Leo Tolstoy
Circle of Reading
Translated by Dmitry Fadeyev

January 17

By fulfilling his inner purpose by living for the soul, a person involuntarily and in a most real way serves the betterment of society.


People cannot be liberated in their external life more than they are liberated from within.

— Herzen


A dreamer often correctly predicts the future, but he does not want to wait for it. He wants to bring it closer by his efforts. He wants to see realized in his lifetime that which nature needs a thousand years to accomplish.

— Lessing


Why do you torture yourself in vain in your distress? You desire the good, but you do not know how to attain it. Know that only the one who surrenders his life can get it. You will never attain anything without God. You have destroyed a few oppressors—and new ones have taken their place, ones who are even worse. You have destroyed the laws of slavery, and you have been given new laws of blood and newer laws of slavery. Do not believe the people who put themselves between you and God, so that their shadow might hide him from you. These people have bad intentions. Because the power that liberates comes only from God, because the love that unites comes only from God. What could someone guided only by his thoughts and the laws of willpower do for you? If he has good intentions and desires only what is good, he will still only give you his will instead of the law and his thoughts instead of rules. This is what all oppressors do. We should not destroy in order to replace one form of violence with another. Freedom does not mean that this one should rule instead of that one, but that no one should rule. Wherever God does not rule, humans rule. The kingdom of God is the kingdom of justice in the mind and charity in the heart; its basis is the belief in the law proclaimed by Christ, the law of charity, the law of justice. The law of justice teaches that we are all equal before God the Father and Christ the sole teacher. The law of charity teaches love and mutual aid, as children of one Father and disciples of one teacher.

If people say to you: “No one before us knew what justice meant; justice comes from us, believe us, and we will establish the kind of justice that will satisfy you,”—then such people are deceiving you or, if they are sincerely promising you freedom, then they themselves are deceived—because what they want is for you to recognize them as masters, which would mean that your freedom would be only an obedience to these new masters. Tell them that God alone is your master, that you desire no other, and that God will set you free.

— Lamennais


It would be great if wisdom had the quality of being able to flow from someone who was filled with it into someone who had none of it, as water flows through a piece of yarn from one vessel into another, until both are equally full. But, unfortunately, in order to assimilate someone else’s wisdom, we have to first do the work ourselves.


If you can teach a human being to be good but do not do it, you lose a brother.

— Chinese wisdom

Do your life’s work, improving and perfecting your soul, and be assured that this is the only way to make the most fruitful contribution to the improvement of society.