ILYUMZHINOV'S COLUMN
 

Through centuries of civilization, mankind has invented many methods of addressing contradictions, beginning with a stone axe and ending with pirouettes of diplomacy. The problem is that for all this time no universal method, which guarantees an equally acceptable result to all, has been found. The same applies to a compromise, which is to be used in the right place at the right time only.  

People knew for a long time that a bad peace is better than a good war. You can’t always fight; sometimes you have to do the housekeeping. And the housekeeping requires if not a joint effort but at least the absence of open quarrels.

However, it is easy to understand but not as easy to do. There's been too much water – and blood – under the bridge, before people learned how to come to a mutual understanding. I believe, it was not easy for the first time to concede to a partner, or worse, an enemy in order to get the same concessions in return. However, we have learned the trick! And since the time of the ancient Romans, who actually gave the world the word "compromissum", this technique took an honourable place in methods of resolving disputes.

Chess, a game that reflects life like no other, also recognize compromise (a draw) as a quite worthy end to the game. There are different situations on the chess board and sometimes it is more reasonable to end a game in agreement with the enemy, earning only one point, than to develop a dangerous strategy and expose oneself to the risk of checkmate.

I do not know about you, dear readers, but I was stunned when I learnt that more than sixty people died from the unusual cold weather in Europe in the early days of spring.

Actually, the end of autumn statistics is probably more depressing. Unfortunately, I could not find the exact data to verify it. It has long become commonplace: the poor, often elderly and sick people, who are not necessarily homeless, die of cold every year by dozens. They are neither climbers caught in a snow storm nor the polar explorers crashed somewhere near the pole a hundred kilometres away from their base. They are ordinary people. In a prosperous Europe.

Our civilization entered the third millennium. We conquered the atom, launch spaceships into the depths of the Universe and consider the exploration of Mars. How did we manage to reconcile ourselves to the fact that the annual dozens, if not hundreds, of lost lives are perceived not as a catastrophe but as dry statistics?

Unfortunately, it did not start yesterday or even a hundred years ago. The folklore of different peoples and the works of various writers, from Charles Perrault to Eugene Schwartz, reflected the motifs of a frozen heart and petrified soul. Dante’s most terrible the ninth circle of hell is clad in ice.

But nobody cares. Scientists and meteorologists shout themselves hoarse whether we shall expect global warming or global cooling. However, they should be more concerned about the frozen, petrified human souls and hearts and think about how to bring them back to their natural state. How to teach people to sympathize with their neighbour again and be merciful and unselfish to any living being.

Not I would be surprised if people who know me from press publications only see me as an eternally unruffled, work-weary workaholic. But I'm ready to reveal a small secret to the Russian Pioneer readers: I'm terribly lazy. My cherished dream is to sleep once 10-12 hours in a row. And there are no words to describe the great temptation to fine-tune the brains of an intractable opponent with an accurate uppercut!

Strictly speaking, when asking a Buddhist what a temptation is, you should be ready for a long and very interesting lecture. And it's not that this is a very complex issue, on the contrary, it's very simple. But the fact of the matter is that it's quite difficult to explain a simple one at times.

Perhaps the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard was the first among Europeans to understand the Buddhist meaning of temptation: "Everything is a temptation, and there is nothing but temptation." Something like that. The ultimate goal of any Buddhist is the attainment of Nirvana. To do this, we must realize that the whole world is an illusion and get rid of dukkha. This word is usually translated as "suffering", but it would be more correct to consider it as the whole complex of negative emotions. There is fear and envy and a sense of inferiority. Yes, there are many. Dukkha is generated by Trishna, which is a craving for anything: material values, sensual pleasures, fame, prestige, etc.

So, it turns out that whether you look at a beautiful girl or going to buy a shawarma or plan a career, all these are temptations that distract you from achieving Nirvana. Therefore, Buddhist (and, incidentally, Christian) monks try to retire from the world and its temptations.

Snow is the ally of the Russians. It nourishes and entertains, warms and protects. Treat snow seriously and with respect and it will become your ally in conquering so vast spaces that many people are unable even to conceive their splendour.

