River Phoenix- A Letter to the World

A few days ago, I came across an essay written by actor River Phoneix. If you’ve read my previous article, you must have noticed my big respect and praise for this man. His essay made me proud I have chosen such an incredible human being to be my role model. I decided to re-post his essay here, in my blog, because every belief expressed there is my belief too and because I want to remind people what we should really live and fight for. Even if one single person reads it and penetrates deep into its meaning, then I will have accomplished my task. Because everyone can make a difference.

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We are the world

(April, 17, 1990)

Heavens mourn above us until dawn
Weeping see her tears as rain they fall
Winds whip through canyons
Manifesting splintered wrath
Mother knows that we’ve betrayed her
Dealing with the aftermath.

Sailing ocean cross the sea
Floating vessel carries me
Once I’m there, what is it worth
If I’m betraying Mother ?
Stormy weather abruptly
Changes my course suddenly
It’s so unfair starting at birth
Still mistreating Mother Earth.

So you see my friends what we have done
Shadows linger overhead
Heavy like the fog in the valleys
Under heavy earth lay dead.
In a boxcar hides an orphan
Seeking shelter, nothing more
Gliding now tracks lay before him
Leading him to distant shore.

These lyrics are from a song called Betraying Mother. This year, 1990, the year I leave my teenage years behind, I realize nothing else matters but this : We must heal our planet if we’re to survive. Because my parents are so closely connected with nature and share the reality that Planet Earth is our home, I have always been conscious that we need to care for the earth as the living, breathing, supporting, feeding, nurturing home it is for us. As a young person, there were always other threats that seemed much greater to me along the way – nuclear war, the many hand-to-hand wars all over the planet, famine, poverty, crime, drugs, political prisoners, and an overall lack of compassion for every living thing. And closer to home, each of us has our own struggles with growing up. 

There’s a lot packed into our teenage years. We go from childhood into a time when hormones start taking over. It all seems to come at us so fast – we are developing physically and taking on much more responsibility at home. We’re dealing with our school workload, peer pressure, the continual ” What are you gonna be when you grow up ? ” question, trying to set a good example for siblings, choosing a college – and the million of other things on our minds that have really little or nothing to do with our relationship to Mother Earth and our true nature as human beings who have taken it upon ourselves to be ” in charge ” of the planet.

With so much going on, it was quite a relief to think that our elected officials would take care of all of those major planetary concerns while we were just to concentrate on growing up. It’s obvious now that not only was no one taking care of our home as we trusted, but that people were, and still are, perpetuating this planetary destruction.

Now as I look ahead to my future, I’m amazed at how the earth itself is letting us know in so many ways that there has been a gross injustice done by humankind. The many recent devastating floods, landslides, and weather changes show the earth’s pain and how out of the balance our ecosystem has become. At this point, not only have we polluted the earth we live on, the waters we drink and swim in, and the air we breath, but we have even altered the atmosphere itself. 

We are now in a global emergency, and for this reason I’m most thankful for Earth Day 1990, which hopefully will mobilize a worldwide massive citizen army to avert planetary disaster. 

There are solutions to these problems, but most of them will take a conscious effort by every human being to eliminate from his or her life the things that are leading us to impending disaster. I list the following problems and I ask you to join me and become a part of the solution.

The greenhouse effect

Gases get trapped in the atmosphere, which acts like the glass of a greenhouse, letting sunlight in but not letting all the reflected infrared heat out. Because our forests and oceans can’t filter out all of the carbon dioxide we spew into the atmosphere (from power plants, large-scale burning, and cars), it gets trapped and starts to put pressure on the planet. We must use less energy, less electricity, and reduce the burning of fossil fuels (mostly coal and oil). We really need to improve gas mileage for cars. We must make a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources – like solar power – that don’t contribute to global warming. We must plant more trees because they are nature’s storehouses of carbon dioxide.

