Ph.D. & Cultural Specialist
Senior Research Fellow of the United Scientific Centre for Cosmic Thinking Problems
of the International Centre of the Roerichs
Laureate of the International Prize named after Helena Roerich
LUDMILA SHAPOSHNIKOVA -
THE TEACHER, THE MESSENGER OF COSMIC EVOLUTION
The Concept of the Historical Process by Ludmila Shaposhnikova and the New Cosmic Mentality
The relevance of the study and elaboration of such an inclusive phenomenon as cosmic mentality, or Cosmism, is more and more urgent nowadays. This fact can be proved by a steadily increasing attention towards this phenomenon of representatives of quite different arias in science. We live in an astonishing time when a new scientific world view is being formed, which manifests in a whole range of new elaborations that have significantly changed former world views, in an increasing convergence of positions of science and philosophy, in a greater attention of empirical science to the meta-scientific method of cognition (a very ancient method investigating the inner world of man). It can be stated that the cosmic way of thinking, which is gaining a foothold nowadays, has affected all main forms of cognition. (see: )
Сosmic mentality which began to take shape as a result of the Spiritual Revolution that took place in Russia in the late XIX - early XX century, provides the basis for the new scientific discoveries and philosophy of the XXI century. Quite a few prominent Russian scientists and philosophers of the Silver Age, representatives of various trends in art proved to be active participants in the formation of cosmic mentality: Vladimir Soloviev, Vladimir Vernadsky, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Alexander Chizhevsky, Helena Roerich, Nicholas Roerich, Pavel Florensky, Mikolaus Čiurlionis, Andrei Bely, Ivan Efremov, Alexander Scriabin and many others. Despite the thorny path over the past century, this Spiritual Revolution continues today, since the formation of a new cosmic world outlook takes a long time. There are such proofs of this ongoing process:
- an impressive number of new scientific discoveries and theoretical developments that are beyond the scope of previous scientific ideas and in some cases support some meta-scientific evidence;
- the rapid growth of astronomical knowledge and discoveries occurring from the end of the XX century which can not fail to influence the world outlooks of modern man;
- wide attention of scientists from different countries as well as representatives of various fields of science either to scientific and philosophical thought of cosmists of the end XIX - first half of the XX century, or to the problem of formation of a new mentality and a new system of cognition;
- Cosmism as a whole trend in art that has affected many contemporary painters, sculptors and musicians.
In this regard, one of the clearest evidence of the cosmic mentality formation today is the all further enhanced attention of scientists to the development of the ideas introduced in the philosophy of cosmic reality – the Living Ethics, – which a unique Russian scholar and philosopher Helena Roerich was working at in collaboration with the Great Teachers of the East for more than 30 years in the first half of the XX century. To date, there is quite an impressive number of scientific publications which use as a research basis the information that can be found in the books of the Living Ethics. The focus on this philosophical system is not accidental: it holds a voluminous and detailed body of knowledge about the cosmic evolution of mankind, includes the new system of cognition as well as practical aspects. The philosophical system of the Living Ethics has played a key role in the process of birth and development of cosmic mentality that occurred in scientific circles. There is an ideological consonance of works by such prominent bearers of cosmic mentality as Vladimir Vernadsky, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Alexander Chizhevsky and Pavel Florensky, with the Living Ethics, and this fact was considered in detail by a remarkable Russian historian and philosopher Ludmila Shaposhnikova. (see: ) That conformity is an important point when studying Cosmism because, as marks the scholar, "the Living Ethics as a philosophy of cosmic reality comprises the system of cognition of a new cosmic mentality." [3, p. 80] There is one more important point which for many years has not been paid attention to. Ludmila Shaposhnikova substantiates, that “for the first time in the dimensions of traditional science, they [V.I. Vernadsky, K.E. Tsiolkovsky, A.L. Chizhevsky, P.A. Florensky – V.S.] have posed the problem of the synthesis of science and meta-science within the new system of cognition.” [2, p. 917] Shaposhnikova observes that one of the most important features of the Spiritual Revolution in Russia was, in addition to the formation of cosmic mentality within its space, that it was closely connected with an evolutionary important process of the synthesis of scientific and meta-scientific methods of cognition. In the early XX century Russian scientists and philosophers-cosmists revised the old sociological attitude and formed the basis for a new cosmic mentality by complementing traditional methods of experimental way of knowing with a method such as speculative action, which is based on intuition.
