Leo Tolstoy.

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the one thing that was necessary, i.e. the settling
of moral questions and their application to life?

4) What is the good? I only know a word in
Russian which defines this idea. The good is the
real good, the good for all, le veritable bien, le
bien de tous, what is good for everybody. 58


The Journal of Leo Tolstoi [1896

5) Men, in struggling with untruth and super-
stition, often console themselves with the quantity
of superstition they have destroyed. This is not
right. It is not right to calm oneself until all that
is contradictory to reason and demands credulence
is destroyed. Superstition is like a cancer.
Everything must be cleaned out if one under-
takes an operation. But if a little bit is left, every-
thing will grow from it again.

6) The historic knowledge of how different
myths and beliefs arose among peoples in differ-
ent places and in different times ought to, it seems,
destroy the faith that these myths and beliefs which
have been inoculated in us from our infancy, con-
stitute the absolute truth; but nevertheless, so-
called educated people believe in them. How
superficial then, is the education of so-called edu-
cated people !

7) To-day at dinner there was talk about a boy
with vicious inclinations who was expelled from
school, and about how good it would be to give
him over to a reformatory.

It is exactly what a man does who lives a bad
life, harmful to his health, and who, when he be-
comes ill, turns to the doctor so that the latter
may cure him, but has no idea that the illness was
given to him as a beneficial indicator that his whole
life is bad and that he ought to change it. The


MARCH] The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

same thing is true with the illnesses in our society;
every ill member of society does not remind
us that the whole life of our society is irregular
and that we ought to change it. But we think that
for every such ill member, there is or ought to
be, an institution freeing us from this member or
even bettering him.

Nothing hampers the progress of humanity so
much as this false conviction. The more ill the
society, the more institutions there are for the
healing of symptoms and the less anxiety for
changing the entire life.

It is now 10 o'clock in the evening. I am go-
ing to supper. I want to work very much, but
am without intellectual energy; a great weakness,
yet I want to work terribly. If God would only
give it to-morrow.
Feb. 28. Nicholskoe. If I live.

To-day March 6. Nicholskoe.

All this time I have felt weakness and intel-
lectual apathy. I am working on the drama very
slowly. Much has become clear. But there
isn't one scene with which I am fully satisfied.

To-day I was about to plan something silly: to
write out an outline of the Declaration of Faith.
Of course it didn't go. In the same way I began
and dropped a letter to the Italians. 59


The Journal of Leo Tolstoi [1896

During this time I jotted down:

1) Corneille writes in his Preface to Menteur
on art, that its aim is a diversion, "divertir" but
that it must not be harmful, and if possible, it
ought to be educationally enlightening.

2) At supper there was a discussion on hered-
ity: they say vicious people are born from an
alcoholic . . . (I can't clearly express my thought
and will put it by.)

3) Something very important. I lay and was
almost asleep, suddenly something seemed to tear
in my heart. It occurred to me: that is the way
death comes from heart failure; and I remained
calm I felt neither grief nor joy, but blessedly
calm whether here or there, I know that it is
well with me, that things are as they ought to be,
just like a child, tossed in the arms of its mother,
does not stop smiling from joy for it knows that
it is in her loving arms.

And the thought came to me : why is it so now
and was not so before? Because before, I did
not live the whole of life, but lived only an earthly
life. In order to believe in immortality, one must
live an immortal life here. One can walk with
one's feet and not see the precipice before one,
over which it is impossible to cross, and one can
rise on one's wings. . . . 60

(It isn't going and I don't feel like thinking.)
March 7, 1896. Nicholskoe. If I live.


MAY] The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

To-day May 2. Yasnaya Polyana.

It is almost two months since I have made an
entry. All this time I lived in Moscow. Of im-
portant events there were : a getting closer to the
scribe Novikov 61 who changed his life on account
of my books which his brother, a lackey, received
from his mistress abroad. A hot-blooded youth.
Also his brother, a working man, asked for u What
is my Faith?" and Tania 62 sent him to Mme.
Kholevinsky. 63 They took Mme. Kholevinsky to
prison. The prosecuting attorney said that they
ought to go after me. All this together made me
write a letter to the ministers of Justice and the
Interior in which I begged them to transfer their
prosecution to me. 64

All this time I wrote on the Declaration of
Faith. I made little progress. Chertkov, Posha
Biriukov were here and went away. My rela-
tions with people are good. I have stopped rid-
ing the bicycle. I wonder how I could have been
so infatuated.

