Beinsa Duno (1864-1944)
Teaching "humanity"

He was a theologian and a doctor who created his own practical teaching based on Christianity. Essentially, he taught personal physical, spritual and moral perfection, as well as oneness with nature and God. His teaching spread rapidly in Bulgaria and attracted numerous followers in America and many countries in Europe. Dunov delivered and published many lectures, opened schools for children and adults, and was the leader of the White Fraternity which united his followers. He left behind rich theoretical work as well as music reflecting his philosophy. The Bulgarian church rejected his teaching as a sect. Born at the village of Nikolaevka, Varna district, he studied theology and medicine in the United States, earned a doctoral degree, and died in Sofia. His followers still tend his grave.

"If I had come to repeat others' teachings, there would have been no meaning in my coming. I preach the teaching of Christ which should be applied in life at least on a small scale, i.e. in the relationships between fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, servants and masters." The sermons of Petar Dunov, Ph.D. in medicine and theology and, under the name of Beinsa Duno, the founder of a society popularly known as the White Fraternity, span almost five decades at the turn of the 20th century, a noteworthy period in the short history of the Third Bulgarian State. Contained in Dunov's seven thousand lectures, his books, music compositions and activities was an outline for a full-blown spiritual movement. In the beginning his work brought him only three disciples, but later he reached thousands of followers who called him Master. His philosophy was quite unique, unparalleled even in the history of nations with a similar fate.

"I wish to awake Bulgarians' faith in the Divine. They have a religion but they have no faith. They have lost it." Dunov started his transformation of religion into faith where the Bogomils had stopped. They had aspired to turn Christianity into an easy-to-use, everyday-life moral standard. However, their teaching was based on a cosmogony and a theology that were fundamentally different from the official ones, thus inevitably engendering conflict.

Dr. Dunov was not a heretic. He waged no wars. He never called into question the validity of Christianity as established by the church. He only questioned the efficiency of the priests who had turned faith into a profession, and their ability to make Christianity "everyday practice" and thus help the Bulgarians who were "growing old for lack of love".

His image in the memories of his disciples is, naturally, idealised, yet there is no reason whatsoever to doubt the absolute selflessness of Petar Dunov's motives in taking on a Master's role. The idea of becoming a mystic prophet or a leader in order to attract fanatic followers to satisfy egoism was alien to him. Neither did he profit from his mission. Apart from the Biblical beard, he was "a man neatly and elegantly dressed, graceful in gait and gestures", expert in mathematics and natural science, a good violinist and a hiking enthusiast. He had discovered the key to the natural and aesthetically rewarding was of life. He spoke "simply and understandably, without spectacular effects". His personal ambitions and goals that provided the basis for his teaching boiled down to a useful and easy-to-apply "manual of everyday life": "learning to think, learning to overcome oneself and to turn negative thoughts into positive, striving to rid oneself of selfishness, egoism, fear and superstition". In his own words, it was "instruction of Life, not of the letter". The faith he wished to restore in Bulgarians he compared to "the bread we eat without analysing its chemical composition".

After his return form the United States where he was awarded a doctoral degree for his thesis "Science and Education", he travelled all over the country, doing phrenological research. It is arguable to what extent the size and structure of the scull could reveal the character of a mixed and varied nation but it is beyond and doubt that Dr. Dunov was one of the most knowledgeable and competent experts in the field of Bulgarian mentality. He understood that the loss of faith was not simply a form of atheism but a lack of a guiding idea that would give meaning to the nation's life.

He could see the collapse of the national ideals, and the risks involved in the social movements and ideas, so he focused his efforts in the most appropriate direction in view of the nation's mentality: the development and improvement of every individual, bringing order into the personal moral world, and transforming a great ideal into a personal one. The amazing social, professional and geographical variety of the White Fraternity proved that the Master had found the universal language and the common way that were and still are needed by all Bulgarians.

"He taught us virtue, and high morality, and that meant more than any 'miracle', more than magic," his disciples recalled. Beinsa Duno insisted that the Fraternity was not a conspiracy or a club but a moral community. "No matter what your origin or political affiliation is, use this Teaching. Seek the extraordinary in life," the Master said. He was convinced that in his gentle, soft-spoken way he could do something extraordinary for society: create a 'new believer', onc who would "give up violence, lies and self-interest". In Dr. Dunov's words, someone capable of this was "a man who has reached a certain stage of development that can be described simply as humanity". For neither in the state nor in society was there anyone capable of teaching humanity.

In his school through which several generations passed in the span of five decades, Petar Dunov attampted to create humanity, "conquering" every individual soul. He believed that everyone ought to discover and deserve "the fruits of a faith that can make life different". For a nation that had lived in slavery for centuries, that nation was defined in a clear, understandable and attractive way: "I want you to remember always to be free in mind, heart and soul."

{Spiritual Leaders of Bulgaria}

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