Findings and discoveries of the brightest minds of the last century, made at the intersection of a number of sciences such as philosophy, astronomy, history, physics, biology, draw our attention to the urgency of recognition of a deep interpenetration of the man-microcosm and the Universe-Macrocosm, and to the need for a broad comprehension of the principles and mechanisms of the unity of these two. Professor Vasily Shejko and Professor Yuriy Bogutsky note in their monograph: "in the system man Û society Û nature Û cosmos man should have a cosmic consciousness. This task has now become one of the major problems of humanity, in its solution people see the path to their salvation from the impending catastrophe that could be caused by the global alienation of man from nature, from society and himself." [4, p. 104]
If we are talking about cosmic mentality as an urgent reality and trying to comprehend deeper its basic ideas, then arises a question: does the methodology of the study of phenomena change in different fields of scientific knowledge? Without a doubt, it is changing. The fact is that according to cosmic mentality, a holistic approach must be applied for any studied phenomenon that would involve the study of both the physical, or earthly, aspect of a phenomenon or process, and a more subtle one, invisible to the ordinary eye, but still ever-present as a cause, or basis. Such a holistic approach will lead to a more complete understanding of the studied subject.
What is meant by “a holistic approach”? The Earth is a cosmic object immersed in the cosmic Infinity with all its laws and evolutionary mechanisms. At the same time the Universe itself is not only seen in a purely physical sense, but much broader, namely, in all the variety of states of matter and energy. Moreover, the Universe is seen as a spiritualized hierarchical system, whose structures are being permeated by energy processes. Planet Earth, along with its mankind and ongoing historical process, is immersed in this grandiose cosmic system, and therefore it can not be separated from all the laws of evolution of this system. Planet, people and historical process are within this system. Therefore, to fully understand, for example, what the historical process is, it should be placed into the complex cosmic reality. That is a holistic approach. Another view which does not include a cosmic component, is attracted only to the physical aspect and deals only with external phenomena, with already formed results and consequences, while the causes are constantly slipping away. Obviously, without understanding the reason we can not fully comprehend the phenomenon; even its physical aspect can not be fully interpreted.
It must be emphasized that such a holistic and comprehensive approach to research and, consequently, the new methodology are clearly presented in the philosophical system of the Living Ethics and its new system of cognition which provides the synthesis of empirical and meta-scientific ways of knowing. Its synthetic character allows to merge ancient and modern knowledge, reality visible and invisible, thoughts of East and West, and makes it possible to approach the comprehension of the higher phenomena of the Universe expressed in a subtle, invisible side of earthly phenomena as their cause, or basis, that have been mentioned above. It is very valuable that today there are some works, which help developing scientific and philosophical thoughts initiated by Helena and Nicolas Roerich in the first half of the XX century. We are talking about the works by Ludmila Shaposhnikova who made a significant and still not fully valued contribution to the development of cosmic thinking (and Cosmism) by applying the methodology of the Living Ethics. The fact of succession is of great importance here, and it must not be interrupted. Such a continuity exists in the writings of Shaposhnikova, so we are able to comprehend the ideas of the Living Ethics in their further development in certain research areas. Here we will focus on the large and qualitatively new contribution to the interpretation of the historical process made by this scholar.
Each new book by Ludmila Shaposhnikova is a certain breakthrough in the scientific and philosophical understanding of the world and man, in the holistic understanding of them in terms of cosmic evolution, whose general and specific objectives are determined by cosmic laws. The works of the scholar comprise a coherent system of knowledge, which implies an appropriate methodology that is in full accordance with the philosophical system and methods of the Living Ethics, and that is manifested in the disclosure of the following provisions:
1. The Universe as a grandiose spiritualized energy system of creative forces. This is an integral system, which consists of different energy structures interacting with each other during energy metabolism.
2. Planet Earth as part of the Infinity and a cosmic body, and man whose essence is cosmic, too. Man appears as an integral part of the cosmos, as one of its energy structures, capable to participate in the complex process of cosmic evolution by means of powerful creative energy of his spirit.
3. Both the Earth and the mankind are constantly under the influence of cosmic laws; both take their certain essential place in comic evolution. Compliance with cosmic laws contributes to the latter.
