The Phenomenon of Late Soviet Mysticism
Vestnik SAFU. Serija Gumanitarnye i sotsialnye nauki
Феномен позднесоветского мистицизма
This article studies the phenomenon of mysticism in Soviet culture of the 1960s – 1980s. The starting point are the elements of mystical discourse in late Soviet cinematography, which captured both Soviet life and the Afghan War. This is surprising since official Soviet ideology strongly rejected mysticism. The very definition of mysticism in Soviet dictionaries was not entirely correct, since it gravitated towards theistic mysticism, focused on experiencing mystical unity with the Absolute.
... nwhile, starting from 1965, the Soviet Union saw a "mystical renaissance" due to the popularization of mystical literature (W. Messing, M. Bulgakov, D. Andreyev). Special mention must be made of A. Martynov, who outlined the paranormal phenomena of the Soviet period. One of the factors of this "mystical renaissance" was the traumatic experience of World War II, which was channelled into the Great Victory cult. This quasireligious practice included the meditative moment of silence, the eternal flame and monuments to the Motherland. Among other factors can be named a certain acceptance of religion as a form of culture and the New Age movement that came from the West. To a large extent, the revival of mysticism in the Soviet Union was facilitated by the crisis of science: the paradoxes of the vacuum theory and synergetics with its idea of generating order out of chaos. The main form of expression of late Soviet mysticism was the idea of a parallel world as a source of "paranormal phenomena": for Messing and Martynov it is a mystical field, for Bulgakov, the fifth dimension, while for Andreyev, Shadanakar. In the Soviet Union, mass hypnosis associated with telepathy, as well as telekinesis, teleportation, levitation, and poltergeist were regarded as mystical phenomena. In addition, this article analyses the correlation between the notions of mysticism, spirituality and occultism. Their meanings overlap to a certain degree, since all three imply the existence of another world and the possibility of communicating with it. However, spirituality, which is actively used in world religions, belongs to the light side, while occultism is thought of as the dark side of mystical phenomena.