Leo Tolstoy
· The Circle of Reading
Translated by Dmitry Fadeyev

January 12

There are people who take it upon themselves to decide for others their relationship to God and to the world, and there are people, the vast majority, who surrender this right to others and blindly believe what they are told. Both the former and the latter are equally at fault.


There are people who, having learned that all religious questions have been resolved and all religious laws have been established, at once surrender themselves into the hands of the people who take upon themselves such resolution and establishment.

Why should they worry about what the others so decidedly acknowledge as their inalienable task? They are left to pleasantly spend their time, filling days with entertainments and amusements and, in this way, lulling themselves for whole years of pleasant dreams.

And the fruit of such dull contentment is the very lack in the people of a desire to evaluate the things that are being suggested to them.

I fear that the slavish mark left by the iron yoke of blind faith will for a long time remain upon our necks.

— Milton


From the moment the human being had rejected his moral independence, from the moment he had began to determine his obligations not according to his inner voice, but according to the views of a particular class or party, from the moment he had shaken off from himself his personal responsibility because he is but one of millions—from that moment he has lost his moral power, and he now expects from people that which only God can do, replacing divine power with crude prescriptions of the human mind.

— Channing


We are all like children, who first repeat the irrefutable truths of our grandmothers, then of our teachers, and then, depending on our age, of many other wonderful people that cross our path.

With what effort do we try to learn by heart the words we hear from them! And when we ourselves reach that step upon which our mentors had stood and come to understand the meaning of their words, our disappointment is sometimes so great that we are ready to forget everything we have heard them say.

— Emerson


Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree produces good fruit, but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. A good tree cannot produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not grow good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

— Matthew 7:15–20


A human being can make use of the tradition passed down to him from the wise and holy people of the past, but he must use his own reason to test the things that are being passed down to him, and he must decide what to discard and what to accept.

Everyone must establish their own relationship to God and the world.