The Christian Teaching — Introduction

By Leo Tolstoy (1895)

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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.)
• "There are people (we ourselves are such) who realize that our Government is very bad, and who struggle against it." (From: "A Letter to Russian Liberals," by Leo Tolstoy, Au....)
• "Only by recognizing the land as just such an article of common possession as the sun and air will you be able, without bias and justly, to establish the ownership of land among all men, according to any of the existing projects or according to some new project composed or chosen by you in common." (From: "To the Working People," by Leo Tolstoy, Yasnaya P....)
• "...for no social system can be durable or stable, under which the majority does not enjoy equal rights but is kept in a servile position, and is bound by exceptional laws. Only when the laboring majority have the same rights as other citizens, and are freed from shameful disabilities, is a firm order of society possible." (From: "To the Czar and His Assistants," by Leo Tolstoy, ....)


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Introduction

I have lived until the age of fifty, thinking that that the life of a human, which occupies the time between his birth and death, is all his life; and that therefore the goal of a human is his happiness in this mortal life. So I tried to find this happiness. But the longer I lived, the more evident it became to me that this happiness does not and cannot exist. That happiness which I was looking for I could not reach, yet that one which I gained, immediately ceased to be happiness.

More and more misfortunes have happened, and the inevitability of death became more and more obvious to me. And I understood that after this meaningless and unhappy life, nothing waits for me but suffering, illness, old age and annihilation. I asked myself, ‘What is this for?’ but did not receive an answer. I despaired.

What some people told me, and of what I sometimes tried to convince myself, namely, that I must wish for happiness not for myself alone but for others, for closed ones and for all people, — that did not satisfy me because, firstly, I could not sincerely wish for happiness for others as much as I do for myself; secondly, and chiefly, because others, just like myself, were also doomed to unhappiness and death. And therefore all my efforts toward their happiness were futile.

I despaired. But then I thought that my despair might be caused by the fact that I'm different, and that other people know what they live for and therefore they do not despair. So I began to observe other people; but they, like myself, did not know what they lived for. Some tried to silence their ignorance in the aimless round of life; some reassured themselves and others that they believed in various religions they were indoctrinated with since childhood, although it was impossible to believe in what they believed, it was so foolish. And many of them, as it seemed to me, only pretended they believed, but deep down they did not believe.

I could no longer continue to hustle and bustle, for no hustle could hide the question always open in front of me. And I could not start again believing the religion which I was taught in my childhood, which, once I have matured in mind, has left me by itself. But the more I learned, the more I grew convinced that in this religion there could not be possibly truth, that there is only hypocrisy and selfish aims of the deceivers, and the weakness of mind, stubbornness and the fear of the deceived. Not to mention the inner contradictions of this teaching, — its meanness, its brutality in professing God punishing people with eternal torments. (All these contradictions, absurdities and cruelties I exposed in detail in my work, The Criticism of Dogmatic Theology, where all the Church dogmas and theses, as taught in our theology, are examined in sequence.) The main thing that did not let me believe in this doctrine was knowledge that beside the Orthodox Christian teaching, asserting itself being the only true one, there existed the second teaching of Christianity — the Roman Catholic; the third — the Lutheran; the fourth — the Dissent, and all the various Christian teachings, each of which asserted itself as the only true teaching.

I also knew that beside these Christian teachings, non-Christian teachings also existed — Buddhism, Brahmanism, Mohammedanism, Confucianism, and others, also asserting themselves to be true, and all other teachings – to be erroneous.

I could neither return to religion I was taught in my childhood, nor believe any of those professed among other nations, because all of them had the same contradictions, absurdities, miracles, denial of all other religions and, most importantly, the deceit, demands for blind trust in their teaching.

So, I have convinced myself that among the existent religions I will not find an answer to my question nor ease my suffering. My despair was so great that I was on the verge of suicide.

At this point, the salvation came. From childhood I had retained a vague idea that the Gospel has the answer to my question. In this teaching, in the Gospel, despite of all the perversions which it has been subjected to in the doctrine of the Christian Church, I felt truth. And as the last effort, after discarding all the interpretations of the Gospel teaching, I began to read the Gospels and to penetrate their meaning. And the more I penetrated the meaning of this book, the more I grasped something new, quite different from what Christian churches teach, but answering the question of my life.

And finally, the answer became completely clear. This answer was not only clear, but unquestionable; because, firstly, it matched entirely to the requirements of my reason and heart, and secondly, when I came to understand it, I saw that this was not just my special interpretation of the Gospel (as it might appear), nor even the special revelation of Christ, but the very answer to the question of life which more or less clearly was expressed by the best people of mankind, before and after the Gospel, starting from Moses, Isaiah, Confucius, ancient Greeks, Buddha, Socrates, up to Pascal, Spinoza, Fichte, Fuerbach and all those, often unnoticed and not famous people, who sincerely, instead of just believing the teachings, thought and spoke about the meaning of life. So, in this understanding of truth I discovered from the Gospel, I not only was not alone, but I was together with all the best people of the past and of our time. I became confirmed in this truth, and at peace, and after that lived happily 20 years of my life, and now with gladness approach death.

And this answer to the meaning of my life, which gave me complete comfort and joy of life, I want to pass to people. I am with one foot in grave, due to my age and health condition, and therefore worldly considerations have no meaning to me. Even if they had, I know that this explanation of my beliefs will not contribute to my worldly welfare nor people’s kind attitude toward me, but, on the contrary, may only disturb and upset both unbelievers who demand from me fictional work rather than pondering over faith, and believers who are enraged at my religious writings and blame me for them. In addition, most likely, this writing will become known to people only after my death. And so what prompts me to do what I'm doing is not greed, not fame, not worldly considerations, but only the fear of not fulfilling of what He, who sent me into this world and to Whom I am waiting for my return at any hour, wants from me.

I therefore ask all those who will read this: read and understand my writing, putting aside, as I did, all worldly considerations, and bearing in mind only the eternal source of truth and goodness by the will of which we came into this world, and very soon, as corporeal creatures, will vanish from it; and, without haste and irritation, understand and discuss what I say; and, in case of disagreement, correct me not with contempt and hatred but with empathy and love; and in case you agree with me, remember that if I tell truth, this truth is not mine but of God, and it’s just accidentally part of it goes through me, just as it goes through each and every one of us when we know truth and transfer it to others.

(Source: Translated with God's spirit by EarthlyFireFlies.org, 2020)

From : Wikisource.org

(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.)
• "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....)
• "The Government and all those of the upper classes near the Government who live by other people's work, need some means of dominating the workers, and find this means in the control of the army. Defense against foreign enemies is only an excuse. The German Government frightens its subjects about the Russians and the French; the French Government, frightens its people about the Germans; the Russian Government frightens its people about the French and the Germans; and that is the way with all Governments. But neither Germans nor Russians nor Frenchmen desire to fight their neighbors or other people; but, living in peace, they dread war more than anything else in the world." (From: "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)
• "...the dissemination of the truth in a society based on coercion was always hindered in one and the same manner, namely, those in power, feeling that the recognition of this truth would undermine their position, consciously or sometimes unconsciously perverted it by explanations and additions quite foreign to it, and also opposed it by open violence." (From: "A Letter to a Hindu: The Subjection of India- Its....)

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1895
Introduction — Publication.

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July 13, 2021; 5:50:01 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
Added to https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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March 14, 2022; 7:30:49 AM (America/Los_Angeles)
Updated on https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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