Russians and the meaning of life

Russians like deep feelings and philosophical discussions. You won’t meet a Russian, who doesn’t believe in ‘cudjba’, ‘ducha’ and ‘toska’. These three words mean: fate, soul, and a sort of nostalgia, that is difficult to translate directly.

However, toska has real part in the Russian culture. It’s a sort of dwelling, dwelling over life, dwelling over the past, dwelling over what could be. Russians are romantics at heart, and behind the façade of initial coldness, you will find a person who reflects constantly about the meaning of life. Russians reminisce about things. Do you remember, they will ask you, how it used to be, -uncomplicated and easy? Do you remember, how the world was peaceful and correct? Older generation reminisces about the days under the Soviet Union, while younger generation reminisces about the freedom that the year 1990ies brought to Russia, when right after the collapse of the Soviet Union, everyone had lots of liberty and ideas to start new things.

Russians dwell about things, because things can always get better. Reflecting about ‘cudjba’ happens every time when two or more Russians gather together. Every Russian believes in fate. If things are difficult, it’s the fault of fate. Russians strongly believe that nothing in life happens because of coincidence. Everyone has a path in life, that is embedded in ‘cudjba’. If things happen, they happen for a reason. ‘You can’t escape your fate’ we say in Russia. You can’t escape your density, as each of us has one.

I remember how my late uncle would explain to us, my cousins and me, the particularities of fate. We would assemble around big table in the garden of my grand-parents farm, and talk. My uncle, a very kind person would tell us that life could be difficult sometimes, but difficulties were meant to be, and one had to learn how to overcome them. I know that most children in Russia have these conversations in their families, as all my friends are the same as me. With my friends from Russia, I can talk for hours about the meaning of life. We might chat for a bit about trivial stuff, but always end up in deep philosophical discussion. Why things are as they are, we ask ourselves? What is a deep meaning in events that happen in our lives? What lesson can we learn from our experiences? What is our path? What is the meaning of life?

One’s soul is also important for Russian. We greatly believe in ‘ducha’. Each of us has a soul that transcends the body. Belief in ‘ducha’ is very much linked with Christian Orthodoxy, but in Russia, everyone believes in the power of the soul, regardless of one’s religion. The soul and caring after it, is much more important than pursuing material comfort. There is a great belief that our soul landed on earth for a reason, that there is deeper meaning to life, that we can only grasp when we are aware of our soul, of a higher calling than mundane existence.

Russians love discussing meaningful things in life, and ‘toska’, ‘cudjba’ and ‘ducha’ are important words with a deep meaning in the Russian culture.

(me: reflecting as usual, about the meaning of life)

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