very well, in a very good film that called on people to protect and love the earth. Ask her why, while working for another firm in that same building, she tried to and did help Vladimir surreptitiously. She was not his secretary, but she helped him. Why did she try to bring my beloved coffee or tea for his dinner? She set up everything as if it were her firm that was supplying her with sugar, cookies, and tea. In fact, she brought all that from her own home. She was not rich. She loved him. Why?

"'While he, Vladimir, was nonetheless losing strength and dying. His physical strength was running out. But even in his premortal state, he was trying to reach his goal. Yes, he is an entrepreneur, and his spirit is strong.'

"'Anastasia, you're speaking in allegories. What do you mean by "he was nonetheless dying"? Is this in the figurative sense?'

"'It is in the literal sense. For a few days in Moscow, his flesh was nearly dead. Ordinarily in that state people lie without moving. But he was walking and acting.'

"'Perhaps thanks to you, Anastasia?'

"'For all those forty-two horrible hours I did not cease warming him with my ray for a single second, a single instant. But this was not enough. My ray could not maintain life in a body where the spirit was weakening. But Vladimir's spirit fought. In its aspirations, his spirit did not notice death's arrival. It helped the ray. Then other rays appeared to help mine. They were very very weak and unconscious, but they were there. These were the rays of those who surrounded and loved him in Moscow.

"'His nearly dead flesh began to fill with life. In the face of sincere love, if it is sufficient, death retreats. Man's immortality is in love, in his ability to inspire love for himself.'

"'Dead flesh cannot walk. You are still speaking allegorically, unscientifically.'

"'The science of human criteria is always provisional. There are truths not only for the present day.'

"'But how then are today's scientists to be convinced? We need readings from impartial instruments.'

"'Fine. The Kursk train station. There is a photomat in the subway there. On one of those days Vladimir took a small color photograph of himself for a permit. This photograph may still be at the building at 42 Lenin Prospect. Vladimir may have it, too. Look closely and you will see all the signs of a dead body, even the discolorations of a corpse; the photomat recorded the spots on his face. But you will also see life in his eyes. The spirit of struggle.'

"'Nonetheless, only you could save him, Anastasia. Tell us, why did you expend so much of your own efforts on him specifically? Why?'

"'I alone was not involved in his rescue. Ask the three Moscow students why they rented an apartment for him with their own money. Why did they, when he finally realized the reason for his failures and began writing the book, during their semester, make money wherever they could and spend their nights typing the text Vladimir wrote on their computers? Why? You can ask this question of many Muscovites who were by his side in difficult moments. The mystery's solution is in them, not me. Why did Moscow and its people safeguard him, help and believe in him?

"'It is Moscow that wrote the book, too. I am enraptured by that city! I have come to love it! No growling iron machines or insane cataclysms caused by the technocratic world could ever wipe from the souls of those living in this city their sense of good and love. Many in this city are striving for what is good and light—for love. Through the growling mechanisms and the confusion they sense its great power and grace.'

"'But Anastasia, what you're saying truly is incredible and stunning. It couldn't have happened all by itself. This proves yet again how incredible your abilities are and the unprecedented capabilities of the ray you wield. You obviously shone it on the Muscovites in contact with Vladimir. You aren't going to deny you did that, are you? And all the miracles were created by you.'

"'Love created the miracles. I did use my ray to cautiously touch everyone who interacted with Vladimir. But I only strengthened slightly the feelings they already had of good, love, and striving for the light. I only strengthened what was inside them. And the book was published by Moscow. The first print run was small and the book was slim. But people bought it. It sold out quickly. Vladimir did not distort the events that occurred in the taiga. He honestly set forth the sensations he experienced there. To many readers I appeared smart and good and Vladimir foolish and dimwitted.

"'People in their homes read what was set forth without taking into consideration the fact that Vladimir had been with me one on one in the remote Siberian taiga. For him, all this was too unusual then. I do not know who else might have gone so far into the taiga without any gear. Or how he would behave when he saw what he saw. Vladimir described the events honestly. To many he looked foolish. Here you are asking the question of why him specifically. Why do I love him so?

"'When the book was being written, Vladimir had already grasped a great deal in a different way. He grasps everything very quickly. Those who have had occasion to speak with him could not help but notice this. But Vladimir did not try to embellish his former self.'"

4. Notes of the Universe

"Anastasia spoke of you with warmth," Alexander continued. "She knew everything about people and events. She said, 'The first, still small, print run of the book Vladimir wrote came out in Moscow, and immediately there were ecstatic responses, poems, pictures, and songs. The book preserves—thanks to the sincerity of its exposition—the combinations and symbols I searched for in the Universe. It is these that gave rise in people to unusual, beneficial, all-healing feelings.'

"At these words of Anastasia's, Boris Moiseyevich began bustling about and suddenly sat down at the table by the tent. I saw that he had tried stealthily to turn on his voice recorder. In the pursuit of certain important information he had probably stopped paying any attention to those around him. He never did ask Anastasia to sit and thought only about how to get as much information out of her as quickly as he could. Agitated, the gray-haired scientist asked questions.

"'Scientists in various countries are using special expensive instruments to try to catch the unusual sounds of the universe. The sounds exist. Science knows this—maybe not everyone yet, only some. Maybe one-billionth. What instrument do you use to catch them, Anastasia? What instrument can produce the selection of sounds capable of purposefully influencing the human psyche?'

"'We have had that instrument for a long time. It is called the human soul. The soul's mood and purity accept or reject sounds.'

"'Yes, that's fine. Yes. Let's say that. You have been able to. You have been able to find and select out of billions the best sounds of the Universe and then also their combinations. But a sound can only be reproduced with the help of an instrument, a specific musical instrument. What does the book have to do with this? It can't make sounds, after all.'

"'No, it can't. It serves as sheet music. The reader involuntarily pronounces the sounds being read inside himself, so the combinations hidden in the text sound in the soul in their undistorted, primordial form. They both bear the Truth and healing and inspire the soul. A manmade instrument is incapable of producing what sounds in the soul.'

"'How did Vladimir preserve all your signs without knowing anything about them himself?'

"'I learned Vladimir's turns of speech, and I knew in advance that Vladimir would not distort events or the essence of what he had heard and would even present himself as he was. But he did not convey all the combinations of signs. He needed to continue writing. After all, he had set forth only a little of what he knew and comprehended when he began writing. He needed to continue writing. Fame had already touched him. Unprecedented fame, and with a little more effort he could organize the association of entrepreneurs. All of a sudden Vladimir took a step unforeseen by my dream. He left his paid-for Moscow apartment to the Muscovites around him, left them the opportunity to accept readers' compliments, boarded a train, and left Moscow.'

"'Why did he do that?'

"'He kept wanting to find confirmation for what I'd said. Confirmation by science, validation of the existence of various things I had spoken about—to touch them. So he decided not to write anymore. He left for the Caucasus. Vladimir left Moscow in order to see with his own eyes, in the Caucasus Mountains, the dolmens, the ancient sites where living people had gone to die ten thousand years ago. I had told him about this. I had also told him what important functional significance these dolmens have for people today.'

"'Vladimir went to a town called Gelendzhik. In the museums of Krasnodar, Novorossiisk, and Gelendzhik he collected materials on dolmens. Then he met with various scientists, archeologists, and local historians who worked on dolmens. He ended up with more information about dolmens than in any one museum. Naturally, I tried to help him imperceptibly. Through the mouths of people who came to see him, I instilled much new information in him, so that he would have the chance to compare and to draw his own conclusions. But only he himself acted quickly and decisively. He compared all the information he had gathered with what I had told him. When the archeologists showed him the dolmen closest to the road, he learned that there had been still more, but that they had been destroyed because the local residents had not understood their proper significance. The dolmens had been of little interest to them at all. Vladimir did what might have seemed incredible. In three months he changed the local residents' attitude toward the dolmens. They began taking flowers to them. At the initiative of Gelendzhik's local women historians, a public association was created. It was called Anastasia, in my honor. This association opened a school for tour guides so that they could tell visitors about the dolmens, preserve the dolmens, and protect rather than destroy them. They also began preparing new tours and called them "Excursions into the Intellect."

"'In Gelendzhik, the tour guides began talking about the significance of the primary sources and the Creator's great creations—about nature.'

"'Anastasia, do you think this is all thanks to him? You played no role here?'

"'If I could have done so much without him, I would have done it before. I wanted very much to do this. In one of the remote dolmens in those mountains, the flesh of my foremother died.'

"'But how? How could one person no one has ever heard of change peoples' attitude in such a short period of time? And be able to organize an effective association? You say that the scientific materials and various publications were known to the local residents, since they knew about them in the museums. But that didn't excite people.'

"'Yes, that's true.'

"'But why did they listen to him specifically? How did he succeed? Peoples' beliefs can't be changed that quickly.'

"'Vladimir did not know that. He did not know that consciousness cannot be changed quickly, which is why he acted and did change it. Go to that town and ask the various people who joined this association. Find out how and why success smiled on Vladimir.'

"'I rejoiced in what was happening in that town. The Anastasia Association—he agreed to this name when they asked him. I decided it was because of me. I thought he was starting to understand and love me. Truly, he had understood a lot, but he had not come to love me. He had not because I made many mistakes and sinned.'

"'Soon after, I came to understand, to realize that my dream would come true, that people would be carried across the dark forces' span of time and be happy! What I had dreamed of would come true, except for reciprocated love. This was retribution for the mistakes I made, my imperfection, and the insufficient purity of my intentions.'

"'What happened? What made you decide this?

"'Actually, everyone has long understood that he is crude and vulgar. Believe me, Anastasia, as someone older in years and as the father of a family, I tell you that your parents would not have approved such a union either.'

"'Please, you must not speak like that about someone dear to me. Vladimir seems crude to some, but I know something different.'

"'What else is there to know about him? Everyone knows what an entrepreneur can be, and he is a typical entrepreneur of our era. This is clear to everyone. Anastasia, your attitude toward Vladimir is biased.'

"'Be that as it may, it is mine. Also, you're wrong about my parents' opinion.'"

5. The Spirit of my Foremother

"'One morning I realized,' Anastasia said softly, and her gaze seemed to go deep into the past. 'That morning, Vladimir was not at home in his rented apartment. I couldn't find him with my ray. The day had begun on which many centuries ago my foremother had died in a dolmen. I always remember her on that day. I try to speak to her. And she speaks to me. You, too, go to the cemetery on that day in memory of your relatives, to think about them and talk. I do this without leaving the glade. My ray helps me speak and see at a distance, and they feel my ray. That day, I was remembering my foremother and trying to speak with her, as always, but I did not sense her replies. Not at all. She was not reacting to me. This had never happened before. Then I started searching for her dolmen with my ray. I found it. I shone my light on it as hard as I could. My foremother did not react. Something unknown to me had happened. The spirit of my foremother was not in the dolmen.'

"'Anastasia, please explain what you mean by a person's spirit. What does it consist of?'

"'Of everything invisible that there is in a person, including certain predilections and sensations acquired during his mortal existence.'

"'Does the spirit possess an energy analogous to one of the known energies?'

"'Yes. It is an energy set consisting of multiple energies. After the corporeal existence of a particular individual ceases, some of these sets are subject to disintegration into individual energies and are then used in plant and animal combinations, essential natural phenomena.'

"'What is their power? What energy potential does a set of energies that have not been disengaged have?'

"They're different for each. The very weakest cannot even overcome gravitational energy. It will disintegrate later anyway.'

"'Gravitational? The very weakest—can one see its manifestations in something, perceive or feel it?'

"'Naturally. A tornado, for example.'

"'A tornado? A tornado that rips up trees by their roots and upturns . . . Then what energy does the strongest possess?'

"'The very strongest? That is He. I cannot fully comprehend the power of His energy.'

"'What about an average one?'

"'The energy set of many average spirits already includes liberated thought energy.'

"'What is the energy power and potential of this average set?'

"'I've told you. Present within it is liberated thought energy.'

"'Meaning what? What can you compare it to? How do you define it?'

"'Compare? Define? Your mind, your thought, the awareness of what is most powerful —what kind of energy might they suggest?'

"'The energy of a nuclear explosion. No, the processes taking place on the Sun.'

"'Everything you have named is equal to just a small particle of liberated thought energy. As for definitions, think them up yourselves and use them to communicate with each other. Here nothing you have thought up is suitable. You may use what you know, multiplied infinitely.'

"'What is the strength of the energy of your foremother's spirit like?'

"'Present in it is liberated thought energy.'

"'How did you find out about your foremother? How and where did she die? After all, this happened ten thousand years ago!'

"'Generations of my ancestors have passed down the information about her, my foremother, who went to die in a dolmen.'

"'Your mother told you about her?'

"'When my dear mama died, I was little and incapable of comprehending that kind of information. My grandfather and great-grandfather told me everything about my dear mamas.'

"'Can the spirit be seen with ordinary human vision?'

"'Partially, yes. If the perception of spectrality, vision's color perception, is altered, if the internal rhythm is altered.'

"'This is really possible?'

"'Daltonism, a phenomenon you know, suggests that it is. You believe that this occurs only apart from the person's will—that it is merely a disease—but that is not so.'

"'You said your foremother and your mother are worthy of having information about them passed down from generation to generation through the millennia. Where does the worthiness and value of this information lie?'

"'My foremother was the last of the primary sources to have the capability and to know how and what a woman should think about when she was nursing her infant—knowledge of people who lived ten thousand years ago, which began to be lost in civilization. This knowledge has been almost entirely lost today. My foremother was not at all old, but she went to die in the dolmen in order to preserve all this knowledge of the primary sources. When comprehension begins to return to people, when the need arises in them to transmit this knowledge to nursing women, they will later help each other know everything. Through her death in the dolmen, my foremother learned even more truths essential to women.'

"'Why did she go into a dolmen specifically? How does a dolmen differ from an ordinary stone tomb? Why, without waiting for old age, did she decide to die in a dolmen? Was she moved by an understanding of her purpose or by superstition?'

"'At that time people had already begun putting less and less importance on nursing infants, and women were not offered the dolmens at their request. The old leader respected my foremother and understood that if he did not carry out her request, the new leader would not even want to listen to my foremother and would consider all her intentions mere whim. But the old leader could not force the men to build a dolmen for her. That is when the old leader gave his own dolmen to her. The men did not approve the leader's decision and refused to raise the dolmen's roof so that she could enter. The women assembled and all night tried to lift the heavy stone slab themselves, but the slab weighed many tons and at dawn the old leader came. He could no longer walk, but he came anyway, leaning on his staff. The old leader smiled at the women, said encouraging words, and the women lifted the heavy slab and my foremother entered the dolmen.'

"'How does a dolmen differ from an ordinary stone tomb?'

"'Very little, outwardly. However, living people went to die in the dolmens, as you call the stone tomb. A dolmen is not simply a cult structure made of stone, as is now thought, but a monument to wisdom and to the great self-sacrifice of the spirit for the sake of future generations. Even today, it is important for its functional significance. Death in that kind of dolmen was not quite ordinary. The word "death" does not even fit very well here.'

"'I can imagine. A living person immured in a stone chamber—truly an unusually tortuous death.'

"'The people who went into the dolmens were not tortured at all. The peculiarity of their death was that they meditated. They meditated into eternity, remaining on Earth in spirit forever, having preserved certain earthly feelings. But the soul of someone who went into a dolmen to die loses for eternity the possibility of material incarnation on Earth.'

"'How did they meditate?'

"'You now know what meditation is, especially from the ancient Eastern religions. Today there are teachings helping us to learn a small part of the phenomena of meditation, but unfortunately not its purpose. Right now there are people who can meditate, separate a part of their spirit from their body for a while and then return it. With the help of meditation in the dolmen, still during the body's life, the spirit completely detached and returned many times, as long as the flesh was alive. Then the spirit remained in the dolmen for eternity. Alone, it waits eternally for visitors, in order to impart the wisdom of the primary sources to them. The flesh, even if it could live for a while, was in any case confined. But while my foremother was alive, her spirit had the opportunity to be in different dimensions and to return, and this gave it the opportunity to analyze with a speed incredible by your lights, to hone the available truth. The people who died or went into eternal meditation through the dolmen knew that their soul and spirit would never be able to materialize again. They could never settle in any earthly flesh or matter. They could never go far from the dolmen for too long or too often, but in compensation, they had the ability to interact with a particle of the soul of someone who had come to the dolmen in the flesh. If you talk about the agonies of death and agonies in general, in this case they consisted of the fact that for millennia no one approached them to accept this knowledge. Their great tragedy lies in the absence of demand. Demand for the sake of which—'

"'Anastasia, do you believe that it's important for a mother nursing her infant to have this knowledge and ability?'

"'Very important.'

"'Why? After all, the mother's milk merely nourishes the infant's flesh.'

"'Not only his flesh. Her milk can bear enormous information and sensitivity. After all, you have to know that each substance has its own information, emanation, vibration.'

"Yes, it does. But how can mother's milk transmit sensitivity?'

"'It can. It is very sensitive. It is indissolubly linked with the mother's feelings. Even the taste of the milk changes depending on them. During stress that affects the nursing mother, breast milk can also be lost, or clot.'

"'Yes, it truly can. So no one visits your foremother? No one has visited for many millennia?'

"'At first they did. Primarily generations of my relatives and the people who lived there. Then disasters began to strike the earth. Migrations. The dolmen remained. But for the last few millennia, no one has gone to my foremother's dolmen to learn. The dolmens in general are being destroyed right now, because people don't know.

"'When I was telling Vladimir in the taiga about the dolmens and my foremother, he said he might go to her dolmen. At the time, I explained to him that he would not be able to understand and sense my foremother's spirit and soul and take in her information. A man cannot know the feelings and sensations of a nursing mother. Also, my foremother has been waiting for women, not men, for millennia. But women are not going to the dolmen, and only I communicate with my foremother once a year. On that day, I wanted to communicate with her, to tell her something good, but I couldn't. My foremother's spirit was not by the dolmen, and I myself, not understanding why, quickly began guiding my ray around the dolmen, steadily increasing the diameter of my circles. And all of a sudden, I saw it. I saw it! In a small gorge, on the rocks, Vladimir lay on the stones unconscious, and my foremother, her spirit, was leaning over Vladimir as a bundle of invisible energies. I understood. I had known even before how Vladimir had looked for guides to go into the mountains to the dolmens far from the road but had not found any guides. No one would agree to go with him for free. So Vladimir went into the mountains alone. He fell off the path into a gorge. He was wearing ordinary shoes, unfit for hiking through the mountains. He had no mountain gear at all. He wanted to be convinced of the dolmens' existence, to touch them. So he went into the mountains alone. On my foremother's memorial day, he was walking toward dolmens far from the roads. My foremother did not know why this man, who was completely unequipped for hiking mountain paths, was walking in the mountains. She was watching him, and when he slipped, when he fell off and started rolling downhill, her spirit raced down like an elastic bundle of air.

"'My foremother saved Vladimir. He did not hit his head on a rock, but he lost consciousness from the blows he received as he rolled down.

"'She held his head with her elastic bundle of air, as if in her hands, and waited for him to regain consciousness. That was why she had not spoken with me.

"'When Vladimir regained consciousness, she did not return to her dolmen. She remained below, in the gorge, to watch Vladimir scramble up to the path.

"'Later I realized that my foremother was on the path because pebbles had started skittering down from the path. It was she, contracting like an elastic breeze, who had been throwing pebbles from the mountain path. She had wanted to help Vladimir descend from the mountain along the path. I too wanted this very much, and I began very quickly to run my ray along the path so the path would not be so wet and slippery and so that Vladimir would be able to reach his little apartment and treat his wounds. But when Vladimir climbed up from the gorge, he sat on the path examining the sketch drawn for him by an archeologist at the Novorossiisk museum. Then he got up and started off, limping—not down, though, along the dry and now pebble-free path, but in the opposite direction: up. I froze in surprise, and I do not think my foremother immediately understood his intentions. He immediately veered from the path altogether and climbed through thorny bushes. I realized that he was climbing to my foremother's dolmen. He reached it. He sat down at the dolmen's portal, at the edge of the stone slab. He started unbuttoning his jacket. His hand hurt. It took him a long time to unbutton his jacket. When he did I saw . . . he had flowers under his jacket. Three little roses. The stems of two had snapped. The roses had broken when he slid into the gorge and struck the stones. A few thorns were bloody. He placed the broken roses at the dolmen's portal. He lit a cigarette and said, "It's too bad the flowers broke. This is for you, my beauty, flowers. You must have been a beauty, like Anastasia. Smart and good. You wanted to tell our women about nursing their infants. But they don't know about you, and your dolmen lies so far from the road, it's hard for women to reach it."

"'Then Vladimir got out a pocket flask of brandy and two small metal cups and took a handful of crushed candies out of his pocket. Vladimir filled the cups with brandy. He drank the brandy from one cup and set the other on the dolmen's portal and put a candy on it and said, "This is for you, my beauty."

"'Vladimir did everything the way modern people do at a cemetery when they visit their close relatives or friends, but my foremother's spirit raced around him in a bundle of invisible energies. She was distraught and did not know how to behave. She was trying to respond somehow to what Vladimir had said and to solidify the air in the form of her own flesh, but her outline was transparent and barely perceptible. Vladimir did not notice it. She kept trying to explain something to him, though he could neither see nor hear her, and so she raced around. The bundle of air skimmed the little cup. The cup overturned. Vladimir thought it was a chance breeze that had overturned the cup of brandy and he joked, saying, "Why did you spill this expensive brandy, you good-for-nothing woman?"

"'My foremother's spirit suddenly fell still in a corner of the dolmen. Vladimir poured more brandy into her cup, set a stone on top, and then another candy. Once again, as if to himself, he began to speak. "They should at least lay a decent path to your dolmen. You just wait a little longer. There should at least be a path to your dolmen, then women will take that path to see you. You'll tell them what they need to think about when they're nursing their infant. You must have had a very beautiful breast."

"'Then Vladimir began his descent. Late that night, he arrived at his apartment. He was sitting alone on his sofa in the cold apartment, binding his wounds and watching a video. He had been given a video to watch that people in different cities had copied and passed around.

"'On the television screen, a large audience of mainly women listened to a speaker. He was talking about God and the power of a righteous person's spirit. Then he started talking about me, about how I was the ideal of a woman toward which one needed to strive. The power of my intellect and spirit was great and I was helped by the forces of Light. Now that I was learning more about the life of people of the ordinary world, I would be able to help them.

"'Much that was good was said about me. Suddenly, somebody said that I had yet to meet a real man, that the man I had met was not a real man. Others had also said that in Australia there was a young man worthy of me and that I would meet him, a real man.

"'While he, Vladimir, he . . . You have to understand. He was sitting alone, listening to these words all the while trying to bind the wounds on his feet with one hand. His other hand hurt badly from the battering. I rushed to Vladimir with my ray. I wanted to warm his wounds and drive out his pain. And to say . . . somehow say . . . He never hears when I speak to him at a distance, but this time I thought it might work, probably because I wanted it so badly, wanted him to hear. Hear how I loved him! Only him. And that only he, my beloved, was a real man.

"'But I was burned and thrown onto the grass. Something would not let my ray reach Vladimir. Again I sent my ray to the room where he sat in front of the television, and I saw that kneeling in front of Vladimir, a bundle of invisible energy, was the spirit of my foremother. Vladimir could not see or hear her. He was watching and listening to the video, as my foremother warmed the wounds on his legs with her breath. When Vladimir poured this horribly burning cologne on his wounds. My foremother tried to say something to him, but he did not hear her.

"'My foremother's spirit is so powerful that nothing invisible can penetrate it. Even psychotropic weapons fly apart if they are aimed at her. She ignores them. There was no way I could step in. It would all be thrown off in any case. I could only watch. I watched and thought very quickly. What had happened? Why had this situation arisen? Why had the speaker spoken this way? Did he want to help me? Clarify something? What? Why did my ray speed so toward Vladimir? Naturally, I was afraid that Vladimir would be offended by the words "not a real man" and that he would be jealous. All of a sudden . . . Oh, how painful this was . . . hurtful. Vladimir listened all the way through, sighed, and said, "Great, a real man. And in Australia, I see. They're going to meet. Maybe they'll give me my son then."

"'My ray trembled. Everything sort of clouded over. You have to understand. Vladimir was not jealous. Jealousy is a bad emotion, of course. But I wished he would be just a little, just the slightest bit jealous. But it was as if Vladimir had just handed me over to someone else. I couldn't stand it any longer, and I cried out. I begged my foremother to explain what I had done wrong. Where was my mistake? Had I sinned? She did not answer until Vladimir had bandaged up his last wound. Then my foremother said with sorrow, "You should have simply loved, my daughter. You should have thought about what was good for your beloved without glorifying yourself."

"'I tried to make her understand that I wanted only what was good. But she said again softly, "You wanted pictures, music, poems, and songs for yourself, my daughter. Everything will come to pass. Your dream is strong, I know. It is for all people and the man you love, but for you it is going to be harder and harder now to win earthly love. You are becoming a star, my daughter. A star can be admired and loved as a star, not as a woman."

"'My foremother said nothing more. I lost control, cried out, tried to explain or prove that I did not want to be a star, that I wanted simply to be a woman and loved! But no one heard me.

"'Please help me! I have understood so much now. I am not afraid for myself, I can take care of myself. It will take Vladimir longer to understand; information like this leads him away from the Truth.

"'Let the dissemination of this cassette cease. It suggests to people and to Vladimir that I am an ideal, a star, that not he but someone else should be with me.

"'I am not a star. I am a woman. I want to love the person I myself want to love.

"'My path has not been determined by me alone.

"'I was mistaken. I dreamed of making it so that people would talk about me, dedicate poems and songs to me, artists would draw. . . . And all that did happen.

"'Everything always comes true when I dream it, and so did this. Thank you for the poems and songs. Thank you to the poets. But I was mistaken. I dreamed it right. We do need poems! But I should not be a star.

"'I wanted all this so that Vladimir would see and hear it and remember—remember me. But I did not know when I was dreaming. Now I understand. I am becoming a star. Everyone admires stars. But they love simply a woman.'

"'Anastasia, what are you saying! The distribution of the cassette, especially since people themselves are copying it, can't be stopped. This is an uncontrollable process. No one can stop it.'

"'There, you see? You can't. But Vladimir—he is an entrepreneur. Maybe the process is uncontrollable. He would still have done something. But he does not want to do anything, having reconciled himself to the fact that he and I are not a match.

6. Forces of Light

"The gray-haired scientist, who seemed to have forgotten about everything, continued to rain down questions on Anastasia.

"'What are the forces of light, Anastasia?'

"'These are thoughts of light once produced by people. All space is filled with them.'

"'Can you communicate freely with them, see them?'

"'Yes, I can.'

"'Can you answer any question facing science?'

"'Many of them, perhaps, although every scientist, every person can get answers, too. It all depends on the purity of the seeker's intentions and goal.'

"'Could you clarify a few phenomena for science?'

"'That you cannot find an answer means your intentions are not sufficiently pure. Such is the Creator's law, and I am not going to violate it if I sense a refusal.'

"'Is there anything higher than the light thoughts produced by man?'

"'Yes, there is. But they are equal in significance.'

"'What is this? How can you name this?'

"'Because you are capable of perceiving.'

"'Can you communicate with it?'

"'Yes. Sometimes. I think I am speaking with It specifically.'

"'Does some energy exist in the Universe that is unknown on Earth?'

"'The Universe's greatest energy is on Earth. It needs only to be understood.'

"'Anastasia, can you characterize this energy at least approximately? Does it resemble a nuclear reaction? Vacuum phenomena?'

"'The most powerful energy in the Universe is that of Pure Love.'

"'I'm talking about visible, tangible energy, capable of affecting technical progress, of warming, of illuminating, and, if you like, of exploding.'

"'And I am talking about the same thing. All the manmade power installations put together cannot light the Earth for long. The energy of Love can.'

"'You are still speaking rather allegorically, in some other, indirect sense.'

"'I am speaking in the direct sense, "your" sense.'

"'But love is an emotion. Invisible, it cannot be used or seen.

"'It is energy. It is reflected, and it can be seen.'

"'Where is it reflected? When can it be seen?"'

"'The Sun, stars, and all the visible planets are merely reflectors of this energy. The light of the Sun, which gives life to everything on Earth, is created by human love. In the entire Universe, only in the soul is the human energy of Love reconstituted. It flies up high, getting filtered and reflected, and from the universal planets sheds its beneficial light on Earth.'

"'You mean spontaneous combustion and chemical reactions are not taking place on the Sun?'

"'You only have to think a little in order to understand and comprehend the inaccuracy of that deduction. This is, as you put it, like two times two.'

"Can humans control this energy?'

"'Not yet, to any significant degree.'

"'But do you know how it's done?'

"'No, I don't. If I did, my beloved would already love me.'

"'Can you communicate with It, with that which is higher than the Forces of Light? Does it always respond to you? Willingly?'

"'Always. It always responds tenderly because it cannot do otherwise.'

"'You can ask it how to control the energy of Love.'

"'I have.

"'And?'

"'In order to understand some of its answers one must have reached a certain level of awareness and purity and there is not enough of all that in me. I do not understand all the answers.'

"'But you'll still try to act and win reciprocated love?'

"'Naturally. I am going to act.'

"'How?'

"'I am going to think. Help me. I must ask all the women who have loved and were or were not loved. They will think, analyse and produce thoughts that will appear in the Light Forces' dimension. I will see them. I will understand and then help everyone. The thoughts of the Light dimension are always understandable.'

"'Anastasia, you can't ask all women a question at once. No one can do that.'

"'Then ask Vladimir and he will come up with a way to do it. He will undertake something. He will not think for my sake alone. You will be able to explain to him that this is very important for all people, for him. If he senses the importance then he will definitely undertake something. He will find a way to ask all women.'

"'You believe so strongly in him. Why couldn't he love you then?'

"'Don't blame him for that. Blame me. I made many mistakes. Maybe I rushed and seemed unreal to him with my abilities. Maybe he still cannot comprehend why his son has to be raised in what seems to him unusual conditions for a human being, in the forest. Maybe I should not have hindered his usual habits so abruptly or interfered in his consciousness. Now I know that men strongly dislike that. They even beat women over this. I probably should have waited and he himself would have understood everything. He should have felt himself to be stronger than me in at least something but I did not grasp that in time. I said he could not see his son until he cleansed himself. At that moment I was thinking only of our son and what would be best for him and inadvertently I said, "It is not good for our son to see his father as a half-wit." So it turned out that I was too smart for words and my beloved was stupid. What kind of reciprocated love can I dream of after that?'

"'Why didn't you ask other women then if you yourself were capable of analyzing like that?'

"''I have to figure out whether there is a chance of fixing everything. I cannot figure it out myself. I get too agitated when I think about him. One has to analyse calmly, remember and compare. But there is nothing for me to remember but him.'

"'Can you speak with him?'

"'I think ordinary words are useless. True love does not arise out of words. Actions are needed. But what kind? Some of the women might have experience and an answer.'

"'You cannot influence him at all with your ray?'

"'Right now, I cannot even touch him with my ray. My foremother's spirit is often by his side and she does not allow it. I understand why.'"

7. Capture

"The helicopter approached the camp. We all watched in silence as it landed. The pilots who came out of the helicopter walked up to our group. The pilots began looking at Anastasia too. A group of healthy, armed muzhiks silently watched the solitary woman wearing the old blouse standing in front of them and everyone realised they had to capture this woman. The only issue was how to bring about the capture in the most decent way possible. Speaking after a long pause, Boris Moiseyevich set everything out straightforwardly.

"'Anastasia, you represent a definite asset for science. The decision about your relocation has already been made. This is essential, including for your own good. If, due to your failure to understand the situation, you refuse to do this voluntarily, we will be compelled to take you by force. Of course you will want your child to be with you in the new place too. Show us your glade on the map and the helicopter will bring your child. Later on we can catch some of the animals for their relocation to your new place of residence. I repeat. All this is necessary for your benefit and your son's and for other people's as well. You do want to benefit people, don't you?'

"'Yes,' Anastasia replied calmly and immediately added, 'Everything I know, I am prepared to share everything with people if they are interested — but with all people. Science is not the legacy of everyone altogether. In the beginning, its achievements are used by local groups and often in selfish, personal interests. The majority get only what the local groups find advantageous to disseminate. Who do you represent if not a separate, local group? I cannot go with you. I need to raise someone, my son. This can be done in full where a dimension of Love has been created. This dimension has been created and perfected by my family near and far. It is still small, but through it, I am connected to everything that exists in the Universe. Each person must create his own dimension of Love around himself and give this to his child. Children should not be born criminally, without a dimension of Love having been prepared for them. Each person must create a small dimension of Love around himself, and if each person understands and does this, then the whole Earth will be a shining point of Love in the Universe. This is what He wanted, and this is man's purpose. For only man can create such a thing.'

"Two sturdy security men skirted behind Anastasia. I don't know whose signal they acted on. The head of security? Or had all this been planned in advance? They exchanged glances and simultaneously seized Anastasia by the arms. They did this fairly professionally, but also with a certain apprehension. They held her firmly by the arms, as if holding a captured bird by its spread wings. The thickset, crew-cut head of security stepped out in front next to Boris Moiseyevich. There was no expression of fear on Anastasia's face. But she was no longer looking at us. She had bowed her head a little toward the ground, and her eyelashes were lowered, hiding her gaze. She began to speak, without raising her eyes, but still calmly and with goodness in her voice.

"'Please do not use force. That is dangerous.'

"'For who?' the head of security asked hoarsely.

"'For you. And it will be unpleasant for me.'

"Trying to restrain what was either fear or excitement, Boris Moiseyevich asked, 'Can you cause us physical pain by using abilities not possessed by a human?'

"'I am a human. I am human, like all people, but I am upset. My distress might lead me to do something undesirable.'

"'What, for instance?'

"'Matter . . . cells . . . atoms . . . the atom's nucleus . . . chaotically movable particles of the nucleus. You know about them. If you imagine, see, and study them vividly and precisely, if you let your imagination remove from the nucleus just one chaotically moving particle, something happens—something happens to matter.'

"Anastasia turned her head to the side, half-raised her eyelashes, and began looking at a stone lying on the ground. The stone began to disintegrate into individual particles and quickly turned into a pile of sand. Then she raised her gaze to the head of security, a squinting, focused gaze. Steam began coming out of the tip of the security head's left ear. Slowly, millimeter by millimeter, the shell of his ear disappeared. Suddenly, a young guard standing nearby, his face pale from fear, grabbed his gun. He did this professionally, without thinking. He quickly aimed his gun at Anastasia and emptied the entire cartridge into her.

"Probably in that instant each of us was thinking very fast, and something happened that soldiers in battle know well, when in extreme conditions they have seen a moving shell or bullet. Although the shells fly at their usual speed, due to the acceleration of thought and perception, you see them flying slowly.

"I saw one bullet after another released from the pale guard's gun fly at Anastasia. The first bullet, aimed at Anastasia's head, grazed her temple. The next ones did not reach her and disintegrated to dust in flight, just like the stone Anastasia had looked at before.

"We all stood as if paralyzed. We saw blood drip slowly down Anastasia's cheek from under her scarf.

"When the shots were fired, the guards holding Anastasia's arms leaned back but did not let go of her arms. Holding her in a death grip, they pulled her in opposite directions. And all of a sudden a blue illumination began to spread over the ground around us. It was coming from somewhere above and intensifying rapidly. It cast a spell over us and would not let us move or speak. In the unusual, ensuing silence, we heard Anastasia's words.

"'Please let go of my arms. I might not make it in time. Please let go.'

"But the guards, as if paralyzed, continued to hold her in a death grip. Now I understand why she raised her arm in that characteristic gesture when she was with you. This is how she showed someone up above that she was all right and no help was required. But this time they wouldn't let Anastasia raise her arm.

