Maximilian Voloshin was a great poet. He was an artist, a visionary, a man insight who stood as one in his allegiance with Truth.
Voloshin is today unknown in the West, untranslated. He is forgotten in a time when neither the artist or the poet are held in esteem, when truth is misunderstood.
Maximilian Voloshin’s clear understanding of the human condition enabled him to see past the thick illusion of events of his own Russian nation – the revolution and civil war that lead to the creation of the Soviet Union.
Voloshin developed a “spiritual and religious world vision” of “a single world witnessing from which everything radiated.”
In self-knowledge and art, Voloshin always chose “the most reasonable way: make oneself an artist, personally experience and realize the differences.”
He clearly sensed the moment of his realization of spiritual essence and his link to the Absolute. “Something has happened.. I have never been so overwhelmed with joy, strength and confidence..., a feeling of joy, strength and completeness of existence, comprehension of a hidden spiritual sense ... when the heart opens.”
It was his spiritual and religious perception of the world that helped Voloshin to develop divine principles of purity and innocence, devotion, resiliency – drawn primarily from his attitude to the Earth:
I’ve had delusions, no doubt
Temptations, weaknesses at times.
Despite all that, whenever I
Faded in sorrow and delight,
My light has never gone out.
Maximilian Voloshin did not take sides. He stood as one with the Truth.
SEEKING THE HUMAN TRUTH: reborn at the century’s turn
Born in Kiev in 1877, on Whit Monday when the Earth is said “to celebrate Her birthday,” Voloshin spent much of his youth in Crimea, a land of many cultures, fabled as far back as even the ancient Greeks in the songs of Homer.
From childhood he was noted for his remarkable memory and eagerness to perceive reality – “to see, understand, know and experience everything.” He started writing verses as early as secondary school and became extremely demanding of himself. Voloshin’s distinctive way of thinking allowed him to realize at an early age that the existing educational system was not a source of true knowledge. “None of the ideas or bits of knowledge have ever been picked up from either a secondary school or university,” he observed.
Voloshin’s destiny was favourable to his spiritual seeking. At the age of sixteen he moved to the Crimea, to Koktebel, a place that he later identified as a “true motherland of his spirit.” At this young age, Voloshin developed a “new attitude of a European to Earth and human beings,” realizing the Divine Nature of the Mother Earth:
For me the sense of existence
Is not difficult to realize.
A seedlet that brings forth a life,
A secret of blossom, for instance,
In plants and in stones – everywhere,
In mountains and clouds above them,
In beasts and in starlets up there
I hear the singing of flame....
I’m kneeling down to kiss the ground,
The night wraps everything around,
My lips are feeling it is close,
The wormwood-scented breast of Yours,
Oh, Mother Earth!
In later years, the young Voloshin studied law in Moscow, a time he called a “futile and fruitless search.” “We are,” he wrote, “in a jail of discovered spaces. The spirit chokes in the old world’s embraces.”
As a result of his voice in student protests, Voloshin was sent in exile in remote regions of the Russian Empire in Middle Asia. This perhaps was a blessing. In a caravan of camels, he travelled the deserts, absorbing the cultures of the East. This banishment to Middle Asia brought to him an acquaintance with Asia and the Orient which was, as Voloshin admits, “crucial for his spiritual life.” He was gifted a realization of his own spiritual essence. He sensed “the antiquity and relativity of European culture.” At twenty-seven years, Voloshin now considered the turn of the century as “the year of his spiritual birth.”
Everyone may be born twice. Isn’t it me.
Born in the spirit,
Right at the turn of the century?...
I found myself in the heart of Asia
Wisely interned there by destiny?
These years established the bedrock of his spirituality, which sprouted within him as an intense seeking in Paris in about 1900. There to study art, he found instead frustration amid the fruitless bounty of his teachers and their blinkered students. But from this came a realization of his spiritual essence. “It was a sense of desert – that breadth and balance that a human soul is given when it returns to its original motherland.”
His acquaintance with the Orient helped him to see the scantiness of European knowledge, true and imaginary values of European civilization. Later Voloshin mentioned that during his studies in the West he was “only a sponge absorbing everything through eyes and ears.” Travelling around Europe for many years Voloshin mastered the art of the paintbrush and pencil, as well as the art of the word.
Maximilian Voloshin got to know the entire European culture in its origin and then he screened off all that was “European” so that only the “human” remained. After that, he turned to other civilizations – India and China – to learn and “seek after the Truth.” An opportunity to come closer to the Orient in its origins – Buddhism – was the first religious step for Voloshin. In the “wanderings of his spirit,” he was trying to find the single religion that would embody the highest and all-permeating spirituality, a culture with internal integrity, harmony and balance in all parts, excluding contradictions between individual and society, belief and knowledge, mind and emotions. Voloshin was familiar with an Oriental system of the universe and believed in the existence of many gods, although he admitted that he could not think of his spirit outside Christ.
Touring Europe, Voloshin began to realize the role of the Mother in spiritual transformation. He wrote about Mary’s presence at the crucifixion of Jesus. “To the right of the cross there is the Mother and a lancebearer, to the left – John and a spongebearer.”
WAR AND REVOLUTION: I am in everyone
Voloshin’s concentration on the Divine and his understanding of differences between eternal and non-eternal existence helped him not only to preserve the purity of his spirit throughout revolutionary and post-revolutionary time but also foresee the course of events. “An interest in occultist cognition was so great that it completely distracted me from Russian events in 1905 and held me away from Russia.... Neither war or revolution ever frightened or disappointed me: I had expected that would occur and be even worse. On the contrary, I felt well-adapted to the conditions of revolutionary existence and acting.”
A vision of “cosmic moral sense” of these events enabled Voloshin to remain a detached witness in the continuing drama:
In your world I’m a passerby -
Close to all, but strange to everything
Voloshin’s optimism and “justification of reality” that he considered his first and only duty to the world were based on his internal need to leave it all to God’s Will:
Forgetting doesn’t mean to lose,
Yet to accept it all in full
And keep it in oneself forever.
Maximilian Voloshin not only refused to participate in war, but also started an active “struggle against terror irrespective of its colours.” This gave the poet an “extensive and valuable revolutionary experience.”
These days no foe or brother can be found
All are in me, and I’m in everyone.
So zealots, every of its kind
Thought that a poet was to find
For them protection, and advise them too.
But then I’ve done all that I ever could
To prevent the brothers from ruining themselves and killing each other.
Voloshin’s spiritual stance enabled the poet “in most troubled times” to find such words and perspective that were “acceptable to both parts.” His tolerance and ability to resist the temptation of hatred, contempt, “sacred anger,” and “keep tirelessly loving both enemies and monsters of cruelty and even allies” was strengthened by a belief that love will in the future be a sole basis for human society.
In 1917 Voloshin returned to Russia. This was just at the time of the bloodletting of the revolution. “When a mother is sick, the children don’t leave her,” he said. ...