Leo Tolstoy Quotes
May these Leo Tolstoy quotes on many subjects inspire you to never give up and keep working towards your goals. Who knows—success could be just around the corner.
Lev Nikolayevitch Tolstoy [Ле́в Никола́евич Толсто́й, usually rendered Leo Tolstoy, or sometimes Tolstoi] (9 September 1828 – 20 November 1910) was a Russian writer, philosopher and social activist who was a major influence in developments of Christian anarchism, nonviolent resistance movements such as those of as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and James Bevel. He received multiple nominations for Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906, and nominations for Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902 and 1910, and his miss of the prize is a major Nobel prize controversy.
‘Thou shalt not kill’ does not apply to murder of one’s own kind only, but to all living beings and this commandment was inscribed in the human breast long before it was proclaimed from Sinai.
A battle is won by him who is firmly resolved to win it. – Leo Tolstoy
A Christian cannot help being free, because in the pursuit and attainment of his object, no one can either hinder or retard him. – Leo Tolstoy
A free thinker used to be a man who had been educated on ideas of religion, law, morality, and had arrived at free thought by virtue of his own struggle and toil; but now a new type of born freethinker has been appearing, who’ve never even heard that there have been laws of morality and religion, and that there are authorities, but who simply grow up with negative ideas about everything, that is savages. – Leo Tolstoy
A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally both in mind and body as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world and therefore, as an Englishman, always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German’s self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth — science — which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.
A Gentleman is a man who will pay his gambling debts even when he knows he has been cheated.
A good player who loses at chess is genuinely convinced hat he has lost because of a mistake, and he looks for this mistake in the beginning of his game, but forgets that there were also mistakes at ever step in the course of the game, that none of his moves was perfect. The mistake he pays attention to is conspicuous only because his opponent took advantage of it.
A holy spirit lives within you.
A human can be healthy without killing animals for food.
A leader is the wave pushed ahead by the ship.
A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite.
A man can spend several hours sitting cross-legged in the same position if he knows that noting prevents him from changing it; but if he knows that he has to sit with his legs crossed like that, he will get cramps, his legs will twitch and strain towards where he would like to stretch them.
A man has to think of his soul before everything else.
A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator the smaller the fraction.
A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator, the smaller the fraction.
A man on a thousand mile walk has to forget his goal and say to himself every morning, ‘Today I’m going to cover twenty-five miles and then rest up and sleep.
A man’s every action is inevitably conditioned by what surrounds him and by his own body.
A monkey was carrying two handfuls of peas. One little pea dropped out. He tried to pick it up, and split twenty. He tried to pick up the twenty, and split them all. Then he lost his temper, scattered the peas in all directions and ran away
A new conception of life cannot be imposed on men; it can only be freely assimilated. And it can only be freely assimilated in two ways: one spiritual and internal, the other experimental and external.
A peasant dies calmly because he is not a Christian. He performs the rituals as a matter of course, but his true religion is different. His religion is nature, with which he has lived.
A person who has spoiled his stomach will criticize his meal saying that the food is bad; the same thing happens with people who are not satisfied with their lives
A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.
A Russian should rejoice if Poland, the Baltic Provinces, Finland, Armenia, should be separated, freed from Russia; so with an Englishman in regard to Ireland, India and other possessions; and each should help to do this, because the greater the state, the more wrong and cruel is its patriotism, and the greater is the sum of suffering upon which its power is founded. Therefore, if we really wish to be what we profess to be, we must not only cease our present desire for the growth of the state, but we must desire its decrease, its weakening, and help this forward with all our might.
A wife’s a worry, a non-wife’s even worse.
A wound in the soul, coming from the rending of the spiritual body, strange as it may seem, gradually closes like a physical wound. And once a deep wound heals over and the edges seem to have knit, a wound in the soul, like a physical wound, can be healed only by the force of life pushing up from inside. This was the way Natasha’s wound healed. She thought her life was over. But suddenly her love for her mother showed her that the essence of life – love – was still alive in her. Love awoke, and life awoke.
A writer is dear and necessary for us only in the measure of which he reveals to us the inner workings of his very soul.
Act as if you are, and you will become such.
After the doctor’s departure Koznyshev felt inclined to go to the river with his fishing rod. He was fond of angling, and seemed proud of being able to like such a stupid occupation.
Ah, if everyone was as sensitive as you! There’s no girl who hasn’t gone through that. And it’s all so unimportant!
All art has this characteristic-it unites people.
All governments are in equal measure good and evil. The best ideal is anarchy.
All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.
All happy families are alike, but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion.
All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way
All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
All men’s instincts, all their impulses in life, are efforts to increase their freedom. Wealth and poverty, health and disease, culture and ignorance, labor and leisure, repletion and hunger, virtue and vice, are all terms for greater or less degree of freedom.
A real work of art destroys, in the consciousness of the receiver, the separation between himself and the artist.
All that day she had had the feeling that she was playing in the theatre with actors better than herself and that her poor playing spoiled the whole thing.
All the girls in the world were divided into two classes: one class included all the girls in the world except her, and they had all the usual human feelings and were very ordinary girls; while the other class -herself alone- had no weaknesses and was superior to all humanity.
All the stories and descriptions of that time without exception peak only of the patriotism, self-sacrifice, despair, grief, and heroism of the Russians. But in reality it was not like that…The majority of the people paid no attention to the general course of events but were influenced only by their immediate personal interests.
All the true heroes of history will be forgotten and all the villains will be remembered as heroes.
All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.
All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do.
All were happy – plants, birds, insects and children. But grown-up people – adult men and women – never left off cheating and tormenting themselves and one another. It was not this spring morning which they considered sacred and important, not the beauty of God’s world, given to all creatures to enjoy – a beauty which inclines the heart to peace, to harmony and to love.
All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.
Always the same. Now a spark of hope flashes up, then a sea of despair rages, and always pain; always pain, always despair, and always the same.
Am I mad, to see what others do not see, or are they mad who are responsible for all that I am seeing?
An agile but unintelligent and abnormal German, possessed of the mania of grandeur.
An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person’s main task in life – becoming a better person.
An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person’s main task in life—becoming a better person.
And all people live, Not by reason of any care they have for themselves, But by the love for them that is in other people.
And all these people lived not by reason of any care they had for themselves, but by the love for them that was in other people.
And for him, who lived in a certain circle, and who required some mental activity such as usually develops with maturity, having views was as necessary as having a hat.
And Levin, a happy father and a man in perfect health, was several times so near suicide that he hid the cord, lest he be tempted to hang himself, and was afraid to go out with his gun, for fear of shooting himself. But Levin did not shoot himself, and did not hang himself; he went on living.
And not only the pride of intellect, but the stupidity of intellect. And, above all, the dishonesty, yes, the dishonesty of intellect. Yes, indeed, the dishonesty and trickery of intellect.
And once he had seen this, he could never again see it otherwise, just as we cannot reconstruct an illusion once it has been explained.
And so he who looks down at his feet will not know the truth, but he who discerns by the sun which way to go.
And so the liberal tendency became a habit with Stepan Arkadyich, and he liked his newspaper, as he liked a cigar after dinner, for the slight haze it produced in his head.
And that which yesterday was the novel opinion of one man, to-day becomes the general opinion of the majority.
And the angel said – “I have learned that every man lives not through care of himself, but by love”.
And the cause of everything is that which we call God.
And the light by which she had read the book filled with troubles, falsehoods, sorrow, and evil, flared up more brightly than ever before, lighted up for her all that had been in darkness, flickered, began to grow dim, and was quenched forever.
And those who only know the non-platonic love have no need to talk of tragedy. In such love there can be no sort of tragedy.
And whatever people might say about the time having come when young people must arrange their future for themselves, she could not believe it any more than she could believe that loaded pistols could ever be the best toys for five-year-old children.
And where love ends, hate begins
And yet, now that years have passed, I recall it and wonder that it could distress me so much. It will be the same thing, too, with this trouble. Time will go by and I shall not mind about this either.
And you know, there’s less charm in life when you think about death–but it’s more peaceful.
Anna smiled, as people smile at the weaknesses of those they love. . .
Anna spoke not only naturally and intelligently, but intelligently and casually, without attaching any value to her own thoughts, yet giving great value to the thoughts of the one she was talking to.
Anything is better than lies and deceit!
Are we not all flung into the world for no other purpose than to hate each other, and so to torture ourselves and one another?
Art begins when a man, with a purpose of communicating to other people a feeling he once experienced, calls it up again within himself and expresses it by certain external signs.
Art can compel people freely, gladly, and spontaneously to sacrifice themselves in the service of man.
Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings, and also experience them.
Art is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feeling.
Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul, and shows to people these secrets which are common to all.
Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.
Art is not a pleasure, a solace, or an amusement; art is a great matter. Art is an organ of human life, transmitting man’s reasonable perception into feeling.
Art is not a pleasure, a solace, or an amusement; art is great matter.
Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the manifestation of some mysterious idea of beauty or God; it is not, as the aesthetical physiologists say, a game in which man lets off his excess of stored-up energy; it is not the expression of man’s emotions by external signs; it is not the production of pleasing objects; and, above all, it is not pleasure; but it is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.
Art is the uniting of the subjective with the objective, of nature with reason, of the unconscious with the conscious, and therefore art is the highest means of knowledge.
Art lifts man from his personal life into the universal life.
Art should cause violence to be set aside and it is only art that can accomplish this.
As long as there are slaughter houses there will always be battlefields.
As long as there are slaughterhouses there will be battlefields. A vegetarian diet is the acid test of humanitarianism.
As often happens between men who have chosen different pursuits, each, while in argument justifying the other’s activity, despised it in the depth of his heart.
As soon as man applies his intelligence to any object at all, he unfailingly destroys the object.
As soon as men live entirely in accord with the law of love natural to their hearts and now revealed to them, which excludes all resistance by violence, and therefore hold aloof from all participation in violence – as soon as this happens, not only will hundreds be unable to enslave millions, but not even millions will be able to enslave a single individual.
As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real the life of God.
At moments of departure and a change of life, people capable of reflecting on their actions usually get into a serious state of mind. At these moments they usually take stock of the past and make plans for the future.
At one time,’ Golenishchev continued, either not observing or not willing to observe that both Anna and Vronsky wanted to speak, ‘at one time a freethinker was a man who had been brought up in the conception of religion, law, and morality, who reached freethought only after conflict and difficulty. But now a new type of born freethinkers has appeared, who grow up without so much as hearing that there used to be laws of morality, or religion, that authorities existed. They grow up in ideas of negation in everything – in other words, utter savages.
At school he had done things which had formerly seemed to him very horrid and made him feel disgusted with himself when he did them; but when later on he saw that such actions were done by people of good position and that they did not regard them as wrong, he was able not exactly to regard them as right, but to forget about them entirely or not be at all troubled at remembering them.
At that instant he knew that all his doubts, even the impossibility of believing with his reason, of which he was aware in himself, did not in the least hinder his turning to God. All of that now floated out of his soul like dust. To whom was he to turn if not to Him in whose hands he felt himself, his soul, and his love?
At the approach of danger two voices speak with equal force in the heart of man: one very reasonably tells the man to consider the nature of the danger and the means of avoiding it and the other, even more reasonable, says that it is too painful and harassing to think of the danger… better to turn aside from the painful subject till it has come, and to think of what is pleasant. In solitude a man generally yields to the first voice; in society to the second.
Be bad, but at least don’t be a liar, a deceiver!
Beautiful as seemed mama’s face, it became more lovely when she smiled and seemed to enliven everything about her.
Because of the self-confidence with which he had spoken, no one could tell whether what he said was very clever or very stupid.
Before we can study the central issues of life today, we must destroy the prejudices and fallacies born of previous centuries.
Better to know a few things which are good and necessary than many things which are useless and mediocre
Between the murder of an animal and the murder of a man, there’s no more than ONE step!
Boredom is desire seeking desire.
Both salvation and punishment for man lie in the fact that if he lives wrongly he can befog himself so as not to see the misery of his position.
But Christ could certainly not have established the Church. That is, the institution we now call by that name, for nothing resembling our present conception of the Church-with its sacraments, its hierarchy, and especially its claim to infallibility-is to be found in Christ’s words or in the conception of the men of his time.
But every acquisition that is disproportionate to the labor spent on it is dishonest.
But I’m glad you’ll see me as I am. Above all, I wouldn’t want people to think that I want to prove anything. I don’t want to prove anything, I just want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself. I have that right, haven’t I?
But if Christianity really gives peace, and we really want peace, patriotism is a survival from barbarous times, which must not only not be evoked and educated, as we now do, but which must be eradicated by all means, by means of preaching, persuasion, contempt, and ridicule.
But it seems to me that a man cannot and ought not to say that he loves, he said. Why not? I asked. Because it will always be a lie. As though it were a strange sort of discovery that someone is in love! Just as if, as soon as he said that, something went snap-bang – he loves. Just as if, when he utters that word, something extraordinary is bound to happen, with signs and portents, and all the cannons firing at once. It seems to me, he went on, that people who solemnly utter those words, ‘I love you,’ either deceive themselves, or what’s still worse, deceive others.
But men are now united in states; that work is done; why now maintain exclusive devotion to one’s own state, when this produces terrible evils for all.
But my life now, my whole life apart from anything that can happen to me, every minute of it is no more meaningless, as it was before, but it has the positive meaning of goodness, which I have the power to put into it.
But our idea is that the wolves should be fed and the sheep kept safe.
But she did not take her eyes from the wheels of the second car. And exactly at the moment when the midpoint between the wheels drew level with her, she threw away the red bag, and drawing her head back into her shoulders, fell on her hands under the car, and with a light movement, as though she would rise immediately, dropped on her knees. And at the instant she was terror-stricken at what she was doing. ‘Where am I? What am I doing? What for?’ She tried to get up, to throw herself back; but something huge and merciless struck her on the head and dragged her down on her back.
But that had been grief–this was joy. Yet that grief and this joy were alike outside all the ordinary conditions of life; they were loopholes, as it were, in that ordinary life through which there came glimpses of something sublime. And in the contemplation of this sublime something the soul was exalted to inconceivable heights of which it had before had no conception, while reason lagged behind, unable to keep up with it.
But that joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.
But that what was for him the greatest and most cruel injustice appeared to others a quite ordinary occurrence.
But that’s just the aim of civilization – to make everything a source of enjoyment.
But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.
But the older he grew and the more intimately he came to know his brother, the oftener the thought occurred to him that the power of working for the general welfare – a power of which he felt himself entirely destitute – was not a virtue but rather a lack of something: not a lack of kindly honesty and noble desires and tastes, but a lack of the power of living, of what is called heart – the aspiration which makes a man choose one out of all the innumerable paths of life that present themselves, and desire that alone.
But the peasants – how do the peasants die?
By digging into our souls, we often dig up what might better have remained there unnoticed.” Alexis Alexandrovich
By patriotism is meant, not only spontaneous, instinctive love for one’s own nation, and preference for it above all other nations, but also the belief that such love and preference are good and useful.
By words one transmits thoughts to another, by means of art, one transmits feelings.
Can it be that I have not lived as one ought?” suddenly came into his head. “But how not so, when I’ve done everything as it should be done?
Can it be that I have overlooked something, that there is something which I have failed to understand? Is it not possible that this state of despair is common to everyone?
Can it be that there is not enough space for man in this beautiful world, under those immeasurable, starry heavens?
Childhood candor… shall I ever find you again?
Children: a torment and nothing more.
Christian love comes from the understanding that there is a unity of divine origins in oneself and in other people, and not only in people, but in all living things.
Christianity in its true sense puts an end to the State. It was so understood from its very beginning, and for that Christ was crucified.
Christianity, with its doctrine of humility, of forgiveness, of love, is incompatible with the state, with its haughtiness, its violence, its punishment and its wars.
Christianity, with its doctrine of humility, of forgiveness, of love, is incompatible with the state, with its haughtiness, its violence, its punishment, its wars
Church teachings are but fiction. I have knowledge of their inanity.
Commit no act that is contrary to love.
Conceit is incompatible with understanding.
Condemn me if you choose – I do that myself, – but condemn me, and not the path which I am following, and which I point out to those who ask me where, in my opinion, the path is.
Condemn me if you choose I do that myself, but condemn me , and not the path which I am following, and which I point out to those who ask me where, in my opinion, the path is.
Darkness had fallen upon everything for him; but just because of this darkness he felt that the one guiding clue in the darkness was his work, and he clutched it and clung to it with all his strength.
Death destroys the body, as the scaffolding is destroyed after the building is up and finished. And he whose building is up rejoices at the destruction of the scaffolding and of the body.
Death is more certain than the morrow, than night following day, than winter following summer. Why is it then that we prepare for the night and for the winter time, but do not prepare for death. We must prepare for death. But there is only one way to prepare for death – and that is to live well.
Debates conceal rather than reveal the truth. Truth is revealed in solitude.
Discipline consists in this, that the men who undergo the instruction and have followed it for a certain time are completely deprived of everything which is precious to a man-of the chief human property, rational freedom-and become submissive, machine-like implements of murder in the hands of their organized hierarchic authorities.
Division of labor is a justification for sloth.
Do not be sad about what you do not have. Instead, be happy about what you do have. If you will be sad about what you don’t have, you will not be happy about what you do have.
Do not resist the evil-doer and take no part in doing so, either in the violent deeds of the administration, in the law courts, the collection of taxes, or above all in soldiering, and no one in the world will be able to enslave you.
Doctoring her seemed to her as absurd as putting together the pieces of a broken vase. Her heart was broken. Why would they try to cure her with pills and powders?
Don’t seek God in temples. He is close to you. He is within you. Only you should surrender to Him and you will rise above happiness and unhappiness.
Don’t you know that you are all my life to me? …But peace I do not know, and can’t give to you. My whole being, my love…yes! I cannot think about you and about myself separately. You and I are one to me. And I do not see before us the possibility of peace either for me or for you. I see the possibility of despair, misfortune…or of happiness-what happiness!…Is it impossible?” Vronksy
Drama, instead of telling us the whole of a man’s life, must place him in such a situation, tie such a knot, that when it is untied, the whole man is visible.
Each man lives for himself, uses his freedom to achieve his personal goals, and feels with his whole being that right now he can or cannot do such-and-such an action; but as soon as he does it, this action, committed at a certain moment in time, becomes irreversible, and makes itself the property of history, in which is has not a free but a predestined significance.
Each person’s task in life is to become an increasingly better person.
Each time of life has its own kind of love.
Eating meat is a leftover of the greatest brutality [killing]; the transition to vegetarianism is the first and most natural consequence of enlightenment.
Effort is not a means to lead us to happiness. Effort itself is happiness
Either you are so underdeveloped that you can’t see all that you can do, or you won’t sacrifice your ease, your vanity, or whatever it is, to do it.
Energy is based on love.
Energy rests upon love; and come as it will, there’s no forcing it.
Enough or not…it will have to do
Error is the force that welds men together; truth is communicated to men only by deeds of truth.
Even if the absence of government really did mean anarchy in a negative, disorderly sense – which is far from being the case – even then, no anarchical disorder could be worse than the position to which government has led humanity.
Even if the absence of government really did mean anarchy in a negative, disorderly sense – which is from from being the case – even then, no anarchical disorder could be worse than the position to which government has led humanity.
Even in the valley of the shadow of death, two and two do not make six.
Every heart has its own skeletons.
Every lie is a poison; there are no harmless lies. Only the truth is safe. Only the truth gives me consolation – it is the one unbreakable diamond.
Every man and every living creature has a sacred right to the gladness of springtime.
Every man had his personal habits, passions, and impulses toward goodness, beauty, and truth.
Every one who has a heart and eyes sees that you, working men, are obliged to pass your lives in want and in hard labor, which is useless to you, while other men, who do not work, enjoy the fruits of your labor that you are the slaves of these men, and that this ought not to exist.
Every reform by violence is to be deprecated, because it does little to correct the evil while men remain as they are, and because wisdom has no need of violence.
Every revolution by force only puts more violent means of enslavement into the hands of the persons in power.
Every time I tried to express my most heartfelt desires to be morally good I met with contempt and ridicule; and as soon as I would give in to vile passions I was praised and encouraged. Ambition, love of power, self-interest, lechery, pride, anger, vengeance-all of it was highly esteemed.
Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Every work of art causes the receiver to enter into a certain kind of relationship both with him who produced the art, and with all those who, simultaneously, previously, or subsequently, receive the same artistic impression. Art is a human activity- that one man consciously by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that others are touched by these feelings and also experience them.
Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself.
Everybody wants to change the world, but nobody thinks about changing himself.
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
Everyone wants to change the world, but nobody wants to change himself.
everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait . . . there is nothing stronger than these two: patience and time, they will do it all.
Everything depends on upbringing.
Everything ends in death, everything. Death is terrible.
Everything I know, I know because of love.
Everything intelligent is so boring.
Everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.
Excuse me’ he added, taking the opera glasses out of her hands and looking over her bare shoulder at the row of boxes opposite, ‘i’m afraid i’m becoming ridiculous – Leo Tolstoy ,Anna Karenina
Faith is the force of life.
Faith is the sense of life, that sense by virtue of which man does not destroy himself, but continues to live on. It is the force whereby we live.
Flesh eating is simply immoral, as it involves the performance of an act which is contrary to moral feeling: By killing, man suppresses in himself, unnecessarily, the highest spiritual capacity, that of sympathy and pity towards living creatures like himself and by violating his own feelings becomes cruel.” “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.
For a few seconds they looked silently into each other’s eyes, and the distant and impossible suddenly became near, possible, and inevitable.
For if we allow that human life is always guided by reason, we destroy the premise that life is possible at all.
For man to be able to live he must either not see the infinite, or have such an explanation of the meaning of life as will connect the finite with the infinite.
For nightingales – we know – can’t live on fairytales.
For us, with the rule of right and wrong given us by Christ, there is nothing for which we have no standard. And there is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.
Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking.
Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking…
Friends we shall never be, you know that yourself. Whether we shall be the happiest or the wretchedest of people–that’s in your hands.
From the child of five to myself is but a step. But from the newborn baby to the child of five is an appalling distance.
From the self-confidence with which he spoke no one could tell whether what he said was very clever or very stupid.
Genuine religion is not about speculating about God or the soul or about what happened in the past or will happen in the future; it cares only about one thing finding out exactly what should or should not be done in this lifetime.
Giving alms is only a virtuous deed when you give money that you yourself worked to get.
Go take the mother’s soul, and learn three truths: Learn What dwells in man, What is not given to man , and What men live by . When thou hast learnt these things, thou shalt return to heaven.
God cannot be understood by logical reasoning but only by submission.
God forgive me everything!’ she said, feeling the impossibility of struggling.
God gave the day, God gave the strength.
God is that infinite All of which man knows himself to be a finite part.
God is the same everywhere.
God knows, but He’s waiting
Good fiction doesn’t come out of the basic conflict of good versus bad. Instead, it comes out of a conflict between good and good.
Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us.
Government is violence, Christianity is meekness, non-resistance, love. And, therefore, government cannot be Christian, and a man who wishes to be a Christian must not serve government.
Governments not only are not necessary, but are harmful and most highly immoral institutions.
Great works of art are only great because they are accessible and comprehensible to everyone.
Grow spiritually and help others to do so. It is the meaning of life.
Happiness consists in always aspiring perfection, the pause in any level in perfection is the pause of happiness
Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation.
Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.
Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.
Happiness is in your ability to love others.
Happiness is pleasure without regret
Happy people have no history.
He could not be mistaken. There were no other eyes like those in the world. There was only one creature in the world who could concentrate for him all the brightness and meaning of life. It was she. It was Kitty.
He felt all the torment of his and her position, all the difficulties they were surrounded by in consequence of their station in life, which exposed them to the eyes of the whole world, obliged them to hide their love, to lie and deceive, and again to lie and deceive, to scheme and constantly think about others while the passion that bound them was so strong that they both forgot everything but their love.
He felt like a man who, after straining his eyes to peer into the remote distance, finds what he was seeking at his very feet. All his life he had been looking over the heads of those around him, while he had only to look before him without straining his eyes.
He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began.
He felt that all his hitherto dissipated and dispersed forces were gathered and directed with terrible energy towards one blissful goal.
He felt that he was himself and did not wish to be anyone else. He only wished now to be better than he had been formerly
He had heard that women often love plain ordinary men, but he did not believe it, because he judged by himself and he could only love beautiful mysterious exceptional women.
He had the unlucky capacity many men have of seeing and believing in the possibility of goodness and truth, but of seeing the evil and falsehood of life too clearly to take any serious part in it.
He is not apprehended by reason, but by life.
He knew she was there by the joy and terror that took possession of his heart […] Everything was lit up by her. She was the smile that brightened everything around.
He liked to fish; he seemed to take pride in being able to like such a stupid occupation.
He looked at her as a man looks at a faded flower he has gathered , with difficulty recognizing the beauty for which he picked and ruined it.
He looked at her as a man looks at a faded flower he has gathered, with difficulty recognizing in it the beauty for which he picked and ruined it. And in spite of this he felt that then, when his love was stronger, he could, if he had greatly wished it, have torn that love out of his heart; but now when as at that moment it seemed to him he felt no love for her, he knew that what bound him to her could not be broken.