"The blue illumination kept intensifying, and then something seemed to flash and we saw—hanging above us, pulsing with blue light —a fiery sphere. It looked like ball lightning, but bigger. Inside it lots of lightning bolts flashed and twisted together. Sometimes, breaking out of the blue sheathing, they touched the tops of trees standing far away and the flowers at our feet, but did them no harm. For an instant, one of the slender lightning-rays touched an obstruction in the stream formed by a rock and a fallen tree. The obstruction immediately turned into a cloud and evaporated.

"The rays breaking out of the fiery sphere's blue sheathing must have possessed the tremendous power of an energy unknown to us. It was controlled by some kind of intellect.

"We felt the close presence of an intelligent being possessing incomprehensible power, but what was most incredible and unnatural for the given situation were our sensations from its presence. Neither fear nor even caution settled in us. On the contrary. . . .

"Just imagine, in that situation we began to feel peace and grace, as if something near and dear had appeared beside us.

"The pulsating blue sphere hovered over us as if studying and assessing the situation. Suddenly it described a circle in the air and landed at Anastasia's feet. The blue illumination intensified and, like a beneficial languor, relaxed us so much that we didn't feel like moving, listening to anything, or speaking.

"The sphere's blue sheathing let several fiery lightning bolts through at once. They sped toward Anastasia and began to touch her bare feet, as if stroking her toes.

"Anastasia freed her arms from the relaxed guards and reached out to the sphere. It immediately moved up to the level of her face, and the fiery bolts, which had turned the stones in the stream to dust, began touching her arms without causing them harm.

"Anastasia began to speak to the sphere. We couldn't hear what she said, but judging from her gestures and the expression on her face, she was trying to explain or prove something to it, to convince it of something—to no avail. The sphere wouldn't answer her, and still it was clear that it didn't agree with her. This was clear because Anastasia kept trying to convince it with more and more agitation. It must have been her agitation that made her cheeks flush, and still talking, she removed her scarf. Wheaten-gold locks of hair covered Anastasia's shoulders and the streak of dried blood on her face. We saw how beautiful and perfect the features of her face were. The sphere of the fiery comet flew around Anastasia a few times and stopped by her face again. Thousands of fine lightning bolts sped toward her golden hair and precisely touched and lifted each hair individually, as if caressing them. One of the rays lifted an entire lock of hair at once and revealed the bullet wound on Anastasia's temple while another ray slowly slid down the trace of caked blood. With the actions of its fiery rays rather than words, the sphere seemed to be reminding her of what had happened and would not agree with her arguments. It gathered up all its rays inside itself, and Anastasia lowered her head and fell silent. The sphere flew around Anastasia once more and zoomed up. The blue illumination grew fainter, and we returned to our former condition. However, instead of blue light, brown smoke rose from the earth. This smoke filled the entire space around us, and only Anastasia remained in a small blue circle. When the brown smoke had enveloped us fully, we knew what hell was.

8. What Hell Is

"The pictures in Bibles depicting sinners' bestial torments in frying pans, even the most awful plots from outrageous videos, would seem like children's naïve fairytales compared to what happened to us.

"In the entire history of humanity, no one could picture or fantasize anything like it.

"In all the Bible stories and horror-movie renderings the human fantasy goes no further than showing torments of the flesh by every possible means, but this is nothing compared with real hell."

"What could be more terrible than sophisticated torments of the flesh? What hell did you see?"

"When the blue illumination weakened enough for the brown smoke to rise from the earth and envelop us from head to foot, we found ourselves split in two."

"Two what?"

"Imagine. . . . I suddenly consisted of two component parts. The first part was my body sheathed in transparent skin through which I could see all my internal organs, my heart, stomach, intestines, the blood running through my veins, and the various other organs. The second—invisible—part consisted of my feelings, emotions, reason, desires, and pains—basically everything invisible in a person."

"What difference does it make whether these parts are together or separate if it's still you? What happened to you that was so terrible, if you don't count the transparency of your skin?"

"The difference turned out to be incredibly important. The whole point is that our bodies began acting independently of our reason, will, aspirations, and desires. We could observe our bodies' actions from the side, while our emotions and pains remained in us, invisible, but we had lost the possibility of influencing our own bodies' actions."

"Like someone dead drunk?"

"Drunk people don't see themselves from the outside—at least at the moment of intoxication—but we saw and felt everything. The acuity of our awareness was incredibly precise. I saw how beautiful the grass, flowers, and river were. I heard the birds singing and the creek gurgling, felt the air's purity around me and the warmth of the sun's rays. But our bodies . . . The transparent bodies of everyone standing in our group suddenly trooped toward the backwater in the stream at a run.

"The backwater looked like a tiny lake, the water in it was clean and clear, and on the bottom there was sand, pretty stones, and tiny little fish swimming. Our bodies ran toward the beautiful little lake and began splashing it. Then they defecated in it, and urinated.

"The water became cloudy and dirty, but they drank it. I saw the dirty, foul-smelling liquid flow into my stomach and through the bowels of my body. I was gripped by nausea and disgust. Right then, next to the body of water, under a tree, there appeared the naked bodies of two women. Their skin was just as transparent as that of our bodies.

"On the grass under the tree, the women's bodies lay, basking and stretching in the sun. The security chief's body and mine ran up to the women.

"My body caressed the woman's, received reciprocal caresses from it, and began to have sex with it. The security chief's body could not get his woman to consent and began to rape her. The body of one of the guards ran up to us and struck mine with a rock in the back and then the head. He beat my body, but it was the invisible me who experienced unbearable pain. The guard dragged my body by the feet off the woman's and began raping it himself. Our bodies quickly aged and withered. Time seemed to speed events up. The just-raped woman became pregnant, and through her transparent skin I could see the fruit conceive in her womb and grow in size.

"The body of the scientist, Boris Moiseyevich, went up to the pregnant woman, examined the growing fruit carefully through the transparent skin for a little while, and then suddenly thrust his hand into the woman's vagina and began to rip the fetus out of her. Meanwhile, Stanislav's body quickly dragged stones to a single pile, chopped down small trees like a maniac, and from all this built something like a little house with whatever came to hand. My body started helping him. When the little house was almost built, my body started driving Stanislav's body out. He resisted, and our bodies began to fight.

"The invisible me experienced terrible pain when he punched me in the legs and head. Our fight drew the attention of the other bodies. First, they tossed us both out of the little house, and then they themselves fought over it among themselves. My body had grown decrepit and began to fall apart and rot before me. It could no longer move, and under a bush, it lay, emitting a nauseating stench. Worms appeared on it. I felt them crawl over me, pierce my internal organs, and eat them. I could clearly feel them gnawing my innards, and I waited for my body's final disintegration to deliver me from these excruciating agonies.

"Suddenly, from the second raped woman, the fruit fell out and it began growing before my eyes. The baby stood up, took his first timid step, and a second, tottered, and plopped down on his bottom. I felt the sensations of pain from his fall and realized, horrified, that this was my new body and he would have to live among these loathsome, mindless bodies that fouled themselves and everything around them.

"I realized that the invisible me would never die and I would eternally perceive and comprehend with full clarity the abomination of what was happening, I would experience physical and even more terrible pain.

"The same thing was happening to the other bodies. They were growing decrepit, disintegrating and being born anew, and with each new birth, our bodies merely exchanged roles.

"Almost no vegetation remained around us. In its place rose ugly buildings, and the previously clean backwater turned into a stinking puddle."

Alexander fell silent. What he had said aroused disgust in me, but not pity.

I told him, "Of course, you've suffered through a horror, but it serves you vipers right. Why did you pester Anastasia? She lives as a hermit in the taiga. She doesn't bother anyone. She doesn't need housing, pensions, or subsidies. Why trouble her?"

Outwardly Alexander did not take offense at what I had said to him. He sighed, and replied.

"You just said, 'suffered through a horror.' The thing is that . . . It's incredible, but the thing is that I'm not entirely through it. I don't think the others from our group are either."

"What does that mean, 'not entirely'? You're sitting here calmly now, stirring the fire with a stick."

"Yes, of course I am, I'm stirring, but the clarity of my awareness—the awareness of something terrible—has remained. It's inside me. It frightens me. It's frightening, but not in the past. It's happening to us today, right now, to all of us."

"To you, maybe, something is happening, but for me and the others everything's fine."

"Doesn't it seem to you, Vladimir, that what we went through is an exact copy of what humanity is creating today? What we were shown in fast-forward and miniature merely portrayed our present-day actions."

"Not to me. Our skin isn't transparent, and our bodies obey us."

"Perhaps someone is simply sparing us, not letting us fully realize or see everything we have already created and continue to create. After all, if we did realize, if we did take a detached view of our lives, if we did see life unclouded by all the false dogmas serving to justify what we created yesterday and today, we wouldn't be able to stand it. We'd lose our minds.

"Outwardly, we all try to look proper, but we're trying to justify the evil we create by our own supposedly insurmountable weakness. I could not resist temptation, I smoked, I drank, I killed, I started a war in defense of certain ideals, I detonated a bomb.

"We are weak. This is what we believe ourselves to be now. There are higher powers, and they can do and solve everything. And us? We, hiding behind our dogmas, can create any abomination we like.

"Indeed, we are the ones—each of us—creating an abomination, only we justify ourselves to ourselves in different ways. It's absolutely clear to me now, as long as my consciousness does not lose the ability to guide my flesh, that I and I alone must answer for all its actions. Anastasia is right when she says, 'As long as man is in the flesh . . .'"

"Don't you go quoting Anastasia. All I need is another wise guy. She's right! But you yourselves nearly put her in her grave. It's too bad she didn't show you something more and make you all flip your lids."

More and more fury at this group had been building up inside me, but as long as I was face to face with Alexander, I displaced my fury onto him.

"Take a look at yourself," Alexander replied. "Isn't it thanks to you that we were able to find Anastasia? And not only us? Do you really believe that attempts like ours won't be repeated?

"Why did you need to indicate without any alteration the name of the ship you took down the river and also the captain's name? That's all we needed, a documentarian. You might have changed the name of the river, but you didn't, you didn't have the wit at the time. But you're demanding wit from others. I got what I deserved, and now I'll have to spend my whole life making sense of the nightmare I witnessed."

"How did your nightmare end? How did you escape from it?"

"We could never have rid ourselves of it. It was designed for us for eternity. At least that's the feeling each of us had.

"Anastasia appeared among our disintegrating but still-functioning bodies, and her skin was not transparent. She was wearing her old blouse and long skirt as before, and she started saying something to our bodies but they weren't obeying. It was as if they were preprogrammed, dying and being born anew, to keep repeating their actions, merely switching roles.

"Then Anastasia began quickly picking up the garbage around one of the structures erected by our bodies. She quickly raked the scattered stones and brush into a pile with her hands, loosened the earth a little with a stick, touched it, ruffled the trampled grass, and began setting the green blades of grass aright—not all of them, but those that could still stand. Anastasia gently straightened the broken trunk of a small sapling, about a meter high. She kneaded the damp earth in her hands and smeared the broken place with it and, grasping it in her hands, held it for a while, then cautiously let go, and the sapling's trunk was straight.

"Anastasia nimbly continued with this work. On the earth our bodies had trampled, which had lost almost all its vegetation, the small oasis she had created grew larger. Boris Moiseyevich's body ran over to it, jumped on the grass, stretched out on it, jumped up, and ran away, and a little later returned with the body of one of the guards. Together, they tore out the small sapling and started to drag sticks and stones to the green grass, to build another ugly structure.

"Anastasia threw up her hands and tried to say something to them, but when she saw that no one paid any attention to what she said, she fell silent. For a while she stood there, distraught, arms at her sides, and then dropped to her knees and covered her face with her hands, and the hair on her shoulders trembled. Anastasia was weeping, like a child.

"Almost immediately, a barely noticeable blue illumination appeared, and it again drove the brown fumes of our hell into the earth, and our flesh united with our invisible self. Only we couldn't move as before, not from horror but from the blissful languor imparted by the blue illumination. Above us in the sky, describing circles, the fiery sphere shone once again.

"Anastasia reached out to it, and the sphere, shifting instantly, was a meter from her face. She spoke to it, and this time I heard what she said.

"She said, 'Thank you. You are good. Thank you for your mercy and love. People will understand. They have to understand everything and feel it with their heart. Never take your blue light—your light of love—from the Earth.'

"Anastasia smiled, and a teardrop ran down her cheek. Fiery lightning-rays rushed through the sphere's blue sheathing and toward Anastasia's face. They deftly and cautiously removed the teardrop glittering in the sun, and carefully, as if it were a jewel, the suddenly trembling rays bore the precious teardrop away on their tips. They carried the teardrop inside the sphere. The sphere shuddered, described a circle around Anastasia, dropped to the ground at her feet, shot up, and dissolved in the sky's blue, leaving everything on the ground as it had been. We were still standing in place, as before. The sun was shining, and the river flowed as before. The forest could be seen in the distance, and Anastasia stood in front of us, as before. We silently perceived everything around us, and I rejoiced at seeing it all. I think the others did, too. However, we remained silent, perhaps due to what we'd been through or to the beauty we suddenly saw around us."

Alexander stopped speaking, as if he had withdrawn entirely, and I started talking to him.

"Listen, Alexander, perhaps nothing like what you told me about actually happened to you. Might Anastasia simply have had you under powerful hypnosis? I've read that lots of hermits know how to hypnotize. Perhaps she too had you hypnotized and showed you a vision."

"Hypnosis, you say. Did you see my gray hairs?"

"Yes."

"This gray hair appeared after that time."

"Understandably. You were frightened under hypnosis."

"If you assume it was hypnosis, then you have to explain something else puzzling."

"What exactly?"

"The obstruction of stones and trees in the stream. The obstruction in the stream vanished. It was gone. The stream flowed freely. But that jam-up was there before our vision. Everyone saw it. It was there."

"Yes. So that's how it is. . . ."

"Not only that, but what difference does it make what happened to us? Something else is more important. I cannot be what I was before. I don't know how I'm supposed to live, what I should study now or where. When I got home, I burned a lot of books by various wise men and teachers from various countries. I had a big library."

"There was no reason for you to do that. You should have sold them if you didn't need them."

"I couldn't sell them. Such a thing never even occurred to me. I have my own scores to settle now with those wise men and teachers."

"What do you think, Alexander? Isn't it dangerous to be around Anastasia? She might really be some kind of anomaly. In their letters some people say she is a representative of another civilization. If that's true, it's dangerous to interact with her, because we don't know what that other civilization has in mind."

"I'm convinced of the exact opposite. She feels and loves the Earth so much and everything that grows and lives on it, that, compared to Anastasia, we are the ones who look like stray aliens."

"So who is she then? Can scientists finally pronounce definitively? Why does she have such a huge amount of information? How does it even fit in her head? Where do her inexplicable abilities and her ray come from?"

"I think that here we have to take her at her word: 'I am a human being, a woman.' I surmise that she does not retain any information at all in her head. More than likely, the purity of her intentions allows her to access the Universe's database, and her abilities derive from her perfect supply of information.

"The Universe loves her and fears us, and that's why it doesn't reveal itself to us in full. Our thought, the thought of modern man raised in modern society, has been blocked by stereotypes and conventions.

"She is entirely free. This is what makes it hard for us to understand that the mystery's solution may hide in the fact that she is a human being. Of course, she can create incredible wonders, by our lights, I myself have been convinced of that. During our visit, one more event occurred that you couldn't call anything but a miracle —even more mysterious than what happened our group. More sublime!"

Alexander uttered those last words with a certain agitation. He rose and stepped away from the fire into the night. In the twinkling of the starry sky and the dull light of the dying fire, I could see the young Siberian pacing back and forth. His brief, agitated phrases reached me. Alexander was saying something incomprehensible about science, psychologists, and certain teachings. I was tired of sitting and listening to his fragmentary and, for that reason, incomprehensible ramblings. I wanted to find out quickly the sublime thing, he believed, Anastasia had done before his very eyes.

I tried to reassure him.

"Alexander, you have to calm yourself. Take a seat. Tell me specifically what sublime thing happened there before your very eyes?"

He sat back down by the fire and tossed dry twigs into it, but I could tell he wasn't completely calm. Likely out of his inner unrest, he took a stick to the dying coals so abruptly that sparks flew up like fireworks and fell on us both, forcing us to jump back from the fire. After the sparks subsided, I heard his story.

"In some twenty minutes, Anastasia changed the physical condition of a little village girl, right before our eyes. She changed her before our very eyes. And also, in that time, Anastasia changed the fate of that girl and of the girl's mother and altered even the outward appearance of the abandoned taiga village. All this in some twenty minutes. The most important thing is how she did this! Incredibly simply! She . . .

"Just go and believe in horoscopes after that. I saw it. This is why I burned the books with the pretentious gibberish and various spiritual lamentations."

"There, you see? You yourself say she creates superhuman, mystical miracles, even if she does reverse horoscopes. She performs miracles, but she wants to be called a normal human being. She might try to adjust to normalcy, but no.

"I told her, too, Behave like everyone else, and everything will be fine. But she apparently cannot be like everyone else. It's too bad. As it is, she is a beautiful, good woman, smart. She can heal people. She bore me a son. But living with her as you would with anyone else is impossible. I can't even imagine how someone could sleep with her after all I've heard. No one could. Everyone needs women who are simpler, not so unfathomable. But she herself is to blame, with her mysticism."

"Wait a minute, Vladimir. I'm going to tell you something else now. Only you have to listen carefully to what I'm going to say. It's incredible, but you have to try to understand. Everyone has to! Everyone! Maybe we can understand it together.

"You see, Anastasia performed an incredible miracle with the girl, but in doing so she didn't use any kind of mysticism or potions. No sorcery, no shamanistic passes. She, Anastasia—just think about this—she performed this miracle by using only simple human words we all know. Simple ordinary words, but spoken at the right place and time.

"If psychologists were to analyze her dialog with this village girl, they would be able to understand how psychologically effective it was. Anyone uttering these words could achieve a similar effect. But for just these words to come to mind at the right moment takes the very sincerity and purity of intentions that Anastasia talks about."

"You mean we can't just memorize these words?"

"We've known them for a long time. The issue lies elsewhere. The issue is what's hidden behind each word of ours."

"You're not making sense. Why don't you tell me what else happened to you there? What words can change a person's physical condition and destiny?"

"Yes. Of course, I need to tell you. Listen."

9. When Words Change Destinies

"Our group gradually recovered from what it had been through. No one spoke to anyone. We stood where we were and only after a little while started looking around, taking in the external world differently somehow, as if sensing it for the first time. Right then we saw a group of villagers coming toward us from the direction of their little houses. They were very few, about twelve—all of them old, some quite incapacitated—the entire population of this abandoned, six-household taiga village. One old woman, bent in half, leaning on a stick, hobbled but still advanced. Those who could walk without a stick held various implements—a yoke, a hoe. It was clear they were coming to defend Anastasia. The old and crippled were coming against young and healthy armed muzhiks. They came without fear and with the firm intention of defending Anastasia, no matter whom they faced.

"Their determination was frightening. When they got close to us, the old man walking slightly in front, wearing rubber boots and carrying a hoe, stopped, and the group formed up behind him. They ignored us, as if we weren't there. The old man slowly stroked his beard and, looking at Anastasia, spoke deferentially,

"'A good day to you, dearest Anastasia, from all of us.'

"'And a good day to you, good people,' Anastasia replied, pressing her hand to her chest and bowing to the old people.

"'The water in the river is leaving early nowadays,' the old man continued. 'The summer nowadays is without rain.'

"'It is without rain,' Anastasia confirmed, 'but a little more rain will come, and the river will fill and regain its former strength.'

"While they talked, a skinny, jaundiced girl of about six stepped out from the group of old people. The girl wore an old jacket refashioned from some more grownup item of clothing, patched stockings on her thin legs, and very old boots.

"Later, I learned that the girl's name was Anyuta. Sickly, with a congenital heart defect, at six months old she had been brought here from the city by her mother, who left her with the old people and had not shown her face since. People said she worked somewhere as a painter on a construction site.

"Anyuta walked up to Anastasia, began tugging at the hem of her skirt, and repeated over and over, 'Bend down, Auntie Anastasia. Bend down low.'

"Anastasia looked at the little girl and squatted in front of her. The little girl quickly removed the old white scarf from her head. She wet the edge of it and began cautiously wiping the now-dried blood on Anastasia's face and temple, all the while saying, 'You still haven't come to sit on your little log on the bank, Auntie Anastasia. My grandfather said you used to come more often. You sat on the little log and looked at the river. Now you don't come. My grandfather showed me the log where you used to sit, Auntie Anastasia. My grandfather showed me, and now I go there, to your little log, myself. I sat there alone and waited for you to come, Auntie Anastasia. I wanted to look at you so much. I have a secret for you. But you never come to your little log to sit and look at the nice river. Maybe because the log's so old? I asked and asked my grandfather, and he dragged over a new little log. There it is, lying next to the old one.'

"The little girl took Anastasia's hand and started pulling her toward the log.

"'Let's go, let's go, Auntie Anastasia, let's sit on the nice new log. My grandfather chopped out two little seats in it with his ax. I was the one who asked him to, so when you came we could sit side by side.'

"Anastasia immediately granted the little girl's request, and they sat down next to each other on the log.

"For a while they sat there quietly, paying no attention to anyone, as if there were no one else there. Everyone stood, neither speaking nor stirring. The little girl began.

"'My grandmother's told me a lot about you, Auntie Anastasia. When she died, I started asking my grandfather. He told me stories about you, too. When my grandfather tells me stories, I think about my secret for you. My grandfather used to tell me that when I was little, my heart wasn't much good. It beat unevenly. One time it started beating very unevenly. Then they brought the doctor lady in a boat. The doctor lady said, "Nothing can be done with such a bad heart. It won't listen to anyone, and soon it will die altogether."

"'My grandfather used to tell me how you sat on your old log then, too, Auntie Anastasia, and looked at the river. Then you stood up and went into our hut. You picked me up in your arms and laid me down on the grass in our yard, and you lay down next to me and put your hand on my little chest. You put it right here, where you can feel my little heart beating. Right here.' And the little girl pressed her own little hand on the left side of her skinny chest. 'My grandfather said that you lay with me, lifeless, Auntie Anastasia, because your heart started beating very softly, like mine was beating. Then yours started beating faster and it called on mine to follow. My little heart listened, and together we started beating the way we should. That's what my grandfather used to tell me. Did he tell me right? Did he, Auntie Anastasia?'

"'Yes, Anyuta. Your grandfather told you right. Now your little heart will always be good.'

"'You mean your heart called and mine obeyed? It did, right?'

"'Yes, Anyuta, your heart obeyed.'

"'Now I'll tell you my secret, Auntie Anastasia. A very important secret. Very!'

"'Please tell me your important secret, Anyuta.'

"Anyuta rose from the log and stood facing Anastasia, pressing her thin arms to her chest. Suddenly, she fell to her knees before Anastasia and in a little voice tight with distress, said, 'Auntie Anastasia, dear Auntie Anastasia, ask your heart! Ask it! Let your heart call to my mama's heart. Let my mama come to me, even for just one day. That's my secret. Let your heart . . . mama's . . . heart. . . .'

"Anyuta choked from agitation and fell silent, her eyes riveted to Anastasia.

"Anastasia squinted into the distance, past the kneeling little girl. Then she once again looked at her and replied calmly and factually, which had to horrify the child. She replied as if to an adult.

"'Anyuta, my heart cannot summon your mama. Your mama is far away in the city. She tried to find happiness and did not find it. She does not have her own home. She does not have any money for presents for you, and she does not want to come empty-handed. It is hard for her in the city, but if she ever comes to see you, it will be even harder for her. Seeing you will be a bitter and agonizing torment for her. It will become harder and more terrible for her to live because she will see you sick and poorly dressed. She will see the houses falling down in your village and how dilapidated and dirty the house is where you live. It will be even harder for your mama because she no longer believes in the possibility of doing anything good for you. She does not. She believes she has experienced everything and this fate was destined for her. She has surrendered to a despair she herself gave birth to.'

"Little Anyuta listened to the terrible truth and her skinny little body trembled.

"It seemed incredibly cruel to say such a thing to a child. Surely a lie was more appropriate and wanted here. Pat the unfortunate girl on the head and promise her mother's speedy arrival. A happy meeting.

"But Anastasia acted differently. She told a defenseless, helpless child the full bitter truth. For a while, she watched the child's body shake and then spoke again.

"'I know you love your mama, Anyuta.'

"'I do . . . I love her. I love even my unlucky . . . my dear mama,' the child's voice, nearly breaking down in sobs, answered.

"'Then make your mama happy. You are the only one in the whole world who can make her happy. It's very simple. You get healthy and strong and learn to sing. You will be a singer. Your magnificent and pure voice will sing along with your soul. Your mama may see you in twenty years and be happy that she has. But she may also come to see you next summer. By that time, you have to be healthy and strong for her visit. Prepare presents for your mama yourself. Show her your strength and beauty. You will make your mama happy, and your meeting will be happy.'

"'But I can never be healthy. Or strong.'

"'Why?'

"'The doctor lady. She wears a white coat. The doctor lady told my grandmother. I heard what she said: "The girl will always be sickly, because she's a formula girl." I'm a formula girl. My mama couldn't nurse me. My mama's breast didn't have any milk. And when they're little, babies always drink milk from their mama's breast. I saw one lady come to the village with a little baby. I went to the house where they were visiting. I really wanted to see how little babies drink milk from their mama's teats. I tried to sit very very quietly. But they always drove me out. The mama-lady said, "Why is she looking at me like that, staring?" I was afraid to blink when I looked, because I didn't want to miss anything.'

"'Anyuta, do you think the doctor lady was right when she said you'd never be healthy and strong?'

"'How could she make a mistake? She wears a white coat. Everyone listens to her, the grandfathers and the grandmothers. She knows everything. She even knows I'm a formula girl.'

"'Why did you go to see how a baby is nursed?'

"'I thought I'd look to see how nice it is for a baby when he eats from his mama's teat. I'd see how nice it was for him and I'd feel better.'

"'You will feel better, Anyuta. You will be healthy and strong,' Anastasia said calmly and confidently. Saying this, Anastasia began slowly unbuttoning her top and bared her breast.

"As if bewitched, struck dumb with surprise, Anyuta looked at Anastasia's bared breast. Small drops of breast milk appeared at the tips of her nipples.

"'Milk. . . . Mama milk! Auntie Anastasia, are you feeding a little baby, too? Are you a mama?'

"'I am feeding my little son this milk.'

"There were more and more drops of breast milk. One drop trembled in the breeze, and the breeze shook this drop from Anastasia's breast.

"Anyuta's skinny little body tore after this drop of breast milk like a lightning-quick steel spring. Imagine! Skinny and sickly Anyuta deftly caught this drop.

"Falling to the ground, Anyuta stretched out her hands—and caught the small drop of breast milk.

"She caught it right near the ground. Anyuta got up on her knees, brought her clenched fists to her face, and opened them, examining the wet spot. Then she held her hands out to Anastasia.

"'Here. I caught it. Here it is. The milk for your little son didn't fall.'

"'You saved the drop, Anyuta. Now it is yours.'

"'Mine?'

"'Only yours.'

"Anyuta brought her open hands to her lips and tasted the wet spot. Closing her eyes, the skinny little girl held her palms pressed to her lips for a long time. Then she lowered her hands, looked at Anastasia, and in a whisper filled with gratitude, said, 'Thank you!'

"'Come to me, Anyuta.'

"Anastasia took the little girl by the shoulders. She stroked her hair and then, seating her in her lap, held her to her breast like a nursing infant and began singing softly.

"Anyuta's lips were close to the nipple of Anastasia's breast. Looking half asleep, Anyuta slowly brought her lips toward Anastasia's breast, touched the wet nipple with them, shuddered slightly, and began greedily sucking Anastasia's milk-filled breast.

"Judging from the dictaphone, she woke up ten minutes later. She raised her head and jumped from Anastasia's lap.

"'I . . . Oh! What did I do? I drank your little son's milk.'

"'Don't worry, Anyuta. He has enough. You only drank from one breast, and there is more in the other. He has enough. My little son can also eat flower pollen, if he likes. Now you have everything to keep you from being afraid of being strong, beautiful, and happy. Now take your happiness from life, from every day of it.'

"'I'll be strong and healthy. I'll think about seeing my mama, so she doesn't get upset when she sees me but is very glad. Only I won't be able to sing. My grandmother and I used to sing. My grandmother died. I keep asking my grandfather, but he doesn't sing. Only when he drinks vodka, then he sings for me, and I sing along. But it's hard to sing along with him because his voice is raspy. I've tried with the radio, too, but our old radio is staticky and I can't understand the words.'

"'Anyuta, try singing without words. When you hear the birds, echo them with your voice, and the water when it gurgles, and the rustle of the leaves and the breeze when it is strong and wails in the branches. The grass has lots of sounds, too. You will hear many pure sounds around you if you want to hear them. Try to imitate them with your voice. They will be your best teachers. I'll be going now, Anyuta. Goodbye. It's time.'

"Anastasia rose from the log. Anyuta remained sitting, listening to the world of sounds around her. Anastasia went up to the young guard who had fired at her. The guard was still pale and his hands were trembling. His gun was lying next to him on the ground.

"Anastasia told the guard, 'Do not blame yourself. Do not rack your soul. It did not take part in your actions. This is instinct. You learned to defend what you were told to without thinking about the situation. Your instinct was set in motion. It's not good if a person's instinct takes the upper hand over everything. When instinct is the main thing, then the human being is not. Then you do not have a human being. Think about it. Maybe it would be better for you to return to the human being in you.'

"The calm intonations of Anastasia's voice made the guard's hands stop trembling and the paleness disappear from his face. But when she finished speaking, the guard's face blazed red to the tips of his ears.

"Then Anastasia said goodbye to the old villagers and set off in the direction of the taiga. We silently watched Anastasia as she moved away from us. All of a sudden, we heard an extraordinarily pure child's voice.

"Anyuta, sitting on the log, was singing some very old song, probably one she had heard from her grandmother. And how she sang! Her pure voice caught incredibly high notes, entrancing and filling the spaces of the soul.

'A little rain is pouring,

And brother rocks his sister.

Brother rocks his sister.

And sings a little song.'

"Anyuta finished the song and stared at our group, which stood stock-still.

"Then Anyuta rose, picked up a slender twig, and said, 'You are bad men. So big, but still bad.'

"After saying this she came at us with the small twig in her hand. The group of old men and women followed her silently. And then all of us, every last one, began retreating. We backed up all the way to the ship anchored right at the shore and then, pushing and shoving, quickly clambered up the ramp and onto the ship. While they were getting ready to pull up the ramp, the captain suddenly saw the two helicopter pilots on board as well.

"'Where were you hiding? Whom did you abandon your helicopter to?' the captain shouted from the wheelhouse.

"The helicopter pilots leapt off the ship and ran to their equipment.

"We pulled away, leaving barrels of fuel and our tents on shore. No one gave a thought to taking them down."

10. Create Your Own Happiness

When Alexander broke off his story, I couldn't help but express my distaste for him.

"Everything about you is clear to me. They left their tents and fuel. It's too bad you got off with just some gray hair. Anastasia is blessed. That was clear. Any normal person would have understood right off the bat when they saw you what you were and what you wanted. But she poured her soul out to you."

"She understood everything, why we had come and what we wanted from her. She did. But she wasn't speaking with the dark side of the human self. She ignored our dark side, interacting only with the light in each person's soul. That was how she changed us all. I'm a scientist, after all. I studied psychology."

"Great, a scientist. What good is your science if you think in hindsight?"

"Because it life often arranges events faster and more precisely. Not only that, Anastasia was . . . no, I'll avoid assigning a definition to her for now, as I would for another phenomenon."

"Such as?"

"How can I put it? . . . Do you understand? . . . Those old men and women from the abandoned taiga village—they're still coming at us. The skinny little girl with the slender twig is at their head."

"Where are they? Where are they coming?"

"At us, at everyone who was there and saw them. I thought this was happening only to me, that when I closed my eyes I saw them instantly. Sometimes they appeared as soon as I performed certain actions that they probably think are undesirable. I thought this was only happening to me, but I've spoken with the others. It's happening to everyone who was there."

"Well, that's all in your head."

"What's the difference? I still want to run from them."

"What could be so frightening about feeble, unarmed old people? What frightened you?"

"I myself still don't understand what we were frightened of. Possibly our own . . . possibly we had crossed some line."

"What kind of line? You could go crazy thinking thoughts like that. Maybe you should have thought then, when you were doing those things."

"Maybe we should have. . . . . We all need to think hard. . . ."

"Where did you get the idea that after Anastasia's conversation with the girl that the girl's fate and her mother's changed, too? And the villagers' as well?"

"I'm telling you. I used to study psychology. As a scientist, I can tell you that Anastasia completely changed Anyuta's life program.

"A sick child abandoned to the care of old people, she sat helpless in a corner of a dirty hut waiting for her mama to visit. They kept assuring her, 'Your mama will come. She'll play with you and bring you presents.' They reassured her, thinking they were doing her a good deed by lying. Meanwhile, despair had driven her mother in the city to drink. The false assurances doomed the little girl to fruitless anticipation.

"So too in our lives we frequently wait for a deus ex machina or a white knight. Someone is supposed to come and make us happy, change our fate.

"Isn't that why we act lacklusterly or not at all? Without giving much thought to the fact that we've already been given quite enough and we ourselves should be greeting whoever visits us with presents.

"Anastasia changed our fate and future with her simplicity and sincerity.

"Just think: your fate can be changed by the simplest human words.

"I've listened to the recording of Anastasia's dialog with Anyuta many times. I think if anyone else had spoken like that to the girl, it would have had the same effect. After all, it doesn't take a lot to speak the way she does. You have to not lie. You have to wish simply and sincerely to help the person—help, not sympathize. You have to be free of karmic dogmas, or rather, be stronger than them. You can argue about karma and despair, about the karmic predestination for a sick little girl. But Anastasia proved stronger than this predestination. She simply ignored it, and someone else could do the same. After all, it was all done with words—ordinary words, at that. Nevertheless, they have to be spoken at the right place and time and in a specific order. The purity of intentions Anastasia speaks of may be what automatically sets these words out in a specific order, and that may be why they're effective."

"Well, so much for your theories and conjectures. You also have to look at real life, the future, to see whether a destiny has been changed by certain words or not. And what could possibly change in life for this little girl? Unless some kind of miracle occurred."

"A miracle did occur. It turned out that all the miracles are inside us."

"What miracle occurred?"

"Little Anyuta was reprogrammed. She changed all her own karma and the karma of the people around her."

"What do you mean by 'changed'? How do you know that?"

"I know. A while later I went back to that village. I decided to bring Anyuta my radio, since hers was staticky, and install an antenna on the roof. I'm walking toward Anyuta's house over repaired wooden walkways. When we were there last, they were rotted through, but all the rotten boards had been replaced with new. 'That's great,' I thought. 'Why the improvements?' I saw Anyuta's grandfather sitting on the porch washing his boots in a bucket. I greeted him and told him why I'd come.

"'All right, then,' the old man says. 'Go on into the hut, if that's so. Only you'll have to take off your footwear. We've got new ways now, you see.'

"I took off my shoes on the porch. The old man and I entered the hut. Everything there was simple, country style, but very clean and cozy.

"'My granddaughter put things in order for us like this,' granddad told me. 'She worked hard and long. Scrubbed the floor and washed it all. More than a week, from morn 'til night, like a windup doll. She'd take a rest and go back to cleaning. She talked me into whitewashing the walls. Now, if I walk inside in boots, it leaves a track, and she picks up a rag right away and starts cleaning my tracks. Better not make them at all, those tracks. Don't have any slippers. She fixed up old galoshes instead of slippers. Put on some galoshes. Sit yourself down.'

