The Christian Teaching — Part 3 : Temptations

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.)
• "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....)
• "You are surprised that soldiers are taught that it is right to kill people in certain cases and in war, while in the books admitted to be holy by those who so teach, there is nothing like such a permission..." (From: "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)
• "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....)


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Part 3

1. The devastating effects of the sins for individuals committing them, as well as for society among which the sins are committed, are so obvious that since ancient times people saw that sins lead to disasters, they preached and published laws against sins, and punished for them: forbade to steal, kill, debauch, smear, drink; but, despite the prohibition and executions, people continued and continue to sin, ruining their life and lives of those close to them.

2. This is happening because of such false justifications according to which there exceptional circumstances in which sins are not only forgivable but necessary. These false justifications are what is called temptations.

3. Temptation in Greek means a trap, a snare. Indeed, temptation is a trap into which a human is enticed under the guise of goodness, and, having been caught in it, dies in it. That is why it is said in the Gospel that temptations should enter the world, but woe unto the world because of the temptations, and woe to him through whom they come.

4. Because of these temptations, false excuses to sins, people do not get rid of sins, and continue to sink in them, and worst of all, raise young generations in them.

It is in the consequence of these temptations — these deceptive justifications — that people do not turn from their sins, but continue sinking in them, and worst of all, raise young generations in them.

25. The origin of temptations

1. The birth of a human to new life happens not at once but gradually, just as the physical birth: the pangs of birth alternate with stops and returns to the previous position, - the manifestation of spiritual life alternate with the manifestations of animal life; sometimes the person gives himself up to serving God and sees his well-being in it, other times he returns to his personal life and looks for the well-being of his own being, and commits sins.

2. Having committed sin, the person realizes the incompatibility of his act with the requirements of the conscience. While the person only wants to commit a sin, this conflict is not evident yet. But as soon the sin is committed, the discord is revealed, and the person wishes to eradicate it.

3. The only possible way to eradicate the discord of the act and of the situation in which the person enters as a result of the sin is by using his mind to justify the committed act and the situation.

4. The only way to justify the discord of the sin with the requirements of the spiritual life is by justifying the sin by the requirements of spiritual life. That is what people do, and this mental exercise of people is called the temptation.

5. From the time when the realization of the contradictions between animal and spiritual life is revealed in people, since people began to commit sins, people started inventing excuses for them, i.e., the temptations, and, consequently, the practices of the same excuses for sins, i.e. of temptations, were established among people, so that a person does not need to invent any excuses for his sins, - they are already invented before him, and he only needs to accept ready, compiled temptations.

26. The classification of temptations

1. There are five temptations destroying people: 2. 1) the personal temptation, or preparation; 2) 3) the temptation of family, or the temptation of procreation; 4) 5) the temptation of busyness, or the temptation to usefulness; 6) 7) the temptation of fellowship, or the temptation of loyalty; 8) 9) the temptation of the state, or the temptation of the common good. 10) 2. The personal temptation, or the temptation of preparation, takes place when a person committing sins uses an excuse that he is preparing for an activity which in the future must be useful to people.

3. The temptation of family, or procreation, takes place when a person committing sins excuses himself with the well-being of his children.

4. The temptation of busyness, or usefulness, takes place when a person committing sins excuses himself with the need of carrying out and completing of the initiated by him and useful to people work.

5. The temptation of fellowship, or loyalty, takes place when a person committing sins excuses himself with the well-being of those people with whom he had entered into an exclusive relationship.

6. The temptation of the state, or the temptation of the common good, takes place when a person committing sins excuses himself with the well-being of many people, a nation, the humanity. This temptation is expressed by Caiaphas when he demanded the execution of Christ in the name of the well-being of many.

27. The personal temptation, or the temptation of preparation

1. "I know that the meaning of my life is not in serving myself but in serving God or people; but in order to successfully serve people," - says the person who fell for this temptation, - “I can allow some digressions from the requirements of my conscience, if they are necessary for my improvement that is preparing me for the future activity useful to people; first I need to learn, first need to finish my term of service, first need to improve my health, first need to marry, first need to provide the means of living in the future, and so far I can't quite follow the demands of my conscience, but when I finish that, then I’ll begin to live exactly as my conscience requires."