He looked at her as a man might look at a faded flower he had plucked, in which it was difficult for him to trace the beauty that had made him pick and so destroy it
He never chooses an opinion; he just wears whatever happens to be in style.
He remembered his mother’s love for him, and his family’s, and his friends’, and the enemy’s intention to kill him seemed impossible.
He sends a cross, but He also sends the strength to bear it.
He soon felt that the fulfillment of his desires gave him only one grain of the mountain of happiness he had expected. This fulfillment showed him the eternal error men make in imagining that their happiness depends on the realization of their desires.
He sought his former accustomed fear of death and did not find it. “Where is it? What death?” There was no fear because there was no death. In place of death there was light.
He stepped down, avoiding any long look at her as one avoids long looks at the sun, but seeing her as one sees the sun, without looking.
He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.
He was afraid of defiling the love which filled his soul.
He was right in saying that the only certain happiness in life is to live for others.
He who has a mistaken idea of life, will always have a mistaken idea of death.
He who has love, is in God, and God is in him, for God is love.
Her face was brilliant and glowing; but this glow was not one of brightness; it suggested the fearful glow of a conflagration in the midst of a dark night.
Her maternal instinct told her Natasha had too much of something, and because of this she would not be happy
Here I am alive, and it’s not my fault, so I have to try and get by as best I can without hurting anybody until death takes over.
Here I am…wanting to accomplish something and completely forgetting it must all end–that there is such a thing as death.
Here’s my advice to you: don’t marry until you can tell yourself that you’ve done all you could, and until you’ve stopped loving the women you’ve chosen, until you see her clearly, otherwise you’ll be cruelly and irremediably mistaken. Marry when you’re old and good for nothing…Otherwise all that’s good and lofty in you will be lost.
Himmlisch ist’s wenn ich bezwungen Meine irdische Begier; Aber doch wenn’s nich gelungen Hatt’ ich auch recht huebsch Plaisir!
Loosely translated: It is heavenly, when I overcome My earthly desires But nevertheless, when I’m not successful, It can also be quite pleasurable.
Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them.
History is the product of vast, amorphous and indecipherable social movements.
History would be an excellent thing if only it were true.
History, that is to say, the unconscious, universal life of humanity, in the aggregate, every moment profits by the life of kings for itself, as an instrument for the accomplishment of its own ends.
Honest work is much better than a mansion.
How can one be well…when one suffers morally?
How important the concept of God is, and how instead of valuing what has been given us, we with light hearts spurn it because of absurdities that have been attached to it.
How interesting it would be to write the story of the experiences in this life of a man who killed himself in his previous life; how he stumbles against the very demands which had offered themselves before, until he arrives at the realization that he must fulfill those demands. The deeds of the preceding life give direction to the present life.
How often we sin, how much we deceive, and all for what?… All will end in death, all!
Human love serves to love those dear to us but to love one’s enemies we need divine love.
Human science fragments everything in order to understand it, kills everything in order to examine it.
Humanity unceasingly strives forward from a lower, more partial and obscure understanding of life to one more general and more lucid.
Hypocrisy in anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised.
“I don’t think anything,” she said, “but I always loved you, and if one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as they are and not as one would like them to be….”
I am always with myself, and it is I who am my tormentor.
I am convinced that the teaching of the church is in theory a crafty and evil lie, and in practice a concoction of gross superstition and witchcraft
I am obliged to renounce violence, and abstain from it altogether.
I am sure that nothing has such a decisive influence upon a man’s course as his personal appearance, and not so much his appearance as his belief in its attractiveness or unattractiveness.
I am used to praying when I am alone, thank God. But when I come together with other people, when I need more than ever to pray, I still cannot get used to it.
I ask one thing only: I ask for the right to hope, to suffer as I do. But if even that cannot be, command me to disappear, and I disappear. You shall not see me if my presence is distasteful to you.
I asked: ‘What is the meaning of my life, beyond time, cause, and space?’ And I replied to quite another question: ‘What is the meaning of my life within time, cause, and space?’ With the result that, after long efforts of thought, the answer I reached was: ‘None’.
I began to realize that the most profound wisdom of man was rooted in the answers given by faith and that I did not have the right to deny them on the grounds of reason; above all, I realized that these answers alone can form a reply to the question of life.
I believe in one, incomprehensible God, the immortality of the soul and eternal retribution for our acts.
I believe that order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure human sympathy is more valuable than ideology.
I believe that the reason of life is for each of us simply to grow in love.
I can’t understand how anyone can write without rewriting everything over and over again.
I can’t think of you and myself apart. You and I are the same to me
I did not myself know what I wanted: I feared life, desired to escape from it, yet still hoped something of it.
I do value my work awfully; but in reality only consider this: all this world of ours is nothing but a speck of mildew, which has grown up on a tiny planet. And for us to suppose we can have something great – ideas, work – it’s all dust and ashes.
I don’t allow myself to doubt myself even for a moment.
I don’t think badly of people. I like everybody, and I’m sorry for everybody.
I don’t want to prove anything; I merely want to live, to do no one harm but myself. I have the right to do that, haven’t I?
I don’t count life as life without love
I feel not only that I cannot disappear, as nothing disappears in the world, but that I will always be and have always been. I feel that, besides me, above me, spirits live, and that in this world there is truth.
I feel that I am entitled to my share of lightheartedness and there is nothing wrong with enjoying one’s self simply, like a boy.
I felt a wish never to leave that room – a wish that dawn might never come, that my present frame of mind might never change.
I have discovered nothing new; I have only perceived what I already knew.
I have discovered nothing. I have only found out what I knew. I understand the force that in the past gave me life, and now too gives me life. I have been set free from falsity, I have found the Master.
I have found that a story leaves a deeper impression when it is impossible to tell which side the author is on.
I have learned what must be, and therefore have come to see the whole horror of what is.
I have nothing to make me miserable,” she said, getting calmer; “but can you understand that everything has become hateful, loathsome, coarse to me, and I myself most of all? You can’t imagine what loathsome thoughts I have about everything.” “Why, whatever loathsome thoughts can you have?” asked Dolly, smiling. “The most utterly loathsome and coarse; I can’t tell you. It’s not unhappiness, or low spirits, but much worse. As though everything that was good in me was all hidden away, and nothing was left but the most loathsome.
I have now understood that though it seems to men that they live by care for themselves, in truth it is love alone by which they live. He who has love, is in God, and God is in him, for God is love.
I have to create a circle of reading for myself: Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Pascal, The New Testament. This is also necessary for all people.
I imagine, joking apart, that to know love, one must make mistakes and then correct them.
I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.
I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.
I looked more widely around me, I studied the lives of the masses of humanity, and I saw that, not two or three, or ten, but hundreds, thousands, millions, had so understood the meaning of life that they were able both to live and to die. All these people were well acquainted with the meaning of life and death, quietly labored, endured privation and suffering, lived and died, and saw in all this, not a vain, but a good thing.
I love her not with my mind or my imagination, but with my whole being. Loving her I feel myself to be an integral part of all God’s joyous world.
I must have physical exercise, or my temper’ll certainly be ruined.
I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine.
I now understand that my welfare is only possible if I acknowledge my unity with all the people of the world without exception.
I often think how unfairly life’s good fortune is sometimes distributed.
I often think that men don’t understand what is noble and what is ignorant, though they always talk about it.
I prefer a good pair of boots to Shakespeare.
I say that the God who created the world in six days and who sent His son, and also his son himself, are not God, but that God is the one existing, incomparable good, the beginning of everything.
I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself.
I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means — except by getting off his back.
I think that in order to know love one must make a mistake and then correct it.
I think that when you remember, remember, remember everything like that, you could go on until you remember what was there before you were in the world.
I think… if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.
I understood, not with my intellect but with my whole being, that no theories of the rationality of existence or of progress could justify such an act; I realized that even if all the people in the world from the day of creation found this to be necessary according to whatever theory, I knew that it was not necessary and that it was wrong. Therefore, my judgments must be based-on what is right and necessary and not on what people say and do; I must judge not according to progress but according to my own heart.
I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love.
I wanted to run after him, but remembered that it is ridiculous to run after one’s wife’s lover in one’s socks; and I did not wish to be ridiculous but terrible.
I was now prepared to accept any faith so long as it did not demand a direct denial of reason, which would have been a deceit.
I’d rather end up wishing I hadn’t than end up wishing I had.
I’ll get angry in the same way with the coachman Ivan, argue in the same way, speak my mind inappropriately, there will be the same wall between my soul’s holy of holies and other people, even my wife, I’ll accuse her in the same way of my own fear and then regret it, I’ll fail in the same way to understand with my reason why I pray, and yet I will pray–but my life now, my whole life, regardless of all that may happen to me, every minute of it, is not only not meaningless, as it was before, but has the unquestionable meaning of the good which it is in my power to put into it!
I’ll tell you truly: I value my thought and work terribly, but in essence – think about it – this whole world of ours is just a bit of mildew that grew over a tiny planet. And we think we can have something great – thoughts, deeds! They’re all grains of sand.
I’m getting old, that’s the thing! What’s in me now won’t be there anymore.
I’m like a starving man who has been given food. Maybe he’s cold, and his clothes are torn, and he’s ashamed, but he’s not unhappy.
If a man does not work at necessary and good things, then he will work at unnecessary and stupid things
If a man’s aspirations towards a righteous life are serious.. .if he earnestly and sincerely seeks a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from animal food, because, not to mention the excitement of the passions produced by such food, it is plainly immoral, as it requires an act contrary to moral feeling, i. e., killing – and is called forth only by greed.
If a man, before he passed from one stage to another, could know his future life in full detail, he would have nothing to live for. It is the same with the life of humanity. If it had a programme of the life which awaited it before entering a new stage, it would be the surest sign that it was not living, nor advancing, but simply rotating in the same place.
If every man could act as he chose, the whole of history would be a tissue of disconnected accidents.
If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.
If goodness has causes, it is not goodness; if it has effects, a reward, it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the chain of cause and effect.
If he be really and seriously seeking to live a good life, the first thing from which he will abstain will always be the use of animal food, because …its use is simply immoral, as it involves the performance of an act which is contrary to the moral feeling – killing.
If I had any doubts at all about the justice of my dislike for Shakespeare, that doubt vanished completely. What a crude, immoral, vulgar, and senseless work Hamlet is. The whole thing is based on pagan vengeance; the only aim is to gather together as many effects as possible; there is no rhyme or reason about it.
If I know the way home and am walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way because I am staggering from side to side!
If I know the way home and am walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way because I am staggering from side to side! If it is not the right way, then show me another way; but if I stagger and lose the way, you must help me, you must keep me on the true path, just as I am ready to support you.
If it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.
If it were not so frightening it would be amusing to observe the pride and complacency with which we, like children, take apart the watch, pull out the spring and make a toy of it, and are then surprised when the watch stops working.
If Mormonism is able to endure, unmodified, until it reaches the third and fourth generation, it is destined to become the greatest power the world has ever known.
If once we admit, be it for a single hour or in a single instance, that there can be anything more important than compassion for a fellow human being, then there is no crime against man that we cannot commit with an easy conscience.
If one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as they are and not as one would like them to be…
If one loves, one loves the whole person as he or she is, and not as one might wish them to be.
If patriotism is good, then Christianity, which gives peace, is an idle dream, and the sooner this teaching is eradicated, the better. But if Christianity really gives peace, and if we really want peace, then patriotism is a leftover from barbarous times, which must not only not be evoked and taught, as we now do, but which must be eradicated by all means of preaching, persuasion, contempt, and ridicule. If Christianity is the truth, and if we wish to live in peace, then we must not only have no sympathy for the power of our country, but must even rejoice in its weakening and contribute to it.
If people lacked the capacity to receive the thoughts of the men who preceded them and to pass on to others their own thoughts, men would be like wild beasts. And if men lacked this other capacity of being infected by art, people would be almost more savage still, and, above all, more separated from and more hostile to one another. Therefore the activity of art is a most important one, as important as the activity of speech itself and as generally diffused.
If people tell you that you should live your life preparing for the future, do not believe them. Real Life is found only in the present.
If religion is the establishing of a relationship between man and the universe, then morality is the explanation of those activities that automatically result when a person maintains a relationship to the universe.
If so many men, so many minds, certainly so many hearts, so many kinds of love.
If the thought ever comes to you that everything that you have thought about God is mistaken and that there is no God, do not be dismayed. It happens to many people. But do not think that the source of your unbelief is that there is no God.
If there existed no external means for dimming their consciences, one-half of the men would at once shoot themselves, because to live contrary to one’s reason is a most intolerable state, and all men of our time are in such a state.
If there was a reason why he preferred the liberal tendency to the conservative one (also held to by many of his circle), it was not because he found the liberal tendency more sensible, but it more closely suited his manner of life.
If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, the possibility of life is destroyed.
If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed.
If we would only testify to the truth as we see it, it would turn out that there are hundreds, thousands, even millions of other people just as we are, who see the truth as we do…and are only waiting, again as we are, for someone to proclaim it. The Kingdom of God is within you.
If you asked someone, ‘Can you play the violin?’ and he says, ‘I don’t know, I have not tried, perhaps I can,’ you laugh at him. Whereas about writing, people always say: ‘I don’t know, I have not tried,’ as though one had only to try and one would become a writer.
If you do not know your place in the world and the meaning of your life, you should know there is something to blame; and it is not the social system, or your intellect, but the way in which you have directed your intellect.
If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.
If you love me as you say you do,’ she whispered, ‘make it so that I am at peace.
If you make it a habit not to blame others, you will feel the growth of the ability to love in your soul, and you will see the growth of goodness in your life.
If you no longer believe in the God in whom you believed in before, this comes from the fact that there was something wrong with your belief, and you must strive to understand better that which you call God.
If you see that some aspect of your society is bad, and you want to improve it, there is only one way to do so: you have to improve people. And in order to improve people, you begin with only ONE thing: you can become better yourself.
If you want to be happy, be happy.
If you want to be happy, be.
If you want to be happy, just be.
If you want to be happy, try only to please God, not people.
If you’re not enjoying your work, you should either change your attitude, or change your job.
If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.
In a writer there must always be two people – the writer and the critic.
In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.
In all human sorrow nothing gives comfort but love and faith, and that in the sight of Christ’s compassion for us no sorrow is trifiling.
In difficult circumstances always act on first impressions.
In education, once more, the chief things are equality and freedom.
In former times the chief method of justifying the use of violence and thereby infringing the law of love was by claiming a divine right for the rulers: the Tsars, Sultans, Rajahs, Shahs and other heads of states.
In historic events, the so-called great men are labels giving names to events, and like labels they have but the smallest connection with the event itself. Every act of theirs, which appears to them an act of their own will, is in an historical sense involuntary and is related to the whole course of history and predestined from eternity.
In infinite time, in infinite matter, in infinite space, is formed a bubble organism, and that bubble lasts a while and bursts, and that bubble is Me.
In life, in true life, there can be nothing better than what is. Wanting something different than what is, is blasphemy.
In marriage the great thing was love, and that with love one would always be happy, for happiness rests only on oneself.
In order to carry through any undertaking in family life, there must necessarily be either complete division between the husband and wife, or loving agreement. When the relations of a couple are vacillating and neither one thing nor the other, no sort of enterprise can be undertake. Many families remain for years in the same place, though both husband and wife are sick of it, simply because there is neither complete division nor agreement between them.
In order to correctly define art, it is necessary, first of all, to cease to consider it as a means to pleasure and consider it as one of the conditions of human life. …Reflecting on it in this way, we cannot fail to observe that art is one of the means of effective communication between people.
In order to get power and retain it, it is necessary to love power; but love of power is not connected with goodness but with qualities that are the opposite of goodness, such as pride, cunning and cruelty.
In order to get the power and retain it, it is necessary to love power; but love of power is not connected with goodness, but with qualities which are the opposite of goodness, such as pride, cunning, cruelty.
In order to know what he is, a man must first know what the sum of this mysterious humanity is, a humanity made up of people who, like himself, do not understand what they are.
In order to obtain and hold power a man must love it. Thus the effort to get it is not likely to be coupled with goodness, but with the opposite qualities of pride, craft and cruelty.
In order to obtain and hold power, a man must love it.
In order to understand, observe, deduce, man must first be conscious of himself as alive.
In our age the common religious perception of men is the consciousness of the brotherhood of man – we know that the well-being of man lies in the union with his fellow men. True science should indicate the various methods of applying this consciousness to life. Art should transform this perception into feeling.
In our day the feeling of patriotism is an unnatural, irrational, and harmful feeling, and a cause of a great part of the ills from which mankind is suffering, and that, consequently, this feeling – should not be cultivated, as is now being done, but should, on the contrary, be suppressed and eradicated by all means available to rational men.
In quiet and untroubled times it seems to every administrator that it is only by his efforts that the whole population under his rule is kept going, and in this consciousness of being indispensable every administrator finds the chief reward of his labor and efforts. While the sea of history remains calm the ruler-administrator in his frail bark, holding on with a boat hook to the ship of the people and himself moving, naturally imagines that his efforts move the ship he is holding on to. But as soon as a storm arises and the sea begins to heave and the ship to move, such a delusion is no longer possible. The ship moves independently with its own enormous motion, the boat hook no longer reaches the moving vessel, and suddenly the administrator, instead of appearing a ruler and a source of power, becomes an insignificant, useless, feeble man.
In saying that without the power of the state, evil men would rule over the good. It is taken for granted that the good are precisely those who at the present time have power, and the bad the same who are no subjugated.
In spite of death, he felt the need of life and love. He felt that love saved him from despair, and that this love, under the menace of despair, had become still stronger and purer. The one mystery of death, still unsolved, had scarcely passed before his eyes, when another mystery had arisen, as insoluble, urging him to love and to life.
In spite the mountains of books written about art, no precise definition of art has been constructed. And the reason for this is that the conception of art has been based on the conception of beauty.
In the best, the friendliest and simplest relations flattery or praise is necessary, just as grease is necessary to keep wheels turning.
In the evolution of knowledge-mistaken and unnecessary beliefs are forced out and supplanted by truer and more necessary knowledge. So too in the evolution of feelings, which takes place by means of art. Lower feelings-less kind and less needed for the good of humanity-are forced out and replaced by kinder feelings which better serve us individually and collectively. This is the purpose of art.
In the midst of winter, I find within me the invisible summer…
In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you!
In the spiritual realm nothing is indifferent: what is not useful is harmful.
In vain do science and philosophy pose as the arbiters of the human mind, of which they are in fact only the servants. Religion has provided a conception of life, and science travels in the beaten path. Religion reveals the meaning of life, and science only applies this meaning to the course of circumstances.
In Varenka, she realized that one has but to forget oneself and love others, and one will be calm, happy, and noble.
Indeed, ask every man separately whether he thinks it laudable and worthy of a man of this age to hold a position from which he receives a salary disproportionate to his work; to take from the people–often in poverty–taxes to be spent on constructing cannon, torpedoes, and other instruments of butchery, so as to make war on people with whom we wish to be at peace, and who feel the same wish in regard to us; or to receive a salary for devoting one’s whole life to constructing these instruments of butchery, or to preparing oneself and others for the work of murder.
India, which is the nursery of the great faiths of the world
Instead of going to Paris to attend lectures, go to the public library, and you won’t come out for twenty years, if you really wish to learn.
Is it possible to say what one really feels?
Is it really possible to tell someone else what one feels?
It boils down to this: we should have done with humbug, and let war be war, and not a game … If there were none of this magnanimity business in warfare, we should never go to war, except for something worth facing certain death for.
It is a harmful feeling, because it disturbs advantageous and joyous, peaceful relations with other peoples, and above all produces that governmental organization under which power may fall, and does fall, into the, hands of the worst men.
It is a rude feeling, because it is natural only to people standing on the lowest level of morality, and expecting from other nations such outrages as they themselves are ready to inflict.
It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.
It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. A handsome woman talks nonsense, you listen and hear not nonsense but cleverness. She says and does horrid things, and you see only charm. And if a handsome woman does not say stupid or horrid things, you at once persuade yourself that she is wonderfully clever and moral.
It is by those who have suffered that the world has been advanced.
It is easier to produce ten volumes of philosophical writings than to put one principle into practice.
it is hard for anyone who is dissatisfied not to blame some one else, and especially the person nearest of all to him, for the ground of his dissatisfaction.
It is horrible! It is not the suffering and the death of the animals that is horrible, but the fact that the man without any need for so doing crushes his lofty feeling of sympathy and mercy for living creatures and does violence to himself that he may be cruel. The first element of moral life is abstinence.
It is no sin to look at a nice girl.
It is not beauty that endears, it’s love that makes us see beauty.
It is not enough to be a hardworking person. Think: what do you work at?
It is possible to live only as long as life intoxicates us; once we are sober we cannot help seeing that it is all a delusion, a stupid delusion.
It is terrible when people do not know God, but it is worse when people identify as God what is not God.
It is the work and not the reward that is precious.
It is this law of love and its recognition as a rule of conduct in all our relations with friends, enemies and offenders which must inevitably bring about the complete transformation of the existing order of things,
It is this law of love and its recognition as a rule of conduct in all our relations with friends, enemies and offenders which must inevitably bring about the complete transformation of the existing order of things, not only among Christian nations, but among all the peoples of the globe
It is true, I deny the incomprehensible Trinity, and the fable regarding the fall of man, which is absurd in our day. It is true, I deny the sacrilegious story of a God born of a virgin to redeem the race.
It is very difficult to tell the truth.
It is within my power either to serve God or not to serve Him. Serving Him, I add to my own good and the good of the whole world. Not serving Him, I forfeit my own good and deprive the world of that good, which was in my power to create.
It may be suggested by some books that it is not a sin to kill an animal, but it is written in our own hearts – more clearly than in any book – that we should take pity on animals in the same way as we do on humans.
It seems as though mankind has forgotten the laws of its divine Saviour, Who preached love and forgiveness of injuries—and that men attribute the greatest merit to skill in killing one another.
It seems that it is impossible to live without discovering the purpose of your life. And the first thing which a person should do is to understand the meaning of life. But the majority of people who consider themselves to be educated are proud that they have reached such great height that they cease to care about the meaning of existence.
It seldom happens that a man changes his life through his habitual reasoning. No matter how fully he may sense the new plans and aims revealed to him by reason, he continues to plod along in old paths until his life becomes frustrating and unbearable-he finally makes the change only when his usual life can no longer be tolerated.
It will pass, it will all pass, we’re going to be so happy! If our love could grow any stronger it would grow stronger because there is something horrifying in it.
It would, therefore, seem obvious that patriotism as a feeling is bad and harmful, and as a doctrine is stupid. For it is clear that if each people and each State considers itself the best of peoples and States, they all live in a gross and harmful delusion.
It’s all God’s will: you can die in your sleep, and God can spare you in battle.
It’s hard to love a woman and do anything.
It’s like scarlet fever: one has to get it over.
Then one should invent a way of inoculating love, like vaccination.
it’s much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it.
It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.
It’s not so much that he can’t fall in love, but he has not the weakness necessary.
It’s too easy to criticize a man when he’s out of favour, and to make him shoulder the blame for everybody else’s mistakes.
It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.
Ivan Ilych saw that he was dying, and he was in continual despair. In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he not accustomed to the thought, he simply did not and could not grasp it. The syllogism he had learnt from Kiesewetter’s Logic: “Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal,” had always seemed to him correct as applied to Caius, but certainly not as applied to himself. That Caius – man in the abstract – was mortal, was perfectly correct, but he was not Caius, not an abstract man, but a creature quite, quite separate from all others.
Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.
Joy can only be real if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.
Just as a painter needs light in order to put the finishing touches to his picture, so I need an inner light, which I feel I never have enough of in the autumn.
Just as one candle lights another and can light thousands of other candles, so one heart illuminates another heart and can illuminate thousands of other hearts.
Just imagine that the purpose of life is happinesses only- then life becomes a cruel and senseless thing.You have to embrace what the wisdom of humanity, your intellect and your heart tell you: that the meaning of life is to serve the force that sent you into the world.Then life becomes a joy
Just when the question of how to live had become clearer to him, a new insoluble problem presented itself – Death.
Knowledge is real knowledge only when it is acquired by the efforts of your intellect, not by memory.
Konstantin Levin did not like talking and hearing about the beauty of nature. Words for him took away the beauty of what he saw.
Lay me down like a stone oh God, and raise me up like a new bread”.
Let us forgive each other – only then will we live in peace.
Levin scowled. The humiliation of his rejection stung him to the heart, as though it were a fresh wound he had only just received. But he was at home, and at home the very walls are a support.
Life consists in penetrating the unknown, and fashioning our actions in accord with the new knowledge thus acquired.
Life could be limitless joy, if we would only take it for what it is, in the way it is given to us.
Life did not stop, and one had to live.
Life is a place of service, and in that service one has to suffer a great deal that is hard to bear, but more often to experience a great deal of joy.
Life is everything. Life is God. Everything shifts and moves, and this movement is God. And while there is life, there is delight in the self-awareness of the divinity. To love life is to love God. The hardest and most blissful thing is to love this life in one’s suffering, in the guiltlessness of suffering.
Life is fragile and absurd.