In my childhood, sometimes I came across a somewhat sympathetic attitude of my peers from other cities, who learned that I was from Kalmykia. "Ah, we know, we know!" they would say. "Elista, camels, endless heat, scorched desert and New Year celebrations under palm trees." Those experts were right about the first two items only. And even then, you do not often see camels.
Of course, they know perfectly well in Kalmykia what snow is like. One of the brightest memories of my childhood is fresh snow, fluffy and soft creaking musically underfoot. We, Elista boys, loved to run on skis – competing in time and distance, on a bet and just for fun cutting into the ice of Kolonsky pond with skates.
I cannot say whether ecology really worsens or age affects me but snow does not seem to be as soft, white and musical sounding as before. Probably, it is because of my childhood nostalgia for snow that the soul is so responsive to the poem of Alexander Galich "Kadish".

Not a single revolution accomplished under good slogans completely achieved its goals. Society cannot be "driven into happiness with an iron hand". There is only one revolution that can provide a happy future -- a revolution of the soul. And everyone should do it themselves.

On the eve of the century of the Russian revolution, we again begin to wonder what it was? Great social experiment or historical failure? Was it necessary to sacrifice millions of victims for development of the USSR, which eventually degenerated into a totalitarian country under the rule of a decrepit general secretary and fell in a matter of days? Why did no one come out to defend "the world's first state of workers and peasants?"

I believe that the cause of the greatest collapse in modern history is not difficult to find. The fact is that no revolution, starting with the one that began in 17th century England, has provided people with the promised changes. The French, who stormed the Bastille in 1789 under the slogan "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity", acquired misery, external and civil wars. And all they got was revolutionary terror perpetrated by commissioners who were "more equal than others." Incidentally, those very commissioners fell victim to their own revolution.

Today, we see the incredible deterioration in the quality of life in countries that have experienced the so-called colour revolutions. They have already seen three social cataclysms in one of the neighbouring states (and, according to rumours, the fourth one is brewing). Each of them makes the life of a common man increasingly difficult and there are thousands of people dying in the crucible of fratricidal war now.

The first foreign cash I, a freshly baked graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, received in 1989. This was my first salary in the Soviet-Japanese joint venture "LIKO-Raduga". That diversified firm – a daughter company of the famous Mitsubishi – supplied foreign cars to the USSR, opened restaurants in Moscow and organized exhibitions.

I was hired (you will not believe it) literally from the street, when I saw the announcement of the search for a manager. I do not know how many people responded to that announcement but the firm selected only 24 candidates, including me, for passing a rather difficult exam. Among other requirements for candidates the knowledge of the Japanese language was indicated as a desirable, and apparently the fact that I had just graduated from the Oriental Studies Department of MGIMO specializing in Japan played a role: I was accepted.

The conditions were fantastic: the firm immediately provided me with a two-room apartment, company car, salary of five thousand dollars plus a certain amount in roubles, bonuses and interest on sales. My wages were paid in dollars only.

The older generation probably remembers that in those days various specialists, from plumbers in cities to tractor operators on collective farms preferred to receive compensation for their services not with money but bottles of vodka. It was the currency of the common people. Well, the bigger bosses – managers of trade bases and department stores, officials, etc. – preferred solid DMs and dollars.

Two world wars and countless regional conflicts have not taught humanity anything over the past hundred years. The world is on the verge of a global slaughter again. As an instrument of cooperation and harmony, chess could be an alternative to power solutions of short-sighted and irresponsible politicians.

In mid-October, two leading US broadcasters asked the US citizens of a possibility of Third World War. According to the CBS poll, one-third of Americans are firmly convinced that the war is coming. Almost half of them think that it is very likely.

NBC News was not so specific. It simply asked what most worried Americans. 72 per cent are worried that the United States under President Donald Trump will become engaged in a major war. At the same time, 54 per cent of respondents see the main enemy in North Korea, and 14 per cent in Russia.

A similar survey was conducted in the Russian Federation a year ago. According to Levada Center experts, 48 per cent of Russians were afraid of the Third World War at that time.