4. The reasonable forces of the spiritualized cosmos deliberately influencing the course of human evolution – the Cosmic Hierarchy, the Great Teachers, whose complex evolutionary activity is carried out on our planet as well as on others. Shaposhnikova marks an important feature of Their work: “The activity of the Cosmic Hierarchs engaged in human evolution is manifested, above all, in the field of Culture which is a self-organizing system of the spirit and the energy heart of evolution.” [5, p. 51] The principle “Teacher - pupil” should be considered as a leading one in cosmic evolution.
5. Cosmic evolution is in the sphere of influence of the highest levels of the Cosmic Hierarchy. The work of cosmic evolution on Earth promotes the development of both the Earth and the humanity that live on it. An essential component of this process is the matter (substance) of high state.
6. The higher matter (or spirit-matter, because spirit and matter form a coherent whole) as cosmic reality inherently associated with the cosmic work of the Hierarchy. There are different states (evolutionary levels) of the matter including the worlds of fine matter and its high dimensions which play a major role in human evolution.
7. The higher matter is also concentrated in the inner world of man. This is his spirit (and culture as a self-organizing system of the spirit) and the high energy of the spirit. Accordingly, with the development of their spiritual potential and culture, people can take an intended place in the cosmic creative work becoming cosmic co-workers.
8. The higher matter and the Great Teachers are deeply connected with such a phenomenon as meta-history which represents the spiritual and the causal aspects of the historical process as a whole. Ludmila Shaposhnikova substantiates in her writings that the Great Teachers have formed the meta-historical process and that the worlds of higher state of matter have been the main source of meta-history.
The methodology applied by Shaposhnikova is inherent in the essence of cosmic laws which leads to a proper and most comprehensive analysis of particular phenomena and especially to the understanding of their causes. "To understand the cause" is an extremely urgent problem of modern science, since it prefers, as a rule, to deal with consequences, which hinders the understanding of the true nature of the studied object.
Ludmila Shaposhnikova interprets the meaning of the following cosmic law: any phenomenon on Earth is characterized by two aspects: the earthly (dense-material) and the overground (fine-material). The author leads us to the understanding that if the study of a phenomenon does not take into account its fine-material origin, then the full depth of reality of the phenomenon will not be grasped.
Another great cosmic law states, according to Shaposhnikova, that the higher leads a Hierarchically inferior in the evolutionary process. It is testified by the lives and deeds of great historical figures who had a high level of spiritual development and whom we can call the messengers of cosmic evolution. This law allows us to comprehend such a phenomenon as meta-history which is both spiritual and cosmic.
The works of Ludmila Shaposhnikova contain the whole concept of meta-history. We note here some of its specific features.
1. (In relation to earthly history). Meta-history is a spiritual part of the historical process as a whole and a causative phenomenon of earthly history.
2. (In relation to cosmic evolution). Meta-history is the result of cosmic evolution [5, p. 200]; the earthly work of this evolution is perceived through meta-history [5, p. 737]; accordingly, the meta-historical process coordinates with cosmic evolution.
3. (In relation to the higher knowledge). Meta-history carries the knowledge related to the matter of other worlds of higher state [5, p. 200]; cosmic evolution gives knowledge to people through the meta-historical process. [5, p. 737] The higher knowledge which fills this process may have, as marks Shaposhnikova, various forms: the form of information or the form of action. (see: [5, p. 450])
4. (In relation to the higher worlds and the higher matter). Meta-history is not only spiritual knowledge from the worlds of high state [5, p. 201], but also a higher state of matter from other worlds [5, p. 204]; meta-history has a cosmic nature; it represents the upper world [5, p. 201]; the worlds of higher state of matter are the main source of meta-history [5, p. 210].
5. (In relation to man). Meta-history is closely connected with the fine structure of man since the human inner world serves as a foremost place of meta-historical spiritual knowledge that comes to Earth; this knowledge is carried by highly spiritual personalities - the messengers of cosmic evolution [5, p. 200-201]. Since the higher matter is concentrated in the depths of human nature, the meta-historical process realizes on Earth through people (see: [5, p. 205]. According to this concept, people have to play an important role in the realization of meta-historical knowledge since its essence is concentrated in their inner world (see: [5, p. 200]).
