Thus, Porfiry Ivanov received an impulse of Grace without suspecting it and not doing anything special for it. There may be several explanations for why this happened. For example, the Lord arbitrarily chose Porfiry, and the Grace he received was practically accidental. But Creation stands upon the principle of necessity, and the Lord is not an idiot, and therefore such an explanation does not look very convincing. We can reference the law of karma and decide that the rebirth that occurred to Ivanov was a result of efforts applied by him in a previous life. Let us say he was a Tibetan mystic, who melted snow with his body, but fell a bit shy of enlightenment, and now it had occurred, when the time was right, in a country where there’s plenty of snow in the winter. This is not a bad explanation, although it is contrived. Besides these two, there is one more answer to the question about the sudden transformation of Porfiry Ivanov, unprepared by anything, which seems to me the closest to the Truth.
There are two assertions regarding so-called folk wisdom and containing with them a reflection of folk experience. The first: a sacred place is never empty. And the second: a village does not stand without a righteous man. In the Soviet Union, religion was suppressed, and righteous men were virtually destroyed, turning them into martyrs. Thus, their place remained empty, and no communist morality was able to fix this. So that Darkness did not totally overcome Light, a righteous man on a grand scale was needed. A new saint was needed who would also not be destroyed by the state’s punitive machinery. A need emerged, and the answer to it became the appearance of a Teacher in the person of Porfiry Ivanov. Why he was the one chosen for this mission is not given us to know, and the mystery remains a mystery. Apparently, at that moment he was the most suitable candidate for the role of a new Russian saint. There can’t be any other explanations.
From all of the above, it is easy to understand why the teaching of Ivanov was almost atheistic and directed toward maintaining health – otherwise his death would be inevitable under the conditions of the Great Terror of the 1930s. His preaching still led to 12 years spent in prisons and psychiatric hospitals, where Porfiry was diagnosed with schizophrenia. But there is no cloud without its silver lining – thanks to the disabled status from his psychiatric disease, Ivanov did not have to work anywhere, and could travel around the country, teaching people his method of getting healthy and hardening. If he did not have first-group disabled status due to schizophrenia, he would be jailed for parasitism and vagrancy; after all, he quit working almost immediately after the Idea was born.
In itself, this Idea, in fact, had two bases. The first basis – the most widespread now – was that a person is separated from Nature regarding clothing, comfortable housing and other goods, and moreover is filled with food from inside, and therefore closed off from Nature both inside and out. Consequently, one must train oneself to live without clothing, and fast from time to time. Thus, harmony with Nature was restored, and a person acquired strong, indestructible health.
The second basis significantly differs from the first, and it seems to me for some reason that the Idea was at first precisely this. It says that people have become too dependent on comfort – housing, clothing and food, for the sake of which they must give a good part of their time in life earning money for them. Therefore, a person must free himself from this dependency, in order to live in Nature in a natural fashion, getting by with only what is most necessary, and enduring heat and cold equally simply. Then he may open up the true purpose for himself and his place in Nature. Of course, such an Idea under Soviet rule would be perceived with more than hostility. But the conversations of an eccentric, standing out in the freezing weather in just his underwear and propagandizing the usefulness of pouring cold water on oneself was perceived far more simply in those years when health was cultivated by the government itself. Undoubtedly, sick people wanted to become healthy and eagerly listened to Porfiry’s advice, who moreover, soon acquired the gift of a healer. And the call to asceticism in the context of the universal striving for the acquisition of new goods could be heard only by certain individuals inclined to masochism. Thus, the adaptation of the message to the existing reality occurred, and thus the opportunity to continue the Work is preserved, which – in one form or another – a mystic must realize. The majority of mystics who bring a certain new message find themselves in such a situation, but in the case of Porfiry Ivanov, it was incredibly difficult.
It is said that the faithful receive from God trials exactly equal to their strengths, according to what they can bear. There is another side of this coin – when a messenger from God receives such an obvious super-ability, such a visible power, which can’t be dismissed so simply and can’t be written off as the manifestation of insanity. Therefore, the amazing resilience of the Teacher regarding cold could not help but impress everyone – both his supporters and opponents, evoking in them grudging respect and even a certain timidity. Thus it was with the orderlies in the psychiatric hospitals, thus it was with the fascists who seized Porfiry in Dnepropetrovsk in the fall of 1942, buried him in snow, and drove him around undressed on a motorcycle, trying to see what he could endure.
In the end, Ivanov was given a protective order, in which German soldiers were ordered not to touch him, since he represented an interest to world science. Later, Porfiry wrote in his memoirs that he really didn’t like the Germans, and then he decided that Hitler would not have success in this war. One can never say with full certitude how much the power of a saint can influence the course of affairs in the world, but Ivanov himself to the end of his days believed that his interference really did influence the outcome of the war. Was that not one more task to perform for which he had been called? Mystics often influence the world and the course of events in it in visible or invisible ways – and in that, in particular, their role as conduits of the Will of God on our plane of Being is manifested. Perhaps, no single mystic has saved the whole world, but it is a fact that many of them saved their own peoples. One can in fact treat this skeptically, if believing that there is no God and no fate, and therefore all mystics are either people sick in the head or clever charlatans. It really is hard to imagine that one person can possess the power to influence our reality; after all, it would have to be equal to the power of God. Nevertheless, if you feel or on the basis of your own experience you know of the truth of the existence of God, then it is not hard to understand that His direct interference in our world is not possible, since it violates all the laws by which it is constructed, and as a result destroys it. Therefore, interference in Creation at our level of Being must occur indirectly, through intermediaries, through mystics and prophets. Thus, even with all the simplicity with which Porfiry Ivanov describes his own settlement of the outcome of the Great Fatherland War, his words may be a reflection of the Truth.