Sometimes We Need to Let Go and Be Carried by Life

Sometimes We Need to Let Go and Be Carried by Life

Interview at Warsaw with Newsweek Psychologia

In this interview featured in Polish Newsweek Psychologia magazine, Igor Kufayev speaks on what it means to live life not through the habit of patterns but in being able to make decisions from a qualitatively new plane of being using a consciousness-based approach. Transcribed from original interview with Ewa Rogala, recorded in Warsaw, Poland, May 2023

Ewa Rogala: First, just to make a short introduction: I’m a freelance journalist and I’m working for Newsweek Psychologia. Each issue has its title and special subject, and this interview will be for the issue about Why We Are Influenced? The intention is to ask questions in this magazine about why we decide this or that? Why do we do things this way or another? Why do we keep making the same mistakes? How does it work? 

Igor Kufayev: A fascinating topic.

Ewa: So, what’s your general opinion on that, and then I’ll try to ask more precise questions?

Igor: Before we dive into this – why do we make decisions? Do we make decisions at all? This is a big topic. I think we can first map out a few potential threads here that can be perhaps woven at some point later on. So let’s say that there is a free will. Let’s say that we presuppose that there is indeed this free will, and take a bit more of that which already in certain circles is considered to be an old paradigm now, the materialistic paradigm – that consciousness is a byproduct of some sort, byproduct of evolution, byproduct of bio-electrical activity in the brain. Then of course, there must be something in terms of decision-making; there must be something that is driven by our own will. And then there is a diametrically opposite view to that, radically different view to that, which is maybe coming from that more idealistic perspective – the perspective which somehow posed a tremendous problem for a lot of philosophical schools in the past. The question of free will is the question, certainly when it comes to Western European philosophy, and we know that psychology also is intimately connected with that discipline known as the love of wisdom. 

Then we have something even more fascinating, as the latest breakthroughs in the field of quantum science. For example, there are these stumblings that some of the neurophysiologists and neurobiologists came up with that we do not make any decisions. That decisions [have] already been made somewhere else in the subtler department of our neurophysiology, and our brain picks it up, let’s say that is in fractions of whatever unit of time – a second, half a second. When I first encountered this some years ago, some 10-15 years ago, this was a fascinating revelation because this came as a confirmation of some of the teachings in traditions that are known as perennial wisdom, traditions, which emphasised that that what we call decision-making here does not belong to the individual agent – something else is at work.

So we are really on no solid ground when it comes to this. So I think it’s best we keep this topic really tentative, in the sense of what is the predominantly active energy here? What’s the driving force? Whilst at the same time, not to swayed by either of these extremes. Because even if we are to presuppose and adopt the perspective that decisions are not made by us but made on our behalf, somewhere at the more refined levels of consciousness – and we are simply picking it up, as it were, and acting not out of our own decision-making, not out of our own accord, but there is this universal law in motion which is not available to us at this more localised perspective – even then, within the very same traditions, there is the need to make these decisions when it comes to the choices we make in life, fundamental choices. “Do I want to be happy? Do I want to be free?” Big questions. “Do I want to carry on as it is? Do I stay? Do I dwell on the status quo?” So to me it seems like a very, very interesting topic because we cannot talk about it with any degree of certainty.

Ewa: And small decisions, small choices, everyday choices – what about those? 

Igor: Well, it’s a good way actually to go straight from that cosmic perspective to the more down-to-earth, day-to-day perspective. In my work, what I bring as a reminder is something that is both rooted in this perennial tradition of wisdom teachings but is also backed up by the understandings that we have today, with this world where everything quantum is thrown in in the sense of how things function.

So it’s called a split – a decision [made] on the spur of the moment of which way – and it’s always there, from the minutest thing. “Do I have, let’s say, a fizzy water or still water?” That decision does not impact me in the long run. But let’s say the decision of “Do I fly to Timbuktu or do I fly to Beijing”, for example, might change my life, depending on what encounters I will have.

Ewa: … or do you fly today or tomorrow?

