The Christian Teaching — Part 5 : Avoiding 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.)
• "There are people (we ourselves are such) who realize that our Government is very bad, and who struggle against it." (From: "A Letter to Russian Liberals," by Leo Tolstoy, Au....)
• "It 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,....)
• "...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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Part 5

1. Having freed himself from religious deceptions, a person would be able to comprehend the teachings of Christ if it weren't for temptations. But – even being free of religious deception and having understood the meaning of the teaching of Christ, the human is always in danger of falling into temptations.

2. The essence of all temptations is that a person, awakened to consciousness, experiences splitting and suffering because of the committed sin, and wants to destroy the splitting and the suffering following it, not by conquering the sin but by justifying it.

3. And the justification of a sin can't be anything but a lie.

4. And therefore, to avoid falling into a temptation, a person, first and foremost, needs not to be afraid to acknowledge truth, and to know that this acknowledgment cannot distance him further from well-being, whereas the opposite, the lie, is the main source of sin and moves him away from well-being.

5. So, to avoid temptations a human must, first of all, not to lie and, above all, not to lie to himself, care not so much about not lying to others as much as about not lying to himself by hiding from himself the motives for his own actions.

6. In order not to fall into temptations, and arising from the temptations habit of sin, and downfall, a person should not be afraid to repent of his sins, and should know that repentance is the only way of liberation from sin and the subsequent tragedies.

7. This is an overall approach to ensure that the person does not fall into temptations in general. But in order to be able to avoid every single temptation, you must clearly understand what constitutes its deception and what harm it causes.

45. The deception of personal temptation, or the temptation of preparation

1. The first and most common temptation that traps a human is personal temptation, the temptation of preparing for life instead of living it. If a person does not come up with excuses for sin himself, then he will always find an excuse already invented by people who lived before him.

2. "Now I can temporarily deviate from what I should do and what my spiritual nature demands, because I'm not ready," says a person. “But after I prepare myself, the time will come, and then I'll start living already quite in accordance with my conscience."

3. The trick of this temptation is that the person retreats from life in the present, the only real life, and projects it into the future, while the future does not belong to a human.

4. The distinction of the deception of this temptation is in the fact that as a person is able to anticipate the next day, then he must anticipate the day after the next, and after, and after... And if he is able to foresee all of these, then he can foresee his inevitable death, too. In the anticipation of his imminent death, he cannot keep preparing for the future in this finite life, because death defeats the meaning of what the human prepares for in this life. The person who sets his mind free cannot but see that the life of his separate being does not make sense and therefore no preparations for this being could be made.

5. On the other hand, the deception of this temptation is evident because a human cannot prepare himself for the future manifestation of love and of service to God: human is not a tool that somebody else uses. You may sharpen an ax and have no time to use it, someone else will use it; but no one can utilize a person except himself, because he himself is a tool, constantly working and perfecting itself only at work.

6. The harm of this temptation is that the person who has fallen into it lives neither true nor even temporary life in the present and projects his life into the future, which never comes. By thinking to perfect himself for the future, the individual misses the only available to each person opportunity to perfect himself in love, which can only take place in the present.

7. In order not to fall into this temptation, a person must understand and remember that there is no time to prepare, that he must live in the best way now, as he is; and that the perfecting is in love, and this perfecting is done only in the present.

8. And therefore he must, without postponing, live every moment with all his strengths, in the now, for God, i.e. for all who makes demands upon his life, knowing that at any moment he may be deprived of the possibility of this serving and that precisely for this exact continual service he came into the world.

46. Deception and harm of the temptation of busyness

1. Any person, while performing certain work, involuntarily gets preoccupied with it, and it seems to him that for the sake of the work he can skip doing what is required of him by his conscience, that is, God.

2. The trick of this temptation is in the fact that any human work may turn out useless or may be interrupted and remain unfinished; whereas the work of God, which is accomplished by a human through the fulfillment of the will of God, can never be useless nor be interrupted by anything.

3. And the harm of this temptation is that, assuming that any work, - whether it is plowing of scattered seeds or the liberation of the whole nation from slavery - is more important than that which often seems the most insignificant to human judgment, work of God, i.e. immediate help and service to one’s neighbor, there will always be cases that need to be finished before fulfilling the requirement of the work of God; and people will forever excuse themselves from serving God, i.e. from the doing the work of life, by substituting serving the dead for serving the living.

4. The harm of it is that, having fallen into this temptation, people will always put off serving God until they are free from all the cares of the world. And people are never free of the cares of the world. In order not to fall into this temptation, a person must understand and remember that every human affair, which is finite, can't be the goal of his true infinite life, and that such a goal can only be participation in the endless work of God, consisting in the greatest manifestation of love.

5. And therefore, in order not to fall into the temptation of busyness, a human must never do his own work that violates the work of God, i.e. love for people; must always be ready to drop any work as soon as the committing the work of God is required of him: to be like an employee hired to do master’s work and allowed to run his own affairs only when master's cause does not demand his efforts and attention.

