Anna karenina, p.233
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       Anna Karenina, p.233

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 13

  And Levin remembered a scene he had lately witnessed between Dolly andher children. The children, left to themselves, had begun cookingraspberries over the candles and squirting milk into each other's mouthswith a syringe. Their mother, catching them at these pranks, beganreminding them in Levin's presence of the trouble their mischief gave tothe grown-up people, and that this trouble was all for their sake, andthat if they smashed the cups they would have nothing to drink their teaout of, and that if they wasted the milk, they would have nothing toeat, and die of hunger.

  And Levin had been struck by the passive, weary incredulity with whichthe children heard what their mother said to them. They were simplyannoyed that their amusing play had been interrupted, and did notbelieve a word of what their mother was saying. They could not believeit indeed, for they could not take in the immensity of all theyhabitually enjoyed, and so could not conceive that what they weredestroying was the very thing they lived by.

  "That all comes of itself," they thought, "and there's nothinginteresting or important about it because it has always been so, andalways will be so. And it's all always the same. We've no need to thinkabout that, it's all ready. But we want to invent something of our own,and new. So we thought of putting raspberries in a cup, and cooking themover a candle, and squirting milk straight into each other's mouths.That's fun, and something new, and not a bit worse than drinking out ofcups."

  "Isn't it just the same that we do, that I did, searching by the aid ofreason for the significance of the forces of nature and the meaning ofthe life of man?" he thought.

  "And don't all the theories of philosophy do the same, trying by thepath of thought, which is strange and not natural to man, to bring himto a knowledge of what he has known long ago, and knows so certainlythat he could not live at all without it? Isn't it distinctly to be seenin the development of each philosopher's theory, that he knows what isthe chief significance of life beforehand, just as positively as thepeasant Fyodor, and not a bit more clearly than he, and is simply tryingby a dubious intellectual path to come back to what everyone knows?

  "Now then, leave the children to themselves to get things alone and maketheir crockery, get the milk from the cows, and so on. Would they benaughty then? Why, they'd die of hunger! Well, then, leave us with ourpassions and thoughts, without any idea of the one God, of the Creator,or without any idea of what is right, without any idea of moral evil.

  "Just try and build up anything without those ideas!

  "We only try to destroy them, because we're spiritually provided for.Exactly like the children!

  "Whence have I that joyful knowledge, shared with the peasant, thatalone gives peace to my soul? Whence did I get it?

  "Brought up with an idea of God, a Christian, my whole life filled withthe spiritual blessings Christianity has given me, full of them, andliving on those blessings, like the children I did not understand them,and destroy, that is try to destroy, what I live by. And as soon as animportant moment of life comes, like the children when they are cold andhungry, I turn to Him, and even less than the children when their motherscolds them for their childish mischief, do I feel that my childishefforts at wanton madness are reckoned against me.

  "Yes, what I know, I know not by reason, but it has been given to me,revealed to me, and I know it with my heart, by faith in the chief thingtaught by the church.

  "The church! the church!" Levin repeated to himself. He turned over onthe other side, and leaning on his elbow, fell to gazing into thedistance at a herd of cattle crossing over to the river.

  "But can I believe in all the church teaches?" he thought, tryinghimself, and thinking of everything that could destroy his present peaceof mind. Intentionally he recalled all those doctrines of the churchwhich had always seemed most strange and had always been a stumblingblock to him.

  "The Creation? But how did I explain existence? By existence? Bynothing? The devil and sin. But how do I explain evil?... Theatonement?...

  "But I know nothing, nothing, and I can know nothing but what has beentold to me and all men."

  And it seemed to him that there was not a single article of faith of thechurch which could destroy the chief thing--faith in God, in goodness,as the one goal of man's destiny.

  Under every article of faith of the church could be put the faith in theservice of truth instead of one's desires. And each doctrine did notsimply leave that faith unshaken, each doctrine seemed essential tocomplete that great miracle, continually manifest upon earth, that madeit possible for each man and millions of different sorts of men, wisemen and imbeciles, old men and children--all men, peasants, Lvov, Kitty,beggars and kings to understand perfectly the same one thing, and tobuild up thereby that life of the soul which alone is worth living, andwhich alone is precious to us.

  Lying on his back, he gazed up now into the high, cloudless sky. "Do Inot know that that is infinite space, and that it is not a round arch?But, however I screw up my eyes and strain my sight, I cannot see it notround and not bounded, and in spite of my knowing about infinite space,I am incontestably right when I see a solid blue dome, and more rightthan when I strain my eyes to see beyond it."

  Levin ceased thinking, and only, as it were, listened to mysteriousvoices that seemed talking joyfully and earnestly within him.

  "Can this be faith?" he thought, afraid to believe in his happiness. "MyGod, I thank Thee!" he said, gulping down his sobs, and with both handsbrushing away the tears that filled his eyes.

 

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