Igor: Exactly. “Do I fly early in the morning?” So this whole life seems to be an uninterrupted chain of events, where we constantly make these decisions. So there is always this part, reminder how to deal with that, which is to be aware that the decision-making here consequentially leads to something we could then call the trajectory that we cast out for ourselves. Perhaps this will serve us as an entrance under this topic because a lot could be said of how our life is navigated out of these minute decisions that often cast the destiny of where our life takes us.

Ewa:  It reminded me of a few films I saw, for example, Kieślowski’s Przypadek (Blind Chance) and many others, based on this little choice.

Igor: Exactly. Or La Double vie de Veronique (The Double Life of Veronique) which is an example of that possibility, right?

Ewa: Yes.

Igor: How that simultaneity of life could be lived like this and at the same time could be lived like that is in that choice-making, is in that possibility of that which by nature is – because this duality, with this apparent duality of our existence, is driven by this possibility. That possibility is inherent in the field of pure potentialities, where in this myriad of potentialities, something pops into our awareness, and then the decision needs to be made.

Ewa: So does it mean we are naive thinking that we can make decisions?

Igor: I don’t think we are naive – I think this is where it gets very interesting. In any case, maybe it’s also not just what I think but it also has a lot to do with what comes under the category of belief systems, faiths. Because then what we bring here is another important aspect: the psychological angle of the freedom of choice-making whilst also knowing that there is something that is decided for us, which frees us also from the burden of responsibility – not in the sense of copping out of that responsibility but not carrying that burden, not carrying that cross of making the wrong decision and somehow being punished for it.

So a lot could be said about how much we have inherited that in our given culture, where perhaps we could lighten up in terms of where life has a flow as well. Life itself is a flow. So it takes some experience, being battered by life, maybe tossed around, until we realise that life has its flow. Like John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to us when we are busy making other plans.” I love that quote and I love quoting that.

Ewa: And we teach our kids to think twice. Think twice before you make a decision, before you do something. So be precise in your choices. You have kids, actually, so how do you explain to your children this problem? I mean, your children are not kids, not small – your daughter is grown.

Igor: Well, no. Actually, I have two big daughters, I should say. And one little one who is just three and a half, and a son who is going to be thirteen. So I have a 33, 16, 12 at the moment, and a three-and-a-half year old. So it’s a full range there.

Ewa: Okay, so you had a chance to explain what to do, how to make the best decisions in your life, and in their life.

Igor: As a father, I have a responsibility and my responsibility primarily here perhaps, to the surprise of some, is to equip them with the understanding. And even though I’ve never ceased from the practical how’s or how-to’s  – this goes on a daily basis – there is also a reminder, a constant reminder, of what is what so that the decision-making here is primarily motivated by having a bigger picture.

For example: where do you study? What do you study? How do you spend your time? And we all are now mercilessly pulled into this still very new age of digital technology where nobody knows how it’s going to pan out. As a parent who grew up in the time when the senses were allowed much greater freedom to revel in the naturalness of the world, I sometimes feel, again, a great sense of responsibility. So it’s a constant battle because I cannot isolate my kids from that merciless, collective movement, that motion. I cannot bring them up on an island.

So it’s like surrendering to this inevitability of sharing what is being shared by the collective consensus. Also, nevertheless, it is accompanied by a healthy dosage of that homeopathy, almost on a daily basis. Do you want to be slaves? Do you want to be some kind of manufactured, new experiment, into something that you would not even be able to regret because you do not know what it is? You would not know the difference.

Do you want to be a consumer or do you want to be a creator? Because that’s the way it goes. The whole world is now being pulled in the direction, at least as far as I can see, where creativity is being really talked about a lot but I can see there’s less and less chances to be creative because there’s so much consumption. And I know, as someone who has spent [time] in the domain of creating, what it takes – how much time it requires to be alone for something to brew, steep, and in order for something to come out from within for it to be expressed. We constantly consume!

