The Journal of Leo Tolstoi, Volume 1 : 1896

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(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.)
• "It is necessary that men should understand things as they are, should call them by their right names, and should know that an army is an instrument for killing, and that the enrollment and management of an army -- the very things which Kings, Emperors, and Presidents occupy themselves with so self-confidently -- is a preparation for murder." (From : "'Thou Shalt Not Kill'," by Leo Tolstoy, August 8,....)
• "People who take part in Government, or work under its direction, may deceive themselves or their sympathizers by making a show of struggling; but those against whom they struggle (the Government) know quite well, by the strength of the resistance experienced, that these people are not really pulling, but are only pretending to." (From : "A Letter to Russian Liberals," by Leo Tolstoy, Au....)
• "If, in former times, Governments were necessary to defend their people from other people's attacks, now, on the contrary, Governments artificially disturb the peace that exists between the nations, and provoke enmity among them." (From : "Patriotism and Government," by Leo Tolstoy, May 1....)


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January 23. Moscow.

Just a month that I made no entries. During this time I wrote a letter about patriotism[39] and a letter to Crosby[40] and here now for two weeks I have been writing the drama. I wrote three acts abominably. I thought to make an outline so as to form a charpente. I have little hope of success.

Chertkov and Kenworthy went away the 7th. Sonya went to Tver to Andrusha.[41] To-day Nagornov[42] died. I am again a little indisposed.

I jotted down during this time:

1) A true work of art—a contagious one—is produced only when the artist seeks, strives. In poetry this passion for representing that which is, comes from the fact that the artist hopes that having seen clearly and having fixed that which is, he will understand the meaning of that which is.

2) In every art there are two departures from the way, vulgarity and artificiality. Between them both there is only a narrow path. And this narrow path is outlined by impulse. If you have impulse and direction, you pass by both dangers. Of the two, the more terrible is artificiality.


3) It is impossible to compel reason to examine and clarify that which the heart does not wish.

4) It is bad when reason wishes to give the meaning of virtue to selfish efforts.

Kudinenko[43] was here. A remarkable man. N. took the oath and is serving.[44] A letter from Makovitsky[45] with an article on the Nazarenes.[46]

Jan. 24. Moscow. If I live.

Jan. 25. Moscow.

During these two days the chief event was the death of Nagornov. Always new and full of meaning is death. It occurred to me: they represent death in the theater. Does it produce 1/1,000,000 of that impression which the nearness of a real death produces?

I continue writing the drama. I have written four acts. All bad. But it is beginning to resemble a real thing.

Jan. 26. Mosc. If I live.

January 26. Moscow.

I am alive, but I don’t live. Strakhov—to-day I heard of his death.[47] To-day they buried Nagornov—and that is news. I lay down to sleep, but could not sleep, and there appeared before me so clearly and brightly, an understanding of life whereby we would feel[21] ourselves to be travelers. Before us lies a stage of the road with the same well-known conditions. How can one walk along that road otherwise than eagerly, gaily, friendly, and actively together, not grieving over the fact that you yourself are going away or that others are going ahead of you thither, where we shall again be still more together.

To-day I wrote a postscript to the letter to Crosby. A good letter from Kenworthy. Unpleasantness with N. He is a journalist.

Jan. 26 [27?]. Moscow. If I live.

Almost a month that I have made no entries. To-day, Feb. 13, Moscow.

I wanted to go to the Olsuphievs.[48].... There is much bustle here and it takes up much time. I sit down late to my work and therefore write little. I finished somehow the fifth act of the drama and took up Resurrection. I read over eleven chapters and am gradually advancing. I corrected the letter to Crosby.

An event—an important one—Strakhov’s death, and something else—Davydov’s conversation with the Emperor.[49]......

The article by Ertel[50] that the efforts of the liberals are useful, and also the letter by Spielhagen on the same theme,[51] provoke me. But I can not, I must not write. I have no time. The letters[22] from Sopotsko[52] and Zdziekhovsky[53] on the Orthodox Church and on the Catholic, provoke me on the other hand. However, I shall hardly write. But here yesterday I received a letter from Grinevich’s[54] mother on the religious bringing up of children. That I must do. At least I must use all my strength to do this.

Very much music—it is useless.... As regards religion, I am very cool at present.

Thought during this time (much I have forgotten and have not written down):

1) Oh, not to forget death for a moment, into which at any moment you can fall! If we would only remember that we are not standing upon an even plain (if you think we are standing so, then you are only imagining that those who have gone away have fallen overboard and you yourself are afraid that you will fall overboard), but that we are rolling on, without stopping, running into each other, getting ahead and being got ahead of, yonder behind the curtain which hides from us those who are going away, and will hide us from those who remain. If we remember that always, then, how easy and joyous it is to live and roll together, yonder down the same incline, in the power of God, with Whom we have been and in Whose power we are now and will be afterwards and forever. I have been feeling this very keenly.


2) There is no more convincing proof of the existence of God, than the faculty of the soul by which we can transport ourselves into other beings. Out of this faculty flows both love and reason, but neither one nor the other is in us, but they are outside of us and we only coincide with them. (Unclear.)

3) The power to kill oneself is free play given to people. God did not want slaves in this life, but free workers. If you remain in this life, then it means that its conditions are advantageous to you. If advantageous—then work. If you go away from the conditions here, if you kill yourself, then the same thing will be put before you again there. So there is nowhere to go.

It would be good to write the history of what a man lives through in this life who committed suicide in a past life; how, coming up against the same requirements which were placed before him in the other life, he comes to the realization that he must fulfill them. And in this life he is more intelligent than in the others, remembering the lesson given him.

4) How does it happen that a clever, educated man believes in the nonsensical? Man thinks that which his heart desires. Only if his heart desires the truth, and only if it does, will he think the truth. But if his heart desires earthly pleasures and peace, he will think of that which will bring[24] him earthly pleasures and peace or still something else. But as it is not an attribute of man to have earthly pleasures and peace, he will think falsely; and to be able to think falsely he will hypnotize himself.

(Unclear, not good.)

Feb. 14. M. If I live.

To-day February 22. Nicholskoe, at the Olsuphievs.[55]

It is already more than a week that I feel depressed in spirit. No life; I can not work on anything. Father of my life and of all life! If my work is already finished here, as I am beginning to think, and the ending of my spiritual life, which I am beginning to feel, means a transfer into that other life—that I am already beginning to live there and that here these remnants are being taken away little by little—then show it to me more clearly that I may not seek and weary myself. Otherwise it seems to me that I have many well-thought plans, yet I have no means, not only for carrying them through—this I know, I ought not to think of—but even to do something good, something pleasing to Thee as long as I live here. Or give me strength to work with the consciousness of serving Thee. Still, Thy will be done. If only I always felt that life consisted only in the fulfillment[25] of Thy will, I would not doubt. But doubt comes because I bite the bit and don’t feel the reins.

It is now 2 o’clock. I am going to dinner. I took a walk, slept in the morning, read Trilby. And I want to sleep all the time.

During this time, what has happened? Almost nothing. I thought on the Declaration of Faith.

If I live. February 23. Nicholskoe.

To-day February 27. Nicholskoe.

Am writing the drama, it moves very stiffly. Indeed I don’t even know if I am progressing or not.... I am very comfortable here; the important thing—it is quiet.

Read Trilby—poor. Wrote letters to Chertkov, Schmidt,[56] Kenworthy. Read Corneille—instructive.

Have been thinking:

1) I made a note that there are two arts. Now thinking it over, I don’t find a clear expression of my thought. Then I thought that there was an art, as they rightly characterize it, which grew from play, from the need of every creature to play. The play of the calf is jumping, the play of man is a symphony, a picture, a poem, a novel.

This is one kind of art, the art of play, of[26] thinking out new plays, producing old ones and inventing new. That is a good thing, useful and valuable because it increases man’s joys. But it is clear that it is possible to occupy oneself with play only when sated. Thus society can only occupy itself with art, when all its members are sated. But as long as all its members are not sated, there can not be real art, there will be an art of the overfed, a deformed one, and an art of the hungry ones—rough and poor, just as it is now. And therefore, in the first kind of art—of play—only that part is of value which is attainable to all, which increases the joys of all.

If it is like this, then it is not a bad thing, especially if it does not demand an increase of toil on the part of the oppressed, as happens now.

(This could and should be expressed better.)

But there is yet another art which calls forth in man better and higher feelings. I wrote this just now—something I have said many times—and I think it isn’t true. Art is only one and consists in this: to increase the sinless general joys accessible to all—the good of man. A nice building, a gay picture, a song, a story give a little good; the awakening of religious feelings, of the love of good brought forth by a drama, a picture, a song—give great good.

The 2nd thing that I have been thinking about art, is that nowhere is conservatism so harmful[27] as in art. Art is one of the manifestations of the spiritual life of man, and therefore, as when an animal is alive, it breathes and discharges the products of its breathing, so when humanity is alive, it manifests activity in art. And therefore, at every given moment it must be contemporaneous—the art of our time. One ought only to know where it is (not in the decadence of music, poetry, or the novel); and one must seek it not in the past, but in the present. People who wish to show themselves connoisseurs of art and who therefore praise the past classic art and insult the present, only show by this, that they have no feeling for art.

3) Rachinsky[57] says: “Notice that contemporaneous with the spread of the use of narcotics, since the 17th century, the astounding progress of science began, and especially of the natural ones.” Is it not because of this, I say to him, that the false direction of science has come, the studying of that which is not necessary to man, but is only an object for idle curiosity, or when useful, is not the only thing really necessary? Is it not because of this that from that time on there was neglected the one thing that was necessary, i.e. the settling of moral questions and their application to life?

4) What is the good? I only know a word in Russian which defines this idea. The good is the real good, the good for all, le veritable bien, le bien de tous, what is good for everybody.[58]


5) Men, in struggling with untruth and superstition, often console themselves with the quantity of superstition they have destroyed. This is not right. It is not right to calm oneself until all that is contradictory to reason and demands credulence is destroyed. Superstition is like a cancer. Everything must be cleaned out if one undertakes an operation. But if a little bit is left, everything will grow from it again.

6) The historic knowledge of how different myths and beliefs arose among peoples in different places and in different times ought to, it seems, destroy the faith that these myths and beliefs which have been inoculated in us from our infancy, constitute the absolute truth; but nevertheless, so-called educated people believe in them. How superficial then, is the education of so-called educated people!

7) To-day at dinner there was talk about a boy with vicious inclinations who was expelled from school, and about how good it would be to give him over to a reformatory.

It is exactly what a man does who lives a bad life, harmful to his health, and who, when he becomes ill, turns to the doctor so that the latter may cure him, but has no idea that the illness was given to him as a beneficial indicator that his whole life is bad and that he ought to change it. The[29] same thing is true with the illnesses in our society; every ill member of society does not remind us that the whole life of our society is irregular and that we ought to change it. But we think that for every such ill member, there is or ought to be, an institution freeing us from this member or even bettering him.

Nothing hampers the progress of humanity so much as this false conviction. The more ill the society, the more institutions there are for the healing of symptoms and the less anxiety for changing the entire life.