The ozone layer

The ozone layer is seven miles up in the atmosphere and is a shield from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. This delicate membrane is being destroyed by man-made chemicals that drift up there – mainly the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that are used in air conditioners, refrigerators, Styrofoam ( as in fast food cartons), and industrial solvents. These CFCs eat away at the ozone and also contribute to the greenhouse effect. We need to work for laws that will ban CFCs. That’s the key. We can’t wait for everyone else to do it – you change the world by changing yourself.

Rain forest destruction

Forty-nine millions acres of rain forest are destroyed or degraded each year. That’s equivalent to one and a half football field each second. These forests are vital sources of oxygen : They moderate our climate, prevent floods, and are our best defense against soil erosion. Forests recycle and purify our water. One quarter of all prescribed medication in the U.S. is derived from raw materials found in these forests. They are home to millions of plants and animals. The beauty and inspiration of these forests are important to millions of people. Rain forest destruction contributes to the greenhouse effect because there’s no way to replant these jewels of nature fast enough to soak up the exorbitant amount of carbon dioxide they release into the earth’s atmosphere when they’re burned.

One force behind the destruction of the rain forest is our country’s importation of millions of pounds of meat annually from Central America. To provide pasture for cattle, these countries have been burning and clearing their priceless rain forests. We must make our outrage known to the businesses (especially fast food places) that use this meat ; we must demand that they stop contributing to the destruction of our rain forests. One reason our Central and South American neighbors have participated in this destruction is because of the tremendous debts they have to countries all over the world. By exporting meat they make some of the money they need to pay back these debts. I say we should figure out a way to forgive them their debts so we may all live.

It’s a tragedy that one thousand plant and animal species become extinct each year due to the destruction of tropical rain forests – and that the native rain forest tribes are being forced out. As the rain forests disappear, many of our migratory birds are also losing their winter homes. They’re dying, and this is harmful because they naturally control the population of insects – and tragic because their beauty will be lost to the world.

Garbage

We’ve run out of room for all the garbage our ” throwaway ” society has created. We must implement recycling programs in our homes, schools and communities.

You can start by recycling aluminum, glass, newspaper, cardboard, and paper. Talk to your teachers and call your elected officials to find out how you can get involved. Buy products that come in recyclable containers. Be persistent. Be enthusiastic. Be determined.

Chemical, toxins and pesticide

We are literally poisoning ourselves because of the pesticides sprayed on our produce ; the chemicals dumped on our farmlands to ” nourish ” the soil ; the hormones, growth stimulants, tranquilizers, and antibiotics fed to animals that humans meat ; and, of course, the pollutants spewed into the air. 

Pesticides don’t just affect the creature who ingests them first. They accumulate in the tissues of animals and then, as one organism is eaten by another, they build up in even higher concentrations. This means that a worm living in the soil will store pesticides in its tissues. Then a bird will eat the worm and ingest the pesticide eaten by the worm – and the tens of thousands of other worms it ingests in its lifetime. At each stage up the food chain, the concentration of toxic chemicals is greatly increased. The same is true of cows or chickens or pigs. Animals raised on factory farms build up especially high concentrations of chemical toxins because they’re fed great quantities of fish meal (made from fish swimming in polluted waters) ; their other feeds are grown on land heavily sprayed with pesticides ; and they are dipped in, sprayed with, and intentionally fed many toxic compounds to keep them ” healthy ” while living in filthy and unnatural conditions inside these factory farms. The days of livestock animals grazing together in lush green meadows are over.

These poisons are retained in the fat of animals. Each step up the food chain, animals become ever more concentrated carriers of the most deadly chemicals. You sit at the very top of the food chain, and whenever you eat anything that comes from nature, you are ingesting these toxins, too.

The solutions to these problems will take time, but they will be accomplished. I’ve learned that if you can’t get it all together to accomplish this thing called peace, you do at least your part in your own life, because that’s where you can truly make an immediate difference. I’d like to stop all of the world wars, but that’s really an impossible endeavor for one person. But I canstop all the wars in my life. I can start with myself and improve my personal relationships with everyone I’m in contact with. I’d like to stop world hunger and famine, but one man single-handedly couldn’t possibly stop everyone’s hunger. What I can do is spend my own time, energy, and money enlightening others about the plight of the poor. And although I can’t stop all cruelty to living creatures on the planet, I can be kinder to every living creature in my life.

