Leo Tolstoy
· The Circle of Reading
Translated by Dmitry Fadeyev

January 19

Society can only be improved through self-sacrifice.

1

They say that one swallow does not make a spring. But is it really the case that a swallow that can already sense spring should wait rather than fly just because one swallow does not make a spring? If one were to wait for every bud and every blade of grass, then spring would never come. Likewise, in order to establish the kingdom of heaven we must not think about whether we are the first or the thousandth swallow.

2

Heaven and earth are eternal. They are eternal because they do not exist for themselves. That is why they are eternal.

Likewise, a holy man renounces himself and by doing so becomes eternal. By becoming eternal, he becomes powerful and accomplishes everything he needs.

— Laozi

3

In both private and public life there is a single law: if you want to improve life, be ready to give it up.

4

In the times when nations are waiting for a sign to begin the greatest battle between good and evil that ever was in the world, when in all parts of the world one can already hear the faint crashes of thunder, when people sense that the time is near when two armies are going to clash with one another—the army of God and the army of Satan—and that the destiny of humankind, whether it will be liberated or enslaved, hinges on this clash, in these solemn times one must remember before all else that the title of a warrior of the heavenly host can be earned only by following the example of its Lord, who became like the poor in order to save the people: renounce everything so that you can be fully here now, tomorrow in another place, everywhere where there is danger, where there is battle, and let the dead bury the dead. And the dead—they are those who, having immersed themselves in transient cares and material worries, do not even know that there is a soul within them demanding liberation, that to live means to struggle and to die, and that this is the only way to achieve the great liberation.

— Lamennais

5

The perfection of a human being is measured by the degree of liberation from personality. The more a human being frees himself from personality, the more perfect he is.


All attempts to improve life without sacrifice are futile. Such attempts only push away the possibility of improvement.

Themes

Sources