Leo Tolstoy
Circle of Reading
Translated by Dmitry Fadeyev

January 28

In order for a human being to learn the law to which he is subject and which gives him freedom, he must ascend from material life into the spiritual.


“He who sent me is true; and the things which I heard from him, these I say to the world.”

They did not understand that he spoke to them about the Father.

Jesus therefore said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing of myself, but as my Father taught me, I say these things.”

— John 8:26–28

The recognition that your life lies not in your person but in the Spirit of God that dwells within every human being is what Christ calls the lifting up of the Son of Man.


Jesus Christ belonged to the true race of prophets. He saw with open eye the mystery of the soul. Alone in all history, he estimated the greatness of man. One man was true to what is in you and me. He saw that God incarnates himself in man. He said, in this jubilee of sublime emotion, “I am divine. Through me, God acts; through me, speaks. Would you see God, see me; or, see thee, when though also thinkest as I now think.” But what a distortion did his doctrine and memory suffer in the same, in the next, and following ages! The understanding caught this high chant from the poet’s lips, and said, in the next age, “This was Jehovah come down out of heaven. I will kill you, if you say he was a man.”

The idioms of his language, and the figures of his rhetoric, have usurped the place of his truth; and churches are not built on his principles, but on his tropes. Christianity became a Mythus, as the poetic teaching of Greece and of Egypt, before.

He felt respect for Moses and the prophets; but no unfit tenderness at postponing their initial revelations, to the hour and the man that now is; to the eternal revelation in the heart. Having seen that the law in us is commanding, he would not suffer it to be commanded. Boldly, with hand, and heart, and life, he declared it was God.

— Emerson


“I and God are one!” said the teacher. “But if you take my body for God, then you are mistaken. If you take my immaterial being that is different from other beings for God, then you are also mistaken. You will not be mistaken only when you grasp my true self within yourselves, that which is truly one and the same with God and with all people. To understand this self, it is necessary to lift up the human being within yourselves. And when you lift him up, you will see that there is no difference between you and other people.”

It only seems to us that we are different beings, just as it seems to a flower on an apple tree that it is a separate being, but they are all merely flowers from the same tree and they all come from the same germ.

— Fyodor Strakhov


What a pity if we do not live this short time according to the laws of the long time—the eternal laws!

— Thoreau


“The human soul is naturally Christian.”

People always perceive Christianity as something forgotten, which they have suddenly remembered. Christianity elevates a human being to a height from which a joyful world, subject to rational law, is revealed to him. The feeling a human being feels when he learns the truth of Christianity is akin to what a man who had been locked up in a dark, stuffy tower would feel if he were to ascend to the highest platform in the tower, from which he would see the previously unseen beautiful world.

The consciousness of being subject to human law enslaves, the consciousness of being subject to God’s law liberates.