"I sat down at the table, which was covered with an old but clean tablecloth. The tablecloth was worn in one spot, and on the worn spot, as neatly as a child's hand could, a bunny-shaped scrap of colored fabric had been sewn on. In the middle of the table stood a faceted glass in which the corners of notebook paper poked out like neat petals, instead of napkins.

"'I see you've begun to improve your little village, too. The authorities have paid you some attention, since your wooden sidewalk's been repaired,' I told granddad.

"He replied, 'It's not the authorities fitting us out. They don't care about us, the authorities. It's my granddaughter, Anyuta—she's the busy bee.'

"'What do you mean Anyuta? She's still too little to repair a sidewalk. The boards there are heavy.'

"'Heavy boards, yes. One day, I'm getting ready to go hunting one day. I ask my neighbor to keep an eye on Anyuta. But my granddaughter says, "Go on, granddad, go about your business. Don't worry. I'll take care of everything. Just let me saw the board propped up by the shed."

"'I was surprised, but I thought, let the child play, if she likes to play so much. I put the board on a log for her, gave her the saw and a hacksaw, and went hunting. My neighbor told me about it later.

"'Anyuta pulled the pieces of rotting wood out of the walkways. She measured them with a string and started sawing the board I gave her to that size. It took Anyuta half a day to saw that board, my neighbor says, but she did it. Then she dragged the board to the walkway and set it in place where the rotten one had been.'

"'How could she carry a heavy board all that way? She's so skinny and weak.'

"'She found herself a helper. Two months ago, she made friends with an orphan mutt, a Siberian husky. One old lady died at the other end of our village. Left a healthy mutt. Even at the funeral, Anyuta kept petting it. Then she brought it food to eat. At first the husky wouldn't leave its yard, though there wasn't anybody in the hut. The old lady lived alone. Anyuta fed the dog for a few days. It started following Anyuta. Now it follows her everywhere, no matter what. The old mutt helps out with all my granddaughter's whims. Here it helped drag the board. Anyuta wrapped a rope around one end of the board and started dragging it. This mutt latched onto the other with its sturdy teeth, and they dragged it all the way up to the walkway. Then Anyuta asked our neighbor for nails and took my hammer. There she goes, trying to nail the board in place. But she was having trouble. My neighbor saw Anyuta sitting on the boardwalk trying her best. She'd hammered her hand bloody. The mutt's sitting next to her, looking and whimpering.

"'My neighbor came over, took the hammer, and nailed the board in place. The next day, late in the afternoon, my neighbor saw Anyuta and her dog dragging another board. To patch another hole in the walkway.

"'"What are you doing, Anyuta? Are you going to nail new boards over all the holes? Couldn't you think up something else to do, something for girls?" the neighbor asks. My granddaughter answers her, "I really have to do this, auntie, so that all the walkways along all the houses are new and don't have holes. What if visitors were coming to some house and they walked over the walkway and there were holes in them and it spoiled the visitors' cheerful mood? And my mama, when she comes, she might be upset by the unfestive walkways."

"'The neighbor lady nailed the second board. Then she gave everyone hell. She went from yard to yard and raised a ruckus with everyone: "Fix the walks by your own houses! I can't watch a child suffering over your laziness. She's smashing her hands bloody."

"'And look! They repaired their walks, each by his own house, so they wouldn't have to hear that woman's ruckus.'

"'Where is your granddaughter now?' I asked the old man.

"'She hauled paint to the last hut. She's probably spending the night in the last hut, with the old Losins. Yes. . . . She may be spending the night there.'

"'What paint? What for?'

"Regular paint, oil, bright orange. She exchanges fish for paint at the ship. My granddaughter has a new fancy now.'

"'How so?'

"'She's decided all the huts should look cheerful. Joyful. When the ship comes—you know, the one that collects the fish people catch—she takes her fish there and trades it all for paint. Then she carries the can to some hut. She asks them to paint their window frames, and the old folks do. It'll be my turn before too long. All right! I'll paint them. Why not? Maybe it is better if we paint, so the huts look more cheerful on the outside.'

"'Where does she get the fish?'

"'She catches them herself—at least three every day, two beloribitsas at least—and brings them in the morning, sometimes even more. If only once she didn't, but no, those fish latch onto her hooks. Every morning she tells me with my radiculitis, "Get up, it's all here. Get up, Granddad. Salt the fish so it doesn't go bad." Every morning it's like that,' the old man grumbled without rancor.

"'How does she manage the tackle? Alone?'

"'I'm telling you, Anyuta has a helper, that old husky, the Siberian. It's an old mutt but smart, and it obeys her. He's her accomplice in all her whims. Anyuta takes my lure with the five hooks, baits them, and takes the husky with her to the river in the evening. She's got her favorite spot there. Secures one end of the line to a peg on the bank, then throws the line over a stick, and the dog takes the stick in its teeth and swims. Swims as long as Anyuta on the bank keeps telling it, "Swim, my friend, swim, my friend." The dog drags the lure as long as Anyuta keeps talking to it from the bank. When it gets to the spot, Anyuta starts talking to it differently. "Come to me, my friend, come." The dog drops the stick and goes back to the bank. Enough! Let's go to bed.'

"The old man lay down on the stove, I on the wooden bench. I awoke at dawn, went outside, and saw Anyuta down by the river, holding onto a ring and dragging a line. The big Siberian husky was helping her. The husky had its teeth in the ring and was digging in, pulling back. Together they dragged out the lure with a decent catch.

"Anyuta wore rubber boots about three sizes too big, over bare feet.

"When they'd dragged the catch to shore, she grabbed her net and ran to pull out the fish. The husky dug in its paws and held the ring in its teeth. Anyuta went farther into the water than the boots allowed, and water started pouring over the tops.

"She dragged it to shore, took the hooks out of three excellent fish, and put them in her sack. Then she and the husky picked up the rope and started dragging the plywood the sack was lying on.

"Water sloshed out of Anyuta's boots, hindering her progress. Anyuta stopped, removed one boot, then the other, and standing barefoot on the cold ground, poured the water out of them. She put the wet boots back on and went about her business.

"When she and the husky had dragged their morning catch to the front stoop, I looked at Anyuta's face and was astounded.

"Her glowing ruddy cheeks, eyes glittering with determination, and a happy smile lurking on her lips made her look nothing like the pale yellowish, once sickly little girl. Anyuta started trying to wake her grandfather, and breathing hard, he climbed off the stove, threw on his jacket, picked up his knife and salt, and went to dress the fish. When Anyuta poured me tea, I asked why she brought home fish at such an early hour every day.

"'The nice men from the ship on the river come and take the fish from us. They give me money. And also I asked them to bring paint for our houses. They brought it for the fish and also pretty fabric for a dress. I gave them all the fish I caught in a week for it,' Anyuta answered, and she took out a large piece of magnificent silk.

"'You have enough for more than one dress here, Anyuta. Why so much?' I asked.

"'It's not for me. It's for my mama I'm making a present. When she comes, I'll give her a pretty scarf, too, and some long beads.'

"Anyuta took imported stockings, pearls, and a magnificent flowered scarf out of a worn suitcase.

"'I don't want my mama to be upset that she can't buy me presents. I'm going to buy everything for her now, so she doesn't think her life didn't work out.'

"I watched as she joyously showed me the presents for her mother. Happy, she admired them, and I realized that little Anyuta had been transformed from an utterly helpless, pathetic creature waiting for someone's help into an effective, self-confident person. Furthermore, she was happy because she had achieved something, but her happiness may have come from something else, too. I think each person's happiness is inside. It is at a specific level of consciousness. Only how to reach that level—that is the question! Anastasia helped little Anyuta. Would she be able to help everyone else? Or maybe we ourselves need to figure out how to learn."

Alexander fell silent, and we were each left with our own thoughts.

Wrapped in a sheepskin jacket, I lay my head on a log and started looking at the bright northern stars, which seemed very low over us, warming themselves at our fire, too. I tried to go to sleep.

After sleeping a few hours, Alexander and I walked up to the launch at dawn. But before pushing off, Alexander suddenly said to me, "I think . . . I'm certain. You shouldn't go into the taiga. You won't find Anastasia now. No one can, including you."

"Why?"

"Anastasia's gone. Gone deeper in. She had to. If you go, you might perish. You're not equipped for the taiga, and you still need to write. Keep your promise to her."

"In order to write more, I have to hear her answers to many readers' questions. On raising children, on religions . . ."

"No one can find her now."

"How you do go on about not finding her! I know where her glade is. I'll find her."

"I'm telling you, you won't. Anastasia can't help but understand that the hunt for her is on."

"What hunt? Has someone bribed the local hunters? Like you and Egorich?"

"Egorich and I keep trying to convince them not to interfere, not to bother her. When we fail, we take them to the opposite bank. You can't bribe the local hunters. They have their own laws and values. They knew about Anastasia long before you did. They held her in the deepest respect. Even among themselves they spoke cautiously. The hunters would not like to see an outsider in the taiga, and their aim is good."

"So who might be hunting for her?"

"I think it's whoever brought us to where we are today, and they're going to keep it up."

"More specifically?

"Each person has to puzzle that out for himself."

"Still, who do you have in mind? People like Boris Moiseyevich?"

"He's just a tool. Something we can't see is playing with us. Both Boris Moiseyevich now and whoever stood behind him apparently has understood that, too."

11. Who Are We?

"A month ago, Boris Moiseyevich came back to these parts," Alexander told me, "this time without guards or assistants. Quiet and thoughtful, he sought me out. He and I talked for an entire day. Or rather, it wasn't a conversation, but his confession—not to me, of course, but a confession to himself. He gave me a copy of his report on his contact with Anastasia. I took some excerpts from it for you. Do you want me to read them out loud?"

"Who was the report done for?"

"I don't know and neither does Boris Moiseyevich. He met his client in a well-appointed room with a fireplace. The client called himself a representative of the International Academy. But there are a lot of academies around now. Just try to figure out which are the most serious. Now people judge seriousness by the extent of the financing.

"This client wasn't stingy. He paid for the entire trip up front in cash and promised a considerable bonus to the group. He also promised to include the entire section Boris Moiseyevich heads up in a serious scientific program connected with Anastasia.

"When Boris Moiseyevich met with him after his return and gave him his report, the client looked through the report quickly. Apparently he was already well informed.

"He threw the report into the fireplace and told Boris Moiseyevich, 'Your assignment was to make contact with X, as you yourself called Anastasia. You used not only your own scientific methods and persuasive abilities but also violence in carrying out the assignment. The violence was your initiative. We've decided to double the fee for this expedition, but in the future to break off relations with you. Take your fee'—he pointed to the briefcase next to the armchair— 'and forget about the expedition.'

"Boris Moiseyevich tried to explain that the violence was an accident and that he himself found the whole business distasteful. He realized the harm their group's clumsiness had done for future contacts with Anastasia, so he refused the fee for himself altogether.

"Then the man sitting by the fireplace rose from his chair, and in a voice brooking no objection, said, 'Take it and leave. Your enthusiasm was for the money, not the cause. So take it. You're no use to us anymore.'

"Boris Moiseyevich took the briefcase with the money and left the spacious office. He tried to share the money equally among the expedition participants, but they wouldn't all take it. The money seemed to accentuate the magnitude of something unpleasant the expedition participants had done."

"Why did you just write out excerpts from the report?" I asked Alexander.

"Judging from the book, you don't really like to read works full of terms you don't understand. I tried to write down the main points and without special terminology."

"What do they say about Anastasia?"

Alexander took the printed pages out of his pocket and read to me.

"X cannot be subjected to ordinary study and the scientific methods known to us today.

"'Scientifically acceptable assessment criteria would inevitably create a specific framework that omitted previously unknown properties and possibilities of the phenomena that arise and are connected with individual situations more than likely due to X's fluctuating psychic state.'

"'As an information source in various spheres of scientific research, the "subject" could far surpass those scientific sources currently known.

"'The subject herself is more than likely not the bearer of information. She has no ordinary interest in obtaining and analyzing information. However, when a goal arises important to her—as a result of desire—information in the necessary quantity comes to her in a form selected by someone and instantly may find practical application by subject X.

"'Our group was able to provide only a few hypotheses, but it did confirm empirically several statements by X about plants. It established the fact of the ray's existence. The scientific terms "torsion field" and "radio wave emission" are probably not appropriate here. If we use them, it is only because we have no others more appropriate.

"'What was most incredible and dubious, in our opinion, was the possibility of investing, hiding, in the text of a book, combinations and signs that were, according to X's terminology, "as deep as eternity and as infinite as the Cosmos."

"'According to the subject's own assertion, these signs could have a beneficial effect on people.

"'We proposed conducting a series of experiments, comparing the parameters of physiological changes in a person before and after reading the book with the help of instruments used in medical research. Now, however, this does not make great sense.

"'Now we are compelled to state the incontrovertibility of their existence. Their effect comes about not through physiological or material organs but on some intangible, nonmaterial level of the socium.

"'One gets the impression that among the community of people living on earth there is beginning to be a reaction that we can neither control nor, consequently, stop.

"'The main fact confirming its existence is the psychic reaction of people who have come into contact with the book. A survey, testing, and analysis of correspondence from readers attest to the emergence in the majority of a creative surge expressed in the form of poems, drawings, and songs. Many develop the need to touch a plant, plant something, change profession. In individual instances, we observed significant improvement in how they felt and a disappearance of symptoms of illness.

"'We conducted the experiment on thirty people with various illnesses. In the psychotherapy and therapeutic sleep office, we offered them the book to read. In twenty-seven, emotional focus was observed, sleep did not follow, and hemoglobin in the blood rose. If one assumes that the readers' reaction occurs because of the vividness of the literary-artistic image, then we can say that this image, in its psychological effect, surpasses all those previously known, including classical and Biblical, by several orders of magnitude.

"'The incontrovertibility of this assertion is shown by the percentage of readers who expressed themselves in poetic or some other creative form.

"'Statistically, this is expressed as 1:19. At the same time, the author's expository style itself is simple to the point of primitivism. The well-established canons of artistic literary creation are not observed, and the text contains grammatical errors. At the same time, though, testing the text for readability via computer program shows that the readability level is at least eighty percent!

"'While in direct contact with object X, we observed a phenomenon never before encountered that did not correspond to any that have ever been observed or described by UFO-ologists.

"'We observed a spherical energy cluster that looked like large ball lightning. Its energy potential exceeds present-day science's existing notions about the force of natural energies. Its ability to change the Earth's gravitational field locally allows it to turn everything that is not rooted in the earth to cosmic dust in a single instant.

"'At the moment of our contact, the Earth's gravitation changed insignificantly, but when it increased its efforts, we and all the material objects could simply have ended up in the abyss of the cosmos. Nevertheless, around X the gravitational field did not change, which speaks to the possibility of precise and targeted actions.

"'The alteration in the earth's attraction was visibly preceded by a reduction in the blue spectrum of daylight.

"'Thus, we can conjecture that the Earth's so-called attraction depends not on the Earth itself, its mass, but on the light pressure emanating from certain cosmic objects, energies, or a sheathing for the Earth created by someone.

"'Despite her ability to acquire large amounts of information, X does not try to analyze it. She perceives what she receives at the level of emotions and intuition, which gives her the impression of naïveté. Relations between X and the energy cluster are ordinary and simple; they are built on the level of emotions, in a complete absence of servility or worship. Given the mutual respect they have for each other, they retain perfect freedom of action.

"'The shining energy cluster we observed possesses intellect and, what is most incredible, emotions, such as has not been noted by UFO-ologists in a single UFO. Testimony to its sensitivity is the fact that upon contact, the rays of the energy cluster stroked the feet and hair of subject X, and, by its actions, reacted to X's emotional state.

"'Along with the possibility of having a physiological influence on matter, the subject we saw can exert a psychological influence.

"'By way of hypothesis, subject X may be one of those earthly persons with whom representatives of extraterrestrial civilization come into contact periodically, or else some natural phenomenon not susceptible to study interacts with the object.

"'By way of hypothesis, object X itself could be from a civilization beyond earth. However, the object's own statement—"I am a human being, a woman"—contradicts this. Such a statement puts us at an impasse, since the question arises, Who, then, are we? Or, put another way, Has humanity progressed or regressed?'"

12. Mutants, Created by People

"All right, that's enough," I interrupted Alexander. "For me, Anastasia is a hermit—with unusual abilities, to be sure, but a human being nonetheless. For now it's best to rest on that. If you overthink all this, you could flip your lid. Start up your buggy and let's get going."

The launch brought us to the abandoned village in about four hours. As I disembarked on the familiar bank, Alexander got out of the launch, too, and went back to what he had been saying before.

"Anastasia's gone, Vladimir. Think carefully. Maybe you'll cancel your excursion to the taiga glade after all? You won't get to it."

"I'm going." I picked up my backpack to put it on my shoulders and suddenly saw Alexander pull a large hunting knife out of its sheath.

Dropping the backpack, I scanned the ground for something to defend myself. But Alexander bared his right arm to the elbow and with the knife slashed his own arm. He covered the blood spurting from the wound with his white linen scarf. Then he asked me to get the first-aid kit out of the launch and tie up his arm. Without understanding a thing, I did so. He handed me the blood-stained scarf.

"Tie this around your head."

"What for?"

"At least the hunters won't touch you. They don't shoot at the wounded."

"What are they anyway, your hunters? Fools? They'll approach and immediately see the sham."

"They won't approach. Why risk it? Each has his own trails and lands. If someone needs to go into the taiga with good intentions, then first he'll speak to the hunters, tell them about himself and his intentions, and agree on his hike. If he has good intentions, they'll help, advise, and may guide him themselves. They know nothing about you. They might give you a slap without asking questions, but they won't shoot an injured man."

I took the blood-stained scarf and tied it around my head.

"Maybe I should thank you, but somehow I don't feel like it."

"No need. I'm not doing this for thanks. I feel like doing something, at least. When you get back, light a fire on the bank. I'll pass nearby from time to time and see the smoke. I'll pick you up if you manage to return."

As I approached the taiga, I saw two dogs moving about a hundred meters away from me. Probably from the village, I thought. It would be good if they came closer. Things are calmer with dogs. I even tried to lure them, but the dogs wouldn't approach, continuing to move in parallel with me, and so we entered the taiga. Alexander was wrong to try to frighten me. The taiga did not seem hostile to me, perhaps due to the feeling that here, among these trees and slopes, lived Anastasia. She may have been strange, but she was still a good person. Most importantly, however, in this taiga—with its slopes and sounds and air so unusual for a city dweller—lived my own son. That made the taiga seem just a little dearer.

It's harder to cover twenty-five kilometers from bank to glade than over an ordinary road, because I had to climb over fallen trees and skirt bushes. When I'd walked with Anastasia, the conversation had taken my mind off these obstacles. The main thing was not to let them put me off course, and I started checking my compass more and more often. I thought, "How does Anastasia find the glade without a compass? There doesn't seem to be any trail, either."

Resting after every hour of my journey, by midday I had reached a small stream about two meters wide. When I'd walked with Anastasia, we'd crossed the stream, too. I decided to cross to the other bank and make an extended halt in the glade adjacent to the river. I walked across the trunk of a half-rotted tree that had fallen in the stream. The tree fell a little short of the bank, and I first tossed my backpack across and then jumped myself. But somehow I stumbled. My foot caught on something and got sprained or strained. A terrible pain shot through my leg and even made it all the way up to my head. I lay there briefly, tried to get up, and realized I wasn't going to be able to walk. I lay there contemplating what to do next. I tried to remember what you're usually supposed to do when you have a sprain or strain, but I was having a hard time. The pain was probably getting in the way. I decided to lie there and have a bite to eat. Perhaps the pain would begin to subside. If necessary, I would start a fire and spend the night. By morning maybe my foot really would be better. After all, everything gradually heals on a person.

That was when I saw the dogs again. There were four of them now, and on the other side another two. They weren't going anywhere. They had lain down on different sides of me about ten meters away. The dogs were different breeds: one an Airedale terrier, another a boxer, and the others some mix. There was even a little poodle among them. The dogs' fur was clumped, they were skinny, and the Airedale's eyes oozed. I remembered the captain's mate's story about dogs like this. And my awareness of the situation even made me stop feeling the pain in my foot for a while.

The captain's mate on my headquarters ship had told me that people who wanted to get rid of their four-legged pets took them somewhere far away and abandoned them. If they were abandoned at the city limits, cats and dogs would group around dumps, which gave them at least some nourishment. When the dogs were taken to remote places, far form the city, they formed packs and hunted their food, attacking animals—even people, especially solitary ones. These dogs were more frightening than wolves. They tried to waylay a wounded or exhausted victim and attacked simultaneously. Feral dogs that have formed a pack are more dangerous than wolves because they know people's habits better and hate them. They are angry at people. They don't have experience hunting game, like the wolves, but they do people.

It's especially frightening if in the pack there is at least one dog that was trained to attack people.

I once had a dog that I took to obedience school. Among other training in carrying out all kinds of commands, there is an exercise in attacking a person. The instructor's assistant puts on a padded coat with long arms, and the staff teaches the dog to attack him and bite like crazy. If the dog does well at the exercise, they encourage it and give it a treat. They learned their lesson—smart dogs.

I wonder whether there is a single creature in this wide world other than man that would take the time to train other species to attack his own kind?

The dogs surrounding me tightened their ring. I thought, "I have to show them I'm still alive and can move and defend myself." I picked up a short stick and threw it at the closest large and shabby mongrel. The dog dodged the stick and lay back down. There weren't any more sticks nearby. Then I took two cans of food out of my backpack. While I was getting them out the smallest dog, the poodle, crept up from behind, sunk its teeth into my trousers, and leapt back while the other dogs observed. The other dogs were probably looking to see how I would react to the poodle's attack.

I threw one can at a very large dog nearby and another at the poodle. I had nothing else to throw. Despair filtered into my consciousness.

I pictured the dogs tearing my body apart and eating pieces of it. Then, still conscious, I would see everything, doubled up with pain, because the dogs wouldn't be able to kill me right away, and I had nothing to help me die quickly, without prolonged agony.

It was also too bad that I hadn't been able to deliver my backpack with gifts for Anastasia from readers or the various baby things my son needed in my backpack.

Half the backpack was filled with readers' questions and requests. Lots of letters, unusual letters—about the soul, about life—and lots of poems—unprofessional poems maybe, not always rhymed, but in a certain sense fine. Now all this would be lost. It would rot here. Then I got an idea. I decided to write a note and put it in the cellophane bag with the letters. A note! If anyone found the backpack, they could take all its contents and the money, too, but the readers' letters would be sent on to my daughter Polina. I wrote in the note that she should publish them when enough money had come in from the books. These sincere poems could not be allowed to be lost. Many may have written poems for the first time, and they were heartfelt. I could not allow the only poem in their life to be lost.

This note was hard to write. My hands were trembling—from fear, no doubt. Why is it that man clings so hard to life, even in a situation when it is absolutely clear that it's all over? Still, I finished the note, put it in the cellophane bag with the letters, and cinched the packet tighter so moisture wouldn't get in. And then I saw the dogs surrounding me, having drawn quite close, suddenly begin to perform a strange maneuver. One by one, they crawled away from me. Some half-rose and looked away from me in another direction and lay back down, as in ambush. I stood on one foot to see what had distracted them. And I saw . . . I saw Anastasia running swiftly along the stream, her magnificent golden hair fanning out behind her as she ran. Her swift running was so beautiful that I forgot the danger and admired this picture. All of a sudden, the thought scorched me like lightning: the dogs! They sensed that their prey might be taken away, and they were preparing to attack Anastasia, who was swiftly approaching us.

The starving, brutalized mongrels would fight like crazy and to the bitter end for their prey. Anastasia alone wouldn't be able to do anything with them. The dogs would tear her to pieces, and I shouted as loud as I could, "Stop! Stop, Anastasia! Dogs. There are wild dogs here! Don't come here, Anastasia! Stop!"

Anastasia heard me but did not slow her swift running the least bit. She merely raised her arm as she ran and waved it. "What is she doing?" I thought. "That unusual phenomenon can't help her now."

Very quickly I took small glass bottles of juice for the baby out of the backpack. I started throwing the bottles at the dogs, trying to draw their attention back to myself. One of the bottles landed, but the dogs paid no attention whatsoever to my attempts.

The dogs undoubtedly realized who their real threat was. The dogs rushed at Anastasia simultaneously from all sides as soon as she ran into their circle. And then . . . You really had to see this. Anastasia converted all the energy from her running into spinning. All of a sudden, she went from a full-tilt run into spinning like a top, the way ballerinas do on stage, only faster. Hitting themselves on Anastasia's spinning body, the dogs flew off in all directions without doing her any harm, but they immediately started to prepare for a new attack on her, once she had stopped.

I crawled toward Anastasia. She was wearing her light shift. If she'd had on at least a padded jacket, it would have been harder for the dogs to bite through that.

Anastasia dropped to one knee. She stood in the circle of resentful dogs half-crazed from hunger, but her face expressed no fear.

She looked at me and said quickly, "Hello, Vladimir. Do not be frightened. Rest up a little. Relax. Do not worry. They will not do anything to me, these hungry little dogs. Do not worry."

Two strapping mutts once again rushed from different sides at Anastasia, who was resting on one knee. Still talking and with a lightning-quick gesture as they leapt, she grabbed each dog by a front paw and turned them around in the air, leaning her own torso away slightly, letting the dogs collide with each other and slam into the ground.

The dogs lay back down, doubtless preparing to attack again, but they didn't.

Anastasia stood up, flung her arm up, then abruptly lowered it, and slapped her leg twice.

Four full-grown wolves instantly leapt out from behind the nearby tangles of bushes. Their swift leaps held such determination, they seemed uninterested in the strength and numbers of the foe they faced. They would fight them.

The dogs tucked their tails between their legs and took to their heels. The wolves rushed past me, and I felt their hot breath. A very young cub that looked like a sheepdog puppy raced after the wolves, trying as hard as it could not to be left behind, and so darted past, taking tiny leaps. When it came even with Anastasia, it suddenly braked with all four paws and even turned a somersault. It jumped up and twice licked a fresh scratch on Anastasia's bare foot.

Anastasia quickly picked the cub up by the body and lifted it off the ground.

"Where do you think you're going? It's too soon for you. You're still little."

The cub kept twisting in Anastasia's arms and whimpered like a puppy. It managed to break away, or else she herself let it go. Once it was on the ground, the cub again quickly licked the scratch and set out to run down the wolf pack.

"But why?" I began speaking to Anastasia, who had run up to me. "Why didn't you call the wolves in right away? Why?"

Anastasia smiled and quickly felt my legs and arms. In a pure, reassuring voice, she said, "Please don't worry. I had to show the dogs that man is always stronger than they are. They are afraid of the wolves anyway, but they were attacking a human being. Now they won't. . . . Don't worry. When I felt—realized—you were coming, I ran to meet you. Why did you take such a risk? There you went. . . . I lost you at first, but then I guessed."

Anastasia ran off to the side, picked some herb, and then searched in a different spot and picked another. She rubbed the herbs in her palms and cautiously rubbed the hurt foot with her moist palms. And she kept saying, "It will pass. It will pass quickly. You will live to see your wedding."

I noticed that she used all kinds of sayings. I asked her, "How did you learn those sayings?"

"Sometimes I listen to how different people talk, to learn how to express a bigger thought in a shorter phrase. Don't you like it?"

"Sometimes it's out of place."

"But sometimes in of place? It's good when it's in of place?"

"What 'in of place'?"

"You said it first. I just repeated it."

"Tell me, Anastasia. Is the glade far?"

"You have gone halfway. Together we will reach it quickly now."

"Probably not quickly. My foot still hurts."

"Yes, it may hurt a little more. Let your foot rest up while I help you walk."

Anastasia easily lifted the heavy backpack, turned her back to me, dropped to one knee, and suggested, "Hold on. Climb on me. On my back." She spoke so quickly and decisively that I did climb on her back, wrapping my arms around her neck. Anastasia rose quickly and lightly and skipped along. All the time, she spoke on the run.

"I'm not too heavy?" I asked after a while.

"A burden of one's own choosing is never heavy," Anastasia replied.

She also added, laughing, "I'm a peasant, I'm a bull, I'm a woman, I'm a mule."

"Stop. Let me down. I'm going to try to walk myself."

"But it's not heavy for me. Why?"

"Why did you say that about a mule? 'I'm a woman, I'm a mule?'"

"That's just an expression. I said it inappropriately, didn't I? Are you insulted?"

"It doesn't matter. I just want to try to walk myself. Just carry the backpack a little more."

"If you're going to walk yourself, then you need to rest your foot for at least another hour. You sit here for a while, I'll be quick, I'll be right back." Anastasia ran off for a while. She returned with a bunch of different herbs and once again began rubbing them into my foot near the instep. Then she sat down next to me, smiled slyly at the backpack, and suddenly asked, "Please tell me, Vladimir, what is in your backpack?"

"Some letters from readers. Presents for you from them. And I bought a few things for the child."

"Could you show me the presents now, while we're resting?"

"And will you show me my child, my son? You're not going to say he shouldn't see me until I'm cleansed, are you?"

"Fine. I will show you our son. Only not right away. Tomorrow I will. First you have to understand a little about being with him. You will understand quickly when you see him."

"Tomorrow then."

I undid the backpack and started setting out the presents for Anastasia first. She picked up each item carefully, examined it with interest, and stroked it. She began ringing the Valdai bells given her by Olga Sidorovna, and when I handed her the large pretty flowered scarf also given her by a good woman, Valentina Ivanovna, I immediately realized that women are women, and much in them is identical.

Anastasia took the scarf and unfolded it. Then she tried the scarf in many different ways. She tied the scarf around her head, like on the Alyonushka candy wrapper, and in yet another way.

Laughing, Anastasia tied the scarf around her waist, like a gypsy, threw it over her shoulders and paraded in front of me in a kind of folk dance.

She neatly folded the scarf, placed it on the presents set out on the grass, and said, "Vladimir, please thank each woman for her soul's warmth that was sent with these things."

"I'll tell any of them I see. But I have nothing more to show you. The rest isn't for you. It's for our son. Everything he needs. You may not use it. I'll show you myself when we get there."

"Why don't you want to now? We're sitting here resting, after all. I'm very curious to see."

I didn't want to show Anastasia what I'd bought for our son because I remembered what she'd said at our first meeting: "You would like to acquire all kinds of pointless rattles for our son. But he doesn't need them. You do, for your own satisfaction. 'What a good and concerned person I am.'" Nonetheless, I decided to show her because I, too, was curious to see how she would regard our civilization's achievements in caring for children. I began showing Anastasia the diapers and telling her how effective they were at absorbing moisture when the baby peed in them, so that the baby's skin didn't chafe. Telling her everything I'd seen in the television ad. I showed her the baby food.

"You see, Anastasia, this is baby food. It is simply a masterpiece. It contains all the substances essential for a child, and it has vitamin supplements in it, too. But most of all it can be prepared easily. Dissolve it in warm water and the cereal is ready. Do you see?"

"Yes."

"Well then, that means the factory chimneys of our technocratic world aren't just blowing smoke. Among them are the smokestacks of factories that produce this baby food and the packaging. See, the handsome, rosy-cheeked, smiling baby on the package?"

"Yes."

The last thing I showed Anastasia was the erector set, and I immediately commented, "This is a children's erector set, not some pointless rattle. It says here that it's especially designed for child development. You can make a car out of it, like in this picture, or a train, a plane, a house. Our son will put it to good use a little later. Right now, of course, it's still too soon for him to make sense of how it moves and flies."

"Why too soon? He can make sense of this right now," Anastasia replied.

"You'll see. The erector set will help him do that."

"You think so? Are you certain?"

"This isn't a matter of just my certainty, Anastasia. Many scientists think so, as do the psychologists who study the child's psyche. See, they've written their conclusion in the annotation."

"All right, Vladimir, all right. Don't worry. You'll do everything as you see fit. Only please, first look at how our son lives. Then you can determine for yourself what he needs above all."

"Fine. As you say." I rejoiced that Anastasia hadn't disputed the necessity of the things I'd brought. "I'll look for myself and decide."

"But for now, let's hide your backpack. Later, when you decide which thing he needs first I'll run here and bring it or bring the whole backpack. Right now it's too heavy to carry. Your foot hurts and you do not want me to carry you."

"Oh, all right, we can hide it for now," I agreed. "Only let's take the letters. They contain a lot of questions for you. I can't remember them all."

"Fine, we will take the letters," Anastasia agreed. She took the packet of letters. I leaned on her shoulder and we started off toward Anastasia's glade.

We arrived at Anastasia's glade only late that evening.

As before, there was nothing there—no structures whatsoever, not even a hut. Yet I felt as if I'd come home. My mood even lifted and a certain tranquility came over me. I felt sleepy, probably because I'd spent all night talking with Alexander. "Great," I thought. "There is absolutely nothing in this glade, and I feel as though I've come home.

"Clearly, the sense of home doesn't lie in the size of your apartment or even castle but in something else."

Anastasia immediately led me to the little lake and suggested I bathe. I had no desire whatsoever to bathe, but I thought it was better to obey her in everything for now, in order to see my son sooner.

After bathing, when I came out on the bank, I was colder than I'd been in the water. Anastasia chased the water off me with her palms, rubbed me with herbs, and my body became almost hot.

Then she held out her shift and said, laughing, "Please put this on, Vladimir. This will be your nightshirt. I'll soak and wash your clothing. It has a strong smell."

I put on Anastasia's shift because I realized the smell had to be eliminated.

"Is this so our son won't be frightened?"

"For him, too," Anastasia replied.

"But I'll be cold sleeping in just this shift."

"Don't worry, I've taken care of everything. You will get a good night's sleep, and you will not be cold. You will put the packet of letters under your head for a pillow. I've thought of everything. You will get a good night's sleep and you will not freeze."

"Warm myself on a she-bear again? I'm not going to sleep with a bear. I'd rather get along on my own."

"I made your bed so that you would not be cold or hot."

We walked up to the dugout where I had slept before. Anastasia moved aside the branches hanging over the entrance. I smelled the pleasant fragrance of dried herbs, crawled into the dugout, and plunged into the grasses. A pleasant sleep enveloped me languorously.

"You can cover up with my blouse, but even without it you won't be cold. If you like, I can lie down beside you, too. I'll keep you warm."

I heard what Anastasia said through my sleep and replied, "No need. You should go to our son, warm him. . . ."

"Don't worry, Vladimir. Our son already takes care of himself a great deal ."

"How can he? He's still little." Before I could say another word, I plunged into a deep and peaceful bliss.

13. A New Morning Like a New Life

I woke up in the morning. I was in such an unusually good mood that I lay there thinking I wouldn't move, just to hold onto the feeling. What kind of night had it been? Why in the morning did it seem that during the night, my body and consciousness had bathed in love? In the light of day, it became clear to me why I had been neither cold nor hot that night. I had lain there deep in dry herbs and flowers, which gave off a pleasant fragrance and warmed me. Readers often ask how Anastasia keeps from freezing in winter, in the fierce Siberian cold, but it's all very simple. If you burrow into a haystack, no cold can scare you. True, she also warms herself in some other way, walks around half-naked—even when it's all of five degrees Centigrade—and doesn't freeze. She even bathes at those low temperatures and doesn't shiver when she gets out of the water.

As I lay blissfully on the dry grasses, I also thought, "Here morning has begun, or a new day has come, and I have the impression that the beginning of a new life has come, that if it were always like this, every morning, then one life would be like living thousands of centuries, each century as beautiful as this morning. But what can I do so that every new day is as beautiful as this morning?"

I got up only when I heard Anastasia's cheerful voice.

"God gives much to those who rise early."

I climbed out of my night's wonderful bedroom. She was standing up top, right by the entrance. Her golden hair was braided and tied at the bottom with herbs, like a ribbon. Her new hairstyle suited her well, too.

"Let's go to the lake and you'll wash and dress," Anastasia proposed, tossing her braid forward, like a flirt.

"Good heavens, women are women," I thought, and I said to her, "That's a very pretty braid you have, Anastasia."