So my advice here is, of course, deeply practical as a parent. So I do bring these reminders, from the way of the obvious things, right – the principle of do not harm – but also trying to bring these loftier concepts as well. Even though they are children, they are my children. This is their karma to be born into a family where their father is in the profession or the job of relating that to other people. So why would I leave my children out of that? It would be unfair. But I cannot give them my heart and I cannot give them my brain, so it’s a tough one.

Ewa: I have kids, too. My son is almost 16, my daughter is 18. So yeah, it’s difficult.

Igor: So you know the dance.

Ewa: Yes, a difficult time. Sometimes I feel very sorry for them because they’re constantly surrounded by information, fake news, and they feel everyday pressure which we didn’t feel in the 70s, when we were teenagers.

Igor: Maybe we felt different pressure, but yes, it was a different… I almost feel like an era gone by and we can talk about it as an autumn, but it had a touch of gold to it despite the different social systems, different economic systems – there was a true sense of, I don’t know, magic, discovery, not knowing how it will turn out. And with everything at the tip of the fingers [now], everything is just like Google-able. What a world. I can’t imagine myself growing up in that. So in a way, I’m both feeling sorry and part of me also feels maybe not envious, but like they belong to a different reality. What I am deeply concerned with, not just for my children but for the generations of young people, is where does it take us? Does it actually take us somewhere? Or are we in one of those cul-de-sacs, in the maze of the mind where somehow the stakes were made and we feel that we have to now carry on. Whereas, does it even lead us anywhere? I can certainly say it doesn’t lead to greater happiness.

Ewa: Yeah.

Igor: Conformity, comfort. But whether that leads to us connecting to what I believe is our job – to connect to – that I am not sure.

Ewa: Yeah. And I’m very, very sorry for the young generation, especially for the group of friends of my daughter. After the pandemic and during the pandemic, they had such a difficult time, depressions and stress. I could see many young people in hospitals, looking for help. So I think that that’s also a big problem – but this is not a subject we’re talking about now.

If somebody asks you, “What should I do not to make the same mistakes again, because I keep making them? I keep making the same choices and they are wrong for me.” What should they do?

Igor: Well, I think we should really bring into the conversation something which is simply known as Consciousness-based approach – Consciousness-based. All this, one way or another – if we are to simplify it – boils down to how conscious we are, which translates into how present we are. How present we are at any given moment in time. And what that means – being present – is that whatever decisions we make, even if these decisions lead to errors, these decisions are made consciously.

There is this very different quality to that. Whenever there’s something made something consciously, there’s a greater sense of ownership, owning, whilst at the same time, having a sense of also living life from that place where things have been tried and tested [ourselves], rather than feeling as if we are constantly living someone else’s life, or the decisions are made for us, or because we are simply not fully present. Why are we not fully present? Because a lot of the decisions we make are not driven by consciously made choices but by unconscious patterns.

So this is a big topic. In spiritual dialogues, in closed doors in terms of psychological professions, in different fields of psychology, from clinical to transpersonal psychology, it’s very well known: human behavior is driven by patterns. We all are, one way or another, here, suffering because there are certain unacknowledged patterns. The job then it seems, is to recognise these patterns first. So it’s not about not making the same mistake. We cannot not make the same mistake – we will make the same mistake. We are bound to make the same mistakes unless we become more conscious.

Ewa: So we have to understand?

Igor: Not just understand – there has to be greater expansiveness. We have to be more aware. It is when we are aware, more aware – and we cannot limit it to, let’s say, being aware of just something specific. When we say “Awareness,” if we capitalise this term now, being more Aware means being more of everything – more of everything! Now, let’s talk about these qualities: more patience, more compassion, more empathy towards ourselves, towards the situation, towards everything. We hold everything in Consciousness before decisions are made.