I heard Wagner's Siegfried. 65 I have many
thoughts in connection with this and other things.
In all I have jolted down 20 thoughts in my note-

Still another important event the work of
African Spier. 66 I just read through what I wrote
in the beginning of this notebook. At bottom, it
is nothing else than a short summary of all of


The Journal of Leo Tolstoi [1896

Spier's philosophy which I not only had not read at
that time, but about which I had not the slight-
est idea. This work clarified my ideas on the
meaning of life remarkably, and in some ways
strengthened them. The essence of his doctrine is
that things do not exist, but only our impressions
which appear to us in our conception as objects.
Conception (Vorstellung) has the quality of be-
lieving in the existence of objects. This comes
from the fact that the quality of thinking consists
in attributing an objectivity to impressions, a sub-
stance, and a projecting of them into space.

May 3. Y. P.

Let me write down anything. Am indisposed.
Weakness and physical apathy. But think and
feel keenly. Yesterday at least, I wrote a few
letters: to Spier, 67 Shkarvan, Myasoyedov, 68
Perer, Sverbeev. 69

I am reading Spier all the time, and the reading
provokes a mass of thoughts.

Let me write out something at least from my 2 1

To-day I worked on the Declaration of Faith.

i) Come and dwell in us and cleanse us of
all evil" ... On the contrary: Cleanse thy soul
of evil thyself and He will come and dwell in thee.
He only waits for this. Like water he flows into


MAY] The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

thee in the measure as room is freed. " Dwell in
us." How agonisingly lonely it is without Thee
this I experienced these days and how peaceful,
firm and joyous, needing nothing and no one when
with Thee. Do not leave me !

I can not pray. His tongue is different from
that which I speak, but He will understand and
translate it into His own when I say : " Help me,
come to me, do not leave me ! "

And here I have fallen into a contradiction. I
say you have to cleanse yourself, then He will
come. But I, not yet having cleansed myself, call
upon Him.
May 4. If I still live here, Y. P.

May 5. 7. P.

The same general despair. And I am sad.
There is one cause; the higher moral requirement
that I put forward. In its name I have rejected
everything that is beneath it. But it was not fol-
lowed. Fifteen years ago I proposed giving away
the greater part of the property and to live in four
rooms. Then they would have an ideal. . . .

To-day I rode past Gill. 70 I thought: no un-
dertaking is profitable with a small amount of
capital. The more capital, the more profits; the
less expenses. But from this it in no way follows
that, as Marx says, capitalism will lead to social-


The Journal of Leo Tolstoi [1896

ism. Perhaps it will lead to it, but to one with
force. The workingmen will be compelled to
work together, and they will work less and the
pay will be more, but there will be the same slav-
ery. It is necessary that people work freely in
common, that they learn to work for each other,
but capitalism doesn't teach them that; on the con-
trary, it teaches them envy, greed, selfishness.
Therefore, through a forced uniting brought
about by capitalism, the material condition of the
workers can be bettered, but their contentment
can in no way be established. Contentment can
only be established through the free union of the
workers. And for this it is necessary to learn
how to unite, to perfect oneself morally, to will-
ingly serve others without being hurt when not re-
ceiving a return. And this can't in any way be
learned under the capitalistic, competitive system,
but under an entirely different one.

I sleep alone downstairs.
To-morrow, May 6th, Y. P.

To-day, May 9, Y. P.

Up to now, I haven't yet written out all that
I had to. Have been continually indisposed.
Notwithstanding this, I work in the mornings.
To-day, it seemed to me I advanced very much.
Our people have gone away, some to the corona-


MAY] The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

tion, others to Sweden. 71 I am alone with
Masha ; she has a sore throat. I am well.
May w, If Hive. Y.P.

To-day, May u, Y.P.

