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Title: Bethink Yourselves!
Author: Tolstoy, Leo, graf, 1828-1910
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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           Edited with introductions by Edwin D. Mead.
           Published for the International Union by Ginn &
           Company, Boston.



                        "BETHINK YOURSELVES!"


                                  BY
                             LEO TOLSTOI



                PUBLISHED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL UNION
                        GINN & COMPANY, BOSTON
                                 1904


                  Reprinted from the _London Times_

     Translated by V. Tchertkoff, Editor of the _Free Age Press_,
                             and I. F. M.



                        "BETHINK YOURSELVES!"

   "This is your hour, and the power of darkness."--Luke xxii. 53.



                                   I


Again war. Again sufferings, necessary to nobody, utterly uncalled for;
again fraud; again the universal stupefaction and brutalization of men.

Men who are separated from each other by thousands of miles, hundreds of
thousands of such men (on the one hand--Buddhists, whose law forbids the
killing, not only of men, but of animals; on the other hand--Christians,
professing the law of brotherhood and love) like wild beasts on land and
on sea are seeking out each other, in order to kill, torture, and
mutilate each other in the most cruel way. What can this be? Is it a
dream or a reality? Something is taking place which should not, cannot
be; one longs to believe that it is a dream and to awake from it. But no,
it is not a dream, it is a dreadful reality!

One could yet understand how a poor, uneducated, defrauded Japanese, torn
from his field and taught that Buddhism consists not in compassion to all
that lives, but in sacrifices to idols, and how a similar poor illiterate
fellow from the neighborhood of Toula or Nijni Novgorod, who has been
taught that Christianity consists in worshipping Christ, the Madonna,
Saints, and their ikons--one could understand how these unfortunate men,
brought by the violence and deceit of centuries to recognize the greatest
crime in the world--the murder of one's brethren--as a virtuous act, can
commit these dreadful deeds, without regarding themselves as being guilty
in so doing.

But how can so-called enlightened men preach war, support it, participate
in it, and, worst of all, without suffering the dangers of war
themselves, incite others to it, sending their unfortunate defrauded
brothers to fight? These so-called enlightened men cannot possibly
ignore, I do not say the Christian law, if they recognize themselves to
be Christians, but all that has been written, is being written, has and
is being said, about the cruelty, futility, and senselessness of war.
They are regarded as enlightened men precisely because they know all
this. The majority of them have themselves written and spoken about this.
Not to mention The Hague Conference, which called forth universal praise,
or all the books, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and speeches
demonstrating the possibility of the solution of international
misunderstandings by international arbitration--no enlightened man can
help knowing that the universal competition in the armaments of States
must inevitably lead them to endless wars, or to a general bankruptcy, or
to both the one and the other. They cannot but know that besides the
senseless, purposeless expenditure of milliards of roubles, _i.e._ of
human labor, on the preparations for war, during the wars themselves
millions of the most energetic and vigorous men perish in that period of
their life which is best for productive labor (during the past century
wars have destroyed fourteen million men). Enlightened men cannot but
know that occasions for war are always such as are not worth not only one
human life, but not one hundredth part of all that which is spent upon
wars (in fighting for the emancipation of the negroes much more was spent
than it would have cost to redeem them from slavery).

Every one knows and cannot help knowing that, above all, wars, calling
forth the lowest animal passions, deprave and brutalize men. Every one
knows the weakness of the arguments in favor of war, such as were
brought forward by De Maistre, Moltke, and others, for they are all
founded on the sophism that in every human calamity it is possible to
find an advantageous element, or else upon the utterly arbitrary assertion
that wars have always existed and therefore always must exist, as if the
bad actions of men could be justified by the advantages or the
usefulness which they realize, or by the consideration that they have
been committed during a long period of time. All so-called enlightened
men know all this. Then suddenly war begins, and all this is instantly
forgotten, and the same men who but yesterday were proving the cruelty,
futility, the senselessness of wars now think, speak, and write only
about killing as many men as possible, about ruining and destroying the
greatest possible amount of the productions of human labor, and about
exciting as much as possible the passion of hatred in those peaceful,
harmless, industrious men who by their labor feed, clothe, maintain these
same pseudo-enlightened men, who compel them to commit those dreadful
deeds contrary to their conscience, welfare, or faith.