Like all mad men, I thought everyone was mad except myself.
Love alone is the only reasonable activity or pursuit of humankind….Fo r Love not only annihilates our fear of meaninglessness but empowers us to seek the happiness of others. And this indeed is our greatest happiness.
Love does not exist. There exists the physical need for intercourse, and the rational need for a mate in life
Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.
Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.
Love is the only way to rescue humanity from all ills.
Love those you hate you.
Love. The reason I dislike that word is that it means too much for me, far more than you can understand. – Anna Karenina
Loving the same man or woman all your life, why, that’s like supposing the same candle could last you all your life
Loving with human love, one may pass from love to hatred; but divine love cannot change. Nothing, not even death, can shatter it. It is all the very nature of the soul. Love is life. All, all that I understand, I understand only because of love. All is bound up in love alone. Love is God and dying means for me a particle of love, to go back to the universal and eternal source of love.
Man by violating his own feelings becomes cruel. And how deeply seated in the human heart is the injunction not to take life.
Man cannot possess anything as long as he fears death. But to him who does not fear it, everything belongs. If there was no suffering, man would not know his limits, would not know himself.
Man discovers truth by reason only, not by faith.
Man has received direct from God only one instrument wherewith to know himself and to know his relation to the universe–he has no other–and that instrument is reason.
Man is meant for happiness and this happiness is in him, in the satisfaction of the daily needs of his existence.
Man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal, aims of humanity.
Man must not check his reason by tradition, but, contrariwise, must check tradition by reason.
Man must not check reason by tradition, but contrariwise, must check tradition by reason.
Man recognizes that he will not die, only when he recognizes that he was never born, but always has been, is, and will be.
Man survives earthquakes, epidemics, the horrors of disease, and all the agonies of the soul, but for all time his tormenting tragedy is, and will be, the tragedy of the bedroom.
Man’s mind cannot grasp the causes of events in their completeness, but the desire to find the causes is implanted in man’s soul.
Many families remain for years in the same place, though both husband and wife are sick of it, simply because there is neither complete division nor agreement between them.
Many people have ideas on how others should change; few people have ideas on how they should change.
Mathematics is the queen of disciplines…. it will drive the nonsense out of your head!
Meanwhile spring arrived. My old dejection passed away and gave place to the unrest which spring brings with it, full of dreams and vague hopes and desires.
Memento mori – remember death! These are important words. If we kept in mind that we will soon inevitably die, our lives would be completely different. If a person knows that he will die in a half hour, he certainly will not bother doing trivial, stupid, or, especially, bad things during this half hour. Perhaps you have half a century before you die-what makes this any different from a half hour?
Men are so accustomed to maintaining external order by violence that they cannot conceive of life being possible without violence.
Men need only trust in Christ’s teaching and obey it, and there will be peace on earth.
Men pray to the Almighty to relieve poverty. But poverty comes not from God’s laws-it is blasphemy of the worst kind to say that. Poverty comes from man’s injustice to his fellow man.
Money is a new form of slavery, and distinguishable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal – that there is no human relation between master and slave.
Morning or night, Friday or Sunday, made no difference, everything was the same: the gnawing, excruciating, incessant pain; that awareness of life irrevocably passing but not yet gone; that dreadful, loathsome death, the only reality, relentlessly closing in on him; and that same endless lie. What did days, weeks, or hours matter?
Muhammad has always been standing higher than the Christianity. He does not consider god as a human being and never makes himself equal to God. Muslims worship nothing except God and Muhammad is his Messenger. There is no any mystery and secret in it.
Music is love in search of a voice.
Music is the shorthand of emotion.
Music is the shorthand of emotion. Emotions, which let themselves be described in words with such difficulty, are directly conveyed to man in music, and in that is its power and significance.
Music makes me forget my real situation. It transports me into a state which is not my own. Under the influence of music I really seem to feel what I do not feel, to understand what I do not understand, to have powers which I cannot have. Music seems to me to act like yawning or laughter; I have no desire to sleep, but I yawn when I see others yawn; with no reason to laugh, I laugh when I hear others laugh. And music transports me immediately into the condition of soul in which he who wrote the music found himself at that time. ~The Kreutzer Sonata
Music makes me forget myself, my true condition, it carries me off into another state of being, one that isn’t my own: under the influence of music I have the illusion of feeling things I don’t really feel, of understanding things I don’t understand, being able to do things I’m not able to do… Can it really be allowable for anyone who feels like it to hypnotize another person, or many other persons, and then do what he likes with them? Particularly if the hypnotist is the first unscrupulous individual who happens to come along?
My life had come to a sudden stop. I was able to breathe, to eat, to drink, to sleep. I could not, indeed help doing so; but there was no real life in me.
My piece of bread only belongs to me when I know that everyone else has a share, and that no one starves while I eat.
My principal sin is doubt. I doubt everything, and am in doubt most of the time.
Never did Christ utter a single word attesting to a personal resurrection and a life beyond the grave.
Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal.
No matter when, at whatever moment, if she were asked what she was thinking about she could reply quite correctly – one thing, her happiness and her unhappiness.
No one has yet added up all the heavy, stress-filled workdays as well as the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives that are wasted to produce the world’s amusements. It is for this reason that “amusements” are not so amusing.
No one is satisfied with his position, but every one is satisfied with his wit
Not all of life’s roads are set fast, for a man may do this or a man may do that and not even the gods know the mind of a man.
Not one word, not one gesture of yours shall I, could I, ever forget.
Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.
Nothing prevents our denying life by suicide. well then, kill yourself, and you won’t discuss. If life displeases you, kill yourself! You live, and cannot understand the meaning of life – then finish it, and do not fool about in life, saying and writing that you do not understand it. You have come into good company where people are contented and know what they are doing; if you find it dull and repulsive – go away!
Nowadays, as before, the public declaration and confession of Orthodoxy is usually encountered among dull-witted, cruel and immoral people who tend to consider themselves very important. Whereas intelligence, honesty, straightforwardness, good-naturedness and morality are qualities usually found among people who claim to be non-believers.
Nowhere nor in anything, except in the assertion of the Church, can we find that God or Christ founded anything like what churchmen understand by the Church.
Often a man goes on for years imaging that the religious teaching that had been imparted to him since childhood is still intact, while all the time there is not a trace of it left in him.
Once we’re thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost, but it’s only here that the new and the good begins.
One can live magnificently in this world if one knows how to work and how to love.
One can no more approach people without love than one can approach bees without care. Such is the quality of bees.
One can often hear from the young people:” I do not want to live according to others` mind. I can think of it myself. ” Why should one think of something, when it is already thought about. Take it and go farther, this is the strength of the mankind.
One is ashamed to say how little is needed for all men to be delivered from those calamities which now oppress them; it is only needful not to lie.
One may say with one’s lips: “I believe that the world was created six thousand years ago;” or, “I believe that Jesus flew away into the skies and is sitting on the right hand of the Father;” or, “God is One, and also Three;” — but no one can believe it, because the words have no sense.
One must be cunning and wicked in this world.
One must do one of two tings: either admit that the existing order of society is just, and then stick up for one’s rights in it; or acknowledge that you are enjoying unjust privileges, as i do, and then enjoy them and be satisfied.
One must put oneself in every one’s position. To understand everything is to forgive everything.
One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken.
One of the most obtuse superstitions is the superstition of the scientists who say that man can exist without faith.
One ought only to write when one leaves a piece of one’s own flesh in the inkpot, each time one dips one’s pen.
Only greatly insolent people establish a religious law which is to be taken for granted by others, which should be accepted by everyone on faith, without any discussion or doubts. Why must people do this?
Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.
Only the truth and its expression can establish that new public opinion which will reform the ancient obsolete and pernicious order of life; and yet we not only do not express the truth we know, but often even distinctly give expression to what we ourselves regard as false. If only free men would not rely on that which has no power, and is always fettered upon external aids; but would trust in that which is always powerful and free the truth and its expression!
Only those live who do good.
Our body is a machine for living. It is organized for that, it is its nature. Let life go on in it unhindered and let it defend itself.
Our whole life is taken up with anxiety for personal security, with preparations for living, so that we really never live at all.
Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience. The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.
Patriotism in its simplest, clearest and most indubitable signification is nothing else but a means of obtaining for the rulers their ambitions and covetous desires, and for the ruled the abdication of human dignity, reason, conscience, and a slavish enthrallment to those in power.
Patriotism in its simplest, clearest, and most indubitable meaning is nothing but an instrument for the attainment of the government’s ambitious and mercenary aims, and a renunciation of human dignity, common sense, and conscience by the governed, and a slavish submission to those who hold power. That is what is really preached wherever patriotism is championed. Patriotism is slavery.
Patriotism is “a very definite feeling of preference for one’s own people or State above all other peoples and States, and a consequent wish to get for that people or State the greatest advantages and power that can be got – things which are obtainable only at the expense of the advantages and power of other peoples or States.”
Patriotism is a survival from barbarous times which must not only be evoked and educated but which must be eradicated by all means – by preaching, persuasion, contempt and ridicule.
Patriotism is the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers.
People are always happy where there is love, because their happiness in in themselves.
People continued regardless of all that leads man forward to try to unite the incompatibles:;: the virtue of love, and what is opposed to love, namely, the restraining of evil by violence. And such a teaching, despite its inner contradiction, was so firmly established that the very people who recognize love as a virtue accept as lawful at the same time an order of life based on violence and allowing men not merely to torture but even to kill one another.
People involve themselves in countless activities which they consider to be important, but they forget about one activity which is more important and necessary than any other, and which includes all other things: the improvement of their soul
People jump back and forth in pursuit of pleasures only because they see the emptiness of their lives more clearly than they do the emptiness of whichever new entertainment attracts them.
People look like rivers very much: water is everywhere the same, but the rivers are narrow, fast, wide, pure, cold, muddy and warm. The people are the same. They have the rudiment of every human habit in them and they behave according to them. Sometimes they even do not look like themselves, but they still stay whatever they are.
People of limited intelligence are fond of talking about “these days,” imagining that they have discovered and appraised the peculiarities of “these days” and that human nature changes with the times.
People try to do all sorts of clever and difficult things to improve life instead of doing the simplest, easiest thing-refusing to participate in activities that make life bad.
People understand the meaning of eating lies in the nourishment of the body only when they cease to consider that the object of that activity is pleasure. …People understand the meaning of art only when they cease to consider that the aim of that activity is beauty, i.e., pleasure.
Perfection is impossible without humility. Why should I strive for perfection, if I am already good enough?
Perhaps it is even more important to know what one should not think about than what one should think about.
Perhaps it’s because I appreciate all I have so much that I don’t worry about what I haven’t got.
Physical violence is the basis of authority.
Pierre looked into the sky, into the depths of the retreating, twinkling stars. “And all this is mine, and all this is in me, and all this is me!” thought Pierre. “And all this they’ve caught and put in a shed and boarded it up!
Pierre was one of those people who are strong only when they feel themselves perfectly pure.
Pierre was right when he said that one must believe in the possibility of happiness in order to be happy, and I now believe in it. Let the dead bury the dead, but while I’m alive, I must live and be happy.
Power is a word the meaning of which we do not understand.
Power is the relation of a given person to other persons, in which the more this person expresses opinions, theories and justifications of the collective action the less is his participation in that action.
Power is the sum total of the wills of the mass, transferred by express or tactic agreement to rulers chosen by the masses.
Power, from the standpoint of experience, is merely the relation that exists between the expression of someone’s will and the execution of that will by others.
Prayer is addressed to the personal God, not because he is personal indeed, I know for certain that he is not personal, because personality is limitation, while God is unlimited.
Prayer is an invisible tool which is wielded in a visible world.
Pretence about anything sometimes deceives the wisest and shrewdest man, but, however cunningly it is hidden, a child of the meanest capacity feels it and is repelled by it.
Progress consists only in the greater clarification of answers to the basic questions of life.
Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy.
Quos vilt perdere dementat’ Whome the gods wish to destroy, they first drive made (Latin).
Real art, like the wife of an affectionate husband, needs no ornaments. But counterfeit art, like a prostitute, must always be decked out. The cause of production of real art is the artist’s inner need to express a feeling that has accumulated…The cause of counterfeit art, as of prostitution, is gain. The consequence of true art is the introduction of a new feeling into the intercourse of life… The consequences of counterfeit art are the perversion of man, pleasure which never satisfies, and the weakening of man’s spiritual strength.
Real wisdom is not the knowledge of everything, but the knowledge of which things in life are necessary, which are less necessary, and which are completely unnecessary to know.
Reason unites us, not only with our contemporaries, but with men who lived two thousand years before us, and with those who will live after us.
Regard the society of women as a necessary unpleasantness of social life, and avoid it as much as possible.
Religion reveals the meaning of life, and science only applies this meaning to the course of circumstances.
Religions are the exponents of the highest comprehension of life… within a given age in a given society… a basis for evaluating human sentiments. If feelings bring people nearer to the religion’s ideal… they are good; if these estrange them from it, and oppose it, they are bad.
Religious people are guided in their activities not by the consequences of their actions, but by the consciousness of the destination of their lives.
Remember that there is only one important time and it is Now. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion. The most important person is always the person with whom you are, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future? The most important pursuit is making that person, the one standing at you side, happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life.
Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.
Rest, nature, books, music…such is my idea of happiness.
Rivers are places that renew our spirit, connect us with our past, and link us directly with the flow and rhythm of the natural world.
Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed.
School is established, not in order that it should be convenient for the children to study, but that teachers should be able to teach in comfort. The children’s conversations, motion, merriment are not convenient for the teacher, and so in the schools, which are built on the plan of prisons, are prohibited.
Science is meaningless because it gives no answer to our question, the only question important for us: ‘What shall we do and how shall we live?’
Seas of blood have been shed for the sake of patriotism. One would expect the harm and irrationality of patriotism to be self-evident to everyone. But the surprising fact is that cultured and learned people not only do not notice the harm and stupidity of patriotism, they resist every unveiling of it with the greatest obstinacy and passion (with no rational grounds), and continue to praise it as beneficent and elevating.
Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.
Several times I asked myself, “Can it be that I have overlooked something, that there is something which I have failed to understand? Is it not possible that this state of despair is common to everyone?” And I searched for an answer to my questions in every area of knowledge acquired by man. For a long time I carried on my painstaking search; I did not search casually, out of mere curiosity, but painfully, persistently, day and night, like a dying man seeking salvation. I found nothing.
She did not want to talk of her sorrow, but with that sorrow in her heart she could not talk of outside matters.
She had no need to ask why he had come. She knew as certainly as if he had told her that he was here to be where she was.
She put both her hands on his shoulders and gazed at him long, with a deep look of ecstasy and yet searchingly. She scrutinized his face to make up for the time she had not seen him. She compared, as she did at every interview with him, the image her fancy painted of him (incomparably finer than, and impossible in actual existence) with his real self
She put both her hands on his shoulders and gazed at him long, with a deep look of ecstasy and yet searchingly. She scrutinized his face to make up for the time she had not seen him. She compared, as she did at every interview with him, the image her fancy painted of him (incomparably finer than, and impossible in actual existence) with his real self.
She smiled at him, and at her own fears. ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
She was in that highly-wrought state when the reasoning powers act with great rapidity: the state a man is in before a battle or a struggle, in danger, and at the decisive moments of life – those moments when a man shows once and for all what he is worth, that his past was not lived in vain but was a preparation for these moments.
Since corrupt people unite amongst themselves to constitute a force, then honest people must do the same.
Slavery results from laws, laws are made by governments, and, therefore people can only be freed from slavery by the abolition of governments…. And it is time for people to understand that governments not only are not necessary, but are harmful and most highly immoral institutions, in which a self-respecting, honest man cannot and must not take part.
Slavery, you know, is nothing else than the unwilling labor of many. Therefore to get rid of slavery it is necessary that people should not wish to profit by the forced labor of others and should consider it a sin and a shame. But they go and abolish the external form of slavery and arrange so that one can no longer buy and sell slaves, and they imagine and assure themselves that slavery no longer exists, and do not see or wish to see that it does, because people still want and consider it good and right to exploit the labor of others.
Smiling with pleasure, they went through their memories, not sad, old people’s memories, but poetic, youthful ones, those impressions from the very distant past where dream merges with reality, and they laughed softly, rejoicing at something.
So he lived, not knowing and not seeing any chance of knowing what he was and for what purpose he had been placed in the word.
So long as people do not consider all men as their brothers and do not consider human life as the most sacred thing, which rather than destroy they must consider it their first and foremost duty to support; that is so long as people do not behave towards one another in a religious manner, they will always ruin one another’s lives for the sake of personal gain.
So remember: great achievements take time, there is no overnight success.
So you see,’ said Stepan Arkadyich, ‘you’re a very wholesome man. That is your virtue and your defect. You have a wholesome character, and you want all of life to be made up of wholesome phenomena, but that doesn’t happen. So you despise the activity of public service because you want things always to correspond to their aim, and that doesn’t happen. You also want the activity of the individual man always to have an aim, that love and family life always be one. And that doesn’t happen. All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life are made up of light and shade.
Some mathematician has said pleasure lies not in discovering truth, but in seeking it.
Some mathematician said that pleasure lies not in discovering the truth but in searching for it.
Some mathematician, I believe, has said that true pleasure lies not in the discovery of truth, but in the search for it.
Something magical has happened to me: like a dream when one feels frightened and creepy, and suddenly wakes up to the knowledge that no such terrors exist. I have wakened up.
Sometimes she did not know what she feared, what she desired: whether she feared or desired what had been or what would be, and precisely what she desired, she did not know.
Spring is the time of plans and projects.
Stepan Arkadyevitch had not chosen his political opinions or his views; these political opinions and views had come to him of themselves, just as he did not choose the shapes of his hat and coat, but simply took those that were being worn.
Suddenly I heard the words of Christ and understood them, and life and death ceased to seem to me evil, and instead of despair I experienced happiness and the joy of life undisturbed by death.
Talent is the capacity to direct concentrated attention upon the subject: “the gift of seeing what others have not seen.
Teach French and unteach sincerity.
Tell people that war is an evil, and they will laugh; for who does not know it? Tell them that patriotism is an evil, and most of them will agree, but with a reservation. “Yes,” they will say, “wrong patriotism is an evil; but there is another kind, the kind we hold.” But just what this good patriotism is, no one explains.
That only shows you have no heart,’ she said. But her eyes said that she knew he had a heart, and that was why she was afraid of him
The activity of art is… as important as the activity of language itself, and as universal.
The Anarchists are right in everything; in the negation of the existing order, and in the assertion that, without authority, there could not be worse violence than that of authority under existing conditions. They are mistaken only in thinking that Anarchy can be instituted by a revolution. “To establish Anarchy.” “Anarchy will be instituted.” But it will be instituted only by there being more and more people who do not require protection from governmental power, and by there being more and more people who will be ashamed of applying this power.
The antagonism between life and conscience may be removed in two ways: by a change of life or by a change of conscience.
The appreciation of the merits of art (of the emotions it conveys) depends upon an understanding of the meaning of life…
The appreciation of the merits of art of the emotions it conveys depends upon an understanding of the meaning of life…
The artist of the future will live the ordinary life of a human being, earning his living by some kind of labour. He will strive to give the fruit of that supreme spiritual force which passes through him to the greatest number of people, because this conveying of the feelings that have been born in him to the greatest number of people is his joy and his reward. The artist of the future will not even understand how it is possible for an artist, whose joy consists in the widest dissemination of his works, to give these works only in exchange for a certain payment.
The artist’s mission must not be to produce an irrefutable solution to a problem, but to compel us to love life in all its countless and inexhaustible manifestations.
The best generals I have known were… stupid or absent-minded men. Not only does a good army commander not need any special qualities, on the contrary he needs the absence of the highest and best human attributes – love, poetry, tenderness, and philosophic inquiring doubt. He should be limited, firmly convinced that what he is doing is very important (otherwise he will not have sufficient patience), and only then will he be a brave leader. God forbid that he should be humane, should love, or pity, or think of what is just and unjust.
The best generals I have known were… stupid or absent-minded men. Not only does a good army commander not need any special qualities, on the contrary he needs the absence of the highest and best human attributes — love, poetry, tenderness, and philosophic inquiring doubt. He should be limited, firmly convinced that what he is doing is very important (otherwise he will not have sufficient patience), and only then will he be a brave leader. God forbid that he should be humane, should love, or pity, or think of what is just and unjust.
The best method for a given teacher is the one which is most familiar to the teacher.
The best stories don’t come from “good vs. bad” but “good vs. good.
The best thoughts most often come in the morning after waking, while still in bed or while walking.
The Brahmins say that in their books there are many predictions of times in which it will rain. But press those books as strongly as you can, you can not get out of them a drop of water. So you can not get out of all the books that contain the best precepts the smallest good deed.
The business of art lies just in this, — to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible.
The changes in our life must come from the impossibility to live otherwise than according to the demands of our conscience not from our mental resolution to try a new form of life.
The changes in our life must come from the impossibility to live otherwise to the demands of our conscience not from our mental resolution to try a new form of life.
The chief attraction of military service has consisted and will consist in this compulsory and irreproachable idleness.
The chief cause of unhappiness in married life is that people think that marriage is sex attraction, which takes the form of promises and hopes and happiness – a view supported by public opinion and by literature. But marriage cannot cause happiness. Instead, it is always torture, which man has to pay for satisfying his sex urge.
The chief difference between words and deeds is that words are always intended for men for their approbation, but deeds can be done only for God.
The Christian churches and Christianity have nothing in common save in name: they are utterly hostile opposites. The churches are arrogance, violence, usurpation, rigidity, death; Christianity is humility, penitence, submissiveness, progress, life.
The compassionate are not rich; therefore, the rich are not compassionate.
The difference between real material poison and intellectual poison is that most material poison is disgusting to the taste, but intellectual poison, which takes the form of cheap newspapers or bad books, can unfortunately sometimes be attractive.
The earth is the general and equal possession of all humanity and therefore cannot be the property of individuals.
The epitaph that I would write for history would say: I conceal nothing. It is not enough not to lie. One should strive not to lie in a negative sense by remaining silent.
The error arises from the learned jurists deceiving themselves and others, by asserting that government is not what it really is, one set of men banded together to oppress another set of men , but, as shown by science, is the representation of the citizens in their collective capacity.
The essence of all slavery consists in taking the product of another’s labor by force. It is immaterial whether this force be founded upon ownership of the slave or ownership of the money that he must get to live.
The essence of any religion lies solely in the answer to the question: why do I exist, and what is my relationship to the infinite universe that surrounds me?
The essence of any religion lies solely in the answer to the question: why do I exist, and what is my relationship to the infinite universe that surrounds me? It is impossible for there to be a person with no religion (i.e. without any kind of relationship to the world) as it is for there to be a person without a heart. He may not know that he has a religion, just as a person may not know that he has a heart, but it is no more possible for a person to exist without a religion than without a heart.
The example of a syllogism that he had studied in Kiesewetter’s logic: Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal, had throughout his whole life seemed to him right only in relation to Caius, but not to him at all.
The feeling of patriotism – It is an immoral feeling because, instead of confessing himself a son of God . . . or even a free man guided by his own reason, each man under the influence of patriotism confesses himself the son of his fatherland and the slave of his government, and commits actions contrary to his reason and conscience.
The first glass you drive in like a stake, the second flies like a crake, and after the third they fly like wee little birds.
The goal of our life should not be to find joy in marriage, but to bring more love and truth into the world.
The goal of our life should not be to find joy in marriage, but to bring more love and truth into the world. We marry to assist each other in this task. The most selfish and hateful life of all is that of two beings who unite in order to enjoy life. The highest calling is that of the man who has dedicated his life to serving God and doing good, and who unites with a woman in order to further that purpose.
The government in which I believe is that which is based on mere moral sanction…the real law lives in the kindness of our hearts. If our hearts are empty, no law or political reform can fill them.
The great tragedy of atheists is that they walk through this world and have no one to thank.
The greater the state, the more wrong and cruel its patriotism, and the greater is the sum of suffering upon which its power is founded.
The happiness of men consists in life. And life is in labor.
The hero of my tale, whom I love with all the power of my soul, whom I have tried to portray in all his beauty, who has been, is, and will be beautiful, is Truth.
The hero of my tale, whom I love with all the power of my soul, whom I have tried to portray in all its beauty, who has been, is, and will be beautiful, is Truth.
The higher a man stands on the social ladder, the greater the number of people he is connected with, the more power he has over other people, the more obvious is the predestination and inevitability of his every action.
The higher a man’s conception of God, the better will he know Him. And the better he knows God, the nearer will he draw to Him.
The highest wisdom has but one science-the science of the whole-the science explaining the whole creation and man’s place in it.
The idea of beauty is the fundamental idea of everything. In the world we see only distortions of the fundamental idea, but art, by imagination, may lift itself to the height of this idea. Art is therefore akin to creation.
The idea shared by many that life is a vale of tears is just as false as the idea shared by the great majority, the idea to which youth and health and riches incline you, that life is a place of entertainment.
The idea, shared by many, that life is a vale of tears, is just as false as the idea shared by the great majority, the idea to which youth and health and riches incline you, that life is a place of entertainment.
