Leo Tolstoy was deeply spiritual. I present here glimpses of his search for the meaning and purposes of life as revealed in his books, ‘Confessions’ and ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’.
At sixteen, Leo Tolstoy rejected the doctrines of the Orthodox Church which he learned as a child. “I did not believe what had been taught to me in childhood but I believed in something. What it was I believed in I could not at all have said. I believed in a God, or rather I did not deny God – but I could not have said what sort of God.” (Confessions -Leo Tolstoy)
Science or even philosophers had no answers to the nagging questions in his mind on the meaning and purpose of life. He turned his attention instead to the common people to understand the answers they had for these vexing questions. He concluded that what the educated called irrational the common people accepted in faith. He began to see that matters of faith cannot be judged by commonly held paradigms or strict scientific evaluation. While he found many elements of faith irrational he said, “Only in faith can we find for life a meaning and possibility.“
Tolstoy said that belief in an infinite god, the divinity of the soul, the existence of the soul, man’s understanding of moral goodness and evil have been part of human thoughts from the earliest times. “Live seeking God and you will not live without God” became the basis of his life. On this realisation the light of life lit up inside and all around him, as he said, and it never abandoned him. Tolstoy adopted the Christian faith as this came most naturally to him.
You can read the spiritual journey of several leading personalities in my book, Celebrating Active ageing.
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