2. By acknowledging the need of taking care of his personal life for sake of the most effective service to people and for the manifestations of love in the future, the person serves his own self, committing sins - of lust, and idleness, and property, and power, and even sexual lust, and intoxication - not regarding those sins as notable because he lets himself do them only for a while, during the time when he directs all his efforts to prepare himself to actively serve others.

3. Having started to serve his self, preserving, strengthening and perfecting it, the person naturally forgets the purpose for which he does this, and gives up his best years, and sometimes the whole life, to such preparation for the service that never comes.

4. Meanwhile, the sins he permitted himself for the sake of good purpose become more habitual and comfortable, and the person, instead of the intended activities useful to people, spends lifetime in sins that kill his own life and entice other people and hurt them. This is the temptation of preparation.

28. The temptation of family, or of procreation

1. People, when enter family relationship, mostly women, are tend to think that their love for family and children is the same what their reasonable consciousness asks of them, and therefore, if in the family life they have to commit sins to satisfy their family needs, such sins are forgivable.

2. And, have convinced themselves of this, such people regard as acceptable, in the name of family love, not only to excuse themselves from the requirements of fairness to other people, but also, with the confidence that they are acting rightly, commit, for the sake of the well-being of their children, the greatest cruelty against strangers.

3. "If I had no wife, husband, or children,” - say people who fall for this temptation, - “I would have lived quite differently and did not commit those sins; but now, in order to raise children, I cannot live otherwise. If we didn't live this way and did not commit these sins, the human race would cease to exist".

4. And, by this reasoning, the person quietly robs people of the fruits of their labor, makes them work hard to detriment of their lives, deprives people of their land and - the most striking example - robs a child of its milk, in order for its mother to feed his own baby, and he does not see any evil in what he does. This is the essence of the temptation of family, or of reproduction.

29. The temptation of busyness

1. A human, by his nature, must exercise his mental and bodily strengths, and to exercise them he chooses an activity.

2. Every activity requires certain actions in a certain time, so if these actions are not performed in due time, then the useful to people work gets ruined without bringing any benefit to anyone.

3. "I need to finish tilling my field with seeds already sown; if I won’t do this, both seeds and my work will be wasted with no use to anybody. I need to complete my work by this deadline; if I won’t finish it, the work that could be useful will be wasted. I have a factory running that produces necessary to people goods and keeps ten thousand workers employed; if I interrupt its work, the goods will not be produced and people will lose their jobs,” say people who fall for this temptation.

4. And, by having concluded this, the person not only does not leave his field untilled to help his neighbor to pull out his horse stuck in swamp, not only does not drop his urgent work to sit for a day by a sick person’s bedside, not only does not stop the factory work that destroys people’s health, but he is willing to use his neighbor's misfortune to till his land, ready to withdraw another person from the care after a sick in order to finish his own work on time, ready to ruin the health of several generations of people, only to have the well processed goods made. This is the essence of the temptation of busyness, or usefulness.

30. The temptation of fellowship

1. Having entered, accidentally or on purpose, into certain equal conditions, people tend to separate themselves with people in the same conditions from anyone else, and to consider themselves, to preserve the advantages of people in these exceptional circumstances, as being obliged to retreat from the demands of their own conscience and not only to prefer the benefits of their own people to the benefits of others, but even to do evil to people in order not to break the allegiance to “their own”.

2. “These people clearly do the wrong thing, but these are our fellows, and therefore it is necessary to hide and justify their wrong affairs. What they ask me to do is immoral, meaningless, but all my fellows have decided on this, and I cannot fall behind them. It may cause a suffering, a disaster to outsiders, but to us and our fellowship it will be favorable, and therefore it is necessary to act this way.”

3. There is a variety of such fellowships. Such is the partnership of two murderers or thieves going on their business and considering their loyalty to partners, for the commitment of the attempted business, as more binding than faithfulness to conscience, which condemns the attempted business; the same are the fellowships of students of educational institutions, of trade workers, of regiments, of scientists, of clerics, of rulers.

4. All these people consider allegiance to the institution of their partnership as more binding then the fidelity to the requirements of their conscience in relation to all other people. This is the essence of the temptation of fellowship, or of loyalty.

5. The distinction of this temptation is that in the name of it the most wild and irrational actions are committed, like dressing oneself up in some special, strange clothes and attributing to these clothes some special importance, and the acts like poisoning oneself with wine, beer; and very often, in the name of the same temptation causing hostility of one partnership to another, terrible acts of brutality are committed - fights, duels, murders, etc.

