USA Interview | Paradigm Magazine

Mita Aryanayakam Ghosh, who was a follower of Gandhi, quoted him as saying: “Heaven belongs to every religion, to each human race… Religions are merely different paths followed to reach God, the destination remains the same.” Youri, having travelled the world in your style and through your experiences, do you believe that this is true and can you explain why?

I hadn’t heard of Mita Aryanayakam, thank you. That is my philosophy – it keeps me in peace with the world – I learnt it during my three years of solitude and during my journey to Mongolia… but I think there are different destinations, for example the “missions” and “God Bless America” (politics fused with religion) lead to judgement and frustration… they lead towards a path called Ego, power…

Heaven is our father and earth our mother, we need to keep it in our thoughts and keep giving it our faith, our questions and love… regardless of the religion, it gives us the strength to break out of materialistic and scientific boxes… and in the end, it brings us all together into the light.

Can you tell us about the main elements that make up the Soyombo symbol and what they represent for you personally?


For me, fire was the power of the sun in human hands, but since my initiation with the Tsaatan tribe, I realised within myself that it transports the spirits of the elders… past and present. The sun and the moon are very inspiring for my music. The Quechua and Aymara tribe, who I met at Lake Titicaca, taught me a lot about those two forces… dancing and dreaming. The two triangles, represent the forces of protection, the outer ego and the inner ego. The two horizontal rectangles hold it up. The Yin & Yang symbol, for me, is simply the “Good and Bad”. The two vertical rectangles remind me of the nomadic philosophy, Solidarity and Titan.

In his book “Calendar of Wisdom”, Leo Tolstoy says, “People who think that the most important thing in life is knowledge remind me of a butterfly who flies into the flame of a candle, and in so doing burns, and extinguishes the light.” If knowledge is considered a tool rather than a purpose of life, how can one manage to acquire and share it?

I don’t want to waste time with that question, I think it’s beating around the bush… there is some value in philosophy and some waffle. At the moment I’m leaning towards simplicity, my last musical production is called “The Turning point”…

I’ve read that the sound of Morin Khuur is sometimes described as huge and unrestrained, like a neighing horse or even the murmur of the breeze in a field. If you had to use words to describe it, what would you say?

Steppe, water, motion, the animal spirit, ancestor, love, sadness, wild…

In the current context of the state of relations between Israel and Palestine, as well as the 40th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, I found this amazing story: “ Ο φίλος μου ο Χασάνης” [trans: My friend Hassan]. It’s the story of Hassan, a Turkish Cypriot man from Androlykou, who fell in love with, married and lived with a Greek Cypriot woman before the island was separated. When he died, because he was Muslim and his wife Christian, the funeral faced a number of bureaucratic hurdles. He built a tomb for his wife, right near the cemetery, and asked that when they died, they be buried together with a Cypriot flag. The lesson of the story is in his wish, not as a denial of national identity but rather a kind of rejection of nationalism, expressed through the surplus of flags. How can we begin teaching our children to live in love and not hate, by denying their national pride?

By teaching the power of the spirits of the elders and wild nature (medicinal plants, animals, micro-organisms…) with the same importance as maths or geography, at home and at school, and not keep them just on a scientific trip because our children are like plants, let’s give them spring water and not pesticides of the spirit. One simple example, one thing that’s stayed with me since I was a kid: most teachers at the beginning of primary school often ask that killer question: “What do you want to be when you grow up? Engineer, astronaut, doctor…?” One Vietnamese mate answered ‘alive’!!! I mean, we don’t teach “ideas” to children – they learn through concrete encounters and experiences that affect them for life… not like a dead page in a book.

Coming back to simplicity… there’s an Asian proverb: if you pour a hundred trillion bags of rice onto the end of a baguette, one falls on at the end of 8 years, and that’s your life…

Youri Defrance - copyright Photograph by Theo Constantinou.jpg

ParadigmMagazine – Photo by Theo Constantinou at New York  – Brooklyn (Dumbo)

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