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Words of Wisdom

Selections from "The Pathway of Life" by Leo Tolstoy (vegetarian): Volume 2 – Effort, Part 2 of 2

2021-05-27
Language:English

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III The Striving after Perfection Requires Mental Effort “‘Be ye perfect, even as your Heavenly Father is perfect,’ says the Gospel. This does not signify that Christ commands man to be as perfect as God, but that every man must make efforts of mind to strive after perfection, and in this striving is the life of man. Every creature grows up gradually and not all at once. A science cannot be mastered all at once. Neither can sin be overcome all at once. There is only one way to grow better: by wise judgment and constant patient effort.”

“To make life continuous joy instead of sorrow, be always good to all, men and animals alike. In order to be always good, you must train yourself to be good. In order to train yourself to be good, you must not commit a single unkind action without reproving yourself. If you do this, you will soon acquire the habit of being kind to all, men and animals alike. And if you become accustomed to kindness, joy will ever reign in your heart. The virtue of man is not measured by prodigious feats, but by his daily effort.”

IV In Striving After Perfection Man Must Rely on His Own Strength Alone “What a mistake to ask God or even people to rescue us out of an undesirable condition. Man requires no one's help, nor need he be rescued out of any condition, he has need of one thing only: to make an effort of his own mind in order to free himself from sins, errors and superstitions. Only to the extent that a man delivers himself from sins, errors and superstitions, can his condition change or improve.”

“There is no moral law if I cannot obey it. Some say we are born selfish, covetous, lustful and we cannot be otherwise. Yes we can. First we must feel in our hearts what we are and what we should be, and then we must make an effort to strive towards that which we ought to be. Man must develop his good inclinations. Providence did not implant them in man fully developed; they are embryonic. To make himself better, to improve himself by labor, therein is the principal task of a man's life.”

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