Leo Tolstoy
· The Circle of Reading
Translated by Dmitry Fadeyev

January 15

The core meaning of Christ’s teaching lies in the establishment of a direct relationship between a human being—the child of God—with God the father.


You ask: what constitutes the primary essence of Christ’s character? I answer: it is his conviction in the greatness of the human soul. In the human being he saw the reflection and image of Divinity, and thus he loved every person, whoever he was, whatever the circumstances of his life and character. Jesus looked at people with a gaze that pierced the material shell—the body disappeared before him. Through the dresses of the rich and the rags of the poor he saw the human spirit; and there, amid the darkness of ignorance and the stains of sin, he found the rudiments of strength and perfection, capable of unlimited development of one’s spiritual, immortal nature. In one who has fallen to the lowest depths he saw a being that can be transformed into an angel of light. Even more than that: he felt that there was nothing within him that every human being could not attain.

— Channing


For nations, just as for people, liberation from prejudices does not reduce moral barriers, it only replaces crude ways of life with ones that are more elevated. This replacement causes many poor souls to lose that which had been supporting them. But there is nothing bad or dangerous in this. It is only growth. A child must learn to walk alone. A human being who has lost his habitual prejudices finds himself lost, homeless. But this seizure of external supports drives him into himself and strengthens him by doing so. He feels himself face to face with God; he reads his teaching not from a book, but from his soul, and his little chapel expands into the great cathedral of the celestial firmament.

— Emerson


One can perceive God either intellectually or morally, based on faith. An intellectual perception of God is unreliable and prone to dangerous errors; on the other hand, a moral understanding ascribes to God only the qualities that demand moral deeds. Such faith is both natural and supernatural.

— After Kant


Do not merely seek a moral life, aim above morality.

— Thoreau

Fear everything that stands between you and God—the Spirit that dwells within your soul.