Sonya arrived from Moscow. I continue to
write the Declaration of Faith. It seems as if I
were weakening. To-day I received a letter from
N, a tangled up revolutionist. In the evening I
rode horseback to Yasenki 72 and thought:

I have not yet written out everything from my
notebooks. I will jot down at least this, the more
so since, when it came into my head it seemed to
me very important. Namely:

i) Spier says we know only sensations. It is
true, the material of our knowledge is sensations.
But one must ask; why variation of sensations
(even of one and the same sense of sight or
touch). He (Spier) insists too much that cor-
poreality is an illusion, and does not answer the
question: why variation of sensations? It is not
bodies that make variation of sensations, I agree
to this, but it is just such beings as we, who must
be the cause of these sensations.

I know that what he recognises as our being he
recognises as a unit. Good. Admitting it is a
unit, then it is a divided off, broken off unit, and
I am a unit being only within certain limits. And


The Journal of Leo Tolstoi [1896

these limits of my being are the limits of other
beings. Or, one being is outlined by limits and
these limits create sensations, i. e., the material of
knowledge. There are no bodies, bodies are illu-
sions, but other beings are not illusions and I
recognise them through sensations. Their activ-
ity produces sensations in me and I conclude that
the same effect is produced in them by my activity.
When I receive sensations from a man with whom
I come in contact, it can be understood; but when
I receive sensations from the earth upon which I
fall, from the sun which warms me, what is it that
produces these sensations in me? Probably the
activities of beings whose life I do not understand;
but I recognise only a part of them like the flea
on my body. Touching the earth, feeling the
warmth of the sun, my limits come in contact with
the limits of the sun. I am in the world (I pro-
ject this into space. I can not do it otherwise
though it is not so in reality) like a cell, not an
immovable one, but one wandering and touching
by his limits, not only the limits of other cells of
the same kind, but other enormous bodies.

Better still, not to project this into space; I act
and am acted upon by the greatest variety of be-
ings; or, my division of a unit being associates with
other divisions of the most various kinds.

(What a lot of nonsense!)


MAY] The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

May 12, Y. P. If I live.

Pentecost. It is cold, damp, and not a leaf on
the trees.

To-day already, May 1 6, Y. P. Morning.

I can not write my Declaration of Faith. It is
unclear, metaphysical, and whatever good there is
in it, I spoil. I am thinking of beginning it all
from the beginning again or to call a stop and
get to work on a novel or a drama.

N. 73 was here; it was a difficult love test. I
passed it only outwardly and even then badly.
If the examiner had gone along thoroughly, skip-
ping about, I would have failed shamefully.

A beautiful article by Menshikov, " The Blun-
ders of Fear." 74 How joyous ! I can almost die,
even absolutely, and yet it always seems as if
there is something still to be done. Do it and the
end will take care of itself. If you are no longer
fit for the work, you will be changed and a new
one will be sent and you will be sent to another
work. If only one rises in work!

Strakhov Th. A. 75 was here. The other one,
N., 76 came to me in my sleep. I had a talk with
him 77 about the Declaration of Faith. In speak-
ing to him I felt how hazy was the desire for the
good in itself. And I corrected it this way:

i) A man at a certain period of his develop-
ment awakens to a consciousness of his life. He


The Journal of Leo Tolstoi [1896

sees that everything about him lives (and he him-
self lived like that before the awakening of his
reason) without knowing its life. Now that he
has learned that he lives, he understands that
force which gives life to the whole world and in
his consciousness he coincides with it, but being
limited by his separate being (his organism), it
seems to him that the purpose of this force which
gives life to the world, is the life of his sepa-
rate being.