It is now 10 o’clock in the evening. I am going to supper. I want to work very much, but am without intellectual energy; a great weakness, yet I want to work terribly. If God would only give it to-morrow.

Feb. 28. Nicholskoe. If I live.

To-day March 6. Nicholskoe.

All this time I have felt weakness and intellectual apathy. I am working on the drama very slowly. Much has become clear. But there isn’t one scene with which I am fully satisfied.

To-day I was about to plan something silly: to write out an outline of the Declaration of Faith. Of course it didn’t go. In the same way I began and dropped a letter to the Italians.[59]


During this time I jotted down:

1) Corneille writes in his Préface to Menteur on art, that its aim is a diversion, “divertir,” but that it must not be harmful, and if possible, it ought to be educationally enlightening.

2) At supper there was a discussion on heredity: they say vicious people are born from an alcoholic ... (I can’t clearly express my thought and will put it by.)

3) Something very important. I lay and was almost asleep, suddenly something seemed to tear in my heart. It occurred to me: that is the way death comes from heart failure; and I remained calm—I felt neither grief nor joy, but blessedly calm—whether here or there, I know that it is well with me, that things are as they ought to be, just like a child, tossed in the arms of its mother, does not stop smiling from joy for it knows that it is in her loving arms.

And the thought came to me: why is it so now and was not so before? Because before, I did not live the whole of life, but lived only an earthly life. In order to believe in immortality, one must live an immortal life here. One can walk with one’s feet and not see the precipice before one, over which it is impossible to cross, and one can rise on one’s wings....[60]

(It isn’t going and I don’t feel like thinking.)

March 7, 1896. Nicholskoe. If I live.


To-day May 2. Yasnaya Polyana.

It is almost two months since I have made an entry. All this time I lived in Moscow. Of important events there were: a getting closer to the scribe Novikov[61] who changed his life on account of my books which his brother, a lackey, received from his mistress abroad. A hot-blooded youth. Also his brother, a working man, asked for “What is my Faith?” and Tania[62] sent him to Mme. Kholevinsky.[63] They took Mme. Kholevinsky to prison. The prosecuting attorney said that they ought to go after me. All this together made me write a letter to the ministers of Justice and the Interior in which I begged them to transfer their prosecution to me.[64]

All this time I wrote on the Declaration of Faith. I made little progress. Chertkov, Posha Biriukov were here and went away. My relations with people are good. I have stopped riding the bicycle. I wonder how I could have been so infatuated.

I heard Wagner’s Siegfried.[65] I have many thoughts in connection with this and other things. In all I have jotted down 20 thoughts in my notebook.

Still another important event—the work of African Spier.[66] I just read through what I wrote in the beginning of this notebook. At bottom, it is nothing else than a short summary of all of[32] Spier’s philosophy which I not only had not read at that time, but about which I had not the slightest idea. This work clarified my ideas on the meaning of life remarkably, and in some ways strengthened them. The essence of his doctrine is that things do not exist, but only our impressions which appear to us in our conception as objects. Conception (Vorstellung) has the quality of believing in the existence of objects. This comes from the fact that the quality of thinking consists in attributing an objectivity to impressions, a substance, and a projecting of them into space.

May 3. Y. P.

Let me write down anything. Am indisposed. Weakness and physical apathy. But think and feel keenly. Yesterday at least, I wrote a few letters: to Spier,[67] Shkarvan, Myasoyedov,[68] Perer, Sverbeev.[69]

I am reading Spier all the time, and the reading provokes a mass of thoughts.

Let me write out something at least from my 21 notes.

To-day I worked on the Declaration of Faith.

1) “Come and dwell in us and cleanse us of all evil” ... On the contrary: Cleanse thy soul of evil thyself and He will come and dwell in thee. He only waits for this. Like water he flows into[33] thee in the measure as room is freed. “Dwell in us.” How agonizingly lonely it is without Thee—this I experienced these days and how peaceful, firm and joyous, needing nothing and no one when with Thee. Do not leave me!

I can not pray. His tongue is different from that which I speak, but He will understand and translate it into His own when I say: “Help me, come to me, do not leave me!”

And here I have fallen into a contradiction. I say you have to cleanse yourself, then He will come. But I, not yet having cleansed myself, call upon Him.

May 4. If I still live here, Y. P.

May 5. Y. P.

The same general despair. And I am sad. There is one cause; the higher moral requirement that I put forward. In its name I have rejected everything that is beneath it. But it was not followed. Fifteen years ago I proposed giving away the greater part of the property and to live in four rooms. Then they would have an ideal....

To-day I rode past Gill.[70] I thought: no undertaking is profitable with a small amount of capital. The more capital, the more profits; the less expenses. But from this it in no way follows that, as Marx says, capitalism will lead to socialism.[34] Perhaps it will lead to it, but to one with force. The workingmen will be compelled to work together, and they will work less and the pay will be more, but there will be the same slavery. It is necessary that people work freely in common, that they learn to work for each other, but capitalism doesn’t teach them that; on the contrary, it teaches them envy, greed, selfishness. Therefore, through a forced uniting brought about by capitalism, the material condition of the workers can be bettered, but their contentment can in no way be established. Contentment can only be established through the free union of the workers. And for this it is necessary to learn how to unite, to perfect oneself morally, to willingly serve others without being hurt when not receiving a return. And this can’t in any way be learned under the capitalistic, competitive system, but under an entirely different one.

I sleep alone downstairs.

To-morrow, May 6th, Y. P.

To-day, May 9, Y. P.

Up to now, I haven’t yet written out all that I had to. Have been continually indisposed. Notwithstanding this, I work in the mornings. To-day, it seemed to me I advanced very much. Our people have gone away, some to the coronation,[35] others to Sweden.[71] I am alone with Masha; she has a sore throat. I am well.

May 10, If I live. Y. P.

To-day, May 11, Y. P.

Sonya arrived from Moscow. I continue to write the Declaration of Faith. It seems as if I were weakening. To-day I received a letter from N, a tangled up revolutionist. In the evening I rode horseback to Yasenki[72] and thought:

I have not yet written out everything from my notebooks. I will jot down at least this, the more so since, when it came into my head it seemed to me very important. Namely:

1) Spier says we know only sensations. It is true, the material of our knowledge is sensations. But one must ask; why variation of sensations (even of one and the same sense of sight or touch). He (Spier) insists too much that corporeality is an illusion, and does not answer the question: why variation of sensations? It is not bodies that make variation of sensations, I agree to this, but it is just such beings as we, who must be the cause of these sensations.

I know that what he recognizes as our being he recognizes as a unit. Good. Admitting it is a unit, then it is a divided off, broken off unit, and I am a unit being only within certain limits. And[36] these limits of my being are the limits of other beings. Or, one being is outlined by limits and these limits create sensations, i. e., the material of knowledge. There are no bodies, bodies are illusions, but other beings are not illusions and I recognize them through sensations. Their activity produces sensations in me and I conclude that the same effect is produced in them by my activity. When I receive sensations from a man with whom I come in contact, it can be understood; but when I receive sensations from the earth upon which I fall, from the sun which warms me, what is it that produces these sensations in me? Probably the activities of beings whose life I do not understand; but I recognize only a part of them like the flea on my body. Touching the earth, feeling the warmth of the sun, my limits come in contact with the limits of the sun. I am in the world (I project this into space. I can not do it otherwise though it is not so in reality) like a cell, not an immovable one, but one wandering and touching by his limits, not only the limits of other cells of the same kind, but other enormous bodies.

Better still, not to project this into space; I act and am acted upon by the greatest variety of beings; or, my division of a unit being associates with other divisions of the most various kinds.

(What a lot of nonsense!)


May 12, Y. P. If I live.

Pentecost. It is cold, damp, and not a leaf on the trees.

To-day already, May 16, Y. P. Morning.

I can not write my Declaration of Faith. It is unclear, metaphysical, and whatever good there is in it, I spoil. I am thinking of beginning it all from the beginning again or to call a stop and get to work on a novel or a drama.

N.[73] was here; it was a difficult love test. I passed it only outwardly and even then badly. If the examiner had gone along thoroughly, skipping about, I would have failed shamefully.

A beautiful article by Menshikov, “The Blunders of Fear.”[74] How joyous! I can almost die, even absolutely, and yet it always seems as if there is something still to be done. Do it and the end will take care of itself. If you are no longer fit for the work, you will be changed and a new one will be sent and you will be sent to another work. If only one rises in work!

Strakhov Th. A.[75] was here. The other one, N.,[76] came to me in my sleep. I had a talk with him[77] about the Declaration of Faith. In speaking to him I felt how hazy was the desire for the good in itself. And I corrected it this way:

1) A man at a certain period of his development awakens to a consciousness of his life. He[38] sees that everything about him lives (and he himself lived like that before the awakening of his reason) without knowing its life. Now that he has learned that he lives, he understands that force which gives life to the whole world and in his consciousness he coincides with it, but being limited by his separate being (his organism), it seems to him that the purpose of this force which gives life to the world, is the life of his separate being.

(I thought that I would write it clearly and again I am confused;—evidently I am not ready.)

Life is the desire for the good. (Everything that lives, lives only because it desires the good; that which does not desire the good, does not live.)

Man, when awakened to a reasoning consciousness, is conscious of life in himself, i. e. of the desire for the good. But since this consciousness is engendered in the separate bodily being of man, since man learns that life is the desire for the good when he is already separated from others by his bodily being, therefore, in the first awakening of man to a reasoning consciousness, it seems to him that life, i. e. the desire for the good which he recognizes in himself, has for its object his separate bodily being. And man begins to live consciously for the good of his separate being, begins[39] to use that reason of his which revealed to him the essence of all life; the desire for the good, in order to secure the good for his own separate being.

But the longer a man lives, the more obvious it becomes to him that his purpose is unattainable. And therefore, while he has not yet made clear to himself his error, even before he recognizes by reason the impossibility of the good for a separate personality, man knows by experience and feeling the error of activity which is directed to the good of his own separate personality and he naturally strives that his life, his desire for the good, be drawn away from his own personality and brought over to other things; to comrades, friends, family, society.

This same reason which he desires to use for the attainment of the good for his own separate being, shows man that this good is unattainable, that it becomes destroyed by the struggle between the separate beings for the desired good, destroyed by the unpreventable, innumerable disasters and sufferings which threaten man, and above all, by the unavoidable illnesses, sufferings, old age and death which occur in the individual life of man. No matter how man might expand his desire for the good to other beings, he can not but see that all these separate beings are like him, subject to unavoidable sufferings and death and therefore,[40] they, just as he, can not have real life by themselves.

And it is just this error of men who have awakened to the consciousness of life that the Christian teaching dissipates, in showing to man that as soon as a consciousness of life has awakened in him, i. e. the desire for the good, then his being, his “self” is no longer his separate bodily being, but that same consciousness of life, the desire for the good not for himself, which was born in his separate being. The consciousness, therefore, of the desire for the good, is the desire for the good for everything existent. And the desire for the good for everything existent, is God.

The Christian teaching teaches just this, that His son, who resembles God, and who was sent by the Father into the world that the will of the Father be fulfilled in him, lives in man with an awakened consciousness (the conversation with Nicodemus.)