If we consider the above given peculiarities of the meta-historical process, as well as other relevant information about it found in the books by Ludmila Shaposhnikova, we can generalize that on the one hand, meta-history appears due to the being of the Higher Worlds. The phenomenon of meta-history and the higher matter come to us from evolutionary high spaces of the Universe. To some extent we can say that the meta-historical impulse comes from that highest evolutionary cosmic structure which is called the Cosmic Magnet in the books of the Living Ethics. This impulse passes through the grand stairs of the worlds that exist throughout the Infinity and reaches the Earth. On the other hand, – and this was already mentioned above, – meta-history is a spiritual part of the historical process, and it must be formed on Earth. The formation of meta-history is a global process, great personalities get involved and contribute to it by establishing energy magnets, bringing higher (spiritual) knowledge, committing evolutionary actions. The Great Teachers themselves guided their messengers and formed meta-history, too. Thus, as we interpret the meta-history phenomenon, a certain evolutionary vertical lines up: from the earthly historical process via the fine structure of man (his spiritual inner space) to the evolutionary higher cosmic areas. In other words, meta-history itself appears as a vertical line stretching from the higher spheres to the Earth. In this vertical of meta-history there are both an evolutionary impulse from above and a kind of response. In this bilateral movement from cosmic heights to the Earth and backwards, the current of evolution as if gets closed involving in its space the Earth and its mankind. But at the same time the humanity itself, for the most part, should gradually take the path that leads to the perception of spiritual knowledge, which nurtures the meta-historical process and mainly concerns, as marks Shaposhnikova, the foundations of cosmic being and the cosmic evolution of mankind. Such a perception would be a response of humanity to the Call of cosmic evolution reflecting the principle of “Call and response” known from the books of the Living Ethics. Undoubtedly this response may become possible only if a new, more developed consciousness would consolidate among the people which will help the perception of higher knowledge. Here, a human consciousness emerges as a synthetic reflection of the development of a united system “spirit – heart”. Thus, we comprehend culture as a self-organizing system of the human spirit - the main basis of our advancement to the cosmic heights. Much depends on the inner state and quality of the microcosm.
Figuratively speaking the phenomenon of meta-history may be called the golden link of the cosmic evolution of man: through the meaning of meta-history we comprehend all aforementioned components of the methodology found in works by Ludmila Shaposhnikova. The very meaning of meta-history includes some important facets of understanding how people and the historical process are connected with the higher worlds. This kind of connection is not taken into consideration by official science, but without it we can not understand some key milestones left by the great men in the space of earthly history, as well as we can not penetrate into the very depth of the turning periods in history connected with lives and deeds of messengers of cosmic evolution. We cannot help noticing that for all historical epochs high knowledge was constantly being given to humanity in one form or another. However, in the mainstream of a rough materialistic approach still widespread in scientific areas, the basics of this spiritual knowledge as well as its true meaning, did not find understanding. This misunderstanding led to the disregard for the underlying causes of the earthly historical process which are rooted in meta-history.
Ludmila Shaposhnikova writes about the meta-historical destiny of humanity – this is an important focus point. After all, people in their deep nature can not separate from this destiny. Meta-history as “a spiritual knowledge from the worlds of High state” [5, p. 201] shows the predestined path for humanity that must be transformed by receiving this Knowledge with all their heart; this is the way paved by cosmic evolution. And only a low level of consciousness withdraws from this path, which is very sad, since the bases of people's, so to say, meta-historical destiny are concentrated inside them. Their spirit and heart will serve as means to investigate the Higher cosmic reality. It is valuable that Ludmila Shaposhnikova in her writings pays a great attention to the revelation of the nature of human spirit and heart. If we turn to the Living Ethics, the most important meta-historical source, we will find that "a new consciousness will come only from the spirit. A new force can be gained only by the knowledge of higher worlds” [6, p. 175].
When revealing the meaning of meta-history, we perceive many of the phenomena usually overlooked by the official historical science, but extremely important for understanding the processes which happen in the space of earthly history. There is a great number of such ignored phenomena, for example, concerning the higher, or spiritual, knowledge. Science generally does not answer the question either about its nature, or its source, or its evolutionary significance for the planet as a whole, not to mention the cosmic scale. This is a very important question, because there-through we come to the other two problems, closely related to this issue: the comprehension of the nature of the inner world of man-microcosm, and the understanding of the complex multi-dimensional reality of the Macrocosm inseparable from the depths of human nature.
