Vissarion: the Siberian Christ

iBrian

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Saw a little of documentary this evening, covering a man from Siberia who has become a self-proclaimed Christ.

Anybody who's been through the process of spiritual rebirth should have an immediate idea of the sort of person we're talking about - though this one seems to have gotten a little carried away (that's supposed to be one of the tests, isn't it? :) ).

Anyway, I did a search and tracked down an interesting article about him:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,721088,00.html

Jesus of Siberia

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Sergei Torop was a traffic cop in the small Russian town of Minusinsk until 1989, when he announced that he was the son of God. Now he commands a following of thousands and rules over a large swath of the Siberian mountains. Ian Traynor makes a pilgrimage[/font]

Four thousand feet up a mountain deep in the Siberian taiga, the middle-aged man appears in a velvet crimson robe, long brown hair framing a beatific smile. He sits down in a log cabin perched on the brow of the hill.

It is a room with a stunning view. The snowy Sayan mountains sparkle in the distance. The silver and pink of the birch forests shimmer in the clear sunlight. Down to the right, the pure blue water of Lake Tiberkul mesmerises. Behind the cabin, for much further than the eye can see - a thousand kilometres - the Siberian wilderness stretches, bereft of human habitation.

"It's all very complicated," he starts quietly. "But to keep things simple, yes, I am Jesus Christ. That which was promised must come to pass. And it was promised in Israel 2,000 years ago that I would return, that I would come back to finish what was started. I am not God. And it is a mistake to see Jesus as God. But I am the living word of God the Father. Everything that God wants to say, he says through me."

Meet the Messiah of Siberia, Vissarion Christ - the Teacher, as he is known to his thousands of disciples, who are convinced that he is the reincarnation of Jesus of Nazareth, come back to earth to save the world.

"He radiates incredible love," sighs Hermann, 57, a Bavarian engineer who is now selling his home in Germany to join the self-proclaimed messiah of the taiga. "I met Vissarion last August. He told me we had to follow two laws. It was like an electric shock, like bells ringing."

To find Vissarion, you fly 3,700km east from Moscow to the southern Siberian town of Abakan, north of the Mongolian border, then drive for six hours along rutted roads through a string of villages. Where the road ends in a rollercoaster of craters, the bog begins, and you trudge knee-deep in mud and ice for three hours before the final ascent to the "saviour", a steep hour's climb up a mountain path.

To witness the lives of these New Age dropouts in the hamlets of Kuragino, Imisskoye, Petropavlovka and Cheremshanka is to get an inkling of how things must have been in 17th-century New England for the pilgrim fathers toiling away at their new Jerusalem. "Life is so hard here," says Denis, a 21-year-old Russian emigre who arrived last week from Brisbane to see if Vissarion really was the answer to his questions. "No doubt about it, mate," he affirms. "Definitely the Son of God."

To his critics in the established churches who accuse him of brainwashing and embezzling his followers, Vissarion is a charlatan deluding the devotees of "a destructive, totalitarian sect". More prosaically, he is Sergei Torop, a 41-year-old former traffic cop and factory worker from Krasnodar in southern Russia, who moved to Siberia as a youth, experienced his awakening a decade ago, and now leads one of the biggest and most remote religious communes on the planet.

Combining new age eclecticism with medieval monasticism, the "Vissarionites", clustered in around 30 rural settlements in southern Siberia, now number around 4,000. They are unquestioningly dedicated to their guru. They utter his name in hushed tones. They decorate their homes, temples and workplaces with his image. They reverentially swap tales of the Teacher's every act or word. They pore over his four fat volumes of musings.

His aphorisms are learned by rote and regurgitated daily. Vissarion - like all the followers of his "Church of the Last Testament", he goes by his adopted first name only - is untroubled by this cult of personality and its sinister resonance in Russian history.

"It depends how a person uses my image," he explains. "Man has to bow down to the Father. But it is a mystery and the image enables a person to connect with me. The image can help in that sense, strengthen his efforts." Vissarion's commune is governed by arcane rituals, laws, symbols, prayers, hymns, and a new calendar.

A strict code of conduct is enforced: no vices are permitted. Veganism is compulsory for all, though exceptions can be made for infants and lactating mothers, who are allowed sour milk products (if they can find them). There is no animal husbandry. Monetary exchange is banned within the commune, and only reluctantly allowed with the outside world.

"We're not allowed to smoke, or swear, or drink," laughs Larissa, a glowing 28-year-old mother of three who arrived here from Moscow with her mother as an 18-year-old. "Everything is banned here. We're not allowed to do anything except fall in love."