The Christian teaching reveals to man with an awakened consciousness, that the meaning and the aim of his life does not consist, as it seemed to him before, in the acquiring of the greater good for his own separate personality or for other such personalities like him, no matter how many they are, but only in the fulfillment in this world of the will of the Father who has sent man into the[41] world—it reveals also to man the will of the Father in regard to the son. The will of the Father in regard to the son is that there should be manifested in this world that desire for the good which forms the essence of his life, so that man living in this world should wish the good to a greater and greater number of beings and consequently he should serve them as he serves his own good.


May 17, Y. P.

Again I am dissatisfied with what I wrote yesterday and which seemed to me true and full. Last night and this morning I thought about the same thing. Here are the new things which have become clear to me:

1) That the desire for the good is not God, but only one of His manifestations, one of the sides from which we see God. God in me is manifested by the desire for the good;

2) That this God which is enclosed in man, begins to strive to free Himself in broadening and enlarging the being in whom He dwells; then, seeing the impassable limits of this being, He tries to free Himself by going outside of this being and embracing other beings;

3) That a reasoning being cannot find room for[42] himself in the life of an individual, and that as soon as he becomes reasoning he tries to go out of it;

4) That the Christian teaching reveals to man that the essence of his life is not his separate being, but God, which is enclosed in his being. This God, therefore, becomes known to man through reason and love ...

I can not write any farther; weak, sleepy.

5) And above all, that the desire for the good for oneself, love for oneself, could exist in man only up to the time when reason had not yet awakened in him. But as soon as reason had wakened in him, then it became clear to man that the desire for the good for himself—a separate being—was futile, because the good is not realizable for a separate and mortal being. Just as soon as reason appeared, then there became possible only one kind of desire for the good; the desire for the good for all, because with the desire for the good for all, there is no struggle but union, and no death but the transmission of life. God is not love, but in living, unreasoning beings He is manifested through a love for oneself, and in living, reasoning beings, through love for everything that exists.

I am now going to write out the 21 points from my notebooks.

1) In order to believe in immortality one has[43] to live an immortal life here, i. e. to live not towards oneself but towards God, not for oneself, but for God. Man, in this life, seems to be standing with one foot on a board and the other on the earth; and as soon as his reason has awakened, he sees that that board upon which he was just about to step lies over an abyss and it not only bends and creaks, but is already falling and man transfers his weight to that foot which stands on the earth. How not be afraid if one stands on that which bends and creaks and falls; and how be afraid, and of what to be afraid, if you stand on that upon which everything falls and below which it is impossible to fall?

2) Read about Granovsky.[78] In our literature it is customary to say, that during the reign of Nicholas conditions were such that it was impossible to express great thoughts. (Granovsky complains of this and others too.) But the thoughts there were not real. It is all self-deception. If all those Granovskys, Bielinskys,[79] and others had anything to say, they would have said it, no matter what the obstacles. The proof is Herzen.[80] He went away abroad and despite his enormous talent, what did he say that was new, necessary? All those Granovskys, Bielinskys, Chernishevskys,[81] Dobroliubovs, who were raised to great men, ought to be grateful to the government and the censorship without which they would[44] have been the most unnoticed of sketch-writers.

Perhaps the Bielinskys, Granovskys, and the other unimportant ones might have had something real within them, but they stifled it, imagining they had to serve society with the forms of social life and not to serve God by professing the truth and by preaching it without any care about the forms of social life. Let there be contents and the forms will shape themselves.

People acting thus, i. e. adapting their striving for truth to the existing forms of society, are like a being to whom wings have been given to fly, without knowing obstacles, and who used these wings in order to help itself in walking. Such a being would not attain its ends—every obstacle would stop it and it would spoil its wings. And then this being would complain that it had been held back and would tell with sorrow (like Granovsky) that it would have gone far if obstacles had not held it back.

The quality of real spiritual activity is such, that it is impossible to hold it back. If it is held back, then it means only one thing: it is not real.

3) Man dying little by little (growing old) experiences that which a sprouting seed ought to experience which has not yet transferred its consciousness from the seed to the plant. He feels[45] that he grows less, but he is not conscious of himself there where he increases; in another life.

I am beginning to experience this.

4) I wrote down: “Reason is a tool for the recognition of truth, verification, criticism.” I can’t remember very well. It seems to me, and I am even certain of it, that it is this:

Under reason is understood many different intellectual activities and very complex ones, and therefore the correctness of the solutions of reason is often doubted. As an answer to this doubt, I say, that there is an activity of the reason which is not to be doubted, namely, the critical activity, the activity of verifying what is told me. They tell me that God ... etc. I submit this to the verification of reason and decide without doubt that that which is not reasonable does not exist for me. It is wrong to say that everything which exists is reasonable, or that everything which is reasonable exists, but it is wrong not to say that that which is unreasonable does not exist for me.

5) It seems to man that his animal life is his real essence and that the spiritual life is the product of his animal one, just as it seems to a man rowing in a boat that he is standing still and that the banks, and the whole earth, are running past him.

6) There is a goodness which wants to make[46] use of the advantages of goodness and does not want to bear the disadvantages of it. That is animal goodness.

7) Christian truth, they say, can not be proved; it must be believed. As if it were easier to become convinced of the truth of the nonsensical than of the reasonable. Why deprive Christianity of the power of convincing? Why?

8) Nature, they say, is economical of its own forces; by the least effort, it attains the greatest results. So is God. To establish the Kingdom of God on earth, of union, of serving one another—and to destroy hostility, God does not have to do it himself. He has placed His reason in man, which frees love in man and everything which He desires will be done by man. God does His work through us. And there is no time for God—or there is infinite time. When he has placed reasoning love in man, he has already done everything.

Why has He done this in this way through man, and not by Himself? The question is stupid and one which never would have entered one’s head if we were all not spoiled by absurd superstition....

9) One of the most torturing spiritual sufferings is the not being understood by people when you feel yourself hopelessly alone in your thoughts. There is consolation in this, that you[47] know that that very thing which people do not understand in you, God understands.

10) To carry over one’s “self” from the bodily to the spiritual, that means to consciously wish only the spiritual. My body can unconsciously strive for the fleshly, but I consciously desire nothing of the fleshly, as when I do not desire to fall, but can not but submit to the law of gravitation.

11) If you have transferred your “self” to your spiritual being, you will feel the same pain in violating love as you will feel physical pain when you violate the good of the body. The indicator is just as direct and true. And I already feel it.

12) Sin is the strengthening of the consciousness of life in one’s separate being, or the weakening of one’s reasoning consciousness, which shows the inconsistency of animal life. For the first end, the activity of reason is directed to the strengthening of the delusion of a separate life: 1, food; 2, lust; 3, vanity, strengthened by reason. For the second end, are used the means of weakening reason: tobacco, opium, wine.

13) Temptation is the assertion that it is permitted to violate love for the greater good: 1, to oneself; it is necessary to feed, cure, educate, calm oneself, in order to be in condition to serve men, and for this it is permitted to violate love; 2, one must secure, preserve, and educate the family, and[48] for this it is permitted to violate love; 3, one has to organize, secure, protect the community, the state, and for this it is permitted to violate love; 4, one has to contribute to the salvation of the souls of people by violent suggestion, through education, and for this it is permitted to violate love.

14) The essay on art has to be begun with a discussion of the fact, that for the picture here, which it has cost the master 1,000 working days, he is given 40 thousand working days: for an opera, a novel, still more. And then, some say of these works, that they are beautiful; others, that they are absolutely bad. And there is no incontestable criterion. There is no such argument about water, food, and good works. Why is that so?

15) What is the result of a man recognizing as his “self” not his own separate being, but God living in him? In the first place, not consciously desiring the good for his own separate being, that man will not, or will less eagerly, take the good away from others; in the second place, having recognized as his “self” God, who desires the good for all that exists, man also will desire it.

16) Why do people hold on so passionately to the principle of family, the producing and bringing up of children? Because to a man who has not yet transferred his consciousness from his separate being to that of God, it is the only seemingly[49] satisfactory explanation of the meaning of life.

17) The meaning of life becomes clear to man when he recognizes as himself, his divine essence which is enclosed in his bodily envelope. The meaning of this lies in the fact that this being, striving for its emancipation, for the broadening of the realm of love, accomplishes through this broadening the work of God, which consists in the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.

18) Violence can neither weaken nor strengthen a spiritual movement. To act on spiritual activity by force is just like catching the rays of the sun—no matter how you cover them, they will always be on top.

19) I have noted down: “Do you imagine your life in the wood which is being burned down or in the fire which burns?”

It is this way: you get the wood ready, and then you are sorry to use it; in the same way you get yourself ready and then you are sorry. But the comparison is not good, because fire comes to an end. A better comparison would be with food; do you imagine your life in food or in that which is being fed? Is not that the meaning of the words of St. John about “my body”, which ought to be food? Man is food for God if he gives himself to God.

(Unclear; nonsense.)


20) The principal aim of art, if there is art, and if it has an aim, is to manifest and to express the truth about man’s soul, to express those mysteries which it is impossible to express simply by speech. From this springs art. Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the mysteries of his soul and shows to people those mysteries which are common to all.

21) Love, enclosed in man and freed by reason, manifests itself in two ways: 1, by its expansion, and 2, by the establishment of the Kingdom of God. It is steam which, in spreading, works.

22) Lately, I have begun to feel such firmness and strength, not my own, but that of that God’s work which I wish to serve, that the irritation, the reproaches, the mocking people hostile to the work of God, is strange to me; they are pitiable, touching.

23) The world, living unconsciously, and man, in the period of his childhood, performed unconsciously the work of God. Having awakened to consciousness, he does it consciously. In the collision between the two methods of serving, man ought to know that the unconscious passes and will pass into the conscious and not the opposite and that therefore it is necessary to give oneself over to the future and not to the past. (Stupid.)


24) The delusion of man who has awakened to consciousness and who continues to consider his own separate being as himself, is that he considers a tool as himself. If you feel pain at the disturbing of the good of your separate being, it is as if you felt on your hand the blows on the tool with which you work. The tool has to be taken care of, ground, but not to be considered as oneself.

25) God Himself is economical. He has to penetrate all with love. He has fired man alone with love and has placed him in the necessity of firing all the rest.

26) Nothing affects the religious outlook so much as the way we look upon the world; whether with a beginning and an end, as it was looked upon in antiquity, or infinite as it is looked upon now. In a finite world, one can construct a reasonable rôle for separate mortal man, but in an infinite world the life of such a being has no meaning.

27) (For Konevsky) It happens to Katiusha after her resurrection, that she has certain periods in which she smiles slyly and lazily as if she had forgotten all which she considered true before; she is merely joyous and wants to live.

28) To him who lives a spiritual life entirely, life here becomes so uninteresting and burdensome that he can part with it easily.


29) Natasha Strakhov[82] asks her father, when he speaks of something which happened when she was not yet born: “Where was I then?” I would have answered: “You were asleep and had not yet waked up here.” Conception, birth, childhood are only a preparation to an awakening, which we see, but not the sleeping ones.

