The Journal of Leo Tolstoi, Volume 1 : 1895
(1828 - 1910) ~ Father of Christian Anarchism : In 1861, during the second of his European tours, Tolstoy met with Proudhon, with whom he exchanged ideas. Inspired by the encounter, Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana to found thirteen schools that were the first attempt to implement a practical model of libertarian education. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "Only by recognizing the land as just such an article of common possession as the sun and air will you be able, without bias and justly, to establish the ownership of land among all men, according to any of the existing projects or according to some new project composed or chosen by you in common." (From : "To the Working People," by Leo Tolstoy, Yasnaya P....)
• "There are people (we ourselves are such) who realize that our Government is very bad, and who struggle against it." (From : "A Letter to Russian Liberals," by Leo Tolstoy, Au....)
• "It usually happens that when an idea which has been useful and even necessary in the past becomes superfluous, that idea, after a more or less prolonged struggle, yields its place to a new idea which was till then an ideal, but which thus becomes a present idea." (From : "Patriotism and Government," by Leo Tolstoy, May 1....)
Have been thinking:
Have been thinking one thing: that this life which we see around us is a movement of matter according to fixed, well-known laws; but that in us we feel the presence of an altogether different law, having nothing in common with the others and requiring from us the fulfillment of its demands. It can be said that we see and recognize all the other laws only because we have in us this law. If we did not recognize this law, we would not recognize the others.
This law is different from all the rest, principally in this, that those other laws are outside of us and forces us to obey them; but this law is in us—and more than in us; it is our very selves and therefore it does not force us when we obey it, but on the contrary frees us, because in following it we become ourselves. And for this reason we are drawn to fulfill this law and we sooner or later will inevitably fulfill it. In this then consists the freedom of the will. This freedom consists in this, that we should recognize that which is—namely that this inner law is ourselves.
This inner law is what we call reason, conscience, love, the good, God. These words have different meanings, but all from different angles mean one and the same thing. In our understanding of this inner law, the son of God, consists indeed the essence of the Christian doctrine.
The world can be looked upon in this way: a world exists governed by certain, well-known laws, and within this world are beings subject to the same laws, but who at the same time bear in themselves another law not in accord with the former laws of the world, a higher law, and this law must inevitably triumph within these beings and defeat the lower law. And in this struggle and in the gradual victory of the higher law over the lower, in this only is life for man and the whole world.
Oct. 29. Yasnaya Polyana. If I live.
I have skipped 6 days. It seems to me, I thought little during this time: I wrote a little, chopped wood and was indisposed—but lived through much. I lived through much, because in fulfilling a promise to S., I read through all my journals for the past seven years.
It seems to me, I am approaching a simple and clear expression of that by which I live. How good that I didn’t finish the Catechism! I think I shall write it differently and better, if the Father wishes it. I understand why it is impossible to say it quickly. If it could be said all at once, by what then would we live in the realm of thought? It will never be given me to go farther than this task.
I just took a walk and understood clearly why I can’t make Resurrection go better: it was begun falsely. I understood this in thinking over again the story: Who is Right? (about children). I understood that one must begin with the life of the peasants, that they are the subject, they are positive, but that the other thing is shadow, the other thing is negative. And I understood the same thing about Resurrection. One must begin with her. I want to begin immediately.
Have written to no one for a long time. General indisposition and no energy. The stage manager and the decorator were here, students from Kharkov against whom I think I did not sin, Ivan Ivanovich Bochkarev, Kolasha....
Nov. 6. Y. P. If I live.
November 7. Y. P.
I wrote a little these two days on the new Resurrection. My conscience hurts when I remember how trivially I began it. So far, I rejoice when I think of the work as I am beginning it.
November 8, 9. Y. P.
Have written little on Resurrection. I was not disappointed, but I was weak.
Yesterday Dunaev came. Chopped much yesterday, overtired myself. To-day I walked. I went to Constantine Bieli’s. He is very much to be pitied. Then I walked in the village. It is good with them, but with us it is shameful. Wrote letters. Wrote to Bazhenov and three others. Thought:
1) The confirmation of the fact, that reason liberates the latent love in man for justice is the proverb, “Comprendre c’est tout pardoner.” If you forgive a man, you will love him. To forgive means to cease to condemn and to hate.
2) If a man believes something at the word of another, he will lose his belief in that which he would have inevitably believed in, had he not trusted the other one. He who believes in ... etc., ceases to believe in reason. They even say straight out, one ought not to believe in reason.