The devotees include Russian musicians, actresses, teachers, doctors, former Red Army colonels, an ex-deputy railways minister of Belarus, as well as a growing band of adherents from western Europe. They drink the sap of the birch trees that they fell for housing, tools and furniture. They live off berries, nuts and mushrooms gathered in the forest. They scratch potatoes, cabbage and Jerusalem artichokes from the unyielding soil. They barter handicrafts and vegetables for buckwheat and barley from nearby villages.

"Man can live in any extreme conditions," Vissarion pronounces, a permanent Mona Lisa smile playing on his lips. "Of course it is hard, especially for intellectuals and those used to working in the towns. But it is important for people to see themselves and to see one another. That is easier when the toil is hard. There is salvation in hardship."

On an adjacent peak, a large bell has been mounted by the believers. It tolls across the valley three times a day. On hearing it, the faithful drop to their knees to pray. The bell weighs 270kg. The followers carried it on foot for 50km in torrential rain from the village where the metal was cast, and then hauled it up to the summit.

Vissarion himself is spared much of the physical toil. While teams of young men dig irrigation trenches beside his chalet, he whiles away the long days on the mountaintop painting oil canvases.

At the age of 18 Sergei Torop enlisted, starting his compulsory two-year stint in the Red Army and finishing as a sergeant on construction sites in Mongolia before working for three years as a metal worker in a factory in the Siberian town of Minusinsk. From there, the self-proclaimed saviour embarked on a career as a traffic policeman, also in Minusinsk, winning nine commendations during five years' service.

Job cuts in 1989 left him unemployed just as the Soviet Union was descending into chaos. Millions of Russians were bewildered and craving answers. The advent of the new era also coincided with Sergei's rebirth as Vissarion. Thousands of people, the majority of them educated professionals from cities in European Russia, abandoned wives, husbands and children to flock to the Church of the Last Testament, replicating the flight of the schismatics to Siberia from European Russia 350 years ago to escape persecution by the Orthodox church.

The schismatics' descendants now share some of the same villages with the Vissarionites, who have assimilated many elements of Orthodox ritual but whose belief system also embraces an eclectic, some say incoherent, mish-mash of Buddhist, Taoist and green values.

For centuries, the wide-open spaces of Siberia have drawn the sectarian, the wacky and the nonconformist. The post-Soviet decade has revived that tradition, bringing a boom in evangelism and new age cults. Of 140 religious organisations registered in the republic of Khakassia, says Nikolai Volkov, the chief local government official dealing with religious affairs, 28 are "new religious movements", as new age sects are dubbed.

For the Church of the Last Testament, it is now year 42 of the new era, which the believers date from Vissarion's birth in 1961. Christmas has been abolished and replaced by a feast day on January 14, the Teacher's birthday. The biggest holiday of the year falls on August 18, the anniversary of Vissarion's first sermon in 1991, when the "saviour" descends from the mountain on horseback to join thousands of revellers cavorting in the river running by the hamlet of Petropavlovka.

To the east lies Sun City. It is here, at the foot of the mountain where their saviour lives with his wife and six children (including a little girl adopted from a single mother in the commune), that the hardcore faithful, the most committed of the Vissarionites, congregate.

On a patch of taiga peat bog that they have cleared of birch and cedar, 41 families live in timber cabins and felt yurts. The men sport ponytails and beards, the women long hair and long skirts. Most of them are in their mid-30s. The giggling of children is all around. There is a school and a kindergarten. The birth rate here is much higher than in the average Russian village. The mood is cheerfully apocalyptic. "Have you not heard?" laughs Igor as he guides us through the swamp. "A comet is going to smash into the earth next year."

With his beard, birch stick, tunic and pointy Uzbek felt hat, the 48-year-old recovered alcoholic from St Petersburg looks like he has walked off the set of Lord of the Rings. If the looming comet imperils most of humanity, Sun City is Noah's Ark. Russia's mission, in the best Orthodox tradition of "Third Rome" messianism, is to redeem the rest of us. "This central part of Siberia is the part of the world that can survive best," explains Vissarion.

"And this is a society that can endure big changes and be more receptive to a better understanding of the truth." For now, though, the apocalypse can wait. There's work to do and word to spread. In recent years Vissarion has been to New York, to Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Italy seeking converts.

