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On Refraining: Selections from “The Pathway of Life” by Leo Tolstoy (vegetarian): Volume 2, Part 1 of 2

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In addition to his renowned epic novels, Leo Tolstoy wrote essays and letters that conveyed the spiritual truths he came to realize in life. Along with adopting and promoting the vegetarian diet, he became deeply interested in spirituality and living by the ethical teachings of Christ.

Supreme Master Ching Hai spoke about the uplifting nature of Leo Tolstoy’s work during a group meditation session with our Association members in July 1997, in Los Angeles, USA. “Because Tolstoy was a practitioner. That's why when you read his stories, most stories are about spiritual things, about God, and very happy and very positive. It's very good to read him, to read his books. You try. If you haven't, you try. You can read more. Such thing is very good for you.”

We would like to share with you an insightful excerpt from Volume 2 of “The Pathway of Life,” called “On Refraining.”

“Men spoil their lives not so much by failing to do what they ought to do, as by doing that which they ought not to do. Therefore, the greatest effort man requires in the attainment of a good life is to refrain from doing that which he ought not to do.”

“A man can only then know what he ought to do when he clearly understands what he ought not to do. Refraining from doing that which he ought not to do, he will inevitably do the things which he ought to do, though he may not realize why he is doing that which he does.”

“If you desire something so much that you feel you cannot restrain yourself, do not trust yourself. It is untrue that a man cannot restrain himself from anything. Only he cannot restrain himself who has in advance convinced himself that he cannot restrain himself.”

“Less harm results from not doing that which we ought to do than from failing to forbear doing that which we ought not to do.”

“If you feel that you have not the strength to restrain yourself from a physical craving, the cause will be found in the fact that you failed to restrain yourself when you could and the craving has become a habit.”

“People frequently proudly abstain from innocent amusements saying that they have no time for them, that they are busy. Yet apart from the fact that a good-natured and merry game is more needful and important than many kinds of business, the very business for the sake of which they forego pleasure is frequently of such nature that it were better left undone.”

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