A very interesting letter from Holland, about what a youth is to do who is called to military service, when he is the sole supporter of his mother.
November 10. Y. P.
Slept with difficulty. Weakness both physical and intellectual and—for which I am at fault—also moral. Rode horseback. Posha arrived.... A wonderful French pamphlet about war. Yes, 20 years are needed for that thought to become a general one. My head aches and seems to crackle and rumble. Father, help me when I am most weak that I may not fall morally. It is possible.
Nov. 11. Y. P. If I live.
I write and think: it is possible that I won’t be. Every day I make attempts, and I get more accustomed to it.
To-day November 15.
I have been so weak all the time I could write nothing except a few letters. A letter to Shkarvan. There have been here, Dunaiev, Posha, Maria Vasilievna. They left yesterday. Yesterday also I went to see Maria Alexandrovna; she is ill. To-day Aunt Tanya and Sonya came.
I didn’t sleep at night and therefore didn’t work. But I wrote on the girl Konefsky and a little in my journal. I am reading Schopenhauer’s “Aphorisms.” Very good. Only put “The service of God” instead of “The recognition of the vanity of life,” and we agree.
Now 2 o’clock, I shall write out later what I have noted down.
Almost a month since I have made any entries. During this time we moved to Moscow. The weakness has passed a little, and I am working earnestly, though with little success, on the Declaration of Faith. Yesterday I wrote a little article on whipping. I lay down to sleep in the day and had just dozed off—I felt as if some one jerked me; I got up, began to think about whipping, and wrote it out.
During this time, I went to the theater for the rehearsals of the Power of Darkness. Art, beginning as a game, has continued to be the toy of adults. This is also proved by music, of which I have heard much. It is ineffectual. On the contrary, it detracts when there is ascribed to it the unsuitable meaning which is ascribed to it. Realism, moreover, weakens its significance ...
I have thought during this time much—in meaning. Much of it I could not understand and have forgotten.
1) I have often wanted to suffer, wanted persecution. That means that I was lazy and didn’t want to work, so that others should work for me, torturing me, and I should only suffer.
2) It is terrible, the perversions ... of the mind to which men expose children for their own purposes during the time of their education. The rule of conscious materialism is only explained by this. The child is instilled with such nonsense that afterwards the materialistic, limited, false conception, which is not developed to the conclusions which would show its falsity, appears like an enormous conquest of the intellect.
3) I made a note, “Violence frees,” and it was something very clear and important, and now I don’t remember what it was at all.
I have remembered. December 23. Violence is a temptation because it frees us from the strain of attention, from the work of reasoning: one must labor to undo a knot; to cut it, is shorter.
4) A usual perversion of reason, which is made through a violently enforced faith, is to make men satisfied either with idolatry or with materialism, which at bottom is one and the same thing. Faith in the reality of our conceptions is faith in an idol, and the consequences are the same; one must bring sacrifices to it.
5) I can imagine consciousness transferred to the life of the spirit to such a degree that the sufferings of the body would be met gladly.
6) A beautiful woman smiles, and we think that because she smiles she says something good and true when she smiles. But often the smile seasons something entirely foul.
7) Education. It is worth while occupying oneself with education, in order to find out all one’s shortcomings. Seeing them, you will begin to correct them. But to correct oneself is indeed the best method of education for one’s children and for others’ and for grown-up people.
Just now I read a letter from Shkarvan that medical help does not appear to him like a boon, that the lengthening of many empty lives for many hundred years is much less important to him than the weakest blowing, as he writes, (a puff) on the spark of divine love in the heart of another. Here then in this blowing, lies the whole art of education. But to kindle it in others, one must kindle it in oneself.
8) To love means to desire that which the beloved object desires. The objects of love desire opposing things, and therefore, we can only love that which desires one and the same thing. But that which desires one and the same thing is God.
9) Man beginning to live, loves only himself, and separates himself from other beings in that he constantly loves that which alone constitutes his being. But as soon as he recognizes himself as a separate being, he recognizes also his own love, and he is no longer content with this love for himself and he begins to love other beings. And the more he lives a conscious life, the greater and greater number of beings he will begin to love, though not with such a stable and unceasing love as that with which he loves himself, but nevertheless, in such a way that he wishes good to everything he loves, and he rejoices at this good, and suffers at the evil which tries the beloved beings, and he unites into one all that he loves.
As life is love, why not suppose that my “self,” that which I consider to be myself and love with a special love, is perhaps the union I made in a former life of things which I loved, just as I am making a union of things now. The other has already taken place and this one is taking place.