For the first time he has just been "invited" to Britain, where he hopes to preach "soon". Such international jetsetting feeds suspicions that he is living at their expense of his disciples. He insists that neither he nor his church has any "regular income", that his foreign travels are "sponsored" by his hosts. His chalet, powered by solar batteries and a small windmill, is modest, if more comfortable than the homes of his followers. It is also more remote, a steep hour's climb up a path from Sun City. "I've been with him 10 years, I know him," says Vadim, a former drummer in a Russian rock band and Vissarion's right-hand man. "He's the only person I know who lives what he preaches. They say he's a liar and a cheat, taking the money. They're only describing the way they behave themselves."

At 7am, the menfolk and a few women emerge from their cabins to stream towards the "city" centre, marked by a mud circle ringed by stones, at the centre of which stands a carved wooden angel, wings outstretched, and capped by the Vissarionites' symbol - a cross inside a circle.

This is a daily ritual. The faithful kneel on short wooden planks, murmur prayers and sing hymns, led by a man with a rich baritone. Then they join hands in a circle around the stones, raise their heads to the mountain, from where they believe Vissarion is watching, and sing paeans to "our tender father".

"Immortality is the unique quality of the human soul, but mankind has to learn how to achieve it, how to live eternally," Vissarion says quietly before shrouding his head in a white shawl and shuffling away. "There's a place in the New Testament where Jesus says the time will come when I will no longer speak in parables. That time has come: the time for people to see the aim of life."
 
I'm not sure where to post this, as it also sort of links with WHKeiths' post - "Synchronicity", but i'll post it here as it's more linked with Vissarion.

This is a post about some of the co-incidences that happened to me about a month or so ago, it seems important to post it here, so i do.

I ought to make clear, this is not an argument on the or validity or otherwise of various sects of the Christian religion.

On the Saturday or Sunday in question (4 - 5 weeks ago) i re-discovered a web-site that i'd done a bit of reading on about six months ago, the Gnostic web-site. This time at that web-site i found texts i had no idea existed, allegedly the original form of Christianity, as Jesus taught it to his disciples. And so i down-loaded some of them, and read them over the course of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I was on holiday. Some of them, especially the basic teachings i found astounding. Very reminiscent of the Hindu spiritual beliefs, without the Gods. I'm wandering....

On the Wednesday, on another Forum i sometimes use, a message was posted concerning C. G. Jung talking to a paranoid schizophrenic in a hospital ward. The patient mentioned something about seeing the "Suns' penis" as he called it, "It is what makes the wind". Some years later, Jung came across the exact same reference in an Alchemic document from, i believe, the Middle Ages. It was concerning archetypes. Back to my story.

Thursday morning i decided to clean my hard drive, defrag, back-up, etc. (Had recently installed another Operating System) While rifling through the Documents directory, i accidentally opened the Directory entitled "Jung", and just as accidentally loaded a file entitled: "Meaningful Co-incidences". To be fair, i use a sensitive thingy that, if the mouse hovers, it will select an item, and i click once to 'open' things. This is the first time it has managed to select, and then open, a directory and then a file immediately after. Back to my story.

On Friday morning i go to the Wine Bar/Internet Cafe i work in for a coffee. Their daily newspaper is the Telegraph, a bit too right-wing for my taste, but at least that awful man Murdoch isn't involved with it. :) In there is an article about Vissarion -that I Brian referred to- who has written "The Last Hope" - what he claims is a message from the Universe. I down-loaded the Book, did some reformatting, and started reading.

It appears to contain - in my opinion - virtually the same story as the Gnostic one, but couched in different language. I'm not claiming to be an expert on either belief, but this is how it looks to me.

End of story.

Synchronicity?

Incidentally, Jung would need the information that he got from the patient, to realise, when he later came across the reference in the manuscript, that the Archetype is still active. Something else to tie the mind in knots.

The reason i'm currently on this site is that on Monday i again typed 'Vissarion' into Google..... that may - or may not - be synchronistic. :)

Warmest Regards
 
There's a certain something about this site I can hope is very much of the issue of synchronicity.

This is very much a "quality" over "quantity" place. And, somehow, the people who generally hang around here have a certain...open mindedness. It's like everyone is bringing some form of light to this board - different hues, different colours.

As this site develops and grows I can only hope it's a aspect that continues. Curiously, I wonder if at some point in time, the light here will touch some form of prism. Perhaps it already does.

Anyway, welcome to the site - I'm sure there's going to be ample room to raise and discuss the issue of Jung. :)

As to the book "The Last Hope" - I'll have to keep an eye out. Perhaps there's room for it here as well asI expand the content...
 
Concerning the site:
I must say, it's the thinking behind the posts that i appreciate.