The idea, shared by many, that life is a vale of tears, is just as false as the idea shared by the great majority, the idea to which youth and health and riches incline you, that life is a place of entertainment. Life is a place of service, and in that service one has to suffer a great deal that is hard to bear, but more often to experience a great deal of joy. But that joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.
The ideas of the wise have been tested by centuries. Everything medium is lost and only original, deep and useful things are left.
The improvement of life was only accomplished to the extent to which it was based on a change of consciousness, that is, to the extent to which the law of violence was replaced in men’s consciousness by the law of love.
The Jew – is the symbol of eternity. … He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear.
The key to success in life is using the good thoughts of wise people.
The kinder and more intelligent a person is, the more kindness he can find in other people. Kindness enriches our life; with kindness mysterious things become clear, difficult things become easy and dull things become cheerful.
The kinder and more thoughtful a person is, the more kindness they can find in other people.
The kinder and the more thoughtful a person is, the more kindness he can find in other people.
The Kingdom of God is Within You.
The law condemns and punishes only actions within certain definite and narrow limits; it thereby justifies, in a way, all similar actions that lie outside those limits.
The law of violence is not a law, but a simple fact which can only be a law when it does not meet with protest and opposition. It is like the cold, darkness and weight, which people had to put up with until recently when warmth, illumination and leverage were discovered.
The law of violence is not a law, but a simple fact which can only be a law when it does not meet with protest and opposition. It is like the cold, darkness and weight, which people had to put up with until recently when warmth, illumination and leverage were discovered….
The legislation of Quran will spread all over the world, because it agrees with the mind, logic and wisdom.
The life of our class, of the wealthy and the learned, was not only repulsive to me but had lost all meaning. The sum of our action and thinking, of our science and art, all of it struck me as the overindulgences of a spoiled child.
The Lord had given them the day and the Lord had given them the strength. And the day and the strength had been dedicated to labor, and the labor was its reward. Who was the labor for? What would be its fruits? These were irrelevant and idle questions.
The magnanimity and sensibility of a lady who faints when she sees a calf being killed, she is so kind hearted that she can’t look at the blood, but enjoys serving the calf up with sauce
The main qualities that had earned him this universal respect in the service were, first, an extreme indulgence towards people, based on his awareness of his own shortcomings; second, a perfect liberalism, not the sort he read about in the newspapers, but the sort he had in his blood, which made him treat all people, whatever their rank or status, in a perfectly equal and identical way; and, third – most important – a perfect indifference to the business he was occupied with, owing to which he never got carried away and never made mistakes.
The majority of men do not think in order to know the truth, but in order to assure themselves that the life which they lead, and which is agreeable and habitual to them, is the one which coincides with the truth.
The march of humanity, springing as it does from an infinite multitude of individual wills, is continuous.
The meaning of life consists in the love and service of God.
The military world is characterized by the absence of freedom – in other words, a rigorous discipline-enforced inactivity, ignorance, cruelty, debauchery and drunkenness.
The more he did nothing, the less time he had to do anything.
The more is given the less people will work for themselves, and the less they work the more their poverty will increase
The more is given the less the people will work for themselves, and the less they work the more their poverty will increase.
The more mental effort he made the clearer he saw that it was undoubtedly so: that he had really forgotten and overlooked one little circumstance in life – that Death would come and end everything, so that it was useless to begin anything, and that there was no help for it, Yes it was terrible but true
The more we live by our intellect, the less we understand the meaning of life.
The Most difficult thing but an essential one – is to love Life, to love it even while one suffers, because Life is all, Life is God, and to love Life means to love God.
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow- witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.
The most important knowledge is that which guides the way you lead your life.
The most important of all sciences man can and must learn is the science of living so as to do the least evil and the greatest possible good.
The most important person is the one you are with in this moment.
The most important time is Now.
The most mentally deranged people are certainly those who see in others indications of insanity they do not notice in themselves.
The one who is happy, that’s the one who is right.
The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless.
The only happy marriages I know are arranged ones.
The only purpose of education is freedom; the only method is experience.
The only significance of life consists in helping to establish the kingdom of God.
The only thing that we know is that we know nothing and that is the highest flight of human wisdom.
The pleasure lies not in discovering truth, but in searching for it.
The political is not compatible with the artistic, because the former, in order to prove, has to be one-sided.
The possibility of killing one’s self is a safety valve. Having it, man has no right to say life is unbearable.
The purpose of life is to bring forth goodness. Now, in this life.
The question of how things will settle down is the only important question.
The question of how things will settle down is the only important question…
The question was a fashionable one, whether a definite line exists between psychological and physiological phenomena in human activity; and if so, where it lies?
The recognition of the sanctity of the life of every man is the first and only basis of all morality.
The religious superstition is encouraged by means of the institution of churches, processions, monuments, festivities….The so-called clergy stupefy the masses….They befog the people and keep them in an eternal condition of stupefaction.
The role of the disappointed lover of a maiden or of any single woman might be ridiculous; but the role of a man who was pursuing a married woman, and who made it the purpose of his life at all cost to draw her into adultery, was one which had in it something beautiful and dignified and could never be ridiculous.
The same question arose in every soul: “For what, for whom, must I kill and be killed?”… p982 ― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
The simplest and shortest ethical precept is to be served as little as possible . . . and to serve others as much as possible.
The sobs and tears of joy he had not foreseen rose with such force within him that his whole body shook and for a long time prevented him from speaking. Falling on his knees by her bed. He held his wife’s hand to his lips and kissed it, and her hand responded to his kisses with weak movement of finger. Meanwhile, at the foot of the bed, in the midwife’s expert hands, like the flame of a lamp, flickered the life of a human being who had never existed before.
The sobs and tears of joy he had not foreseen rose with such force within him that his whole body shook and for a long time prevented him from speaking. Falling on his knees by her bed. He held his wife’s hand to his lips and kissed it, and her hand responded to his kisses with weak movement of finger. Meanwhile, at the foot of the bed, in the midwife’s expert hands, like the flame of a lamp, flickered the life of a human being who had never existed before…
The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity by contributing to the establishment of the kingdom of God, which can only be done by the recognition and profession of the truth by every man.
The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.
The soul is immortal- well then, if I shall always live, I must have lived before, lived for a whole eternity.
The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.
The struggle with evil by means of violence is the same as an attempt to stop a cloud, in order that there may be no rain.
The subject of history is the life of peoples and mankind.
The subject of history is the life of peoples and of humanity. To catch and pin down in words–that is, to describe directly the life, not only of humanity, but even of a single people, appears to be impossible.
The teaching of the church, theoretically astute, is a lie in practice and a compound of vulgar superstitions and sorcery.
The time is fast approaching when to call a man a patriot will be the deepest insult you can offer him. Patriotism now means advocating plunder in the interest of the privileged classes of the particular State system into which we have happened to be born.
The true meaning of Christ’s teaching consists in the recognition of love as the supreme law of life, and therefore not admitting any exceptions.
The true office of any faith is to give life a meaning which death cannot destroy.
The truth is obtained like gold, not by letting it grow bigger, but by washing off from it everything that isn’t gold
The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens… Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere.
The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.
The vegetarian movement ought to fill with gladness the souls of those who have at heart the realization of God’s kingdom upon earth, not because vegetarianism itself is such an important step towards the realization of this kingdom (all real steps are equally important or unimportant), but because it serves as a criterion by which we know that the pursuit of moral perfection on the part of man is genuine and sincere.
the very fact of the death of someone close to them aroused in all who heard about it, as always, a feeling of delight that he had died and they hadn’t.
The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people.
The whole trouble lies in that people think that there are conditions excluding the necessity of love in their intercourse with man, but such conditions do not exist. Things may be treated without love; one may chop wood, make bricks, forge iron without love, but one can no more deal with people without love than one can handle bees without care.
The whole world is divided for me into two parts: one is she, and there is all happiness, hope, light; the other is where she is not, and there is dejection and darkness.
The whole world is divided for me into two parts: one is she, and there is all happiness, hope, light; the other is where she is not, and there is dejection and darkness…
The workmen’s revolution, with the terrors of destruction and murder, not only threatens us, but we have already been living upon its verge during the last thirty years, and it is only by various cunning devices that we have been postponing the crisis… The hatred and contempt of the oppressed people are increasing, and the physical and moral strength of the richer classes are decreasing: the deceit which supports all this is wearing out, and the rich classes have nothing wherewith to comfort themselves.
The wrongfulness, the immorality of eating animal food has been recognized by all mankind during all the conscious life of humanity. Why, then have people generally not come to acknowledge this law? The answer is that the moral progress of humanity is always slow; but that the sign of true, not casual Progress, is in uninterruptedness and its continual acceleration. And one cannot doubt that vegetarianism has been progressing in this manner
Then he thought himself unhappy, but happiness was all in the future; now he felt that the best happiness was already in the past.
Then we should find some artificial inoculation against love, as with smallpox.
There are always so many conjectures as to the issue of any event that, whatever the outcome, there will always be people to say: ‘I said then that it would be so’
There are as many loves as there are hearts.
There are many faiths, but the spirit is one, in me, in you, and in every man.
There are no conditions to which a man cannot become accustomed.
There are no conditions to which a man cannot get accustomed, especially if he sees that everyone around him lives in the same way.
There are no conditions to which a person cannot grow accustomed, especially if he sees that everyone around him lives in the same way.
There are people who, on meeting a successful rival, no matter in what, are at once disposed to turn their backs on everything good in him, and to see only what is bad. There are people, on the other hand, who desire above all to find in that lucky rival the qualities by which he has outstripped them, and seek with a throbbing ache at heart only what is good.
There are such repulsive faces in the world.
There are two Gods, there is the God that people generally believe in – a God who has to serve them. This God does not exist. But the God whom people forget – the God whom we all have to serve – exists, and is the prime cause of our existence and of all that we perceive.
There are two methods of human activity – and according to which one of these two kinds of activity people mainly follow, are there two kinds of people: One use their reason to learn what is good and what is bad and they act according to this knowledge; the other act as they want to and then they use their reason to prove that that which they did was good and that which they didn’t do was bad.
There can be no peace for us, only misery, and the greatest happiness.
There can be only one permanent revolution – a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.
There can be only one permanent revolution- a moral one: the regeneration of the inner man.
There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness, and truth are absent.
There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth.
There is no significant idea which cannot be explained to an intelligent twelve year old boy in fifteen minutes.
There is nothing more harmful to you than improving only your material, animal side of life. There is nothing more beneficial, both for you and for others, than activity directed to the improvement of your soul.
There is one evident, indubitable manifestation of the Divinity, and that is the laws of right which are made known to the world through Revelation.
There is one thing, and only one thing, in which it is granted to you to be free in life, all else being beyond your power: that is to recognize and profess the truth.
There is only one time that is important — NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time hat we have any power.
There is only one way to put an end to evil, and that is to do good for evil.
There is something in the human spirit that will survive and prevail, there is a tiny and brilliant light burning in the heart of man that will not go out no matter how dark the world becomes.
There is trouble with a wife, but it’s even worse with a woman who is not a wife.
There it is!’ he thought with rapture. ‘When I was already in despair, and when it seemed there would be no end- there it is! She loves me. She’s confessed it.
There lay between them, separating them, that same terrible line of the unknown and of fear, like the line separating the living from the dead.
There was no solution, save that universal solution which life gives to all questions, even the most complex and insolvable: One must live in the needs of the day–that is, forget oneself.
There will be today, there will be tomorrow, there will be always, and there was yesterday, and there was the day before.
There will be today, there will be tomorrow, there will be always, and there was yesterday, and there was the day before…
There’s a way out of every situation.
These joys were so trifling as to be as imperceptible as grains of gold among the sand, and in moments of depression she saw nothing but the sand; yet there were brighter moments when she felt nothing but joy, saw nothing but the gold.
These loaves, pigeons, and two little boys seemed unearthly. It all happened at the same time: a little boy ran over to a pigeon, glancing over at Levin with a smile; the pigeon flapped its wings and fluttered, gleaming in the sunshine among the snowdust quivering in the air, while the smell of freshly baked bread was wafted out of a little window as the loaves were put out. All this together was so extraordinarily wonderful that Levin burst out laughing and crying for joy.
These principles laid down as in variable rules: that one must pay a card sharper, but need not pay a tailor; that one must never tell a lie to a man, but one may to a woman; that one must never cheat any one, but one may a husband; that one must never pardon an insult, but one may give one and so on. These principles were possibly not reasonable and not good, but they were of unfailing certainty, and so long as he adhered to them, Vronsky felt that his heart was at peace and he could hold his head up.
They ought to find out how to vaccinate for love, like smallpox.
They say: sufferings are misfortunes,” said Pierre. ‘But if at once this minute, I was asked, would I remain what I was before I was taken prisoner, or go through it all again, I should say, for God’s sake let me rather be a prisoner and erat horseflesh again. We imagine that as soon as we are torn out of our habitual path all is over, but it is only the beginning of something new and good. As long as there is life, there is happiness. There is a great deal, a great deal before us.
They’ve got no idea what happiness is, they don’t know that without this love there is no happiness or unhappiness for us–there is no life.
This history of culture will explain to us the motives, the conditions of life, and the thought of the writer or reformer.
This is where the strength of the physician lies, be he a quack, a homeopath or an allopath. He supplies the perennial demand for comfort, the craving for sympathy that every human sufferer feels.
Those whom God wishes to destroy he drives mad.
Though it is possible to utter words only with the intention to fulfill the will of God, it is very difficult not to think about the impression which they will produce on men and not to form them accordingly. But deeds you can do quite unknown to men, only for God. And such deeds are the greatest joy that a man can experience.
Though the doctors treated him, let his blood, and gave him medications to drink, he nevertheless recovered.
Three things are needed to educate the peasantry: schools, schools, and schools.
Through the influence of real art, aided by science, guided by religion… peaceful co-operation of man is now obtained by external means – by law courts, police, charitable institutions, factory inspections… It should be obtained by man’s free and joyous activity.
To abolish war it is necessary to abolish patriotism, and to abolish patriotism it is necessary first to understand that it is an evil. Tell people that patriotism is bad and most will reply, ‘Yes, bad patriotism is bad, but mine is good patriotism.’
To destroy governmental violence, only one thing is needed: It is that people should understand that the feeling of patriotism, which alone supports that instrument of violence, is a rude, harmful, disgraceful, and bad feeling, and, above all, is immoral.
To educate the peasantry, three things are needed: schools, schools and schools.
To evoke in oneself a feeling one has once experienced, and having evoked it in oneself, then by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds, or forms expressed through words, so to convey this so that others may experience the same feeling – this is the activity of art.
To get rid of an enemy one must love him.
To know God and to live is the same thing. God is Life.
To love life is to love God. Harder and more blessed than all else is to love this life in one’s sufferings, in undeserved sufferings.
To love one’s neighbors, to love one’s enemies, to love everything – to love God in all His manifestations – human love serves to love those dear to us but to love one’s enemies we need divine love.
To regard Christ as God, and to pray to him, are to my mind the greatest possible sacrilege.
To say that a work of art is good, but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good but that most people can’t eat it.
To say that you can love one person all your life is just like saying that one candle will continue burning as long as you live.
To sin is a human business, to justify sins is a devilish business.
To speak of it would be giving importance to something that has none.
To speak of it would be giving importance to that which has none.
To tell the truth is very difficult, and young people are rarely capable of it.
To us, it is incomprehensible that millions of Christian men killed and tortured each other because Napoleon was ambitious or Alexander was firm, or because England’s policy was astute or the Duke of Oldenburg was wronged. We cannot grasp what connection such circumstances have the with the actual fact of slaughter and violence: why because the Duke was wronged, thousands of men from the other side of Europe killed and ruined the people of Smolensk and Moscow and were killed by them.
Today, nobody sees, or wishes to see, that in our time the enslavement of the majority of men is based on money taxes, levied on land and otherwise, which are collected by government from the subjects.
Too much polishing and you spoil things. There’s a limit to the expressibility of ideas. You have a new thought, an interesting one. Then, as you try to perfect it, it ceases to be new and interesting, and loses the freshness with which it first occurred to you. You’re spoiling it.
True art and true science possess two unmistakable marks: the first, an inward mark, which is this, that the servitor of art and science will fulfil his vocation, not for profit but with self- sacrifice; and the second, an external sign, his productions will be intelligible to all the people whose welfare he has in view.
True life is lived when tiny changes occur.
True science investigates and brings to human perception such truths and such knowledge as the people of a given time and society consider most important. Art transmits these truths from the region of perception to the region of emotion.
Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.
Under the influence of music, it seems that I feel what I do not really feel, that I understand what I do not understand, that I do what I cannot do.
Understand then all of you, especially the young, that to want to impose an imaginary state of government on others by violence is not only a vulgar superstition, but even a criminal work. Understand that this work, far from assuring the well-being of humanity is only a lie, a more or less unconscious hypocrisy, camouflaging the lowest passions we posses.
Until you do what you believe in, you don’t know whether you believe it or not.
Upon meeting, you’re judged by your clothes, upon parting you’re judged by your wits.
Vegetarianism is the taproot of humanitarianism.
Vegetarianism serves as the criterion by which we know that the pursuit of moral perfection on the part of humanity is genuine and sincere.
Very often, all the activity of the human mind is directed not in revealing the truth, but in hiding the truth
Violence produces only something resembling justice, but it distances people from the possibility of living justly, without violence.
War is like a game of chess … but with this little difference, that in chess you may think over each move as long as you please and are not limited for time, and with this difference too, that a knight is always stronger than a pawn, and two pawns are always stronger than one, while in war a battalion is sometimes stronger than a division and sometimes weaker than a company. The relative strength of bodies of troops can never be known to anyone…. Success never depends, and never will depend, on position, or equipment, or even on numbers, and least of all on position.
War is not a polite recreation but the vilest thing in life, and we ought to understand that and not play at war.
War is not courtesy but the most horrible thing in life; and we ought to understand that, and not play at war. We ought to accept this terrible necessity sternly and seriously. It all lies in that: get rid of falsehood and let war be war and not a game.
War is so unjust and ugly that all who wage it must try to stifle the voice of conscience within themselves.
War on the other hand is such a terrible thing, that no man, especially a Christian man, has the right to assume the responsibility of starting it.
We acknowledge God only when we are conscious of His manifestation in us.
We are all created to be miserable, and that we all know it, and all invent means of deceiving each other. And when one sees the truth, what is one to do?
We are asleep until we fall in Love!
We call beauty that which supplies us with a particular pleasure.
We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.
We have become so accustomed to the religious lie that surrounds us that we do not notice the atrocity, stupidity and cruelty with which the teaching of the Christian church is permeated.
We imagine that when we are thrown out of our usual ruts all is lost, but it is only then that what is new and good begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is much, much before us.
We live in this world like a child who enters a room where a clever person is speaking. The child did not hear the beginning of the speech, and he leaves before the end; and there are certain things which he hears but does not understand
We lost because we told ourselves we lost.
We love people not so much for the good they’ve done us, as for the good we’ve done them.
We must not only cease our present desire for the growth of the state, but we must desire its decrease, its weakening.
We shall all of us die, so why grudge a little trouble?
We shall all of us die, so why should I grudge a little trouble?
We should show life neither as it is or as it ought to be, but only as we see it in our dreams.
We spend our lives trying to unlock the mystery of the universe, but there was a Turkish prisoner, Bahá’u’lláh, in Akka, Palestine who had the Key.
We walked to meet each other up at the time of our love and then we have been irresistibly drifting in different directions, and there’s no altering that.
We’re asleep until we love.
Wealth brings a heavy purse; poverty, a light spirit.
Wealth is a great sin in the eyes of God. Poverty is a great sin in the eyes of man.
Well, my theory is this: war is such a terrible, such an atrocious, thing that no man, at least no Christian man, has the right to assume the responsibility of beginning it; but it belongs to government alone, when it becomes inevitable.
Well, pray if you like, only you’d do better to use your judgment.
Well, so it isn’t time yet to die, is it?
What a strange illusion it is to suppose that beauty is goodness! A beautiful woman utters absurdities: we listen, and we hear not the absurdities but wise thoughts
What am I coming for?” he repeated, looking straight into her eyes. “You know that I have come to be where you are,” he said; “I can’t help it.
What an immense mass of evil must result…from allowing men to assume the right of anticipating what may happen.
What are wanted …are not Constitutions and Revolutions, nor all sorts of Conferences and Congresses, nor the many ingenious devices for submarine navigation and aerial navigation, nor powerful explosives, nor all sorts of conveniences to add to the enjoyment of the rich, ruling classes… but one thing only is needful: the knowledge of the simple and clear truth …that for our life one law is valid – the law of love, which brings the highest happiness to every individual as well as to all mankind.
What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are but how you deal with incompatibility.
What doubt can you have of the Creator when you behold His creation?… Who has decked the heavenly firmament with its stars? Who has clothed the earth in its beauty? How could it be without the creator?
What I think about vivisection is that if people admit that they have the right to take or endanger the life of living beings for the benefit of many, there will be no limit to their cruelty.
What is bad? What is good? What should one love, what hate? Why live, and what am I? What is lie, what is death? What power rules over everything?” he asked himself. And there was no answer to any of these questions except one, which was not logical and was not at all an answer to these questions. This answer was: “You will die–and everything will end. You will die and learn everything–or stop asking.
What is important is not the length of life, but the depth of life. What is important is not to make life longer, but to take your soul out of time, as every sublime act does
What is important is not the quantity of your knowledge but its quality. You can know many things without knowing the most important.
What is now happening to the people of the East as of the West is like what happens to every individual when he passes from childhood to adolescence and from youth to manhood. He loses what had hitherto guided his life and lives without direction, not having found a new standard suitable to his age, and so he invents all sorts of occupations, cares, distractions, and stupefactions to divert his attention from the misery and senselessness of his life. Such a condition may last a long time.
What is reason given me for, if I am not to use it to avoid bringing unhappy beings into the world!
What is the cause of historical events? Power. What is power? Power is the sum total of wills transferred to one person. On what condition are the willso fo the masses transferred to one person? On condition that the person express the will of the whole people. That is, power is power. That is, power is a word the meaning of which we do not understand.
What time can be more beautiful when the one in which the finest virtues, innocent cheerfulness and indefinable longing for love constitute the sole motives of your life.
Whatever our fate is or may be, we have made it and do not complain of it.” – Vronksy (Anna Karenina)
Whatever question arose, a swarm of these drones, without having finished their buzzing on a previous theme, flew over to the new one and by their hum drowned and obscured the voices of those who were disputing honestly.
When a man sees a dying animal, horror comes over him: that which he himself is, his essence, is obviously being annihilated before his eyes–is ceasing to be. But when the dying one is a person, and a beloved person, then, besides a sense of horror at the annihilation of life, there is a feeling of severance and a spiritual wound which, like a physical wound, sometimes kills and sometimes heals, but always hurts and fears any external, irritating touch.
When an individual passes from one period of life to another a time comes when he cannot go on in senseless activity and excitement as before, but has to understand that although he has out-grown what before used to direct him, this does not mean that he must live without any reasonable guidance, but rather that he must formulate for himself an understanding of life corresponding to his age, and having elucidated it must be guided by it. And in the same way a similar time must come in the growth and development of humanity.
When I have one foot in the grave, I will tell the whole truth about women. I shall tell it, jump into my coffin, pull the lid over me and say, “Do what you like now.”
When ignorance does not know something, it says that what it does not know is stupid.
When it is impossible to stretch the very elastic threads of historical ratiocination any farther, when actions are clearly contrary to all that humanity calls right or even just, the historians produce a saving conception of ‘greatness.’ ‘Greatness,’ it seems, excludes the standards of right and wrong. For the ‘great’ man nothing is wrong, there is no atrocity for which a ‘great’ man can be blamed.
When joy disappears, look for your mistake
When Levin thought what he was and what he was living for, he could find no answer to the questions and was reduced to despair; but when he left off questioning himself about it, it seemed as though he knew both what he was and what he was living for, acting and living resolutely and without hesitation.
When one’s head is gone one doesn’t weep for one’s hair!
When one’s head is gone one doesn’t weep over one’s hair!
When politics and home life have become one and the same thing, […] then,[…] it is evident that we will be in a state of total liberty or anarchy.
When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain, do not submit to the initial desire to flee from the suffering one, but on the contrary, come closer, as close as you can to her who suffers, and try to help her.
When we do not love, we sleep, we are children of the dust – but love, and you are a god, you are pure, as on the first day of creation.
When you feel the desire for power, you should stay in solitude for some time
When you love someone, you love the person as they are, and not as you’d like them to be.
When you say, ‘I can’t do that,’ you’re expressing yourself incorrectly. You should say, ‘I couldn’t do that before.’
When you understand that you will die to-morrow, if not to-day, and nothing will be left, then everything is so unimportant!… So one goes on living, amusing oneself with hunting, with work – anything so as not think of death
Whenever my life came to a halt, the questions would arise: Why? And what next?
Where did I get it from? Was it by reason that I attained to the knowledge that I must love my neighbour and not throttle him? They told me so when I was a child, and I gladly believed it, because they told me what was already in my soul. But who discovered it? Not reason! Reason has discovered the struggle for existence and the law that I must throttle all those who hinder the satisfaction of my desires. That is the deduction reason makes. But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.