So this is what I mean by a Consciousness-based approach. Because if we want to learn purely at the level of, “Well, I’ve done wrong several times here, or I’ve made these mistakes with regard to choices in relationship, in how I weigh the relationship, in choices with regard to partnerships, career, occupations, self-expression, interests…” we are lost there and then. Because these are simply the result and outcome of our status. When we tend to that which here is the driving force of all our decision-making, then we simply become more Aware, and therefore, we are given the possibility of making greater choices – or at least consciously making these choices  versus falling into the groove of a pattern. But once we are in the pattern, making any adjustments is almost irrelevant – we are in a pattern. It’s coming out of the pattern that takes us out of the situation.

So therefore, this may be a more unfairly sounding spiritual axiom, that we will make the same mistakes in life – or an even more grim perspective – we will suffer as long as and until we realise that something fundamentally needs to change, at the level of our Awareness. This is at least in terms of this approach that is why people embark on the path of self-improvement, on the path of doing some work on themselves, be it this or that modality – why people start meditating, why people attend workshops, why people actually do anything. Why don’t they just remain in the status quo and complain? Because many of us do. Perhaps the majority of today’s population prefers to simply blame the circumstances ad infinitum. Because this somehow makes it feel that everything is justified – and that in itself is packed with one’s patterns. So walking out of these patterns requires a different level of consciousness.

Ewa: A level of work.

Igor: Well, yes, but we are not exempt from doing our part here. So that’s my understanding. This is my view on how we can not make the same mistakes. It’s almost like we can not but will make the same mistakes unless something changes within the field of our Awareness. Because when that changes, we don’t need to worry about making the right choices because we will make more conscientious choices simply by virtue of being more conscious. We are more present. When we are not fully present, “Oops, in a pattern. Oops, it happened already”.

Ewa: So during your programmes, your projects, do you teach how to be more present?

Igor: Not per se, that’s not the emphasis.

Ewa: Is it knowledge that I can get from the course?

Igor: Well, let’s say, we do not devise our programmes at this stage with a specific emphasis, like in today’s vast industry of self-help where there are different niches and different kind of services offered. So, at the moment, I would say we are covering the very basic needs. The basic needs – what are these? It is to give people the methodology which will put them in touch with Being, or with who they are, at that fundamental level, through some very easily adoptable into their lifestyle simple practise. It’s meditation-based, but of course it utilises proper discourses, it utilises the so-called traditional question-and-answer format which is known almost to have a scriptural modality to it. Like some of the scriptures are made in the form of questions and answers. All tantric scriptures, for instance, are based on usually the goddess, the Devi, will press her questions on her spouse, Shiva, the Awareness itself, and kind of do the job on behalf of the spiritual seeker. This is the form. So the question and answer here is a very important element. So when it comes to the question and answer, the sky is the limit – we talk about absolutely everything. There’s nothing that we can talk about or cannot talk about. So that covers any area of what is in the focal point of someone’s awareness and importance.

But I do not, at this stage, feel that we have this luxury to have, say, a course or retreat on How to make the right decision? Maybe we should do that. Maybe it’s a brilliant idea. Maybe we should definitely take it on board.

And the other reason for this more universal approach is because what happens in our programmes is that there is a [greater] possibility due to a certain indispensable element – that element is energetic. This element is what goes beyond mental activities. It goes beyond – though it encompasses intellectual and mental inquiry, it doesn’t stop there. So in having this also in our sittings, in our meditation sessions, something is provided where the release of stress is the most immediate outcome.

So the release of stress is what our work is known for. It’s proverbial. A lot of people come to our work in view of that because they know this is where it is the quickest way to at least get the first immediate layer of that unload. And then of course, the work doesn’t stop there, because the deeper and deeper layers are being addressed here – and there’s a possibility for healing childhood traumas, what affected and impacted us in the past and distant past, healing unresolved dilemmas in relationships. They all come forth not because we consciously work on that – it’s simply a byproduct of that energetic element, of that field that is generated in our programmes. The field that is generated in our meditations is what creates the possibility where people who have never even experienced anything like that begin to release; and with that release, there’s a greater Awareness. There’s a greater consciousness. Suddenly you have more distance, suddenly you have more spaciousness.