Peace begins with you. Now. We must light the lamp of our consciousness so that we never react without thinking and questioning the means to get to the end that we are seeking. Because if the path along the way is covered with thorns, selfishness, cruelty, and greed, you can be pretty sure that the result will lead us to just about where we are today… near the end, if we don’t do something quickly.

Therefore, I question everything with my consciousness lamp on to see if the road I take along the way will lead me to peace. In my life, I decided

  • Not to eat meat or animals products or to use their skins for my clothing, shoes, or decorations. There’s such immense cruelty involved with the raising of animals for human consumption that if I can stop their pain by boycotting their products, I will immediately make a difference.
  • To recycle. Also to question my habits of consumption. I try to use less of everything and reuse things whenever I can. 
  • To speak out and know that my voice can be heard by writing government officials, becoming politically active, lobbying in Washington, and becoming part of peaceful, educational demonstrations.
  • To use less and less of those things that add to the demise of our planet.

In our family, we never were big for celebrating holidays, but this year my mother is asking for something on Mother’s Day for the first time. She wants us to help her call attention to the world that this Mother’s Day, 1990, should be dedicated to the most nurturing mother of all – Mother Earth. If gifts are to be given on this day, let all mothers request that they be gifts to the earth. We could plant trees, make donations to environmental groups, or give other gifts to promote understanding of the condition of the planet. This would truly make for a day worth celebrating.

With the help of all of you, I look forward to the years ahead of us when our generation can work together to create a happy, healthy, clean, and loving environment.

River Phoenix (1970-1993)

 

River Phoenix- The Boy Who Was Worth Millions Of Planets And Stars

They say the brightest people leave the biggest shadows…

I’ve planned this post for a very long time; I wanted it to be informative, opinionated, accurate, perfect. But I realised whatever I say will always be too little to express my great respect and admiration for a young life, lost too soon but having left so much.

River Phoenix & Keanu Reeves

River Phoenix & Keanu Reeves

I first came across the name River Phoenix just a few months ago, while reading an article about one of my favourite actors and role models- Keanu Reeves. Like most people, I took an interest in his unusual name- River Phoenix. I decided to check him out so I did a little search on him and my god, what I found was a precious diamond! After that I watched My Own Private Idaho and got totally addicted to that extraordinary person. I wanted to know more about him, his beliefs and his unusual life. We all associate ourselves with famous people at times. Some of us choose our role models for their eccentricity, others for their appearance, behaviour, unusual relationships, modesty, work etc. I choose my role models for our mutual beliefs and for they are down-to-earth, good-hearted people who care about the world that surrounds them. And River Phoenix is one of the very few celebrities I truly admire and respect for that.

It is true River was a very contradictory person. Just like the name he was carrying, he seemed to be indecipherable- calm on the surface but turbulent and unpredictable underneath. River was one of tumblr_m7k29uErt11rbucumo4_400the first vegans and animal rights activists in Hollywood. He was promoting a clean life, a conscious life where one would live in harmony with nature trying to minimise the harmful impact humanity has had over this planet. And yet he died of a drug overdose. These are the two sides of the coin in River’s life- one was extremely bright, the other too dark. We all have these inner demons that are fighting with our inner angels, two completely different types of energies; some call them yin and yang, others good and evil. The Native Americans have a saying about this, which I particularly like: There are two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, lies, inferiority and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth. Which wolf wins? The one you feed. For an intense person like River, the two wolves inside him, being too strong for a normal person to bear, destroyed each other taking him with them.