47. The deception and harm of the temptation of family

1. This temptation justifies people’s sins more than any other. People might be free from the temptation of preparation to life and the temptation of busyness, but a rare person, especially a woman, is free from the temptation of family.

2. This temptation appears when people, in the name of their exclusive love of their own families, consider themselves being free from obligations to other people and serenely commit sins of greed, idleness, lust, not regarding them as sins.

3. The trick of this temptation is that animal instinct, the drive to procreate, which is legitimate only in so far as it does not violate the love of people, is taken as a virtue that justifies sins.

4. The evil of this temptation is that this temptation more than any other augments the sin of property, intensifies struggle between people by exalting animal instinct of the love for one’s own family as merit and virtue, diverts people from the opportunity of discovering the true meaning of life.

5. In order not to fall into this temptation, a person not only must not cultivate in himself the love for his own family, must not regard this love as virtue, and must not yield to it, but on the contrary, knowing the temptation, must always be on guard against it, to not to sacrifice the godly love for the family love.

6. One can love one’s enemies, unattractive people, or strangers without reservation, and altogether give one's self up to this love, but he cannot love the members of his own family that way, because such love leads to blindness and to the justification of sins.

7. To not to fall into this temptation, a person must understand and remember that love only then is true love, which gives life and well-being, when it neither seeks nor expects nor hopes for recompense, just as no other manifestation of life expects recompense for its existence; and that love for his own family is an animal instinct and is good only so long as it is kept within the limits of the instinct and so long as the person does not sacrifice his spiritual demands for its sake.

8. And therefore, in order not to fall for this temptation, a person should endeavor to do for any stranger the same that he wishes to do for his family, and not to do for his family anything that he is not ready and cannot do for any stranger.

48. The deception and harm of the temptation of fellowship

1. Having separated themselves from others and tied themselves together under certain exceptional conditions, people think that, if they maintain these conditions, they are doing such a good job that it exempts them from the general demands of their conscience.

2. The trick of this temptation consists in the fact that, by entering into fellowship with a certain small number of people, people distinguish themselves from the natural communion of all people, and therefore violate the most important natural duties in the name of made-up ones.

3. The harm of this temptation consists in the fact that people who have bound themselves together in a partnership are guided not by common laws of reason but by their own exclusive rules, depart further and further from those reasonable principles of life common to all people, becoming less tolerant and more cruel to all outside their fellowship, and thus deprive themselves and others of true well-being.

4. To avoid falling into this temptation, a person must understand and remember that the rules of fellowships established by people may vary infinitely, be infinitely changeable and contradictory, that no rule artificially set by people should bind him if it may be contrary to the law of love, and that every exclusive union of people limits the circle of communication and deprives the person of chief condition of his well-being, the opportunity of loving communion with all people in the world.

5. And therefore one must not only refrain from joining any societies, fellowships, and associations, but, on the contrary, avoid anything that may exclude him and others from the rest people of the world.

49. Deception and harm of the temptation of state

1. This, the most brutal, deception is transferred to people in the same way as false religion, - by two means of deception: the indoctrination of children with lies, and the influence exerted on people's feelings by external solemnity. Almost all people living in governmental states, upon their awakening to consciousness, find themselves already entangled in state temptations and live in belief that their nation, their state, their fatherland is the best, special people, state, fatherland, and for the benefits and success of which they should blindly obey the existing government and, at the behest of the government, torture, injure, and kill their fellows.

2. The deception of this temptation is that a person, supposedly for the sake of the well-being of the nation, can refuse the demands of his conscience and his moral freedom.

3. The evil of this temptation is that once a person allows the possibility of learning and understanding what constitutes the well-being of many people, there is no limit to assumptions about that that well-being of many is, which can be derived from any act, and therefore any act can be justified, and once the person believes that for the good of the many in the future you can sacrifice well-being and life of one man, there are no limits to evil that can be committed in the name of such consideration. The first assumption - that people are capable of knowing what constitutes the future well-being of many - has been responsible in former times for torture, inquisition, and slavery, and in our time - for the courts of law, prisons, and land ownership. Based on the second assumption of Caiaphas, Christ was murdered in the old time, and now executions and wars are killing millions.

4. In order not to fall into this temptation, a person must understand and remember that he, before belonging to any nation or people, belongs to God, as a member of the worldwide kingdom, and he cannot shift the responsibility for his actions on anyone else, and he is always personally responsible for them.

5. And therefore a person must never, under any circumstances, prefer people of his own nation or state – to those of another nation or state, under no considerations, as to the future well-being of many, must he commit evil to his neighbors; and he must not feel obligated to obey anyone in preference to his own conscience.

(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....)
• "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....)
• "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....)

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1895
Part 5 — Publication.

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July 13, 2021; 6:09:36 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
Added to https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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March 14, 2022; 7:37:04 AM (America/Los_Angeles)
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