30) The error in which we find ourselves when we consider our separate beings as ourselves is the same as when a traveler counts only one stage as the whole road, or a man, one day as his whole life.

31) Read about ... and was horrified at the conscious deception of men ...

32) “An eraser.” I have forgotten. I shall recall it.

Have written up to dinner. It is now 2 o’clock and I am going to dine.

May 28, Ysn. Pol. 12 o’c. noon.

It is already several days that I am struggling with my work[83] and am making no progress. I sleep. I wanted to scribble it somehow to the very end, but I can’t possibly do it. Am in a wretched mood, aggravated by the emptiness, by the poor, self-satisfied, cold emptiness of my surrounding life.

In the meantime I have been to Pirogovo.[84] I have a most joyous impression; my brother Sergei[85][53] has undoubtedly had a spiritual transformation. He himself has formulated the essence of my faith (and he evidently recognizes it as true for himself); to raise in oneself the spiritual essence and to subject to it the animal element. He has a miraculous icon and he was tortured by his undefined attitude to it. The little girls[86] are very good and live seriously. Masha has been infected by them. Later there were at our house: Salamon,[87] Tanyee.[88]...

A terrible event in Moscow—the death of three thousand[89]—I somehow can not express myself as I ought to. I am indisposed all the time, getting weaker. In Pirogovo, there was the harnessmaker, an intelligent man. Yesterday a working-man came from Tula, intelligent. I think a revolutionist. To-day a seminary student, a touching case.

I am advancing very, very badly in my work. Rather boring letters because they demand polite answers. I have written to Bondarev,[90] Posha, and to some one else. O yes; Officer N. was here too. I think I was useful to him. Splendid notes by Shkarvan.[91]

Yesterday there was a letter from poor N.[92], whom they have driven off to the Persian frontier, hoping to kill him. God help him. And don’t forget me. Give me life, life, i. e. a conscious, joyful serving of Thee.


In the meantime, I thought,

1) It is remarkable how many people see some insoluble problem in evil. I have never seen any problem in it. For me it is now altogether clear that that which we call evil is that good, the action of which we don’t yet see.

2) The poetry of Mallarmé,[93] and others. We who don’t understand it, say boldly that it is humbug, that it is poetry striking an impasse. Why is it that when we hear music which we don’t understand and which is just as nonsensical, we don’t say that boldly, but say timidly: yes, perhaps one ought to understand it or prepare oneself for it, etc. That is silly. Every work of art is only a work of art when it is understandable, I do not say for all, but for people standing on a certain level of education, on the same level as the man who reads poetry and who judges it.

This reasoning leads me to an absolutely certain conclusion that music before any other art (decadence in poetry and symbolism and other things in painting) has lost its way and struck an impasse. And he who has turned it from the road was that musical genius Beethoven. The principal factors are the authorities and people deprived of æsthetic feeling who judge art.

Goethe? Shakespeare?[94] Everything that goes under their names is supposed to be good and on se bât les flancs in order to find something[55] beautiful in the stupid and the unsuccessful, and taste is entirely perverted. And all these great talents—Goethe, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Michael-Angelo—side by side with exquisite things, produced not only mediocre ones, but disgusting ones. The mediocre artists produce a mediocrity as regards value and never anything very bad. But recognized geniuses create either really great works or absolute stuff and nonsense; Shakespeare, Goethe, Beethoven, Bach, and others.

3) To place before myself the most complex and confused thing which demands my participation. On all sides it seems there exist insoluble dilemmas; it is bad one way and worse the other. And it is only necessary to carry over the problem from the outer realm into the inner, into one’s own life, to understand that this is only an arena for my inner perfection, that it is a test, a measure of my moral development, an experiment as to how much I can and want to do the work of God, the enlargement of love, and everything resolves itself so easily, simply, joyously.

4) A mistake (sin) is the use of reason, given me to recognize my essence in the love for everything which exists, in acquiring the good for my separate being. As long as man lived without a reasoning consciousness, he fulfilled the will of God in acquiring the good for himself and in[56] struggling for it and there was no sin; but as soon as reason had awakened, then there was sin.

5) The harness-maker, Mikhailo, says to me that he does not believe in a future life, that he thinks that when a man dies, his spirit will leave him and will go away. But I say to him: “Well, go off then with this spirit; then you won’t die.”

May 29, Ysn. Pol. If I live.

It seems to me, June 6, Ysn. Pol.

The principal thing is that during this time I have advanced in my work,[95] and am advancing. I write on sins and the whole work is clear to the end.

Finished Spier—splendid.

The economic movement of humanity by three means: the destruction of ownership of land according to Henry George[96]; the inheritance which would give over accumulated wealth to society, if not in the first generation, then in the second; and a similar tax on wealth on an excess of over 1,000 rubles income for a family or 200 for each man.

To-day the Chertkovs arrived. Galia[97] is very good.

The day before yesterday a gendarme came, a[57] spy, who confessed that he was sent after me. It was both pleasant and nasty.[98]

During this time have thought principally the following:

1) When a man lives an animal life, he does not know that God lives through him. When reason awakens in him, then he knows it. And knowing it, he becomes united with God.

2) Man in his animal life has to be guided by instinct; reason directed to that which is not subject to it, will spoil everything.

3) Is not luxury a preparing for something better, when there is already a sufficiency?

Yesterday was not the 6th, but the 8th. To-day, June 9, Y. P.

I have written little and not very well. It seems to me that it is getting clearer. In the morning I had a conversation with the workingmen who came for books. I remembered the woman who asked to write to John of Kronstad.[99]

The religion of the people is this: there is a God and there are gods and saints. (Christ came on earth, as a peasant told me to-day, to teach people how and to whom to pray.) The gods and the saints perform miracles, have power over the flesh and perform heroic deeds and good works, and the people have only to pray, to know how[58] and to whom to pray. But people can not perform good works, they can only pray. Here is their whole faith.

I bathed and don’t feel well.

June 19, Y. P.

Have been feeling weak all this time and sleep badly. Posha came yesterday. He spoke about the Khodinka accident well, but wrote it badly. Our very idle, luxurious life oppresses me. N. came. A stranger. He is young and he does not understand in the same way as I do, that which he understands, although he agrees with everything. Finished the first draft[100] on the 13th of June. Now I am revising it, but am working very little.

... Struggled with myself twice and successfully. Oh, if it were always so!

Once I passed beyond Zakaz[101] at night and wept for joy, being grateful for life. The pictures of life in Samara stand out very clearly before me; the steppes, the fight of the nomadic, patriarchic principle with the agricultural civilized one.[102] It draws me very much. Konefsky was not born in me; that is why it moves so awkwardly.

Have been thinking:

1) Something very important about art: what is beauty? Beauty is that which we love. “He[59] is not dear because he is good, but good because he is dear.” Here is the problem; why dear? Why do we love? And to say that we love, because a thing is beautiful, is just the same as saying that we breathe because the air is pleasant. We find the air pleasant, because we have to breathe; and in the same way we discover beauty, because we have to love. And he who hasn’t the power to see spiritual beauty, sees at least a bodily one and loves it.

June 26, Y. P. Morning.

All night I did not sleep. My heart aches without stopping. I continue to suffer and can not subject myself to God.... I have not mastered pride and rebellion and the pain in my heart does not stop. One thing consoles me; I am not alone but with God, and therefore no matter how painful it is, yet I feel that something is taking place within me. Help me, Father.

Yesterday I walked to Baburino[103] and unwillingly (I rather would have avoided than sought it), I met the 80-year-old Akime plowing, the woman Yaremichov who hasn’t a coat to her household and only one jacket, then Maria whose husband was frozen and who has no one to gather her rye and who is starving her child, and Trophime and Khaliavka, and the husband and wife were dying as well as the children. And we study[60] Beethoven. And I pray that He release me from this life. And again I pray and cry from pain. I am entrapped, sinking, I cannot alone, only I hate myself and my life.

June 30, Ysn. Pol.

Continued to suffer and struggle much, and have conquered neither one nor the other. But it is better. Mme. Annenkov[104] was here and put it very well ...[105] They have spoiled for me even my diary which I write with the point of view of the possibility of its being read by the living[106] ...

Just now upstairs they began to speak about the New Testament and N. en ricanant proved that Christ advised castration. I became angry,—shameful.

Two days ago I went to those who had been burned out; had not dined, was tired and felt well.... Yesterday I visited the lawyer who wanted to snatch a hundred rubles from a beggar-woman to decorate his own house with. It is the same everywhere.

During this time I have been in Pirogovo. My brother Serezha has entirely come over to us. The journey with Tania and Chertkov was joyous. To-day in Demenka[107] I gave the last words for his journey to a dying peasant.

I am advancing much on the work.[108] I will[61] try to write out now what I have jotted down in the book.

To-day, July 19.[109]

I am in Pirogovo. I arrived the day before yesterday with Tania and Chertkov. In Serezha[110] there has certainly taken place a spiritual change; he admits it himself saying that he was born several months ago. I am very happy with him.

At home, during this time, I lived through much difficulty. Lord, Father, release me from my base body. Cleanse me and do not let your spirit perish in me and become overgrown. I prayed twice beseechingly; once that He let me be His tool; and second that He save me from my animal “self.”

During this time I progressed on the Declaration of Faith. It is far from what has to be said and from what I want to say. It is entirely inaccessible to the plain man and the child, but, nevertheless I have said all that I know coherently and logically.

In this time also I wrote the preface to the reading of the Gospels[111] and annotated the Gospels. Had visitors. Englishmen, Americans—no one of importance.

I will write out all that I jotted down:

1) Yesterday I walked through a twice[62] plowed, black-earth fallow field. As far as the eye could see, there was nothing but black earth—not one green blade of grass, and there on the edge of the dusty gray road there grew a bush of burdock. There were three off-shoots. One was broken and its white soiled flower hung; the other also broken, was bespattered with black dirt, its stem bent and soiled; the third shoot stuck out to the side, also black from dust, but still alive and red in the center. It reminded me of Hajji-Murad.[112] It makes me want to write. It asserts life to the end, and alone in the midst of the whole field, somehow or other has asserted it.

2) He has a capacity for languages, for mathematics, is quick to comprehend and to answer, can sing, draw correctly, beautifully, and can write in the same way; but he has no moral or artistic feeling and therefore nothing of his own.

3) Love towards enemies. It is difficult, seldom does it succeed—as with everything absolutely beautiful. But then what happiness when you attain it! There is an exquisite sweetness in this love, even in the foretaste of it. And this sweetness is just in the inverse ratio to the attractiveness of the object of love. Yes, the spiritual voluptuousness of love towards enemies.

4) Some one makes me suffer. As soon as I think about myself, about my own suffering, the suffering continues to grow and grow and terror[63] overcomes me at the thought to where it might lead. It suffices to think of the man on account of whom you are suffering, to think about his suffering—and instantly you are healed. Sometimes it is easy when you already love your torturer; but even when it is difficult, it is always possible.

5) Yesterday in walking I thought what are those boundaries which separate us, one being from another? And it occurred to me. Are not space and time the conditions of these divisions, or rather, the consequences of these divisions? If I were not a separated part, there would be neither space nor time for me, as there is not for God. But since I am not the whole, I can understand myself and other beings through space and time only.