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River’s early life was marked by poverty, uncertainty and abuse. His parents were members of the “Children of God” religious cult, which was famous for encouraging incest and abusing young children sexually. We will never know if River was abused during the time his parents were in the cult (although he mentions in an interview his first sexual contact was at the age of 3-4) but as young as he was, witnessing the things the members of the sect were doing between each other were enough to scar him for life. He never had a normal childhood, never really attended school and started working as a street performer at a very early age to support his family. The aspect of his life that made him most fragile though was the fact he had been living in his family’s own world, not experiencing what the world outside was really like. He never really learned how to communicate with children his own age, apart from his brother and sisters. He was perceived by the family as a messiah which robbed him of the experience of being a child. And straight after the missionary, street life in South America, still too young and fragile, he was thrown straight into the deep- Hollywood…

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Not being able to change the world the way he wanted to, and not knowing how to communicate the message he had, probably left River disappointed and confused. I watched him recently in a talk show in 1990 discussing issues such as vaccinations, food poisoning, water waste, breast feeding etc. in front of an audience. Issues that are still relevant nowadays. The way the audience responded to his ideas was awful, hitting him below the belt with stuff like criticising his appearance (which was absolutely normal for a 20-year old boy), laughing at his and his siblings names, suggesting him to focus on something else and put his eccentric ideas aside and so on. I could see the way he felt- misunderstood and rejected by the audience; rejected for being different. And he was different because he was living way ahead his time and was wise beyond his age; as a friend of his described him “he was under-educated and over-intelligent“. His ideas and lifestyle were revolutionary for the society he was living in. I could see the audience was a typical bunch of sheep, being prisoners of their own ignorance, anathematising what they couldn’t understand. And this is what made River so vulnerable and suffering. Adding to that, he was the main source of finance for his family, which was stressful enough by its own, having his privacy brutally interfered by the public and being part of the dirty show business in Hollywood which was forcing him to do things contradicting his believes, it is no surprise River found escape in drugs and alcohol. He was just a lonely, pure soul which happened to live in a cruel world, robbing him of his ideals and believes. And even though he was surrounded by people- family, friends and fans, I think he was lonely.

I wish someone could have helped River overcome his drug problem; I wish he could have survived the Viper Room in October, 1993; I wish I could have seen his talent revealed and his ideas implemented. But even though he left this world at age 23, he made a huge impact and was one of the founders of a new, better world. After all, he really did change the world.

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I don’t want to get so lost in thinking about me and talking about me all the time in interviews. It’s so nice to unwind and just look at other things and get out of yourself. It’s hard to detach myself from myself without neglecting myself. You know what I mean? I don’t want to get in to the habit of thinking about my career because when it comes down to it, it’s not really that important. I could die tomorrow and the world would go on.

River Phoenix (1970-1993)

L. V. K.

 

We all have two lives. The second begins when you realize you only have one

I’m not too much into celebrities. I’m not one of those people who’d scream and jump and behave unnaturally when they see a famous person. I really don’t see what the fuss is about. They are people like us and are no more special than any of us. Their job requires them to be popular  and be in the public eye. Especially people of art- actors and musicians mainly- are exposed before their public most of their time. It is very stressful and very responsible to be famous. Famous people are role models whether they want it or not. Nowadays there’s this trend among young “celebrities” to provoke the public morally, mocking and devaluating principles, demonstrating ignorance about things that really matter etc. I don’t like the celebrity culture the way it is nowadays. For me celebrity is a dirty word and I’m trying not to call the famous people I really like celebrities because they are not. They are role models who inspire their public to share their passion about what they do and to recognise the important things in life.

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This post which is under the section “Inspiring people” is dedicated to Tom Hiddleston. Most of you would know him as Loki- Thor’s brother from the Thor movies. However, he’s much more than that. What I love about him is the fact that he’s truly inspiring. I confess I noticed him in Thor and there was something about his performance I really liked and found very unique. We all know the Thor movies and Marvel movies in general don’t possess any special film qualities. They have rich effects and are beautifully made, the costumes are bright and eye-pleasing, the make-up is amazing and the action takes place at marvelous places such as Asgard. In one word, they are made to entertain the public, the comics fans most of all, but would not qualify for an Oscar nomination, if you know what I mean. In such movie, it is very difficult for a serious actor to shine with brilliant acting because as I said it’s all about the effects. However, Tom Hiddleston did it. He created such an extraordinary character out of his Loki that you just cannot fail to notice his acting skills.

