A Revolution of Dignity
Shambhalians Participate in the Ukrainian Revolution
gathered and translated by Ella Reznikova
This morning I received a message on Facebook from my friend Natasha, saying, “Ella, gather all Kasung, otherwise it will be the dawn of the Great Setting Sun here.”
Ukraine is at historical crossroads right now. The choice is either to go back to the dark age or forward to freedom. I was born there and spent most of my life in Soviet Ukraine where human dignity seemed like a myth, like a dream that would never come true. Then Ukraine became independent. I have often wondered about this new generation born in a free country. Now they might lose it again.
I am thinking about my friends who are in this cold next to fire, drinking endless cups of tea, celebrating, dancing, laughing and crying their freedom. It is not even a big plan, it is their heart beats drumming together. I can hear it even from here.
Here is what Ukrainian Shambhalians are saying about the events happening right now:Conversation with my friend Ira in Kiev, Ukraine
The first few times I talked with Irina, she was full of excitement. Her usual day of work included going to the museum, going to meditation at the Shambhala Center, going to flamenco and then going to the square to protest. Today she is very tired and resting at home while her husband Temo and daughter Dali is at the square. I am at home in Vermont but strangely feel I am there, feeling my people’s pain, but not their cold.
Ira: We have a revolution again. Ukraine was supposed to join the EU, but President Viktor Yanukovich (I won’t quote the names she used) messed it up. Our president confirmed that we would go in the right direction with the EU. He was supposed to sign the trade pact on November 29th despite the fact that he still has not released former Prime Minister Timoshenko. But suddenly a week before they were going to sign the pact, the government announced they were not going to sign. It was that simple. The only explanation being, “business people requested this.” It’s bullshit, we say!The Ukrainian people were shocked and took to the streets in protest. Kiev citizens, reporters, and journalists joined in a peaceful protest. The protesters were mostly students from 18-20, with barely any adults. Even though it was a peaceful protest, they were surrounded and beaten. The square was covered in blood.
The kids hid in the nearest church. The President lied and said that he didn’t know anything about the violence, but there is proof that it was ordered by the government. After that people decided by themselves to go to the street. They took to the central square, demanding to punish those who committed the violence. But instead of punishing them, they were put in jail, beaten and traumatized. The government hid the students from their parents. There has been more violence than we know how to deal with.
Ella: How have your family and friends been involved?Ira: My 13-year-old daughter had a wonderful idea. Rather than standing at rallies and nervously looking for news on the Web, she suggested we try another program: to collect warm clothes and food for the protesters. We joined a huge room full of people from all over Ukraine of different ages. It was happy and heartfelt. We prepared sandwiches, tea, and hot meals for the people in Maidan Square. From time to time we sang the national anthem of Ukraine, putting a hand on our heart, and singing our favorite Ukrainian folk songs.
I felt the warmth, softness, strength, joy and generosity of all of us. All the time someone was coming to bring food to the protesters. I had the feeling of a sacred feast. We were all invited to this Holy Feast of our freedom.
Ella: What’s the situation now?
Ira: People have been out in the cold for more than two weeks now, fighting without weapons. It was hard today. They sent a large amount of military troops to surround us. These are the best people in my country. If something happens to them, we will become like Belorussia – a real totalitarian regime.
Ella: (I feel her fear, I know it in my blood.) Do you trust the opposition leaders?Ira: We trust more in our overall society and in each other. There are some politicians we trust.
These are our requirements:
1. To free our political prisoners, activists and the victims of the violence in the square.
2. To punish those who are guilty of perpetrating the violence.
3. To fire the government, which failed us in not joining the EU.
4. To return Ukraine to a parliamentarian presidential republic.
We call this the “Revolution of Dignity”. People do not want their spirit and dignity to be destroyed. Today the crowds in Maidan square started saying: “This is a revolution of dignity.” People picked it up and started chanting, “Dignity! Dignity!” There were many times more people than during the Orange Revolution in 2004. I think that one million people have come out today.
Comments from Temo, Kiev, Ukraine:
I came home after being in Maidan square at 4:30 am. Such a different feeling! The square, during just 24 hours, became stronger and more mature. It has a form and structure – none of the speediness, nervousness and unnecessary tension that was so obvious yesterday. Inner peace expresses power and confidence and dignity. Not at all like amorphous crowds that don’t have inner view and a fair heart. That’s for sure! There is a different deepness and warrior’s spirit that is coming from the authentic source of human wisdom.
I am happy that for the second time during the last 10 years I received this precious chance to experience the living, primordial, unbiased energy of my people, my family. I am so grateful for this.
Varya shared this on her birthday:
This birthday Max and myself held at Maidan square. We met many good, beautiful people. I felt we had plunged into the atmosphere of extraordinary humanity. I want to make a birthday wish that none of these people get hurt. I wish that this terrible situation be resolved without blood and that this sense of humanity fills our lives.
In a letter to the Ukrainian sangha, Shastri Maxim Lan shares this:
Regardless of what political views we have, just because we are actually here, somehow, we’re influenced by the difficult events that recently opened in Kiev. There is a huge spike of pain, anxiety, aggression and hate on the one hand, and unity, warmth and humanity on the other hand. Yet from others there might be the desire to withdraw, ignore and very logically explain or be “superior” to the situation. Ignorance is an escape, but to be too involved and provoked is another escape from your own experience.
This situation may make us feel dark, or senseless. It could also open us up and give us power to open to that place in us that is calm, which is like the inscrutability of the vajra. It is important that we are not afraid to look directly on all our reactions. But more importantly, that we see them from a different perspective – from the point of view of our fundamental goodness – our true heart, which is always there.
Today it is absolutely necessary through our practice to tap into the base of our being – awakened heart. If possible please do tonglen, or meditate in accordance with your level of practice. May our subsequent actions arise from authenticity and sadness.~~
Events are still dramatically unfolding in Ukraine. Things are changing day by day. You can help the Ukraine Sangha by offering tonglen for their struggles at this time, or by getting in touch with your sangha friends by asking how you can help them. To learn more about the Ukraine sangha, visit their website by clicking here.