31. The temptation of state

1. People live in a certain social order; and this order, just like everything in the world, constantly changes, according to the growth of consciousness in humans.

2. But people, especially those for whom existing order is more advantageous than for others (and the existing order is always more profitable for some people than for others), believe that the existing order benefits all people, and thus, in order to maintain these benefits for all the people, they not only believe that it is acceptable to violate the love for some people, but they consider it fair and good to commit the greatest atrocities in order to maintain the existing order.

3. People have established the right of ownership, and some own both land and tools, while others have neither. And this unfair possession by some, not the working people, of lands and the tools of labor is considered to be that order which must be guarded and for which it is considered fair and good to lock, to execute people who violate this order. Similarly, because of the danger that a neighboring nation or a ruler can attack our people and conquer and destroy and alter the established order, it is considered fair and good not only to promote the establishment of army, but also to be prepared to murder other people and to kill them.

4. The distinction of this temptation is that, whereas in the name of those first four temptations people retreat from the demands of their conscience and commit isolated bad deeds, for the sake of the temptation of state the most horrible evil is committed, such as executions and wars, and the most atrocious crimes against the majority are carried out, like previous slavery and current withholding of land from workers. People would not commit these atrocities if they did not invent the practices by means of which the responsibility for these atrocities is distributed among people so that no one feels the severity of it.

5. The technique of distributing such responsibility, so that no one feels the severity, consists in recognizing the need for authority, which for the sake of its citizens must prescribe these evildoings; but subordinates, for the sake of benefit of all, must fulfill the requirements of the authority.

6. "I really regret that I have to prescribe the seizure of the products of labor, imprisonment, exile, penal servitude, execution, war, i.e. the massacre, but I am obliged to do so, because people who gave me the power require this from me,” say people who are in power. “If I seize properties from people, take people away from their families, lock, execute, if I kill people of a foreign nation, desolate them, shoot into women and children in a city, I do that not on my own responsibility, but because I fulfill the will of the supreme power which I promised to obey for the common benefit". This is the temptation of state, or of the common good.

32. The consequences of temptations

1. Sins are the consequences of habits (inertia, animal life). Fully charged animal life cannot stop even when reason gets already awakened in the person and the person realizes the futility of animal life. The person already knows that animal life is meaningless and cannot give him well-being, but out of old habit he keeps seeking meaning and happiness in the pleasures of animal life: in satisfying sophisticated artificial needs, in permanent idleness, in the increase of property, in the power over others, in sexual lust, in intoxication, and directs his mind toward the attainment of these ends.

2. But sins bring their own punishment: very soon the person feels that the well-being he sought this way is not unattainable. And the sin loses its appeal. So, if it wasn’t for the excuses for sins – the temptations, - people would not get sunk in their sins and would not to bring them to extremes they are brought now.

3. If it was not for the temptations of preparation, the temptation of family, the temptation of busyness, the temptation of the state, not even the most coldhearted person would, in the midst of the needy people dying from the lack of necessities, be able to indulge in the excesses which rich people do now; the rich would not come to the state of complete physical idleness in which, bored, they now live, forcing often the old, children, and weak to do work they need for themselves. If it was not for the temptation of property, people would not, without meaning, without a goal, spend their life energies on acquiring more and more possessions which cannot be used; and people suffering from a fight would not cultivate it in others. If it was not for the temptation of fellowship, there would be not one percent of the corruption that takes place now, people would not be so obviously and pointlessly ruining their bodily, mental powers by intoxicating substances, which do not increase but reduce their energies.

4. Because of human sins there is poverty and overwork of some people, and satiety and idleness of others; because of sins there is inequality of possessions, there are struggles, quarrels, litigations, executions, wars; because of sins there are tragedies of depravity and brutality of people; but because of temptations there is establishment, consecration of all this: legalization of poverty and the suppression of some people, and the satiety and idleness of others, the legalization of violence, murders, wars, debauchery, drunkenness and exalting them to those terrible dimensions, which they have reached now.

(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.)
• "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....)
• "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....)
• "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,....)

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1895
Part 3 — Publication.

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March 14, 2022; 7:34:33 AM (America/Los_Angeles)
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