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After watching Thor, I took an interest in Tom Hiddleston and watched some of his other movies and interviews he gave for a number of different TV shows (my favourite is the one for Popcorn Taxi). What shocked me was his passion about the things he loves, which are not common at all, especially among his fans (regarding their age)-Shakespeare, Ancient Greek literature, languages, impressions etc. The way he talks about his passions is so incredibly communicable that at one point you just realise his passions have become your passions too. For instance, I started reading Shakespere all over again. I’ve read some of his most popular plays when I was at school but I only did it because it was compulsory. Now I do it because I was motivated and inspired to.

32592_155712784583904_1134775385_nAnother thing I love about Tom Hiddleston is the fact he’s so wise beyond his age. In all of the interviews I’ve watched, he says something that is truly inspiring and motivational. Actually when I’m depressed I tend to watch his interviews because the way he speaks cheers me up and what he says reaches me on a very deep level. I read in a recent post by Martha Sorren that “not only are his words incredibly thoughtful and accurate, but they’re often phrased so elegantly that they seem to have been ripped from the stanzas of a particularly beautiful poem“. I think this is the best way to describe his talent for motivational speech. The way he speaks and the meaning of what he says have truly magical effect on people.

We live in a world full of tragedies and pain. But on the other hand, this same world is full of beauty and happiness. The way we look at it determines how we are going to live it. There will always be someone who will let you down and will try to stop you from achieving your dreams. But it’s entirely up to you to decide who to follow- the one who tells you “you can” or the one convincing you you can’t. Choose your role models wisely!

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You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.

L. V. K.

 

 

 

Logic vs Intuition: What does Einstein’s Riddle teach us and can his formula prove the existence of God?

The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as of all serious endeavour in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all there is.

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Einstein- the man who proved the existence of God. Yes, he did, and what he proved was not the existence of a religious figure, but of a Universal Force which is beyond human comprehention. How did he do it? His tiny formula is the key- E=mc². 

If every physical system has a property called energy (E) and a property called mass (M) and if these two properties are always present in a constant proportion to one another there is your answer. Our Planet Earth is a small part of a solar system, which is a small part of a galaxy, which is a small part of a Universe, containing billions of galaxies like ours. So if we multiply the mass of all this by the speed of light per square, we find out the amount of the Universal energy in joules (J). And if God is energy…

YYFor me (and not only), Einstein is one of the most influential people of all times. He was a spiritual man in a scientific kind of way. The key to his success was his ability to combine logic and intuition. As he, himself said: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.” We all have both logic and intuition within us, but they are both locked and we need to develop the ability to use them. However, the problem with most people is they use either one or the other. Those relying on logic deny intuition and those relying on intuition deny logic. And the true magic happens when we find the balance between them both. Like Yin & Yang.

This is why Einstein was a genius, because he found this balance. Last century, he created a riddle and said 98% of the world’s population would not be able to solve it. I personally don’t believe this is true and I’m not actually sure he even said it. But what I know is this is a unique exercise for your logic and intuition to work together. If you use just one or the other you’ll never come to the right answer. Try to solve Einstein’s riddle here or from the picture below and if you’d like to share your thoughts, feel free to do so by writing a comment below. So who has the fish?

L. V. K.

Riddle_E

 

The Apostle of Freedom

He came to this world to lead us to fight. Hanged he was, but never died…

During its 1300 years of existence, Bulgaria has born many worthy sons, but for me (and I believe for most of the Bulgarian nation) the greatest among them is undoubtedly Vasil Levski- The Apostle of Freedom, the holy person who gave his life for Mother Bulgaria. 18th February 2014 marks 141 years of his hanging in Sofia in 1873. Murdered for the crime of dreaming and fighting for an independent, sacred and holy republic with ethnic and religious equality.

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Vasil Levski

In 1396 The Bulgarian Empire was enslaved and became part of the Ottoman Empire and its people contemptuously called “rayah” (a non-Muslim subject of the Ottoman Empire) were treated as second-hand. They were living in fear of the Turks as professing the Orthodox Christianity, the Bulgarian folk (as well as the rest of the enslaved Balkan nations- Serbs, Greeks etc.) were considered infidels.  Normally, the Turks weren’t forcing the Bulgarians to change their religion; however, there were huge exceptions like the forceful islamisation of the Rhodopes (the topic will be covered in a later post).

