Spiritual awakening -The Kingdom of God is Within You

  • In the 1870s Tolstoy experienced a profound moral crisis, followed by what he regarded as an equally profound spiritual awakening, as outlined in his non-fiction work "A Confession" (1882). His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him to become a fervent Christian.
  • Tolstoy's concept of non-violence or Ahimsa was bolstered when he read a German version of the "Tirukkural".
  • Tolstoy's "The Kingdom of God Is Within You" also helped to convince Gandhi of nonviolent resistance, a debt Gandhi acknowledged in his autobiography, calling Tolstoy "the greatest apostle of non-violence that the present age has produced".
  • In 1908, Tolstoy wrote A Letter to a Hindu outlining his belief in non-violence as a means for India to gain independence from British colonial rule.
  • After reading passages such as the following, which abound in Schopenhauer's ethical chapters, the Russian nobleman chose poverty and formal denial of the will:
  • But this very necessity of involuntary suffering (by poor people) for eternal salvation is also expressed by that utterance of the Savior (Matthew 19:24): "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Therefore, those who were greatly in earnest about their eternal salvation, chose voluntary poverty when fate had denied this to them and they had been born in wealth. Thus Buddha Sakyamuni was born a prince, but voluntarily took to the mendicant's staff; and Francis of Assisi, the founder of the mendicant orders who, as a youngster at a ball, where the daughters of all the notabilities were sitting together, was asked: "Now Francis, will you not soon make your choice from these beauties?" and who replied: "I have made a far more beautiful choice!" "Whom?" "La povert√† (poverty)": whereupon he abandoned every thing shortly afterwards and wandered through the land as a mendicant.

  • In 1884, Tolstoy wrote a book called What I Believe, in which he openly confessed his Christian beliefs. He affirmed his belief in Jesus Christ's teachings and was particularly influenced by the Sermon on the Mount, and the injunction to turn the other cheek, which he understood as a "commandment of non-resistance to evil by force" and a doctrine of pacifism and nonviolence. In his work The Kingdom of God Is Within You, he explains that he considered mistaken the Church's doctrine because they had made a "perversion" of Christ's teachings.
  • Tolstoy also became a dedicated advocate of Georgism, the economic philosophy of Henry George, which he incorporated into his writing, particularly 'Resurrection'.
  • Tolstoy opposed private land ownership and valued chastity and sexual abstinence, ideals also held by the young Gandhi.
  • Tolstoy died in 1910, aged 82. Just before his death, his health was a concern of his family, who cared for him daily. In his last days, he spoke and wrote about dying. Renouncing his aristocratic lifestyle, he left home one winter night. Tolstoy died of pneumonia at Astapovo railway station, after a day's train journey south. According to some sources, Tolstoy spent the last hours preaching love, non-violence, and Georgism to fellow passengers on the train.



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