(I feel that there is something in this, but I can not yet express it clearly.)

6) There was an argument about whether being in love was good. For me the conclusion was clear; if a man already lives a human, spiritual life, then being in love—love, marriage—would be a downfall for him, he would have to give a part of his strength to his wife, to his family, or even at least to the object of his love. But if he is on the animal plane, if he eats, drinks, labors, holds a post, writes, plays—then to be in love would be an uplift for him as for animals, for insects, in the time of ...[113][64]

7) To pray? They say that prayer is necessary, that it is necessary to have the sweet feeling of prayer which is called forth by service, singing, reading, exclamations, icons. But what is prayer? A communion with God, a recognition of one’s relation to God, the highest state of the soul. Is it possible that this state of the soul can be attained by an action upon the outer senses.... Is it not more probable that the prayerful state might be reached only in rare exceptional moments and necessarily in isolation, as even Christ said and as Elijah saw God, not in a storm but in a tender breeze?

8) Yesterday I looked through the romances, novels, and poems of Fet.[114] I recalled our incessant music on 4 grand-pianos in Yasnaya Polyana and it became clear to me that all this—the romances, the poems, the music—was not art, something important and necessary to people in general, but a self-indulgence of robbers, parasites, who have nothing in common with life; romances, novels about how one falls in love disgustingly, poetry about this or about how one languishes from boredom. And music about the same theme. But life, all life, seethes with its own problems of food, distribution, labor, about faith, about the relations of men ... It is shameful, nasty. Help me, Father, to serve Thee by showing up this lie.


9) I was going from the Chertkovs on the 5th of July. It was evening, and beauty, happiness, blessedness, lay on everything. But in the world of men? There was greed, malice, envy, cruelty, lust, debauchery. When will it be among men as it is in Nature? Here there is a struggle, but it is honest, simple, beautiful. But there it is base. I know it and I hate it, because I myself am a man.

(I have not succeeded.)

10) When I suffered in my soul, I tried to calm myself with the consciousness of serving. And that used to calm me, but only then when there happened to be an obvious instance of serving, i. e. when it was unquestionably required and I was drawn to it. But what is to be done when it happens neither one way nor the other? Give myself to God, negate myself. Do as Thou wilt, I consent.

(Again, not what I want to say.)

I am going to dinner.

11) Kant,[115] they tell us, made a revolution in the thought of men. He was the first to show that a thing in itself is inaccessible to knowledge, that the source of knowledge and life is spiritual. But is not that the same which Christ said two thousand years ago, only in a way understandable to men? Bow in spirit and in truth; the[66] spirit is life creating, the letter, the flesh, is beneficial in no way.

12) Balls, feasts, spectacles, parades, pleasure-gardens, etc., are a dreadful tool in the hands of the organizers. They can have a terrible influence. And if anything has to be subjected to control, it is this.

13) I walked along the road and thought, looking at the forests, the earth, the grass, what a funny mistake it is to think that the world is such as it appears to me. To think that the world is such as it appears to me, means to think that there can be no other being capable of knowledge except myself with my six senses.[116] I stopped and was writing that down. Sergei Ivanovich[117] approached me. I told him what I was thinking. He said:

“Yes, one thing is true, that the world is not such as we see it and we don’t know anything as it is.”

I said:

“Yes, we know something exactly as it is.”

“What is it?”

“That which knows. It is exactly such as we know it.”

14) One is often surprised that people are ungrateful. One ought to be surprised at how they could be grateful for good done them. However[67] little good people do, they know with certainty that the doing of good is the greatest happiness. How then can people be grateful to others that these others have drunk themselves full, when that is the greatest enjoyment?

15) Only he is free whom nothing and nobody can hinder from doing what he wants. There is only one such work to do—to love.

16) Prayer is directed to a personal God, not because God is personal (I even know as a matter of fact that He is not personal, because the personal is finite and God is infinite), but because I am a personal being. I have a little green glass in my eye and I see everything green. I can not help but see the world green, although I know that it is not like that.

17) The æsthetic pleasure is a pleasure of a lower order. And therefore the highest æsthetic pleasure leaves one unsatisfied. In fact, the higher the æsthetic pleasure, the more unsatisfied it leaves one. It always makes one want something more and more. And so without end. Only moral good gives full satisfaction. Here there is full satisfaction. Nothing further is wished for or needed.

18) A lie to others is by far neither as important nor as harmful as a lie to oneself. A lie to others is often an innocent play, a satisfying of[68] vanity. A lie to oneself is always a perversion of the truth, a turning aside from the demands of life.

19) Although seldom, yet it has happened to me that I have done good from pity, a real good. In that case you never remember what you really have done and under what circumstances. You remember only that you were with God (this occurred to me in regard to my favorite boots which I remember I gave away out of pity and for a long time I could not remember where they had gone). It is the same way with all those moments when I was with God, whether in prayer or in the business of life. Memory is a fleshly affair, but here, the thing is spiritual.

20) Man can not live a fleshly life, if he does not consider himself in the right and he can not live a spiritual life if he does not consider himself sinful.

21) ...

I am going to sleep. It is 12:30 in the morning, July 30th.

July 31, Y. P. If I live.

July 31, Y. P.

I am alive. It is evening now. It is past four. I am lying down and can not fall asleep. My heart aches. I am tired out. I hear through the window—they play tennis and are laughing. S.[69] went away to the Shenshins.[118] Every one is well, but I am sad and can not master myself. It is like the feeling I had when St. Thomas[119] locked me in and I heard through my prison how every one was gay and was laughing. But I don’t want to. One must suffer humiliation and be good. I can do it.

I continue to copy:

1) The disbelief in reason is the source of all evil. This disbelief is reached by the teaching of a distorted faith from childhood. Believe in one miracle and the trust in reason is destroyed.

2) ...

3) Christianity does not give happiness but safety; it lets you down to the bottom from which there is no place to fall.

4) I rode horseback from Tula and thought about this; that I am a part of Him, separated in a certain way from other such parts, and He is everything, the Father, and I felt love, just love, for Him. Now, especially now, I not only can not reproduce this feeling, but not even recall it. But I was so joyful that I said to myself: Here I was thinking that I can not learn anything new and suddenly I acquired a wonderful blessed new feeling, a real feeling.

5) What humbug[120]—beauty, truth, goodness! Beauty is one of those attributes of outer objects, like health, an attribute of the living body.[70] Truth is not the ideal of science. The ideal of science is knowledge, not truth. The good can not be placed on the plane with either of these, because it is the goal of life.

(It is unclear, but it was clear and will be.)

6) I do not remember good works, because they are outside of the material man—of memory.

August 1, Ysn. Pol. If I live.—which is doubtful. My heart aches very much....

It is dreadful to think how much time has elapsed; a month and a half. To-day, Sept. 14, Y. P.

During this time I took a trip to the monastery with Sonya.[121]... I wrote on Hajji-Murad[122] very poorly, a first draft. I have continued my work on the Declaration of Faith. The Chertkovs have gone away.... All three sons are here now with their wives.[123]

There was a letter from the Hollander who has refused to serve.[124] I wrote a preface to the letter.[125] I wrote a letter also to Mme. Kalmikov[126] with very sharp statements about the Government. The whole month and a half has been condensed in this. Oh, yes; I have also been ill from my usual sickness and my stomach is still not strong.

One thing more. During this time there was a[71] letter from the Hindu Tod and an exquisite book of Hindu wisdom, Ioga’s Philosophy.[127]

In the meantime I thought:

1) There are many people, especially Europeans and especially women, who not only talk but who write things that appear intelligent, in the same way as dumb people speak; as a matter of fact, it isn’t any more natural for them to think than for a dumb person to speak, but both one and the other, both the stupid and the dumb, have been taught.

2) To love an individual man, one has to be blinded. Without being blinded one can love only God, but people can be pitied, which means to love in a Godly way.

3) To get rid of an enemy, one must love him, as it is also said in the “Teaching of the twelve apostles.”[128] But to love one has to put to oneself the task for all one’s life of love towards an enemy, to do him good through love and to perfect oneself in love for him.

4) At first, one is surprised that stupid people should have within them such an assertive convincing intonation. But it is as it should be. Otherwise no one would listen to them.

5) I find this note: “A decoration for peasants, our happiness”—I can not remember what that means, but it is something that pleased me.[72] I think it means that to a poor man looking on the life of the rich, it appears as happiness. But this happiness is as much happiness, as cardboard made into a tree or a castle—is a tree or a castle.

6) We are all attracted to the Whole and one to another, like particles of one body. Only our roughness, the lack of smoothness, our angles, interfere with our uniting. There is already an attraction, there is no need of making it, but one must plane oneself, wipe out one’s angles.

7) One of the strongest means of hypnotism, of exterior action on the spiritual state of man, is his dress. People know that very well; that is why there is a monastic garb in monasteries and a uniform in the army.

8) I was trying to recall two excellent subjects for novels, the suicide of old Persianninov and the substitution of a child in an orphan asylum.

9) When my weakness tortured me, I sought means of salvation, and I found one in the thought that there is nothing stationary, that everything flows, changes, that all this is for a while, and that it is only necessary to suffer the while while we live—I and the others. And some one of us will go away first. (The while does not mean to live in any way, but means, not to despair, to suffer it through to the end.)[73]

10) I wanted to say that I was grateful, so as to make the other one well disposed, and later to tell the truth. No, I thought, that is not permitted. He will ascribe it to his virtues and the truth will be accepted even less. Man, not acknowledging his sins, is a vessel hermetically closed with a cover which lets nothing enter. To humble oneself, to repent, that means to take off the cover and to make oneself capable of perfection, of the good.

11) Barbarism interferes with the union of people, but the same thing is done by a too great refinement without a religious basis. In the other, the physical disunites, and in this, the spiritual.

12) Man is a tool of God. At first I thought that it was a tool with which man himself was called to work; now I have understood that it is not man who works, but God. The business of man is only to keep himself in order. Like an ax, which would have to keep itself always clean and sharp.

13) Why is it that scoundrels stand for despotism? Because under an ideal order which pays according to merit, they are badly off. Under despotism everything can happen.

14) I often meet people who recognize no God except one which we ourselves recognize in ourselves. And I am astonished; God in me. But[74] God is an infinite principle; how then, why then, should He happen to be in me? It is impossible not to question oneself about this. And as soon as you question yourself, you have to acknowledge an exterior cause. Why do people not feel themselves in need of answering this question? Because for them, the answer to this question is in the reality of the existing world, whether according to Moses or to Darwin—it is all the same. And therefore, to have a conception of an exterior God, one has to understand that that which is actually real, is only the impression of our senses, i. e. it is we ourselves, our spiritual “self.”

15) In moments of passion, infatuation, in order to conquer, one thing is necessary, to destroy the illusion that it is the “self” who suffers, who desires, and to separate one’s true “self” from the troubled waters of passion.

Sept. 15. Y. P. If I live.

To-day October 10. Y. P.