"Pretty. Really? Very very pretty?" She started to laugh, twirling.

We ran to the lake. On the bank, on the branches of bushes, hung my shirt, trousers, and tee-shirt—everything I'd left the night before. I touched them and they were already dry.

"How did they dry so quickly?"

"I helped them," Anastasia replied. "I put them on and ran a little in your clothing, so it dried quickly. Now you'll bathe and put it on."

"And will you bathe?"

"I've already done everything necessary to greet the day."

Before I stepped into the water, Anastasia rubbed my body with an herbal pulp. And when I dove in, the water around me hissed and my body tingled, but when I got out of the water I felt wonderful, as if all the pores of my body had been breathing intensively themselves and each had inhaled air itself. Breathing in general was free and easy.

Cheerful and playful, Anastasia began chasing the drops from my body again, like the evening before. When she wiped them off my back, I suddenly felt something hot suddenly splash down my back. "One, two"—I abruptly turned around. She squeezed her breast and hot breast milk right in my face, and then squirted more from the other onto my chest. And now, laughing, rubbed it off very fast.

"Why would you do such a thing?" I asked when I had recovered from my surprise.

"Because! Because!" Anastasia laughed and then handed me my trousers and shirt. They, too, did not smell as they had before. I immediately noticed that when I put them on.

I told Anastasia firmly, "I've done everything the way you wanted. Now show me my son."

"Fine. Let's go. Only please, Vladimir, don't try to approach him right away. First observe and try to understand him."

"Fine, I'll observe. All right. And I'll understand."

We walked over to the glade I already knew.

By the bushes at the glade's edge, Anastasia said, "We'll sit here quietly and watch. He's going to wake up soon and you'll see him."

A bear lay on its side near a tree at the glade's edge, but I didn't see any child. Excitement began to grip me more and more, and my heart started beating strangely.

"Where is he?" I asked Anastasia, getting more and more excited.

"Look closer," she replied. "There, his head and little feet are poking out from under the bear's paw. He's sleeping on her, in her groin. It's soft and warm there, and she holds him there with her paw. She doesn't press, just covers him a little with her paw."

Then I saw him. The baby's tiny body was resting in the bear's thick fur, in the groin of this huge beast, under her slightly raised front paw. The bear lay on her side motionless, just looking around. The tiny little legs moved in the thick fur, and immediately the bear lifted her paw slightly. The baby was waking up. When he moved his little hand, the bear raised her paw; when he lowered his hand, she covered it again. Only her paw and head moved; her body didn't budge.

"You mean the bear lies there like that, without moving? Isn't it uncomfortable being in one position all the time?"

"She can lie like that for a long time without moving. That is not at all hard. She is thrilled when he crawls into his little bed. In general, the bear now thinks very highly of herself indeed—responsible. She wouldn't even let her friend approach when the time came for them to procreate. That is not so good. But when our son grows up a little, she will let her friend approach."

I listened to Anastasia while riveted to the sight of the little feet moving again under the bear's huge paw. Then the paw lifted.

The baby moved his little arms and legs, stretched, raised his little head, and suddenly fell still.

"Why did he stop moving? Is he going to go back to sleep?" I asked Anastasia.

"Look closer. He's urinating. Once again, the bear did not lower him to the grass in time, or didn't want to. She's spoiling him."

A little fountain poured on the bear's fur. She lay there, like the baby, perfectly still. The bear stopped moving her head and paw until the little fountain turned off. Then the bear began to turn onto her other side, and the baby slid onto the grass.

"Good. There, you see? She realizes he is going to continue going about his other business, our little man," Anastasia informed me gaily.

The tiny little body lay on the ground and bore down. The huge bear stood over him and was apparently trying to help him with her rumbling, as if she herself were bearing down with him. The baby turned over on his tummy, started moving his arms, and crawled over the grass. His bottom was a little stained with poop. The bear took a step in his direction and licked the little human's bottom with her huge tongue, wiping up the spots, like a nanny. Her tongue pushed the baby. He plopped on his tummy but got right back up and crawled on, while the bear went after him and licked him again, even though he was all clean now.

"What do you think, Vladimir? Could she take off his diapers or underpants and then put new ones on him?" Anastasia asked quietly.

"All right already," I replied, also in a whisper. "I get it."

The baby turned over on his back, and when the persistent bear licked him another time between the legs, he latched onto the fur of the bear's face with his little hand.

Obeying his hand's obviously insignificant efforts, the huge bear head lay down on the ground at the baby's feet, he grabbed her face and with the other hand pulled himself up and started climbing up the beast's head.

"Where does he think he's going?"

"Toward the bear's eyes. Her eyes shine, and he's curious. He always wants to touch them."

The baby lay on his tummy on the bear's face, examined her eye, and tried to touch it with his little finger, but the bear blinked. His little finger touched the eyelid. After waiting a little longer and not seeing the shining eye anymore, the baby started climbing down off the bear's face, crawled over the grass a little more, and stopped still, examining something in it. The bear stood up and roared twice.

"She's calling the wolf. She needs to clean herself and eat. Now you will see how amiably they talk to each other," Anastasia commented.

A little later, the wolf appeared at the edge of the glade, but the bear greeted its appearance with menacing roaring, not at all welcoming. The wolf itself behaved in anything but a friendly way. It surveyed the whole glade. With a springy step, it went a little way along the glade's edge, lay down, and then suddenly took a powerful leap and lay back down, as if ready to pounce.

"Where is their amiability?" I asked. "Why did the bear call it, only to roar at it? And the wolf is behaving menacingly, too, isn't it?"

"That is how they talk to each other. The bear stopped the wolf with its roaring to make sure it was all right—that is, not sick with something, not dangerous to let close to the human child—and whether it's strong enough to protect him. The wolf showed it was fine. It showed in deed, not words. You saw it. It moved and jumped quite high."

Having made sure of the wolf, the bear really could leave the glade calmly. The wolf lay on the grass, not far from the infant. The baby examined something a little longer, touched it in the grass, and then, noticing the wolf, crawled toward it. When he got close, he started touching its face, running his finger over the teeth in the wolf's open maw, and slapped its tongue. The wolf licked his face. Then little Vladimir crawled to its belly, touched the wolf's teats, sucked his own hand, and frowned.

"It's time for our son to eat," Anastasia began again. "But he's still not hungry enough to eat the wolf's milk. I'm going to go off for a short time now, while you sit at the edge of the glade. If he sees you and is curious, he'll crawl over. But don't pick him up yourself. He's already a person, though he looks small, and he won't understand senseless babbling. Also, this would be violence if you took his arms without his consent. He will not understand you if you pick him up against his will, even if you act out of good intentions. You will make a bad impression on him."

"Fine, I won't pick him up. I'll sit like this. The wolf won't touch me?"

"Your scent is now such that it won't."

Anastasia slapped her thigh twice, the wolf got up, looked in her direction, then at the child, who was back to playing with some bug, and ran to Anastasia.

Anastasia stood up against me and called the wolf to come closer and ordered her to lie down with a gesture.

"Maybe I should pet it to really make friends," I suggested.

"It won't take to your patronizing familiarity. It understands everything and won't touch you, but it won't put up with flagrant superiority either," Anastasia replied. She sent the wolf back to the glade and ran off on business of her own, promising to return quickly.

I stepped out from behind the bushes, where Anastasia and I had been stealthily observing what was going on in the glade. I stepped out and sat down on the grass about ten meters from little Vladimir. I sat like that for about fifteen minutes. He paid no attention to me. I thought if I kept sitting quietly he would never notice me. I clucked twice.

The child turned his head and saw me. My son! My son was watching me steadily with interest, and I was watching him with such agitation that my body even started to heat up.

I felt like running over, picking up his little body, and holding him close to my chest. But Anastasia's request and, most of all, the wolf's presence held me back.

Then my little son slowly began to crawl toward me. Looking at me steadily and crawling. My heart started pounding in my chest so hard I could hear it, but why was it beating so? Its hammering might frighten the baby.

But he kept crawling, and curious about something in the grass again, he started reaching for some bug. Then he started examining something crawling on his little hand. Three meters. My son stopped three meters short of crawling to me.

Over a bug. What was the world in this grass, what was the life that he found so interesting? I guess it is the forest's ways and rules here. Before the child meets his own father, he finds a bug more interesting. That shouldn't be. He should understand that his father is more important than a bug.

All of a sudden, the child raised his head in my direction again, smiled his toothless smile, and started crawling quickly, more smartly than usual. I got ready to pick him up, but he crawled past, paying no attention to me.

I looked around and saw behind me, a little to one side of me, a smiling Anastasia. She sat and put her hand on the grass palm up. The smiling child was crawling to his mother's breast. Anastasia did not pick him up but only gave him a little boost, a little help climbing to her breast. The child was already lying in her arms, slapping his little hands on his mother's bare breast, and smiling at Anastasia. He touched and stroked her nipple, brought his lips to it, and began to suck Anastasia's taut breast. Only once did Anastasia glance at me, and then to press her finger to her lips, indicating I shouldn't speak. I sat there the whole time she was feeding our son.

During the feeding, Anastasia seemed to forget all about my presence, nor did she have a thought for the whole surrounding world. She watched only our son the whole time. It also seemed as though they communicated somehow, since the child would suck and suddenly stop, break away from the nipple, and look into Anastasia's face. Sometimes he looked smiling, but sometimes seriously. Afterward, he fell still and slept for a while in his mother's arms. When he woke up he smiled again, and Anastasia sat him up on her hand, propping up his back.

Their faces were next to each other, and the child touched Anastasia's face, pressed his cheek to hers, and then saw me again. Once again, he fell still for a while, examining me with interest.

Then he reached in my direction, moved his little body toward me, and said "eh," I involuntarily reached out and Anastasia handed him to me.

I held the tiny little body of my own, much-desired son! Everything in the world was forgotten. I had a very strong desire to do something for him. The child touched my face, poked it with his lips, and recoiled and frowned, evidently getting pricked on my unshaven face. After that, I don't even know how it happened, I had an unbearable desire to kiss his warm little cheek. And I decided I would! But instead of a kiss, for some reason, I quickly licked his cheek twice, the way the wolf had. The baby recoiled and blinked his little eyes in astonishment. Anastasia's ringing, cascading laugh filled the glade. The baby immediately reached for her with both hands and started laughing, too, squirming in my arms. I realized he was asking me to let him go. My son was leaving me. Submitting to his will, to the rules of interaction established here, I cautiously lowered him to the grass. The child immediately crawled toward Anastasia, and she, laughing, jumped up, ran around me, and sat down on the other side, right next to me. The baby turned around immediately and crawled toward us, smiling, climbed into Anastasia's arms, and touched my face once again with his little hand. That's what happened the first time I met my son.

14. What is the Father's Role?

My son, my little Vladimir, fell asleep. After his feeding, he played with something in the grass for a while. He touched a cone that had fallen from a cedar and tried to lick it. He watched the clouds sailing by in the sky. He listened to the birds' song, climbed a mound where the grass was a little thicker, curled into a ball, shut his eyes, smiling at something, and fell asleep. Anastasia ran off on some affairs of her own. I began roaming through the forest alone, thinking, noticing nothing around me. A feeling of joy and vexation simultaneously would not quit me. I sat down under a cedar on the bank of the lake and decided I would sit like this, without stirring, until I came up with what I as a parent could contribute to my child's development. I had to think of something so that he would sense that his father was what was most important for him. When Anastasia walked up, at first I didn't feel like talking to her. It was her laughter that had distracted my son from me. Anastasia sat next to me quickly, clasping her knees, and thoughtfully gazed at the lake's calm water. She was the first to speak.

"Please don't be angry at me. Your interaction looked so funny. I couldn't help myself."

"It's not about me being angry."

"Then what?"

"In their letters many readers ask about raising children, they ask me to question you about your system of raising children and to describe it in the next book. But what is there to describe? There is no system, quite the opposite. You have some kind of antisystem here. For instance, a reader might ask what fathers should do in this kind of situation."

"You defined it very well. An antisystem. Describe that."

"Who cares about that? People are searching for authoritative books that tell them what they should do with their child when he's one month, when he's two, and so on. They schedule the child's day by the hour. Books suggest feeding timetables. They schedule childrearing activities depending on the age. But here there is complete indulgence of the child's whims. Liberty hall."

"Tell me, Vladimir. What would you like to see our son be when he grows up?"

"What do you mean? A happy, sane, successful person, of course."

"Are there many happy people among your acquaintances?"

"Happy? Well, there may only be a few completely happy people. Everyone has something that's not quite right. One doesn't have enough money. Another has family problems or suffers from various illnesses. But I'd like my son to avoid every kind of hardship."

"Think. How can he avoid them if you knowingly force him into the system by which everyone is raised? Maybe there is some reason for the fact that despite all parents wanting to see their children happy, the children grow up and turn out like everyone else—not very happy."

"Reason? In what? If you know, then tell me."

"Let's think this over together."

"People, including specialists and all kinds of scientists have been thinking about this for a long time. That's why they've created different child-rearing systems, scheduled down to the hour, in order to find the optimal one."

"You should look around more closely, Vladimir. The trees are growing, the grass and flowers. How can you schedule in advance the day and hour to water them? Are you going to water flowers when the water from the heavens washes them, or only when some expert has prescribed the watering day and time?"

"That's going overboard. This is nonsense, not an example of raising children. That doesn't happen in life."

"But it happens all the time in life. Every system is only a system. It is always aimed at taking the heart and soul away from the little person and submitting him to a system, so that he grows up like everyone else, fit for the system. This has been going on for centuries, discouraging human insight in the soul, keeping a person from unfolding in all his beauty, with his God-given soul. Given to him! To the master of all the universe."

"Hold on. Don't get worked up. Speak calmly and in normal language. What does there need to be so that children grow up with a free soul, as you put it? As masters of the Universe, happy, as God wanted it?"

"You have to stay out of their way and in their thoughts see them as God wanted. The desire of all the forces of Light in the Universe aims to convey all the best of the universe to every person born. Parents' duty is not to shut out the creating Light with artificial dogmas. For centuries, there have been disputes on Earth over which system might be wisest, but think about it yourself, Vladimir. Debate is possible where the truth has been shut out. One can discuss endlessly in fruitless debates as to what is in a room where the door is shut. All you have to do is open the door and it becomes clear to everyone. There is nothing to debate if each can see the truth."

"So who will ultimately open that door?"

"It is already open. Now you just have to open your soul's eyes and see, to understand."

"Understand what?"

"You were asking me about systems. About schedules and routines, you said that someone sets them forth in books for people. But just think. Who can speak more clearly than the Creator himself about his own creation?"

"The Creator doesn't say anything. He has been silent to this day. No one hears His words."

"There are many different meanings for one and the same words thought up by people. The Creator speaks with each patiently and with love through his imperishable and beautiful works. The rising of the sun and the glow of the moon, the soft fog and the gentle dew that plays with the sunbeam, which has gathered up the heavenly blue. There are many clear examples in the Universe. Look around. They touch you and everyone."

After that, if I were to set forth what Anastasia said about raising children, it would probably end up exactly opposite what most of us do.

I have already said that their entire ancient clan and Anastasia herself treat the newborn like a god or immaculate angel. They consider it inadmissible to interrupt the child's thought process.

Her grandfather and great-grandfather could spend a prolonged period of time observing little Anastasia enthusiastically examine a bug or flower or think about something. They tried not to distract her by their presence. They start interacting when the child himself pays attention and wants to interact. Anastasia said that at the moment when I was observing little Vladimir examining something in the grass, he was apprehending not only the bugs but the entire cosmos.

According to her, a bug is a more perfect mechanism than anything made by man, especially a primitive erector set.

A child who has the opportunity to interact with these perfect creatures himself becomes more perfect than from interacting with nonliving, primitive objects.

In addition, she says, each blade of grass and bug are interconnected with the entire universe and subsequently help the child comprehend the universal essence and himself in it, his purpose. Artificially created objects do not have this connection and set the wrong priorities and values in the child's mind.

To my comment that the conditions in which she and now our son was being raised differ greatly from those of the children in our civilized world, she replied as follows.

"Still in his mother's womb, and especially when he appears outwardly in the world as an apparently helpless child, the forces of universal Light rejoice, in the anxious hope that the newly arrived, immaculate, God-like person will be their good ruler and that the Light of Love will strengthen from the Earth.

"The Creator foresaw everything for him. The Universe is prepared, with its bug, tree, blade of grass, and outwardly fierce animal, to be a good nanny to this outwardly tiny little person, the Creator's great creation. In a surge of inspiration of light, the Creator creates man. The Earthly Paradise was created for him.

"No one and nothing is more powerful than the Creator's highest creation. His surge of love and inspiration of the light is already instantly part of each person born into the world.

"Of all the creatures of the vast Universe, only one thing can affect his destiny by coming between God, Heaven, his lucky star, and man."

"You mean to say there is a being more powerful than God in the world?"

"There is nothing more powerful in the world than Divine inspiration. But there is a being similar to him in power and capable of standing between God, the kindest teacher, and the angelic infant, man."

"Who is this? What is his name?"

"That being is the human parent."

"What? How can parents wish unhappiness on their own child?"

"Everyone wishes for happiness, but they have forgotten the way to it. This is why they commit violence, despite good intentions."

"Can you prove this?"

"You were talking about different systems of childrearing. Think about it. They vary. But the Truth is one. This alone speaks to the fact that many are being led down the wrong path."

"How can you determine the true system?"

"Try to look at life with an open soul. Clear your thoughts of fruitless bustle, and then you will see the world, the Creator of the Universe, and yourself."

"Where are ordinary eyes and where are the soul's? Who can sort that out? Speak more specifically about all this, and in simpler turns of phrase. You were saying that your speech would be like mine, but you're speaking differently. Your idiom throws me off. I can tell you speak differently."

"Only slightly differently. You will be able to remember the main thing. My speech is mixed with yours. Don't worry, don't be shy over your combinations of words. Your speech will be understood by many people. For many souls, it will open up what is hidden inside them. Let the poetry of the Universe come true in it."

"What does all this lead to? I don't want anyone to change my language."

"But weren't you insulted when a journalist called your language coarse? I and those who read can make it so that your coarse language sounds the best it can."

"All right, say that can happen, but for now I'd rather hear simple language. The problem is so complex, it's incomprehensible. How does this happen? Why is it that the parents shut off the road to happiness for their child—if, in fact, that's so? I have to be convinced of that first."

"Fine. If you want to be convinced, recall a scene from your own childhood."

"But that's hard. Not everyone can remember their infancy."

"Why? Isn't that because your memory, sparing your feelings, cuts off what is fruitless and empty? It tries to do away with any hint of despair and to erase what you experienced in your mother's womb as well. It senses the world's abuse through your mother's sufferings. If you like, shall I help you remember?"

"Sure, help me. What happened then and slipped from my memory?"

"You don't want to remember how you, master of the Universe, lay alone and helpless in your crib—swaddled, as if tied up. Smiling, your parents decided for you when you should eat and when you should sleep. You wanted to be thinking everything through and understanding it all. But all too often they tossed you up toward the ceiling, hooting. 'But why?' you barely had time to think. When you grew up a little, you saw many things that did not have words or souls around you, but you weren't allowed to touch them. You could only touch what was offered you. You reconciled yourself to this and tried to make sense of what was good about the toy presented to you. But you couldn't find anything in this absurd primitive thing that wasn't and couldn't be there. Still, you searched. You did not surrender completely. You touched, and you tasted, but in vain. You never did find the answer. That was when the one born to be ruler of the Universe faltered for the first time. You decided that you could not solve anything. You were betrayed by those who gave birth to you, and you betrayed yourself."

"You're talking about events from my life. Was I any different from other children?"

"I am speaking specifically about you and about those hearing me at this instant."

"You mean, there are many rulers of the Universe, if each of us was born that? How can that be? What kind of ruler is it, if many rule one and the same thing? Or should there be many universes?"

"The Universe is one—unified, indivisible—but each has his own space in it, and the whole depends on each person."

"So where is it, my space?"

"Lost. But you will find it."

"When did I manage to lose it?"

"When you gave up."

"What do you mean by 'gave up'? I was like all children."

"Like all children, believing in the goodness of those close to you—in your parents—you suppressed your desires more and more often, and you agreed that you were still insignificant and little and knew nothing.

"The sensations born in you by the violence against your childhood have accompanied you all through life, trying to be embodied afterward in your descendants. You went to school, like everyone else. There they told you how man was just an ape, how primitive he was, how he foolishly believed in God, how there was just one leader, who knew everything. His nation chose him. He alone was worthier and smarter than everyone. You enthusiastically recited poems glorifying that leader."

"I wasn't the only one who glorified whoever they told me to. I myself believed it then."

"Yes, many people recited poems. They vied with each other to see who glorified him best, and you strove to come in first."

"Everyone did."

"Yes, the entire system demanded that each shared the same aspirations. This is how each was violated. This is how the system strove to crush you in order to preserve itself.

"But after you'd lived part of your life, you suddenly found out that there were many systems and that they varied. Then you found out that man may never have been an ape, and the wisest of leaders was the most foolish of tyrants. You realized your generation had lived its life incorrectly. Now you had to live in another system.

"You became a parent. Without thinking, you gave your daughter over to the new system, as if to do her good—no longer thinking, as before. Perplexed, you don't shake your rattle. Having admitted the violence, you yourself commit violence against your own offspring. Superseding each other one millennium after the next, the different systems come and go, one after the other. Each has the same goal: to kill you, the ruler, and twist the wisest creator into a soulless slave. The system functions continuously through parents and through those who call themselves the wisest teacher. They formulate new teachings and thus new systems. If you look only a little closer, you can see clearly that it is moved by the same old intent: to separate you from God, to stand between you and God, and to force you to try to live and work for yourself, for you and God. This is the essence of any system, and you, Vladimir, have asked me to create another. I could not satisfy your request. Look around you. Try to comprehend with just your soul."

"Tell me, Anastasia, what about our son? Living in the wild taiga among the beasts, he hasn't seen even a little violence?"

"Violence and fear are unknown to him. He is gaining more and confidence that everything is subordinate to man and that man is responsible for everything."

"But isn't it violence, at least a little, when a bear licks his soiled bottom after his nap? Our son fell on his tummy when the bear licked him. When he started crawling again, she licked him a second time, and he fell again. I could see that he didn't like that washing. That's why he grabbed the bear by the snout, so she would stop pushing him with her tongue."

"And the bear immediately stopped licking him. A little later, he will understand the significance of this procedure, but right now he takes it for the bear's play. He himself is playing with the bear, and he wants her to chase him."

"You said man is the wisest in the Universe, but our son is being raised by wild animals. This isn't normal. On television, they told the story of a man who had fallen among wolves as a baby. When he grew up and people caught him and returned him to civilization, he couldn't talk like a human for a long time. He seemed mentally retarded."

"For our son, all the beasts around are not teachers but good nannies, clever, and sincerely in love with him. There is no doubt they are prepared to give their lives in an instant for their little man."

"Did it take you long to train them like that? Did your grandfather and great-grandfather help you?"

"Why train them? The Creator did all this long ago.

"But how could He predict everything in advance, teach every last animal what to do and at what moment? In the glade, when I was watching our son, he noticed the squirrels and liked one of them. He reached out to it, smiled, and said 'e-e-e-eh.' The squirrel dashed toward him—the very squirrel he had liked. Vladimir played with it, took its paw, and stroked its tail. How could the Creator have predicted that situation and taught the squirrel?"

"The Creator is wise. He did everything in a much simpler and more brilliant way."

"How?"

"Someone who lacks aggression, self-interest, fear, and the many dark thoughts that enter later emanates the Light of Love. It cannot be seen, but it is stronger than the light of the Sun. Its energy is life-giving. The Creator made it so that only man possesses this great ability. Only man! He alone is capable of warming everything alive. This is why everything alive is drawn to him.

"Our little Vladimir noticed the squirrel, rested his gaze on just one, focused his attention on it, and his warmth went out to that squirrel. It felt the warmth and rushed to the source, and it liked playing with him. Our son can summon any animal this way.

"Thanks to the Creator, all newborns have these abilities, when they are in a dimension of Love and nothing has yet destroyed this wonderful ability.

"The dimension of Love originates in the mother's womb and afterward only expands. Only man can spoil or improve the dimension of Love.

"Here my grandfather was training an eagle. You heard that. In this way, he brought something new into the dimension. From earliest times, my forefathers, my fathers and mothers, have striven to do this. Tomorrow will be an unusual day, and you will see what happens. Tomorrow will be an important day for the future."

15. A Bird for Knowing the Soul

The next day, when we arrived at the glade, again without being noticed, Anastasia and I observed our young son's engrossing play. The wolf lay at the edge of the glade and watched keenly as well. The wolf's cubs were playing next to it. I noticed that from time to time Vladimir would put his finger in his mouth and suck it, which all babies do for some reason. I knew that parents have to do whatever it takes to distract the child from this habit. Wrap his hands in diapers or put a pacifier in the child's little mouth.

I told Anastasia this, and she replied, "Don't worry. There is great benefit in this. Our son is licking the pollen from his fingers."

"Pollen? What kind?"

"Flower and grass pollen. He is touching the grasses and flowers. Sometimes bugs crawl over his hand, and they have pollen on their feet, too. Look, he frowned and took his finger out of his mouth. That means he didn't like the pollen of some grass. Now he's bowed his head and is trying to put a flower in his mouth and taste it. Let him. Let him taste the Universe."

"The Universe and a little flower! How do they connect? Or are you just speaking figuratively?"

"Everything living in the world has a universal connection."

"But how? Where? Where do you see that connection? What instrument can register it?"

"No instrument is needed. A soul is. Then you can understand and see what is visible every day, many times every day."

"What can be seen with the soul and then understood, for example?"

"Take the Sun. It is far away, a universal planet, and when it rises, its ray touches a flower—and the flower opens joyfully. How far they seem from each other—that huge heavenly body and the very little flower—but they are connected. They cannot get along without each other."

Suddenly Anastasia fell silent and looked up. So did I, and I saw a large eagle circling above the glade. I'd seen one more or less like that at the zoo. It descended steadily in circles, lower and lower, until it suddenly touched the ground with its talons a couple of meters from the baby, ran a few steps from the flight's inertia, flapped its wings, and stood in the glade, proud.

The wolf went on the alert. Its fur stood on end, but it did not attack the eagle, which strutted around the glade.

The baby got all excited. He sat down on his bottom and—the foolish child!—reached out to the frightening bird.

Stepping slowly on its talons, the eagle came right up to him. Its head with its crooked beak hung over the child's head.

The child, not sensing any danger at all, began touching the eagle's feathers and talons. He slapped the eagle's chest and smiled.

The huge beak touched the little head, once, twice, as if it were searching for something in it. Then the eagle suddenly stepped aside from the child, spread its wings, and flapped them, rising slightly above the grass, and came back to earth. The baby reached out to the huge, menacing bird and called it with his sounds: "e-eh," "e-e-e-e-eh."

And all of a sudden the eagle went past the child, made a running start, and took off. It circled low over the glade, sped downward, and picked up the baby by the shoulders with his talons in flight.

But its talons did not dig into his body.

The eagle put their sharp tips under his arms and began circling low over the glade, flapping its wings, trying to rise above the earth with the baby.

The baby kicked his little legs as they dragged through the grass, sometimes lifting just a little above the earth, his eyes wide and sparkling with excitement. Then—they took off! When they were in sync, when the child's kicking coincided with the eagle flapping its wings, they rose a meter above the grass.

Gaining height as it circled, the eagle bore the baby, but the baby wasn't crying out, and they were flying, rising together into the blue.

The eagle had already lifted him to the tops of the tall cedars and was still climbing.

Struck dumb with surprise, unable to speak, I grabbed Anastasia's hand.

She looked up, unable to tear her eyes away, and whispered softly to herself, "You are still strong. Wonderful. You may be old, but you are still strong. Your mighty wings. Fly! Fly even higher!"

And the eagle, carrying the tiny child's little body in its talons, described circles and rose higher and higher into the heavenly blue.

"Why is this punishment of the child necessary? Why subject him to this danger?" I shouted at Anastasia, as soon as I recovered from my shock.

"Please don't worry, Vladimir. The eagle's ascent is not as dangerous as the airplane you fly on."

"What if it lets go of the child high up?"

"It would never even dream of such a thing. Relax. Don't produce fear or doubt in your thoughts. The eagle's flight bears great significance in awareness for our son. The eagle has lifted our child above our earth."

"What significance other than superstition? It's certain that man shouldn't interfere in the great creations. Here I agree. That flight was not foreseen. You yourself, your grandfather taught the bird to do that—out of some superstition, more than likely. Why else? The risk makes no sense!"

"When I was little, I too rose high up with this eagle. I could understand only a little then, but it was very very interesting and unusual. The glade seemed small from high up. And the vast, large Earth appeared. How vivid it all was, and I remembered this unusual experience for a long time, forever. When I was a little older—three already—my great-grandfather asked me this question one day:

"'Tell me, answer me, Anastasia, do the animals like it when your hand caresses and pets them?'

'"Yes, all of them. They even wag their tails because they like petting very much. The grasses, the flowers, and the trees all like it, but they don't all have tails to wag and show me how nice it is when my hands pet them.'

"'You mean everything wants to know your arm's embrace?'

"'Yes, everything that lives and grows, little and big both.'

"'Does the big Earth want your petting, too? Did you see the Earth and how big it is?'

"I have remembered the vivid picture with the eagle since I was a baby. I knew the Earth's size at first hand. So I answered my great-grandfather without hesitation.

"'The Earth is big, and its edge can't be seen. But if everyone wants petting, that means the Earth does, too. But who can embrace the whole Earth? It's so big that even your arms aren't enough to embrace the whole Earth, Granddad.'

"My great-grandfather flung his arms out to the sides, looked at them, and confirmed that, agreeing with me.

"'Yes, even my arms aren't big enough to embrace the whole Earth. But you said the Earth wants petting like everything else?'

"'Yes, it does. Everyone wants petting from man.'

"'Anastasia, now you must embrace the whole Earth. Think, how can you do that?' My great-grandfather left.

"I often thought about how to embrace the Earth. But I could not think of anything. I knew my great-grandfather would not talk to me, I would not hear a question from him, until I was able to solve the problem, so I tried.

"But more than a month passed. The problem was not getting solved. Then one day I gave the wolf a kindly look, from a distance. It was standing at the other end of the glade.

"The wolf suddenly wagged its tail under my gaze. Then I began noticing how all the little beasts rejoice when you looked at them with joy and tenderness. How far away or how big they are did not matter. Joy visited them as well from your gaze or when you thought of them with love. I realized they felt just as good as they did before from your hand, when you petted them. Then I also realized . . . There is the me with hands and feet, but there is also a larger me than I can show with my hands. And this large and invisible me is also me. This is how each person is made, as am I. And this greater me could embrace the whole Earth.

"When my great-grandfather came, I told him, ablaze with joy.

"'Look, dear Granddad, look. The nice animals rejoice not only when I embrace them with my hand but also when I look at them from far away. My invisible me embraces them, so it can embrace the whole Earth, too.

"'I will embrace the Earth with my invisible me! I am Anastasia. There is the little me and there is the big me. But I still don't know what to call myself and the other one. But I'll think about the right way to call myself, and when I do, I'll answer everything for you, dear Granddad. Will you talk to me again then?'

"My great-grandfather spoke to me immediately.

"'Call the second you your soul, dear. Your soul. Safeguard it and use it, vast as it is.'

"Vladimir, tell me, how old were you when you first were aware of and sensed your soul?"

"I don't remember exactly," I replied, and I wondered whether I had ever known my own soul and whether others knew theirs, and at what age and to what degree. Perhaps we simply talk about the soul without feeling ourselves one with it, without thinking about our second, invisible self. How important was it to sense all this, and to what end?

The point moving up above quickly started getting bigger. The eagle, circling, was descending over the glade. When he was circling below the treetops, I saw the child's flushed little face and his little eyes glittering with excitement. His arms were spread out to the sides and he was moving his little fingers in time with the wing-flapping of this unusual bird. When the little legs touched the earth and started kicking on the grass, the eagle's talons unclenched. The child fell, somersaulted on the grass, and quickly got onto all fours, then sat down and turned his head. He was searching for his new friend.

Tottering, the eagle walked away from the baby but fell over on its side. About ten meters from the child, the eagle lay rather awkwardly on the grass and had thrown one wing back. It was breathing heavily and its head was bowed toward the grass.

The baby saw it, smiled, and crawled toward it. The eagle tried to get up to meet the child but once again collapsed on its side. In two leaps the wolf, teeth bared maliciously, was between eagle and baby.

Anastasia whispered agitatedly, "How perfect and strict are Your laws. You gave man everything from the beginning, Creator. The wolf is obeying your laws, but I feel sad, very sad for the eagle."

"What's happening? Why is the wolf aggressive and angry?" I asked Anastasia.

"The wolf won't let the eagle get close to Vladimir now. He thinks the bird is sick, since it's collapsed on its side. He might attack it to drive it from the glade. Vladimir should not see an attack. He wouldn't understand now. Oh dear. . . . What should I do?"

At this, the eagle suddenly shook its wings, stood firmly on its feet, tossed its head back proudly, and clicked its ominous beak twice. The eagle walked, confident and proud, toward the baby. The wolf seemed to calm down. It stepped aside but did not go far, prepared at any moment to leap. Unblinking, it watched what was happening.

The child touched the huge bird first on its beak and then started pulling on its wing feathers, smacking its wing, and demanding or asking something, repeating, "E-eh," "a-ah."

The crooked beak touched the top of the child's head and his shoulders, which had marks from his talons.

Then bowing his head to the ground, the eagle picked some kind of small flower with its beak and placed it in the child's little mouth, which never closed, like a fledgling's, while producing its sounds. The eagle fed the little person as if he were its own fledgling but once again tottered off. The malicious wolf prepared to leap. Suddenly, the eagle took a running start . . . a flap of its wings . . . liftoff!

It rose higher and higher and then abruptly went into a power dive toward the glade, pulling up a meter and a half off the ground, leveling off, and soaring up again. The baby waved to it, reached, called out, and laughed with his toothless mouth.

Anastasia, following the eagle continuously, whispered agitatedly, "There's no need. You did everything well, and you are healthy—I know it. You are not ill. Rest now, rest. Thank you! I believe it. I believe you are healthy! You are just a little old. Rest!"

The eagle performed its complicated pirouette one more time, and so that his talons plucked some grass, and still it did not stand up, did not push off of the ground, but flapping its wings mightily was able to rise in the air after ripping out a clump of grass with its claws. It made a circle, dropped the grasses on the child, and began climbing higher and higher into the sky. Anastasia continued to follow it steadily. Even when it turned into a dot, she kept watching the eagle. For some reason, I too kept watching as the dot moved away from the glade—at first simply climbing, then turning abruptly to the side, away from the glade. Suddenly the point started toward the ground, and soon it was clear that one or the other wing was being forced open by the wind, not because of the bird's intentional efforts.

It wasn't flapping its wings or soaring; it was simply falling. Its wings fluttered in the wind and were forced open by the wind.

Anastasia cried out.

"You died in the sky, above! And there you remained. You did everything you could for man. Thank you. . . . Thank you for the heights, my old teacher."

The eagle kept falling and above it, two other young eagles circled.

"Your fledglings, stronger now. You did everything for their future, too," Anastasia whispered to the old eagle, which fell somewhere beyond the glade, as if it could hear her, dead.

The two young eagles circled low over the glade. I knew they were its fledglings, and the baby waved to them.

"That's just great. Why this pointless sacrifice? Why is he like this? All this is for man? Why do they try so hard, Anastasia? Why do they sacrifice themselves like this?"

"For the light that emanates from man, for the grace that man can give them, and for the hope for their own children. Now the fledglings will see it. They will feel the light of life-giving love coming from a person! Look, Vladimir. Our son is smiling at the eaglets and they are flying toward him. The eagle may have understood that a particle of it would be in this light that comes from man, this light full of grace."

