Tolstoy, Leo - Confessions - The thread of life
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Leo Tolstoy - Confession
….. In recent times I had a dream. This dream expressed to me in a brief picture everything I felt and described. Here is the dream:
"I'm lying on a bed, I feel myself neither good nor evil; I am lying on my back. But I'm starting to wonder if I am asleep; and now something seems inconvenient to the feet, or my bed is too short, or it is uneven, I cannot say; but it is not good; I'm moving my feet.
At the same time I began to consider what I am lying on, which never occurred to me before.
In reviewing my bed, I see that I am lying on the edges of thin braided ropes, which are attached to the sides of the bed
The soles of my feet are on one of these braids; legs on another; and I feel at the feet there is something inconvenient.
I know we can move these edges. By a movement of the feet, I push the bottom edge thinking it will be better. But I push too far, I try to recover with my feet; but this movement drags from under my feet the other edge and now my feet are suspended.
I make a move of my whole body to deal with this, convinced this will sort it out immediately; but this movement drags and entangles still other edges, and I see that the case goes from bad to worse, my legs hanging down, while the feet do not reach the ground.
I am supported by the upper back only and in addition to its inconvenience, this position is painful to me, God knows why.
It is only here I wonder what before had not even entered my head. I wonder: where am I, and on what am I lying? And I begin to look around; first of all I look down to where my body is and I can not believe my own eyes. It's not that I'm on a height similar to the tallest or the highest mountain in
the world, but I'm as high as I could ever have imagined.
I can not even really realize if I see something something down in this bottomless precipice on which I hang suspended. My heart sinks and terror sweeps over me. It's awful to look down. I feel that if I looked I would slide right off the last edge and perish.
I do not look.
But not looking is even worse, since I imagine what might happen to me when I have been torn from the last edge. And I feel that because of my terror I lose my last support and I glide, slowly, lower and lower and lower on my back.
One more time and I'll be lost.
And now the idea comes to me that this can not be true.
It is a dream. Wake up.
I try to wake up and I can not.
--What Do, what to do? I wonder, casting a glance above. Up there, it is also the abyss.
I look at this heavenly abyss, and I try to forget the abyss below; and really I forget. Infinity from below pushes me and terrifies me; infinity draws me from above and strengthens me.
I am suspended above the abyss on the last edge that has not slipped; I feel like I'm suspended, but looking up my fear disappears.
As often happens in dreams, a voice says to me:
--Be careful! here it is!
And I gaze, for a long, long time, at the celestial infinity and I feel that I am beginning to become calm remembering all that has been, and I remember how it all happened, how I moved my
feet, how I was suspended, how terrified I was and how I I was saved by the fright because I looked up. I wonder:
-- Well! Now is it always the same?
It's not that I look back, but I feel my whole body the point of support on which I stand.
And now I begin to see that I am no longer suspended and that I did not fall, but I firmly stand.
I wonder how I stand, I fumble, I turn around and I see under me, right in the middle, there is an edge and that, looking up, I lie on it in the most balanced stable way and that it is only that I hold.
And, as happens in sleep, the whole mechanism is represented to me very naturally, understandably and unmistakably, although in reality this mechanism has not the slightest sense.
I wonder even while asleep, I did not understand before, that on my head, there was a tower, whose strength is indisputable, without a base. Through the tower a rope is stretched, God knows how, but in any case in a way very ingenious and simple at the same time. If one is lying on this
rope through the middle of the body, and if you look up, it seems there can be no question of a fall.
All this is clear to me and I'm happy and tranquil.
Then someone said:
--Be careful; remind yourself.
And I woke up.