It is almost a month that I have made no entries and it seemed to me it was only yesterday. During this time, though in very poor form, I finished the Declaration of Faith. During this time there were some Japanese with a letter from Konissi.[129] They, the Japanese, are undoubtedly nearer Christianity than our church Christians.[75] I have learned to love them very much....

I want to write out the whole Declaration of Faith from the beginning again. Yesterday there was a good letter from Verigin, Peter.[130]

All last night I thought about the meaning of life and though there are other things to note down, I want to note down this:

The whole world is nothing else than an infinite space filled with infinitely small, colorless, silently moving particles of matter. At bottom, even this is not so; I know that they are particles of matter only through their impenetrability, but the impenetrability I know only through my sense of touch and my muscle sense. If I did not have this sense, I would not know about impenetrability or about matter. As to motion, also, I, strictly speaking, have no right to speak, because if I did not have the sense of sight or again muscle sense, I would not know anything about motion either.

So that all that I have the right to assert about the outer world is that something exists, something entirely unknown to me, as it was said long ago both by the Brahmins and by Kant and by Berkeley. There is some kind of occasion, some kind of grain of sand which causes irritation in the shell of the snail and produces a pearl (sécrétion, secretion in the snail). This is our whole outside world.


What is there then? There is myself with my representations of myself, of the sun, trees, animals, stones. But what then is it that I call myself? Is it something arbitrary depending on myself? No, it is something independent of myself, predetermined. I can not not be myself, and not have that representation which I have, namely, that I include in myself a small part of these moving atoms and call them myself. And all the other remaining atoms I see in the form of beings more or less like myself. The world appears to me to consist entirely of beings which are like me or resemble me.[131]

(I have become confused, yet have something to say. I am going to try when I have the strength.)

I am continuing to write out what I had to say and what I dreamed of all night, namely:

People think that their life is in the body, that from that which takes place in the body; from breathing, nutrition, circulation of the blood, etc., life flows. And this seems unquestionable; let nutrition, breathing, circulation of the blood cease and life will end. But what ends is the life of the body, life in this body....

And in fact if you consider that life comes from the process of the body and only in the body then as soon as the processes of the body are ended, then life ought to be ended. But certainly this is an arbitrary assertion. No one has proven and[77] can prove that life is only in the body and can not be without the body. To assert this, is all the same as asserting that when the sun has set then the sun has come to an end. One must first decide what is life. Is it that which I see in the others as it begins and stops, or is it what I know in myself? If it is what I know in myself, then it is the only thing that is and therefore it can not be destroyed. And the fact that in bodies before me processes end which are connected with life in me and in other beings, shows me only this, that life goes away somewhere from my sensual eyes. To go away entirely, to be destroyed, it absolutely can not be, because outside of it there is nothing in the world. The problem, then, might be this: Will my life be destroyed, can it be destroyed? And the destruction of the body of a man, is that a sign of the destruction of his life? In order to answer this question one must first decide what is life?

Life is the consciousness of my separateness from other beings, of the existence of other beings and of those limits which separate me from them. My life is not bound up with my body. There may be a body, but no consciousness of separateness like for a sleeping one, an idiot, an embryo or for those who have fits.

It is true that there can be no life without the consciousness of the body; but that is because life[78] is the consciousness of one’s own separateness and of one’s own boundaries. But the consciousness of one’s own separateness and of one’s own boundaries happens in our life in time and space, but it can happen in any other way and therefore the destruction of the body is not the sign of the destruction of life.

(Not clear and not what I want to say.)

Oct. 11. Y. P. If I live.

To-day October 20. Y. P. Morning.

I feel like writing down three things.

1) In a work of art the principal thing is the soul of the author. Therefore among medium productions the feminine ones are the better, the more interesting. A woman will push herself through now and then, speak out the most inner mysteries of her soul; and that is what is needed. You see what she really loves, although she pretends that she loves something else. When an author writes, we the readers place our ears to his breast and we listen and say, “Breathe. If you have rumblings, they will appear.” And women haven’t the capacity of hiding. Men have learned literary methods and you can no longer see him behind his manner, except that you know he is stupid. But what is in his soul, you don’t see.

(Not good; malicious.)


The 2nd thing I wanted to write was that yesterday, in blowing out my candle, I began to feel for matches and did not find them, and an uneasiness came over me. “And you are getting ready to die! What, then, are you also going to die with matches?” I said to myself. And I at once saw in the dark my real life and became calm.

What is this fear of the dark? Besides the fear at the incapability of meeting whatever accident might happen, it is the fear at the absence of the delusion of our most important sense, that of sight. It is fear before the contemplation of our true life. I now no longer have that fear—on the contrary, that which had been fear is now peace; there only has remained the habit of fear; but to the majority of people the fear is exactly of that which alone can give them peace.

The 3rd thing I wanted to write was that when a man is put in the necessity of choosing between an act which is clearly beneficial to others, but with the thwarting of the demands of conscience (the will of God), then the problem is only one of short-sightedness, because the man sees in the immediate future the good which will arise from his act, if he thwarts the will of God, but he does not see in the more remote future the other good, which is an infinite number of times greater, which[80] will come from the abstention of this act and the fulfillment of the will of God. It is the same kind of thing that children do, destroying the general order of a house which is necessary for their own happiness, for the sake of the immediate pleasure of play.

The fact is that for the work of God and for man accomplishing the work of God, time does not exist. Man can not but represent to himself everything in time, and therefore in order to correctly judge of the importance of the work of God, he has to represent it to himself in the very remote future, even in infinite time. The fact, that I will not kill the murderer and will forgive him, that I shall die unseen by any one, fulfilling the will of God, will bear its own fruit ... if I insist upon thinking in terms of time—in infinite time. But it will bear its fruit surely.

I have to finish the former:

4) Refinement and power in art are almost always diametrically opposed.

5) Is it true that works of art are obtained by assiduous work? That which we call a work of art—yes. But is it real art?

6) The Japanese sang and we could not restrain ourselves from laughter. If we had sung before the Japanese they would have laughed. The more so had Beethoven been played for them. Indian and Greek temples are understood by all.[81] And Greek statues are understood by all. And our best painting is also understandable. So that architecture, sculpture, painting, having reached their perfection, have reached also cosmopolitanism, accessibility to all. To the same point in some of its manifestations has the art of speech reached; in the teaching of Buddha, of Christ, in the poetry of Sakia-Muni, Jacob, Joseph. In dramatic art; Sophocles, Aristophanes did not reach it. It is being reached in the new ones. But in music they have been lagging behind entirely. The ideal of all art to which it should strive is accessibility to all—but it, especially music to-day, noses its way into refinement.

7) The principal thing which I wanted to say about art, is that it does not exist in the sense of some great manifestation of the human spirit as it is understood now. There is play, consisting in the beauty of construction, in sculpting figures, or in representing objects, in dancing, in singing, in playing on various instruments, in poetry, in fables, in stories, but all this is only play and not an important matter to which one could consciously devote his strength.

And so it was always understood and is understood by the working, unspoiled people and every man who has not gone away from labor, from life, can not look upon it in any other way. It is necessary, one must, say it out loud—how much[82] evil has come from this importance attributed by the parasites of society to their plays!

8) The whole outer world is formed by us, by our senses. We know nothing and can know nothing about it. All that we can know, in studying the outer world is the relation of our senses (sens) among themselves and the laws of these relations. There is no question but that this is very interesting, and from the study of these relations are opened many new situations which we can make use of and which increase the comforts of our life, but this is not only not everything, not all of science as people busying themselves with this study are now asserting, but it is only one minute particle of science.

Science is the study of the relation of our spiritual “self”—that which masters the outer senses and uses them—to our outer senses or to the outer world, which is the same thing. This relation has to be studied, because in this relation is accomplished the movement of humanity as a whole to perfection and the good, and the movement of each individual man to the same goal. This relation is the object of every science; but to-day the study of this relation is called Ethics by our present-day scholars, and is considered as a science by itself, and a very unimportant one from out the great mass of other sciences. It is all topsy-turvy; the whole of science is considered[83] as a small part and a small part is considered as the whole. From this comes the brutalization of men.

This arises out of the astonishing ignorance of most of the so-called learned. They are naïvely convinced that the outer world is an actual reality, just in the same way as the peasants are convinced that the sun and the stars move around the earth. Just as the peasants know nothing of the work of Galileo, Copernicus and Newton, or if they have heard of it—do not believe—so the materialist scholars have never heard, do not know or do not believe what has been done as to criticism of knowledge by Descartes, Kant, Berkeley and even before, by the Hindus and by all religious doctrines.

9) When you suffer, you must enter into yourself—not seek matches, but put out that light which is there, and which interferes with the seeing of your true “self.” You must turn upside down the toy which stood on the cork and place it on the lead and then everything will become clear and the greatest part of your suffering will cease—all that part which is not physical.

10) When you suffer from passion, here are some palliative prescriptions:

(a) Remember how many times you have suffered before because in your consciousness you have connected yourself to your passion; lust,[84] greed, desire, vanity, and remember how everything passed away and you have still not found that “self” which suffered then. And so it is now. It is not you who are suffering, but that passion which you wrongly joined to yourself.

(b) Again, when you suffer, remember that the suffering is not something disagreeable which you can wish to get rid of, but it is the very work of life, that very task which you have been designated to do. In wanting to get rid of it, you are doing that which a man would do who lifts the plow there where the earth is hard, just where, in fact, it has to be plowed up.

(c) Then remember, at the moment when you suffer, that if there is anger in the feelings you have, the suffering is in you. Replace the anger with love, and the suffering will end.

(d) Also this is possible; love towards enemies, which is indeed the one real love. You must struggle for it, struggle with toil, with the consciousness that in it is life. But when you have attained it, what relief!

(e) The principal thing is to turn the toy upside down, find your true “self” which is only visible without matches, and then anger will vanish by itself. That “self” is incapable of, cannot, and has no one to be angry with—loving, it can only pity.


During these latter days I didn’t feel like writing. I merely wrote letters to every one and sent to Schmidt an addition to the letter about the incompatibility ... with Christianity.[132] I have begun the Declaration of Faith anew. I am going to continue.

Went to Pirogovo with Masha. Serezha[133] is very good....

October 21. Y. P. If I live.

To-day probably October 23. Y. P.

All these days I have been out of tune with my work. Wrote a letter yesterday to the commander of the disciplinary battalion in Irkutsk about Olkhovik.[134]

It is evening now, I am sitting down to write because I feel the special importance and seriousness of the hours of life which are left to me. And I do not know what I have to do, but I feel that there has ripened in me an expression of God’s will which asks to be let out.

Have re-read Hajji Murad—it isn’t what I want to say. As to Resurrection I can’t even get hold of it. The drama interests me.

A splendid article by Carpenter on science.[135] All of us walk near the truth and uncover it from various sides.[86]

October 26. Y. P.

I am still just as indisposed and don’t feel like writing. My head aches. Serezha came yesterday.[136] Wrote a letter to Sonya and to Andrusha.