"They're prepared to sacrifice themselves for the light that comes from all people?"

"For all people who are capable of emitting a light full of grace!!!"

16. System

Anastasia left to get ready to feed our son, and I began walking through the forest in contemplation.

Two things upset me. I found them unpleasant. First, as a father, I had found absolutely no niche in which I could participate in our son's upbringing. It was clear that I wasn't going to find any toys more interesting than what he already had, nor was there any point in bringing him food.

Mother's milk, fresh flower pollen, and after that nuts and berries. Certainly packaged baby food could not replace natural food. Nevertheless, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the situation.

Anastasia had nothing, after all, but at the same time she needed nothing and even provided for the child freely.

Television ads for toys and children's accessories make it seem as though a child can't survive without them, but here they were pointless and, moreover, harmful. The child doesn't even need a crib here. Of course, a child won't freeze even at forty below if its crib is a bear. You don't need to launder sheets or diapers. The bear is clean and tidy, too, and each time rakes her claws through her groin like a comb. She rubs itself prone on the grass and then bathes. She comes out of the water and shakes. Spray flies in all directions. Then the bear lies down on her back, belly up, dries off, and again combs her groin.

Anastasia led me up to the bear and let me touch the spot where the baby slept. It was soft there, clean and warm.

But if material provision is not at all needed from me, as the father, I should certainly take part in my child's upbringing. Only how? Should I firmly demand an answer from Anastasia? After all, I met her conditions and didn't pick up the child. I didn't insist that the presents I brought be used.

My second disappointment was that I now could not satisfy readers' requests and lay out a detailed system for rearing children. The letters contain many questions about children, and at readers' conferences the audience always asks about children. I promised I would question Anastasia about this and would set forth in the next book the system by which her clan has raised children from generation to generation. And there you had it! She rejected any system in general and said furthermore that any system was harmful. That can't be, of course. There has to be at least one correct system among the harmful ones. And then I had an insight. In the readers' letters and at conferences, there hadn't been a single question about raising children addressed to me. Everyone asked Anastasia to answer, and if people trusted her more than our standard specialists—and more than me, naturally—then let her answer the questions they'd raised. It was she who had to do that. My job was to set down her answers in the book. As it was, I had plenty of concerns just with publishing the book.

Anastasia finished what she was doing and ran up, cheerful, her face flushed.

"I did everything. Our son is asleep. Were you bored here alone?"

"I was thinking."

"What about?"

"About the fact that there's nothing more to write in a book. I told you that people expect answers to specific questions. People are interested in childrearing. But what can I write about that? I can set out how you are with the child and how he lives. But what of it? In the conditions of our life, these methods are impractical. Not everyone can get a bear and wolf or train an eagle, and no one has a glade with pure pollen on the flowers, like here."

"But the bear is not the point, Vladimir, or the eagle. They are just a consequence of something more important which will find its way in any conditions."

"What's that?"

"The attitude toward the child and the thoughts surrounding the child. Believe and understand me. Christ can be born only by the mother who believes she has given birth to Christ, and if parents would treat their infant as they would Christ or Mohammad, the baby would follow their thought, too. He would try to become like that. People spend time in nature anyway, and whoever can apprehend and sense what the Creator has made, its meaning and purpose, will be able to create a light and happy world for his child."

"But sense it how? There needs to be some gradual way—a method."

"The only way to sense it is with your heart. Only the heart can understand."

"More specifically?"

"You wrote more specifically when you talked about the summer people, without even noticing it yourself. Anyway, why waste words? If the heart and soul are not open, words only become a slight breeze."

"Yes, I did write that. However, life hasn't changed."

"The shoots are barely noticeable, and not to each person right away—especially the shoots that have grown up in the soul."

"But if they can't be seen, why write? I'm writing, I'm trying. Yet far from everyone believes and understands what you're talking about. Some even doubt your existence."

"Think about it, Vladimir. Perhaps you can see the meaning in doubts."

"What meaning can there be in doubts?"

"Doubts slow resistance, which is why I exist for those I exist. We are together, side by side and in each other's hearts. Think again and you may apprehend it. I exist because they are. Their power is to create, not destroy. They will understand and support you and be by your side in their thoughts."

"No matter what you say, I'm sick and tired of listening to insults. Dispel the doubts of unbelievers. Go on television and show them what you can do," I asked Anastasia.

She replied, "Believe me, Vladimir. My flesh and the miracles I create will not shed the light of belief on unbelievers. They will only increase the irritation in those who do not like a world-view other than their own. Don't waste your energy on them. Everything has its turn, its dawn, and if you want, I will appear before people and appear in the flesh. But before that, I must let the woman who has unwillingly devoted her life to the kitchen see other joys as well, and let the light of love shine on the young mama left alone with her child. And the children! Understand, the children! I must put a stop to the violence against their soul from postulates."

"There you go—again with your dream! It hasn't been long since you dreamed your dream, and a little has been done—a book, pictures, and poems. But where are your global accomplishments for all people? Just don't talk about the light shoots growing in the human soul. Show me something I can actually touch. You can't? You can't!"

"I can."

"Then show me!"

"If I show you, I'll be tempting you to reveal prematurely only the burgeoning shoots, and who will protect them from the hailstorm of evil then?"

"You will."

"I would have to, correcting my error. Look."

Thanks to Anastasia, I had the chance to come into contact with a phenomenon even more unusual and stunning than I described in my previous books. In a single instant, the beautiful faces of people of different ages passed by—whether inside or beside me, I don't know—from various parts of the Earth.

This wasn't just a flickering. These people appeared as they went about their affairs, which were as beautiful as their faces. I could see their environment, the events occurring to or because of them, over the years of their life. They all lived now, in today's world. It would take many years to review this much information in a movie, but here, a single instant was enough. Once again, before me was Anastasia. She hadn't even changed position. She began speaking as soon as I saw her.

"Vladimir, did you think that your visions were just some kind of hypnosis? I beg of you not to think about the mystery that helped them appear before you, please. We were talking about children. About the main thing! Did you see any children? Will you tell me?"

"Yes, I did. Their faces were intelligent and good. The children were building a house themselves, a very handsome, large house. They were also singing as they worked. I saw a gray-haired man among them. He's a scholar, that man. He struck me as very wise, but he spoke oddly. He believes that children might be wiser even than those called scientists. The children treat the scholar both like an equal and, at the same time, with respect. In the vision, there were a lot of children. How oddly they study, and how strange what they dream about. But that is just a vision. What can you say about it? In real life, everything's completely different."

"You did see real life, Vladimir, and you will soon be convinced of this."

And indeed, that is exactly what happened. It did happen. I saw it!

17. Bring Back to Life the Vision of Happiness

Soon after my return from the taiga, I paid another visit to Gelendzhik for a readers conference on the book. The deputy head of the Krasnodar Region's Gelendzhik District took me to the forest school of the pedagogue Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin.

A narrow macadam road led from the highway to the forest and a small valley hidden between the mountains. The road soon gave out at an unusual two-story tower-house, still incomplete. A Russian folk song in children's voices poured from the unframed window openings. This was the house of my forest visions, but now it was absolutely real.

Without saying anything to anyone, I climbed over various building materials in order to touch this house with my own hands. When I got close I saw a girl of about ten nimbly climb down a ladder, walk up to a pile of river pebbles, and select stones which she put in a sardine tin. She climbed the ladder again, and I climbed after her toward the cascading, alluring singing. On the second floor, other children like her and a little older took the smooth stones from the container and cemented them to the wall, creating amazingly beautiful patterns. Two girls immediately wiped each stone attached to the wall carefully with wet rags. They were engrossed in what they were doing and in their song. There were no adults among them. Later, I learned that the foundation and every brick of this house had been laid by a child's hand. The children themselves had come up with the design and appearance of every corner of this house.

This was not the only such building in their little school-town. In this remarkable place, the children themselves built their buildings, their town, and their future, and they sang. Here a ten-year-old girl was capable of building a house, drawing magnificently, cooking, and knowing ballroom dances and the skills of Russian hand-to-hand combat.

The children of the forest school knew Anastasia. They told me about her themselves. Three hundred children from different towns in Russia study at this school.

At this school they complete the full course of high-school mathematics in one year and study three languages simultaneously. They are not selecting or producing prodigies here. They are simply allowing what is already inside the children to unfold.

Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin's school is under the Russian Ministry of Education and is free. The school doesn't advertise, but it has no vacancies. There are twenty-five hundred applications for any place that the moment it opens.

It is hard to find words to describe the children's faces beaming with happiness. I went to this school immediately after the readers conference in Gelendzhik. I went with a small group of readers who had heard about my upcoming trip.

Among the readers was the amazing Natalia Sergeyevna Bondarchuk—an actress, film director, and board member of the Roerich Society. Magnificently knowledgeable about esotericism, she spoke at the conference about Roerich and esotericism. She spoke a lot more intelligently than I about Anastasia. Natalia Sergeyevna had her ten-year-old daughter Mashenka with her. After the conference they were supposed to travel to a film festival in Anapa, to join Mashenka's beloved grandmother, the famous actress Inna Makarova. But Mashenka's words rang out like thunder, like a call to insight. "Mama, please, just three little days. Just three! While you're at the festival, make it so I can stay at this school." And pampered Mashenka did stay at the school for three days, to her mother's great amazement, who said sadly, "We clearly are failing to give our children something. Even loving them, we are unconsciously robbing them."

There was a cameraman with Natalia Sergeyevna, and he filmed the children of the Shchetinin school talking about their interaction with Anastasia and about their understanding of life. I will quote here a conversation with children busy at the house-tower construction site. Natalia Sergeyevna and I asked the children questions.

"One gets the impression that each brick of your house is filled with light energy of great power."

"Yes, that's true," an older, red-haired girl replied. "A lot depends on the people who touched them. We did all this with love. We tried through our souls to bring to the future only the good and joyful."

"Who designed this building, columns, drawings?"

"This is our joint idea."

"You mean, everyone working here only seems to do his own job, but in fact this is a shared idea?"

"Yes, we gather every evening around the fire where we think through and model the coming day. We think of the images there will be in our house.

"Some of the students here also act as architects, and they elaborate and unify the joint work."

"What's the inherent image of the building we're all in right now?"

"The image of Svarga, the heavenly fire principle. You can see that here from the symbols and the stone amulets."

"Can you pick out a head or leader among you?"

"We have a director, but mostly it's our shared thought working here—the lava, as we call it."

"Repeat that. Thought is lava?"

"Yes, our state, image, desire."

"Does everyone here work with satisfaction, does everyone smile, do everyone's eyes shine, is everyone cheerful?"

"Yes, this is our life because we're doing what we want, can, and love to do."

"You said that each stone has its own pulse—a rhythm, right?"

"Yes, and it beats once a day."

"Is it like this for all stones or do some do it twice?"

"The pulse of all stones beats once a day."

"Don't you think your house looks like a temple?"

"A temple isn't a shape, but a state. For instance, cupolas—they only help you enter into a certain state. Form is shaped by emotion. It's no accident the shapes of a cupola and tent came to us—the reach for the sky and the descending Divine Grace."

"This house, where each stone has been laid by a good hand—can it heal?"

"Naturally."

"It really does heal?"

"Yes, it does."

I looked more closely at the girls laying out the ornament of river pebbles on the chamber's wall. The girls, who were wearing quite simple, unfashionable clothing, were beautiful in an unusual way, and I thought, "Where will we meet our future wives? On dance floors, at parties, at resorts. We see our future wives made up and stylish, attracting us with their slender legs and charming figures. That's what we marry. Later, when the makeup is washed off, you look, and sitting in front of you is a grumbling hobgoblin who demands your attention and love. What happiness is there in living your whole life with a hobgoblin? What can you talk about with her? Furthermore, she demands material support from you. Oh well, I was unlucky. But maybe that's exactly what we deserve. Of course it is. We have to be complete idiots to marry makeup and long legs! The lucky ones will get these little girls who are creating the wall ornament for wives. They will be able to build a handsome house, cook food with love, know foreign languages, be wise, intelligent, and beautiful when they grow up, and without makeup they will be even more beautiful. Of course, many will want to take a woman like that for a wife, but who will these girls agree to marry?" This was the question I asked the beauties in their simple clothes:

"Tell me, who would you like to marry? What should your husband be like? What qualities should he have?"

Without a moment's thought, the first girl replied, "Goodness and patience, and he should be someone who loves his homeland. Someone who has honor and dignity."

"What do you understand by 'honor'?"

"For me honor is in a single expression: I have the honor to be a Russian."

"But what is a Russian?"

"It is someone who loves his homeland. Above all, it is someone who stands up for his homeland and would never let it down—no matter what the moment, even the most difficult. He considers himself a part of Mother Russia."

"And will your children live for the homeland?"

"Yes!"

"That means your husband has to share that with you, right?"

"Yes!"

The second girl's answer to the question was as follows:

"He has to be someone capable of giving warmth and light to other people. If that comes from him, then the people around him will feel good, and so will our family. Someone rich in spirit, a healthy spirit, has incomparable wealth."

While the camera was on, no one asked the littlest girl a question, but later I did.

She replied, "Maybe all the best ones will be married by the time I grow up, but my husband will still be very nice, good, and happy. I'll make him like that myself. I'll help him like Anastasia does."

This is when I saw and understood that Anastasia was sharing her abilities with children. Why with the children of Shchetinin's school? Because Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin is a great wizard who has created and is continuing to create a dimension of Love, which will grow.

Right now, they're still small, dark blond Anastasias. But they'll grow up! They'll set out over the Earth creating the same kinds of oases until they fill the whole Earth with them.

As I stood in the second-floor chamber of this unusual house-tower and examined the ornament and drawings done by the children's hands but resembling masterpieces by the great artists, I sensed that I was in the greatest temple, full of the most light, and the most good, on Earth. This was probably because the house, each millimeter of which had been touched with love by a child's hand, was filled with incomparably more light energy than certain temples.

This got me thinking. Here we are, restoring destroyed temples and monasteries with modern technology and reinforced concrete construction, which is not that hard to do. We come into these temples with a sense of a duty fulfilled and begin asking, "Lord, give us your blessing," but we won't receive a blessing, because at that time God's attention will be devoted to the children building their unusual house-temple. He will worry that it will end in cement for the children, that there won't be enough brick and boards for the floor. And God will bless with love each person who helps them.

I couldn't resist the temptation to show these small shoots. I couldn't resist doing what Anastasia had feared, and here is what happened.

I was walking down a path by the kitchen tables that stood outside where children were working and suddenly felt a gentle warmth, as if someone had aimed a heat reflector at me. The warmth resembled what came from Anastasia when she looked and concentrated her gaze. Only this time it was quite weak. Nonetheless, I stopped and looked in the direction it was coming from. An eleven-year-old girl was sitting at the last table picking over rice. She looked at me and smiled. I sat down with her. I was so close to the gaze of her eyes, which burned with a blue light, that I felt even warmer.

"What's your name?" I asked her.

"Hello. My name is Nastya, short for Anastasia."

"So you can warm people with your gaze the way Anastasia does?"

"You felt it?"

"Yes."

Little Nastya possessed Anastasia's ability, albeit not in full, to warm a body with her gaze. Natalia Sergeyevna Bondarchuk walked over and sat at the table and the cameraman turned on his camera. Not at all embarrassed or stopping her work, Nastya started answering questions.

"Where do you get your knowledge and abilities?"

"From the stars."

"What have you realized communicating with the Siberian Anastasia?"

"It is very important to understand and love your homeland."

"Why is this very important?"

"Because the homeland is what our near and distant relatives created."

"Who are your parents? What does your father do?"

"My papa is a teacher. It's nice at the school where he teaches, but here is better."

"You live here like one big happy family. Are you forgetting your own parents?"

"Just the opposite. We love our parents more and more, and we send them good thoughts so they'll feel good."

As the camera ran, I very much wanted Nastya to show the skeptics what her warming gaze was.

I asked her, "Nastya, show all the people how you can warm with your gaze. There's the camera. Look into the lens and warm everyone watching."

"Everyone at once is very hard. It might not work for me."

But I kept insisting. I repeated my request, and the same exact thing started happening to Nastya that happened to Anastasia in the forest when by the strength of her will, at a distance, with the help of her ray, she rescued the man and woman from the criminals' torturing. I had described this scene in the first book.

Anastasia explained then, "This isn't in my power. This was preprogrammed, and not by me, and I can't intervene directly. They're stronger now."

Nonetheless, when I persisted and repeated my request, she carried it out, even while knowing she might perish.

After my persistent repeated request, little Nastya tried to carry it out. Two times in a row she took a deep breath and held it, shut her eyes for a while, and then began looking calmly into the camera's lens. The bewitched cameraman fell still. Suddenly, Natalia Sergeyevna Bondarchuk tore off her scarf and covered Nastya with it. She was the first to notice the child's body starting to vibrate and her face turning pale. I realized that I should not have repeated my request. There was no point wasting energy on unbelievers. This would only heighten the malicious opposition in them.

Adult visitors could not contain their desire to touch the children. They touched, hugged, and petted them like kittens. Why did I bring a whole group of these adults with me? After all, I knew that different kinds of commissions visited this school—delegations at various levels and simply individual people—to look, to satisfy their curiosity, to come in contact with the grace emanating from its residents—to touch and take without offering anything of themselves. Anastasia may have been right when she said, "While trying to take the grace of a holy place, think about what you can leave behind of yourself. If you have not learned how to emit light, why take it and bury it in yourself, as in a grave?" I too had come to this school out of curiosity. Thanks to Anastasia, Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin had received me. The children had already laid food out on the table and were feeding everyone who had come with me. We did not take only food from the table here. The fire in the children's vibrant little eyes gave us incomparably more, and what did we give them in return? Did we pat them on the head like patrons? I alone in the group, vexed with himself, moved off to one side and thought. All of a sudden Lena and Nastya, whom I already knew, came up and stood next to me.

"You have to relax," Nastya said softly. "Adults are always like this. They want to pet us and hug us. They think hugging is the main thing. But today you've been nervous since morning. Come to the glade with us and we'll tell you about Anastasia. I know what dimension she's in right now."

When we arrived at the glade, the cameraman, who had joined us, said, "Let's try to shoot an interview with the girls. There should be excellent footage. Look at the beautiful landscape, and no one is stopping us."

"Maybe we shouldn't. We've probably already tortured them with all our interrogating."

"But they'll be happy to talk to you. Visitors and journalists are not often allowed in at the school. But here we have this unique opportunity. It would be a shame to pass it up. Understand me as a professional."

I picked up the microphone and said to the girls.

"I need to interview you. I'm going to ask you questions and you answer them, if you don't object."

"If you need to, ask your questions," Lena answered, and Nastya added, "Of course we'll answer."

The girls stood side by side, straightened their long, dark blond braids, and looked me in the eye in anticipation of my question.

After two trite questions, I fell silent, suddenly aware that these kinds of trite, standard questions were asked of them by all the adults who visited, by the members of all the various commissions, and by the journalists. Meanwhile, the children could answer questions on a subject that not every adult would ever think about.

The Cossack hetman was right when he said, "My son has studied at this school all of three months, but I can already tell that I too need to learn something and quickly. Otherwise, I will look foolish next to him."

In general, don't we demean our children with silly questions, thereby suggesting to them that they aren't capable of more? I stood silently in front of the girls with the microphone and could tell from their faces that they were worried about me. They realized that I had stumbled and didn't know what to talk to them about.

Then I confessed and said honestly, "I don't know what to talk about with you, what question to ask."

At this, a perfectly comic situation came about. The cameraman and I stood there, two grown muzhiks, and before us were two little ones, energetically supporting each other. Without a second thought, they quickly explained to us how to do the interview and how to speak to another person.

"You have to relax. You have to know how to relax. The main thing is to speak sincerely. Speak about what's necessary, what excites you."

"Don't think about us. You need to think about the other person when you talk to him, but don't think about us if it's hard for you. Relax."

"Ask us questions from your heart. We'll be able to answer. Don't think about us."

"Until you can do that, why don't we tell you something ourselves."

They were walking across the glade, smiling, touching the grasses and talking. The depth of their knowledge of the universe, the purity emanating from their soul, and their eyes shining with goodness plunged us into a state of calm and confidence. The cameraman shot at a distance, without fussing over the change of plans. Later, I watched the video Natalia Sergeyevna gave me several times. I saw the little, blond-braided, white magi. They'll grow up! There are three hundred of them at this school.

I'm writing about this school not to try to prove anything to anyone but to gladden the hearts of those who have read my books and have felt and understood Anastasia.

If what I set out and how I set it out irritates you, you don't have to read it. I've already received plenty of criticism: for my expository style, for my grammatical mistakes, and for my supposedly commercial motives. Nonetheless I'm writing the next book now. If you don't like my books, better not read them. The events in the next book are more intense than in the previous ones, and the style isn't much better. It could wrack your nerves completely.

18. Academician Shchetinin

Who is he? We usually explain who someone is by laying out his biography and his service record and titles, but in this case, doing so makes no sense. The Bible says, "You will know them by their fruits." The fruits of Shchetinin are the children's faces beaming with happiness and the faces of the parents of the children studying at this school. So who is he then?

Natalia Sergeyevna Bondarchuk, not only a distinguished artist of Russia but also a board member of the Roerich International Center (a UN nongovernmental organization), said, "I have met many well-known advocates and teachers from various countries in the world, but nowhere have I been struck to the same degree as here. Here we may have come in contact with the great Sorcerer, but a sorcerer not because he knows the ancient Vedas. He knows what many of us do not."

I, too, would like to give my impression from my meetings with Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin. However, I'm not an education specialist, and my definitions will be imprecise. Therefore, I will try to convey without distortion what he himself said.

Natalia Sergeyevna, her cameraman, Mikhail Petrovich, and I were walking down the school corridor. In a large room not separated from the corridor by a wall, children of various ages sat around tables. They were all engrossed in something incomprehensible, and neither we nor the camera distracted them. Some of the children would get up occasionally, go out somewhere, and return. Sometimes they would walk up to racks with numbers hanging on the wall, or they might take a contemplative walk around the room. Some engaged in discussion, trying to prove or explain something to each other.

"Mikhail Petrovich, what's going on here?" Natalia Sergeyevna asked.

"Here you see basically an attempt to connect. If a connection does occur, the children can master the course of mathematics through high school in less than a year. That is their objective. This happens to the students who can connect with those who have this knowledge. What is important is how open their relations are. Their field-structured frames can download information from each other. Love at first sight, when people who love each other are on the same wavelength, is a well-known phenomenon. You haven't said anything yet, but he already understands. You see that everything is done here to set the children at liberty, free. Here they can calmly ask any question, stand up, go in. It is important to maintain relations.

"It is very important for a child to work on relations, and the same goes for whoever organizes the process. This is why we take our foot off the brake. As you see, we don't emphasize age. Ten-year-old Masha here is sitting next to fifteen-year-old Ivan Alexandrovich. Also here is a university student, Sergei Alexandrovich, although this year he will finish university."

"How old is the student finishing up university?"

"This year Sergei Alexandrovich will be eighteen."

"So he's graduating from the university at seventeen?"

"He's seventeen in this tribe, but we try not to use the concept of age. This is very important. Notice that here the teacher blends in with the pupils. True, this is a special group. Those who couldn't take part in constructing the buildings are here. Their objective is to master the course in mathematics through high school in order to convey their knowledge to those working now on the construction. This will happen, because they have engendered a system of intercoordinated integration elements.

"Our ancestral memory knows the structure of the cosmos and the ways of life in the cosmic dimension. Therefore, it is very important to block the notion that the children don't know something. If one of those explaining allows himself this thought, his pupils are not going to know. The main thing for the explainer is to enter into a relation with the pupil for solving the problem, and then the teaching will take care of itself, in order to focus attention on learning and memorization. Get rid of the notion that someone is teaching. By cooperating, they cease to feel that one of them is the pupil and one the teacher.

"To solve problems, essential knowledge is acquired, but in fact what is happening is remembering something forgotten. This is the reflex arch from Pavlov. You'll remember: stimulus—reaction. If there is a need, I decide.

"It is very important that what they do directly relates to the people around them. Right now, they are not studying for themselves, and this is very important. Instead, they are concerned with conveying what they have learned to others. The grade is not important for them. They realize that in a few days they are going to have to explain everything to the others.

"They are charged with the beginning of the learning process. A group is chosen for each. He observes how those to whom he is supposed to convey his knowledge work on the site, and he makes sure that his group doesn't fall behind the others. The motive—serving another person—has great significance. If they are studying anything, then it is to understand the soul, aspirations, and thoughts of another person. It's not the mathematics that's important here, but the person grasping the mathematics—not mathematics for its own sake, but mathematics for the sake of moving toward the Truth. The larger the 'for the sake of what' motive, the more successful the process of advancement in a field of knowledge.

"It is important to be in an atmosphere of sincerity, and there should be no insults or irritations. There is no such word here as 'wrong.' In the ancient Russian language there is no stopping of movement, no bad words. The ancient people of all nations do not mark any phenomenon with a bad word. It doesn't exist, there is no need to record it. The bad does not exist. If a group reaches an impasse, then they emphasize words about getting out of the impasse: turn right, left, go up, a suggestion of which way to go, and not a statement: You're in the wrong place. Today Russophobes blaspheme when they say, 'Express yourself in Russian,' by which they mean that obscene expressions are not Russian. Kobzev expresses this thought very accurately:

Our ancestors, the Slavs,

amid matters of great import

ever held utterances, speech

in special esteem.

"This is true. For those who work with us, the verbal range has to be deep, excluding random words that distract. Words warmed by feeling have great significance.

"The truth and the legacy are the spiritual. A child must subscribe to the natural cosmic process of eternal self-reproduction. Then you have given the child eternity, joy of life, true existence—not transitory forms. 'Here, son, I bought you a shirt, pants, shoes. . . . Now I can die.' But what have you given your son? After all, your gifts last only one season. If only you had given your son your worthy name, your honor, your cause, your friends, a flourishing nation! When you have given him an understanding of the Truth of existence and a life of wisdom, then you can say, 'Son, I have given you the most important thing, and you will be happy. You will buy shirts and build houses. You now know how this is done.'"

Listening to Shchetinin's statements and observing his interactions with the children, I noticed that they were similar to what Anastasia had said about children, and I was amazed. How could a solitary hermit in the Siberian taiga and this gray-haired academician be thinking identically or nearly identically? Why is he talking to me at all? Why did he receive me so warmly, lay his table, feed me, take me around the school and show me everything? Why? Who am I when it comes to pedagogy? No one. A former mediocre student. But naturally, once again she has made an effort."

Of course, I ended up at Academician Shchetinin's school thanks to none other than Anastasia. But Shchetinin and I didn't talk about her. We talked about all kinds of ordinary topics, and every time I visited, we went to see how construction was going on the unusual house-temple. About my book he said briefly, "This is a very accurate book." That was it.

A few days after I had been at the school with the group of people from the conference, showed them Nastya, and asked her to warm them all with her gaze, the following happened. Mikhail Petrovich and I were walking down the school corridor, and I was looking for her, searching the way everyone intuitively searches for whatever emits light.

"Nastya has gone out," Shchetinin said suddenly. "I'm trying to restore her strength now. It's working, but it's hard. Restoring it takes time."

"What do you mean gone out? Why? She's strong. What happened?"

"Yes, she is strong. But the emotional outburst on her part was very powerful.

I was standing in Shchetinin's office, angry and irritated at myself. Why did I insist? Who was I trying to please by proving this? After all, Anastasia had said, "My flesh and the miracles I create will not shed the light of belief on unbelievers. They will only increase the irritation in those who do not like a world-view other than their own."

"That's it! Enough," I thought. "I'm not going to try to prove anything anymore or write anything. Enough! I'm done writing."

I thought this to myself, but Shchetinin suddenly said, "You mustn't stop writing, Vladimir."

Then he walked up to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and looking into my eyes began to sing. The gray-haired academic hit high notes, but more amazing was the fact that he was singing a melody similar to the one Anastasia had sung in the taiga.

Heading toward the school entrance, in the hall where the children were moving to and fro, I saw Nastya sitting on a chair and went up to her. She stood up, raised her head, and in an instant her slightly weary eyes began to shine, bestowing light and warmth. I immediately realized that she was giving out her energy and warmth and would give it all, sparing nothing, in order to help the other, Siberian Anastasia and her dream, which had now become their shared dream. What on earth was going on? What was the power of this dream? What were they for? . . . With total devotion. . . . And this childish gaze . . . Is one life enough to be worthy, even partly, of such a gaze?

I said to her, "Well, hello, Nastya," but to myself: "You mustn't, Nastya. Thank you! Forgive me."

"I'll see you out," she said. "Lena and I will see you to your car."

Until the car made a turn, I watched the small, diminishing little figures standing at the head of the drive, by the house-tower, under a streetlamp. They did not wave in farewell. Each was holding one arm up, her palm directed toward the receding car. I knew because Shchetinin had explained this to me before. This gesture meant, "We are sending you our rays of goodness. May they be with you wherever you are." Once again came the all-consuming thought: "What do I need to do to become someone worthy of your rays?"

19. What to Agree With, What to Believe?

My meeting with the pedagogue Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin and my acquaintanceship with his amazing school took place after my second visit to Anastasia. After my visit to his school, I had practically no more doubts regarding Anastasia's views on childrearing with respect to her interactions with our son. At the time in the taiga, though, everything in me rose up against her. I didn't want to believe her. Or at least, I didn't want to believe everything.

I'm writing these lines and imagining many of those reading them saying—some out loud, some under their breath, "How long can he go on not believing? After all, he has had occasion to be convinced that she's right many times, and nonetheless, like a moron, he can't accept a new phenomenon."

My daughter Polina was sent the video from the readers' conference, and I watched a scholar from Novosibirsk by the name of Speransky say directly from the stage, "Megre cannot fully grasp what Anastasia is saying. He doesn't have what it takes to grasp something like that."

I'm not insulted. On the contrary, everything he said was very interesting. The audience listened with bated breath, and thanks to him I was able to grasp that Anastasia is Essence, a self-sufficient substance.

What's there to say about me? I've always done something else, but why were those fascinated by science silent about the Earth and children, or at least they spoke softly, practically squeaking? Even children write in their letters to me to pay more attention to what Anastasia says and does.

But I assure you, esteemed readers, I now treat her much more attentively. However I can't help but argue with her and doubt. I can't because I don't want to feel as if I and our entire society are total idiots. I don't want to believe that we are following the path of degenerates.

This is why I keep trying to find some justification for our actions, or some reason why her world-views don't fit our contemporary world. I will keep trying to do this as long as there's strength in me. After all, if I don't, I will have to admit not only the truth of what she says but also the horrifying situation in which you and I find ourselves today. If we admit hell's existence, then we ourselves are building the road to hell. Let's take just childrearing. I will talk about myself, although this concerns everyone like me, and I think there are many of them.

I was a mediocre student, and my father punished me for every bad grade. He punished me not only by forbidding me to go around with my buddies or to buy another toy, but more harshly. There was also fear—fear greater than a blow of his belt. I was constantly afraid of something greater. I would go to the blackboard as if it were the gallows. I've torn pages out of my school record book.

School years are marvelous,

With book, notebook, song,

How quickly they fly by,

You can't bring them back.

Do they really fly by without a trace?

No, no one will ever forget

Their school years.

Do you remember the song that says how marvelous our school years were? But let's remember, especially those of us mediocre students—the majority after all—the joy with which we flung our detested book bag as far away as possible when vacation began.

How can school years be marvelous for a child for whom movement is physiologically essential, but whom they order to sit almost without moving for a full forty-five minutes, in a strictly prescribed pose, both hands resting on his desk? Someone phlegmatic and sluggish can withstand that, but what about someone by nature mobile, temperamental, and impulsive? How is it for him? Nevertheless, everyone is treated alike, like robots, without distinction: sit, or else.

The little person sits and tries to last for forty-five minutes, but after a ten-minute break there are another forty-five minutes, and so on for a month, a year, ten years. His only choice is to make peace with it, but most of all, to make peace with the fact that he's going to have to make peace with something his whole life. He has to live the way he should, marry the way he should, go to war, since that's the way things are, and unswervingly believe what he's told.

It's easy to control those who agree to make their peace. Of course, it's good for them to be physically healthy, for various jobs. But they start drinking and using drugs. However, doesn't a person drink and become a drug addict because he's trying to break out, if only for a moment, of the cage of universal subordination to something his soul and heart can't understand? The school years do not fly by quickly. They drag on in forty-five-minute installments of torture.

Our forefathers, grandfathers, and fathers believed, as we do now, that this is how it should be, that the child doesn't understand. The violence against him is for his own good. Consequently, our children—the Vanechkas, Kolyas, Sashas, and Mashenkas—also go to school, and today, like our ancestors ages ago, we too believe that we are sending them for their own good, that they are there to seek knowledge and Truth. Let's think about this.

Let's recall our prerevolutionary period. As children, our great-grandfathers sat at their desks. They were taught Divine law, history, and how people are supposed to live. The strict teacher takes his ruler and for their own good strikes those who haven't memorized and those who don't want to perceive the world-view as presented.

Then came the revolution, and in an instant, adults admitted that the schools had filled children with terrible rot. They cast out all the old from the classrooms and instilled the children with the new: Divine law is utter nonsense. Man developed from the ape. Wear a red tie, line up, recite poems, and praise communism, over and over. So the Pioneers praised and recited, at the top of their lungs, and honored adults. "Thank you for our happy childhood, oh, native land." Once again, those who did not try hard enough were deprived, beaten, and publicly condemned.

Suddenly, in our age, before our eyes, new directives were handed down. Throw out the ties. We'd been struck by a red plague. Communism is utter terror and hypocrisy. Man developed from the ape? That is stark raving madness. We were born from someone else. The market! Democracy! There's the Truth!

The distinction between Truth and false dogma is not entirely clear. But children are back to sitting at their desks without budging, and the strict teacher stands at the blackboard.

Children have suffered from spiritual sadism for centuries—as if a fierce beast, invisible and terrible, were trying to drive everyone born back into some mysterious cage as quickly as possible. The beast has loyal soldiers. Who are they? Who spiritually mocks each child as it comes into this world? What is their name? What is their profession? Should we simply believe that their name is schoolteacher or parent? Even educated parent? I can't believe this right off. What about you?

Today, teachers are not paid on time, and they strike: "We aren't going to teach the children." Tell me: is it good or bad when a person is not paid? Of course it's bad. A person has to live on something, after all. But what if the strikers include true spiritual sadists? Tell me, is it good or bad that those who humiliate your child don't get paid?

Generally speaking, the teachers' strikes have led me to some interesting thoughts. Private schools have sprung up in the big cities, and the organizers of these schools have culled the most gifted teachers and pay them a decent salary—about twice the usual. Not every parent can put their child in a school like that, even if he can pay the tuition, because there aren't enough schools like that. And why not?

The reason is simple: there aren't enough good teachers. The organizers can't find them.

If teachers can't be found even for a good salary, who is striking? You have to believe me that in no way do I want to single out certain teachers from the full cross-section of our society. In speaking about them, I have myself in mind as well. After all, I am among them. I am a parent, and I forced my daughter to study what they were teaching her in school. Later, at the beginning of perestroika, I asked, "What is your history teacher telling you these days?" She replied, "The teacher talks but it's as if he's not saying anything." What could I tell my daughter? Here is what I did say: "All right, that's enough philosophy. You just study."

Now we have strikes, but only of teachers? Doctors are striking, as well as miners and scientists. The strikers write on their signs, "The government must go, the president must go!" Those who are striking believe it's all logical. No salary means that the regime hasn't met its obligations.

Today, such demands seem logical, but what about tomorrow? That's another question. Tomorrow it might turn out that the government and president were standing on the side of light, to save the Earth from invaders and vampires. They may have had no inkling of this themselves, under the hail of ill-wishers, risking their power, but they were not giving money to sadists, the destroyers of human souls and flesh and the Earth. And they looked like hysterics before all the martyrs.