Life is the enlargement of love, the widening of its borders, and this widening is going on in various lives. In the present life, this widening appears to me in the form of love. This widening is necessary for my inner life and it is also necessary for the life of this world. But my life can manifest itself not only in this form. It manifests itself in an innumerable quantity of forms. Only this one is apparent to me.
But in the meantime, the movement of life understood by me in this world, through the enlargement of love in myself and through the union of beings through love, produces at the same time other effects, one or many, unseen by me. As for instance, I put together 8 toy cubes to make a picture on one side of them, not seeing the other sides of the constructed cubes, but on the other sides are being formed pictures just as regular, though unseen by me.
(All this was very clear when it came into my head, and now I have forgotten everything and the result is nonsense.)
10) I have thought much about God, about the essence of my life, and it seemed I only doubted one and the other and believed in my own conclusions; and then, one time, not long ago, I simply had the desire to lean upon my faith in God and in the indestructibility of my soul, and to my astonishment I felt so firm and calm a confidence, as I have never felt before. So that all my doubts and scrutinisings have evidently, not only not weakened my faith, but have strengthened it to an enormous degree.
11) Reason is not given that we should recognize what we ought to love; this it won’t disclose; but only for this: to show what we ought not to love.
12) As in each piece of handiwork, the principal art lies not in the regular making of certain things anew, but in the ever bettering of the inevitable faults of a wrong and ruined work, so even in the business of life, the principal wisdom is not how to begin to act and how to lead life correctly, but how to better faults, how to liberate oneself from errors and seductions.
13) Happiness is the satisfaction of the requirements of a man’s being living from birth to death in this world only; but the good is the satisfaction of the requirements of the eternal essence living in man.
14) The essence of the teachings of Christ consists in this, that man ought to know who he is; that he should understand, like a bird which does not use its wings and runs on the land, that he is not a mortal animal, dependent on the conditions of the world, but like a bird which has understood that it has wings and has faith in them, he should understand that he himself was never born and never died and always is, and passes through this world in one of the innumerable forms of life to fulfill the will of Him who sent him into this life.
Dec. 8. Moscow. If I live.
It is long since I have made an entry. On the 30th, the Chertkovs came. It is two days since Kenworthy arrived. He is very pleasant....
Have continued to write the Declaration—am progressing. Off and on, I think out the drama, and yesterday I raved about it all night. I am not well; a bad cold in the head, influenza. Because of the letter to the Englishman, I began also a letter on the collision between England and America.
Have been thinking during this time:
1) I have been thinking especially clearly of that which I have already said many times; that all the evil in the world comes only from this, that people look upon themselves, upon their own personality, as a worthy object of their conscious life—upon themselves or upon a group of personalities, it is all the same.
As long as a man lives for himself unconsciously, he does no harm. If there is a struggle, then the struggle is an unconscious one which is ended at once when the struggle with surroundings is ended; man adjusts himself to it or he goes under, and this struggle is neither cruel nor is it an evil one. The struggle begins to be cruel only when man directs his consciousness upon it, prepares it, strengthens and multiplies its energy tenfold and hundredfold.
As Pascal says: there are three kinds of people; one kind know nothing and sit quietly, and just as quiet are those who know; but there are a middle kind who don’t know but believe they do; from them comes all the evil in the world. They are the people in whom consciousness has awakened, but they don’t know how to use it.
2) The whole thing lies in this—that you should always remember who you are. There is no situation so difficult, from which the way out would not immediately offer itself, if you only would remember that you are not a temporary, material manifestation, but an eternal omnipresent being. “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me shall never die, and though he were dead yet shall he live. Believest thou this?”
I walked on the street. A wretched beggar approached me. I forgot who I was and passed by. And then suddenly I remembered, and just as naturally as the hungry begin to eat and the tired I turned back and handed him something. It is the same with the temptation to quarrel, to insult, to be vain.
3) One can not voluntarily cease to remain awake, i. e. to fall asleep. Just as little can one voluntarily cease to live. Life is more important than the will, than desire. (Unclear.)
4) Receive with thankfulness the enjoyments of the flesh—all that you meet on the way, if they are not sinful—in short, if they do not go against your consciousness, if they do not make it suffer. But use the efforts of your will, your liberty, only to serve God.
I just wrote a letter to Crosby. He is working in America.
Dec. 24. Moscow. If I live.
Yesterday I received the “Open Letter” of Spielhagen, the Socialist, which appeared in the newspapers with regard to Drozhin.
From : Gutenberg.org
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