Guest Post: Spirituality and Wisdom Cherished by “The Legend of the Shaman”

By OTGONSUREN Jargal 

I know one researcher, a woman from Europa who researches shamanism and admires the magic of Mongolian shamans. She says that her life has changed dramatically after become a researcher and every summer she comes to Mongolia, staying in a shaman’s ger and doing meditation and performing shaman’s rituals.

But I’m not going to talk about her, I’m going write about an author and his novel which depicts shamanic phenomenal things.

During a journey to Buryatia, Ayurzana met Tseren shaman who was well-known in a community of ethnic Buryats in Russia. That is how Ayurzana was unexpectedly struck with the motif of his novel “The Legend of the Shaman”, remarkable works inspired by shamanic spiritual power.

AYURZANA Gun-Aajav poet, fiction/nonfiction writer, is a graduate of the Maxim Gorky Literary Institute in Moscow. He has published seven books of poetry, two collections of short stories, several non-fiction books and novels. Ayurzana’s poems have been translated and published in more than 30 languages including Hungarian, Serbian, Macedonian, Turkish and Maltese. “The Wing of Dying Bird” (“Амь тавьж буй шувууны далавч”) and “The Legend of the Shaman” (“Бөөгийн домог”) in Korean translation called big resonance between readers as if “The Debt of Ten Dreams” (“Арван зүүдний өр”) in Russian translation.

His most recent novels “Mysteries of Sacred Khangai Mountains” (Сахиуст хангайн нууц. 2017) and “Spirit Formula ” (Сүнсний томьёо.2019) are continuing the atmosphere of his previous novels like “Shugden” (Шүгдэн. 2012), “White Black Red” (Цагаан хар улаан.2014) and “The Pulse Sound” (Судасны чимээ. 2015). He has been awarded the title of Person of Culture, considered the most prestigious award in his country in the field of culture, in 2009. Since 2000 he has been a author and probably the only Mongolian writer who can live off his books.

“The Legend of the Shaman” (2010) is one of his very appealing novels that depicts the destruction of the Buryat people’s ethnicity and culture on the theme of shamanism, as well as the theme of love in the hidden space of the human mind. The main character of the novel Hagdai is based on the real story of a famous, hereditary shaman, Tseren, who lived in Buryatia, until recently.  He was the one who has preserved the roots of ancient shamanism, and the author has visited him and made a profound study of the meaning behind shamanism.

Generally, this novel implies the gift of prophecy which is given from heaven to Hagdai shaman of Buryatia. In addition to depicting magical phenomena such as drinking a mushroom drink that gives magical power, traveling through the spirit world, connecting with ancestral spirits, and being treated by shamanic magic for a mentally ill person who could not be cured by medical doctors, the author intertwisted essence of the philosophy of Buddhism with the concept of dharma.

According to Hagdai shamans, “there is no religion in the world that is not taken the example from shamanism. Shamanism is not a religion, but it is the praying to the heaven. In order to claim the praying to the heaven, it is important the great ability to enter the realm of spirit, but It is useless to learn ceremony” (Г.Аюурзана. Бөөгийн домог, 2010, УБ.,135-р тал)

The author tries to  provide a comprehensive explanation of the root of the issue that an ancient religion of shamanism and Buddhism that closely intertwined each others, and not easy find its distinction between them, in dialogue with Hagdai shaman.

…The Buddha did not preach any mantra for healing, he only taught us to keep our minds pure. You don’t have to be religious to keep your mind free of greed. You can go pure without knowing the Buddha. A real shaman is that one when he sees his first spirit, realizes there is no reason to be greedy in this life and enlightened and recognizes the truth emptiness of the world.” (Г.Аюурзана. Бөөгийн домог, 2010, УБ.,136-р тал)

Hagdai shaman’s interesting talk is continuing about a monk with a spirit and also about how Buddhism invokes the spirit as shamanism does.

Here, the author enriches the shaman’s discourse with explanations of the similarities between Buddhism and shamanism.

“… There are many myths about the miraculous powers of some Buddhist saints. Think about the living body of the bandita Lama Itgeltov in Ivolgiin’ temple. Isn’t it says that a person who has reached the highest level of meditation can escapes death?

It’s called meditation to reach in high spiritual world of the mind. There is still a hobgoblin in the lama’s body that is hint that the soul that has gone to another realm of spirit can be returned to the shaman’s body. The hidden world can only be seen through the eyes of wisdom, not through the human’s eyes. Spirits are the eyes of wisdom.”(Г.Аюурзана. Бөөгийн домог, 2010, УБ., 135-136-р тал)

Hagdai’s talk is mainly about what is an awakening of the mind and how to reach it. Buddhism says that if you will have a right mindfulness /right concentration, you’ll have reached the first stage at which you can be called an “awakened one”.

The above discussions are closely linked to psychiatric and cognitive knowledge, which is considered as a concept of mindfulness of Buddhism.

The context of this novel inspires readers to search for the meaning of faith, the nature of the human being, the mystery beyond the chaos in this life.

Tengis, assistant of the shaman Hagdai, spent six years on the island Tuulait (in Baikal lake of Buriyatia, Russia). He learned the differences between the concepts of shamanism and religion Shariin shajin (Yellow hat named dominant sect of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa, a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader). Hagdai’s entire life as a shaman was devoted to alleviating the suffering of human beings on earth and awaking the meaning of enlightenment through his esoteric knowledge given to him by power of inspiration through the upper (spirit) realm.

Tengis was so surprised when he saw the dharmapadda (a collection of sayings by Buddha) in the bookshelf at the home of Hagdai and discussed this book. The shaman says: “People who are practicing Buddhists frown when they think of shamanism . But the worshiper of a shaman undervalues the monks. That is the story of a fake shaman and an unlearned monk. In essence, they both mean one thing and that this world is a reflection of the idea in general.”

Here, the writer revealed the shameless truth about fake shamans or uneducated lamas who turned into a survival tool by promising superpowers to help superstitious blind people. It also implies that vital things like money and power are truly temporary.

Ayurzana’s novels are uniquely formulated for the embodiment of wise ideas, expressive speech of characters, and the inner reflections within them.  When in “Shugden”, and “Mysteries of the Sacred Khangai Mountains “deeply reflect the meaning of life and awakening of national consciousness for freedom, then in “Spirit Formula ” you will find a philosophical thinking of universe, and its relevance to the unfolding psycho spiritual direction of humanity.

About Otgonsuren Jargal

Otgonsuren Jargal, is a linguist (PhD National University of Mongolia), researcher of literary study. Has been awarded for PhD mobility of European Mobility Project, Erasmus Mundus-Impakt Program 2015-2016, in ULPGC, Spain.

Before embarking on her doctoral degree, Otgonsuren used to be a journalist/reviewer and experienced editor and translator from Russian or English into Mongolian language. Also she has been active in CSO (civil society organization) as journalist /environmentalist in 2006 -2015.

Otgonsuren‘s research interest address the context of mindfulness and spiritual things in literature. Furthermore, the mindfulness-based practice methods that are rooted in Eastern culture, entering the Western cultural mainstream as approaches in education and its impact of awakening experience in their society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Julian Dierkes

Julian Dierkes is a sociologist by training (PhD Princeton Univ) and a Mongolist by choice and passion since around 2005. He teaches in the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He tweets @jdierkes
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