Leo Tolstoy

What I Believe

by Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
Translated by Constantine Popoff

“The inner working of my soul, which I wish to speak of here, was not the result of a methodical investigation of doctrinal theology, or of the actual texts of the gospel; it was a sudden removal of all that hid the true meaning of the Christian doctrine – a momentary flash of light, which made everything clear to me. It was something like that which might happen to a man who, after vainly attempting, by a false plan, to build up a statue out of a confused heap of small pieces of marble, suddenly guesses at the figure they are intended to form by the shape of the largest piece; and then, on beginning to set up the statue, finds his guess confirmed by the harmonious joining in of the various pieces.”

Tolstoy:    ‘For 35 years of my life I was, in the proper acceptation of the word, a nihilist – not a revolutionary socialist, but a man who believed in nothing. Five years ago my faith came to me. I believed in the doctrine of Jesus, and my whole life underwent a sudden transformation – life and death ceased to be evil. Instead of despair, I tasted joy and happiness that death could not take away.’