The Wisdom of Leo Tolstoy (I)

From “The Law of Love and the Law of Violence” (included in A Confession and Other Religious Writings):

Understand then, especially you young ones, that to dedicate your lives, or even to occupy yourselves with forcible reconstruction of other people’s lives, according to your wishes, is not a just a primitive superstition, but a vile, criminal affair, destructive to the soul. Realize that the desires of an enlightened soul for the welfare of others is in no way satisfied by vainly organizing their lives through violence, but that it is only achieved through one’s own inner work–the only thing where man has complete freedom and control. Only this task, increasing the love within oneself, can enhance the satisfaction of this desire. You must understand that no activity aimed at the organization of other people’s lives through coercion can enhance people’s welfare, but it is always a more or less consciously hypocritical deceit used to cover up man’s basest desires: vanity, pride, and self-interest, under the guise of personal dedication to mankind.

Understand this, especially you young ones, the generation of the future, and cease, as the majority of us are doing at the moment, to search for illusory happiness in creating people’s welfare by participating in the administration of the State, or judiciary, or by instructing others and, in order to do so, by entering institutions (namely schools and universities) where you are involved in vanity, self-importance and pride, and thus perverted. Cease participating in the various organizations whose aim is supposedly to further the welfare of the masses, and seek only that one thing that is always necessary and within the reach of us all, and which gives the greatest well-being to ourselves, and is the most likely thing to enhance the welfare of our neighbours. Seek this one thing within yourselves: an increase of love through eradicating all the mistakes, sins and passions which hinder its manifestation and you will further the well-being of people in the most effective way.

If only those young ones studied Tolstoy.