(/ thought that I would write it clearly and
again I am confused; evidently I am not

Life is the desire for the good. (Everything
that lives, lives only because it desires the good;
that which does not desire the good, does not
live. )

Man, when awakened to a reasoning conscious-
ness, is conscious of life in himself, i. e. of the
desire for the good. But since this consciousness
is engendered in the separate bodily being of man,
since man learns that life is the desire for the
good when he is already separated from others by
his bodily being, therefore, in the first awakening
of man to a reasoning consciousness, it seems to
him that life, i. e. the desire for the good which he
recognises in himself, has for its object his sep-
arate bodily being. And man begins to live con-
sciously for the good of his separate being, be-


MAY] The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

gins to use that reason of his which revealed to
him the essence of all life ; the desire for the good,
in order to secure the good for his own separate

But the longer a man lives, the more obvious it
becomes to him that his purpose is unattainable.
And therefore, while he has not yet made clear
to himself his error, even before he recognises
by reason the impossibility of the good for a sepa-
rate personality, man knows by experience and
feeling the error of activity which is directed to
the good of his own separate personality and he
naturally strives that his life, his desire for the
good, be drawn away from his own personality
and brought over to other things; to comrades,
friends, family, society.

This same reason which he desires to use for
the attainment of the good for his own separate
being, shows man that this good is unattainable,
that it becomes destroyed by the struggle between
the separate beings for the desired good, destroyed
by the unpreventable, innumerable disasters and
sufferings which threaten man, and above all, by
the unavoidable illnesses, sufferings, old age and
death which occur in the individual life of man.
No matter how man might expand his desire for
the good to other beings, he can not but see that
all these separate beings are like him, subject to
unavoidable sufferings and death and therefore,


The Journal of Leo Tolstoi [1896

they, just as he, can not have real life by them-

And it is just this error of men who have awak-
ened to the consciousness of life that the Christian
teaching dissipates, in showing to man that as soon
as a consciousness of life has awakened in him,
i. e. the desire for the good, then his being, his
" self " is no longer his separate bodily being, but
that same consciousness of life, the desire for
the good not for himself, which was born in his
separate being. The consciousness, therefore, of
the desire for the good, is the desire for the good
for everything existent. And the desire for the
good for everything existent, is God.

The Christian teaching teaches just this, that
His son, who resembles God, and who was sent
by the Father into the world that the will of the
Father be fulfilled in him, lives in man with an
awakened consciousness (the conversation with

The Christian teaching reveals to man with an
awakened consciousness, that the meaning and the
aim of his life does not consist, as it seemed to him
before, in the acquiring of the greater good for
his own separate personality or for other such
personalities like him, no matter how many they
are, but only in the fulfilment in this world of
the will of the Father who has sent man into the


MAY] The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

world it reveals also to man the will of the
Father in regard to the son. The will of the
Father in regard to the son is that there should
be manifested in this world that desire for the
good which forms the essence of his life, so that
man living in this world should wish the good to
a greater and greater number of beings and con-
sequently he should serve them as he serves his
own good.

May 77, Y. P.

Again I am dissatisfied with what I wrote yes-
terday and which seemed to me true and full.
Last night and this morning I thought about the
same thing. Here are the new things which have
become clear to me :

1) That the desire for the good is not God,
but only one of His manifestations, one of the
sides from which we see God. God in me is
manifested by the desire for the good;

2) That this God which is enclosed in man,
begins to strive to free Himself in broadening and
enlarging the being in whom He dwells ; then, see-
ing the impassable limits of this being, He tries to
free Himself by going outside of this being and
embracing other beings;

3) That a reasoning being cannot find room for

The Journal of Leo Tolstoi [1896

himself in the life of an individual, and that as
soon as he becomes reasoning he tries to go out
of it;

4) That the Christian teaching reveals to
man that the essence of his life is not his separate
being, but God, which is enclosed in his being.
This God, therefore, becomes known to man
through reason and love . . .

I can not write any farther; weak, sleepy.

5) And above all, that the desire for the good
for oneself, love for oneself, could exist in man
only up to the time when reason had not yet awak-
ened in him. But as soon as reason had wakened
in him, then it became clear to man that the de-
sire for the good for himself a separate being
was futile, because the good is not realisable
for a separate and mortal being. Just as soon as
reason appeared, then there became possible only
one kind of desire for the good; the desire for
the good for all, because with the desire for the
good for all, there is no struggle but union, and
no death but the transmission of life. God is not
love, but in living, unreasoning beings He is mani-
fested through a love for oneself, and in living,
reasoning beings, through love for everything
that exists.