Where is there any book of the law so clear to each man as that written in his heart?
Where there is a man who does not labor because another is compelled to work for him, there slavery is.
Where there is love, there is God also.
Which is worse? the wolf who cries before eating the lamb or the wolf who does not.
Why am I going?” he repeated, looking straight into her eyes. “You know that I am going in order to be where you are,” said he. “I cannot do otherwise.” “Not a word, not a movement of yours will I ever forget, nor can I.
Why does an apple fall when it is ripe? Is it brought down by the force of gravity? Is it because its stalk withers? Because it is dried by the sun, because it grows too heavy, or because the boy standing under the tree wants to eat it? None of these is the cause…. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own freewill is in the historical sense not free at all but is bound up with the whole course of history and preordained from all eternity.
Why does man have reason if he can only be influenced by violence?
Why nowadays there’s a new fashion every day.
Why should I live? Why should I do anything? Is there in life any purpose which the inevitable death that awaits me does not undo and destroy?
With friends, one is well; but at home, one is better.
With one hand I take thousands of rubles from the poor, and with the other I hand back a few kopecks.
Without Greek studies there is no education.
Without knowing what I am and why I am here, life is impossible.
Without the support from religion–remember, we talked about it–no father, using only his own resources, would be able to bring up a child.
Woman is generally so bad that the difference between a good and a bad woman scarcely exists.
Woman is more impressionable than man. Therefore in the Golden Age they were better than men. Now they are worse.
Woman, you see, is an object of such a kind that study it as much as you will, it is always quite new.
Women are the pivot round which the world turns.
Work is the inevitable condition of human life, the true source of human welfare.
Writing laws is easy, but governing is difficult.
Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.
Yes, there is something in me hateful, repulsive,” thought Ljewin, as he came away from the Schtscherbazkijs’, and walked in the direction of his brother’s lodgings. “And I don’t get on with other people. Pride, they say. No, I have no pride. If I had any pride, I should not have put myself in such a position”.
You can love a person dear to you with a human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love.
You can’t imagine what a pleasure this complete laziness is to me: not a thought in my brain- you might send a ball rolling through it!
You consider war to be inevitable? Very good. Let everyone who advocates war be enrolled in a special regiment of advance-guards, for the front of every storm, of every attack, to lead them all!
You say: I am not free. But I have raised and lowered my arm. Everyone understands that this illogical answer is an irrefutable proof of freedom.
You see, if you take pains and learn in order to get a reward, the work will seem hard; but when you work… if you love your work, you will find your reward in that.
You will die and it will all be over. You will die and find out everything or cease asking.
You’re not going to be different … you’re going to be the same as you’ve always been; with doubts, everlasting dissatisfaction with yourself, vain efforts to amend, and falls, and everlasting expectation, of a happiness which you won’t get, and which isn’t possible for you.
You’ve said nothing, of course, and I ask nothing,” he was saying; “but you know that friendship’s not what I want: that there’s only one happiness in life for me, that word that you dislike so…yes, love!
The Most difficult thing but an essential one – is to love Life, to love it even while one suffers, because Life is all, Life is God, and to love Life means to love God.
Quotes From Wikiquote
- The hero of my tale, whom I love with all the power of my soul, whom I have tried to portray in all his beauty, who has been, is, and will be beautiful, is Truth.
- Sevastopol in May (1855), Ch. 16
- …никогда Христос … ни одним словом не утверждал личное воскресение и бессмертие личности за гробом…В чем моя вера?
- Translation: Never did Christ utter a single word attesting to a personal resurrection and a life beyond the grave.
- My Religion (1884), Ch. 8
- Error is the force that welds men together; truth is communicated to men only by deeds of truth.
- My Religion (1884), Ch. 12
- I know that my unity with all people cannot be destroyed by national boundaries and government orders.
- My Religion (1884), as translated in The Human Experience : Contemporary American and Soviet Fiction and Poetry (1989) by the Quaker US/USSR Committee
- Martin’s soul grew very very glad. He crossed himself put on his spectacles, and began reading the Gospel just where it had opened; and at the top of the page he read: I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in. And at the bottom of the page he read: Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren even these least, ye did it unto me (Matt. xxv). And Martin understood that his dream had come true; and that the Saviour had really come to him that day, and he had welcomed him.
- “Where Love Is, God Is” (1885), also translated as “Where Love is, There God is Also” – (full text online)
- A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.
- Writings on Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence (1886)
- I sit on a man’s back, choking him, and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back.
- Writings on Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence (1886)
- Six feet of land was all that he needed.
- How Much Land Does a Man Need? (1886)
- The happiness of men consists in life. And life is in labor.
- What Is To Be Done? (1886) Chap. XXXVIII, as translated in The Novels and Other Works of Lyof N. Tolstoï (1902) edited by Nathan Haskell Dole, p. 259
- The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people.
- What Is To Be Done? (1886) Chap. XL, as translated in The Novels and Other Works of Lyof N. Tolstoï (1902) edited by Nathan Haskell Dole, p. 281
- The more is given the less the people will work for themselves, and the less they work the more their poverty will increase.
- Help for the Starving, Pt. III (January 1892)
- Condemn me if you choose — I do that myself, — but condemn me, and not the path which I am following, and which I point out to those who ask me where, in my opinion, the path is.
- “Letter to N.N.,” quoted by Havelock Ellis in “The New Spirit” (1892) p. 226
- In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.
The government assures the people that they are in danger from the invasion of another nation, or from foes in their midst, and that the only way to escape this danger is by the slavish obedience of the people to their government. This fact is seen most prominently during revolutions and dictatorships, but it exists always and everywhere that the power of the government exists. Every government explains its existence, and justifies its deeds of violence, by the argument that if it did not exist the condition of things would be very much worse. After assuring the people of its danger the government subordinates it to control, and when in this condition compels it to attack some other nation. And thus the assurance of the government is corroborated in the eyes of the people, as to the danger of attack from other nations.
- Christianity and Patriotism (1895), as translated in The Novels and Other Works of Lyof N. Tolstoï, Vol. 20, p. 44
- Tell people that war is an evil, and they will laugh; for who does not know it? Tell them that patriotism is an evil, and most of them will agree, but with a reservation. “Yes,” they will say, “wrong patriotism is an evil; but there is another kind, the kind we hold.” But just what this good patriotism is, no one explains.
- Patriotism, or Peace? (1896), translated by Nathan Haskell Dole
- I have already several times expressed the thought that in our day the feeling of patriotism is an unnatural, irrational, and harmful feeling, and a cause of a great part of the ills from which mankind is suffering, and that, consequently, this feeling – should not be cultivated, as is now being done, but should, on the contrary, be suppressed and eradicated by all means available to rational men. Yet, strange to say – though it is undeniable that the universal armaments and destructive wars which are ruining the peoples result from that one feeling – all my arguments showing the backwardness, anachronism, and harmfulness of patriotism have been met, and are still met, either by silence, by intentional misinterpretation, or by a strange unvarying reply to the effect that only bad patriotism (Jingoism or Chauvinism) is evil, but that real good patriotism is a very elevated moral feeling, to condemn which is not only irrational but wicked.
What this real, good patriotism consists in, we are never told; or, if anything is said about it, instead of explanation we get declamatory, inflated phrases, or, finally, some other conception is substituted for patriotism – something which has nothing in common with the patriotism we all know, and from the results of which we all suffer so severely.
- Patriotism and Government (1900)
- It will be said, “Patriotism has welded mankind into states, and maintains the unity of states.” But men are now united in states; that work is done; why now maintain exclusive devotion to one’s own state, when this produces terrible evils for all states and nations? For this same patriotism which welded mankind into states is now destroying those same states. If there were but one patriotism say of the English only then it were possible to regard that as conciliatory, or beneficent. But when, as now, there is American patriotism, English, German, French, Russian, all opposed to one another, in this event, patriotism no longer unites, but disunites.
- Patriotism and Government
- Understand that all the evils from which you suffer, you yourselves cause by yielding to the suggestions by which yourselves cause by yielding to the suggestions by which emperors, kings, members of parliament, governors, officers, capitalists, priests, authors, artists, and all who need this fraud of patriotism in order to live upon your labour, deceive you!
- Patriotism and Government
- If people would but understand that they are not the sons of some fatherland or other, nor of Governments, but are sons of God, and can therefore neither be slaves nor enemies one to another – those insane, unnecessary, worn-out, pernicious organizations called Governments, and all the sufferings, violations, humiliations and crimes which they occasion, would cease.
- Patriotism and Government
- The workmen’s revolution, with the terrors of destruction and murder, not only threatens us, but we have already been living upon its verge during the last thirty years, and it is only by various cunning devices that we have been postponing the crisis… The hatred and contempt of the oppressed people are increasing, and the physical and moral strength of the richer classes are decreasing: the deceit which supports all this is wearing out, and the rich classes have nothing wherewith to comfort themselves.
- What is to be Done (1899) p. 262
- The Anarchists are right in everything; in the negation of the existing order, and in the assertion that, without authority, there could not be worse violence than that of authority under existing conditions. They are mistaken only in thinking that Anarchy can be instituted by a revolution. “To establish Anarchy.” “Anarchy will be instituted.” But it will be instituted only by there being more and more people who do not require protection from governmental power, and by there being more and more people who will be ashamed of applying this power.
- “On Anarchy”, in Pamphlets : Translated from the Russian (1900) as translated by Aylmer Maude, p. 22
- There can be only one permanent revolution — a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man.
How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.
- “Three Methods Of Reform” in Pamphlets : Translated from the Russian (1900) as translated by Aylmer Maude, p. 29
- Variant: Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
- As quoted in The Artist’s Way at Work : Riding the Dragon (1999) by Mark A. Bryan with Julia Cameron and Catherine A. Allen, p. 160
- Every one who has a heart and eyes sees that you, working men, are obliged to pass your lives in want and in hard labor, which is useless to you, while other men, who do not work, enjoy the fruits of your labor—that you are the slaves of these men, and that this ought not to exist.
- “To the Working People,” Complete Works, trans. Leo Wiener, Vol 24, p. 129 (1905)
- Not only does the action of Governments not deter men from crimes; on the contrary, it increases crime by always disturbing and lowering the moral standard of society. Nor can this be otherwise, since always and everywhere a Government, by its very nature, must put in the place of the highest, eternal, religious law (not written in books but in the hearts of men, and binding on every one) its own unjust, man-made laws, the object of which is neither justice nor the common good of all but various considerations of home and foreign expediency.
- The Meaning of the Russian Revolution (1906), a work about the 1905 Russian Revolution.
- One might think that it must be quite clear to people not deprived of reason, that violence breeds violence; that the only means of deliverance from violence lies in not taking part in it. This method, one would think, is quite obvious. It is evident that a great majority of men can be enslaved by a small minority only if the enslaved themselves take part in their own enslavement. If people are enslaved, it is only because they either fight violence with violence or participate in violence for their own personal profit. Those who neither struggle against violence nor take part in it can no more be enslaved than water can be cut. They can be robbed, prevented from moving about, wounded or killed, but they cannot be enslaved: that is, made to act against their own reasonable will.
- The Meaning of the Russian Revolution (1906)
- All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do.
- The Law of Love and the Law of Violence (1908)
- Understand then all of you, especially the young, that to want to impose an imaginary state of government on others by violence is not only a vulgar superstition, but even a criminal work. Understand that this work, far from assuring the well-being of humanity is only a lie, a more or less unconscious hypocrisy, camouflaging the lowest passions we posses.
- Passage written for for The Law of Love and the Law of Violence (1908), released in 1917, as quoted in Equality in Liberty and Justice (2001) by Antony Flew, p. 89
- God is the infinite ALL. Man is only a finite manifestation of Him.
Or better yet:
God is that infinite All of which man knows himself to be a finite part.
God alone exists truly. Man manifests Him in time, space and matter. The more God’s manifestation in man (life) unites with the manifestations (lives) of other beings, the more man exists. This union with the lives of other beings is accomplished through love.
God is not love, but the more there is of love, the more man manifests God, and the more he truly exists…
We acknowledge God only when we are conscious of His manifestation in us. All conclusions and guidelines based on this consciousness should fully satisfy both our desire to know God as such as well as our desire to live a life based on this recognition.
- Entry in Tolstoy’s Diary (1 November 1910)
- Men think it right to eat animals, because they are led to believe that God sanctions it. This is untrue. No matter in what books it may be written that it is not sinful to slay animals and to eat them, it is more clearly written in the heart of man than in any books that animals are to be pitied and should not be slain any more than human beings. We all know this if we do not choke the voice of our conscience.
- The Pathway of Life: Teaching Love and Wisdom (posthumous), Part I, International Book Publishing Company, New York, 1919, p. 68
- How good is it to remember one’s insignificance: that of a man among billions of men, of an animal amid billions of animals; and one’s abode, the earth, a little grain of sand in comparison with Sirius and others, and one’s life span in comparison with billions on billions of ages. There is only one significance, you are a worker. The assignment is inscribed in your reason and heart and expressed clearly and comprehensibly by the best among the beings similar to you. The reward for doing the assignment is immediately within you. But what the significance of the assignment is or of its completion, that you are not given to know, nor do you need to know it. It is good enough as it is. What else could you desire?
- Last Diaries (1979) edited by Leon Stilman, p. 77
- People usually think that progress consists in the increase of knowledge, in the improvement of life, but that isn’t so. Progress consists only in the greater clarification of answers to the basic questions of life. The truth is always accessible to a man. It can’t be otherwise, because a man’s soul is a divine spark, the truth itself. It’s only a matter of removing from this divine spark (the truth) everything that obscures it. Progress consists, not in the increase of truth, but in freeing it from its wrappings. The truth is obtained like gold, not by letting it grow bigger, but by washing off from it everything that isn’t gold.
- Tolstoy’s Diaries (1985) edited and translated by R. F. Christian. London: Athlone Press, Vol 2, p. 512
- The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens … Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere.
- As quoted in Tolstoy (1988) by A. N. Wilson, p. 146
- Science is meaningless because it gives no answer to our question, the only question important for us: ‘what shall we do and how shall we live
- Quoted by Max Weber in his lecture “Science as a Vocation”; in Lynda Walsh (2013), Scientists as Prophets: A Rhetorical Genealogy (2013), Oxford University Press, p. 90
Family Happiness (1859)
- I longed for activity, instead of an even flow of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to renounce self for the sake of my love. I was conscious of a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life. I had bouts of depression, which I tried to hide, as something to be ashamed of…My mind, even my senses were occupied, but there was another feeling – the feeling of youth and a craving for activity – which found no scope in our quiet life…So time went by, the snow piled higher and higher round the house, and there we remained together, always and for ever alone and just the same in each other’s eyes; while somewhere far away amidst glitter and noise multitudes of people thrilled, suffered and rejoiced, without one thought of us and our existence which was ebbing away. Worst of all, I felt that every day that passed riveted another link to the chain of habit which was binding our life into a fixed shape, that our emotions, ceasing to be spontaneous, were being subordinated to the even, passionless flow of time… ‘It’s all very well … ‘ I thought, ‘it’s all very well to do good and lead upright lives, as he says, but we’ll have plenty of time for that later, and there are other things for which the time is now or never.’ I wanted, not what I had got, but a life of challenge; I wanted feeling to guide us in life, and not life to guide us in feeling.
- There is only one enduring happiness in life—to live for others.
- Part 1, chapter 2
- I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness. And then, on the top of all that, you for a mate, and children perhaps — what more can the heart of man desire?
- Part 1, Chapter V
War and Peace (1865–1867; 1869)
- The only thing that we know is that we know nothing — and that is the highest flight of human wisdom.
- Ch. I
- “What’s this? Am I falling? My legs are giving way under me,” he thought, and fell on his back. He opened his eyes, hoping to see how the struggle of the French soldiers with the artilleryman was ending, and eager to know whether the red-haired gunner artilleryman was killed or not, whether the cannons had been taken or saved. But he saw nothing of all that. Above him there was nothing but the sky — the lofty sky, not clear, but still immeasurably lofty, with gray clouds creeping quietly over it.
- Bk. III, ch. 16
- Three days later the little princess was buried, and Prince Andrei went up the steps to where the coffin stood, to give her the farewell kiss. And there in the coffin was the same face, though with closed eyes. “Ah, what have you done to me?” it still seemed to say, and Prince Andrei felt that something gave way in his soul and that he was guilty of a sin he could neither remedy nor forget.
- Bk. IV, ch. 9
- Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.
- Book IV, ch. 11
- You will die — and it will all be over. You will die and find out everything — or cease asking.
- Bk. V, ch. 1
- In historical events great men — so-called — are but labels serving to give a name to the event, and like labels they have the least possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity.
- Bk. IX, ch. 1
- A king is history’s slave.
- Bk. IX, ch. 1
- A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally, both in mind and body, as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured, as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world, and therefore as an Englishman always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German’s self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth — science — which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.
- Bk. IX, ch. 10
- Everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait.
- Bk. X, ch. 16
- The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.
- Bk. X, ch. 16
- At the approach of danger there are always two voices that speak with equal force in the heart of man: one very reasonably tells the man to consider the nature of the danger and the means of avoiding it; the other even more reasonable says that it is too painful and harassing to think of the danger, since it is not a man’s power to provide for everything and escape from the general march of events; and that it is therefore better to turn aside from the painful subject till it has come, and to think of what is pleasant. In solitude a man generally yields to the first voice; in society to the second.
- Bk. X, ch. 17
- War is not a courtesy but the most horrible thing in life; and we ought to understand that, and not play at war. We ought to accept this terrible necessity sternly and seriously. It all lies in that: get rid of falsehood and let war be war and not a game. As it is now, war is the favourite pastime of the idle and frivolous.
- Bk. X, ch. 25
- He did not, and could not, understand the meaning of words apart from their context. Every word and action of his was the manifestation of an activity unknown to him, which was his life.
- About Platon Karataev in Bk. XII, ch. 13
- Love hinders death. Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.
- Thoughts of Prince Andrew Bk XII, Ch. 16
- While imprisoned in the shed Pierre had learned not with his intellect but with his whole being, by life itself, that man is created for happiness, that happiness is within him, in the satisfaction of simple human needs, and that all unhappiness arises not from privation but from superfluity. And now during these last three weeks of the march he had learned still another new, consolatory truth- that nothing in this world is terrible. He had learned that as there is no condition in which man can be happy and entirely free, so there is no condition in which he need be unhappy and lack freedom. He learned that suffering and freedom have their limits and that those limits are very near together….
- Bk. XIV, ch. 12
- To love life is to love God. Harder and more blessed than all else is to love this life in one’s sufferings, in undeserved sufferings.
- Bk. XIV, ch. 15
- For us, with the rule of right and wrong given us by Christ, there is nothing for which we have no standard. And there is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.
- Bk. XIV, ch. 18
- Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy.
- Bk. XV, ch. 1
- History is the life of nations and of humanity. To seize and put into words, to describe directly the life of humanity or even of a single nation, appears impossible.
- Epilogue II, ch. 1
- The peculiar and amusing nature of those answers stems from the fact that modern history is like a deaf person who is in the habit of answering questions that no one has put to them.
If the purpose of history be to give a description of the movement of humanity and of the peoples, the first question — in the absence of a reply to which all the rest will be incomprehensible — is: what is the power that moves peoples? To this, modern history laboriously replies either that Napoleon was a great genius, or that Louis XIV was very proud, or that certain writers wrote certain books.
All that may be so and mankind is ready to agree with it, but it is not what was asked.
- Vol 2, pt 5, p 236 — Selected Works, Moscow, 1869
Anna Karenina (1875–1877; 1878)
- Vengeance is mine; I will repay.
- Все счастливые семьи похожи друг на друга, каждая несчастливая семья несчастлива по-своему.
- All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
- Pt. I, ch. 1
- Variant translations: Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
- All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
- There was no answer, except the general answer life gives to all the most complex and insoluble questions. That answer is: one must live for the needs of the day, in other words, become oblivious. To become oblivious in dreams was impossible now, at least till night-time; it was impossible to return to that music sung by carafe-women; and so one had to become oblivious in the dreams of life.
- Pt. 1, ch. 2
- Stephan Arkadievich chose neither his attitudes nor his opinions, no, the attitudes and opinions came to him on their own, just as he chose neither the style of his hat nor of his coats but got what people were wearing.
- Part 1, Chapter 3
- He knew she was there by the joy and fear that overwhelmed his heart.
- Pt. I, ch. 9
- He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.
- Pt. I, ch. 9
- All his life Alexey Alexandrovitch had lived and worked in official spheres, having to do with the reflection of life. And every time he had stumbled against life itself he had shrunk away from it. Now he experienced a feeling akin to that of a man who, wile calmly crossing a precipice by a bridge, should suddenly discover that the bridge is broken, and that there is a chasm below. That chasm was life itself, the bridge that artificial life in which Alexey Alexandrovitch had lived.
- Part II, Chapter 8
- Vronsky, meanwhile, in spite of the complete realization of what he had so long desired, was not perfectly happy. He soon felt that the realization of his desires gave him no more than a grain of sand out of the mountain of happiness he had expected. It showed him the mistake men make in picturing to themselves happiness as the realization of their desires. For a time after joining his life to hers, and putting on civilian dress, he had felt all the delight of freedom in general, of which he had known nothing before, and of freedom in his love — and he was content, but not for long. He was soon aware that there was springing up in his heart a desire for desires — longing. Without conscious intention he began to clutch at every passing caprice, taking it for a desire and an object.
- There was something in her higher than what surrounded her. There was in her the glow of the real diamond among glass imitations. This glow shone out in her exquisite, truly enigmatic eyes. The weary, and at the same time passionate, glance of those eyes, encircled by dark rings, impressed one by its perfect sincerity. Everyone looking into those eyes fancied he knew her wholly, and knowing her, could not but love her.
- Anna’s thoughts about Liza, Part III, Chapter 13
- “If you want him defined, here he is: a prime, well-fed beast such as takes medals at the cattle shows, and nothing more,” he said, with a tone of vexation that interested her.
“No; how so?” she replied. “He’s seen a great deal, anyway; he’s cultured?”
“It’s an utterly different culture—their culture. He’s cultivated, one sees, simply to be able to despise culture, as they despise everything but animal pleasures.”
- Vronky and Anna discussing the visiting Prince, Part 4, Chapter 3
- One can insult an honest man or an honest woman, but to tell a thief that he is a thief is merely la constation d’un fait [The establishing of a fact.]
- Pt. IV, ch. 4
- The new commission for the inquiry into the condition of the native tribes in all its branches had been formed and dispatched to its destination with an unusual speed and energy inspired by Alexey Alexandrovitch. Within three months a report was presented. The condition of the native tribes was investigated in its political, administrative, economic, ethnographic, material, and religious aspects. To all these questions there were answers admirably stated, and answers admitting no shade of doubt, since they were not a product of human thought, always liable to error, but were all the product of official activity. The answers were all based on official data furnished by governors and heads of churches, and founded on the reports of district magistrates and ecclesiastical superintendents, founded in their turn on the reports of parochial overseers and parish priests; and so all of these answers were unhesitating and certain. All such questions as, for instance, of the cause of failure of crops, of the adherence of certain tribes to their ancient beliefs, etc.—questions which, but for the convenient intervention of the official machine, are not, and cannot be solved for ages—received full, unhesitating solution.
- Part IV, Chapter 6
- “Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.”
- (voice of Anna) C. Garnett, trans. (New York: 2003), Part 7, Chapter 24 p. 685
- Reason has discovered the struggle for existence and the law that I must throttle all those who hinder the satisfaction of my desires. That is the deduction reason makes. But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.
- Pt. VIII, ch. 13
- There is one evident, indubitable manifestation of the Divinity, and that is the laws of right which are made known to the world through Revelation.
- Pt. VIII, ch. 19
- My reason will still not understand why I pray, but I shall still pray, and my life, my whole life, independently of anything that may happen to me, is every moment of it no longer meaningless as it was before, but has an unquestionable meaning of goodness with which I have the power to invest it.’
- Pt. VIII, ch. 19
What Men Live By (1881)
- Go — take the mother’s soul, and learn three truths: Learn What dwells in man, What is not given to man, and What men live by. When thou hast learnt these things, thou shalt return to heaven.
- Ch. IV
- I thought: “I am perishing of cold and hunger, and here is a man thinking only of how to clothe himself and his wife, and how to get bread for themselves. He cannot help me. When the man saw me he frowned and became still more terrible, and passed me by on the other side. I despaired, but suddenly I heard him coming back. I looked up, and did not recognize the same man: before, I had seen death in his face; but now he was alive, and I recognized in him the presence of God.
- Then I remembered the first lesson God had set me: “Learn what dwells in man.” And I understood that in man dwells Love! I was glad that God had already begun to show me what He had promised, and I smiled for the first time.
- Ch. XI
- The man is making preparations for a year, and does not know that he will die before evening. And I remembered God’s second saying, “Learn what is not given to man.”
‘What dwells in man” I already knew. Now I learnt what is not given him. It is not given to man to know his own needs.
- Ch. XI
- When the woman showed her love for the children that were not her own, and wept over them, I saw in her the living God, and understood What men live by.