But it seems to me that during this time of doubt, I arrived at two very important conclusions:

1) That, which I also thought before and wrote down; that art is an invention, is a temptation for amusement with dolls, with pictures, with songs, with play, with stories—and nothing more. But to place art as they do (and they do the same with science), on the same level with the good is a horrible sacrilège. The proof that it is not so, is that about truth also (the right) I can say that truth is a good (as God said, great good, teib, i.e., good), and about beauty one can say that it is good; but it is impossible to say about good that it is beautiful (at times it is homely), or that it is true (it is always true).

There is only one good; good and bad; but truth and beauty are good qualities of certain objects.

The other very important thing, is that reason is the only means of manifesting, and freeing love. It seems to me that this is an important thought, omitted in my Declaration of Faith.[87]

To-day November 1. Y. P.

All this time I have felt neither well nor like working. I have written letters only, among the number was one to the Caucasian disciplinary battalion.[137] Yesterday, walking at night on the snow, in the blizzard, I tired my heart and it aches. I think I am going to die very soon. That is why I am writing out the notes. I think I am going to die without fear and without resistance.

Just now I sat alone and thought how strange it was that people live alone. People; I thought of Stasov;[138] how is he living now, what is he thinking, feeling. Of Kolichka,[139] too. And so strange and new became the knowledge that they, all of them, people—are living, and I do not live in them; that they are closed to me.

November 2. Y. P. If I live.

November 2nd. Y. P.

Am alive. Am a little better. Have written on the Declaration of Faith. I think it is true that it is cold because it endeavors to be infallible.[140] A blizzard. Sent off the letters to Schmidt and Chertkov. Did not send the letter to Mme. Kalmikov.

To-day I thought about art. It is play. And when it is the play of working, normal people it is good, but when it is the play of corrupted parasites,[88] then it is bad—and here now it has reached to decadence.

November 3. Y. P. If I live.

To-day November 5. Y. P. Morning.

Yesterday was a terrible day.

... At night I hardly slept and was depressed. I just now found the prescriptions[141] in my diary, looked them over and began to feel better; to separate one’s true “self” from that which is offended and vexed, to remember that this is no hindrance, no accidental unpleasantness, but the very work predestined me, and above all to know that if I have a dislike for any one, then as long as there is that dislike in me—then I am the guilty one. And as soon as you know you are guilty, you feel better.

To-day, lying on the bed, I thought about love towards God ... I wish I could say, the love of God, i.e., divine love—that the first and principal commandment is divine love, but that the other resembling it and flowing from it, especially flowing from it, is the love for neighbor.

Yesterday I wrote 18 pages of introduction to Art.[142]

It is wrong to say of a work of art, “You don’t yet understand it.” If I don’t understand it, that means that the work of art is poor, because its[89] task is in making understandable that which is not understandable.

November 6. Y. P. If I live.

November 6. Y. P.

Am alive. It is the third day that I continue to write on art. It seems to me it is good. At least I am writing willingly and easily.

... Have received a good letter from Vanderveer. Wrote another letter to the commander of the battalion in the Caucasus. Chertkov sent me his copy of a similar letter.

To-day I rode horseback to Tula. A marvelous day and night. I am just now going to take a walk to meet the girls.

Have been thinking.

1) Natural sciences, when they wish to determine the very essence of things, fall into a crude materialism, i.e., ignorance. Such, besides Descartes’ whirlwinds, are atoms and ether and the origin of species. All that I can say, is that it appears to me so, just as the heavenly vault appears round to me, while I know that it is not round and that it appears to me so, only because my sight for all directions extends on only one radius.

2) The highest perfection of art is its cosmopolitanism. But on the contrary, with us at present[90] it is becoming more and more specialized, if not according to nations, then according to classes.

3) The refinement of art and its strength are always in inverse proportion.

4) “Conservatism lies in this” ... That is the way I have it noted, but further I can’t remember now.

5) Why is it pleasant to ride? Because it is the very emblem of life. Life—you ride.

I wanted to take a walk....

November 7. Y. P. If I live.

To-day November 12. Y. P.

I haven’t noted down anything during this time. I was writing the essay on Art. To-day a little on the Declaration of Faith. A weakness of thought and I am sad. One must learn to be satisfied with stupidity. If I do not love, at least not not to love. That, thank the Lord, I have attained.

November 16. Y. P. Morning.

I still work just as badly and am therefore depressed. The day after to-morrow I am going to Moscow, if God commands.[143]

... In the meantime I received a strange letter from the Spaniard Zanini, with an offer of 22,000 francs for good works. I answered that[91] I would like to use them for the Dukhobors. What is going to happen?[144] I wrote to Kuzminsky on Witte and Dragomirov[145] and the day before yesterday I wrote diligently all morning on War.[146] Something will come of it.

I am thinking continually about art and about the temptations or seductions which becloud the mind, and I see that art belongs to this class, but I do not know how to make it clear. This occupies me very, very much. I fall asleep and wake up with this thought, but up to now I have come to no conclusion.

The notes during this time about God and the future life are:

1) They say that God must be understood as a personality. In this lies great misunderstanding; personality is limitation. Man feels himself a personality, only because he comes in contact with other personalities. If man were only one, he would not be a personality. These two conceptions are mutually determined; the outer world, other beings, and the personality. If there were not a world of other beings, man would not feel himself, would not recognize himself as a personality; if man were not a personality he would not recognize the existence of other beings. And therefore man within this Universe is inconceivable otherwise than as a personality. But how[92] can it be said of God, that He is a personality, that God is personal? In this lies the root of anthropomorphism.

Of God it only can be said what Moses and Mohammed said, that he is one, and one, not in that sense that there is no other or other gods (in relation to God there can be no notion of number and therefore it is even impossible to say of God that he is one (1 in the sense of a number), but in that sense that he is monocentric, that he is not a conception, but a being, that which the Greek Orthodox call a living God in opposition to a pantheistic God, i.e., a superior spiritual being living in everything. He is one in that sense that He is, like a being to whom one can address oneself, i.e., not exactly to pray, but that there is a relationship between me, something which is limited, a personality, and God—something inconceivable but existing.

The most inconceivable thing about God for us consists exactly in this, that we know Him as a one being, can know him in no other way, and at the same time it is impossible for us to understand a one being who fills up everything with himself. If God is not one, then He is scattered and He does not exist. If He is one, then we involuntarily represent him to ourselves in the shape of a personality and then He is no longer a higher being,[93] no longer everything. But, however, in order to know God and to lean on Him one must understand Him as filling everything and at the same time as one.

2) I have been thinking how obviously mistaken is our conception of the future life in bodies either more or less similar to ours. Our bodies as we know them are nothing but the products of our outer six senses. How then can there be life for that spiritual being who is separated from his body—how can it be in that form which is determined and produced by that body through its senses?

November 17. Y. P. If I live.

November 17. Y. P.

Yesterday I hardly wrote anything.

... There is a fight in the papers over Repine’s[147] definition of art as amusement. How it fits into my work. The full significance of Art has still not been made clear. It is clear to me, and I can write and prove it, but not briefly and simply. I cannot bring it up to that point.

Yesterday there was a letter from Ivan Michailovich[148] and from the Dukhobors.

Amusement is all right, if the amusement is not corrupted, is honest, and if people do not suffer from that amusement. I have been thinking just[94] now; the æsthetic is the expression of the ethical, i.e., in plain language; art expresses those feelings which the artist feels. If the feelings are good, lofty, then art will be good, lofty, and the reverse. If the artist is a moral man, then his art will be moral, and the reverse. (Nothing has come of this.)

I thought last night:

We rejoice over our technical achievements—steam, ... phonographs. We are so pleased with these achievements that if any one were to tell us that these achievements are being attained by the loss of human lives we would shrug our shoulders and say, “We must try not to have this so; an 8-hour day, labor insurance, and so forth; but because several people perish, is no reason to renounce those achievements which we have attained.” I. e., Fiat mirrors, phonographs, etc., pereat several people.

It is but sufficient to admit this principle—and there will be no limit to cruelty, and it will be very easy to attain every kind of technical improvement. I had an acquaintance in Kazan who used to ride to his estate in Viatka, 130 versts away, in this fashion: he would buy a pair of horses at the market for 20 rubles (horses were very cheap) and would hitch them up and drive 130 versts to the place. Sometimes they would reach the place, and he would have the horses[95] plus the cost of the journey. Sometimes they would not cover a part of the road and he would hire. But nevertheless it used to cost him cheaper than hiring stage horses. Even Swift proposed eating children. And that would have been very convenient. In New York, the railroad companies in the city crush several passersby every year and do not change the crossings to make the disasters impossible, because the change would cost dearer than paying to the families of those crushed yearly. The same thing happens also in the technical improvements of our age. They are accomplished by human lives. But one has to value every human life—not to value it, but to place it above any value and to make improvements in a way that lives should not be lost and spoiled, and to stop every improvement if it harms human life.

November 18. If I live, then Moscow.

November 22. Moscow.

The fourth day in Moscow. Dissatisfied with myself. No work. Got tangled up in the article on art and have not moved forward.

... There were here; the Gorbunovs,[149] Boulanger,[150] Dunaev. I called on Rusanov myself.[151] Received a very good impression.

Read Plato; embryos of idealism.

I recalled two subjects which were very good:


1) A wife’s deception of her passionate, jealous husband; his suffering, his struggle and the enjoyment of forgiveness, and

2) A description of the oppression of the serfs and later the very same kind of oppression by land property, or rather by being deprived of it.

Just now Goldenweiser[152] played. One thing—a fantasy fugue:[153] an artificiality; studied, cold, pretentious; another—“Bigarrure” by Arensky;[154] sensual, artificial; and a third—a ballad by Chopin; sickly, nervous, not one or the other or the third can be of any use to the people.

The devil who has been sent to me is still with me, and tortures me.

November 23. Moscow. If I live.

To-day November 25. Moscow.

Am very weak. My stomach isn’t working. I am trying to write on art—but it doesn’t go. One thing is good; have found myself, my heart.... A letter from Zanini with an offer of 31,500 francs.[155] Tischenko, a good novel on poverty.[156] It is now past two, am going for a walk.

To-day November 27. Moscow.

Very weak, poor in all respects. And feel as if I had only just now awakened. Have been thinking:

1) We are all in this life—workers placed at[97] the work of saving our souls. It can be compared to keeping up the fire given from heaven and lighted on the hearth of my body. My work lies in this, to keep up and feed this fire in myself (not to spend the material of this fire as I have done lately, except in burning it) and not to think how and what gets lighted from this fire. It is not a difficult matter to thresh with several flails, but to keep in order, not to get confused (and not only to thresh, but not to interfere with the others), one has only to remember oneself, one’s own tempo while beating. But as soon as you have begun to think of others, to look at them, you get confused.

The same thing happens in life. Remember only yourself, your own work—and this work is one: to love, to enlarge love in yourself—not to think of others, of the consequences of your labor and the work of life will go on fruitfully, joyously. Just as soon as you begin to think of that which you are producing, about the results of your labor, just as soon as you begin to modify it in accordance with its results—your work becomes confused and ceases, and there comes the consciousness of the vanity of life. The master of life gave to each one of us separately such a labor, that the fulfillment of that labor is the most fruitful work. And He himself will use and guide this work, give it a place and a meaning.[98] But as soon as I try to find and fix a place for it, and in accordance with this, to modify it then I become confused, see the vanity of labor and I despair. My task is to work and He already knows for what it is needed and will make use of it. “Man walks, God leads.” And the work is one; to enlarge love in oneself.