Because the reason why we take everything so much at its face value is because there’s very little space. That space here is spoken maybe in an esoteric sense – there’s very little spaciousness. That spaciousness is Consciousness itself. So we are literally immersed in a situational setup. We identify with problems, issues and dilemmas in equal measure as we identify with our storyline, with the set of circumstances. All this creates a pact, a conglomerate of sorts. This conglomerate, this pact, crystallises our awareness instead of keeping it alive and fluid. So the job here is to liquefy it, to give it a possibility for it to become fluid again – then it will flow. Then it will flow just as water does and finds its level, and it will then nourish and fecundate any area that our life requires. So this is maybe why we don’t really go specifically like, “let’s work on this”. Because people find answers to their life’s dilemmas. They basically have more awareness of what they want from life, how they want to live their life. So I think all this, one way or another, boils down to giving the possibility for being more fully present – and things just start falling into place. It’s being taken for a ride by unconscious patterns that we don’t want.

Ewa: I think we all need that – to be more present. I wanted to ask you questions about addictions, but addictions to emotions or feelings. Because sometimes I think it pushes us to some choices in our lives when we are stuck to or we choose some kinds of emotions, and we are addicted to it. How does it work? Why does it happen that we choose to feel that way? Or we choose people that have a bad influence on us? Things like that.

Igor: There’s no straight answer to that. Why do we choose certain alliances, relationships, connections? I think that a lot goes into that. Again, it depends on what perspective we view this. There is, for example, that more kind of Indic traditional view, exemplified in the term “karma”, the law of cause-and-effect, which states that the relationships that we have are not out of our choice, in the way of what we want in a given moment in time, but instead is an outcome of certain frequencies that brings us here and there that is something for us to learn. I’m speaking from that traditional, esoteric perspective. There is this Sanskrit term “rnanubandhana”. Rnanubandhanas – it’s literally setting the accounts straight. It’s like paying the debts. So the view on relationships, the more intimate the relationship, the stronger is rnanubandhana, according to the Vedic perspective.

So we are acting and interacting and entering these relationships, and these relationships then become the grounds where this exchange goes on. Not to be taken literally that “I’ve done something to you in past life, now you have to return that in exactly the same manner”. But there is something where this can be viewed also and not dismissed on the grounds of this being a superstition. But there is something in terms of how certain people come into our lives, irrespective of what we planned for ourselves. We may say that, “Oh, I’ve manifested so-and-so. I’ve prayed so much, I’ve intended so much, this and that. You know, I got fed up with having wrong relationships; I wanted to have the right relationship. And here we go – I’ve got a right relationship”! Well, let’s just give it a bit of time and see how it unfolds, because what begins to happen is that the lessons that we need to learn will still need to be learnt. Who’s going to deliver these lessons? Who is going to be that mirror? They’re going to reflect to us that which we cannot see.

In a relationship, the other person is a mirror. So now, we live literally in a hall of mirrors. In a relationship, maybe the intimacy is such that “that the mirror is constantly reflecting something back I refused to see for a long time, but now it’s staring me in the face”. And there are lesser intense relationships that are there constantly changing in terms of intensity – but it is there. From a short encounter with someone during a holiday break, a short stay somewhere, to someone who will become part of our life for decades to come.

So, again, what I am trying to say here is that there is tremendous humility and wisdom in this understanding of how the Indian civilisation came up with this notion of karma. Not because of its, let’s say, more of that religious undertone, because we can also see that through the prism of a religious kind of perspective. It’s not from the point of view of doing something wrong and then being punished for it. Someone wisely said, “We are not punished for what we do. We are punished by what we do”. And that’s what makes a tremendous difference. So our deeds are already, in a way, a result of our thoughts, feelings and actions.

