I was never attracted to or interested in Russian culture, in the slightest. I read things like Dostoyevsky, Gogol, and was even touched for a while by a period of reading Tolstoy in my youth, but nothing of the soul there really ever gripped me. (And I even made a strong effort to read through much of War and Peace, but gave it up when I grew tired of all of the emotional and psychological complication and predictability, of a sort.) I never connected with any aspect of the music of Tchaikovsky, despite several people trying to open him to me. Nothing about Russian dance, design, or their art ever impresses me with anything — there is really no valance between my consciousness and Russian consciousness. It has always been so. Something brutal and belonging to the woods there, in the Russian soul, the dark deep dark woods there, just the feeling of this. Lurking shadows with murderous intent, the rule of the jungle.
On many, many occasions over the years, while giving a public Dharma talk, when trying to explain possible hell-states that we can be reborn into as human beings, I hold up such things as being reborn in Russia, or being reborn in Communist China, or in North Korea, or in a fundamentalist Islamic country, absolutely for sure. Any of these places, and you are fucked. If you were born in Russia, you are fucked. From the get-go. And I have always sensed that, that there was something damned about it, and fucked. And I have had close Russian friends and have noticed the sympathy welding in my heart that they remained tethered to such stewing shadows and malignant shape-shifting demon-forces.