- Ch. XI
- And the angel’s body was bared, and he was clothed in light so that eye could not look on him; and his voice grew louder, as though it came not from him but from heaven above. And the angel said:
I have learnt that all men live not by care for themselves, but by love.
It was not given to the mother to know what her children needed for their life. Nor was it given to the rich man to know what he himself needed. Nor is it given to any man to know whether, when evening comes, he will need boots for his body or slippers for his corpse.
I remained alive when I was a man, not by care of myself, but because love was present in a passer-by, and because he and his wife pitied and loved me. The orphans remained alive, not because of their mother’s care, but because there was love in the heart of a woman a stranger to them, who pitied and loved them. And all men live not by the thought they spend on their own welfare, but because love exists in man.
I knew before that God gave life to men and desires that they should live; now I understood more than that.
I understood that God does not wish men to live apart, and therefore he does not reveal to them what each one needs for himself; but he wishes them to live united, and therefore reveals to each of them what is necessary for all.
I have now understood that though it seems to men that they live by care for themselves, in truth it is love alone by which they live. He who has love, is in God, and God is in him, for God is love.
- Ch. XII
- Quite often a man goes on for years imagining that the religious teaching that had been imparted to him since childhood is still intact, while all the time there is not a trace of it left in him.
- Pt. I, ch. 1
- I cannot recall those years without horror, loathing, and heart-rending pain. I killed people in war, challenged men to duels with the purpose of killing them, and lost at cards; I squandered the fruits of the peasants’ toil and then had them executed; I was a fornicator and a cheat. Lying, stealing, promiscuity of every kind, drunkenness, violence, murder — there was not a crime I did not commit… Thus I lived for ten years.
- Pt. I, ch. 2
- Several times I asked myself, “Can it be that I have overlooked something, that there is something which I have failed to understand? Is it not possible that this state of despair is common to everyone?” And I searched for an answer to my questions in every area of knowledge acquired by man. For a long time I carried on my painstaking search; I did not search casually, out of mere curiosity, but painfully, persistently, day and night, like a dying man seeking salvation. I found nothing.
- Pt. I, ch. 5
- The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless.
- Ch. 5, translated by David Patterson, 1983
- For man to be able to live he must either not see the infinite, or have such an explanation of the meaning of life as will connect the finite with the infinite.
- Ch. 9
The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886)
- Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.
- Ch. II
- Ivan Ilych saw that he was dying, and he was in continual despair. In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he not accustomed to the thought, he simply did not and could not grasp it. The syllogism he had learnt from Kiesewetter’s Logic: “Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal,” had always seemed to him correct as applied to Caius, but certainly not as applied to himself. That Caius — man in the abstract — was mortal, was perfectly correct, but he was not Caius, not an abstract man, but a creature quite, quite separate from all others.
- Ch. VI
- It occurred to him that what had appeared perfectly impossible before, namely that he had not spent his life as he should have done, might after all be true. It occurred to him that his scarcely perceptible attempts to struggle against what was considered good by the most highly placed people, those scarcely noticeable impulses which he had immediately suppressed, might have been the real thing, and all the rest false. And his professional duties and the whole arrangement of his life and of his family, and all his social and official interests, might all have been false. He tried to defend all those things to himself and suddenly felt the weakness of what he was defending.
- Ch. XI
What then must we do? (1886)
- as translated by Aylmer Maude.
- The unhappiness of our life; patch up our false way of life as we will, propping it up by the aid of the sciences and arts – that life becomes feebler, sicklier, and more tormenting every year; every year the number of suicides and the avoidance of motherhood increases; every year the people of that class become feebler; every year we feel the increasing gloom of our lives. Evidently salvation is not to be found by increasing the comforts and pleasures of life, medical treatments, artificial teeth and hair, breathing exercises, massage, and so forth;…It is impossible to remedy this by any amusements, comforts, or powders – it can only be remedied by a change of life.
- The conscience of a man of our circle, if he retains but a scrap of it, cannot rest, and poisons all the comforts and enjoyments of life supplied to us by the labour of our brothers, who suffer and perish at that labour. And not only does every conscientious man feel this himself (he would be glad to forget it, but cannot do so in our age) but all the best part of science and art – that part which has not forgotten the purpose of its vocation – continually reminds us of our cruelty and of our unjustifiable position. The old firm justifications are all destroyed; the new ephemeral justifications of the progress of science for science’s sake and art for art’s sake do not stand the light of simple common sense. Men’s consciences cannot be set at rest by new excuses, but only by a change of life which will make any justification of oneself unnecessary as there will be nothing needing justification.
- When I started life Hegelianism was the basis of everything: it was in the air, found expression in magazine and newspaper articles, in novels and essays, in art, in histories, in sermons, and in conversation. A man unacquainted with Hegel had no right to speak: he who wished to know the truth studied Hegel. Everything rested on him; and suddenly forty years have gone by and there is nothing left of him, he is not even mentioned — as though he had never existed. And what is most remarkable is that, like pseudo-Christianity, Hegelianism fell not because anyone refuted it, but because it suddenly became evident that neither the one nor the other was needed by our learned, educated world.
- Chapter XXIX
- Is not the reason of the confidence of the positive, critical, experimental scientists, and of the reverent attitude of the crowd towards their doctrines, still the same? At first it seems strange how the theory of evolution (which, like the redemption in theology, serves the majority as a popular expression of the whole new creed) can justify people in their injustice, and it seems as if the scientific theory dealt only with facts and did nothing but observe facts. But that only seems so. It seemed just the same in the case of theological doctrine: theology, it seemed, was only occupied with dogmas and had no relation to people’s lives, and it seemed the same with regard to philosophy, which appeared to be occupied solely with transcendental reasonings. But that only seemed so. It was just the same with the Hegelian doctrine on a large scale and with the particular case of the Malthusian teaching.
- The positivist philosophy of Comte and the I doctrine deduced from it that humanity is an organism, and Darwin’s doctrine of a law of the struggle for existence that is supposed to govern life, with the differentiation of various breeds of people which follows from it, and the anthropology, biology, and sociology of which people are now so fond-all have the same aim. These have all become favourite sciences because they serve to justify the way in which people free themselves from the human obligation to labour, while consuming the fruits of other people’s labour.
- This new fraud is just like the old ones: its essence lies in substituting something external for the use of our own reason and conscience and that of our predecessors: in the Church teaching this external thing was revelation, in the scientific teaching it is observation. The trick played by this science is to destroy man’s faith in reason and conscience by directing attention to the grossest deviations from the use of human reason and conscience, and having clothed the deception in a scientific theory, to assure them that by acquiring knowledge of external phenomena they will get to know indubitable facts which will reveal to them the law of man’s life. And the mental demoralization consists in this, that coming to believe that things which should be decided by conscience and reason are decided by observation, these people lose their consciousness of good and evil and become incapable of understanding the expression and definitions of good and evil that have been formed by the whole preceding life of humanity. All this, in their jargon, is conditional and subjective. It must all be abandoned – they say – the truth cannot be understood by one’s reason, for one may err, but there is another path which is infallible and almost mechanical: one must study facts. And facts must be studied on the basis of the scientists’ science, that is, on the basis of two unfounded propositions: positivism and evolution which are put forward as indubitable truths. And the reigning science, with not less misleading solemnity than the Church, announces that the solution of all questions of life is only possible by the study of the facts of nature, and especially of organisms. A frivolous crowd of youths mastered by the novelty of this authority, which is as yet not merely not destroyed but not even touched by criticism, throws itself into the study of these facts of natural science as the sole path which, according to the assertions of the prevailing doctrine, can lead to the elucidation of the questions of life. But the further these disciples advance in this study the further and further are they removed not only from the possibility but even from the very thought of solving life’s problems, and the more they become accustomed not so much to observe as to take on trust what they are told of the observations of others (to believe in cells, in protoplasm, in the fourth state of matter,1 &c.), the more and more does the form hide the contents from them; the more and more do they lose consciousness of good and evil and capacity to understand the expressions and definitions of good and evil worked out by the whole preceding life of humanity; the more and more do they adopt the specialized scientific jargon of conventional expressions which have no general human significance; the farther and farther do they wander among the debris of quite unilluminated observations; the more and more do they lose capacity not only to think independently but even to under-stand another man’s fresh human thought lying outside their Talmud; and, what is most important, they pass their best years in growing unaccustomed to life, that is, to labour, and grow accustomed to consider their condition justified, while they become physically good-for-nothing parasites. And just like the theologians and the Talmudists they completely castrate their brains and become eunuchs of thought. And just like them, to the degree to which they become stupefied, they acquire a self-confidence which deprives them for ever of the possibility of returning to a simple clear and human way of thinking.
- Science has adapted itself entirely to the wealthy classes and accordingly has set itself to heal those who can afford everything, and it prescribes the same methods for those who have nothing to spare.
- Science may fall back on its stupid excuse that science works for science, and that when it has been developed by the scientists it will become accessible to the people also; but art, if it be art, should be accessible to all, and particularly to those for whom it is produced. And the position of our art strikingly arraigns the producers of art for not wishing, not knowing how, and being unable, to serve the people.
- Service of the people by sciences and arts will only exist when men live with the people and as the people live, and without presenting any claims will offer their scientific and artistic services, which the people will be free to accept or decline as they please.
- To say that the activity of science and art helps humanity’s progress, if by that activity we mean the activity which now calls itself by those names, is as though one said that the clumsy, obstructive splashing of oars in a boat moving down stream assists the boat’s progress. It only hinders it… The proof of this is seen in the confession made by men of science that the achievements of the arts and sciences are inaccessible to the labouring masses on account of the unequal distribution of wealth.
- ‘BUT science and art! You are denying science and art: that is you are denying that by which humanity lives.’ People constantly make this rejoinder to me, and they employ: this method in order to reject my arguments without examination. ‘He rejects science and art, he wishes man to revert to a state of savagery – why listen to him or discuss with him?’ But this is unjust. Not only do I not repudiate science, that is, the reasonable activity of humanity, and art – the expression of that reasonable activity – but it is just on behalf of that reasonable activity and its expression that I speak, only that It may be possible for mankind to escape from the savage state into which it is rapidly lapsing thanks to the false teaching of our time. It is only on that account that I speak as I do.
- A real mother, who knows the will of God by experience, will prepare her children also to fulfil it. Such a mother will suffer if she sees her child overfed, effeminate, and dressed-up, for she knows that these things will make it difficult for it to fulfil the will of God which she recognizes.
- If there may be doubts for men and for a childless woman as to the way to, fulfil the will of God, for a mother that path is firmly and clearly defined, and if she fulfils it humbly with a simple heart she stands on the highest point of perfection a human being can attain, and becomes for all a model of that complete performance of God’s will which all desire. Only a mother can before her death tranquilly say to Him who sent her into this world, and Whom she has served by bearing and bringing up children whom she has loved more than herself – only she having served Him in the way appointed to her can say with tranquillity, Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace. And that is the highest perfection to which, as to the highest good, men aspire.
The Kreutzer Sonata (1889)
- If one has no vanity in this life of ours, there is no sufficient reason for living.
- Ch. 23. This is not, as it is often quoted, a stand-alone Tolstoy epigram, but part of the narration by the novella’s jealousy-ridden protagonist Pozdnyshev.
The Slavery of Our Times (1890)
- The condition of life to which people of the well-to-do classes are accustomed is that of an abundant production of various articles necessary for their comfort and pleasure, and these things are obtained only thanks to the existence of factories and works organized as at present. And, therefore, discussing the improvement of the workers’ position, the men of science belonging to the well- to-do classes always have in view only such improvements as will not do away with the system of factory-production and those conveniences of which they avail themselves.
- Chapter V: Why Learned Economists Assert What Is False
- If the slave-owner of our times has no slave, John, whom he can send to the cesspool, he has five shillings, of which hundreds of such Johns are in such need that the slave-owner of our times may choose any one out of hundreds of Johns and be a benefactor to him by giving him the preference, and allowing him, rather than another, to climb down into the cesspool.
- Chapter 8: Slavery Exists Among Us
- The slaves of our times are not all those factory and workshop hands only who must sell themselves completely into the power of the factory and foundry-owners in order to exist, but nearly all the agricultural laborers are slaves, working, as they do, unceasingly to grow another’s corn on another’s field, and gathering it into another’s barn; or tilling their own fields only in order to pay to bankers the interest on debts they cannot get rid of. And slaves also are all the innumerable footmen, cooks, porters, housemaids, coachmen, bathmen, waiters, etc., who all their life long perform duties most unnatural to a human being, and which they themselves dislike.
- Chapter 8: Slavery Exists Among Us
- Slavery exists in full vigor, but we do not perceive it, just as in Europe at the end of the Eighteenth Century the slavery of serfdom was not perceived.People of that day thought that the position of men obliged to till the land for their lords, and to obey them, was a natural, inevitable, economic condition of life, and they did not call it slavery.It is the same among us: people of our day consider the position of the laborer to be a natural, inevitable economic condition, and they do not call it slavery. And as, at the end of the Eighteenth Century, the people of Europe began little by little to understand that what formerly seemed a natural and inevitable form of economic life-namely, the position of peasants who were completely in the power of their lords-was wrong, unjust and immoral, and demanded alteration, so now people today are beginning to understand that the position of hired workmen, and of the working classes in general, which formerly seemed quite right and quite normal, is not what it should be, and demands alteration.
- Chapter 8: Slavery Exists Among Us
The First Step (1892)
- To be good and lead a good life means to give to others more than one takes from them.
- Ch. VII
- There is a scale of virtues, and it is necessary, if one would mount the higher steps, to begin with the lowest; and the first virtue a man must acquire if he wishes to acquire the others, is that which the ancients called ἐγκράτεια or σωφροσύνη — i.e., self-control or moderation.
- Ch. VIII
- I had wished to visit a slaughter-house, in order to see with my own eyes the reality of the question raised when vegetarianism is discussed. But at first I felt ashamed to do so, as one is always ashamed of going to look at suffering which one knows is about to take place, but which one cannot avert; and so I kept putting off my visit. But a little while ago I met on the road a butcher … He is not yet an experienced butcher, and his duty is to stab with a knife. I asked him whether he did not feel sorry for the animals that he killed. He gave me the usual answer: ‘Why should I feel sorry? It is necessary.’ But when I told him that eating flesh is not necessary, but is only a luxury, he agreed; and then he admitted that he was sorry for the animals.
- Ch. IX
- Once … I was offered a lift by some carters … It was the Thursday before Easter. I was seated in the first cart, with a strong, red, coarse carman, who evidently drank. On entering a village we saw a well-fed, naked, pink pig being dragged out of the first yard to be slaughtered. It squealed in a dreadful voice, resembling the shriek of a man. Just as we were passing they began to kill it. A man gashed its throat with a knife. The pig squealed still more loudly and piercingly, broke away from the men, and ran off covered with blood. Being near-sighted I did not see all the details. I saw only the human-looking pink body of the pig and heard its desperate squeal; but the carter saw all the details and watched closely. They caught the pig, knocked it down, and finished cutting: its throat. When its squeals ceased the carter sighed heavily. ‘Do men really not have to answer for such things?’ he said.
- Ch. IX
- And see, a kind, refined lady will devour the carcasses of these animals with full assurance that she is doing right, at the same time asserting two contradictory propositions: First, that she is, as her doctor assures her, so delicate that she cannot be sustained by vegetable food alone, and that for her feeble organism flesh is indispensable; and, secondly, that she is so sensitive that she is unable, not only herself to inflict suffering on animals, but even to bear the sight of suffering. Whereas the poor lady is weak precisely because she has been taught to live upon food unnatural to man; and she cannot avoid causing suffering to animals — for she eats them.
- Ch. IX
- We are not ostriches, and cannot believe that if we refuse to look at what we do not wish to see, it will not exist. This is especially the case when what we do not wish to see is what we wish to eat. If it were really indispensable, or, if not indispensable, at least in some way useful! But it is quite unnecessary … And this is continually being confirmed by the fact that young, kind, undepraved people — especially women and girls — without knowing how it logically follows, feel that virtue is incompatible with beefsteaks, and, as soon as they wish to be good, give up eating flesh.
- Ch. X
- The precise reason why abstinence from animal food will be the first act … of a moral life is admirably explained in the book, The Ethics of Diet [by Howard Williams]; and not by one man only, but by all mankind in the persons of its best representatives during all the conscious life of humanity. … the moral progress of humanity — which is the foundation of every other kind of progress — is always slow; but … the sign of true, not casual, progress is its uninterruptedness and its continual acceleration. And the progress of vegetarianism is of this kind. That progress, is expressed both in the words of the writers cited in the above-mentioned book and in the actual life of mankind, which from many causes is involuntarily passing metre and more from carnivorous habits to vegetable food, and is also deliberately following the same path in a movement which shows evident strength, and which is growing larger and larger — viz., vegetarianism.
- Ch. X
The Kingdom of God is Within You (1894)
- In the year 1884 I wrote a book under the title “What I Believe,” in which I did in fact make a sincere statement of my beliefs. In affirming my belief in Christ’s teaching, I could not help explaining why I do not believe, and consider as mistaken, the Church’s doctrine… Among the many points in which this doctrine falls short of the doctrine of Christ I pointed out as the principal one the absence of any commandment of non-resistance to evil by force. The perversion of Christ’s teaching by the teaching of the Church is more clearly apparent in this than in any other point of difference.
- The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.
- Ch. III
- The only significance of life consists in helping to establish the kingdom of God; and this can be done only by means of the acknowledgment and profession of the truth by each one of us.
- Ch. 12
- Variant translation: The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity by contributing to the establishment of the kingdom of God, which can only be done by the recognition and profession of the truth by every man.
- The Quakers sent me books, from which I learnt how they had, years ago, established beyond doubt the duty for a Christian of fulfilling the command of non-resistance to evil by force, and had exposed the error of the Church’s teaching in allowing war and capital punishment.
- Further acquaintance with the labors of the Quakers and their works — with Fox, Penn, and especially the work of Dymond (published in 1827) — showed me not only that the impossibility of reconciling Christianity with force and war had been recognized long, long ago, but that this irreconcilability had been long ago proved so clearly and so indubitably that one could only wonder how this impossible reconciliation of Christian teaching with the use of force, which has been, and is still, preached in the churches, could have been maintained in spite of it.
- William Lloyd Garrison took part in a discussion on the means of suppressing war in the Society for the Establishment of Peace among Men, which existed in 1838 in America. He came to the conclusion that the establishment of universal peace can only be founded on the open profession of the doctrine of non-resistance to evil by violence (Matt. v. 39), in its full significance, as understood by the Quakers, with whom Garrison happened to be on friendly relations. Having come to this conclusion, Garrison thereupon composed and laid before the society a declaration, which was signed at the time — in 1838 — by many members.
- The error arises from the learned jurists deceiving themselves and others, by asserting that government is not what it really is, one set of men banded together to oppress another set of men, but, as shown by science, is the representation of the citizens in their collective capacity.
- Variant: Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us.
- Armies are necessary, before all things, for the defense of governments from their own oppressed and enslaved subjects.
- We cannot pretend that we do not see the armed policeman who marches up and down beneath our window to guarantee our security while we eat our luxurious dinner, or look at the new piece at the theater, or that we are unaware of the existence of the soldiers who will make their appearance with guns and cartridges directly our property is attacked.
- We know very well that we are only allowed to go on eating our dinner, to finish seeing the new play, or to enjoy to the end the ball, the Christmas fete, the promenade, the races or, the hunt, thanks to the policeman’s revolver or the soldier’s rifle, which will shoot down the famished outcast who has been robbed of his share, and who looks round the corner with covetous eyes at our pleasures, ready to interrupt them instantly, were not policeman and soldier there prepared to run up at our first call for help.
- And therefore just as a brigand caught in broad daylight in the act cannot persuade us that he did not lift his knife in order to rob his victim of his purse, and had no thought of killing him, we too, it would seem, cannot persuade ourselves or others that the soldiers and policemen around us are not to guard us, but only for defense against foreign foes, and to regulate traffic and fetes and reviews; we cannot persuade ourselves and others that we do not know that the men do not like dying of hunger, bereft of the right to gain their subsistence from the earth on which they live; that they do not like working underground, in the water, or in the stifling heat, for ten to fourteen hours a day, at night in factories to manufacture objects for our pleasure. One would imagine it impossible to deny what is so obvious. Yet it is denied. Chapter 12
- The revolutionaries say: “The government organization is bad in this and that respect; it must be destroyed and replaced by this and that.” But a Christian says: “I know nothing about the governmental organization, or in how far it is good or bad, and for the same reason I do not want to support it.”
- All state obligations are against the conscience of a Christian: the oath of allegiance, taxes, law proceedings and military service.
- The Churches as Churches have always been and cannot fail to be institutions not only alien to, but directly hostile towards, Christ’s teaching.
- The Churches as Churches—as institutions affirming their own infallibility—are anti-Christian institutions. Between the Churches as such and Christianity, not only is there nothing in common except the name, but they are two quite opposite and opposing principles. The one represents pride, violence, self-assertion, immobility and death: the other humility, penitence, meekness, progress, and life.
Patriotism and Christianity (1896)
- There is no single speech nor article in which it is not said that the purpose of all these orgies is the peace of Europe. At a dinner given by the representatives of French literature, all breathe of peace. M. Zola, who, a short time previously, had written that war was inevitable, and even serviceable; M. de Vogue, who more than once has stated the same in print, say, neither of them, a word as to war, but speak only of peace. The sessions of Parliament open with speeches upon the past festivities; the speakers mention that such festivities are an assurance of peace to Europe.
It is as if a man should come into a peaceful company, and commence energetically to assure everyone present that he has not the least intention to knock out anyone’s teeth, blacken their eyes, or break their arms, but has only the most peaceful ideas for passing the evening.
- Ch. 1
- No feats of heroism are needed to achieve the greatest and most important changes in the existence of humanity; neither the armament of millions of soldiers, nor the construction of new roads and machines, nor the arrangement of exhibitions, nor the organization of workmen’s unions, nor revolutions, nor barricades, nor explosions, nor the perfection of aerial navigation; but a change in public opinion.
And to accomplish this change no exertions of the mind are needed, nor the refutation of anything in existence, nor the invention of any extraordinary novelty; it is only needful that we should not succumb to the erroneous, already defunct, public opinion of the past, which governments have induced artificially; it is only needful that each individual should say what he really feels or thinks, or at least that he should not say what he does not think.
- Ch. 17
- One is ashamed to say how little is needed for all men to be delivered from those calamities which now oppress them; it is only needful not to lie.
- Ch. 17
- One free man will say with truth what he thinks and feels amongst thousands of men who by their acts and words attest exactly the opposite. It would seem that he who sincerely expressed his thought must remain alone, whereas it generally happens that every one else, or the majority at least, have been thinking and feeling the same things but without expressing them.
And that which yesterday was the novel opinion of one man, to-day becomes the general opinion of the majority.
And as soon as this opinion is established, immediately by imperceptible degrees, but beyond power of frustration, the conduct of mankind begins to alter.
Whereas at present, every man, even, if free, asks himself, “What can I do alone against all this ocean of evil and deceit which overwhelms us? Why should I express my opinion? Why indeed possess one? It is better not to reflect on these misty and involved questions. Perhaps these contradictions are an inevitable condition of our existence. And why should I struggle alone with all the evil in the world? Is it not better to go with the stream which carries me along ? If anything can be done, it must be done not alone but in company with others.”
And leaving the most powerful of weapons — thought and its expression — which move the world, each man employs the weapon of social activity, not noticing that every social activity is based on the very foundations against which he is bound to fight, and that upon entering the social activity which exists in our world every man is obliged, if only in part, to deviate from the truth and to make concessions which destroy the force of the powerful weapon which should assist him in the struggle. It is as if a man, who was given a blade so marvelously keen that it would sever anything, should use its edge for driving in nails.
We all complain of the senseless order of life, which is at variance with our being, and yet we refuse to use the unique and powerful weapon within our hands — the consciousness of truth and its expression; but on the contrary, under the pretext of struggling with evil, we destroy the weapon, and sacrifice it to the exigencies of an imaginary conflict’.
- Ch. 17
- One man does not assert the truth which he knows, because he feels himself bound to the people with whom he is engaged; another, because the truth might deprive him of the profitable position by which he maintains his family; a third, because he desires to attain reputation and authority, and then use them in the service of mankind; a fourth, because he does not wish to destroy old sacred traditions; a fifth, because he has no desire to offend people; a sixth, because the expression of the truth would arouse persecution, and disturb the excellent social activity to which he has devoted himself.
One serves as emperor, king, minister, government functionary, or soldier, and assures himself and others that the deviation from truth indispensable to his condition is redeemed by the good he does. Another, who fulfils the duties of a spiritual pastor, does not in the depths of his soul believe all he teaches, but permits the deviation from truth in view of the good he does. A third instructs men by means of literature, and notwithstanding the silence he must observe with regard to the whole truth, in order not to stir up the government and society against himself, has no doubt as to the good he does. A fourth struggles resolutely with the existing order as revolutionist or anarchist, and is quite assured that the aims he pursues are so beneficial that the neglect of the truth, or even of the falsehood, by silence, indispensable to the success of his activity, does not destroy the utility of his work.
