- Posted April 15, 2011 by
New York City, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The Realm of Maria Nikolaeva
A report by Aloke Mukerjee in New York City.
“We are made to persist. That’s how we find out who we are.”
- Tobias Wolff: In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of a Lost War
That sums up Maria Nikolaeva, contemplator extraordinaire. To be able to bring to fruition what most can only grasp in vivid, yet forgotten dreamscapes makes her a remarkable woman. And don’t be fooled by the mischievous glint in her eyes. She is dead serious about her beliefs culled over years of searching, travelling and cultural immersion. We spoke at length covering as much as possible in such a brief and unexpected encounter.
The Master of Philosophy and Personal Psychology; the fellow of The Association for Study of Esotericism and Mysticism; the author of 25 books on spirituality printed in Russia, USA, Europe and Asia (110 000 copies sold) and 85 articles; press correspondent for different magazines and translator of classic scriptures into Russian. After leaving her position as editor in Saint-Petersburg State University she spent 5 years in India living in ashrams and visiting holy places. She practiced with over 50 Indian and Western spiritual teachers, completed courses at many centers, and was certified as a Yoga-teacher. She got initiations in ancient Indian traditions Natha Sampradaya and Kriya Yoga; becamea Karma Sannyasini of the Vedanta Order(Bihar School of Yoga). She was also engaged in comparative research in other Eastern cultures, became a Reiki Master; published books on Taoism and Feng Shui; practicingTai Chi and traveling to China. Taking Buddhist refuge she practiced Karma-Kagyu in Nepal, learned Theravada meditation systems in India,Sri Lankaand Thailand, Mahayana Zen in Vietnam.Then she traveled 2 years through 10 countries in South-East Asia working with many spiritual masters.
Reflections on Ethnicity, Family and the Beginnings.
I was born in Saint-Petersburg home to the past 4 generations of my family. My family had a broad range of interests and some remarkable and eccentric personalities. Many of them experienced the Siege of Leningrad* during the 2nd World War.
The Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade (Russian: блокада Ленинграда, transliteration: blokada Leningrada) was a prolonged military operation resulting from the failure of the German Army Group North to capture Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, in the Eastern Front theatre of World War II. It started on 8 September 1941, when the last land connection to the city was severed. Although the Soviets managed to open a narrow land corridor to the city on 18 January 1943, lifting of the siege took place on 27 January 1944, 872 days after it began. It was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history and one of the most costly in terms of casualties. – Wikipedia
My grandfather was a commander of the torpedo tube in the legendary submarine Allveelaeva Lembit* which is now housed in a museum in Tallinn, Estonia. He attained the status of a hero in what was then the Soviet Union. Both my parents are engineers. My father works as the Chief of the Scientific Research Institution of Electro Physical Apparatuses, where he has been working for the past 40 years. He is a published poet and the collection of his verses and poems are dedicated to my mother. My schooling began at the Saint-Petersburg State University where I got exposure to military, humanitarian, technical, and scientific spheres.
*In 1934 the Estonian government contracted two submarines from the British engineering firm Vickers-Armstrong. The submarines Lembit and Kalev started operating as part of the Estonian Navy in 1931. Both submarines were taken over by the Soviet Union in 1940 after it occupied Estonia.
Becoming Maria Nikolaeva.
I spent my childhood in the small house of my heroic grandfather outside of a village in rural Russian province. We lived in solitude and led a geographically sequestered life. I had no interaction with other children. This gave me the ability to introspect and contemplate on the world around me at a very early age. I began reading and writing by the age of 4. By the time I moved to the city to attend school, I was already a writer with my own style and had a collection of stories. My parents loved classic literature, and we had a big library at home for my self-education it paralleled with the one at school! I give all credit to my parents for making education central to my existence. I enrolled in the Biology Department at Saint-Petersburg State University working in the botanical garden. In 1990 Perestroika* became a reality and changed everything.
*Perestroika (Russian: перестройка [pʲɪrʲɪˈstrojkə](literally: Restructuring) was a political movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during 1980s, widely associated with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Its literal meaning is "restructuring", referring to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system.
The beginning was hard, as change always is. For a while I worked in a hospital for patients with mental health issues. Around that time I traveled to a Christian monastery in the north, connected with occultists and people with extrasensory perception. This marked the beginning of the discovery of my paranormal abilities. But I soon found my balance broken. This state lasted for some years and I was often close to committing suicide as a result of being arrested by my abysmal bouts of depressions. I realize in retrospect that those were the challenges to being an open canvas and have destiny paint its portrait with rigorous and chaotic brush strokes. My philosophical bent and education helped me to develop self-consciousness and bear all my incredible strain of those experiences. After getting my bachelors in Ontology (for my work in Metaphysics* by Aristotle), I decided to travel to India. The year was 1996. This was another life-changing event and I was introduced to Eastern spiritual tenets and practices.
*Metaphysics(Greek: τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά) is one of the principal works ofAristotleand the first major work of thebranch of philosophy with the same name. The principal subject is "being qua being", or being understood as being. It examines what can be asserted about anything that exists just because of its existence and not because of any special qualities it has. Also covered are different kinds of causation,form and matter, the existence of mathematical objects, and a prime-mover God.
I got my masters in Philosophy (for my work with yoga sutras by Patanjali* as the base for modern Hatha Yoga schools), often traveling to India often and working as an editor in universities and publishing houses. I started to write and publish books on spirituality. They sold well and I decided to move to India in 2004 for more serious practice and reflection. For 3 years I worked with more than 30 Indian masters and gurus, earning certificates and initiations in Vedanta, Buddhism, Tantra, and Reiki. I spent the next 2 years in 10 South-East Asian countries (travelling to a new destination every 1 to 2 months) and developing my skills in meditation mostly in Buddhist monasteries.
*TheYoga Sutras of Patanjali is a Hindu scripture and foundational text ofYoga. It forms part of the corpus ofSutra literature dating to India's Mauryan period. In Hindu philosophy, Yoga (also Raja Yogato distinguish it from later schools) is the name of one of the six orthodox philosophical schools.Though brief, the Yoga Sutras are an enormously influential work on yoga philosophy and practice. –Wikipedia
After completing her original work Self-Being Strategy she is teaching and counseling for the past 2 years in Bali Island, Indonesia.
Love is a many splendored thing. So is Maria Nikolaeva.
For more information on Maria, visit her website: http://maria-yoga.narod.ru/English.htm