Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Leo Tolstoy, aka Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy or Tolstoi

Russian Essayist, Realistic Fiction Novelist and Playwright, best known for novels "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina"

"A man following Christ’s teaching is like a man carrying a lantern before him at the end of a pole. The light is ever before him, and ever impels him to follow it, by continually lighting up fresh ground and attracting him onward."

"A mean searching for God ceases to look to the beyond, asking “Why?” and, only saying “Because God is,” looks to the Present and finds peace."

"A religious man is guided in his activity not by the consequences of his action, but by the consciousness of the destination of his life."

"All human history from the earliest times to our own day may be considered as a movement of consciousness both of individuals and of homogeneous groups from lower ideas to higher ones."

"And all people live, not by reason of any care they have for themselves, but by the love for them that is in other people."

"Do you believe in a future life? Asked Pierre… If I see, and see clearly, the ladder rising from plant to man, why should I suppose that it breaks off with me, and does not lead further and further? I feel not only that I cannot perish, since nothing in the universe is annihilated, but that I always shall exist and always have existed."

"All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappily in its own way."

"Faith is the knowledge of the meaning of human life, in consequence of which man does not destroy himself but lives. Faith is the force of life. If a man lives he believes in something. If he did not believe there was something to live for, he would not live. If he does not see and understand the unreality of the finite, he believes in the finite; if he sees that unreality, he must believe in the infinite. Without faith it is impossible to live."

"Every man recognizes within himself a free and rational spirit, independent of his body. This spirit is what we call God."

"I believe that the true welfare of man lies in the fulfillment of the Will of God; and that His will consists in men loving each other, and therefore behaving toward others as they desire that others should behave with them. I believe that the meaning of life of every man, therefore, lies only in the increase of love in himself; that this increase of love leads the individual man in this life toward greater and greater welfare; that after death it gives the greater welfare the more love there be in the man; and that, at the same time, more than anything else, it contributes to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth, i.e., to an order of life where the discord, deceit, and violence which now reign will be replaced by free agreement, truth, and brotherly love between men."

"If you want to be happy, be."

"Growth in love will contribute more than any other force to establish the Kingdom of God on earth."

"It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness."

"I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all possible means – except by getting off his back."

"It is easier to write ten volumes of philosophy than to put one principle into practice."

"Love is the essence of the soul, and must be strengthened and cleansed of ill-feeling, irritation, irony, against every individual."

"Man discovers truth by reason only, not by faith."

"It is within my power either to serve God or not to serve him. Serving him, I add to my own good and the good of the whole world. Not serving him, I forfeit my own good and deprive the world of that good, which was in my power to create."

"Our body is a machine for living. It is organized for that, it is its nature. Let life go on in it unhindered and let it defend itself, it will do more than if you paralyze it by encumbering it with remedies."

"Progress towards the welfare of mankind is made not by the persecutors but by the persecuted… Only goodness, meeting evil and not infected by it, conquers evil."

"Of what avail is it to go across the sea to Christ if all the time I lose the Christ that is within me here?"

"One can live magnificently in this world, if one knows how to work and how to love, to work for the person one loves and to love one’s work."

"The aggressiveness of governments grows in proportion to the increase of their internal despotism."

"The essence of life is not man’s separate being, but God contained in man."

"The aim and end of war is murder; the weapons employed in war are espionage, treachery and the encouragement of treachery, the ruining of a country, the plundering and robbing of its inhabitants for the maintenance of the army, and trickery and lying which all appear under the heading of the art of war. The military world is characterized by the absence of freedom – in other words, a rigorous discipline – enforced inactivity, ignorance, cruelty, debauchery, and drunkenness."

"The improvement of life was only accomplished to the extent to which it was based on a change of consciousness, that is, to the extent to which the law of violence was replaced in men’s consciousness, that is to the extent to which the law of violence was replaced in men’s consciousness by the law of love."

"The goal of personal life is known to you beyond all question, and consists in the realization in you of the highest perfection of love, which is essential for the realization of the Kingdom of God. And this goal is always known to you and is always attainable."

"The highest wisdom has but one science - the science of the whole - the science explaining the whole creation and man's place in it."

"The recognition of the sanctity of the life of every man is the first and only basis of all morality."

"There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning."

"True life is lived when tiny changes occur."

"There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are absent."

"To know God and to live are one and the same thing."

"Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold."

"True religion is the establishment by man of such a relation to the Infinite Life around him, as, while connecting his life with this Infinitude and directing his conduct, is also in agreement with his reason and with human knowledge."

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. "

"Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced."

"Music is the shorthand of emotion. "

"The meaningless absurdity of life is the only incontestable knowledge accessible to man. "

"A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. "

"Why do I know what is right and do what is wrong?"

"All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. "

"If there existed no external means for dimming their consciences, one-half of the men would at once shoot themselves, because to live contrary to one's reason is a most intolerable state, and all men of our time are in such a state. "

"Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source. "

"One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken. "

"Boredom: the desire for desires. "

"The chief difference between words and deeds is that words are always intended for men for their approbation, but deeds can be done only for God. "

"Faith is the sense of life, that sense by virtue of which man does not destroy himself, but continues to live on. It is the force whereby we live."

"The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity."

"Man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal, aims of humanity. "