In order that the conditions of a life contrary to the consciousness of humanity should change and be replaced by one which is in accord with it, the outworn public opinion must be superseded by a new and living one. And in order that the old outworn opinion should yield its place to the new living one, all who are conscious of the new requirements of existence should openly express them. And yet all those who are conscious of these new requirements, one in the name of one thing, and one in the name of another, not only pass them over in silence, but both by word and deed attest their exact opposites.
- Ch. 17
- Only the truth and its expression can establish that new public opinion which will reform the ancient obsolete and pernicious order of life; and yet we not only do not express the truth we know, but often even distinctly give expression to what we ourselves regard as false.
If only free men would not rely on that which has no power, and is always fettered — upon external aids; but would trust in that which is always powerful and free — the truth and its expression!
- Ch. 17
- Those attacks upon language and religion in Poland, the Baltic provinces, Alsace, Bohemia, upon the Jews in Russia, in every place that such acts of violence occur—in what name have they been, and are they, perpetrated? In none other than the name of that patriotism which you defend.
Ask our savage Russifiers of Poland and the Baltic provinces, ask the persecutors of the Jews, why they act thus. They will tell you it is in defence of their native religion and language; they will tell you that if they do not act thus, their religion and language will suffer—the Russians will be Polonised, Teutonised, Judaised.
- A Reply to Criticisms
What is Art? (1897)
- Art is a human activity having for its purpose the transmission to others of the highest and best feelings to which men have risen.
- Ch. 8
- The assertion that art may be good art and at the same time incomprehensible to a great number of people is extremely unjust, and its consequences are ruinous to art itself…it is the same as saying some kind of food is good but most people can’t eat it.
- People understand the meaning of eating lies in the nourishment of the body only when they cease to consider that the object of that activity is pleasure. …People understand the meaning of art only when they cease to consider that the aim of that activity is beauty, i.e., pleasure.
- In spite the mountains of books written about art, no precise definition of art has been constructed. And the reason for this is that the conception of art has been based on the conception of beauty.
- In order to correctly define art, it is necessary, first of all, to cease to consider it as a means to pleasure and consider it as one of the conditions of human life. …Reflecting on it in this way, we cannot fail to observe that art is one of the means of affective communication between people.
- By words one transmits thoughts to another, by means of art, one transmits feelings.
- To evoke in oneself a feeling one has once experienced, and having evoked it in oneself, then by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds, or forms expressed through words, so to convey this so that others may experience the same feeling — this is the activity of art.
- Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one consciously, by means of certain external symbols, conveys to others the feelings one has experienced, whereby people so infected by these feelings, also experience them.
- Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the manifestation of some mysterious Idea of beauty or God; it is not, as the aesthetical physiologists say, [play or] a game in which one releases surplus energy, …not the production of pleasing objects, and is above all, not pleasure itself, but it is the means of union among mankind, joining them in the same feelings, and necessary for the life and progress toward the good of the individual and of humanity.
- The activity of art is… as important as the activity of language itself, and as universal.
- Some teachers of mankind — as Plato… the first Christians, the orthodox Muslims, and the Buddhists — have gone so far as to repudiate art. …[They consider it] so highly dangerous in its power to infect people against their wills, that mankind will lose far less by banishing all art than by tolerating each and every art. …such people were wrong in repudiating all art, for they denied that which cannot be denied — one of the indispensable means of communication, without which mankind could not exist. …Now there is only fear, lest we should be deprived of any pleasures art can afford, so any type of art is patronized. And I think the last error is much grosser than the first and that its consequences are far more harmful.
- The appreciation of the merits of art (of the emotions it conveys) depends upon an understanding of the meaning of life, what is seen as good and evil. Good and evil are defined by religions.
- Humanity unceasingly strives forward from a lower, more partial and obscure understanding of life to one more general and more lucid. And in this, as in every movement, there are leaders — those who have understood the meaning of life more clearly than others — and of those advanced men there is always one who has in his words and life, manifested this meaning more clearly, accessibly, and strongly than others. This man’s expression … with those superstitions, traditions, and ceremonies which usually form around the memory of such a man, is what is called a religion. Religions are the exponents of the highest comprehension of life … within a given age in a given society … a basis for evaluating human sentiments. If feelings bring people nearer to the religion’s ideal … they are good, if these estrange them from it, and oppose it, they are bad.
- The Christianity of the first centuries recognized as productions of good art, only legends, lives of saints, sermons, prayers, and hymn-singing evoking love of Christ, emotion at his life, desire to follow his example, renunciation of worldly life, humility, and the love of others; all productions transmitting feelings of personal enjoyment they considered to be bad, and therefore rejected … This was so among the Christians of the first centuries who accepted Christ teachings, if not quite in its true form, at least not yet in the perverted, paganized form in which it was accepted subsequently.
But besides this Christianity, from the time of the wholesale conversion of whole nations by order of the authorities, as in the days of Constantine, Charlemagne and Vladimir, there appeared another , a Church Christianity, which was nearer to paganism than to Christ’s teaching. And this Church Christianity … did not acknowledge the fundamental and essential positions of true Christianity — the direct relationship of each individual to the Father, the consequent brotherhood and equality of all people, and the substitution of humility and love in place of every kind of violence — but, on the contrary, having founded a heavenly hierarchy similar to the pagan mythology, and having introduced the worship of Christ, of the Virgin, of angels, of apostles, of saints, and of martyrs, but not only of these divinities themselves but of their images, it made blind faith in its ordinances an essential point of its teachings.
However foreign this teaching may have been to true Christianity, however degraded, not only in comparison with true Christianity, but even with the life-conception of the Romans such as Julian and others, it was for all that, to the barbarians who accepted it, a higher doctrine than their former adoration of gods, heroes, and good and bad spirits. And therefore this teaching was a religion to them, and on the basis of that religion the art of the time was assessed. And art transmitting pious adoration of the Virgin, Jesus, the saints, and the angels, a blind faith in and submission to the Church, fear of torments and hope of blessedness in a life beyond the grave, was considered good; all art opposed to this was considered bad.
- In the upper, rich, more educated classes of European society doubt arose as to the truth of that understanding of life which was expressed by Church Christianity. When, after the Crusades and the maximum development of papal power and its abuses, people of the rich classes became acquainted with the wisdom of the classics and saw, on the one hand, the reasonable lucidity of the teachings of the ancient sages, and on the other hand, the incompatibility of the Church doctrine with the teaching of Christ, they found it impossible to continue to believe the Church teaching.
- No longer able to believe in the Church religion, whose falsehood they had detected, and incapable of accepting true Christian teaching, which denounced their whole manner of life, these rich and powerful people, stranded without any religious conception of life, involuntarily returned to that pagan view of things which places life’s meaning in personal enjoyment. And then among the upper classes what is called the “Renaissance of science and art” took place, which was really not only a denial of every religion, but also an assertion that religion was unnecessary.
- So the majority of the highest classes of that age, even the popes and ecclesiastics, really believed in nothing at all. They did not believe in the Church doctrine, for they saw its insolvency; but neither could they follow Francis of Assisi, Kelchitsky, and most of the sectarians in acknowledging the moral, social teaching of Christ, for that undermined their social position. And so these people remained without any religious view of life. And, having none, they could have no standard with which to estimate what was good and what was bad art, but that of personal enjoyment.
- Having acknowledged the measure of the good to be pleasure, i.e., beauty, the European upper classes went back in their comprehension of art to the gross conception of the primitive Greeks which Plato had already condemned. And with this understanding of life, a theory of art was formulated.
- The partisans of aesthetic theory denied that it was their own invention, and professed that it existed in the nature of things and even that it was recognized by the ancient Greeks. But… among the ancient Greeks, due to their low grade (compared to the Christian) moral ideal, their conception of the good was not yet sharply distinguished from their conception of the beautiful. That highest conception of goodness (not identical with beauty and for the most part, contrasting with it) discerned by the Jews even in the time of Isaiah and fully expressed by Christianity, was unknown to the Greeks. It is true that the Greek’s foremost thinkers — Socrates, Plato, Aristotle — felt that goodness may not coincide with beauty. …But notwithstanding all this, they could not quite dismiss the notion that beauty and goodness coincide. And consequently in the language of that period a compound word (καλο-κάγαθια, beauty-goodness) came into use to express that notion. Evidently the Greek sages began to draw close to the perception of goodness which is expressed in Buddhism and in Christianity, but they got entangled in defining the relationship between goodness and beauty. And it was just this confusion of ideas that those Europeans of a later age … tried to elevate into law. … On this misunderstanding the new science of aesthetics was built.
- After Plotinus, says Schassler, fifteen centuries passed without the slightest scientific interest for the world of beauty and art. …In reality, nothing of the kind happened. The science of aesthetics … neither did nor could vanish, because it never existed. … the Greeks were so little developed that goodness and beauty seemed to coincide. On that obsolete Greek view of life the science of aesthetics was invented by men of the eighteenth century, and especially shaped and mounted in Baumgarten’s theory. The Greeks (as anyone may read in Bénard’s book on Aristotle and Walter’s work on Plato) never had a science of aesthetics.
- Aesthetic theories arose one hundred fifty years ago among the wealthy classes of the Christian European world. …And notwithstanding its obvious insolidity, nobody else’s theory so pleased the cultured crowd or was accepted so readily and with such absence of criticism. It so suited the people of the upper classes that to this day, notwithstanding its entirely fantastic character and the arbitrary nature of its assertions, it is repeated by the educated and uneducated as though it were something indubitable and self-evident.
- Such … was the theory (an outgrowth of Malthusian) of the selection and struggle for existence as the basis of human progress. Such again, is Marx’s theory, with regard to the gradual destruction of small private production by large capitalistic production… as an inevitable decree of fate. However unfounded such theories are, however contrary to all that is known and confessed by humanity, and however obviously immoral these may be, they are accepted with credulity, pass uncriticized, and are preached … To this class belongs this astonishing theory of the Baungarten trinity — Goodness, Beauty and Truth — according to which it appears that the very best that can be done by the art of nations after 1900 years of Christian teaching is to choose as the ideal of their life that which was held by a small, semi-savage, slaveholding people who lived 2000 years ago, who imitated the nude human body extremely well, and erected buildings pleasing to the eye. Educated people write long, nebulous treatises on beauty as a member of the aesthetic trinity of beauty, truth, and goodness… and they all think that by pronouncing these sacrosanct words, they speak of something quite definite and solid… on which they can base their opinions. … only for the purpose of justifying the false importance we attribute to an art that conveys every feeling, provided those feelings give us pleasure.
- The good is the everlasting, the pinnacle of our life. … life is striving towards the good, toward God. The good is the most basic idea … an idea not definable by reason … yet is the postulate from which all else follows. But the beautiful … is just that which is pleasing. The idea of beauty is not an alignment to the good, but is its opposite, because for most part, the good aids in our victory over our predilections, while beauty is the motive of our predilections. The more we succumb to beauty, the further we are displaced from the good. …the usual response is that there exists a moral and spiritual beauty … we mean simply the good. Spiritual beauty or the good, generally not only does not coincide with the typical meaning of beauty, it is its opposite.
- Truth is … one approach to the attainment of the good, but in and of itself, it is neither the good nor the beautiful … Socrates, Pascal, and others regarded knowledge of the truth with regard to purposeless objects as incongruous with the good … [by] exposing deception, truth destroys illusion, which is the principle attribute of beauty.
- And so the arbitrary union of three incommensurate, mutually disconnected concepts became the basis of a bewildering theory… [by which] one of the lowest renderings of art, art for mere pleasure — against which all of the master teachers warned — was idealized as the ultimate in art.
- Чувства, самые разнообразные, очень сильные и очень слабые, очень значительные и очень ничтожные, очень дурные и очень хорошие, если только они заражают читателя, зрителя, слушателя, составляют предмет искусства.
- Feelings, the most diverse, very strong and very weak, very significant and very worthless, very bad and very good, if only they infect the reader, the spectator, the listener, constitute the subject of art.
- Настоящее произведение искусства делает то, что в сознании воспринимающего уничтожается разделение между ним и художником…
- A real work of art destroys, in the consciousness of the receiver, the separation between himself and the artist.
- I know that most men — not only those considered clever, but even those who are very clever and capable of understanding most difficult scientific, mathematical, or philosophic, problems — can seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as obliges them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty — conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives.
- Opening to Ch 14. Translation from: What Is Art and Essays on Art (Oxford University Press, 1930, trans. Aylmer Maude)
- Variant: I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.
- As quoted by physicist Joseph Ford in Chaotic Dynamics and Fractals (1985) edited by Michael Fielding Barnsley and Stephen G. Demko
- All the efforts of several hundred thousand people, crowded in a small space, to disfigure the land on which they lived; all the stone they covered it with to keep it barren; how so diligently every sprouting blade of grass was removed; all the smoke of coal and naphtha; all the cutting down of trees and driving off of cattle could not shut out the spring, even from the city. The sun was shedding its light; the grass, revivified, was blooming forth, where it was left uncut, not only on the greenswards of the boulevard, but between the flag-stones, and the birches, poplars and wild-berry trees were unfolding their viscous leaves; the limes were unfolding their buds; the daws, sparrows and pigeons were joyfully making their customary nests, and the flies were buzzing on the sun-warmed walls. Plants, birds, insects and children were equally joyful. Only men—grown-up men—continued cheating and tormenting themselves and each other. People saw nothing holy in this spring morning, in this beauty of God’s world—a gift to all living creatures—inclining to peace, good-will and love, but worshiped their own inventions for imposing their will on each other.
- Ch. 1
- Three years ago he was an honest, self-denying youth, ready to devote himself to every good cause; now he was a corrupt and refined egotist, given over to personal enjoyment. … And all this terrible transformation took place in him only because he ceased to have faith in himself, and began to believe in others.
- Ch. 13
- In Nekhludoff, as in all people, there were two beings; one spiritual, who sought only such happiness for himself as also benefited others; and the animal being, seeking his own happiness for the sake of which he is willing to sacrifice that of the world.
- Ch. 14
- In the depth of his soul he knew that his action was so base, abominable and cruel that, with that action upon his conscience, not only would he have no right to condemn others but he should not be able to look others in the face, to say nothing of considering himself the good, noble, magnanimous man he esteemed himself. And he had to esteem himself as such in order to be able to continue to lead a valiant and joyous life. And there was but one way of doing so, and that was not to think of it. This he endeavored to do.
- Ch. 18
- The difference between him as he was then and as he was now was great … Then he was a courageous, free man, before whom opened endless possibilities; now he felt himself caught in the tenets of a stupid, idle, aimless, miserable life, from which there was no escape; aye, from which, for the most part, he would not escape. He remembered how he once had prided himself upon his rectitude; how he always made it a rule to tell the truth, and was in reality truthful, and how he was now steeped in falsehood—falsehood which was recognized as truth by all those around him.
- Ch. 28
- “Let people judge me as they please—I can deceive them, but I cannot deceive myself.”
And he suddenly understood that the disgust which he had lately felt toward everybody … was disgust with himself.
- Ch. 28
- “Why, you have tried to improve before, and failed,” the tempter in his soul whispered. “What is the good of trying again? You are not the only one—all are alike. Such is life.” But the free, spiritual being which alone is true, alone powerful, alone eternal, was already awake in Nekhludoff. And he could not help believing it. However great the difference between that which he was and that which he wished to be, for the awakened spiritual being everything was possible.
- Ch. 28
- He crossed his hands on his breast, as he used to do when a child, raised his eyes and said:
“Lord, help me, teach me; come and enter within me and purify me of all this abomination.”
He prayed, asked God to help him and purify him, while that which he was praying for had already happened. Not only did he feel the freedom, vigor and gladness of life, but he also felt the power of good. He felt himself capable of doing the best that man can do.
- Ch. 28
- It is remarkable that since Nekhludoff understood that he was disgusted with himself, others ceased to be repulsive to him.
- Ch. 33
- One of the most popular superstitions consists in the belief that every man is endowed with definite qualities—that some men are kind, some wicked; some wise, some foolish; some energetic, some apathetic, etc. This is not true. We may say of a man that he is oftener kind than wicked; oftener wise than foolish; oftener energetic than apathetic, and vice versa. But it would not be true to say of one man that he is always kind or wise, and of another that he is always wicked or foolish. And yet we thus divide people. This is erroneous. Men are like rivers—the water in all of them, and at every point, is the same, but every one of them is now narrow, now swift, now wide, now calm, now clear, now cold, now muddy, now warm. So it is with men. Every man bears within him the germs of all human qualities, sometimes manifesting one quality, sometimes another; and often does not resemble himself at all, manifesting no change. With some people these changes are particularly sharp. And to this class Nekhludoff belonged.
- Ch. 57
- Nekhludoff recalled his relations with the wife of the district commander, and a flood of shameful recollections came upon him. “There is a disgusting bestiality in man,” he thought; “but when it is in a primitive state, one looks down upon and despises it, whether he is carried away with or withstands it. But when this same bestiality hides itself under a so-called aesthetic, poetic cover, and demands to be worshiped, then, deifying the beast, one gives himself up to it, without distinguishing between the good and the bad. Then it is horrible.”
- Ch. 73
- Simonson, in rubber jacket and similar galoshes, bound with whip-cord over woolen socks (he was a vegetarian and did not use the skin of animals), was also awaiting the departure of the party. He stood near the entrance of the house, writing down in a note-book a thought that occurred to him. “If,” he wrote, “a bacterium were to observe and analyze the nail of a man, it would declare him an inorganic being. Similarly, from an observation of the earth’s surface, we declare it to be inorganic. That is wrong.”
- Ch. 83
- “That is the principal thing,” thought Nekhludoff. “We all live in the silly belief that we ourselves are the lords of our world, that this world has been given us for our enjoyment. But this is evidently untrue. Somebody must have sent us here for some reason. And for this reason it is plain that we will suffer like those laborers suffer who do not fulfill the wishes of their Master. The will of the Lord is expressed in the teachings of Christ. Let man obey Him, and the Kingdom of the Lord will come on earth, and man will derive the greatest possible good.
“Seek the truth and the Kingdom of God, and the rest will come of itself. We seek that which is to come, and do not find it, and not only do we not build the Kingdom of God, but we destroy it.
“So this will henceforth be the task of my life!”
And indeed, from that night a new life began for Nekhludoff; not so much because he had risen into a new stage of existence, but because all that had happened to him till then assumed for him an altogether new meaning.
- Ch. 92
What is Religion, of What does its Essence Consist? (1902)
- This divergence and perversion of the essential question is most striking in what goes today by the name of philosophy. There would seem to be only one question for philosophy to resolve: What must I do? Despite being combined with an enormous amount of unnecessary confusion, answers to the question have at any rate been given within the philosophical tradition on the Christian nations. For example, in Kant´s Critique of Practical Reason, or in Spinoza, Schopenhauer and specially Rousseau.But in more recent times, since Hegel´s assertion that all that exists is reasonable, the question of what one must do has been pushed to the background and philosophy has directed its whole attention to the investigation of things as they are, and to fitting them into a prearranged theory. This was the first step backwards.The second step, degrading human thought yet further, was the acceptance of the struggle for existence as a basic law, simply because that struggle can be observed among animals and plants. According to this theory the destruction of the weakest is a law which should not be opposed. And finally, the third step was taken when the childish originality of Nietzsche´s half-crazed thought, presenting nothing complete or coherent, but only various drafts of immoral and completely unsubstantiated ideas, was accepted by the leading figures as the final word in philosophical science. In reply to the question: what must we do? the answer is now put straightforwardly as: live as you like, without paying attention to the lives of others.If anyone doubted that the Christian world of today has reached a frightful state of torpor and brutalization (not forgetting the recent crimes committed in the Boers and in China, which were defended by the clergy and acclaimed as heroic feats by all the world powers), the extraordinary success of Nietzsche´s works is enough to provide irrefutable proof of this.Some disjointed writings, striving after effect in a most sordid manner, appear, written by a daring, but limited and abnormal German, suffering from power mania. Neither in talent nor in their basic argument to these writings justify public attention. In the days of Kant, Leibniz, or Hume, or even fifty years ago, such writings would not only have received no attention, but they would not even have appeared. But today all the so called educated people are praising the ravings of Mr. N, arguing about him, elucidating him, and countless copies of his works are printed in all languages.
- Chapter 11
- The whole world knows that virtue consists in the subjugation of one’s passions, or in self-renunciation. It is not just the Christian world, against whom Nietzsche howls, that knows this, but it is an eternal supreme law towards which all humanity has developed, including Brahmanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and the ancient Persian religion. And suddenly a man appears who declares that he is convinced that self-renunciation, meekness, submissiveness and love are all vices that destroy humanity (he has in mind Christianity, ignoring all the other religions).One can understand why such a declaration baffled people at first. But after giving it a little thought and failing to find any proof of the strange propositions, any rational person ought to throw the books aside and wonder if there is any kind of rubbish that would not find a publisher today. But this has not happened with Nietzsche´s books. The majority of pseudo-enlightened people seriously look into the theory of the Übermensch, and acknowledge its author to be a great philosopher, a descendant of Descartes, Leibniz and Kant. And all this has come about because the majority of pseudo-enlightened men of today object to any reminder of virtue, or to its chief premise: self-renunciation and love—virtues that restrain and condemn the animal side of their life. They gladly welcome a doctrine, however incoherently and disjointedly expressed, of egotism and cruelty, sanctioning the idea of personal happiness and superiority over the lives of others, by which they live.
- Chapter 11
Pedagogical Writings (1903)
- The relation of word to thought, and the creation of new concepts is a complex, delicate and enigmatic process unfolding in our soul.
- Pegagogicheskie Statli (Pedagogical Writings), pg. 143.
A Letter to a Hindu (1908)
- The oppression of a majority by a minority, and the demoralization inevitably resulting from it, is a phenomenon that has always occupied me and has done so most particularly of late.
- The reason for the astonishing fact that a majority of working people submit to a handful of idlers who control their labour and their very lives is always and everywhere the same — whether the oppressors and oppressed are of one race or whether, as in India and elsewhere, the oppressors are of a different nation. This phenomenon seems particularly strange in India, for there more than two hundred million people, highly gifted both physically and mentally, find themselves in the power of a small group of people quite alien to them in thought, and immeasurably inferior to them in religious morality. … the reason lies in the lack of a reasonable religious teaching which, by explaining the meaning of life would supply a supreme law for the guidance of conduct, and would replace the more than dubious precepts of pseudoreligion and pseudoscience and the immoral conclusions deduced from them, commonly called “civilization.”
- Amid this life based on coercion, one and the same thought constantly emerged among different nations, namely, that in every individual a spiritual element is manifested that gives life to all that exists, and that this spiritual element strives to unite with everything of a like nature to itself, and attains this aim through love.
- The recognition that love represents the highest morality was nowhere denied or contradicted, but this truth was so interwoven everywhere with all kinds of falsehoods which distorted it, that finally nothing of it remained but words. It was taught that this highest morality was only applicable to private life — for home use, as it were — but that in public life all forms of violence — such as imprisonment, executions, and wars — might be used for the protection of the majority against a minority of evildoers, though such means were diametrically opposed to any vestige of love.
- People continued — regardless of all that leads man forward — to try to unite the incompatibles : the virtue of love, and what is opposed to love, namely, the restraining of evil by violence. And such a teaching, despite its inner contradiction, was so firmly established that the very people who recognize love as a virtue accept as lawful at the same time an order of life based on violence and allowing men not merely to torture but even to kill one another.
- In former times the chief method of justifying the use of violence and thereby infringing the law of love was by claiming a divine right for the rulers: the Tsars, Sultans, Rajahs, Shahs, and other heads of states. But the longer humanity lived the weaker grew the belief in this peculiar, God-given right of the ruler. That belief withered in the same way and almost simultaneously in the Christian and the Brahman world, as well as in Buddhist and Confucian spheres, and in recent times it has so faded away as to prevail no longer against man’s reasonable understanding and the true religious feeling. People saw more and more clearly, and now the majority see quite clearly, the senselessness and immorality of subordinating their wills to those of other people just like themselves, when they are bidden to do what is contrary not only to their interests but also to their moral sense.
- Unfortunately not only were the rulers, who were considered supernatural beings, benefited by having the peoples in subjection, but as a result of the belief in, and during the rule of, these pseudodivine beings, ever larger and larger circles of people grouped and established themselves around them, and under an appearance of governing took advantage of the people. And when the old deception of a supernatural and God-appointed authority had dwindled away these men were only concerned to devise a new one which like its predecessor should make it possible to hold the people in bondage to a limited number of rulers.
