“The doctor arrived towards dinnertime and said, of course, that although recurring phenomena might well elicit apprehension, nonetheless there was, strictly speaking, no positive indication, yet since neither was there any contraindication, it might, on the one hand, be supposed, but on the other hand it might also be supposed. And it was therefore necessary to stay in bed, and although I don't like prescribing, nevertheless take this and stay in bed.”

Leo Tolstoy

“We are forced to fall back on fatalism as an explanation of irrational events (that is to say, events the reasonableness of which we do not understand).”

Leo Tolstoy

“I'll tell you truly: I value my thought and work terribly, but in essence - think about it - this whole world of ours is just a bit of mildew that grew over a tiny planet. And we think we can have something great - thoughts, deeds! They're all grains of sand”

Leo Tolstoy

“There can be no peace for us, only misery, and the greatest happiness.”

Leo Tolstoy

“One of the commonest and most generally accepted delusions is that every man can be qualified in some particular way -- said to be kind, wicked, stupid, energetic, apathetic, and so on. People are not like that. We may say of a man that he is more often kind than cruel, more often wise than stupid, more often energetic than apathetic or vice versa; but it could never be true to say of one man that he is kind or wise, and of another that he is wicked or stupid. Yet we are always classifying mankind in this way. And it is wrong. Human beings are like rivers; the water is one and the same in all of them but every river is narrow in some places, flows swifter in others; here it is broad, there still, or clear, or cold, or muddy or warm. It is the same with men. Every man bears within him the germs of every human quality, and now manifests one, now another, and frequently is quite unlike himself, while still remaining the same man.”

Leo Tolstoy

“Our existence is now so entirely in contradiction with the doctrine of Jesus, that only with the greatest difficulty can we understand its meaning. We have been so deaf to the rules of life that he has given us, to his explanations,—not only when he commands us not to kill, but when he warns us against anger, when he commands us not to resist evil, to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies; we are so accustomed to speak of a body of men especially organized for murder, as a Christian army, we are so accustomed to prayers addressed to the Christ for the assurance of victory, we who have made the sword, that symbol of murder, an almost sacred object (so that a man deprived of this symbol, of his sword, is a dishonored man); we are so accustomed, I say, to this, that the words of Jesus seem to us compatible with war. We say, "If he had forbidden it, he would have said so plainly." We forget that Jesus did not foresee that men having faith in his doctrine of humility, love, and fraternity, could ever, with calmness and premeditation, organize themselves for the murder of their brethren.”

Leo Tolstoy

“Don’t you know that you are all my life to me? ...But peace I do not know, and can’t give to you. My whole being, my love...yes! I cannot think about you and about myself separately. You and I are one to me. And I do not see before us the possibility of peace either for me or for you. I see the possibility of despair, misfortune...or of happiness-what happiness!...Is it impossible?"

Leo Tolstoy

“If only [people] understood that every thought is both false and true! False by one- sidenedness resulting from man's inability to embrace the whole truth, and true as an expression of one fact of human endeavor.”

Leo Tolstoy

“Even the strongest current of water cannot add a drop to a cup which is already full. 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.”

Leo Tolstoy

“Send him to the devil, I'm busy.”

Leo Tolstoy

“In external ways Pierre had hardly changed at all. In appearance he was just what he used to be. As before he was absent-minded and seemed occupied not with what was before his eyes but with something special of his own. The difference between his former and present self was that formerly when he did not grasp what lay before him or was said to him, he had puckered his forehead painfully as if vainly seeking to distinguish something at a distance. At present he still forgot what was said to him and still did not see what was before his eyes, but he now looked with a scarcely perceptible and seemingly ironic smile at what was before him and listened to what was said, though evidently seeing and hearing something quite different. Formerly he had appeared to be a kindhearted but unhappy man, and so people had been inclined to avoid him. Now a smile at the joy of life always played round his lips, and sympathy for others shone in his eyes with a questioning look as to whether they were as contented as he was, and people felt pleased by his presence.”

Leo Tolstoy

“A writer is dear and necessary for us only in the measure of which he reveals to us the inner workings of his very soul.”

Leo Tolstoy

“But to us of a later generation...it is inconceivable that millions of Christian men should have killed and tortured each other, because Napoleon was ambitious, Alexander firm, English policy crafty, and the Duke of Oldenburg hardly treated. We cannot grasp the connections between these circumstances and the bare fact of murder and violence, nor why the duke's wrongs should induce thousands of men from the other side of Europe to pillage and murder the inhabitants of the Smolensk and Moscow provinces and to be slaughtered by them.”

Leo Tolstoy

“If you see that some aspect of your society is bad, and you want to improve it, there is only one way to do so: you have to improve people. And in order to improve people, you begin with only one thing: you can become better yourself”

Leo Tolstoy

“The vocation of every man and woman is to serve people. ”

Leo Tolstoy


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