Concerning Vissarions' book:
I've re-formatted it and numbered the lines, and if you wish i can dump it in .sxw, .doc, or .pdf format.
It is a fascinating book, but the language is - dare i say - different. It could be the translation, but plugging Babelfish in does'nt seem to help all that much, that's just about as florid. :)

It could be that the Eastern European languages are more visually descriptive than the Western European, or that the translators have a supply of something that's illegal over here, but whatever the reason, the book cannot be simply 'read', the symbolism has to be thought through. 'Maze' does not come into it.
But, as i said, fascinating.

Warmest Regards
 
I'll do a search for the book, and see how the copyright and distribution policy stands. :)

As for translation - very probably - I brought up this article after seeing a BBC program (Correspondent, I think?) that covered Vissarion in one of their sections. I don't believe that he spoke English at all, and worked through a translator.
 
Hello everybody!

My name is Rebecka, I'm from Sweden, now living in the community of Vissarion in Siberia, since two years.

I think that "The last hope" is an extremely important book. One reason that it is difficult to read is that the translation is not satisfacting. There were russians who made the translation - they did a great job but it's not easy to translate into a language which is not your native.

Actually I am trying to do some corrections to the translation myself, but as I too am not a native english speaker, it's hard to know how close I get. But I speak russian, so I can read the original and compare so that the meaning in itself is correct.

IMPORTANT: If we could find a native english speaking person who would be ready to read through the book, and make corrections in the english grammar, it would be of big importance. Even greater would be if we could find a person who also knows russian and could check with the original. I send my wish out into the universe....

I think an other reason that "The last hope" is difficult to read is that the information in it is very compact. You read answers to the questions of who man is, our place in the universe, other civilizations, about God and the creator of Universe, good and evil in man, the reason of illness, the body/soul problem, and how to find our way to harmony. And there is no filling up inbetween, it's just written short and concisely, right off without chapters or anything.

While reading there arises a protest in you, because if what it says is true then....you will have to change your whole view of the world.

I was sceptical and didn't know what to think about Vissarion for a pretty long time. But things happened which made me believe that he is the one he says he is. And what he is writing is not a message from universe, it is the knowledge he has got in himself.

I think it's important to do a qualified english version of "The last hope", because people should get a chance to read it and make the choise, if they want to believe in it or not.

Love and my best wishes, Rebecka

 
Finding someone who speaks english and would proofread it shouldn't be that hard.
 
Well yes, he surely do. Unfortunatly the people with money, and those who know how to build websites, are for the time being busy with other things...:(
 
I read the English translation, and while I can't comment on how different it might be from the Russian, the grammar seemed fine.
 
Hi Rebecka, and welcome to CR. :)

What's it like over there? I know there's a general reactionsim to consumerism that makes a lot of people deram of a more rustic life - where our actions have more meaning, even if it's toiling for our own food for your family and friends.

 
Mus Zibii said:
I read the English translation, and while I can't comment on how different it might be from the Russian, the grammar seemed fine.
Ok, thank you for helping me out. So the grammar was fine. But did the written sentences seem a bit "unenglish", as if it was understandable, but usually you don't express yourself like that? Did you understand everything or was it difficult to read, and if it was difficult, what do you think was the reason?
I have found the terms hardest of all to figure out if they should be re-translated or not. For exemple: "The peculiarities of the development of the mind". Did you feel that the terms were non-grammatical?

I got the inpression that the grammar was great in the beginning, but in the end of the book the quality changed.

Love, Rebecka
 
I said:
Hi Rebecka, and welcome to CR. :)

What's it like over there? I know there's a general reactionsim to consumerism that makes a lot of people deram of a more rustic life - where our actions have more meaning, even if it's toiling for our own food for your family and friends.

Thank you Brian. Well...Some people move there because of the reason you mentioned. There are a lot of people from Germany. But mostly they have seen Vissarion speak (he has travelled a lot through different cities in Russia and Europe) and gotten emotionally touched. Some tell that they started crying seeing him, one woman closed her eyes and saw letters written in front of her eyes, saying that he was christ. All of them very reasonable people, techers, directors, bankers and so on. Then they read The Last Testament, felt that it was right, sold their apartments and moved.

My husband and me got there because of the nature and the people, and because he could write music there, in the first place. Only later we stayed because of Vissarion. So it's a very nice place to live. There is quite a lot of fysical work to do, carry in wood for the stove, carry water to the sauna, work in the garden, the men build houses, and so on. But on the other hand you really feel alive over there.