- These new justifications are termed “scientific”. But by the term “scientific” is understood just what was formerly understood by the term “religious”: just as formerly everything called “religious” was held to be unquestionable simply because it was called religious, so now all that is called “scientific” is held to be unquestionable. In the present case the obsolete religious justification of violence which consisted in the recognition of the supernatural personality of the God-ordained ruler (“there is no power but of God”) has been superseded by the “scientific” justification which puts forward, first, the assertion that because the coercion of man by man has existed in all ages, it follows that such coercion must continue to exist. This assertion that people should continue to live as they have done throughout past ages rather than as their reason and conscience indicate, is what “science” calls “the historic law”. A further “scientific” justification lies in the statement that as among plants and wild beasts there is a constant struggle for existence which always results in the survival of the fittest, a similar struggle should be carried on among humanbeings, that is, who are gifted with intelligence and love; faculties lacking in the creatures subject to the struggle for existence and survival of the fittest. Such is the second “scientific” justification. The third, most important, and unfortunately most widespread justification is, at bottom, the age-old religious one just a little altered: that in public life the suppression of some for the protection of the majority cannot be avoided — so that coercion is unavoidable however desirable reliance on love alone might be in human intercourse. The only difference in this justification by pseudo-science consists in the fact that, to the question why such and such people and not others have the right to decide against whom violence may and must be used, pseudo-science now gives a different reply to that given by religion — which declared that the right to decide was valid because it was pronounced by persons possessed of divine power. “Science” says that these decisions represent the will of the people, which under a constitutional form of government is supposed to find expression in all the decisions and actions of those who are at the helm at the moment. Such are the scientific justifications of the principle of coercion. They are not merely weak but absolutely invalid, yet they are so much needed by those who occupy privileged positions that they believe in them as blindly as they formerly believed in the immaculate conception, and propagate them just as confidently. And the unfortunate majority of men bound to toil is so dazzled by the pomp with which these “scientific truths” are presented, that under this new influence it accepts these scientific stupidities for holy truth, just as it formerly accepted the pseudo-religious justifications; and it continues to submit to the present holders of power who are just as hard-hearted but rather more numerous than before.
- A commercial company enslaved a nation comprising two hundred millions. Tell this to a man free from superstition and he will fail to grasp what these words mean. What does it mean that thirty thousand men, not athletes but rather weak and ordinary people, have subdued two hundred million vigorous, clever, capable, and freedom-loving people? Do not the figures make it clear that it is not the English who have enslaved the Indians, but the Indians who have enslaved themselves?
- When the Indians complain that the English have enslaved them it is as if drunkards complained that the spirit-dealers who have settled among them have enslaved them. You tell them that they might give up drinking, but they reply that they are so accustomed to it that they cannot abstain, and that they must have alcohol to keep up their energy. Is it not the same thing with the millions of people who submit to thousands or even to hundreds, of others — of their own or other nations? If the people of India are enslaved by violence it is only because they themselves live and have lived by violence, and do not recognize the eternal law of love inherent in humanity.
- As soon as men live entirely in accord with the law of love natural to their hearts and now revealed to them, which excludes all resistance by violence, and therefore hold aloof from all participation in violence — as soon as this happens, not only will hundreds be unable to enslave millions, but not even millions will be able to enslave a single individual.
- Do not resist the evil-doer and take no part in doing so, either in the violent deeds of the administration, in the law courts, the collection of taxes, or above all in soldiering, and no one in the world will be able to enslave you.
- V. “Do not resist the evil-doer” is an allusion to the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:39.
- What is now happening to the people of the East as of the West is like what happens to every individual when he passes from childhood to adolescence and from youth to manhood. He loses what had hitherto guided his life and lives without direction, not having found a new standard suitable to his age, and so he invents all sorts of occupations, cares, distractions, and stupefactions to divert his attention from the misery and senselessness of his life. Such a condition may last a long time.
- When an individual passes from one period of life to another a time comes when he cannot go on in senseless activity and excitement as before, but has to understand that although he has out-grown what before used to direct him, this does not mean that he must live without any reasonable guidance, but rather that he must formulate for himself an understanding of life corresponding to his age, and having elucidated it must be guided by it. And in the same way a similar time must come in the growth and development of humanity.
- The inherent contradiction of human life has now reached an extreme degree of tension: on the one side there is the consciousness of the beneficence of the law of love, and on the other the existing order of life which has for centuries occasioned an empty, anxious, restless, and troubled mode of life, conflicting as it does with the law of love and built on the use of violence. This contradiction must be faced, and the solution will evidently not be favourable to the outlived law of violence, but to the truth which has dwelt in the hearts of men from remote antiquity: the truth that the law of love is in accord with the nature of man. But men can only recognize this truth to its full extent when they have completely freed themselves from all religious and scientific superstitions and from all the consequent misrepresentations and sophistical distortions by which its recognition has been hindered for centuries.
- In order that men should embrace the truth — not in the vague way they did in childhood, nor in the one-sided and perverted way presented to them by their religious and scientific teachers, but embrace it as their highest law the complete liberation of this truth from all and every superstition (both pseudo-religious and pseudo-scientific) by which it is still obscured is essential: not a partial, timid attempt, reckoning with traditions sanctified by age and with the habits of the people — not such as was effected in the religious sphere by Guru Nanak, the founder of the sect of the Sikhs, and in the Christian world by Luther, and by similar reformers in other religions — but a fundamental cleansing of religious consciousness from all ancient religious and modern scientific superstitions.
- If only people freed themselves from their beliefs in all kinds of Ormuzds, Brahmas, Sabbaoths, and their incarnation as Krishnas and Christs, from beliefs in Paradises and Hells, in reincarnations and resurrections, from belief in the interference of the Gods in the external affairs of the universe, and above all, if they freed themselves from belief in the infallibility of all the various Vedas, Bibles, Gospels, Tripitakas, Korans, and the like, and also freed themselves from blind belief in a variety of scientific teachings about infinitely small atoms and molecules and in all the infinitely great and infinitely remote worlds, their movements and origin, as well as from faith in the infallibility of the scientific law to which humanity is at present subjected: the historic law, the economic laws, the law of struggle and survival, and so on, — if people only freed themselves from this terrible accumulation of futile exercises of our lower capacities of mind and memory called the “Sciences”, and from the innumerable divisions of all sorts of histories, anthropologies, homiletics, bacteriologics, jurisprudences, cosmographies, strategies — their name is legion — and freed themselves from all this harmful, stupefying ballast — the simple law of love, natural to man, accessible to all and solving all questions and perplexities, would of itself become clear and obligatory.
- In the spiritual realm nothing is indifferent: what is not useful is harmful.
- What are wanted for the Indian as for the Englishman, the Frenchman, the German, and the Russian, are not Constitutions and Revolutions, nor all sorts of Conferences and Congresses, nor the many ingenious devices for submarine navigation and aerial navigation, nor powerful explosives, nor all sorts of conveniences to add to the enjoyment of the rich, ruling classes; nor new schools and universities with innumerable faculties of science, nor an augmentation of papers and books, nor gramophones and cinematographs, nor those childish and for the most part corrupt stupidities termed art — but one thing only is needful: the knowledge of the simple and clear truth which finds place in every soul that is not stupefied by religious and scientific superstitions — the truth that for our life one law is valid — the law of love, which brings the highest happiness to every individual as well as to all mankind. Free your minds from those overgrown, mountainous imbecilities which hinder your recognition of it, and at once the truth will emerge from amid the pseudo-religious nonsense that has been smothering it: the indubitable, eternal truth inherent in man, which is one and the same in all the great religions of the world. It will in due time emerge and make its way to general recognition, and the nonsense that has obscured it will disappear of itself, and with it will go the evil from which humanity now suffers.
Path of Life (1909)
- Genuine religion is not about speculating about God or the soul or about what happened in the past or will happen in the future; it cares only about one thing—finding out exactly what should or should not be done in this lifetime.
- p. 3
- It is terrible when people do not know God, but it is worse when people identify as God what is not God.
- p. 5
- We measure the earth, sun, stars, and ocean depths. We burrow into the depths of the earth for gold. We search for rivers and mountains on the moon. We discover new stars and know their magnitudes. We sound the depths of gorges and build clever machines. Each day brings a new invention. What don’t we think of! What can’t we do! But there is something else, the most important thing of all, that we are missing. We do not know exactly what it is. We are like a small child who knows he does not feel well but cannot explain why. We are uneasy, because we know a lot of superfluous facts; but we do not know what is really important—ourselves.
- p. 10
- Saying that what we call our “selves” consist only of our bodies and that reason, soul, and love arise only from the body, is like saying that what we call our body is equivalent to the food that feeds the body. It is true that my body is only made up of digested food and that my body would not exist without food, but my body is not the same as food. Food is what the body needs for life, but it is not the body itself. The same thing is true of my soul. It is true that without my body there would not be that which I call my soul, but my soul is not my body. The soul may need the body, but the body is not the soul.
- p. 12
- All our problems are caused by forgetting what lives within us, and we sell our souls for the “bowl of stew” of bodily satisfactions.
- p. 17
- You worldly-minded people are most unfortunate! You are surrounded with sorrows and troubles overhead and underfoot and to the right and to the left, and you are enigmas even to yourselves.
- p. 37
- Division of labor is a justification for sloth.
- p. 79
- No one has yet added up all the heavy, stress-filled workdays as well as the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives that are wasted to produce the world’s amusements. It is for this reason that “amusements” are not so amusing.
- p. 81
- Honest work is much better than a mansion.
- p. 82
- Giving alms is only a virtuous deed when you give money that you yourself worked to get.
- p. 83
- Wealth is a great sin in the eyes of God. Poverty is a great sin in the eyes of man.
- p. 86
- Wealth brings a heavy purse; poverty, a light spirit.
- p. 88
- The compassionate are not rich; therefore, the rich are not compassionate.
- p. 89
- If a poor person envies a rich person, he is no better than the rich person.
- p. 89
- When a person inflates his own importance, he does not see his own sins; and his sins get bigger right along with him.
- p. 108
- It is often better for a person to recognize a sin than to do a good deed. Recognizing a sin makes a person humble. Doing a good deed often can feed a person’s pride.
- p. 108
- When a person is haughty, he distances himself from other people and thereby deprives himself of one of life’s biggest pleasures—open, joyful communication with everyone.
- p. 108
- An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person’s main task in life—becoming a better person.
- p. 110
- “He who exalts himself shall be humbled; and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12) The person who exalts himself … will be humbled, because a person who considers himself to be good, intelligent, and kind will not even try to become better, smarter, kinder. The humble person will be exalted, because he considers himself bad and will try to become better, kinder, and more reasonable.
- p. 110
- The most important person is the one you are with in this moment.
- p. 206
- In life, in true life, there can be nothing better than what is. Wanting something different than what is, is blasphemy.
- p. 209
- Memento mori—remember death! These are important words. If we kept in mind that we will soon inevitably die, our lives would be completely different. If a person knows that he will die in a half hour, he certainly will not bother doing trivial, stupid, or, especially, bad things during this half hour. Perhaps you have half a century before you die—what makes this any different from a half hour?
- p. 209
- People try to do all sorts of clever and difficult things to improve life instead of doing the simplest, easiest thing—refusing to participate in activities that make life bad.
- p. 210
- If you want to be happy, be.
- As quoted in Wisdom for the Soul : Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing (2006) by Larry Chang, p. 352; this statement appears in late 20th century inspirational books, but with no known citation to original material by Tolstoy.
Quotes about Tolstoy
- If the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy.
- Isaak Babel, as quoted in The Literary 100 : A Ranking of the Most Influential Novelists, Playwrights, and Poets of All Time (2009) edited by Daniel S. Burt, Infobase Publishing, p. 15
- I fear Tolstoy’s death. His death would leave a large empty space in my life. First, I have loved no man the way I have loved him. I am not a believer, but of all beliefs I consider his the closest to mine and most suitable for me. Second, when literature has a Tolstoy, it is easy and gratifying to be a writer. Even if you are aware that you have never accomplished anything, you don’t feel so bad, because Tolstoy accomplishes enough for everyone. His activities provide justification for the hopes and aspirations that are usually placed on literature. Third, Tolstoy stands firm, his authority is enormous, and as long as he is alive bad taste in literature, all vulgarity in its brazen-faced or lachrymose varieties, all bristly and resentful vanity will remain far in the background. His moral authority alone is enough to maintain what we think of as literary trends and schools at a certain minimal level. If not for him, literature would be a flock without a shepherd or an unfathomable jumble.
- Anton Chekhov, in letter to M.O. Menshikov (28 January 1900)
- The truth is that Tolstoy, with his immense genius, with his colossal faith, with his vast fearlessness and vast knowledge of life, is deficient in one faculty and one faculty alone. He is not a mystic; and therefore he has a tendency to go mad. Men talk of the extravagances and frenzies that have been produced by mysticism; they are a mere drop in the bucket. In the main, and from the beginning of time, mysticism has kept men sane. The thing that has driven them mad was logic. …The only thing that has kept the race of men from the mad extremes of the convent and the pirate-galley, the night-club and the lethal chamber, has been mysticism — the belief that logic is misleading, and that things are not what they seem.
- G. K. Chesterton, in Tolstoy (1903)
- South Africa never had a reading culture and yet, throughout its history, some books have had great power they found their way into the right hands. Mandela was not an intellectual reader, reading for the sake of reading, but he found books useful. He found novels useful. As President he would stop his driver so that he could buy some novel at the bookshop. “One book that I returned to many times was Tolstoy’s great work, War and Peace,” he wrote. “I was particularly taken with the portrait of General Kutuzov, whom everyone at the Russian court underestimated.” For Mandela, Kutuzov “made his decisions on a visceral understanding of his men and his people.” He was prepared to sacrifice the city of Moscow when it became necessary. Mandela even compared Kutuzov with King Shaka, who was also uninterested in making a stand to defend mere buildings. … On the face of it, Kutuzov is a surprising choice for Mandela’s admiration. Even for Tolstoy, “this simple, modest, and therefore truly majestic figure could not fit into that false form of the European hero, the imaginary ruler of the people, which history has invented.” Thanks to his capacity of acceptance, and in accordance with the biological needs of life within him, Kutuzov irresponsibly dozes through a council of war on the eve of battle. He despises “both knowledge and intelligence. . . . He despised them with his old age, with his experience of life.” Despite the war, he remains embedded in ordinary pursuits which are, nevertheless, incidental: “All the rest was for him only the habitual acting out of life. His conversations with the staff, his letters to Mme de Staël, which he wrote from Tarutino, his reading of novels, distribution of rewards, correspondence with Petersburg, and so on, were the same habitual acting out of and submission to life.”
Key for Mandela was the strategy of retirement and passivity that Tolstoy’s Kutuzov applied so thoroughly as to surrender to the overwhelming force of collective and unplanned life. He saw that “circumstances are sometimes stronger than we are,” resembling Lincoln, who accepted that “events have controlled me.” His principal weapons were not military. “‘Patience and time, these are my mighty warriors!’ thought Kutuzov,” who “used all his powers to keep the Russian army from useless battles.”
- Imraan Coovadia, in “Mandela and Tolstoy” (9 December 2013)
- People try so hard to believe in leaders now, pitifully hard. But we no sooner get a popular reformer or politician or soldier or writer or philosopher — a Roosevelt, a Tolstoy, a Wood, a Shaw, a Nietzsche, than the cross-currents of criticism wash him away. My Lord, no man can stand prominence these days. It’s the surest path to obscurity.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald in This Side of Paradise (1920)
- Nearly a century after his death, Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy remains a giant in the world of literature. While the impact of his “spiritual” mission cannot be fully gauged, we know that his pacificism, his advocacy of passive resistance to evil through non-violent means, has had incalculable influence on pacificist movements in general and on the philosophical and social views and programs of Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez.
- Alexander Fodor, in his introduction to A Quest for a Non-violent Russia — The Partnership of Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Chertkov (1989)
- Tolstoy’s life has been devoted to replacing the method of violence for removing tyranny or securing reform by the method of nonresistance to evil. He would meet hatred expressed in violence by love expressed in selfsuffering. He admits of no exception to whittle down this great and divine law of love. He applies it to all the problems that trouble mankind.
When a man like Tolstoy, one of the clearest thinkers in the western world, one of the greatest writers, one who as a soldier has known what violence is and what it can do, condemns Japan for having blindly followed the law of modern science, falsely so-called, and fears for that country “the greatest calamities”, it is for us to pause and consider whether, in our impatience of English rule, we do not want to replace one evil by another and a worse.
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (19 November 1909), in his Introduction to the publication of Tolstoy’s A Letter to a Hindu (1908)
- One need not accept all that Tolstoy says — some of his facts are not accurately stated — to realize the central truth of his indictment of the present system, which is to understand and act upon the irresistible power of the soul over the body, of love, which is an attribute of the soul, over the brute or body force generated by the stirring in us of evil passions.
There is no doubt that there is nothing new in what Tolstoy preaches. But his presentation of the old truth is refreshingly forceful. His logic is unassailable. And above all he endeavours to practice what he preaches. He preaches to convince. He is sincere and in earnest. He commands attention.
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (19 November 1909), in his Introduction to the publication of Tolstoy’s A Letter to a Hindu (1908)
- I started out very quiet and I beat Mr. Turgenev. Then I trained hard and I beat Mr. de Maupassant. I’ve fought two draws with Mr. Stendhal, and I think I had an edge in the last one. But nobody’s going to get me in any ring with Mr. Tolstoy unless I’m crazy or I keep getting better.
- Ernest Hemingway in The New Yorker (13 May 1950)
- My first reading of Tolstoy affected me as a revelation from heaven, as the trumpet of the judgment. What he made me feel was not the desire to imitate, but the conviction that imitation was futile.
- Ellen Glasgow The Woman Within (Written in 1944; published in 1954)
- I should wish to speak of him with his own incomparable truth, yet I do not know how to give a notion of his influence without the effect of exaggeration. As much as one merely human being can help another I believe that he has helped me; he has not influenced me in æsthetics only, but in ethics, too, so that I can never again see life in the way I saw it before I knew him. Tolstoy awakens in his reader the will to be a man; not effectively, not spectacularly, but simply, really. He leads you back to the only true ideal, away from that false standard of the gentleman, to the Man who sought not to be distinguished from other men, but identified with them, to that Presence in which the finest gentleman shows his alloy of vanity, and the greatest genius shrinks to the measure of his miserable egotism. I learned from Tolstoy to try character and motive by no other test, and though I am perpetually false to that sublime ideal myself, still the ideal remains with me, to make me ashamed that I am not true to it. Tolstoy gave me heart to hope that the world may yet be made over in the image of Him who died for it, when all Cæsar’s things shall be finally rendered unto Cæsar, and men shall come into their own, into the right to labor and the right to enjoy the fruits of their labor, each one master of himself and servant to every other. He taught me to see life not as a chase of a forever impossible personal happiness, but as a field for endeavor toward the happiness of the whole human family; and I can never lose this vision, however I close my eyes, and strive to see my own interest as the highest good. He gave me new criterions, new principles, which, after all, were those that are taught us in our earliest childhood, before we have come to the evil wisdom of the world.
- William Dean Howells, My Literary Passions (1895), Ch. XXXV Tolstoy
- As I read his different ethical books, ‘What to Do,’ ‘My Confession,’ and ‘My Religion,’ I recognized their truth with a rapture such as I have known in no other reading, and I rendered them my allegiance, heart and soul, with whatever sickness of the one and despair of the other. They have it yet, and I believe they will have it while I live. It is with inexpressible astonishment that I hear them attainted of pessimism, as if the teaching of a man whose ideal was simple goodness must mean the prevalence of evil. The way he showed me seemed indeed impossible to my will, but to my conscience it was and is the only possible way. If there, is any point on which he has not convinced my reason it is that of our ability to walk this narrow way alone. Even there he is logical, but as Zola subtly distinguishes in speaking of Tolstoy’s essay on “Money,” he is not reasonable. Solitude enfeebles and palsies, and it is as comrades and brothers that men must save the world from itself, rather than themselves from the world. It was so the earliest Christians, who had all things common, understood the life of Christ, and I believe that the latest will understand it so. I have spoken first of the ethical works of Tolstoy, because they are of the first importance to me, but I think that his aesthetical works are as perfect. To my thinking they transcend in truth, which is the highest beauty, all other works of fiction that have been written, and I believe that they do this because they obey the law of the author’s own life.
- William Dean Howells, My Literary Passions (1895), Ch. XXXV Tolstoy
- Powerless to prevent those about him from serving him, he resented even to the last that he must attended to and cared for despite his hatred of such things, and that even after turning away from temptation, he was not permitted to die as a peasant, as he had been unable to live as a peasant. Almost at the point of death, he sat up in bed and shouted, as doctors, attendants, and friends crowded about him: “This is the end… I give you only this advice… besides Leo Tolstoy, there are many other people in the world, and you attend only to this Leo…!”
- Robert Hunter in “Why We Fail as Christians” (1919), Ch. 3 : How Tolstoy Tried To Live The Truth, p. 57
- The measured words of Leo Tolstoi’s confession in My Religion reflect an experience many have shared: Five years ago faith came to me; I believed in the doctrine of Jesus, and my whole life underwent a sudden transformation. What I had once wished for I wished for no longer, and I began to desire what I have never desired before. What had once appeared to me right now became wrong and the wrong of the past I beheld as right… My life and my desires were completely changed; good and evil interchanged meanings. Herein we find the answer to a perplexing question. Evil can be cast out not by a man alone, not by a dictatorial God who invades our lives, but when we open the door and invite God through Christ to enter.
- Martin Luther King Jr., “The Answer to a Perplexing Question” (July 1962-March 1963)
- Tolstoy, himself a nobleman and the owner of a thousand serfs, conceived of dramas on a scale commensurate with his lands and estates.
- Lewis H. Lapham, Money and Class in America, Chapter 3, The Golden Horde, p. 61
- It has been said that a careful reading of Anna Karenina, if it teaches you nothing else, will teach you how to make strawberry jam.
- Julian Mitchell, Radio Times (30 October 1976)
- Tostoy’s message has not grown out-of-date. In the present “end of an age” when fear and anxiety and collective crime have expanded beyond even Tolstoy’s conception of the possibilities, these essays come to us with prophetic force and urgency. He strides like a giant over all the pettifogging economists and politicians and confronts us with his unanswerable accusations, his scorn and his love of life and humanity.
- Herbert Read, in a review of “Essays from Tula” by Tolstoy, in Freedom (13 November 1948)
- Even beyond their deaths, the two novelists stand in contrariety. Tolstoy, the foremost heir to the traditions of the epic; Dostoevsky, one of the major dramatic tempers after Shakespeare; Tolstoy, the mind intoxicated with reason and fact; Dostoevsky, the condemner of rationalism, the great lover of paradox; Tolstoy, the poet of the land, of the rural setting and pastoral mood; Dostoevsky, the arch-citizen, the master-builder of the modern metropolis in the province of language; Tolstoy, thirsting for the truth, destroying himself and those about him in excessive pursuit of it; Dostoevsky, rather against the truth than against Christ, suspicious of total understanding and on the side of mystery; Tolstoy, “keeping at all times,” in Coleridge’s phrase, “in the high road of life”; Dostoevsky, advancing into the labyrinth of the unnatural, into the cellarage and morass of the soul; Tolstoy, like a colossus bestriding the palpable earth, evoking the realness, the tangibility, the sensible entirety of concrete experience; Dostoevsky, always on the verge of the hallucinatory, of the spectral, always vulnerable to daemonic intrusions into what might prove, in the end, to have been merely a tissue of dreams; Tolstoy, the embodiment of health and Olympian vitality; Dostoevsky, the sum of energies charged with illness and possession.
- George Steiner in Tolstoy or Dostoevsky: An Essay in the Old Criticism (1959)
- Tolstoy… was also deeply influenced by Indian religious thought. Like Wagner, his introduction to it was through Burnouf and Schopenhauer. Beginning with his Confessions, there is no work of his “which is not inspired, in part by Hindu thought”, to put it in the words of Markovitch quoted by Raymond Schwab in The Oriental Renaissance. He further adds that Tolstoy also “remains the most striking example, among a great many, of those who sought a cure for the western spirit in India”.
- Markovitch quoted by Raymond Schwab in The Oriental Renaissance. Quoted from Ram Swarup (2000). On Hinduism: Reviews and reflections. Ch. 4.
- It is to Tolstoy whom Mahatma Gandhi gave credit for his own first understanding of nonviolent resistance to oppression, and there is an unbroken lineage from Tolstoy to Gandhi to Martin Luther King.
- “Brief biography” at Masterpiece Theatre (PBS)
- He was a revolutionary in his thinking and later in life he was an activist and reformer; he was best known as Russia’s greatest moral authority, and his teachings on civil disobedience have inspired Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and countless others. He was, and still is, an author to be reckoned with.
- Brief biography at Oprah’s Book Club
- If I could kill him and create a new person exactly the same as he is now, I would do so happily.
- Sophia Tolstaya, The Diaries of Sophia Tolstoy, trans. Cathy Porter (Random House, 1985), 16 December 1862.
- In what did Tolstoi’s work actually consist? It is the outcry of the universal conscience. His works voice the consciences of us all, expressed sincerely by the most ardent and the most sensitive of hearts. The popularity of Tolstoi throughout the world is explained solely by the simplicity and the sincerity of his doctrine, which appeals to all, without distinction, calling on mankind to recognise the same great truth, to make the same great moral effort for the realisation of love.
- Lev Lvovich Tolstoy, The Truth about My Father (John Murray, 1924), p. 219.
- Tolstoy was an advocate of non-resistance only because he was protected from people’s impudence by his innumerable friends. One man can stand for non-resistance, because those who stand for resistance will protect him. You will not be able to do without resistance advocates.
- Konstantin Tsiolkovsky