Another question: why in the course of earthly history, in all regions of the planet have highly spiritual personalities constantly appeared and provided people with new knowledge essential to their further evolution? Herein we should consider the fact that the bases of higher knowledge were identical, despite a significant distance between its bearers in time and space.
The next problem can be formulated as follows: in what areas of reality are focused the roots of the earthly symbolism? Finally, there is a question about the mission of a great historical figure and its profound meaning. In the works by Ludmila Shaposhnikova one can find explanations of these and other similar issues, therein is their undoubted value.
When studying the biographies of great personalities of different times, whose destinies and mission are examined in the whole cycle of works by Shaposhnikova, we can witness such an important aspect of cosmic evolution of mankind as the alteration of its consciousness expanding to the level we call the cosmic consciousness. An interesting aspect of this complex process is that a new cosmic consciousness does not occur in a historically short period of time. Ludmila Shaposhnikova shows it in her essays collected together in two volumes of “Messengers of cosmic evolution” . A long preparation usually takes place before such changes: in the Ancient world, in the Middle ages in different regions of the planet, as well as in the modern epoch. Certainly we must say about the turn of XIX–ХХ centuries, when began the formation of the new cosmic mentality as a result of the spiritual revolution that took place in Russia. The investigations of Shaposhnikova testify that without changing human consciousness, no further evolutionary progress on Earth is possible. It is no coincidence that the expansion of human consciousness is one of the major methodological principles of the Living Ethics, which is clearly revealed in the writings of Shaposhnikova. For example, the author develops the methodological statement of the Living Ethics that every person plays an important role in the complex process of cosmic evolution. Therefore, we must highlight her contribution to the clarification of the true role of outstanding personalities in the historical process.
In general, this issue in the sphere of official science has a difficult fate, so we still have a difficult situation. The fact is that in the XX century, particularly in the Soviet science, it was assumed that only the masses create the stream of history, while the prominent people no more than reflect the social needs of time and demos and serve these needs. Decades after, no matter how the science of history sought to put the focus on the role of outstanding personalities in the historical process, the old approach remained. For this reason, the deeper meaning and the role of prominent personalities are still not fully comprehended in the space of mainstream science, up to the present day. After all, this problem is ideological in its essence. Without considering meta-history it is impossible to fully comprehend neither the features of the earthly historical process nor the role of outstanding people in it.
Great historical figures who carried out evolutionary acts are the major evidence of multifaceted creative work of cosmic evolution on our planet. As messengers of the cosmos, they expanded human consciousness, brought new knowledge. It was that spiritual knowledge, that formed, along with other evolutionary acts noted above, the meta-history which Shaposhnikova called "the cosmic heart" of the earthly historical process. Therefore, it is the great personalities, the messengers of cosmic evolution, who are the creators of all the evolutionary within earthly history, who are the true engines of the historical process, and many of them did form a new consciousness for humanity, as evidenced by the research of Ludmila Shaposhnikova.
One of the important features of Ludmila Shaposhnikova's approach is that, for the first time in the historical science, the phenomenon of great personalities and their missions has been examined in terms of cosmic evolution and meta-history. On the example of a number of great lives the historian shows how appears the connection of the evolutionary tasks of meta-history and the very fact of activation of the meta-historical process - with those phenomena and events that took place in the earthly historical process. As a result, the historical process appears clearly and convincingly as an integral phenomenon, comprising two parts: meta-history and earthly history. In its turn, it appears as a manifestation of the aforementioned cosmic law according to which every phenomenon has two aspects: a subtle one which is invisible, and an earthly one of a denser state of matter. Here, a great personality, a messenger of cosmic evolution serves as one of the major factors for this integrity. And that deep connection of meta-history with earthly history is of great interest. In most difficult times it happened that one outstanding person could create or activate the meta-historical process, and his higher evolutionary work could lead the people and the whole state out of a deep crisis at the level of earthly history. We see it in the essays of Shaposhnikova devoted, for example, to such great personalities as the Russian saint Sergius of Radonezh, the French heroine Joan of Arc, the Indian sage emperor Akbar. By revealing the missions of a number of great men, the author affords us the opportunity to experience history as a holistic phenomenon. For these luminaries, each to the extent of their mission, worked closely with meta-history on the one hand and with earthly history on the other. They were the creators of the meta-historical process and they directed the earthly historical process into the channel of meta-history which guided the former through them.