I am a self-moving saw or a living spade and its life consists in this, to keep its edge clean and sharp. And it will work well enough, and its work will be useful. To keep it sharp, and to sharpen and sharpen it all the time, that is to make oneself always kinder and kinder.

2) Once more I wrote to N that she is wrong in thinking that it is possible for one to renounce oneself from the exploit of living. Life is an exploit. And the principal thing is, that that very thing that pains us and seems to us to hinder us from fulfilling our work in life—is our very work in life. There is some circumstance, a condition in life which tortures you; poverty, illness, faithlessness of a husband, calumny, humiliation,—it suffices only to pity yourself and you become the unhappiest among the unhappy. And it suffices only to understand that this is the very work of life which you are called to do; to live in poverty, in illness, to forgive faithlessness, calumny, humiliation—and instead of depression and pain there is energy and joy.[99]

3) Art becoming all the time more and more exclusive, satisfying continually a smaller and smaller circle of people, becoming more and more selfish, has gone crazy, since insanity is only selfishness reaching to its last degree. Art has reached the last degree of selfishness—and has gone out of its mind.

I have felt very badly and depressed these days. Father, help me to live with Thee, not to wander from Thy will.

November 28. Moscow. If I live.

To-day December 2. Moscow.

Five days have passed and very torturing ones. Everything is still the same.

... My feeling; I have discovered on myself a terrible putrefying sore. They had promised me to heal it and have bound it. The sore was so disgusting to me, it was so depressing for me to think that it was there, that I tried to forget it, to convince myself that it was not there. But some time has passed—they unbound the sore and though it was healing, nevertheless it was there. And it was torturingly painful to me and I began to reproach the doctor—and unjustly. That is my condition. The principal thing is the devil that has been sent me. Oh, this luxury, this richness, this absence of care about the material life! Like an over-fertilized soil. If they do not cultivate[100] good plants on it, weeding it, cleaning everything around them,—it will become overgrown with horrible ugliness and will become terrible. But it is difficult—I am old and am almost unable to do it. Yesterday I walked, thought, suffered and prayed and it seems to me not in vain.

Yesterday I went to Princess Helen Sergeievna.[157] It was very pleasant. I still cannot work. I shall try to in a minute. I have written nothing in the note book. Letters from Koni,[158] from Mme. Kudriavtsev.[159] Yesterday the factory hands came and a new one, Medusov, I think.

Dec. 12. Moscow.

I have suffered much during these days and it seems I have advanced towards peace, towards the good—towards God. Am reading much on art. It is becoming clear. I am not even sitting down to write. Masha went away. The Chertkovs came.

To-day I wrote the appendix to The Appeal.[160]

Dec. 15. Moscow.

Now 2 o’clock in the morning. Have done nothing. My stomach ached. Am calm; have no desire to write.

... I have made some notes. I don’t write[101] out everything. Something struck me forcibly—it is my clear consciousness of the weight of the oppressiveness from my personality, from the fact that I am I. This gives me joy because it means that I understood, that I recognized as myself, at least partly, a “self” that was not personal.

December 16, Moscow. If I live.

To-day December 19 or 20.

Five days have passed and I feel the oppressiveness, the weight of my body and therefore the consciousness of the existence of that which is not the body has strengthened terribly. I want to throw off this weight, free myself from these chains and nevertheless I feel them. I am sick of my body.

All this time I have not worked at all and I feel heavy melancholy. I am fighting against it by seeking in my life a task which is beyond this life. There is only one such: an approach to the perfection of God, to love. Yesterday it became so clear to me that life here is nothing else than a manifestation in these forms of the greatest perfection of God. “To live an age and unto the night”—that is in terms of time. To live for a universal life and for this one—that is in terms of space.


I have done nothing during this time and am unable to. I am living badly.

I have noted a few trifles on Art:

1) They bring as a proof that art is good, the fact that it produces a great impression on you. Yes, but who are you? On the decadents, their works produce a great impression on them. You say that they are spoiled. But Beethoven, who does not produce an impression on the working man, produces such an impression on you, only because you are spoiled. Who then is right? What music is beyond question as to its value? That kind which produces as impression on a decadent and on you and on the working man; simple, understandable, popular music.

2) What relief all would feel who are locked up in a concert-room listening to Beethoven’s last works, if a jig or a cherdash or something similar would be played for them.

3) N. was here and said that he recognized only sensation, that man himself, the “self” was only a sensation. Sensation receives sensation. He reached this nonsense because of the scientific method; the limiting of the field of research, the non-recognition of anything else than sensation, is very good and profitable for the practical ends of the science of experimental psychology, but it is good-for-nothing as far as a living universal point of view is concerned. And this error is often[103] made by people; they transfer to life the method which is suitable to science.

4) Nothing so confuses the conception of art as the acceptance of authorities. Instead of determining by a clear concise conception of art whether the works of Sophocles, Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, Beethoven, Bach, Raphael, Michael-Angelo, come up to the conception of good art and exactly how they do so, they determine by the existing works of the recognized great artists, art itself and its laws. But, however, there are many works of noted artists which are below every criticism and there are many false reputations, accidentally won fame; Dante, Shakespeare.

5) I am reading the history of music:[161] out of sixteen chapters on artificial music there is one short chapter on popular music. And they know almost nothing about it. So that the history of music is not the history of how real music was born and spread and developed; the music of melodies—but the history of artificial music, i.e., how real melodious music was distorted.

6) Artificial, master-class music, the music of parasites, feeling its own impotence, its own hollowness, takes recourse, in order to replace real interest by artificiality, now to counterpoint, to the fugue, now to opera, to illustration.

7) Church music is good, therefore, because it is[104] understood by the masses. The undeniably good is only that which is understood by all. And therefore it is true, that the more understandable it is, the better.

8) The various characters expressed by art touch us only because in each one of us is the possibility of every possible character. (Forgot)

9) The history of music, like all history, is written on the plan to show how it has gradually reached that condition in which the thing is found about which the history is now being written. The present condition of music, or that about which the history is written, is supposed to be the highest. But what if it is not only a lower thing, but something entirely distorted, an accidental deviation towards distortion.

10) Belief in authorities causes the errors of authorities to be accepted as models.

11) They say that music strengthens the impression of words—in arias, songs. It isn’t true. Music gets ahead of impressions made by words, by heaven knows how far. An aria of Bach; what words can rival it at the time when it is being rendered? It is a different thing—the words by themselves. To whatever music you would place the Sermon on the Mount, the music would remain far behind, once you penetrated the words. “Crucifix” by Faure,[162] the music is pitiable compared to the words. They are two entirely different[105] and incompatible feelings. In song they go along together only because the words give tone.

(Not exact. About this in another place.)

12) So vividly have I recalled Vasili Perfileev[163] and others, whom I saw in Moscow, and so clear did it become that, although they are dead, they still are.

13) The Scylla and Charybdis of artists; either understandable, but shallow, vulgar; or pseudo-lofty, original and incomprehensible.

14) The poetry of the people always reflected and not only reflected, predicted, prepared, popular movements; the Crusades, the Reformation. What could the poetry of our parasitical circle predict and prepare?—Love, debauchery; debauchery, love.

15) Popular poetry, music, art in general is exhausted, because all the talented have been won over by bribes to be buffoons to the rich and the titled; chamber music, opera, odes and[164] ...

16) In all art, there exists the struggle between the Christian and the pagan. The Christian begins to conquer and the new wave of the 15th Century overflows, the Renaissance, and only now at the end of the 19th, the Christian rises again, and paganism in the shape of decadence having reached the highest degree of nonsense, is being destroyed.

17) Besides the fact that the most gifted of the[106] people were won over by bribes into the camp of the parasites, the cause of the destruction of popular poetry and music were: at first the serfdom of the people and later the most important one—printing.

18) Chertkov said that around us there are four walls of the unknown; in front, the wall of the future, in back the wall of the past, to the right the wall of ignorance, of that which is taking place there where we are not, and the fourth wall, he says, is the ignorance of that which is going on in the soul of another. In my mind this is not so. The first three walls are as he says. One should not look through them. The less we look beyond them the better. But as to the fourth wall of the ignorance of that which is going on in the souls of other people, this wall we ought to break down with all our strength, striving for a fusion with the souls of other people. And the less we will look beyond those three other walls, the closer we will get to others in this respect.

19) After death in importance, and before death in time, there is nothing more important, more irrevocable, than marriage. And just as death is only good then when it is unavoidable, but every death on purpose is bad, so it is with marriage. Only then is marriage not evil, when it is not to be conquered.

20) Apostasy comes from a man professing[107] what he professes not for himself, not for God, but for people. He betrays his professions, either because he has become convinced that more people, or better people according to his mind, do not profess the same thing as he, or because that which he did before, he did for human fame and now he wants to live for himself, before God.

21) If I believed in a personal God to whom one could turn to with questions, I would say, Why, for what has God made it so, that some, knowing the undoubted truth, burn wholly with its fire, while others do not want it, cannot understand or accept it, and even hate it.

It is now past one. The same weakness, but keen in spirit, when I remember the significance of the whole of life, and not only this one which I have lived through as Leo Nicholaievich (Tolstoi). Help me, Lord, to do always, everywhere Thy will, to be with Thee. But not my will, but Thine, be done.

December 21, Moscow, if I live.

I am still writing December the 20th, Moscow.

Still the same depression. Father, help me. Relieve me. Strengthen Thyself in me, vanquish, drive forth, destroy, the foul flesh and all that I feel through it.

... Father, help me. Moreover, I feel better already. What is especially calming is the task, the test of humility, of humiliation, an entirely[108] unexpected, exceptional humiliation. In chains, in a prison, one can pride oneself on one’s humiliation, but here it is only painful, unless one accepts it as a trial sent by God. Yes, learn to bear calmly, joyfully and to love.

December 21. Moscow.

I am learning badly. I continually suffer, helplessly, weakly. Only in rare moments do I rise to the consciousness of the whole of my life (not only this one) and my duties in it.

I thought (and felt): There are people lacking both in æsthetic feeling and in the ethical (especially the ethical), to whom it is impossible to instill that which is good—the less so when they do and love that which is bad, and think that the bad is good ...

December 22, Moscow, if I live, which is getting to be very doubtful; my heart does not stop aching. Almost nothing gives me rest. To-day Posha alone refreshed me. It is so disgusting I want to cry over myself, over the remnant of my life which is being futilely ruined. But perhaps it must be so, yes, in fact, it must be so ...

December 25, Moscow.

9 o’c. at night. Spiritually I feel better. But I have no intellectual, artistic work, and I am melancholy. Just now I felt that particular Christmas[109] softening and gentleness, and poetical impulse. My hands are cold, I want to cry and to love ...

December 26, Moscow.

I am still not writing anything, but I feel my thoughts revive. The devil still does not leave me.

I thought to-day about The Diary of a Mad Man.[165] The principal thing is that I have understood my filial relation to God, brotherhood,—and my attitude to the whole world has changed.


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