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Observations placeholder

Tolstoy, Leo - Confessions - Where truth lies



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Leo Tolstoy – Confessions

I began to get closer to the believers among the people, men simple and ignorant, poor pilgrims, monks, sectarians, peasants.

The ‘superstitions’ among believers who were working people were to some extent so closely united with their lives, they could not imagine life without these superstitions. They were a prerequisite of this life.

The whole life of ‘believers’ in religion contradicted their faith, but the whole life of believers in this faith was a confirmation of the meaning of the life that gave the knowledge of their faith.

So I began to look at the lives of these people, the more I examined it, the more I convinced myself that they had true faith, their faith was their necessity, and that it was she who gave them only direction and the possibility of life.

As opposed to what I saw in our religious circle, where life without faith is possible and where amongst a thousand only one admits to believing; in these people of faith and ‘superstition’ there is not a single unbeliever and indeed several thousands of believers.

Contrary to what I saw in our religious circle where all life flows in idleness in the amusements and the dissatisfaction of life, I saw that the whole life of these men was hardship and yet they were happy and content in life.

Unlike men of our world protesting against the way the world treated them,  indignant at their apparent hardships;  these people were suffering illness and sorrows, without any complaint, without opposition, but with firm and quiet confidence that all this had to be thus, could not be otherwise, and it was all good.

Unless we understand the meaning of life;  we see only evil in suffering and death, while these people live, suffer and approach death quietly and often with joy.
If a quiet death without fear or despair, is an exception rarer in our world; death or desolation and complaint is a very rare exception in these people.

And there are huge masses of men who are supremely happy, although they are deprived of everything that for us, according to Solomon, is essential to enjoy life.

I looked around me in a larger radius.

I examined the lives of the masses of past men and those of my contemporaries. And I saw that those who had understood the meaning of life and who knew how to live and die were not two, three, ten, but they were hundreds, thousands, millions.

And all infinitely diverse in their character, their intelligence, education, position, all knew the meaning of life and death in the same way, any way opposed to my ignorance.

They worked quietly, endured the privations and suffering, lived and died, and all saw it was Well, without seeing vanity.

And I loved those people.

And the more I studied their lives the more it became possible for me to live too.
Over two years I fundamentally changed.  A change for which I had been preparing a long time and for which I had always been preparing.

Not only did the life of our world - the scientists, the rich,  - disgust me, but it had lost all meaning to me.

All our actions, our deliberations, our sciences, our arts, came to me with a new meaning.
I understood that all these things were charming hobbies, but we should seek a deeper meaning, and seek them in the life of all those working souls, and the mankind that contributes to existence appeared to me in its true sense.

I understand that this is truly life, the meaning we give to this life is the truth and I accepted.

The source of the experience

Tolstoy, Leo

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Squash the big I am