                                   II


Something is taking place incomprehensible and impossible in its cruelty,
falsehood, and stupidity. The Russian Tsar, the same man who exhorted all
the nations in the cause of peace, publicly announces that,
notwithstanding all his efforts to maintain the peace so dear to his
heart (efforts which express themselves in the seizing of other peoples'
lands and in the strengthening of armies for the defence of these stolen
lands), he, owing to the attack of the Japanese, commands that the same
shall be done to the Japanese as they had commenced doing to the
Russians--_i.e._ that they should be slaughtered; and in announcing this
call to murder he mentions God, asking the Divine blessing on the most
dreadful crime in the world. The Japanese Emperor has proclaimed the same
thing in relation to the Russians.

Men of science and of law (Messieurs Muravieff and Martens) strenuously
try to prove that in the recent call of all nations to universal peace
and the present incitement to war, because of the seizure of other
peoples' lands, there is no contradiction. Diplomatists, in their refined
French language, publish and send out circulars in which they
circumstantially and diligently prove (though they know no one believes
them) that, after all its efforts to establish peaceful relations (in
reality, after all its efforts to deceive other countries), the Russian
Government has been compelled to have recourse to the only means for a
rational solution of the question--_i.e._ to the murder of men. The same
thing is written by Japanese diplomatists. Scientists, historians, and
philosophers, on their side, comparing the present with the past, deduce
from these comparisons profound conclusions, and argue interminably about
the laws of the movement of nations, about the relation between the
yellow and white races, or about Buddhism and Christianity, and on the
basis of these deductions and arguments justify the slaughter of those
belonging to the yellow race by Christians; while in the same way the
Japanese scientists and philosophers justify the slaughter of those of
the white race. Journalists, without concealing their joy, try to outdo
each other, and, not hesitating at any falsehood, however impudent and
transparent, prove in all possible ways that the Russians only are right
and strong and good in every respect, and that all the Japanese are wrong
and weak and bad in every respect, and that all those are also bad who
are inimical or may become inimical toward the Russians--the English, the
Americans; and the same is proved likewise by the Japanese and their
supporters in relation to the Russians.

Not to mention the military, who in the way of their profession prepare
for murder, crowds of so-called enlightened people, such as professors,
social reformers, students, nobles, merchants, without being forced
thereto by anything or anybody, express the most bitter and contemptuous
feelings toward the Japanese, the English, or the Americans, toward whom
but yesterday they were either well-disposed or indifferent; while,
without the least compulsion, they express the most abject, servile
feelings toward the Tsar (to whom, to say the least, they were completely
indifferent), assuring him of their unlimited love and readiness to
sacrifice their lives in his interests.

This unfortunate, entangled young man, recognized as the leader of one
hundred and thirty millions of people, continually deceived and compelled
to contradict himself, confidently thanks and blesses the troops whom he
calls his own for murder in defence of lands which with yet less right he
also calls his own. All present to each other hideous ikons in which not
only no one amongst the educated believes, but which unlearned peasants
are beginning to abandon; all bow down to the ground before these ikons,
kiss them, and pronounce pompous and deceitful speeches in which no one
really believes.

Wealthy people contribute insignificant portions of their immorally
acquired riches for this cause of murder or the organization of help in
connection with the work of murder; while the poor, from whom the
Government annually collects two milliards, deem it necessary to do
likewise, giving their mites also. The Government incites and encourages
crowds of idlers, who walk about the streets with the Tsar's portrait,
singing, shouting hurrah! and who, under pretext of patriotism, are
licensed in all kinds of excess. All over Russia, from the Palace to the
remotest village, the pastors of churches, calling themselves Christians,
appeal to that God who has enjoined love to one's enemies--to the God of
Love Himself--to help the work of the devil to further the slaughter of
men.

Stupefied by prayers, sermons, exhortations, by processions, pictures,
and newspapers, the cannon's flesh, hundreds of thousands of men,
uniformly dressed, carrying divers deadly weapons, leaving their parents,
wives, children, with hearts of agony, but with artificial sprightliness,
go where they, risking their own lives, will commit the most dreadful act
of killing men whom they do not know and who have done them no harm. And
they are followed by doctors and nurses, who somehow imagine that at home
they cannot serve simple, peaceful, suffering people, but can only serve
those who are engaged in slaughtering each other. Those who remain at
home are gladdened by news of the murder of men, and when they learn that
many Japanese have been killed they thank some one whom they call God.

All this is not only regarded as the manifestation of elevated feeling,
but those who refrain from such manifestations, if they endeavor to
disabuse men, are deemed traitors and betrayers, and are in danger of
being abused and beaten by a brutalized crowd which, in defence of its
insanity and cruelty, can possess no other weapon than brute force.