Among the features that characterize the actions of great personalities, according to the works of Shaposhnikova, there are: firstly, their deeds live on for centuries; secondly, they change the course of history contributing to the victory of evolutionary forces. The complexity of great missions is conditioned by the measure how far the current of earthly history has deviated from the meta-historical process which is fully harmonized with cosmic evolution.
One of the most important provisions of the theory by Ludmila Shaposhnikova is that the earthly work of cosmic evolution can be comprehended through meta-history [5, p. 737]. If meta-history is causal relatively to the earthly historical process, then there is as well a source of a higher order for meta-history. Meta-history, as noted by Shaposhnikova, was "the result of the creative work of cosmic evolution." [5, p. 200] And the Great Teachers of humanity are the Subjects of this evolution who actively influence its progress. Therefore, when speaking of cosmic evolution, we inevitably come to the acceptance of such a phenomenon as the Hierarchy of the spiritualized Cosmos; without Its great creative work neither the evolutionary process nor the formation of the meta-historical process could have been carried out. The information significant for historical science, contained in the works of Ludmila Shaposhnikova, considers the fact that the Great Teachers of the mankind are active Participants of meta-history, and They do form the meta-historical process. From this author's works follows that only thanks to the Teachers and Their great messengers, the historical process could have been corrected in accordance with the channel of meta-history. While the effects of meta-history contribute to evolutionary changes in human consciousness. The fact that Ludmila Shaposhnikova scientifically asserts the reality of the Great Teachers and their leading role in human evolution and in the historical process as a whole, is extremely important, especially in our time. Because, without reflection on that role it is impossible to understand the complexity of the current of history.
It must be emphasized that one of the important points that requires a deep reflection in the works by Ludmila Shaposhnikova is the phenomenon of messengers of cosmic evolution that helps us to understand the very reality of this evolution and the most important components of its great creative work on our planet. As a major historian, Ludmila Shaposhnikova has created a concept of “messengership”, which denotes clearly the cosmic essence of man and his integral relationship with evolutionary processes of the Universe. The phenomenon of messengership as well as the fundamentals of cosmic mentality should be necessarily and widely introduced into the space of contemporary historical and philosophical sciences.
Eventually, it can be argued that the writings by Ludmila Shaposhnikova propose an original concept of the historical process, contain a new methodology for the study of this process as an integral phenomenon that has two aspects: meta-historical and earthly-historical. This methodology will allow to carry out fully the research of phenomena in the earthly historical process and to understand their causes, because such a study will include not only the events of earthly history, but also a higher reality where, according to the scholar, the meta-historical process has its roots.
We can confidently say that Ludmila Shaposhnikova herself was profoundly involved in that higher reality. Only over time we will learn new facets of her involvement therein, and the true greatness of her personality and her spirit will gradually be clearing up in our minds. The whole cultural and creative activity of Ludmila Shaposhnikova was, without exaggeration, at the forefront of the historical process, and we can say that it was the result of a certain creative work of cosmic evolution on Earth. The evidence of this creative work is the presence of great personalities on our planet who courageously bring the evolutionarily new knowledge to humanity, favour the expansion of our consciousness and give impetus and direction to the further improvement of our lives. Ludmila Shaposhnikova has been and will be the kind of person who, beyond doubt, can be attributed to the bright galaxy of Messengers of cosmic evolution.
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The article reveals an original conception of the historical process by Ludmila Shaposhnikova, whose works contain a new methodology for studying history. The author of the article identifies the most important characteristics of meta-history according to Shaposhnikova and illuminates her significant contribution to the clarifying of the true role of outstanding personalities in the historical process. The article discloses the urgency for the development of cosmic mentality, or Cosmism, as well as the key role of the philosophical system of the Living Ethics in this process. In this regard, the author of the article poses a problem of alteration of the methodology used for studying phenomena and processes in particular areas of scientific knowledge. The article substantiates the necessity of applying a holistic approach to the studied phenomena.