Anna karenina, p.232
Anna Karenina, p.232graf Leo Tolstoy
Levin strode along the highroad, absorbed not so much in his thoughts(he could not yet disentangle them) as in his spiritual condition,unlike anything he had experienced before.
The words uttered by the peasant had acted on his soul like an electricshock, suddenly transforming and combining into a single whole the wholeswarm of disjointed, impotent, separate thoughts that incessantlyoccupied his mind. These thoughts had unconsciously been in his mindeven when he was talking about the land.
He was aware of something new in his soul, and joyfully tested this newthing, not yet knowing what it was.
"Not living for his own wants, but for God? For what God? And could onesay anything more senseless than what he said? He said that one must notlive for one's own wants, that is, that one must not live for what weunderstand, what we are attracted by, what we desire, but must live forsomething incomprehensible, for God, whom no one can understand nor evendefine. What of it? Didn't I understand those senseless words ofFyodor's? And understanding them, did I doubt of their truth? Did Ithink them stupid, obscure, inexact? No, I understood him, and exactlyas he understands the words. I understood them more fully and clearlythan I understand anything in life, and never in my life have I doubtednor can I doubt about it. And not only I, but everyone, the whole worldunderstands nothing fully but this, and about this only they have nodoubt and are always agreed.
"And I looked out for miracles, complained that I did not see a miraclewhich would convince me. A material miracle would have persuaded me. Andhere is a miracle, the sole miracle possible, continually existing,surrounding me on all sides, and I never noticed it!
"Fyodor says that Kirillov lives for his belly. That's comprehensibleand rational. All of us as rational beings can't do anything else butlive for our belly. And all of a sudden the same Fyodor says that onemustn't live for one's belly, but must live for truth, for God, and at ahint I understand him! And I and millions of men, men who lived ages agoand men living now--peasants, the poor in spirit and the learned, whohave thought and written about it, in their obscure words saying thesame thing--we are all agreed about this one thing: what we must livefor and what is good. I and all men have only one firm, incontestable,clear knowledge, and that knowledge cannot be explained by thereason--it is outside it, and has no causes and can have no effects.
"If goodness has causes, it is not goodness; if it has effects, areward, it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the chain ofcause and effect.
"And yet I know it, and we all know it.
"What could be a greater miracle than that?
"Can I have found the solution of it all? can my sufferings be over?"thought Levin, striding along the dusty road, not noticing the heat norhis weariness, and experiencing a sense of relief from prolongedsuffering. This feeling was so delicious that it seemed to himincredible. He was breathless with emotion and incapable of goingfarther; he turned off the road into the forest and lay down in theshade of an aspen on the uncut grass. He took his hat off his hot headand lay propped on his elbow in the lush, feathery, woodland grass.
"Yes, I must make it clear to myself and understand," he thought,looking intently at the untrampled grass before him, and following themovements of a green beetle, advancing along a blade of couch-grass andlifting up in its progress a leaf of goat-weed. "What have Idiscovered?" he asked himself, bending aside the leaf of goat-weed outof the beetle's way and twisting another blade of grass above for thebeetle to cross over onto it. "What is it makes me glad? What have Idiscovered?
"I have discovered nothing. I have only found out what I knew. Iunderstand the force that in the past gave me life, and now too gives melife. I have been set free from falsity, I have found the Master.
"Of old I used to say that in my body, that in the body of this grassand of this beetle (there, she didn't care for the grass, she's openedher wings and flown away), there was going on a transformation of matterin accordance with physical, chemical, and physiological laws. And inall of us, as well as in the aspens and the clouds and the mistypatches, there was a process of evolution. Evolution from what? intowhat?--Eternal evolution and struggle.... As though there could be anysort of tendency and struggle in the eternal! And I was astonished thatin spite of the utmost effort of thought along that road I could notdiscover the meaning of life, the meaning of my impulses and yearnings.Now I say that I know the meaning of my life: 'To live for God, for mysoul.' And this meaning, in spite of its clearness, is mysterious andmarvelous. Such, indeed, is the meaning of everything existing. Yes,pride," he said to himself, turning over on his stomach and beginning totie a noose of blades of grass, trying not to break them.
"And not merely pride of intellect, but dulness of intellect. And mostof all, the deceitfulness; yes, the deceitfulness of intellect. Thecheating knavishness of intellect, that's it," he said to himself.
And he briefly went through, mentally, the whole course of his ideasduring the last two years, the beginning of which was the clearconfronting of death at the sight of his dear brother hopelessly ill.
Then, for the first time, grasping that for every man, and himself too,there was nothing in store but suffering, death, and forgetfulness, hehad made up his mind that life was impossible like that, and that hemust either interpret life so that it would not present itself to him asthe evil jest of some devil, or shoot himself.
But he had not done either, but had gone on living, thinking, andfeeling, and had even at that very time married, and had had many joysand had been happy, when he was not thinking of the meaning of his life.
What did this mean? It meant that he had been living rightly, butthinking wrongly.
He had lived (without being aware of it) on those spiritual truths thathe had sucked in with his mother's milk, but he had thought, not merelywithout recognition of these truths, but studiously ignoring them.
Now it was clear to him that he could only live by virtue of the beliefsin which he had been brought up.
"What should I have been, and how should I have spent my life, if I hadnot had these beliefs, if I had not known that I must live for God andnot for my own desires? I should have robbed and lied and killed.Nothing of what makes the chief happiness of my life would have existedfor me." And with the utmost stretch of imagination he could notconceive the brutal creature he would have been himself, if he had notknown what he was living for.
"I looked for an answer to my question. And thought could not give ananswer to my question--it is incommensurable with my question. Theanswer has been given me by life itself, in my knowledge of what isright and what is wrong. And that knowledge I did not arrive at in anyway, it was given to me as to all men, _given_, because I could not havegot it from anywhere.
"Where could I have got it? By reason could I have arrived at knowingthat I must love my neighbor and not oppress him? I was told that in mychildhood, and I believed it gladly, for they told me what was alreadyin my soul. But who discovered it? Not reason. Reason discovered thestruggle for existence, and the law that requires us to oppress all whohinder the satisfaction of our desires. That is the deduction of reason.But loving one's neighbor reason could never discover, because it'sirrational."
Anna Karenina by graf Leo Tolstoy / Romance & Love have rating 5 out of 5 / Based on116 votes