Martyrs today, from the standpoints and assumptions of today. Tomorrow, though, new postulates will come, and who will look like what is as yet unclear.

Anastasia says, "Each chooses his own wrong path. Retribution always comes not later but in this life. With each new day, with each sunrise, it is given for each to grasp the truth of his path, and you are given a choice! You are free to choose where to go. You are a human being! Understand your essence. You are a human being born to live in paradise.

I ask, "Where is Paradise? Who led us into this swamp?"

She replied, "Man creates everything for himself."

You must understand what she is also saying. She is asserting that the time has come to accelerate certain universal processes. Those whose way of life does not correspond to the natural laws of being will be subjected to trials—first in the most ordinary way, understandable and obvious. These trials for them are like a good signal for understanding their deeds and path. Those who cannot grasp this will know more misery, and then they will have to leave life so that they can be reborn healthy in ten thousand years.

It turns out, according to her, that the miners who tore at the Earth's veins, the doctors of modern medicine who invaded genetic engineering, and the scientists who invented the technology of death have already received their first signal: society rejects them and they are experiencing material dissatisfaction. Those who have material goods today suffer even more from moral dissatisfactions, subconsciously aware that their activities do harm rather than good. I tried to object, explaining that coal was needed for factories, but she said, "Which factories? The ones that smoke, burn the air intended for people to breathe, and pour the metal to make submachine guns and bullets?"

In other words, she asserts that the system we have created of artificial life support is so imperfect that all its accomplishments are on the verge of cataclysm.

Under big cities, they have replaced natural underground rivers and pure springs flowing from the depths with a system of pipes and faucets that cannot renew themselves and will eventually decay, and that carry this decay in the water to the faucets for each of us.

Anastasia also says, "The time will come when humanity will understand. The greatest scientist will go to see the grandmother in her garden. Starving, he will ask her for a tomato for nourishment. That grandmother does not need the scientist and his fleeting creations today. She neither knows nor wants to know about them. She lives peacefully without the scientist. But he cannot survive without her. He is in an illusory, barren world that leads nowhere. She is with the natural land and the entire Universe. The Universe needs her, not him."

I tried to object, saying that if we didn't produce weapons but only worked the land, we would become weak. Technologically developed powers that did have weapons would easily conquer us.

"They will have a problem protecting themselves from their own weapons and the social cataclysms they engender.

"Yes, they will abandon it all. They will run to the vegetable gardens with their submachine guns, to our peasant women, your summer people, but the women won't have submachine guns to repulse them."

"But will they ever get that far? What do you think? Won't they fight each other over the peasant women?"

In the end, if you don't argue with Anastasia, if you treat what she says with trust, then you have to admit you're a total idiot, the worm in the apple. No one wants to admit that!

So while understanding perhaps not everything in Anastasia but at least something, I try to justify what we have created. If I can't find sensible justifications and must admit the insolvency of our path, what then? Let's give this some thought. Should we let children grow up without our social and cultural postulates? Should we ask children where and how we should proceed?

Anastasia talks about how children we don't spiritually cripple will find an opportunity to save both themselves and us, or rather, to regain the paradise originally given us.

Everything is and isn't simple in our world, it turns out. Tell me why, why not disseminate the experience of Shchetinin's school? Why not have at least one such school in every provincial seat? It turns out not to be that simple. I asked Shchetinin to make such a school in Novosibirsk. He gave his consent. But who would help with the building? That is a question.

I asked Shchetinin, "What if people are found in other cities and they organize a base. Could you put at least one school like this in each of the different cities?"

"You can't solve everything right away like that, Vladimir."

"Why?"

"We won't find that many teachers for the school."

Again that thought. What is this business about no teachers? Who's striking then?

Academician Shchetinin's school is public, not private. It's a free school of the Russian Ministry of Education. But why is it in the mountains, in a gorge? Why? And why did somebody try to shoot Shchetinin? Why was his brother killed? Why are the Cossacks helping protect it? Who hates it that much? Whom does it bother?

I was invited to the State Duma's Education Committee. They had read Anastasia and The Ringing Cedars of Russia. In both the State Duma and the Education Committee, there were people who shared and understood what Anastasia had said. Good people. I told them about Shchetinin, and they knew him well and spoke of him with respect.

"Then what's the matter?" I asked. "Why has nothing changed in the country's education? Children continue to suffer, go to the blackboard as if to the gallows, and sit at their desks without moving.

The answer saddened me. Unfortunately, it's tragic for those who are still children today. It's a paradox, but it is the teachers themselves who have become the insurmountable obstacle, as I understood when I heard this sad response:

"Tell us, what are we supposed to do with the heap of academic titles, degrees, and innumerable dissertations on child education? What are we supposed to do with the scientific institutions? After all, these people developed the system. The machine has been set in motion, and it's not that simple to stop that flywheel instantly. Every dissertation candidate, to say nothing of those with the title of professor, mans the ramparts to defend his views."

I also learned how, after visiting Shchetinin's school, a woman deputy from our Duma fretted: "Everything about that school was incomprehensible to me. It's so unusual, it looks like a sect."

I didn't know what "sect" meant specifically. Later I found a dictionary and looked it up.

The dictionary defines the term thus:

Sect [from the Lat. Secta-teaching, direction, school].

1. A religious community or group that has split off from the dominant church.

2. A separate group of individuals closed off in their narrow group interests.

I don't understand what the deputy meant by this word, but I don't think either definition fits Shchetinin's school very well. Furthermore, if it's split itself off, then from the good or the bad? I believe it has split off from the sadistic treatment of children. As for a Duma whose deputies make statements like that, I have nothing to say. Let readers see how well this definition suits certain Duma factions: "A separate group of individuals closed off in their narrow group interests." A sect?

Shchetinin was shot at. But he's a grown man. The Cossacks may be able to help somehow, and Anastasia said she would protect the new shoots. Now I understand. She's better off not leaving her taiga for now. If she were a little more aggressive, she would strike her ray at all the dissertations, titles, and rot. But no. We have to go easy, she says, and change consciousness

Consequently, I've written what I myself thought about raising children and about modern schools, but my position has probably come out muddled and rather insincere. For one thing, in general I would like to write about our schools with Russian obscenities, but my prose style is rather new—since my contact with Anastasia. Not all words fit it.

I would also like to tell teachers—all those who have managed, even despite the system, to give the child at least a little bit of good and, as Shchetinin says, "join the natural cosmic process"—Thank you! I bow to you.

From what Anastasia has said about raising children, I also understand that the awareness of the child as an individual comes first. Compared to adults, the child is physically weaker, of course, but immeasurably better. He is immaculate and not constrained by postulates. Before stuffing his head with all kinds of maxims and admonitions, we ourselves should understand something about the world, if only for ourselves. Think for ourselves! Forget alien postulates for a while.

In each town, we entrepreneurs will have to seek out teachers ourselves, help create a school base, and there teach our own children and grandchildren.

20. On Channelers

My stay in the taiga passes from one day to the next and I still can't find any occupation for myself. Anastasia runs off somewhere, busy with her affairs. My son, although he's still so little, is getting along beautifully with the help of his wild nannies. It's a strange business, as if humanity had devised so much just to keep busy. Here, you walk through the forest and just think. So here I am, walking through the forest and thinking. I come to the lake again and sit down at my favorite spot, under a cedar. I look at the sack of readers' letters and think, "I mustn't forget to have Anastasia answer all their questions."

As soon as she walked up, I immediately said, "Do you see the letters from readers? I've sorted them all by question: about childrearing, various proposals, about religions, about Russia's destiny, about wars, poems and good wishes, and letters from channelers. You see?"

"Yes, I see."

I first asked Anastasia about channelers.

"There are people who say—just look at what they write in their letters. They claim contact with extraterrestrial civilizations and with certain individuals from the past. They hear different voices. Some people write down what they hear and assert that these are messages conveyed to them by the Universe's Supreme Intellect. Our presses publish books in large print runs about channeling. For instance, there's a woman writer, Blavatsky, author of several fat books, and the Roerichs, widely known, who also wrote books and painted pictures. They are read in many countries, and their paintings are exhibited. Other people are fearful and frightened when they hear a voice. Look, here's a letter from a girl in Klintsy. A voice is telling her she should listen to it, because it's a wise teacher, but the girl is afraid and is asking you for help. Are these readers really in contact with someone? How does this happen?"

"What do you think an extraterrestrial civilization is, Vladimir?"

"The population of some other planet, star, or something invisible living nearby. If they're in contact with individuals who lived before, that means these individuals are living in some invisible world."

"Vladimir, each person is made in such a way that he has access to the entire Universe, both the visible and the invisible one. Each person can interact with anyone or anything he wants.

The interaction occurs more or less as it would through your radio. Lots of stations broadcast all kinds of information, but the radio's owner chooses what of all that he wants to listen to.

A person is simultaneously both the radio and its owner. Which station, which source finds its own in him, depends on his consciousness, feelings, and purity. As a rule, that information comes to the specific person who can apprehend, understand, and use it. Everything has to come about calmly, without any importunate stress on personal greatness.

"When people tell someone about their own greatness, they are trying to act on his egoism: I am so great that I've chosen you alone out of everyone else, and you will be my pupil and you too will rise above everyone. As a rule, inferior, soulless creations say things like that. They cannot be in the flesh, so they strive to crowd out the human soul and take over someone else's flesh. They act on the person's intellect, egoism, and fear of the unknown."

"But how do you get rid of them? Many readers want to know."

"Simple. They themselves are cowardly and primitive. They need to be warned: 'Go away, and if you don't I will scorch you with my thought.' They know full well that man's thought is many times more powerful than they.

"You can also chew a leaf of celandine. First place the leaf on your palm and mentally say to it, 'Rid me of all impurities, leaf.'"

"But what if many people themselves want to speak to the same source? What should they do? Look, in their letters they write that they're talking to you. Is that true? If so, how do you have time to answer them all? There are lots of them, and they all say they speak directly to you and you answer them."

"Each reproduces his own thoughts. And each person's thoughts live, they do not vanish into nowhere.

"What you and I have thought is also in space, my dream is in space with my thoughts. Each person can hear them if he wants. Many can listen simultaneously, the only question is what distortions the radio is capable of letting through."

"What do you mean by distortions? What do they depend on?"

"On the purity of the receiver. Imagine you're listening to a speech over an ordinary radio, Vladimir, but instead of distinct words, static breaks in. Some words are unknown to you, and the concepts behind them are unclear. What would you do in that case?"

"Try to guess the words, to fill in the parts I didn't understand."

"Naturally. But the word you insert could reduce or change the thought expressed or turn it around. Only your own purity can hear the Truth without distortion, and if it is insufficient—your mood and purity—then you should not blame the source.

"In material life, in your world, there are many sources to be heard on all sides. They lay claim to the Truth and to the right to master your mind and will, to direct your life for their own benefit. You are free to listen to them or not. You are free to decide for yourself, and you should not blame anyone."

"Let's say that's so. What if some question is heard and there is no thought in the whole Universe to answer it? For example, people ask you a question, but no thought of yours exists in space to answer it. What happens then?"

"A question that has no answer in the Universe instantly accelerates advancement in everything. Like a bright flash, like a ringing, it will reach every corner, everything will go into motion, there will be a union of opposites, the answer will be born, and people will hear it."

"You mean, immediately you personally will directly hear the question and see who asked it?"

"Like everyone, I too will hear it instantaneously. Unfortunately, people have been asking identical questions for millennia, and there are answers, but few to hear."

"Still, how do we make sense of this? When does the source bear the Truth, or rather, when is it perceived without static? After all, there's no crackling in our ears when we hear something from without. You say the answer is born as if in the form of one's own thoughts, produced by oneself. But what can we use to figure out if it's a voice for good or not? After all, quite a few hear voices and believe that they are hearing only the Supreme Intellect."

"When you hear not just the word inside you. When suddenly a feeling flares up, the soul's emotions, and tears of joy in your eyes. When sensations of warmth, smells, and sounds are born in you. When there is a surge, a need for creation, you will also feel inside a thirst for purification. You will be certain you are clearly hearing the thoughts of Light.

"When cold information comes to you, an order or decree, even if it speaks about good, even if it seems wise—even very wise—and the source sending it forth appears supreme and mighty, know that what is not good does not hide behind good but trains itself to follow you for the good of the essence that has not been given perfect embodiment."

21. Everyone Into the Forest?

"Anastasia, here is yet another problem. Some readers want to live in the taiga the way you do. Some are trying to find you and are asking you for directions. Others want to organize settlements in the taiga. They draft proposals which they send to the Moscow center wanting to know how they can realize their ideas. I've read of settlements already in the world when people from the cities leave their homes and establish communes in nature. India has settlements like that, as do American and Russia, in Krasnoyarsk District, for example. People want you to tell them the best way for them to carry out their ideas."

"Why go somewhere else to live?"

"What do you mean why? People leave the dirty cities, where the air is bad and there's all kinds of noise and bustle. They resettle in clean, ecologically pure places so that they themselves can be purer."

"Who's left to clean up the mess? Others?"

"I don't know who. But is it really so bad when a person gets the desire to live in a pure place in nature?"

"The desire is good. The issue lies elsewhere. When someone who has created dirt around himself comes to a clean place, he brings his dirt with him. First, clean up your own mess, and in this way you will wash away your own sins."

"So it all has to start with cleaning up. How do you think this will all come about?"

"Consciousness will serve as the beginning of everything. The aspiration of thought will find the optimal route like a river.

"In Russia today, that is how everything is happening. You must look closely, Vladimir. It is not in vain, it did not just happen, it is no accident that the factories with fuming smokestacks have been idled today.

"Fewer and fewer funds are being found in the country for the army.

"But most importantly, you have stopped regarding as heroes those who have polluted the Earth with their actions and whom it would be no sin to call vandals.

"You don't need to go into the forest. The forest will cautiously accept whoever comes and will spend a long time studying his intentions, habits, and way of life. After all, where you lived—where you now live—was once forest, too, cultivated by the Creator. What has this salutary, heavenly oasis been transformed into today?

"Someone who goes into the forest to live is no more important than those summer people who have cultivated gardens with their own hand on vacant, untended land—quite the contrary, in fact. Each blade of grass in their garden knows and loves them and tries to give back universal warmth. Sincere feelings are in those who themselves erected this oasis of paradise, who embodied their soul's good amid the fuss and gloom of death."

"What will happen to the cities then? Who will maintain them in a normal condition? After all, everything in the cities will collapse, decay, and fall apart."

"Nor is an abrupt transition permissible from one to the other. Calm movement is essential, and it is going on right now. It is wonderful, and in the future it will be even more wonderful."

"Well, Anastasia, you're in your usual vein. As before, all summer people are your idols. Only they say almost nothing about the spiritual, as many different associations and religious communes do."

"What are words when their affairs are truly holy?"

"Here are some more letters. One person has already sent five. He says he hears a voice. An antenna is telling him that you are summoning him to the taiga, and he is anxious to join you. He threatens me in his letters that he will come to see Solntsev at the Moscow center. He says we are hiding you away from everyone and demands that we arrange a trip to the taiga for him to see you. He is not the only one like this. What do you say to them in reply? I think you know they're in love with you. They believe that they must do good deeds with you and live with you in the taiga."

"I reply to everyone who is sincere, thank you for your love. But I have not summoned anyone to the taiga. What would you do here? What would you bring? If your intentions are good, let them be embodied where you live. Let love shine on those living next to you."

22. On the "Anastasia" Centres

"In the cities of Russia and abroad as well, people have already started to organize centers that they name after you. Just listen and I'll read you just one such letter. They write lots of letters like this to my daughter Polina. She herself replies to some; others she forwards to me. But I can't answer them all, and I don't quite know how to treat some of them. After all, there are people who consider these centers a sect. Just listen, here is one letter from the center. What would you yourself say to this?"

I read Anastasia one letter in full out of those which Polina had forwarded to me.

Dear Polina,

I am Valery Anatolievich Karasev, an associate of our school's Anastasia Ecological Center.

Our Center is very young. It was formed on 4 December 1997, and is now in the process of coming into its own. Its birth was facilitated by your father's book, for which we are all very grateful.

Like a ray of the Light in a dark kingdom, Anastasia is now uniting the creative forces of adults and children who have not lost the ability to create, to defend their honor and dignity, who strive toward light ideals and believe that the happiness of Russia, their native land, is in our hands and our intentions.

We understand what forces of darkness have come crashing down on it and we are trying to help it in any way we can.

At our Center, teachers, schoolchildren, and their parents are working hard.

At the present time, we are teaching the children and their parents about Anastasia and her thoughts through presentations and classes, using and distributing your father's books and magazine articles.

We are also trying to collect scientific literature explaining Anastasia's capabilities.

We understand the full difficulty of the work to awaken man's consciousness, to overcome the inertia of human thinking, and therefore we are conducting our activities calmly and confidently. We have already made interesting discoveries.

Some people perceive Anastasia as a lovely fairy tale. Some, after reading the book, join in our work, and some, the fewest, start spreading rumors that Anastasia is another sect. The opinion of the latter makes us smile.

But as the saying goes, "Lord, forgive them. They know not what they do."

Most importantly, we are glad that Anastasia has assembled us together in this rural district with its dying agricultural production, in a bankrupt collective farm whose leaders have forgotten the needs of the people and youth, in the very place where M. I. Kalinin was once born and the Verkhnetroitsky millionaire collective farm flourished.

Here, at the Anastasia Center of the M. I. Kalinin Country School, our program was born, Rainbow, which aims to develop and put into practice creative efforts to improve our native territory, to give the next generation an education in labor and morals, and to create a base for the production of ecologically pure agricultural output.

The purpose of the Rainbow program is to create a young people's cultural and ecological production association called Rus, which will include Lada, a Slavic cultural center, and Rod, an ecological production complex.

This is the program Anastasia has helped us create.

Let the unbelievers believe at least in their unbelief, while we implement our program, no matter how unrealistic it might seem to some.

Our goal is to allow young people to experience their own creative power in practice.

One of the aspects of the Rainbow program is local history, the study of our native territory's ancient history, the life and culture of our Slav ancestors.

At one time, the city of Medved was built next to Verkhnyaya Troitsa. Virtually nothing is known about it. It was wiped from the face of the Earth. Along the banks of the Medveditsa River there are Slav burial mounds. Do some of them have the same significance as the dolmens in Gelendzhik, where the battle between the Medved host and the Ordynetses took place? We need this information; we do not want to be forgetful. We will take under our protection and restore what we can, if only fragments. That is our request to Anastasia, Polina.

In the spring we will begin creating a nursery to cultivate cedar saplings. It will become a reality thanks to our fellow villager, the forester Georgy Shaposhnikov, who has left us an amazing gift.

Our children's theater, led by the Siberian Tatiana Yakovlevna Zaonegina, will be staging a performance based on stories from Anastasia. The children are very enthusiastic about this idea.

We hope very much that other centers and associations that Anastasia has helped create will contact us. May Divine lines of Light stretch all across Russia between the centers.

Mutual interaction, even if written, will multiply our forces and help us find the answer more quickly.

Our address:

Anastasia Ecological Center

M. I. Kalinin School, Verkhnyaya Troitsa

Kalinin District, Tver Province, 171622

The following goes out from our school to everyone for whom Anastasia exists.

Obey the Order, Brothers Dear!

To help Anastasia

Make the Earth's world happy,

To forestall disaster,

To forget it forever,

We awaken amiably at six

And with a smile and an open heart

Reach for the stars

To drive out the boredom in us.

And reach, as in childhood,

For our dear mama, as a bride:

Give it to me! Take this, my dear!

And a mischievous smile envelops us,

At that instant—

Mama's image to her replies.

Hello, Mother Nature,

You are with the Father at the Birth

You gave birth to our heroes—

None better in the Universe.

Slav woman! Sister dear!

We've long been awaiting you.

Your ray reached us,

We are carrying out your instructions.

Obey the order, brothers dear!

At six in the morning! In the dark! As in the book!

We will fire artillery,

Go about our affairs for fifteen minutes.

We must support our sister dear,

So our offspring do not get upset,

We answer for them, after all,

How can we leave them alone!

Not for the first time must we get used to

Breaching the blockade!

Valery, officer of the Russian navy

Success to you and all the best, Polina. We at the Center will be happy to receive from you information concerning Anastasia. Please convey our best wishes to your father.

Happy New Year!"

"What do you say to this letter, Anastasia?"

"I say that the human soul's aspirations are beautiful. This has nothing to do with you or me. This is only about the strength of their souls and their beauty. The name should not be mine. Their names would be worthier. I grew up in the cradle of the Creator, whereas their soul has overcome the agonies of hell and was able to endure.

"For years the string of adversities, deprivations, temptations, and vanities strove to distort their concept of good. Their souls managed to overcome everything. They are stronger than those who have cut themselves off from the world with a stone wall. They in the world will themselves make the world beautiful. Their names should be in the title. If all the centers start using my name, a cult will arise, and that cannot be allowed. A cult of personality or image always leads man away from the main thing, from himself."

"So what happens then? In Moscow, the Solntsev Center and at the Larionova Center in Gelendzhik there are already Anastasia sections, under the International Academy of Spiritual Development, how will people find out the centers' orientation?"

"All people have been given intuition, and the essence is not determined by the name. The soul must sense the deed."

"This is an interesting turn. We will have to give this more thought. You are not the usual, Anastasia. Interacting with you not only makes me have to work at my thoughts, but others, too, will have to think. When are we to relax? The letter also asks you a specific question: What are the burial mounds there by their river, on the Medveditsa?"

"There is no need to excavate the mounds. The mounds have fulfilled their purpose, and those people were born there who were the first to ask the main question."

"What question?"

"Think for yourself, Vladimir. For now, I'll say that you should help those like them to know one another. Put their addresses in the book. Let all the letters, which are akin to light rays, help people warm hearts. Korotynsky, a St. Petersburg poet, wrote you with a hint long ago:

From heart to heart the ray of Love

Will flash, a Divine thread.

Pluck the soul from the dust

And suffuse it with the heavens' heights.

"All right, I get it. I myself wanted to publish the letters and poems readers had sent. I wanted to publish them as a separate volume. I myself felt that there was something far from simple in them. Their addresses can be made available through the Moscow center, so that people can help each other. My daughter Polina can also do this work. She feels responsible for the letters.

"It might turn out to be a good thing when people from different countries interact through the soul. They will find soul mates, marry, or at least make friends, start a new common cause, or produce things together. That's it! That's great! I will publish that collection. Also, you know, we have a matchmaking service. In the newspapers people print ads, looking for mates, so in their ads they have their height, eye color, and age, as if they were selecting a cow for their farm. But here it would probably be better if people met based on their spirit and started to help one another."

"Of course, a union in spirit is better and more stable."

"Yes. There's just one problem."

"A problem? What is it?"

23. Recreate Shambala

"It so happens, for some reason, that critics of me and my book come mainly out of Novosibirsk . Yes, in general, only there do they criticize me.

"The book has been published in three foreign countries, and many other countries are offering contracts. In Novosibirsk, they keep railing away. Polina is there, and I can imagine how she suffers. The critics say about the anthology, 'He's come up with another ruse. He should have stayed in business.' Novosibirsk television ran a broadcast about the first entrepreneurs. They mentioned me in it, too, and showed an interview with Polina. They asked my daughter, 'Is your papa no longer in business?' Polina tried to say something about spirituality, but they cut her off."

"In a little while, most Novosibirskers will look on you and your book with understanding. Of your old friends, the best will return to you, and new friends will appear," Anastasia said.

"At one of the city centers not far from the Eternal Flame, your new and former friends will build an Avenue of Cedars."

"That's great! That's just the ticket! Just think of such a thing. An Avenue of Cedars near the Eternal Flame—that would be amazing, Anastasia, my dear dreamer."

She leapt up from the grass, knelt, beaming all over, clapped her hands, and suddenly whispered, "Thank you for those words. 'Dear.' 'My.' That's me, isn't it, Vladimir. Have I become dear to you?"

"That's just our way of talking. But your dream truly is beautiful."

"It will come true, believe me. All of it will be as I dreamed."

"Nothing in this world happens by itself. Now, if you could create some kind of miracle in Novosibirsk. But no, not just a miracle. What can miracles do? They don't fire anyone's passion. If you could make it so that each of the city's residents became just a little richer and healthier, so that each person in Novosibirsk was happier, then people might plant that avenue. But I don't think all your Forces of Light put together could do that. No one could."

"You're right, Vladimir. No one has power over the human will. Unhappy or happy—each person makes his own destiny. Each person's consciousness chooses his path."

"But who is playing with our consciousness? Who is keeping us from choosing the one that will make unhappy people happy?"

"Why look for causes outside yourself, Vladimir? What do you change if you start blaming someone? A beautiful thought was born in you, to create something good for the people of that city. I like it a lot, and I need to dream on it.

"Yes! Wonderful! I've come up with something! That's great! All the people of Novosibirsk will go down in history. A happy generation will be born there. Each person living there will be happier right now, too.

"Let us think together how to tell the people of the city that worries you so much, by breaking through to each person's heart and soul."

"What do you want to say to each of them?"

"That together they can recreate Shambala."

"What is this Shambala? Speak more clearly."

"For centuries seekers have been looking for a holy place on Earth. They believe it is called Shambala and that in that place a connection can happen between anyone and the universal wisdom.

"But no one has been able to find Shambala, though seekers have traveled to foreign lands quite a bit. And they will not find it if they keep searching this way, for Shambala is inside each of us, and its outward manifestation is recreated by people."

"Be more specific. What has to be done for this connection with the wise Universe and to be happier, and not inside? All this inside stuff is hard to understand. Tell me about the outward, what has to be built, sown, or broken?"

"Let each resident of the big city get a small cedar nut from a resinous cone, put it in his mouth, and hold it in his saliva. Then plant it at his home in earth in a small pot and water the earth every day. Before watering he should lower his fingers into the water, his condition must be good-natured, and let him wish himself, and most of all his descendants, his children, good and the awareness of God. And do that every day.

"Then a shoot will rise up that he can have silent conversations with about what is most precious. On a summer's day when it doesn't freeze at night, he must put the pot with the shoot outside among other plants. Let it make contact with the stars, Moon, and Sun, know the rain, breeze, and spirit of the grasses growing nearby, and return to his house again to his friends and parents. This can be done many times, whenever there is the time and desire.

"Over time the shoot will grow up. After all, a cedar lives more than fifteen hundred years, and your descendants will let the new cedars tell about the soul that nurtured them. When it grows to thirty centimeters in the house, the shoot can be planted in the earth in the early spring. Let the city authorities set aside one square meter of land for each person who has no land of his own for the sapling.

The saplings will be planted on the edge of the city, on the riverbank and along the roads, between the houses and in the middle of teeming squares. Let the people protect their own seedling and help each other.

For centuries people will come to this city from all over the Earth to see them, to touch its holy objects, and to exchange a word with its happy people."

"Why should people come from all over the Earth? To look at the ordinary landscaping of a city? Now if you suddenly discovered some holy objects in Novosibirsk! Dolmens, for instance, as in Gelendzhik. You told me about the Gelendzhik dolmens, and now people are streaming in from various cities of Russia as well as other countries. I've seen it. Every day now there are excursions to the dolmens.

"And every year in September, readers gather from different cities for a conference. Artists set up painting exhibits and films are shot there. And here, big deal, there will be trees growing in the city. Not even trees, just cedar saplings."

"These won't be just saplings. They will be akin to the ringing cedars. Warmed by the warmth of human hearts, their soul touching man's, they will take in the Universe's best rays and send them out to people. For centuries, both people and the Earth will shine in this place. A new consciousness will come, and these people's discoveries, on a universal scale, will go all over the Earth!

"A holy place, do you know what that is? Believe me, Vladimir, you wouldn't recognize it in your hometown."

"This is all appealing, of course. But you must understand, Anastasia. No one is likely to believe just you about this. History has never known anything like it, and modern science will not confirm it. If something weightier than you, with authority, known to everyone, had shown such a thing . . ."

"The Quran speaks wisely about what the trees mean. The Buddha, too, learned wisdom by going off into the forest for a long time. Tell me, Vladimir, you've read the Bible, haven't you?"

"Yes. What of it?"

"The Old Testament says that before the Birth of Christ, the wisest of the Earth's rulers, King Solomon used cedar to build a temple to God's glory and a house for himself. He employed thousands of people to chop down cedars, which were brought to him from far-off places. King Solomon was most wise, as the Bible says, and the Song of Songs, which he wrote, has come down to the present day.

"The Old Testament also says that toward the end of his life and days his harem of wives from different countries and of different faiths began leading Solomon away from his faith. He came to know various faiths, and do you know which one took hold of him?"

"Which one?"

"The one where they plant trees as well as chop them down. As he was dying, the wise king understood that his home and his temple would be obliterated in time, his descendants would not retain power and greatness. The state's might would fade—and all that is what happened.

"To this day his soul agonizes over the mistake he made. The wise king understood, 'Nothing pleasing to God can be accomplished by killing what is alive, what the Creator has made.' The anguish of his soul and many human souls has gone on for millennia, gazing upon how a single mistake can last for millennia. It can be fixed, and then a beautiful dawn will rise over the world once again. The word will go out about your city over all earthly and universal channels.

"Of all the miracles in the world that have come down to our day, no one has yet heard of a city where each inhabitant raised such trees with a special love, kindness, and soul, or transformed a petrified city into a dimension of Love, a true, living, universal temple. For this there must be Divine awareness, so let it arise in each person and help them understand their own and the universal purpose."

"There may be a rational kernel to what you say, Anastasia, and I may write about that. Let people themselves determine it all, but you know, I have to warn you. You are going to lose something here, too. You keep talking about the trees. . . . Well, basically. . . You won't ever be able to marry officially. You don't have the documents you need for the Registry Office, and here you are talking with such import about trees. . . . Vergers already consider you a pagan, and as soon as I write these words of yours, they will not let you close to the temple near you and will never marry you."

"Vladimir, write my words and let these people learn them. Do not be ashamed of these words and humble your pride. Not everyone may grasp the significance of these words right away. But your city has many scientists, and they will say what I have failed to in scientific language, if you think people will understand them more. And the journalists . . . Don't be angry at them for their criticism. Not all your journalists have had their say yet. And if I do have to get married, believe me, Vladimir, someone will be found to marry me."

"What if people do the same thing in a different city, not Novosibirsk?"

"Any city can be reborn this way. In order for these actions to be carried out, a different consciousness has to take root in people, and if it does, they will change the face of the city. But there will be a first among them who will be the first to know Grace."

"You are blessed, Anastasia, and naïve, always dreaming only of what is best. All right, I will write what you have said. Let people know this, too."

"Thank you. Thank you. . . . I don't know how else to show my gratitude."

"Don't worry, it's not hard to write. You can add more, but just a little."

"I beg of you, people, do not read my words in a rush. Grasp them."

"Here you are, Anastasia, answering the questions readers ask and talking about man as a creator when you're a woman. Do you know what the leader of one religion said about women?"

"What?"

"He said that women cannot create. Their purpose consists in being beautiful and merely inspiring men to various deeds and creativity, but only men create everything."

"Vladimir, do you agree with such statements?"

"I probably could. You know, there are statistics—science is impartial. So if you look at the statistics, this is the situation you find."

"What situation?"

"Andrei Rublyov, Surikov, Vasnetsov, Rembrandt, and other famous artists were all men, and there are no women among them at all, at least no women come to mind. The inventers of the airplane, automobile, electric engine, satellites, and missiles were also men. Right now one of the most popular arts is cinema, and a director is needed to make the film, he is one of the most important figures in cinema. And once again, all the best film directors are men. There are some women, but they're rare. And their movies aren't as outstanding and interesting as the men's. The best musicians are always men, and philosophers, both those who have come down to us from antiquity and modern ones—also men."

"Why are you telling me all this, Vladimir?"

"It's just that I have this idea. I think it will help you."

"What idea? Can you share it with me?"

"This idea. Anastasia, you should be paying more attention to beautification here and to raising our child and not overburden yourself about the world and people. Ultimately, men can sort out all these matters. Only men, that's what the statistics say. Exact, impartial science. In history, too, it's always been that men did the main things, and there's no getting away from history, either. Do you understand how incontrovertible this idea is?"

"Yes, I understand you, Vladimir."

"Just don't get upset. It's better to understand it all sooner and go about your own affairs and not those which others can do better. You're trying to change the world for the better, but only men can do that. They have invented all the best things and create everything better than women. Do you agree?"

"Vladimir, I agree that outwardly man looks like the creator. If you look at it from a material standpoint."

"What does that mean, 'outwardly'? How else, from what other standpoint can you look at incontrovertible facts? Don't get all philosophical here, just tell me specifically. Can you create anything? For instance, can you at least embroider? Can you embroider a pretty design on fabric with a needle?"

"I couldn't embroider a design."

"But why?"

"I couldn't pick up a needle. A needle is something made from the depths of living nature. Why create something if first you have to destroy a great, living creation? Imagine someone foolish slashing a picture, Vladimir, the canvas of a great artist, a creator, as you put it, and start cutting little rabbits and figures out of the pieces of canvas. Can his action be called creativity after first discounting his foolishness? But if someone else who is intelligent and understands what is around him does the same thing, then his actions take on a different definition."

"What?"

"Let's think about this together. For instance, his actions could be called vandalism."

"Really now, that's going too far. You mean all creators and artists are vandals?"

"They are artists and creators in their awareness of the universe at their level. But if they find an awareness at another level, their creations will come about by other means."

"What other means?"

"The same means the Creator used to create everything in his burst of inspiration. And he has given the ability to perfect his creations and make new ones to man, to man alone.

"How did the Creator create everything? And what instrument did he give man for creation?"

"Thought is the Great Creator's main instrument. And man has been given thought. Creations are true when operating in the thought's undertakings are the soul, intuition, emotions, and most of all, the main thing, an awareness of purity.

Look, a flower is growing at your feet. Its shape and color are beautiful, they change a half-tone in living creation, now improve it with your thought. Concentrate. Try to change them for a better vision."

"Like what, for example?"

"Imagine for yourself, Vladimir."

"Well, I can imagine. For instance, let this oxeye have a red petal and the other stay the way it is, and if they alternate, I think that would be better, more cheerful."

Suddenly Anastasia became completely still. She began looking closely at the white oxeye. And you realize, quietly, slowly, but before their eyes, the oxeye changed the color of its petals. They now alternated: red, white, and red again. At first the red ones were barely noticeable, then they got redder and redder, and finally they were ablaze, so they seemed to shine red.

"There you see, it happened as you thought it, and I created it all with my thought."

"You mean all people can do that?"

"Yes! And they do. But they use material which they have first deadened, and what is dead can only decompose. Thus humanity has been struggling for centuries to halt the decomposition of their creations, and thus human thought is given over more and more to decay, and man has no time to think true creation is called for.

"Thought precedes everything, then with time it is embodied in matter or society is rearranged. But they can't tell right away whether what they have created is better or worse.

"Here you wanted to change the color of the oxeye's petals. I changed them with my thought, the oxeye obeyed man's thought. Now look closely. Did you think of something better? Something more perfect than what had been?"

"I think it's more cheerful now and colorful."

"But why do you speak of your new Creation without enthusiasm?"

"I don't know. Maybe there's still something missing, some colors. I don't know yet."

"The colors now contradict each other. The gentlest half-tones have paled because of the color. Loud color cannot evoke calm, gentle feelings."

"All right, try to put it all back."

"I can't, the oxeye itself can change back. The red will diminish. We did not kill it, after all. It is alive. Nature itself will restore everything to harmony."

"So in your opinion, Anastasia, all men are slow-witted vandals and women are creators?"

"All men and women are one; the principles are in each and the two merge into one. In creation, too, they are indivisible; earthly being exists for them both."