                                  III


It is as if there had never existed either Voltaire, or Montaigne, or
Pascal, or Swift, or Kant, or Spinoza, or hundreds of other writers who
have exposed, with great force, the madness and futility of war, and have
described its cruelty, immorality, and savagery; and, above all, it is as
if there had never existed Jesus and his teaching of human brotherhood
and love of God and of men.

One recalls all this to mind and looks around on what is now taking
place, and one experiences horror less at the abominations of war than at
that which is the most horrible of all horrors--the consciousness of the
impotency of human reason. That which alone distinguishes man from the
animal, that which constitutes his merit--his reason--is found to be an
unnecessary, and not only a useless, but a pernicious addition, which
simply impedes action, like a bridle fallen from a horse's head, and
entangled in his legs and only irritating him.

It is comprehensible that a heathen, a Greek, a Roman, even a mediæval
Christian, ignorant of the Gospel and blindly believing all the
prescriptions of the Church, might fight and, fighting, pride himself on
his military achievements; but how can a believing Christian, or even a
sceptic, involuntarily permeated by the Christian ideals of human
brotherhood and love which have inspired the works of the philosophers,
moralists, and artists of our time,--how can such take a gun, or stand by
a cannon, and aim at a crowd of his fellow-men, desiring to kill as many
of them as possible?

The Assyrians, Romans, or Greeks might be persuaded that in fighting they
were acting not only according to their conscience, but even fulfilling a
righteous deed. But, whether we wish it or not, we are Christians, and
however Christianity may have been distorted, its general spirit cannot
but lift us to that higher plane of reason whence we can no longer
refrain from feeling with our whole being not only the senselessness and
the cruelty of war, but its complete opposition to all that we regard as
good and right. Therefore, we cannot do as they did, with assurance,
firmness, and peace, and without a consciousness of our criminality,
without the desperate feeling of a murderer, who, having begun to kill
his victim, and feeling in the depths of his soul the guilt of his act,
proceeds to try to stupefy or infuriate himself, to be able the better to
complete his dreadful deed. All the unnatural, feverish, hot-headed,
insane excitement which has now seized the idle upper ranks of Russian
society is merely the symptom of their recognition of the criminality of
the work which is being done. All these insolent, mendacious speeches
about devotion to, and worship of, the Monarch, about readiness to
sacrifice life (or one should say other people's lives, and not one's
own); all these promises to defend with one's breast land which does not
belong to one; all these senseless benedictions of each other with
various banners and monstrous ikons; all these _Te Deums_; all these
preparations of blankets and bandages; all these detachments of nurses;
all these contributions to the fleet and to the Red Cross presented to
the Government, whose direct duty is (whilst it has the possibility of
collecting from the people as much money as it requires), having declared
war, to organize the necessary fleet and necessary means for attending
the wounded; all these Slavonic, pompous, senseless, and blasphemous
prayers, the utterance of which in various towns is communicated in the
papers as important news; all these processions, calls for the national
hymn, cheers; all this dreadful, desperate newspaper mendacity, which,
being universal, does not fear exposure; all this stupefaction and
brutalization which has now taken hold of Russian society, and which is
being transmitted by degrees also to the masses; all this is only a
symptom of the guilty consciousness of that dreadful act which is being
accomplished.

Spontaneous feeling tells men that what they are doing should not be;
but, as the murderer who has begun to assassinate his victim cannot stop,
so also Russian people now imagine that the fact of the deadly work
having been commenced is an unanswerable argument in favor of war. War
has been begun, and therefore it should go on. Thus it seems to simple,
benighted, unlearned men, acting under the influence of the petty
passions and stupefaction to which they have been subjected. In exactly
the same way the most educated men of our time argue to prove that man
does not possess free will, and that, therefore, even were he to
understand that the work he has commenced is evil, he can no longer cease
to do it. And dazed, brutalized men continue their dreadful work.



                                   IV


Ask a soldier, a private, a corporal, a non-commissioned officer, who has
abandoned his old parents, his wife, his children, why he is preparing to
kill men whom he does not know; he will at first be astonished at your
question. He is a soldier, he has taken the oath, and it is his duty to
fulfil the orders of his commanders. If you tell him that war--_i.e._ the
slaughter of men--does not conform to the command, "Thou shalt not kill,"
he will say: "And how if ours are attacked--For the King--For the
Orthodox faith?" (One of them said in answer to my question: "And how if
he attacks that which is sacred?" "What do you mean?" I asked. "Why,"
said he, "the banner.") And if you endeavor to explain to such a soldier
that God's Commandment is more important not only than the banner but
than anything else in the world, he will become silent, or he will get
angry and report you to the authorities.

