Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s ‘The President's Crown of Thorns’: “The Kalmyks are the only Buddhists in Europe”

I am deeply convinced that a new stage in the development of the  nation,  its  spiritual  regeneration  and  economic  growth will become possible  only  when  we  have  eradicated  our insensitivity to the suffering of  others.  Otherwise we will be lost in the labyrinths of lies and false values.

"There is a record in the old Tibetan books," a Buddhist priest once told me, "which predicts that the Buddhist nations will blossom again once the smallest and most westerly of our people  start  the  process   at   the   beginning   of   the   third millennium."


The deeply ingrained, profound and receptive morality of the Orient and the technological progress of the West are the two wings, which can guide Kalmykia to prosperity. They are the two pillars that will support the sublimation of individual consciousness under the super-national moral law of humanity, thus releasing the people from the wolf s trap of tribal and ethnic egotism, spiritual and economic poverty.

"Hail to well-being!" This is the spiritual rallying cry of our nation. It was bequeathed to us by our forefathers as the most cherished treasure.  Well-being is the balance of conscience and deed, bod y and soul. Well-being is security. Well-being is the root and the trunk of life m our wind-swept times. I t is also an incentive to activity, to develop every individual's talents and capabilities.
I was addressing a UNESCO meeting in Paris.  I said that Kalmykia is a small republic, but that its people participate in the world process the same as all the peoples of the globe. The sun, the moon and the stars shine for everyone, irrespective of race, nationality or political convictions. Such is the great wisdom of nature. We are all inseparable. Even the smallest thorn in the foot can topple your balance and render you lame. The Kalmyks are the only Buddhists in Europe.
Kalmykia is taking the first steps to ensure the well¬-being of each of its citizens. These steps are hard, and the light at the end of the tunnel is still too distant. However, we have started marching and, hard though it is, we will continue.
Some time ago in Moscow a newspaper correspondent asked me this question:
-"In 1994 your name was entered in the year's diplomatic calendar which is published by Queen Elizabeth of England. Do you feel proud of this?"
-''No, I don't," I replied.
- "Why?"
"I don't have the time for it."
When am I supposed to feel proud, anyway? During my twenty-minute lunch breaks? In my sleep? The remaining time is devoted to hard, intensive work which requires all my abilities and energy. Sometimes I try to remember if I have eaten today and cannot say definitely whether I did or not. But most often I have no time to remember.
One year ago, Kalmykia was considered to be Russia's outskirts. A foreign visitor here caused a sensation. As a matter of fact the number of such visits throughout the history of Soviet Kalmykia can be counted on the fingers. Now no-one pays attention to people speaking English, German, Turkish or Finnish. They have got used to it. Each day delegations from all over the world arrive in Kalmykia with offers of cooperation, bringing different projects and plans.  Kalmykia entered the international economic arena as an equal partner and soon the results will make themselves felt in the standard of living of all.
I look at the richly bejeweled sword of Genghis Khan which was presented to me by a delegation from Mongolia in the hope that I might unite all the Mongol peoples scattered throughout the world, not by the sword but by the supreme law of reason... I look at it and contemplate how many more incredible problems I will have to overcome. Do I have the strength, energy and willpower? I must find it. It is imperative. It is essential...
An All-Russia Chess Tournament has drawn to a close in Elista. The grandmaster Garry Kasparov has left the city. The guests are leaving. All the excitement of the event has subsided. This was the first time that such a tournament took place in Elista. Kasparov conducted a display of multi-board chess-play...
It is now 3:00 AM. My workday is ending. The last visitors have gone. Elista is asleep. I go up to the window of my office. In the thickened pre-dawn blackness of the sky I can see the sparkling, shimmering and twinkling stars, as unassailably high and bright as our dreams.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

The President's Crown of Thorns 1995