I am now going to write out the 2 1 points from
my notebooks.

i) In order to believe in immortality one has

MAY] The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

to live an immortal life here, i. e. to live not to-
wards oneself but towards God, not for oneself,
but for God. Man, in this life, seems to be stand-
ing with one foot on a board and the other on
the earth; and as soon as his reason has awakened,
he sees that that board upon which he was just
about to step lies over an abyss and it not only
bends and creaks, but is already falling and man
transfers his weight to that foot which stands on
the earth. How not be afraid if one stands on
that which bends and creaks and falls; and how
be afraid, and of what to be afraid, if you stand
on that upon which everything falls and below
which it is impossible to fall?

2) Read about Granovsky. 78 In our litera-
ture it is customary to say, that during the reign
of Nicholas conditions were such that it was im-
possible to express great thoughts. (Granovsky
complains of this and others too.) But the
thoughts there were not real. It is all self-decep-
tion. If all those Granovskys, Bielinskys, 79 and
others had anything to say, they would have said
it, no matter what the obstacles. The proof is
Herzen. 80 He went away abroad and despite his
enormous talent, what did he say that was new,
necessary? All those Granovskys, Bielinskys,
Chernishevskys, 81 Dobroliubovs, who were raised
to great men, ought to be grateful to the govern-
ment and the censorship without which they would


The Journal of Leo Tolstoi [1896

have been the most unnoticed of sketch-

Perhaps the Bielinskys, Granovskys, and the
other unimportant ones might have had something
real within them, but they stifled it, imagining they
had to serve society with the forms of social life
and not to serve God by professing the truth and
by preaching it without any care about the forms
of social life. Let there be contents and the forms
will shape themselves.

People acting thus, i. e. adapting their striving
for truth to the existing forms of society, are like
a being to whom wings have been given to fly,
without knowing obstacles, and who used these
wings in order to help itself in walking. Such a
being would not attain its ends every obstacle
would stop it and it would spoil its wings. And
then this being would complain that it had been
held back and would tell with sorrow (like Gran-
ovsky) that it would have gone far if obstacles
had not held it back.

The quality of real spiritual activity is such,
that it is impossible to hold it back. If it is held
back, then it means only one thing: it is not

3) Man dying little by little (growing old)
experiences that which a sprouting seed ought to
experience which has not yet transferred its con-
sciousness from the seed to the plant. He feels


MAY] The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

that he grows less, but he is not conscious of him-
self there where he increases; in another life.
I am beginning to experience this.

4) I wrote down: " -Reason is a tool for the
recognition of truth, verification, criticism." I
can't remember very well. It seems to me, and
I am even certain of it, that it is this :

Under reason is understood many different in-
tellectual activities and very complex ones, and
therefore the correctness of the solutions of
reason is often doubted. As an answer to this
doubt, I say, that there is an activity of the reason
which is not to be doubted, namely, the critical
activity, the activity of verifying what is told me.
They tell me that God . . . etc. I submit this
to the verification of reason and decide without
doubt that that which is not reasonable does not
exist for me. It is wrong to say that everything
which exists is reasonable, or that everything
which is reasonable exists, but it is wrong not to
say that that which is unreasonable does not exist
for me.

5) It seems to man that his animal life is his
real essence and that the spiritual life is the prod-
uct of his animal one, just as it seems to a man
rowing in a boat that he is standing still and that
the banks, and the whole earth, are running past

6) There is a goodness which wants to make


The Journal of Leo Tolstoi [1896

use of the advantages of goodness and does not
want to bear the disadvantages of it. That is
animal goodness.

7) Christian truth, they say, can not be
proved; it must be believed. As if it were easier
to become convinced of the truth of the nonsensi-
cal than of the reasonable. Why deprive Chris-
tianity of the power of convincing? Why?

8) Nature, they say, is economical of its own
forces; by the least effort, it attains the greatest
results. So is God. To establish the Kingdom
of God on earth, of union, of serving one an-
other and to destroy hostility, God does not
have to do it himself. He has placed His reason
in man, which frees love in man and everything

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