Polls in every country of the world give similar results. This is understandable: people want to live peacefully and happily everywhere and any war, even more so the World War covering entire continents is the most terrible misfortune that can be imagined. Of course, one should exclude natural disasters such as an asteroid hitting the Earth or a worldwide flood. However, nothing like this happened to mankind for a long time, but the memory of the nightmare atrocities of 1939-1945.is still fresh.

I was slightly surprised when "Russian Pioneer" editors suggested that I should consider my holidays. I can’t even understand what inactivity is. I even asked my assistant to clarify the meaning of the word "vacation".

It turns out that the period of summer heat in ancient Rome, which coincides with the appearance of Sirius in the morning sky, was called «Canicula» (small dog). It was also called «dies caniculares» – (dog days: from July 22 to August 23). It was considered a temporary summer break, hence the word "Kanikuly" (‘Vacation’ in Russian, Ed.)

I was, however, more interested in Vladimir Dal’s definition in Explanatory Dictionary of Russian language, which says that "vacation is a time to wander about and be lazy." I do not understand this. How anyone can be idle without benefit to spend the most valuable resource given to us by nature – one’s own time?

I am much upset seeing young men and girls sitting in parks and courtyards with their faces buried in smartphones and tablets. What are they looking for? There is another example of a modern fun – spinners. It is said that they help a child to relax and relieve stress. But, excuse me, what kind of stress is there for 10-15 years old?

At such age, it is possible and essential to experience "stress" from new discoveries and mastering reality without fear of getting a psychological trauma. That’s what child psychology is. And we instead provide a child with a silly toy that completely cuts off its consciousness that it should have at all times.

Thus, I decided that I have something to say about this.

Everyone, who has ever been interested in Buddhism, knows that the Buddha came to the conclusion that people themselves are the cause of human suffering. The whole fault is their attachment to material values to the detriment of the values of the spiritual world.

That's the main question: why are we unhappy? The answer is obvious -- we are selfish. We care about ourselves only. Is there any way out? There is and the great Teacher has pointed it out: a man must be freed from selfishness.
Buddhists believe that there is suffering -- dukkha. Dukkha means "impatience, impermanence and intolerance. "But suffering is just an effect. The reason is our eternal craving: desire to possess, appropriate and consume.
The Buddha experienced everything that the mortal could: bliss and luxury of the palace life, yogic meditation, philosophical doctrines, power and poverty, satiety and hunger, loneliness and penance.
The Buddha is the embodiment of love and compassion for all living things. His personality is characterized by breadth of mind, greatness and incredible fearlessness. He was born for the good of people. Buddha aspired to truth, to victory over worldly vanity because people were unhappy. His only concern was to help them. He never cared for himself in all his life.
Buddha was often asked if there was a God and He answered that He did not know. When He was asked about the purpose of the existence of mankind the Buddha answered: "Do good and you will be happy."

The current population of the earth is 7.5 billion people; a little less than half are of working age. According to the International Labour Organization, almost 6 per cent of them – more than 200 million – do not have a job. The ILO would not tell how many people work for a salary that barely allows them to make ends meet.

According to experts' forecasts, the development of technologies will gradually displace people from the labour market. This applies to all spheres: production, transport and services. Robots will assemble cars and drive them along the roads that were made by the same robots. Computer programs will keep accounting; write music and act in blockbuster films.
Unemployment of hundreds of millions of people will lead to disastrous consequences: if a family member loses a job he would not be the only one who suffers but his children and retired parents as well. We are expecting the collapse of a consumption-oriented economy. This will bring such horrible disasters as we have not yet seen.
The mass of unoccupied, hungry and embittered people will become the breeding ground for the flowering of the most radical ideologies and trends from Nazism to religious fundamentalism. In combination with budgetary paralysis, this will lead to collapse and self-destruction of many existing states. Aggressive non-state actors, such as ISIS, will take their place.
But there will be no peace in the apparently prosperous countries as well: the militant and uncreative regimes will wreak havoc and horror all over the world. Struggle for exhausting resources, first of all for water, will become extremely intensified.

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