The monastery in Kyrgyzstan was actually called the "Monastery of Fire-Worshippers", since a fire always burned there. However, it was on account of the smiles that it became famous.
The report, which made it famous, originated from the book "Eselsweisheit" (English: The Experience of a Fool Who Had An Epiphany About How To Get Rid of His Glasses) by Mirsakarim Norbekov.
Prof. Norbekov looked after former communist party "fat cats" during their retirement and it was normal for each of them, usually in their advanced age, to suffer from a chronic illness of some kind. However, during a longer journey, one of the patients became completely cured of Parkinson’s disease. Shortly afterwards, the next four gentlemen disappeared for several weeks and equally returned free of ailment. Something strange must be happening. Prof. Norbekov made enquiries and was informed that the gentlemen had gone to a monastery for a period of convalescence.
Prof. Norbekov had to see this for himself. Nothing would stop him. He took two friends with him, a cameraman and a director, and made his way to the monastery in question. A group of guests were received there every 40 days. Prof. Norbekov and his friends announced their arrival and set off.
They experienced their first shock when they realised that they had to make the final 26 kilometres along a steep mountain path. This was followed by an even greater shock immediately afterwards. Upon arriving at the monastery, no attempts were made to examine the new guests or to prescribe a medicine for them. Instead they were asked not to sin. Anyone who did not comply with this plea was sent to fetch water.
There are two things to point out here: It was considered a sin to have a dismal mood and not to smile.
In order to fetch water, it was necessary to climb down a four-kilometre-long winding road along a steep rock face, collect the water from a small trickle and then carry it back up again. The full pitcher of water weighed more than 20 kilograms.
The person fetching the water was completely exhausted upon reaching the top once more.
Since an average ‘townie’ rarely smiles and – even when he tries to – usually forgets again after two minutes, it didn’t take long until Prof. Norbekov was sent to fetch water.
Completely worn out, he finally arrived back at the top with the heavy pitcher after 8 kilometres of the winding, hidden path – and was asked to go back down again. He had "carried the sin with him" on the way up.
Prof. Norbekov denied everything. He was certain that he wouldn’t be able to manage it again. But the monk led him to the window with a view onto the path and the water source. This monk held a magnifying glass in his hands and observed the guests on the way back up to the top. Anyone who didn’t smile had to go back down again.
During the first few days, almost all of the guests were continually fetching water. After one week, nobody had to fetch water. They had got used to having a permanent smile.
The monk expressed his gratitude that the guests "brought light into the monastery" and showed them… the monastery’s private spring. The entire long way down was completely unnecessary and only served to rid the guests of their sins.
There was a second custom in this monastery: In addition to the smiles, all of the people there walked with very straight postures. Furthermore, they took pleasure in the small things in life and also allowed themselves to play like children at times.
After 40 days, most of the guests’ illnesses and small aches and pains had disappeared in the most amazing way, and each individual left the monastery healthier than they had arrived.
When Prof. Norbekov was back home again, he naturally wanted to know precisely whether smiling and having a straight posture could really result in such a resounding success. And so he invited patients to participate voluntarily in a training programme. The patients spent two hours every day walking backwards and forwards through the polyclinic’s gymnasium with a straight posture and with a smile on their faces.
And, sure enough, everyone here also ended the programme at least a little healthier than before.
Prof. Norbekov made further research and expanded his programme. When he worked with 15 terminally ill patients using his further developed programme, he was able to completely heal all 15.
His almost 100 percent success rate remains to the present day and he has additionally developed a training programme for use by everybody.
The problem: Most courses last between 7 and 10 days, and the participants then have to continue on their own afterwards. Not all of them manage to do this. And thus, many people would like a new "Monastery of Smiles" or simply a loving "Centre of Laughter" in which they could spend 40 days training together.
This "Centre of Laughter" would not have to be used throughout the year for this purpose: It would be sufficient to organise a training session there 3 to 4 times a year - undisturbed by the outside world and exclusively with those individuals who are taking part in the training course. It should on no account be attended by grumbling personnel, stroppy cooks or surly chambermaids. It would be better if one did everything oneself in order to be sure that, here too, anyone forgetting to smile is sent to "fetch water" or similar.
Fully-fledged Norbekov trainers, who would like to work on such a project, are also listed here: www.norbekov-europe.de
Anyone wanting to establish /offer a centre of this kind is welcome to get in touch with me or Tatyana Jerkova and Georgi Jerkov of the Norbekov Europe Institute.
In the meantime, we can send ourselves to fetch water when we find ourselves slouching again or forgetting to smile. We also have to learn to withstand the pressure from the outside world, since it’s not uncommon for someone to look at you oddly: "What are you grinning about?" "I am Norbekoving…"
The norm is to stare blankly ahead. Anyone deviating from this stands out.
However, it can’t really do any harm to get on people’s nerves from time to time with a bit of pushy optimism.
I still have to work at always being able to manage this… A replacement for the monastery – now that really would be something!