This is just small part of the injustices, Levski was fighting against. I don’t blame the Ottoman Turks for the 500 years of slavery; I don’t hate them either. This is how the world was functioning back then- one is the enslaver the other is the enslaved; people were enslaving people all over the world. Nowadays, we should all forgive and forget and live together in peace and harmony no matter of religion or ethnicity. And these are the ideals Levski was fighting for.

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Vasil Levski in the First Bulgarian Legion

Born 18 July 1837 as Vasil Ivanov Kunchev, Levski lived an extraordinary life, even though a short one. As a young boy, he was sent as a servent to his uncle who was a monk in the Hilаndar Monastery. Later, after attending a clerical training course, Levski became a monk himslef. However, his rebellious heart couldn’t find peace, feeling that his mission in life was much greater. So he left the monsatery and went to Belgrade, Serbia to become a volunteer in the First Bulgarian Legion (a military detachment formed by Bulgarian volunteers and revolutionary workers seeking the overthrow of Ottoman rule). During his time in Serbia he earned his nickname Levski (meaning Leonine) due to his agility and courage ; according to the legend, he made a leonine leap during training.

Vasil Levski as standard-bearer

Vasil Levski as standard-bearer

Levski was very much involved in the work of the Legion; he was appointed standard-bearer of a revolutionary detachment led by Panayot Hitov, intending to invade Bulgaria and organise anti-Ottoman resistance. After skirmishings, the revolutionaries were forced to flee back to Serbia. Later on, drawing his conclusions, Levski realised the ineffectiveness of the external organisations of the Bulgarian emigrants and the need for an internal organisation. He undertook two majour tours across the Bulgarian lands acting as an ambassador for the idea of freedom and independence, trying to win compatriots to his mission. This is how he established the Internal Revolutionary Organisation (IRO), which mission was to prepare for a coordinated uprising.

The Apostle believed that Bulgaria should win its freedom alone, not counting on the help of external forces. I think he had two reasons for that: 1) Bulgaria would not be dependent on anyone else but its own people and would not allow external influence on its reforming as a country; and 2) Winning their freedom alone would mean people were ready to live as free nation and rule the country applying a completely new political system. Levski believed in freedom beyond its concept for that time- he dreamed of democratic republic with no more kings and sultans to rule upon people. He had very modern and futuristic political views; Levski didn’t want to expel the Turkish population from the Bulgarian lands, he just wanted to gain freedom and independence for Bulgaria and get rid of the sultan and the old norms.

To achieve his goals, Levski created a thick network inside the Bulgarian lands and established revolutionary committees in key towns and cities. He was a very important figure, a leader with inspirational personality and was considered very dangerous by the Ottoman Empire, therefore, he was hunted. However, Levski proved to be elusive by using different names, constantly changing his appearence, not staying too long at the same place. Unfortunately, after a mission of IRO, many of its participants were arrested and made full confessions. It is believed Levski was betrayed by someone who was close to him, and soon the Turkish police caught him.

The capture of Levski by the Turkish police

The capture of Levski by the Turkish police

He was taken to the city of Tarnovo for interrogation and after that to Sofia for the trial. On the way he was guarded by just a few zaptiehs (Turkish police officers), so it would have been very easy for his compatriots to save him. However, there was not even a single attempt for that from anyone. This remains one of the biggest sins of the Bulgarians, which I believe we are still repaying until nowadays. On the trial Levski confirmed his identity and insisted he was acting on his own. Despite the painful interrogation, he refused to reveal any of his accomplices or details related to his organisation, taking the entire burden on himself. Levski was sentenced to death and was hanged on 18th February 1873 in Sofia. The place he was burried remains one of the biggest misteries in the Bulgarian history.

Vasil Levski remains one of the brightest heroes and truest sons Bulgaria has had. He should serve as an example to the future generations and inspire people not only in Bulgaria but all over the world to fight for freedom!

L. V. K.