Paris, The cathedral of Notre Dame, God, reincarnation and soul

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov During that visit I finally found myself with an hour or two of free time. The meeting had been scheduled for the evening. Spring. I took a walk around the capital of France. Fine smells mingled with the thawing snow and the acrid car exhaust. I walked along a bridge, past two your people kissing, past a smiling street trader peddling badges, old coins and chains, and past British tourists. Suddenly I saw the world-famous Isle de la Cite and then the enormous grey wonder of the slowly approaching Notre Dame.

I bought a ticket, entered the building, sat down in the third row and felt my chest slowly fill with a sweet pain. How many times had I dreamed of coming here! I felt intimations of a miracle.

Awesome fear gripped my heart. And the anticipated miracle did happen. Here in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, from somewhere high above, majestic organ music streamed down on us. My heart responded to the divine music with a lucid and sad echo. My soul was crying and purifying itself. And then for the first time in my life a tremendous feeling of powerful and undisturbed peace descended on me and my ego was absorbed in space. My heart sensed
the presence of God.

Born a Buddhist in the sun-baked Kalmyk soil, I looked at the image of crucified Christ and everything earthly and transient left me, my soul sparkled and began to be filled with crystal sounds. It seemed as though I was reliving in detail that long-forgotten night in Elista when, lying on a folding bed in the garden staring up at the night sky, something unthinkably huge revealed itself to me, the Revelation of Fate or Heaven. But then it might have been a magic sign which I, an imperfect being, could neither read nor understand.

These moments occur sometimes in the life of a man. Perhaps this is why our souls feel drawn to places of worship in order to retrieve, however fleetingly, that illusory sensation which has no name.

Perhaps initially, while still in one’s mother’s womb, the human creature takes in this light and this love, but later, once in the world, the tiny human being breaks the divine thread and only its soul keeps the sacred spark intact. Is this not why our memory lives simultaneously in the present, past and future? We are equally disturbed by reminiscences of days long past, the feeling of the present and the presentiment of the future. Is it not due to this very spark? Maybe this is why sometimes life suddenly stops dead in its tracks and you find yourself overcome by a fleeting, acute and unbearable yearning for the life you lived prior to your reincarnation.

But maybe the soul echoes in response to the silent scream of a dying tree, the sorrow of a stone, and the agony of a beast in its death throws? What was there at the beginning of my soul’s infinite regeneration? Birth or death? And what will happen in the end? Will it be a universal exhalation or inhalation? In Kalmykia the old say: “Before dying one draws a deep breath which takes in the entire universe and then steps into that side of life carrying the universe within itself.”

They say that temples have always been built where the earth’s magnetic fields cross one another, giving off purifying springs of energy. The world is cruel and austere and the laws that govern us are imperfect and crude. Modern man is in need of repentance, since only a continual process of spiritual purification will regenerate us for the future life. Some call it conscience, some call it duty and others still call it the great moral law which man must abide by blazing a trail for generations to come.

Maybe the Soviet Union has disintegrated because, overcome by fear, we have not traveled the tormenting, yet enlightening, way of repentance and spiritual purification to the end; and thus we are all to blame for the destruction of this great state. We have carried that bowl past our lips. But future generations will call us to task and they will stamp the brand of Judas on us. It is quite possible…

I often think that years will pass and my life will come to a close unnoticeably and then there will only be ten minutes left before I die and disappear into eternity. Then everything insignificant, transient and fleeting will disappear and each event and deed will be reconsidered. Will my soul not cry out in bitter resentment for what we did? Will it not shake with horror? Or will we leave this world in peaceful dignity knowing that we did everything we could and that there is no cause for self-reproach? Ten minutes before death… Maybe our entire life is just a preparation for these ten minutes?

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, President of Kalmykia

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