Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910), also known as Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He is best known for his novels, including War and Peace and Resurrection, but he also wrote plays and numerous philosophical essays. His fiction consistently attempted to convey realistically the Russian society in which he lived. In the 1870’s Tolstoy experienced a profound moral crisis, followed by what he regarded as an equally profound spiritual awakening, as outlined in his nonfiction work A Confession.
Quotes by Leo Tolstoy…
The decrease of the general cause of suffering — illusion — is the only pleasant work which lies before a man, and gives him that true happiness in which his life consists.
Who has hired you as a nurse to this sick society?
The worst of human errors spring in most cases from the fact that men who stand on a low intellectual level, when they encounter events of a higher order, instead of trying to rise to the higher level from which these events can be rightly viewed, and making an effort to understand them, judge them by their own low standards, and the less they know of what they speak, the more arrogant and fixed are their judgements.
I have no inclination to assault myself; it would be of no use. You may do it yourselves if you choose — I refuse.
Man need not perform any acts or exploits, but has only to make an intense effort at consciousness.
If men who do not understand life would only approach nearer to the phantoms which alarm them, and would examine them, they would see that they are only phantoms, and not realities.
Men have but to understand this: they must cease to care for material and external matters… let them apply one hundredth part of the energy now used by them in outward concerns to those in which they are free — to the recognition and profession of the truth that confronts them, to the deliverance of themselves and others form the falsehoods which conceal the truth. Then the false system of life which now torments us, which threatens us with still greater suffering, will be destroyed at once without struggle, then the Kingdom of Heaven, at least in that first stage… will be established.
Men, attached by habit to the existing order, shrink from attempting to change it, therefore they agree to consider this doctrine as a mass of revelations and laws that may be accepted without making any change in one’s life: whereas the doctrine… is not a doctrine of rules for men to obey, but unfolds a new life-conception, meant as a guide for men who are now entering upon a new life, one entirely different from the past.
I knew not the light, and I thought there was no sure truth in life; but when I perceived that only light enables men to live, I sought to find the sources of the light… And when I reached this source of light I was dazzled with the splendour, and I found there full answers to my questions as to the purpose of the lives of myself and others.
As a man in his sleep doubts the reality of his nightmares and yearns to awaken and return to real life, so the average man of our day cannot, in the depths of his heart, believe the terrible condition in which he finds himself — and which is growing worse and worse — to be a reality. He yearns to attain to a higher reality, the consciousness of which is already within him… Our average man has but to make a conscious effort and ask himself, “Is not all this an illusion?” in order to feel like an awakened sleeper, transported from a hypocritical and horrible nightmare-world into a living, peaceful, and joyous world of reality.