"But how can that be? It's not at all clear. Here am I, for instance. I'm just a man."

"But what are you made of, Vladimir? The flesh of woman and the flesh of man merged into one, they united in you, and the spirit of both merged into one spirit."

"Then why do they say and write treatises about what a woman is and what a man is and which of them is stronger, which is superior?"

"Think about who wants, and to what purpose, to replace your awareness, your consciousness, which the Creator gave everyone from the beginning, with their own dogma?"

"But what if the Creator gave some more than others, and he, the teacher, is trying to share his wisdom with everyone?"

"Each shoot on Earth, each seed of a birch, cedar, or flower, has plenty of the Creator's information.

"So how could the idea come to you that the Creator might contemplate falling short for the Supreme Creation? What could be more insulting to the Father than a reproach such as that?"

"You know I'm not reproaching anyone. I'm just thinking, to myself."

24. Who Are You, Anastasia?

Before asking Anastasia this question, I looked at her closely. Here sitting before me was a woman, young and beautiful, who outwardly scarcely differed from the people of our civilization. Except perhaps by the lightness one could sense even outwardly that ran through her body, a lightness in her posture and gestures, and especially when she stood up and walked. She did all this with an unusual lightness.

The cumbersome, heavy gait of an elderly person differs significantly from the movements of someone young, energetic, and full of life. But there was that same difference between the movements and gait of Anastasia and even a young athlete. She seemed light as a feather and at the same time she was physically strong. She easily carried my heavy backpack fifteen kilometers while also helping me walk.

During our short breaks she did not lie down or take a seat, exhausted, but moved, first running off to collect herbs, then massaging my foot. And all this with a lightness, cheerfulness, and smile. Why was she so full of life?

Try sometimes to look closely at the stream of people walking down the street, their faces. I have. Nearly all of them are concentrated, depressed, or gloomy. Especially when it's a single person. And he doesn't seem to be carrying a heavy burden, he's dressed decently, and he obviously isn't hungry because he's smoking expensive cigarettes, but on his face is the stamp of tension and grave thoughts, and that's the way it is for many, for most. Whereas she is joyful all the time. Like a carefree child she beams happiness at the sun, and the herbs, and the rain and clouds all the time, and even when you talk about serious matters with her, she is never sad.

Which is why now . . . No, her appearance was not very characteristic. Anastasia was sitting with her head slightly bowed and eyelashes lowered, as if she were embarrassed or a little sad, as if she could tell what I wanted to ask her about. But I still asked.

"If you look through all the letters, Anastasia, you will be convinced of the different things you're called, even extraterrestrial. In her book, a well-known psychologist, the researcher Lavrova, called you a biologist of an extraterrestrial civilization. Ordinary readers call you a goddess, although they behave oddly and write as if to a close friend. You are probably the first they have ever called a Goddess, but they aren't worshipping but speaking as if to a close friend.

"Scientists and religious leaders for the most part call you an essence, a high essence, a self-sufficient substance.

"Here I am interacting with you, I wrote a book about our meetings, and I cannot figure out who you are. Can you explain to me clearly and distinctly who you are?"

"Vladimir, who do you see in me?" Anastasia asked without looking up. "And why is it so important to you what others say?"

"That's the whole point, that I myself don't know what I'm seeing. If I were to tell you honestly . . ."

"Tell me, Vladimir, honestly and sincerely, and I will try to understand it all."

"Well, all right, I'll tell you everything. . . . When I saw you the first time, Anastasia, I perceived you as an ordinary woman. When I went into the forest with you the first time, we sat down to rest and you undressed to your shift and took off your kerchief and I saw you were beautiful, attractive. You understand, among us women like that are called sexy or said to have sex appeal. That time with you . . . well, you know yourself what I wanted. Do you remember?"

"Yes."

"So now, maybe because of all these incomprehensible things, I don't want that anymore, even when I see you naked."

"You're afraid of me now, Vladimir, right?"

"Not afraid, I don't think so. But so much is incomprehensible. Here our son was born, but you seem to grow more distant, and even when you're nearby, like now, sitting, you still seem far away, not close. I get that feeling. The thought never leaves me that you're some kind of essence."

"I may be, but so are you."

"No. I'm not an essence. No one has called me that in the letters. Readers sometimes get angry at me in their letters, but no one has any doubt that I'm a human being."

"I beg of you, Vladimir, understand, I am a woman, and I am also a human being."

"You say you're also a human being, but you don't want to do the most elementary things. You don't want to live like all people live. The whole world. Everyone wants an apartment, furniture, a car—you don't.

"The books are starting to make money, and soon there will be more. Let me buy an apartment, furniture, a car, and we'll travel to holy sites and take our son along. Our civilization right now is restoring temples and monasteries, and in other countries there are many holy sites and historical monuments. But you don't have anything here, no holy sites, so what keeps you here? What do you have to lose?"

"Vladimir, my dimension is here, the Creator's creation in its primordial form. My foremother and my mother, my fathers caressed each blade of grass with their love, each magnificent cedar remembers the warmth of their hands and gazes. And in the spring the seeds of all the plants put out shoots. And each little grain that touches the ground in the spring contains all the information of the Universe. Including information about the Light of Grace they will see.

"The little grain will grow into a shoot, the nice Sun will help it along, and the shoot will stretch toward man and for something even more than the Sun has, for the Light of Grace.

"This is how the Creator created everything. He thought of this so that man could continue to create with it. My parents preserved the Creator's creations, the dimension of Love is here! My parents gave it to me.

"Can there be anything holier in the world than the Creator's creations, one's parents, the vibrant Love that has filled the dimension?

"This is what each person, each parent, must do. Give the child he bears a dimension of Love! A dimension as beautiful as the mother's womb, and only there can their future child, their future, be happy.

"I am giving our son a holy site and a dimension of Love."

"You are giving him that, but where is my dimension of Love? What can I give our son?"

"Many have had their chain of succession disturbed. But the thread has not been broken. There is a thread connecting the Creator to everyone at once and each person individually, and each person just has to understand and feel it, and then each person can acquire both light and strength. Vladimir, you should expand the dimension of Love. In the world where you now live, create a dimension of Love. For our son, for all the children of Earth, turn the entire Earth into a dimension of Love."

"I don't understand. What do you want from me? To change the whole Earth?"

"Yes! That is what I want!"

"And for everyone to love one other, for there to be no more wars or crime, and for the air to be clean? The water?"

"May it be so on the whole Earth."

"And only then will I be considered a real father who has given our son something?"

"Only then will you be a father respected by your son."

"You mean otherwise he won't respect me?"

"For what, Vladimir? For which actions of yours do you want to gain your son's respect?"

"For the same thing all children in the world respect their fathers. Fathers give them life."

"What kind of life? When a child comes into the world, where does he find his joys? And why is there so much unhappiness in the world given by fathers? The newly born must live in this unhappiness, and here the person giving birth feels irrelevant. This is how we live, and we want respect and are amazed when we don't get it.

"Believe me, Vladimir, children truly respect very few of their fathers. This is why when they grow up a little they abandon their parents, forget them, and in this way, albeit intuitively, they both blame their parents and repeat their mistake themselves. Vladimir, if you want to earn your son's respect, you are going to have to create a happy world."

"Oh, yes. . . . Now I see. . . ." I leapt up. There was despair and fury in my mind. My thoughts swarmed.

Now I understood, and I hope it has become clear to everyone. Anastasia is a fanatic hermit. This is what I supposed right away, at our first meeting. She may have unusual abilities of unknown origin, and these abilities of hers, her ray, are not commensurate, by which I mean, her abilities are not commensurate with her. You remember, she said, "I will carry people across the dark forces' span of time." Yes, obviously, she herself realized this was beyond her strength to do, and now she was trying to draw me and her readers into this fruitless dream. I see that along with this fanaticism and abnormality there is in her an incredible cunning, and with its help she does everything for the sake of her dream!

She bore a child and got me to write a book now. What a thing to say: "In order to earn your son's respect, remake the world, turn the entire world into a dimension of Love, and give it to your son and all the children. . . ." Methodically and subtly she is drawing everyone into her dream and keeps complicating the task before me. First, write a book, now create a dimension of Love throughout the world. Then what? We know quite a few fanatics who have tried to change the world, and where are they now? They've dispersed like smoke. And here is another in front of me with a lowered head, and still . . . Change the world.

I knew it was pointless to argue with people who were abnormal, fanatics. You have to calm down and walk away, but I couldn't help myself. I told her everything as she sat with her gaze lowered as before.

"I understand. I understand who you are. You're a combination of essence and human being. And you're cunning. Exceptionally cunning. How subtly you've woven your intrigue! Make me write a book and bear a son as bait.

"You tried with your inhuman logic to conceal your fanaticism, only you made a blunder. It's a blunder, you see. While I was writing the book I came into contact with lots of people and understood a lot. I was given many different spiritual books to read. I don't know what you know about them, but I can say one thing.

"A thousand years ago and more, wise men, great and holy, appeared on earth, and their different spiritual trends live on to this day. There are more than two thousand different religions on Earth, I heard them say in a television broadcast about this. All of them talk about good, and teach everyone how to live, and each leader tells us that the Truth is in him alone. There are plenty of holy sites around, and what good has come of their millennia of talking shop? From their teachings?

"I've understood just one thing. The millennia pass, but the war does not end. The war among the teachings. Whoever wins is considered right, but not for long. Time passes, there's a new war, and a new teaching wins. But no one pays any attention to those who fell in that war. If I were to say it all outright . . . You know who you are and what you're calling on me and all your readers to do?"

Anastasia stood up, looked me calmly in the eyes, and said, "Please don't go on, Vladimir. Believe me, I know what you might say. Let me. It will be briefer and without name-calling."

"You? All right, give it a try. And without name-calling. What did I want to say?"

"You wanted to say, Vladimir, you were talking about the many prophets there have been on Earth, the teachers. There are many different teachings, and it is hard for you to sort them out. But I will tell you, and you can understand it all if you want to.

"The criterion that will serve to assess everything is WATER. With each passing day, the water gets dirtier. And the air is hard to breathe.

"The succession of secular rulers, no matter what temples they've erected, will be remembered by their descendants only for the dirt that came down from them. Life gets more and more dangerous with each passing day, but we're alive. You thought I was one of those who tries to teach everyone how to live, Vladimir. One of those who creates another religion, trying to place herself at its head.

"I assure you, though, I would not allow in myself the kind of egoism that incinerated all those enlightened people later. I can and will win! I will stop the fume and stench of factory smoke, and the miners will realize that they should not rip open the Earth's veins.

"I beg of you, people, change your professions quickly, all those professions that bring harm to the Earth, to the Creator's great creation.

"I beg of you, people, to understand quickly that no one can be happy on Earth who continues to damage the Earth.

"A little time will pass, and human misfortune all over the Earth will go into its death throes and the Earth will burn up in its own fire.

"Human consciousness will carry people across the dark forces' span of time. Vladimir, look around you. What I have dreamed has already come true. My dream has been picked up by the Universe and is being given out to all people. All humanity is already racing over the abyss, only the doubter will fall into the abyss. But humanity, believe me, Vladimir, humanity will be saved.

"People will see who children are, and people will come to know life in paradise.

"Events in Russia are not happening randomly. Vladimir, take a closer look at events. I am undoing the hell foretold for Earth."

"But who are you, who do you consider yourself to be?"

"Oh, do you still not understand? The postulates have placed disbelief in your own soul in you. I am a sorceress and my dreams and aspirations are fruitless, is that what you think? But doubts are torturing you. You do and don't believe yourself, and that is my fault. I'm such a bungler. Everything I say is confused and incomprehensible. People, everyone who is reading this, forgive me. I cannot find the words to make it understandable to absolutely everyone. Forgive me, Vladimir, for misleading you. They do not understand everything you've written and they are laughing at you.

"But how can I atone for my guilt? It occurred to me that if you like I could play the complete fanatic. Or I could appear as myself, understand it that way if you like, but sincerely believe that I sincerely want good for all people, just know that.

"Please, do not frown. Smile. Look at how beautiful everything around you is. Do not torture yourself. I don't want there to be any mystery. If it is easier for you to take me for a naïve sorceress, then take me for whatever you believe."

"There, that's a little better. There's clarity. So, you mean, you've been acting the whole time?"

"Are you perceiving my acting with your Soul?"

"Acting should be cheerful."

"Naturally, you're right about that. There should be lightness and simplicity in everything, and I should be cheerful."

Through the clouds, the nice sun's rays were shining on the lake's smooth surface and its shore. Drops of rain were lying on the bushes' leaves and the grass, and circles were rippling on the water from the drops of rain. Anastasia, who before this had been speaking with agitation and quietly, not taking her eyes off me, suddenly looked from side to side, clapped her hands, and laughed.

A ringing, infectious, inviting laugh spilled out over the cedars' branches and the lake's shore and surface. In childish delight she began spinning in the rare drops of rain and laughing like a child. But every few minutes she would break off her fiery dance.

I saw the sun's rays playing on her face, which was aglow either in raindrops or in tears. Suddenly everything around us fell still, and Anastasia's ringing, confidently desperate phrases filled the space and were borne upward. The air above the taiga became bluer and the birds fell silent. As if the birds were listening to everything as Anastasia's phrases flew off into space.

"Hey you, prophets! Talking for millennia about the despair and frailty of earthly existence, frightening people with hell and judgment. Cool your ardor. It is your fault man has so much trouble understanding Heaven.

"Hey, Nostradamus! Nostradamus, you didn't predict, you created with your thought the dates of terrible cataclysms for Earth. You made many people believe you and thereby led their thoughts to make something terrible come true. Your thought hovers over the planet, frightening people with its prophesy and despair, but now it will not come to pass. Let your thought do battle with mine. Of course, you know everything in advance and that is why you flee so quickly.

"Hey, you who call yourselves teachers of men's souls! Teachers who try to tell man that he is weak of spirit, knows nothing, and all Truths are accessible to you alone as the chosen one. Only through worship of you is the Divine voice and the Truth of universal creation accessible. Cool your ardor, now let everyone know that the Creator gives each person everything from the beginning, and one has only not to cover the great creations with a host of postulates, a host of fictions to please the pride of their Creator. Do not stand between God and men. The Father wants to speak with each person himself. The Father does not know intermediaries.

"Each person has the Truth in his soul from the beginning. Let each person be happy right now, today, not tomorrow! The Creator filled each moment and every age with happiness. There is no room in His intentions for his beloved offspring to suffer."

She was acting! With such inspiration! So desperately! Of course she was acting, but why was that unusual light shining above her in the sky over the taiga? It was as if the heavens could record all the phrases the taiga hermit was throwing from the Earth with such inspiration and despair.

"Hey, predictors of the ages, who predicted darkness for man, thereby creating both darkness and hell. Oh, how assiduously you fed your egregore, frightening man in the name of the Father. Come on, here I am. Everyone here. With my Ray I will burn up the host of age-old postulates in an instant. All the anger on Earth, leave what you are doing, rush to me, fight me, just try.

"But you, warriors of all faiths, it is you, after all, who created all the wars. Now do not even dream of wars. Do not draw people into war for your mercantile interests with the deceit of obscurantism. I am alone before you. Vanquish me. Come at me, all of you, to vanquish me. The battle will be without a battle, and followers of all faiths will help.

"My foremothers and my fathers put the True Light of the primary sources in them. Use everything you have safeguarded so carefully for me. Give it to everyone who can accept the Light.

"Let evil fight itself and my flesh, not my soul. I will give all my soul to people. I will remain in people with my soul. Ready yourself, malevolence, leave the Earth, attack me!

"I am a human being! I am a hu-man be-ing of the pri-mar-y sour-ces. I am Anastasia. And I am stronger than you."

"Stop. Why call down all the devils yourself?" I broke in, thinking this was still some game.

"Vladimir, don't be afraid of them. They are cowardly. Not only that, you yourself said I was cunning. Cunning? So be it. I outwitted them. They laughed at you, thought me a fiction, meanwhile I was creating and bestowing the power that my foremothers and my fathers had brought me from the primary sources upon many people!" She stamped her foot and laughed ringingly and began spinning again like a ballerina. Carried away by her game, I began showing her moral support.

"Then do it, Anastasia, burn! Let all the Earth's evil rush at you and you incinerate it! Just be careful doing it and don't perish."

"For me to perish, Vladimir, they would have to leave many earthly affairs. Freeing many human souls from their shackles.

"But if I do perish, what I dreamed of will come true anyway. The strings of the universal harp will play a happy melody and human souls will hear them. They will understand!

"Make your sound, Universe! Your happy melody! For them, for all the people of the Earth. Let everyone know the Soul's melody!

"Human Souls will aim their rays at the Earth, which is weary from its misfortunes. Watch, Vladimir."

With these words Anastasia ran toward the plastic bag with the readers' letters, dropped to her knees, and placed her hands on the packet.

Rejoicing ecstatically, like a child, she said, "When an elderly man, a soldier who had been in battle, reading your book, suddenly felt tears well up. When a young mama felt a different attitude toward the child she had borne. And a girl, she's still twelve, understood everything and started to love life. Look, when this young man says he is not going to take drugs anymore and went to see his mother.

"When people send letters from the prisons, you see, you feel, their souls singing, acquiring a different strength. . . .

"Their souls understand those signs I found, and the combinations of universal sounds, and now they are heard in them, they accept them. . . . Not yet everyone, but there will be many of them! The heavens know about this and await each person with love.

"Look, look at how people set forth their understanding in verse."

She rejoiced so sincerely and kept talking about the letters that I got carried away by the scene and thought, "All right, let her rejoice, let her play her game and believe in her dream's realization. I will write everyone that she is acting. She herself is making up everything and is made joyful from her fictions." I wanted to settle down, and suddenly everything once again got mixed up in my consciousness. I thought it was all a fiction, her imagination, but now, imagine, there was something to make you lose your mind. Imagine, she was talking about the letters and everything that was in fact written in them. Even in letters I hadn't brought to the taiga. But how? She hadn't read them, after all.

Dumbfounded, I looked and listened to her recite the poems that were in the envelopes, rejoice at something suddenly or fall silent with concern, as if she had read all the letters in a single instant.

Everything she said about the letters was absolutely precise. Absolutely precise. Precise! Stop! Does that mean that before this she was setting everything out precisely and not acting? Dreaming? Of course she was dreaming! But she had dreamed before about both the book and poems before her now. And her dreams had come true! They had!

Here is the book lying before her. It is material.

It's fantastic!

No, this is unreal!

Reader, could it be that you are now holding a particle of the desperate hermit's dream materialized into a book?

And what now?

Might all the rest really come true as well?

When I came out of my stupor, I asked her, "Anastasia, how did you find out what people had written in their letters? It's as if you had read them all. Even those I didn't bring."

Anastasia turned around, all joyously beaming.

"How simple it all is. Look how you can hear the soul speak."

Suddenly Anastasia fell silent. In the silence she walked up to me calmly and thoughtfully and said, "Answering all the questions isn't hard, but an answer doesn't fix the problem. An answer gives rise to another question. So today humanity is eating Adam's apple, not knowing they can never be full. Meanwhile, anyone can hear the answer inside himself."

"But how can each person himself learn which answer is correct and which is incorrect?"

"It is only egoism that always leads people away from the Truth. Vladimir, try to hear me."

We sat down on the grass next to the packet of letters. I saw her eyes shine, and her cheeks flushed when she said, "I will tell you about creating, Vladimir, and then each person himself will be able to give answers to their own questions. Please, Vladimir, listen and write about the Creator's great creation. Listen and try to accept with your soul. . . ."

So began Anastasia's inspired story about creation. But it is long. There isn't room for it here. I will say just one thing: after it I felt like praying.

Respectfully yours, readers, and until we meet in the next book.

Vladimir Megre

To be continued....

CO-CREATION — Volume IV

First published in 1999

Translation by: Marian Schwartz

1. All This Exists Even Now!

"I will tell you about creating, Vladimir, and then each person will be able to answer their own questions themselves. Please, Vladimir, listen and write about the Creator's great creation. Listen and try to let your soul understand the aspirations of the Divine dream."

Anastasia uttered these sentences and fell silent, distraught. She looked at me and said nothing. She was probably upset because she sensed or saw on my face my distrust of what she might say about Creation and God.

But why shouldn't doubt arise in me or other people? The ardent recluse can dream up all sorts of things but she has no historical proof. If anyone can speak persuasively about the past, it's historians or archeologists. The Bible and other religious books speak of God—many different books. For some reason, though, they speak of God in different ways. Isn't that because no one has conclusive proof?

"There is proof, Vladimir," Anastasia suddenly uttered confidently and agitatedly in response to my mute question.

"Where is it?"

"All the proof, all the Universal truths, are preserved in each human Soul in perpetuity. Inaccuracies and lies cannot live long. The soul rejects them. This is why they have thrown so many different treatises at people. Lies require newer and newer guises. This is why humanity so frequently changes its social order. We are trying to find in it the lost truth. Meanwhile, we have been moving further and further away from it."

"But who has proven, and how, that each person holds the truth inside—in their soul or somewhere else in a person? And if it is there, then why is it hidden?"

"On the contrary, it strives to appear before each gaze every day. Eternal life is all around us, life's eternity is created by the truth.

Anastasia quickly pressed her hands to the ground, ran her palms across the grass, and held them out to me.

"Look, Vladimir, maybe they will drive out your doubts."

I looked. And lying on her outstretched palms I saw grass seeds, a small cedar nut, and some bug crawling.

I asked, "What does all this mean? The nut, for instance?"

"Look, Vladimir, the seed is so tiny, but if you plant it in the ground, a magnificent cedar grows up—not an oak, not a maple, not a rose, only a cedar. The cedar gives birth to another seed like it, and it will have in it, like the very first one, all the information of the primary sources. And if millions of years ago or in the future this kind of seed were to touch the earth, then only a cedar would sprout from the earth. The Creator has placed in it, in each seed of God's perfect creations, all the information in full. Millions of years pass, but they cannot erase the Creator's information. And the HUMAN BEING—the supreme creation—was given everything by the Creator at the moment of our creation. The Great Parent, inspired by the great dream, has placed all truths and all future achievements in their favorite offspring.

"So how are we to get hold of this truth in the end? From somewhere there inside us? Our kidneys, heart, or brain?"

"Our feelings. Try to determine the truth with your feelings. Trust them. Free yourself from mercantile postulates."

"All right, then, if you know something, speak up. Maybe someone will be able to understand you through their feelings. Well, what is God? Could scientists portray it using some scientific formula?"

"Scientific formula? It would stretch around the world more than once. When it ended, a new would be born. God is no less than what can be born in thought. It is firmament, vacuum and what cannot be seen. There is no point trying to understand it with your intellect. You can squeeze all the formulas of Earth, all the information of the universe in the small seed of your soul and turn them into feelings, or let them be revealed to your feelings."

"But what should I feel? Speak more simply, specifically, clearly."

"Oh my God! Help me! Help me create a worthy image just out of present-day phrases."

"There, you see? Now there aren't enough words. You should first read a proper dictionary. It has all the words spoken in life."

"All of today's. But a modern book does not have the words your ancestors spoke about God."

"You mean Old Church Slavonic words?"

"Even earlier. Before Old Church Slavonic writing, there was a way for people to pass on their thoughts to their descendants."

"What are you talking about, Anastasia? Everyone knows that normal script came from two Orthodox monks. Their names . . . I've forgotten their names."

"Cyril and Methodius, perhaps?"

"Yes, they created script."

"It would be more accurate to say they changed the script of our fathers and mothers."

"How did they change it?"

"By decree. So the Slavs' culture would be forgotten forever. The remains of the knowledge of the primary sources left human memory, and a new culture was born, so that the nations would obey other priests."

"What does a script and a new culture have to do with this?"

"When children today are taught to write and speak in a foreign language but are forbidden to speak in their current one. Tell me, Vladimir, what would your grandchildren learn about the present day? It is easy to suggest new sciences to those deprived of knowledge about the past by treating those sciences as significant. You can say anything you like to them about their parents. The language is gone, and with it the culture. Such was the calculation. But those who set themselves this goal did not know that the truth's shoot remains forever in the human soul, invisible. It needs only a drop of dew, and it will grow and gain strength. Look, Vladimir. Please, take my words and feel what is behind them."

Anastasia spoke, first slowly pronouncing her words, then quickly rapping out entire sentences, then suddenly falling silent for a moment, stopping for a moment's thought, and plucked sentences, strange for our speech, as if out of thin air. Sometimes, suddenly, she would weave words I did not know into her speech. But each time she used words unclear in meaning, as if catching herself, she changed them for the correct or more comprehensible words. She was trying to prove something, saying of the Creator:

"Everyone knows that humans are the likeness and image of God. But in what way? Where are the Creator's characteristic features in you? Have you ever given that any thought?"

"Well, no. I never had occasion to. Why don't you tell me about them."

"When the weary person goes to bed after the cares of the day, when they stop feeling their relaxed body, their second 'I'—the set of invisible energies—partially leaves their body. In that instant, earthly boundaries do not exist for them. For them, there is neither time nor distance. Your consciousness, in less than an instant, overcomes any limit of the Universe. The set of feelings senses and analyses past or future events, fits them to the present day, and dreams. All this speaks to the fact that you don't sense the vast universe just with your flesh. Your God-given thought creates. Only human thought is capable of creating other worlds or of changing what has been created.

"Sometimes people cry out in their sleep, frightened by something. Their set of feelings, freed from earthly cares and what was done in the past or future, frightens them.

"Sometimes people create in their sleep. Their creations strive slowly or quickly to be embodied in earthly existence. Whether they are embodied in an ugly form or else radiate harmony depends at least partly on: the extent to which inspiration has entered the creation; how precisely and specifically all its aspects are accounted for at the moment of creation; and the extent to which inspiration strengthens the person's Divine 'I.'

"In the entire Universe, creation is intrinsic only to God alone and to the child of God.

"God's thought serves as the origin of everything. Their dream is turned into living matter. Human thought, human dream, precedes human actions.

"All people on Earth have equal opportunities to create. However, people use their opportunities differently. People have been presented with complete freedom in this as well. There is freedom!

"Now tell me, Vladimir, what kinds of dreams God's children are dreaming today? You, for example, your friends and acquaintances. What do they use their creative dreaming for? What do you use it for?"

"Me? Well . . . what do you mean what for? Like everyone, I strove to make as much money as I could so as to have a firm footing in life. I acquired a car, more than one, actually. Lots of other things necessary for life, too—decent furniture, for example."

"And that is all? That is all you used your creative, God-intrinsic dream for?"

"That's what everyone uses it for."

"For what?"

"For money! How can we do without it? To wear decent clothing, for instance, to eat a little better, to buy things, to have a drink. All this is clear. And you're saying, what for?"

"To eat . . . to drink. Vladimir, you must understand, all this was given to everyone from the beginning, in abundance."

"It was? Where did it go then?"

"Where do you think?"

"I just think the original clothing became tattered, it wore out, and the people ate up all the first food long ago. Times are different now, there is another fashion for clothing, and our tastes in food have changed."

"Vladimir, God gave their children incorruptible clothing and supplies of food that could never run out."

"And where is this everything now?"

"All this has been preserved. Even now, it exists."

"Tell me where. How can I see the caches where so many reserves have been preserved to this day?"

"You're about to. Only look with your feelings. Only with your feelings can you know the essence of the Divine dream's creation."

2. The Beginning of Creation

Picture the beginning. No Earth. Matter not yet reflecting the universal light. However, as now, the Universe was filled with a great number of different energies. In the darkness the living essences of the energies thought, and in the darkness they created. They did not need an external source of light. They shone from within and for themselves. Each had everything—thought, feelings, the energy of aspiration. Still, there were differences among them. In each, one energy predominated over all the others. As now, the Universe contained the essence of destruction and the essence of life creation. Others had many shades of different feelings similar to human feelings. Those universal essences simply could not communicate with each other. Inside each essence the many energies were creating first languid, then suddenly lightning-quick movement. What was created within immediately destroyed itself. Their pulsation did not alter the cosmos, it could not be seen by anyone, and each believed that it was all alone in space. Alone!

The lack of clarity as to their predestination would not let them make imperishable a creation that could bring satisfaction. This is why the pulsation remained in this timeless, limitless space, but there was no general, universal movement.

All of a sudden, communication touched everyone—everyone in an impulse. Everyone was touched simultaneously by the vast Universe. Among the sets of energies of those living, one suddenly shed light on the others. That set was either very old or very young, although one cannot say in ordinary words. It arose out of the vacuum or out of the sparks of everything one can think of—it doesn't matter. That set strongly resembled a human, the humans who live today. It resembled their second "I"—the eternal, holy self, not the material self. The energies of their aspirations and living dreams began for the first time to lightly touch everything real in the Universe, and they alone were so ardent that they set all feeling in motion. The sounds of communication were heard in the Universe for the first time. And if the first sounds were translated into modern words, then we would sense the meaning of the questions and answers.

From all sides of the vast Universe, one question, uttered by all, sped to Them alone: "What do you desire so ardently?" everyone asked.

In reply, You, confident in your dream, said, "Joint creation and joy for all from its contemplation."

"What can joy bring for all?"

"Birth!"

"What do you mean birth? Each has had self-sufficiency for a long time."

"Birth in which parts of everything are included."

"How can everything being destroyed and created be united into one?"

"Opposing energies, having first balanced them in yourself."

"Who is capable of such a thing?"

"I am."

"But there is the energy of doubt. Doubt calls on you and destroys the many different energies and tears you to shreds. No one can hold opposites in a single whole."

"There is also the energy of confidence. Confidence and doubt, when they are equal, help precision and beauty for the future creation."

"What can you call yourself?"

"I am God. I am the Creator. I can take in particles of all your energies. I will persist! I will create! Creation will bring joy for the entire Universe!"

The multitudes and the whole Universe released all the essences of their energies into Them alone simultaneously. Each aspired to predominate over all so that it would be embodied supreme.

So began the great battle of all the universal energies. No magnitude of time, no measure can characterize the scale of this battle. Calm ensued only when everyone had been illuminated by the awareness that nothing can be higher and stronger than the single universal energy, the energy of the Divine dream.

The Creator possessed the energy of the dream. They were able to perceive everything inside them, balance everything, pacify it, and the Creator began to create. Still creating in themselves, still creating future creations in themselves, they cultivated each detail with indefinable speed. Creator thought through the interconnection to everything for each creation. They did everything alone. Alone in the vast, Universal darkness. Alone in themselves, they accelerated the movement of all the universal energies. Not knowing the outcome frightened everyone and distanced them from the Creator. God ended up in a vacuum, and that vacuum was expanding.

There was the cold of dying. There was fright and alienation around him, but God alone, already saw the beautiful dawns, heard the singing of birds and smelled the fragrance of blooms. Alone, they used their ardent dream to produce beautiful creations.

"Stop," they told God, "You are in a vacuum. You are going to explode! How can you hold the energies inside you? You have nothing to help you keep a grasp on them, and you will explode. But if you have a moment, stop! Quietly release your creative energies."

And the Creator replied, "My dreams! I will not betray them. For them I will continue to grasp and accelerate my energies. In my dreams, through the grass and among the flowers, I see the bustle of ants and the hen-eagle boldly soaring, teaching her chicks to fly.

With their unknowable energy, God sped up within themselves the movement of the entire Universe's energy. In their Soul, inspiration was squeezed into a grain.

And suddenly they felt a touch. From all sides, everywhere, the touch singed them with an unknown energy and immediately withdrew, warming with its warmth at a distance, filling them with some new force. Everything that had been a vacuum suddenly began to shine, and the Universe heard new sounds when God asked with tender ecstasy, "Who are you? What kind of energy?"

In response they heard words of music: "I am the energy of Love and Inspiration."

"Your particle is in Me. It alone proved capable of holding back the energy of contempt, hatred and malice."

"You are the Creator, Your energy—the dream of Your Soul—was able to bring everything into harmony. If my particle helped this along, then listen to me, oh God, and you will be able to help me."

"What do you want? Why have you touched me with the full force of your fire?"

"I realized that I am Love. I cannot use only one particle. I want to give my entire self to Your Soul. I know you will not let all of me in, in order not to destroy the harmony of good and evil. But I will fill the vacuum around You. I will warm everything inside and around You. The Universal cold and gloom will not touch you."

"What is happening? What? You are shining even more powerfully."

"Not I myself. This is Your energy, Your Soul. I merely reflect it, and the reflection returns to Your Next."

Desperate and desirous, the Creator cried out, inspired by Love:

"Everything is speeding up. Everything inside me is stirring. How beautiful inspiration is! Let the dreams of My creation come to pass in Love."

3. Your Appearance for the First Time

The Earth! The visible planet, arose, the core of all the Universe and the center of everything. The Earth! Suddenly you could see around it the stars, the Sun and Moon. The invisible, creative light coming from the Earth, found its reflection in them.

For the first time in the Universe, a new plane of existence appeared—a material plane—and it glowed.

No one and nothing from the instant the Earth appeared possessed visible matter, the Earth was in contact with everything in the Universe but was also in and of itself.

It was a self-sufficient creation. What grows and lives, what swam and flew, did not die, disappeared nowhere. Even out of the decay came the mosquito, and a different life fed on the mosquito, and everything merged into a single beautiful life.

All the universal essences began to look at the Earth in perplexity and admiration. The Earth was in contact with everything but no one was given to touch it.

Inspiration mounted inside the Creator. In the light, the vacuum-filled Love, the Divine essence altered its outlines, and the Divine essence took on the shapes the human body now has.

Divine thought worked outside of speed and time. Inspired and illuminated, it drove all the energies of its thought into eternity and created! There was one more invisible creation still inside it.

Suddenly the illumination flared up and the energy of Love shuddered, as if singed, with new heat.

God exclaimed in joyous admiration, "Look, Universe, look! Here is My child! Human! They are standing on Earth. They are material. In them are particles of all the universal energies. They live on all levels of being. They are my likeness and image and in them are particles of all your energies, so love them. Love them!

"My child will bring joy to all there is. They are creation. They are birth. They are everything of everyone. They will create a new creation and their continuous rebirth will stretch out infinitely.

"When they are one, and when they are multiplied many times over, they, emanating an invisible light, merging into their single whole, will govern the Universe. They will give the joy of life to everything. I have given them, everything and in the future I will also give them what I have conceived."

"Thus for the first time You alone were standing on the beautiful Earth." Anastasia concluded her story.

"Who are you talking about? Me?"

"You, Vladimir, and also whoever comes into contact with this written line."

"Anastasia, how can that be? Here you have a total incongruity. How can all those reading stand there where it says only one stood? The Bible talks about it. First there was one, and his name was Adam. Even you said that God created one."

"That's all correct, Vladimir. But look, we all came out of the one. The information of the Creator's particle was implanted in that person and all others born on Earth. And if by will of thought you cast off the weight of your vain cares, you will feel the sensations of those preserved to this day in the small particle. It was there and it remembers everything. It is in you now and in every living person on Earth. Let it reveal itself, sense what you saw, and you who are now reading this line, what you saw at the beginning of your journey."

"That's great! So it turns out that everything living right now, on this Earth, was there at the very beginning?"

"Yes. But on this Earth, not a different one. Only the Earth had a different look back then."

"What can you call all of us simultaneously?

"You're used to hearing the word 'you' right? I will use that, but you must imagine that it really is you. Each person should imagine themselves by this name, just for now. I will help the presentation a little with words."

"Please. I still have a fairly poor picture of myself in those times."

"To make it easier, imagine yourself entering a garden as spring turns to summer, and in that garden you find the fruits of autumn. In it are beings you are seeing for the first time. It is hard to take it all in at a glance when everything is new and in each is perfection. But remember the first time you saw a flower, and your attention rested on the flower. On the very little flower.