Ask an officer, a general, why he goes to the war. He will tell you that
he is a military man, and that the military are indispensable for the
defence of the fatherland. As to murder not conforming to the spirit of
the Christian law, this does not trouble him, as either he does not
believe in this law, or, if he does, it is not in the law itself, but in
that explanation which has been given to this law. But, above all, he,
like the soldier, in place of the personal question, what should he do
himself, always put the general question about the State, or the
fatherland. "At the present moment, when the fatherland is in danger, one
should act, and not argue," he will say.

Ask the diplomatists, who, by their deceits, prepare wars, why they do
it. They will tell you that the object of their activity is the
establishment of peace between nations, and that this object is attained,
not by ideal, unrealizable theories, but by diplomatic action and
readiness for war. And, just as the military, instead of the question
concerning one's own action, place the general question, so also
diplomatists will speak about the interests of Russia, about the
unscrupulousness of other Powers, about the balance of power in Europe,
but not about their own position and its activities.

Ask the journalists why, by their writings, they incite men to war; they
will say that wars in general are necessary and useful, especially the
present war, and they will confirm this opinion of theirs by misty
patriotic phrases, and, just like the military and diplomatist, to the
question why he, a journalist, a particular individual, a living man,
acts in a certain way, he will speak about the general interests of the
nation, about the State, civilization, the white race. In the same way,
all those who prepare war will explain their participation in that work.
They will perhaps agree that it would be desirable to abolish war, but at
present this is impossible. At present they as Russians and as men who
occupy certain positions, such as heads of the nobility, representatives
of local self-government, doctors, workers of the Red Cross, are called
upon to act and not to argue. "There is no time to argue and to think of
oneself," they will say, "when there is a great common work to be done."
The same will be said by the Tsar, seemingly responsible for the whole
thing. He, like the soldier, will be astonished at the question, whether
war is now necessary. He does not even admit the idea that the war might
yet be arrested. He will say that he cannot refrain from fulfilling that
which is demanded of him by the whole nation, that, although he does
recognize that war is a great evil, and has used, and is ready to use,
all possible means for its abolition--in the present case he could not
help declaring war, and cannot help continuing it. It is necessary for
the welfare and glory of Russia.

Every one of these men, to the question why he, so and so, Ivan, Peter,
Nicholas, whilst recognizing as binding upon him the Christian law which
not only forbids the killing of one's neighbor but demands that one
should love him, serve him, why he permits himself to participate in war;
_i.e._ in violence, loot, murder, will infallibly answer the same thing,
that he is thus acting in the name of his fatherland, or faith, or oath,
or honor, or civilization, or the future welfare of the whole of
mankind--in general, of something abstract and indefinite. Moreover,
these men are always so urgently occupied either by preparation for war,
or by its organization, or discussions about it, that in their leisure
time they can only rest from their labors, and have not time to occupy
themselves with discussions about their life, regarding such discussions
as idle.



                                   V


Men of our Christian world and of our time are like a man who, having
missed the right turning, the further he goes the more he becomes
convinced that he is going the wrong way. Yet the greater his doubts, the
quicker and the more desperately does he hurry on, consoling himself with
the thought that he will arrive somewhere. But the time comes when it
becomes quite clear that the way along which he is going will lead to
nothing but a precipice, which he is already beginning to discern before
him.

In such a position stands the Christian humanity of our time. It is
perfectly evident that, if we continue to live as we are now living,
guided in our private lives, as well as in the life of separate States,
by the sole desire of welfare for ourselves and for our State, and will,
as we do now, think to ensure this welfare by violence, then, inevitably
increasing the means of violence of one against the other and of State
against State, we shall, first, keep subjecting ourselves more and more,
transferring the major portion of our productiveness to armaments; and,
secondly, by killing in mutual wars the best physically developed men, we
must become more and more degenerate and morally depraved.

That this will be the case if we do not alter our life is as certain as
it is mathematically certain that two non-parallel straight lines must
meet. But not only is this theoretically certain in our time; it is
becoming certain not only to thought, but also to the consciousness. The
precipice which we approach is already becoming apparent to us, and the
most simple, non-philosophizing, and uneducated men cannot but see that,
by arming ourselves more and more against each other and slaughtering
each other in war, we, like spiders in a jar, can come to nothing else
but the destruction of each other.

