Tolstoy Asks Us To Address One Question: How Should We Live?

“The only means of deliverance from violence lies in not taking part in it.”

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Photo by the author.
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Leo Tolstoy. Painting by Ilya Repin. Public domain.
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“Lev Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana”, 1908 . Public domain.

The Kingdom of God is Within You

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”

On Meaning

“The only significance of life consists in helping to establish the kingdom of God; and this can be done only by means of the acknowledgment and profession of the truth by each one of us.”

The Key Question

“This divergence and perversion of the essential question is most striking in what goes today by the name of philosophy. There would seem to be only one question for philosophy to resolve: What must I do? Despite being combined with an enormous amount of unnecessary confusion, answers to the question have at any rate been given within the philosophical tradition on the Christian nations…”

On Pacifism

“The Quakers sent me books, from which I learnt how they had, years ago, established beyond doubt the duty for a Christian of fulfilling the command of non-resistance to evil by force, and had exposed the error of the Church’s teaching in allowing war and capital punishment.”

On the Good Life

“To be good and lead a good life means to give to others more than one takes from them. “

On Oppression

“The oppression of a majority by a minority, and the demoralization inevitably resulting from it, is a phenomenon that has always occupied me and has done so most particularly of late.”

On True Religion

“Genuine religion is not about speculating about God or the soul or about what happened in the past or will happen in the future; it cares only about one thing-finding out exactly what should or should not be done in this lifetime.


“All our problems are caused by forgetting what lives within us, and we sell our souls for the ‘bowl of stew’ of bodily satisfactions.” (Reference to the story of Jacob and Esau.)

On Wealth and Poverty

“Honest work is much better than a mansion.”

On Wisdom

“The only thing that we know is that we know nothing — and that is the highest flight of human wisdom. — Chapter One, War and Peace

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An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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