I really think that it's not the intellectual development in a man that counts, so I don't strive to get the best education or job, I just want to live over there and try being a good, kind person who can be a good mother.

I like the fact that people come over to each others houses and knock on the door, just to sit and chat or help each other with something.

There is a lot of creativity, people make furniture, craft, clothes, they paint and write music.

I feel hopeful, because people read the word of Vissarion and they want to become better people. They want to build something up with is beautiful, find a way for people to be together. And you feel this in the air, people talk about inner problems, relations, discuss how to make things better. They ask Vissarion a lot of questions and strive to follow his andvices.

Then as in all societies there is a lot of gossip, and people can judge each other very hard. Somebody can say "you did this and that, you don't live like it's said in The Last Testament". I don't like that, but the only thing I can do is to try not saying or thinking so myself.

There is so much to tell! I like it over there.

Thank you for this site, it's great.
 
By the way Brian, did you find out anything about the copyright and distribution policy? I don't know myself what they are like.
But it's written in the beginning of the book that the translation is not complete and that complements are welcome.
 
Hi everybody!

My name is Plamen and I am Bulgarian citizen.

I am a follower of Vissarion since 1998. In 2000 I visited the community in Siberia and lived there for 3 months. I was happy enough to visit Vissarion's house, to meet His wife and children...

For those who will be interested to learn more about Vissarion: unfortunately, most of the texts of His Teaching are available in Russian only. As far as I am informed, only the following two books have been translated into English:

(1) "THE LAST HOPE (Appeal to the Modern Humankind. About the Father and His Son)"

Available online for free download at:

http://www.vissarion.ru/down/LastHope.zip

A very important book. Read this one first!


(2) "THE TIME OF TURN"

Available as a HTML document at:

http://www.vissarion.ru/eng/index.html

(Click on the second banner)

The second book contains also graphics and it is probably even more fascinating than the first one, but still it may be hard for reading/understanding if you are not familiar with the text of the first book.

===

I'll be happy to help everyone who will be interested to learn more about Vissarion and His Teaching anyway I can. Unfortunately, my English is not perfect, but still understandable, I hope...

Yours truly,
Plamen Petrov
 
Hi Plamen, and welcome also to CR. :)

As for the books - I really don't know the copyright policy - but there does at least appear to be an English version around.
 
I don't want to offend anybody, but this looks to me as another totalitarian sect.

The quality of a person does not depend on technical knowledge. The heights of the human are not defined by what he achived in technology and science.
So, Sergei Torop or Vissarion, how do you prefer to call him, doesn't like people who think by themselves. Maybe, that's why he has imposed strict rules to his followers.

Was he without sin, till the morning he decided he's the Christ ? :rolleyes:

I knew another totalitarian despot born in January 26.
 
Alexa:

It's nice to see someone from Canada taking part in this discussion. So thank you for stopping by!

alexa said:
I don't want to offend anybody, but this looks to me as another totalitarian sect.

It may surprise you, but I think you are quite correct! ;)

Well, yes... In my own eyes some of Vissarion's followers look like people from any other sect or cult, too... And please note I am a follower! :)

However, one should not try to judge about someone's Teaching looking at His followers only...

alexa said:
So, Sergei Torop or Vissarion, how do you prefer to call him, doesn't like people who think by themselves. Maybe, that's why he has imposed strict rules to his followers.

Actually, Vissarion *encourages* people to think by themselves.

BUT: It is my understanding that people who are weaker (both intellectually and spiritually) always look for some "simple and strict rules", that's why He sometimes uses this form of communication...

alexa said:
Was he without sin, till the morning he decided he's the Christ ? :rolleyes: .

Please check out the following interview by Vissarion given for the American spiritual magazine "What Is Enlightenment?":

http://www.vissarion.org/?language=en&menu=word&text_album_id=6

The first question from this interview strictly matches your own question, I think...

My own comment:

It is my impression that you look for some "simple criterion" to "prove Him wrong" and "exclude" Him from your thinking instead of spending more time to analyze the whole event in detail.

I really wish everything to be as simple as you think (i.e. yet "another totalitarian despot", as you write below), but... well... this time things are a little bit more complicated, if I could say so with some sense of humor! :)

I myself spent a LOT of time reading and analyzing this event before I become fully aware He is the One who He pretends to be... But OK, everyone has his/her own path to the Truth.

alexa said:
I knew another totalitarian despot born in January 26.

Vissarion was born on January 14, 1961.

Anyway, please note that even *if* He was born on January 26th, your remark proves... nothing! :)

With best wishes,
Plamen
 
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