But earlier, when you were building the question, you brought in the question of addiction from the angle of emotions, right? So why do we go for certain relationships? What are these preferences? So I think maybe something should be also made very, very clear that we need to recognise that fundamentally we’re all driven by the same impulse towards fulfilment and happiness. This is our birthright. There is this inbuilt compass or tendency that is universal, as universal as it gets. So what turns it upside down is the value system that a culture, at a certain point, begins to adopt, and how we go about that happiness. If the culture begins to be dominated by the source of happiness in the objectivity of experience, then sooner or later this will bring this culture to a crisis. Because happiness is meant to be based on a self-evident sense of inner fulness; then the objects in the world become simply a cherry on the cake, an additional kind of thing to enjoy, because it then reflects the inner status. As I like giving examples in my programmes: someone who is suffering in mental torment, they can be in Seashell Island, they can be in the most beautiful beach in Mauritius, they can be walking during the sunset on the shores of the Indian Ocean, Bahamas, what have you – but this will not be at all experienced because you cannot take it in because your inner state this is in torment. So the outer circumstances start going to waste. And the contrary is true: we can be in the most humble settings, but if the inner bubble of happiness is there fizzing up to the surface, everything suddenly seems to be not just okay but actually coloured in that hint and a hue of gentle sweetness.

I don’t know which sage said that, but I think it’s worth remembering: “It’s not about wanting to enjoy what we don’t have. It’s about the capacity to enjoy what we do have”. So, if we turn our culture now into this constant going somewhere, hankering – because we’re constantly going towards somewhere where the fulfilment will come – we might miss this what we’re talking about now, being fully present. Life is ticking, life is here. That same reminder of one of the Fab Four, Lennon’s reminder, life is what happens. It happens. So if we don’t pay attention to it, it kind of passes us by.

So the question of addiction should be adjusted in the sense that we are, in a way, legitimately addicted to joy and happiness – and we should be addicted to that. And we should not be afraid. But we just need to know which way to go about it. We need to know how to redress that. We know that that can only be found within, first and foremost. But if we think that somehow happiness will be provided by the right partner, the right job, the right career, the right this, the right that…

Ewa: Money.

Igor: Money, of course money – but for someone it’s power. So then we are constantly, constantly taken out of ourselves.

Ewa: And then we will be unhappy.

Igor: Yeah, perpetuating in that vicious cycle.

Ewa: Would you tell me in a few words about your book – because it was just published – and what can I find there?

Igor: It’s hard to say because it’s kind of a spontaneous outcome of sorts that had to be taken into a form to be cast out. Why am I saying “spontaneous”? To simplify what this is about, for whom this book is, this book could be simply put as sharing something which is very, very dear to me. It’s a revelation of sorts. It’s an intimately sensed something – and an attempt to convey that. It’s the passion of my life, deep inner belief, and also steeped through that where it has been verified through the most profound philosophical system that I have had the chance to encounter.

So Camatkāra: The Hidden Path is deliberately made of two parts. In Sanskrit, “camatkāra”, and then “the hidden path” as that English term here, which is not there to explain away the meaning of camatkāra. Because the term “camatkāra” is very difficult to translate. But if we are pushed to translate it, it means “a sense of aesthetic astonishment”, or to simplify it, it’s “a sense of wonder”. So this book is a hymn or an ode to wonder, an ode to beauty – as another name for God, as another name for Ultimate Reality. Something that I have realised I’ve been a worshipper of all my life without knowing it fully – until I’ve realised I do.

So it’s a spontaneous outcome of a series of discourses delivered over a period of time but the principal body was formed sometime in Salt Spring Island, in British Columbia, Canada, and another part two years after, somewhere on the hills of Assisi in Italy. Then it was transcribed and let to brew into what to do with it. And based on that, it grew into the idea of the book. So the book was never written. I’m an author, okay, I have the copyrights to the book, but I haven’t written this book. This book came through me, sincerely, literally, in the form of oral transmission of speaking what is the most dearest to me.

But then, when we decided that we want to make it into a book, the need arose to give it also a form tangible enough, durable enough, so that it has something that sustains it and not just fizzles away. So of course then that’s the crafting, meticulous editing, proofreading, expanding, altering, removing – a lot of times removing more and more – adding a little bit. So whom is this book is for? For everyone who is an artist – and I believe everyone is an artist, at the heart of it all. 

