A large brown hare was grazing on the edge of the wood just across a path from me. Long ears, a biggish body, definitely not some mere rabbit – that I was sure of. I couldn’t see it very well as my eyesight was not great and being a teenager, I wasn’t wearing my glasses. As teenagers go, my priorities were not quite where they would later be.
I had never seen a free roaming hare before, and decided to get closer so that I could positively see it. Not that I didn’t realise that it probably would not work, but I knew I would regret if I didn’t try.
The hare noticed me and hopped a bit further into the wood, and I dashed after it, trying to do that in an unthreatening manner. The hare stopped for a bit, perhaps puzzled by my strange behaviour, then hopped again. I ran more. The ground was quite rugged and full of dry and very crunchy branches, so my loping wasn’t exactly quiet, but I was determined to get closer to the poor animal. I loved running, and felt like this was a good chance to use my agility for something useful.
The hare generously played the game with me for about five or ten minutes, but then of course skedaddled. Feeling a bit breathless, I was nevertheless satisfied with the time spent on doing something real. I loved nature and cherished the times I was “at loose” in the country.
Mostly I lived in the city though, and there were not many times when I was left to my own devices. Gradually, I was turning into a serious, more and more buttoned up person. The degree to which parents are able to impose on the nature of their children is truly amazing and shows, among other things, just how pliable a material we humans are.
I was born and lived half of my life in Russia, and much of that time it was still a part of the Soviet Union. My family home was filled with thousands of books, newspapers, and philosophical and scientific journals brought in by my father. My mother was periodically trying to pass on to me her interest in arts, mainly by taking me from my very early years to the ballet at Bolshoi, which I loved. I engaged in sports, like figure skating and gymnastics, but as I grew, my sportive pursuits were deemed to be no longer serious enough, as I was expected to give all my time to studies. I felt like I had to keep up in maintaining the family’s reputation – you guessed it, a serious family.
So, for my university degree I chose philosophy. To be fair to myself, it was the subject that had some relation to the issues that bothered me for many years by then: who am I, what is this life, what is real? Philosophy, meaning “the love of wisdom,” seemed to have at least some potential to satisfy a seeker. The present-day philosophy is usually just a mental exercise; however, at the dawn of our civilisation its purpose was to help people learn how to die before you die. In other words, it was guiding people towards getting in touch with the Reality beyond this visible world. But that was of course not what my university was teaching.
As I found out later, both of my parental lines, of Russian and of Tatarian descent, had priests, or seers and healers, in their lines. That was a surprise, for there was no hint of any religion, spiritual path, or occultism anywhere near our family. “All that” was a long time ago, which was mostly presented as some sort of “dark ages.”
After completing my university studies, I felt drawn towards psychology, and then psychotherapy. I wanted to discover what in practice can make a person happy, and to help, both myself and others. It was clear to me that I was not going to get any satisfaction from the “usual” life, and I was looking for the ways out. Very slowly, I was beginning to break free from the bonds of the accepted and normalised unhappiness.
I was lucky with my teachers. Among the first therapies that I studied was Holodynamics, the method created and brought to Russia by Dr Vernon Woolf, a powerful and kind presence. Holodynamics is a type of work with the “inner selves.” There and then it was a highly unusual way of approaching one’s “issues,” and at first, I felt it was not serious enough for me. Yet with the support of friends, and also not failing to notice that I was gifted exactly the sum I needed for the studies by a complete stranger, I persevered. As a result, at the time of writing this I have more than 25 years of experience with that therapy. Being with the Sufis I have discovered that a very similar technique is used in some Sufi orders in the West under the name of Sufi SoulWork, and after many years in Sufism I now work with both.
I also met Marilyn Atkinson of the Erickson Coaching International, another wonderful and spiritually attuned teacher, with whom I went on to study the NLP, Ericksonian hypnosis, and life-coaching. I felt encouraged, and supported, and was soon beginning to do some work as a life-coach as well.
And yet, I was still not satisfied. It didn’t feel to me that all these creative and innovative means to heal one’s life, make it more joyful, open, and disentangled, touched on the deepest issues of life. There was one main question that I still had, and that was – what is the real life? The surrounding world often didn’t feel to be fully real to me, and I had a bothering hunch that there was something else.
I got interested in the esoteric teachings of Nicholas Roerich and his wife Elena. Enlightenment became a buzzword in the family with my first husband, even though our understanding of that desired state was of something like a one-off event, after which all our routine life would be, basically, over. I have since noticed the same kind of idea present in many minds, so I am guessing that is rather normal.
At some point I was gifted a couple of books of Sufi stories by Idris Shah, and that brought, for the first time in my life, that gut feeling of my people. At the turn of the century I was with the Sufis: I met an order from the Chistia lineage in the West, one of the branches that sprang thanks to the work of the Indian mystic Hazrat Inayat Khan, met my Sufi teacher, and began the study that my heart was truly enjoying.
This is where my story begins to slowly fade away. The following twenty-plus years passed in learning, and later also teaching, and in doing healing work through the Dervish Healing Order, the focus of which is selfless service. That work continues to this day, as does my connection with my teacher.
Apart from that, I don’t have any interest in joining, creating, or maintaining any kind of spiritual organisation. The goal of any spiritual path is opening us to the Reality, to the full truth of our being. That requires, and inevitably causes, a total undoing of all our stories, ideas, identities, beliefs. I am yet to meet any legalised body that is not veering, one way or another, in the opposite direction, encouraging the unreal in people.
These days I spread my time almost equally between teaching, individual work, and gardening. My inner guidance keeps directing me towards amazing, magical meetings and discoveries. The bonds continue to fall off, and Life is flowing in more and more. The part of me that felt happy running after the hare is rejoicing. It is now free.