"Cornflower blue, the petal shapes smooth, consisting of lines. The flower's petals glowed slightly, they seemed to reflect the sky's light. And you, you sat down by the flower, admiring the creation. But however much you looked at the flower, the vision of the flower changed. A breeze rocked the flower on its thin stem, caressing it, and the petals rustled under the sun's rays, changing the light's angle of reflection, changing its very tender petals half a tone. The petals would tremble in the breeze, then, as in greeting, wave at you, a human, and they seemed to conduct a music playing in your soul. The subtlest fragrance rushed from the flower to embrace you, a human.

"Suddenly, you heard a mighty roar, and you rose up and turned to face the sound. In the distance stood an enormous lion and lioness. The lion's shout proclaimed its presence to the surroundings.

"You began to look at the handsome and mighty figure crowned with a thick mane. When the lion saw you, the beast raced at you in mighty leaps, nor did the lioness lag behind. You admired the play of their mighty muscles. The beasts came to a stop three meters away from you. A human's gaze caressed them. Bliss emanated from the human. The caressed lion dropped to the ground in bliss and the lioness lay down beside him. She did not stir, so as not to disturb the warm. grace-filled light coming to them from you, the human.

"You combed the lion's mane with your fingers, examined and touched the claws of his powerful paw, touched his white fangs with your hand, and smiled when the lion purred blissfully."

"Anastasia, what was that light that came from the human in the beginning so that the lion didn't tear them to pieces? Why doesn't light come from humans now? No one glows now."

"Vladimir, haven't you noticed a great distinction even now? Human gaze distinguishes everything earthly—the little blade of grass, the ferocious beast, and the stone—with delayed thought. It is mysterious and puzzling and filled with an inexplicable force. Human gaze can both caress and also shroud everything alive in the chill of destruction. Tell me, for example, haven't you ever been warmed by someone's gaze? Or perhaps have you had an unpleasant feeling inside from certain eyes?"

"Yes, basically, I have. Sometimes you feel as though someone is looking at you. Looking pleasantly or not very."

"There, you see? That means you know that a caressing gaze will create a pleasant warmth inside you, and a different gaze brings destruction, a chill. But in the first days, human gaze was many times more powerful. The Creator made it so that everything living strove to be warmed by this gaze."

"Has all the power of human gaze gone?"

"Not all. Enough of it remains, but vanity, superficial thinking, a different speed of thought, a false concept of the essence, and sluggish apprehension cloud the gaze and keep that which everyone expects from humans from being revealed. Each person holds their soul's warmth inside. If only it were all revealed in everyone! All waking reality could be transformed into a beautiful, primordial garden."

"For all people? As it was in the beginning for this human? Could such a thing really come to be?"

"Everything can come to be, and this is what human thought strives for, merging from all into one.

"When You were alone, the power of your thought was the same as all humanity's right now."

"Oh ho! Is this why the lion was afraid of me?"

"The lion was not afraid of the human. The lion was bowing to your grace-filled light. Everything there is strives to know grace, which humans alone can create. For this, everything, and not only on Earth, is prepared to sense a human as a friend, sibling, god. Parents always strive to instill all the best abilities in their children. Only parents sincerely want their children's ability to exceed theirs. The Creator gave humans—their children—in abundance everything to which They themselves had striven in a burst of inspiration. If everyone is capable of understanding that God is perfect, then let everyone feel with the feelings of parents everything God the parent strove to create for Their child, their beloved child-human: how not to fear responsibility and how to bind oneself forever to God and not renounce their creation, having said the words that have reached us after millions of years: "They are My children: humans. They are My image! My likeness."

"So, you mean God wanted their children, their creations—well, humans—to be stronger than they were?"

"The aspirations of all parents confirm this."

"So the human on the very first day vindicated God's dreams? What did they do after they encountered the lion?"

"You strove to know all that is and to give each creature a name and purpose. Sometimes you solved the task quickly; sometimes you spent a long time on it. How hard you tried, for example, on your first day, before nightfall, to determine a purpose for the brontosaurus, but you couldn't. And so all the brontosauruses vanished from the Earth."

"Vanished? Why?"

"They vanished because humans did not give them a purpose."

"And brontosauruses, are those the ones that are several times larger than elephants?"

"Yes, they are larger than elephants, they had small wings and a small head on a long neck. They could also breathe fire."

"Like in the fairytale. The dragon Gorynych, for example, breathed fire, too, in the fairytales. But that's in fairytales, not real life."

"Sometimes fairytales talk about past reality allegorically, and sometimes precisely."

"Is that so? But what was the monster made of? How can a living animal breathe fire? Or is the fire an allegory? For instance, did the monster breathe malice?"

"The huge brontosaurus was good, not bad. Its outward volume served to ease its weight."

"How can a great volume serve to ease weight?"

"The more a balloon is filled with lighter air, the lighter it is."

"What does a brontosaurus have to do with this? It's not a balloon."

"The brontosaurus was an enormous living sphere. The construction of its skeleton was light, and its internal organs small. Inside, like in a balloon, the emptiness was filled constantly with gas, which is lighter than air. If the brontosaurus took a little jump and flapped its wings, it could fly a short way. When there was an excess of gas, it exhaled it through its mouth. Flint-like fangs poked from its mouth whose friction could create a spark; the gas coming out of the belly would ignite, and flame would burst from its mouth."

"That's great! Wait, who kept it filled with gas?"

"I'm telling you, Vladimir, the gas was produced inside when it digested its food."

"That can't be. There is only natural gas in the bowels of the Earth. They take it out of there and then fill balloons with the gas or send them to stoves through pipes, to the kitchen. But this is from food? It's all that simple?"

"Yes, it is."

"I don't believe in that simplicity, and I don't think anyone is going to believe it. In fact, everything you said is doubtful, and people will doubt not only what you said about the brontosaurus but everything else. So I'm not going to write about this."

"Vladimir, do you think I can be wrong, that I can lie?"

"I don't know about lying, but about you being wrong about the gas, that's for sure."

"I'm not wrong."

"Prove it."

"Vladimir, your stomach and other people's produce the same kind of gas today."

"That can't be."

"You verify it. Go and light it when it comes out of you."

"How out of me? Where? Light it where?"

Anastasia burst out laughing, and through her laughter said, "You're just like a child. Think yourself, this is an intimate experiment."

I thought about this gas from time to time. Why did it nag at me so? Eventually I decided to conduct the experiment, after I got back from seeing Anastasia. It burns! I remember everything she said about Adam's first days or our first days with increasing interest. I feel that for some reason we have forgotten to take something from them into today. Or only I forgot. Actually, let each person decide everything for himself when he finds out how man's first day went. Here is how Anastasia spoke of it.

4. The First Day

"You were interested in everything. Every blade of grass, the intricately detailed bug, and the birds in the skies and the water. When you saw a stream for the first time, you admired it at length, the clear water racing, sparkling in the sun, and you saw the variety of life in it. You touched the water. The current immediately embraced your hand and caressed all the folds of the skin on your hand, drawing you toward it. You plunged into the water, and your body immediately became lighter, the water held hyou up, and murmuring, caressed your whole body right there. Casting the water up with your palms, you admired the way the Sun's rays played in every drop of water, and then the current received the drops again. You drank the water from the river joyously, and until the Sun set, admired it, contemplated it, and bathed again."

"Wait, Anastasia. You said I drank, but did I eat anything that whole day? What kind of food did we eat?"

"Around him were many different-tasting fruits, berries, and herbs good for eating. But you did not feel hunger in the first days. You were full from the air."

"The air? You can't be full from air. There's even a saying about that."

"Humans truly cannot feed on the air they breathe now. Today the air has been deadened and is often toxic to the flesh and soul. You referred to the saying that you can't be full from air, but there is another: 'I fed on air alone." It corresponds to what humans were presented with in the beginning. You were born in a beautiful garden and in the surrounding air there was not a single harmful speck of pollen. In that air, the pollen was dissolved and there were drops of the purest dew."

"Pollen? What kind?"

"Flower and grass pollen, pollen shed from the trees and fruits of the ether—those nearby and others from faraway places brought on the wind. At that time, the problems of finding food never distracted humans from their great works. Everything around fed them through the air. The Creator made this all so from the beginning, that everything living on Earth in a surge of love strove to serve humans; the air, water, and breeze were life-giving."

"Now you're right here. Air can be very harmful, but humans invented the air conditioner. It cleans the air of harmful particles. Also, they sell bottled mineral water. So that now, for the many who aren't poor, the problems of air and water have been solved."

"Unfortunately, Vladimir, the air conditioner does not solve the problem. It retains the harmful particles, but it deadens the air even more. The water kept in sealed bottles dies from being sealed up. It only feeds the flesh's old cells. For new birth, for the cells of your flesh to be constantly renewed, you need living air and water."

5. Problems Affirm Life's Perfection

"This human had all that at the beginning?"

"You did! Your thought raced very fast. In a relatively short period, you were able to determine a purpose for everything. One hundred eighteen years raced by like a single day."

"One hundred eighteen years—You lived alone until deep old age?"

"Alone, doing things breathtakingly interesting, You lived—the first human. One hundred eighteen years brought you not decrepitude but a flourishing."

"In one hundred eighteen years a human ages. You're considered a long-liver, and diseases and infirmities overtake you."

"That is now, Vladimir, but then diseases did not affect humans. The age of each fleshly cell of theirs was longer, but if a cell did tire out and it was meant to die off, then immediately a new one full of energy came to take the old cell's place. Human flesh could live as many years as its spirit, or soul, wished."

"And what happens when that present-day humans themselves does not want to live longer?"

"By his own deed, they shortens their age by the second. Humans invented death for themselves."

"How can they have invented it? It comes of its own accord, against their will."

"When you smoke or drink alcohol, when you go to a city and the air is saturated with the stench of burning, when you take dead food and eat yourself up with malice, tell me, Vladimir, who if not you alone brings your own death closer?"

"Everyone has that kind of life now."

"Humans are free. Each person builds their own life themselves and determines their age down to the second."

"Do you mean to say that then, in paradise, there were no problems?"

"If problems did arise, they were resolved without damage and affirmed the perfection of life."

6. The First Encounter

One day, in his one hundred eighteen years, awakening with the morning light, You did not admire the spring and did not rise to greet the sun's rays, as you always had before.

The nightingale's song cascaded through the leaves overhead. You turned on your other side, away from the nightingale's song.

With suppressed apprehension at your gaze, spring filled the space, the river called to you with its gurgling water, and the swallows frisked overhead. The clouds shifted their whimsical shapes. The gentlest fragrance rushed from the grasses, flowers, trees, and bushes to envelop you. Oh, how God marveled then! Amid the springtime magnificence and earthly creation, under the sky's blue, Their child, a human, mourned. Their beloved child was full of sadness, not joy. Can there be anything sadder for a loving parent than such a scene?

For the one hundred eighteen peaceful years from the time of creation, the many divine energies in repose went into motion instantly. The whole universe fell still. A great acceleration, never before seen, shone in the halo of the energy of Love, which all living things understood: God had conceived of a new creation. But what else could be created after what had been created at the limit of inspiration? No one yet could understand this then. But the speed of God's thought increased. The energy of Love whispered to Them,

"Once again you have put everything into inspired motion. Your universal energies are igniting the space. How can you not burst into flames yourself from such ardor? Where are you heading? What are you striving for? I am no longer seen by you. Look, my God, I am burning with you, I am turning the planets into stars. Stop! All the best has been created by you. Your child's sadness will disappear. Stop, God!"

God did not hear Love's entreaty and did not heed the mockery of the universal essences. Like a young and ardent sculptor, the Creator continued the acceleration of all their energies' movement. And all of a sudden, an unprecedented beauty shone like the dawn through all the vast Universe, and everything there gasped, and God themselves whispered in admiration:

"Look, Universe! Look! Here is my daughter standing amid the earthly creations. How perfect, how beautiful all her features are! She will be worthy of my son. There is no creation more perfect than she. In her is my image and likeness, and all your particles are in her, so love her. Love her!

"She and he—my son and my daughter—will bring joy to all that is, and will build beautiful universal worlds at all planes of being!"

From the knoll, over the dew-washed grass, on this festive day, in the ray of sunrise, a maiden walked toward you. Graceful was her walk, slender her figure, her body's curves smooth and gentle, and the tints of her skin held the light of the Divine dawn. Closer and closer she came. There she was! The maiden stood before you, who lay in the grass.

A breeze straightened her golden tresses, revealing her brow. The Universe held its breath. Oh, how beautiful her visage—your creation, God!

Lying in the grass, Adam merely glanced at the maiden who had come up next to him, yawned lightly, and turned away, closing his eyes.

Then all the universal essences heard, no, not words—they heard Adam listlessly pondering God's new creation in his thoughts. "Well, here it is. One more creation of some sort has approached. There is nothing new about it except for a resemblance to me. Horses' knees are both sturdier and more flexible. The leopard's hide is more vivid and cheerful. Furthermore, it approached without invitation, whereas today I wanted to give the ants a new purpose."

Eve, after standing close to Adam for a little while, went to a slough in the river, sat by the bushes on the shore, and examined her reflection in the quiet waters.

The universal essences began to murmur and their thoughts merged into one: "The two perfections were unable to appreciate each other. There is no perfection in God's creations."

Only the energy of Love, alone amid the universal murmuring, tried to guard the Creator. Its glow surrounded God. Everyone knew that the energy of Love never reasoned. Invisible and taciturn, it always strayed in unknown expanses. But why now was it shining so around God, giving its all? Not heeding the universal murmurs, it only warmed and consoled with its shining.

"Rest, Great Creator, and instill understanding in Your children. You can correct any of Your beautiful creations."

In response the Universe heard those words and through them came to know both the wisdom and the greatness of God.

"My children are My image and likeness. There are particles of all the universal energies in them. They are the alpha and omega. They are creation! They are the future transubstantiation! Henceforth and in all to come, neither I nor anyone may change their fate against their wishes. All they themselves desire will be given them. What has been conceived will not come to pass in vanity. My son has not bowed down at the sight of the flesh of the maiden's perfection. He has not wondered, to the wonder of the whole Universe. He has not yet apprehended, but My son has sensed with his feelings. He was first to sense that he was lacking something. The new creation, the maiden, does not possess what he is lacking. My son! My son senses the entire Universe with his feelings, he knows everything that the Universe possesses.

A question filled the whole Universe: "What can be lacking in that which has all our energies and all Your energies?"

And God answered them all: "The energy of Love."

And the energy of Love blazed up: "But I am one, and I am Yours. I shine by You alone."

"Yes! You are one, My love," the Divine words were heard in response. "Your shining light glows and caresses, My love. You are inspiration. You can accelerate everything. You sharpen sensations, and you are the conciliation of repose, My love. I beg of you, descend to Earth, every last bit of you. Envelop them, My children, with yourself, with the energy of your great grace."

The farewell between Love and God heralded the beginning of all earthly love.

"My God," Love called to the Creator. "When I leave, You alone, invisible, forever, will abide on all living planes of being, invisible, forever."

"May my son and My daughter shine in the Next, the Now, and the True."

"My God, there will be a vacuum around You. No vivifying warmth will ever penetrate to Your Soul. Without this warmth, your Soul will grow cold."

"May warmth shine from Earth for all that is, not only for Me. Let it multiply My sons and daughters' deeds, and may the whole Earth shine in space with the warmth of love. Everyone will feel the grace-filled light of Earth, and all my energies will be able to warm them."

"My God, many different paths are open to Your son and daughter. They have in them the energies of all planes of being. But if just one predominates and leads them on the wrong path, what can You do? Have You given them everything only to see the energy coming from the Earth melting, weakening? You who have given everything only to see destructive energy dominating over all. Your creations cover up with a lifeless crust. Your grass scattered with stones. What will You do then, after Your son all Your freedom?"

"Amid the stones, I can poke through again as a green blade of grass. On a small untouched lawn I can open the petals of my flower. My earthly daughters and sons will be able to apprehend their purpose."

"My God, when I leave, you will become invisible to all. Essences of other energies may suddenly start speaking through people in Your name. Some will try to subordinate others to themselves. Interpreting Your essence for their own benefit, they will say, 'I am speaking to please God. I alone of everyone have been chosen by Him. Everyone, listen to me!' What can You do then?"

"With the coming day, I will rise as the dawn. The Sun's ray, caressing all creations on Earth, without exception, will help My daughters and sons to understand that each can speak with me, soul to Soul."

"They will be many, and You are one. For all universal essences, it will be their desire to seize the human soul, merely to assert themselves over all through people with their energy, and Your prodigal son will suddenly begin to pray to them."

"There is one main obstacle to the diversity of reasons leading to an impasse, to nowhere; it will be a bar to everything that bears a lie. My sons and daughters aspire to understanding the truth. A lie always has bounds, but the truth is boundless. It is one, and understanding will always be found in the soul of My daughters and sons!"

"My God, no one and nothing can resist Your flight of thought and dreams. They are beautiful! I will follow their trail with my will. I will warm Your children with my glow and will serve them eternally. The inspiration You bestow will help them bring their own creations into being. I ask You just one thing, my God. Allow me to leave just one spark of my love with You.

"When you come to sit in darkness, when there is only a vacuum all around, when there is oblivion and the light of Earth dims, let a spark, just one spark of my love for You, shine."

"Oh Vladimir!" Anastasia exclaimed. "If only living humans could look at the sky that embraced the Earth then, a great vision would appear before them."

Universal light, the energy of Love, dense as a comet, sped toward the Earth. On its path, it illuminated the bodies of the still lifeless planets and ignited the stars over the Earth. Toward the Earth! Closer and closer. Here it is. Suddenly, stopping right over the Earth itself, the glow of Love began to tremble. In the distance, alone among the burning stars, the smallest star of all seemed alive. It sped toward Earth after the glow of love. Love realized it was its last spark from God and it raced after it toward Earth.

"My God," the glow of Love whispered. "Why? I have no solution. Why did You not keep even one spark of mine next to You?"

To the words of Love, out of the universal darkness, no longer visible to anyone, still not understood by anyone, God gave his answer. His Divine words were heard:

"Keeping it for myself means not giving it to My daughters and sons."

"My God . . .'"

"How beautiful you are, Love, even one spark."

"My God . . ."

"Hurry, My Love! Hurry without reasoning. Hurry with your last spark and warm all My future sons and daughters."

"The universal energy of Love embraced Earth's people—all of it, down to the last spark. Everything was in it. Amid the vast Universe, on all living planes of being simultaneously, the Human Being rose up more powerful than all essences."

7. When There is Love

Adam lay on the grass, among the fragrant flowers. Under the canopy of trees he dozed, and his thoughts flowed languidly. Suddenly, the memory of an unknown wave of warmth embraced him, the warmth accelerated all his thoughts with a certain force: "Not long ago, a new creation stood before me. It resembled me, although with a difference. But what was that difference? Where is that creation now? Oh, how I want to see it again, though I don't know why!"

Adam rose quickly from the grass and looked around. A thought blazed up: "What has just happened? It is the same sky, birds, grass, trees, and bushes. Everything appears the same, but there is a difference. I am looking at everything differently. All earthly creatures and smells, the air and light, have become more beautiful."

And a word was born on Adam's lips, as he exclaimed to all: "And I love in response!"

A new wave of warmth coming from the river immediately enveloped his whole body. He turned toward the warmth, and before him the new creation shone. Logic left his thoughts. His entire soul took pleasure in the vision, when suddenly he saw the maiden sitting on the shore by the river's slough. She looked not at the pure water but at him, her golden tresses tossed back. She caressed him with her smile, as if she had been waiting an eternity for him.

He walked up to her. When they looked at each other, Adam thought, "No one has eyes more beautiful than she does."

Out loud he said, "You're sitting by the water. The water is pleasant. Do you want to bathe in the river with me?"

"Yes."

"Then do you want me to show you my creations?"

"Yes."

"I gave them all their purpose. I will instruct them to serve you as well. Do you want to create a new creation with me?"

"Yes."

They bathed in the river and ran across the meadow. Oh, how the maiden's laughter cascaded when, climbing on the elephant, the now cheerful Adam danced for her. He named the maiden Eve.

The day was approaching sunset. The two humans stood amid the glory of earthly being, and the colors, smells and sounds delighted them. A subdued Eve softly watched the evening set in. The flowers' petals folded into buds. The beautiful daytime visions receded into the darkness.

"You mustn't be sad," Adam said, now confident of himself. "The darkness of night will begin now. We need it in order to rest, but no matter how much night comes, day always returns."

"Will it be the same day or a new day?" Eve asked.

"Whatever day you want will return."

"In whose power is each day?"

"Mine."

"And in whose power are you?"

"No one's."

"Where are you from?"

"A dream."

"And where is everything caressing my gaze from?"

"Also from a dream, a creation for me."

"Then where is the one whose dream is so beautiful?"

"They are often nearby, only the ordinary gaze does not see them. But it is still good with them. They call themselves God, the Creator, the Universal Intellect... my parent and friend. They never bother me and give me everything. I want to give to Them, too, but I still don't know what."

"That means I am Their creation, too. I, too, like you, want to thank Them and call them my friend, God, parent. Perhaps together you and I can decide what acts of ours the great Parent expects from us."

"I heard them say that joy can be brought to everything."

"Everything? You mean, to the Creator as well?"

"Yes, to them as well."

"Tell me what they desire."

"Joint creation and joy from its contemplation."

"What can bring joy for everyone?"

"Birth."

"Birth? Everything beautiful is born."

"Often before I fall asleep, I think about an unusual and beautiful creation. At day's beginning, sleep falls away and I see before I've begun to think, everything beautiful and visible in the light of day."

"Let us think together."

"Before I fell asleep by your side, I too wanted to listen to your breathing, to feel your warmth, to think of creating together.

"Before I fell asleep, in my dreams about the beautiful creation, in a burst of tender feelings for each other, our thoughts embraced and merged into a single aspiration. Our two material bodies reflected what had been imagined. . . ."

8. Birth

The day returned—and night came once again. One day, at daybreak, when Adam was considering the tiger cubs and thinking, Eve quietly walked up, sat down beside him, took his hand, and put Adam's hand on her belly.

"Feel here, inside me, my creation, a new creation, alive. Do you feel it, Adam? Jostling? My restless creation?"

"Yes, I do. I think it is trying to reach me."

"You? Of course! It is mine, but it is also yours! I so want to see our creation."

Eve gave birth in great wonder (not agony).

Forgetting his entire surroundings, not feeling himself, Adam watched and trembled with impatience. Eve gave birth to a new joint creation.

A tiny bundle, all wet, lay helplessly on the grass. Little legs curled up, its eyes not opening. Adam watched steadily as it moved its little hand, opened its lips and exhaled. Adam was afraid to blink for fear of missing the slightest movement. Unknown feelings filled everything inside him and around. Unable to stay in one place, Adam jumped up and suddenly set off at a run.

In great exultation, Adam ran headlong down the riverbank, for the pure sake of running. He stopped. In his chest something beautiful and unknown kept expanding and growing. And everything around him! . . . The breeze did not simply rustle the bushes' leaves. It sang as it combed through the bushes' leaves and the flowers' petals. The clouds did not simply sail in the sky. All the clouds danced enchantingly. The water sparkled, smiled, and flowed quickly. Well, of course! The river! Reflecting the clouds, the river bent in a new way before his gaze. And the joyous chirping of birds in the sky! The exultant chirring in the grasses! Everything merged into the single sound of the magnificent, gentle music of the most beautiful universe.

Taking more air into his chest, Adam suddenly shouted with all his strength. His shout was unusual, not bestial. Instead, it spilled the gentlest of sounds. Everything around him quieted. For the first time, the Universe heard the human sing, standing on Earth, rejoicing and singing. A Human sang! And everything heard before in the galaxies fell silent. The Human sang! Hearing the song of happiness, the universal world understood that there is no string in any galaxy capable of emitting a better sound than the sound of the human soul in song.

But the song of exultation could not reduce the excess of feelings. Adam saw the lion and rushed toward it. He tumbled the lion to the ground, like a kitten, he started ruffling its mane, laughing, then he jumped up, beckoned to the lion and started to run. The lion could barely keep up with him, and the cubs and lioness fell way behind. Adam ran fastest of all and waved his arms, beckoning all the creatures to follow him on his way. He believed his creation would help bring joy to everyone.

And here he was before him again, the little bundle. His creation! Licked by the she-wolf and caressed by the warm breeze, the little bundle, alive.

The infant had yet to open his eyes: he was asleep. All the beasts that had run up with Adam dropped to the ground before him in bliss.

"This is wonderful!" Adam exclaimed in admiration. "A light like mine emanates from my creation. It may be stronger than mine since something unusual is even happening with me. All the creatures have fallen before him in bliss. That is what I wanted! I did it! I created! I created a beautiful, living creation. Everyone! Everyone look at him."

Adam cast a glance all around, and suddenly he stopped, his gaze fell still, on Eve.

She was sitting in the grass alone, lightly caressing the suddenly quiet Adam with her weary gaze.

The love inside and around Adam radiated invisible bliss with new force. Suddenly . . . Oh, how universal love trembled when Adam ran up to the beautiful maiden-mother, when he dropped to his knees before Eve and touched her golden tresses, her lips, and her milk-filled breast, when he compressed his amazement into a gentle whisper and tried to speak of his admiration.

"Eve! My Eve! My woman! You are capable of making dreams come true?"

A little weary, her gentle, quiet voice replied: "Yes, I am a woman, your woman. We will make everything you can imagine come true!"

"Yes! Together! We are together! Now it is clear! We are together! We are like the Creator! We are capable of making dreams come true! Look! Our Parent, do you hear us?"

But for the first time Adam did not hear an answer.

Surprised, he jumped up and shouted, "Where are You, my Parent? Look at my creation! Your earthly creatures are perfect, strange. Everything is beautiful—trees, grasses, bushes, and clouds—but more beautiful than the lines of a flower. Look! My creation has brought me more joy than everything you created with your dream. You are silent. You don't want to look at him? But he is the best of all! My creation speaks to my soul most of all. What is the matter with You? Don't you want to look at him?"

Adam looked at the infant. The air above the infant's little awakened body was bluer than usual, and no breeze ruffled anything, only someone invisible bent a slender stem over the infant's lips, bending the flower. And three gentle puffs of flower pollen touched the infant's lips. He—the infant—smacked his lips, sighed blissfully, moved his little arm and leg, and fell back to sleep. Adam guessed that while he was exulting, God was cherishing the infant, and so was silent.

Adam exclaimed, "That means you helped! That means you were nearby and recognized our creation?"

And he heard the Creator-Parent's quiet voice: "Not so loudly, Adam. You'll wake the child with your exultation."

"You mean, my Parent, that You have come to love my creation, as You do me? Or do You love him more than me? If so, why? Explain! It isn't Yours, after all."

"Love, my son, has a continuation; your continuation is in the new creation."

"You mean, I am here and in him simultaneously? And Eve is in him, you mean?"

"Yes, My son, your creation is like you in all things, not only in the flesh. In your child, spirit and soul, merging, give birth to something new. Your aspirations will continue, and the joyous feelings will strengthen many times over."

"So there will be many of us?"

"You will fill the whole Earth. You will apprehend everything through feeling, and then in other galaxies your dream will create a world even more beautiful."

"Where is the Universe's edge? What will I do when I come to it? When will I fill everything myself and create what I have imagined?"

"My son, the Universe is thought. The dream was born out of thought. It is partially visible in matter. When you reach the edge of everything, your thought will discover a new beginning and continuation. A beautiful new birth will arise from nothing, reflecting you and your aspirations, soul, and dream. My child, you are infinite, you are eternal, your creative dreams are in you."

"My Creator, how good it always is when you speak. When you are nearby, I want to embrace you. But you are invisible. Why?"

"My child, when my dreams of you were taking in the universal energies, I didn't have time to think about myself. My dreams and thoughts created only you; they did not create my visible image. But there are my creations, which are visible, and you must sense them, you must not try to examine them. No one in the entire Universe can examine them with just their mind."

"My Creator, I feel good when you speak. You are nearby, always nearby. When I find myself at the other end of the Universe, when I have doubts or something incomprehensible in my soul, tell me, how will I find you? Where will you be then?"

"In you and nearby. Everything is inside you, my child. You are master of all the Universe's energies. I balanced all the Universe's opposites in you, and in this way you are something new. Do not let any one of them predominate in you. Then I will be in you as well."

"In me?"

"In you and nearby. Both Adam and Eve are inside your child creation. In you there is a particle of me, and so I am inside your creation, too."

"I am child to you. Who will the new creation be for you?"

"You once again."

"Who will you love more, the me who I am now, or the me that is born over and over again?"

"Love is one, there is more and more hope in each new embodiment and dream."

"My Creator, how wise you are, and I how I want to embrace you!"

"Look around. My creations are visible, my materialised thoughts and dreams. You can always interact with them on your material plane of being."

"I have come to love you. How I love you, my Parent, my Creator! And I have come to love Eve, and my new creation. Love is all around, and I want to live in it eternally."

"My child, only in the dimension of Love will you live eternally.

"Years have passed, if I can put it this way, but time is only a convention, after all. Years have passed, but what is the point of counting? For a long time, humans could not know death in themselves, and that means that back thendeath could not exist."

9. The Apple That Cannot Satisfy

"Anastasia, if everything was so good in the beginning, what happened afterward? Why are there wars on Earth and why are people going hungry? We have stealing, criminals, suicides, prisons. There are plenty of unhappy families and orphaned children. Where did the loving Eves go? Where is God, who promised we would all live in love eternally? Actually, I remember that the Bible talks about this. Because humans picked the apple from the forbidden tree and tasted it, God drove us out of paradise. God even put a guard at the gates to keep the mischief makers out of paradise."

"Vladimir, God did not drive us out of paradise."

"Yes they did. I read about it. They also cursed humans at the same time. They told Eve she was a sinner and would give birth in agony, and Adam would obtain his food by the sweat of his brow. That is how everything happens with us now in real life."

"Vladimir, think this through yourself. Perhaps that logic or the absence of it is to someone's advantage. Perhaps it has its own purpose."

"What do logic and someone's purpose have to do with this?"

"Please, believe me. Each person must learn for themselves to examine things with their soul and define reality. Only by thinking things through yourself can you understand that God did not drive humans out of paradise. God to this day remains the all-loving Parent. They, God, are Love. You read about that, too."

"Yes, I did."

"So where is the logic? After all, a loving parent would never drive their child out of their home. A loving parent, enduring deprivation themselves, forgives their children any transgression. Nor does God unfeelingly see humans' presenet suffering. We are the Creator's children."

"Whether God sees or not, I don't know. But it is clear to everyone that God does nothing to counteract it."

"What are you saying, Vladimir? Of course, the Creator will bear this pain from their human chilren. But how much can one fail to perceive the Creator, fail to sense their love, not see it?"

"Why are you getting so worked up? Speak more specifically. Where and in what are the present-day manifestations of God's love for us?"

"When you are in the city, take a closer look around you. The living carpet of the most marvelous grass is covered with lifeless asphalt. There are hulks called homes, made of harmful concrete, all around, and cars move to an fro between them, emitting deadly gas. But among the stone hulks, if they find just a small island, blades of grass will come up, as will flowers—God's creations. From the leaves' rustling and the birds' singing, the Creator keeps calling to their daughters and sons to make sense of what is happening and to return to paradise.

"Love's illumination keeps decreasing from the Earth and the child's reflection would have dimmed altogether long ago. But God's energy indefatigably strengthens the stuff of life and the Sun's rays. As before, the Creator loves their daughters and sons. God believes, waits and dreams that one day, with the next dawn, humans will suddenly comprehend and that their comprehension will return the original flowering to Earth."

"But how did everything happen on Earth despite God's dreams? How did God endure however many thousands or millions of years? How can anyone keep waiting and believing all that time?"

"For God, time does not exist. As in a loving parent, faith does not vanish in them. Thanks to that faith, we are all alive right now. We ourselves are creating life, enjoying the freedom our Creator has given us. But people did not choose the path leading to nowhere all of a sudden."

"If not all of a sudden, then when? What does 'Adam's apple' mean?"

"In those times, as now, the Universe was filled with many living energies. Living essences are invisible everywhere, and many of them resemble the second human 'I.' They are almost like people, they are capable of encompassing all planes of being, except the material. Herein lies humans' advantage over them. One energy always predominates in the set of energies of universal essences. They do not have the ability to change the correlation/ratio of their energies.

"Also among the universal essences are sets of energies akin to God. Akin, but they are not gods. They can balance the multitude of energies in themselves for an instant, but they cannot create living creations in harmony, like God.

"No one in the entire Universe has been able to find the solution, to reveal the innermost secret, the power with which the material plane was created, and where, in what, the threads connecting it and the entire universal essence lie. How, at whose expense, can this plane reproduce itself?

"When God created the Earth and everything in it, then due to the speed of the unprecedented creation, the essences were unable to comprehend the force God used to produce the universe. When everything was created and visible, when they saw that humans were most powerful of all, the beautiful vision plunged many first in wonderment and admiration, and the desire grew in them to repeat it, to create the same thing, but their own. This desire kept growing. Even now it remains in many of the essences' energies. They have tried to create something like Earth in other galaxies and other worlds. They have even used the planets God created. Many have achieved a likeness of earthly being, but only a likeness. No one has been able to achieve an Earth of harmony and interconnection of everything with everything. Thus, there are to this day planets with life in the Universe, but a life that is merely a distortion of earthly life.

"When out of many attempts—not only to create something better but to repeat it—everything proved to be in vain (and God did not disclose their secret), then many of the essences began to turn to humans. It was clear to them that if God's creation was human, if they were loved, in loving the loving parent could not refuse to give us anything. On the contrary, God could present humans, their children, with great resources. So the universal essences began to turn to humans and strive to do so to this day. Even today, some people assert that someone invisible talks to them from somewhere in the cosmos and calls itself the intellect and the force of good. So too, at the very beginning, the essences came to humans first with instruction, then with a request. The substance of all the questions remained the same, merely masked differently. 'Tell us how, by what power, the Earth and everything in it was created, and how, out of what, you were created great, human?'

"But humans never did give any of them an answer. They themsleves did not know the answer to that question, nor do we now. But interest in humans rose, and people began demanding answers to that question from God. God did not simply not answer. God tried to reason with humans and asked them to eliminate the question from their thoughts.

"'I beg of you, my child, create. You have been given to create in the earthly expanse and in other worlds. What has been conceived by your dream will come to pass. I ask only one thing, do not try to sort out with what force all this is accomplished.'"

"Anastasia, I don't understand why God didn't want to tell even humans, their own child, about the technique of creation."

"I can only suppose. By not answering even their own child, God was trying to safeguard us from disasters and avert universal war."

"I don't see any connection between the absence of an answer and universal war."

"If the secret of creation were disclosed, then on the planets and in other universes forms of life equal to earthly forms could arise. The two forces would want to test each other. Possibly there could be peaceful competition, possibly something similar to earthly wars, thus laying the seeds for Universal war."

"Truly, better God's technique of creation stay a secret. Just so none of the essences figure it out themselves, without a hint."

"I don't think anyone ever will."

"Why are you so sure?"

"It is the kind of secret that is clear. There is no secret, and at the same there is more than one. The word 'creation' gives me confidence when you attach a second word to it."

"What?"

"'Inspiration.'"

"But what does that make? What could those two words together mean?"

"They . . ."

"No! Stop! Quiet! I remembered you said that thoughts, and that means words, too, do not vanish into nowhere but hover in the dimension around us and anyone can hear them. Is that true?"

"Yes."

"And the essences could hear them?"

"Yes."

"Then quiet. Why give them a hint?"

"Vladimir, you mustn't worry. By revealing the secret to them slightly, I may be able in this way to show the fruitlessness and pointlessness of their tireless attempts. So that they understand and stop harassing humans."

"If that's so, then tell me what 'creation' and 'inspiration' mean."

"Creation means what God created out of particles of all the universal energies, including their own. Even if all the essences assemble together to achieve something similar to Earth, they will not have enough of one energy—the one that as an idea is intrinsic to God, that was born in the Divine