Ewa: Artists are important, I agree. And you are an artist yourself. Do you still paint?

Igor: Constantly – not with paint and brushes. The format changed, materials are different – I’m not trying to be elusive here. No, I don’t paint as a painter, I don’t work as an artist like I used to. And for a number of years, when this transformation took place and began, I have been waiting to go back to painting – painting as I used to. For as long as two years, I waited. But instead, something else came. So, whether I will go back to paint and use brushes, maybe, who knows? At the moment it’s a different format. The canvas is different, the application is different. But the sensibility, I would say, is still driven by that same sense, the same sense that, hopefully, somehow came through in the book.

Ewa: Yes, I think your art is influencing people and giving them tools, different tools.

Igor: Yes, definitely – inspiring people. Particularly those who need that reassurance in our day and age. I hope some of the passages in the book speak directly to this: how to give, share and reassure, in the given moment in time, so as to uplift this very tender, at times requiring support, requiring reaching out from beyond the realm of space and time. Just as it happened to me, in those moments when the pangs of insecurity, the uncertainty of how it all is going to work out was provided to me through this, through that – through this conversation, through this book, through this film, through this encounter – so that I can also see this as my job, as my duty to do it now.

Ewa: Was your stay in Warsaw 30 years ago important and life changing?

Igor: I could say today, in retrospect, that it was crucial for me because these were formative years.

Ewa: You were 20 something? 

Igor: I was 23 to 25. 

Ewa: Very important, no? 

Igor: This all coincided with some big transformative moments in history. This was just before the collapse of the Soviet Union. I was a student at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts and my daughter was born in Poland. And this decision came that I did not want to go back and continue to study. I realised that I didn’t need to study anymore. So my first experiments were consciously departing from what I’ve learnt – I had studied art, classically speaking, since the age of twelve – and I threw myself into the mercy of it all here. And these were very formative times for Poland itself. We’re speaking about the late 80s.

Ewa: How long did you stay here?

Igor: For two years, 1989 to 1991. So this was the time when Poland went through that shock therapy, transitioning to the new economical structure. I’ve seen a lot in that time: people’s aspirations, people’s dreams, thwarted because of the impossibility of it all. It felt somehow, for some, impossible to overcome this. You know what this whole new system brings about. I’m talking about peers in the field, young artists, who chose to stay in Poland. And hundreds and hundreds, thousands of them, were fleeing and emigrating, as you know, to other countries – France, Germany, America, Britain.

So yes, for me, Poland holds this very, very dear precious, special place. Because this is also where I’ve realised through kind of like being thrown into the [water] to learn how to swim. They just throw you into the deep end: how does this all work? Even about the art market, I was clueless, unprepared; I did not know how it worked, you know, the first encounters with art dealers. But then I had extraordinary encounters here with people; the late Andrei Martyna, who at the time was an influential art journalist, as soon as he saw my work, he just made it happen so that I would have a one-man show, one after another. 

Ewa: So you could have a show.

Igor: At the Gallery Oshure Monetti. I think back in the day, it was simply called Gallery Monetti Foundation – theater, gallery, cafe. Yeah, it was a very, very, beautiful, very intense, very interesting time.

Ewa: Great. Okay, thank you so much. I don’t want to keep you longer here – it’s been an hour. A huge topic; we could probably talk longer about that. Thank you so much.

Igor: Thank you. It was very good. You had these very interesting angles with which you wrote the questions. I think it’s quite all-encompassing.

Transcribed from original interview with Eva Rogala, recorded in Warsaw, Poland, May 2023

Our next 3-Day Immersion with Igor Vamadeva is around the corner and will be held at Oddechowo, in Borzymy, Poland, from October 26th-29th, 2023. Set in the red pine forests, this will be first residential retreat in Poland, where Vamadeva will give discourses and guidance into the timeless wisdom and practises of the tantras of Trika Shaivism. If you feel the calling to join us and immerse yourself in this work of Grace, we welcome you with open hearts:

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