A sincere, serious, rational man can no longer console himself by the
thought that matters can be mended, as was formerly supposed, by a
universal empire such as that of Rome or of Charles the Great, or
Napoleon, or by the mediæval spiritual power of the Pope, or by Holy
Alliances, by the political balance of the European Concert, and by
peaceful international tribunals, or, as some have thought, by the
increase of military strength and the newly discovered powerful weapons
of destruction.

It is impossible to organize a universal empire or republic, consisting
of European States, as different nationalities will never desire to unite
into one State. To organize international tribunals for the solution of
international disputes? But who will impose obedience to the decision of
the tribunal upon a contending party who has an organized army of
millions of men? To disarm? No one desires it or will begin it. To invent
yet more dreadful means of destruction--balloons with bombs filled with
suffocating gases, shells, which men will shower upon each other from
above? Whatever may be invented, all States will furnish themselves with
similar weapons of destruction. And cannon's flesh, as after cold weapons
it submitted to bullets, and meekly exposed itself to shells, bombs,
far-reaching guns, mitrailleuses, mines, so it will also submit to bombs
charged with suffocating gases scattered down upon it from balloons.

Nothing shows more evidently than the speeches of M. Muravieff and
Professor Martens about the Japanese war not contradicting The Hague
Peace Conference--nothing shows more obviously than these speeches to
what an extent, amongst the men of our time, the means for the
transmission of thought--speech--is distorted, and how the capacity for
clear, rational thinking is completely lost. Thought and speech are used
for the purpose, not of serving as a guide for human activity, but of
justifying any activity, however criminal it may be. The late Boer war
and the present Japanese war, which can at any moment pass into a
universal slaughter, have proved this beyond all doubt. All anti-military
discussions can as little contribute to the cessation of war as the most
eloquent and persuasive considerations addressed to fighting dogs as to
its being more advantageous to divide the piece of meat over which they
are struggling than to mutilate each other and lose the piece of meat,
which will be carried away by some passing dog not joining in the fight.
We are dashing on toward the precipice, cannot stop, and we are
approaching its edge.

For every rational man who reflects upon the position in which humanity
is now placed and upon that which it is inevitably approaching, it cannot
but be obvious that there is no practical issue out of this position,
that one cannot devise any combination or organization which would save
us from the destruction toward which we are inevitably rushing. Not to
mention the economical problems which become more and more complex, those
mutual relations between the States arming themselves against each other
and at any moment ready to break out into wars clearly point to the
certain destruction toward which all so-called civilized humanity is
being carried. Then what is to be done?



                                   VI


Two thousand years ago John the Baptist and then Jesus said to men: The
time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; (μετανοεῖτε)
bethink yourselves and believe in the Gospel (Mark i. 15); and if you do
not bethink yourselves you will all perish (Luke xiii. 5).

But men did not listen to them, and the destruction they foretold is
already near at hand. And we men of our time cannot but see it. We are
already perishing, and, therefore, we cannot leave unheeded that--old in
time, but for us new--means of salvation. We cannot but see that, besides
all the other calamities which flow from our bad and irrational life,
military preparations alone and the wars inevitably growing from them
must infallibly destroy us. We cannot but see that all the means of
escape invented by men from these evils are found and must be found to be
ineffectual, and that the disastrous position of the nations arming
themselves against each other cannot but go on advancing continually. And
therefore the words of Jesus refer to us and our time more than to any
time or to any one.

Jesus said, "Bethink yourselves"--_i.e._ "Let every man interrupt the
work he has begun and ask himself: Who am I? From whence have I appeared,
and in what consists my destiny? And having answered these questions,
according to the answer decide whether that which thou doest is in
conformity with thy destiny." And every man of our world and time, that
is, being acquainted with the essence of the Christian teaching, needs
only for a minute to interrupt his activity, to forget the capacity in
which he is regarded by men, be it of Emperor, soldier, minister, or
journalist, and seriously ask himself who he is and what is his
destiny--in order to begin to doubt the utility, lawfulness, and
reasonableness of his actions. "Before I am Emperor, soldier, minister,
or journalist," must say to himself every man of our time and of the
Christian world, "before any of these, I am a man--_i.e._ an organic
being sent by the Higher Will into a universe infinite in time and space,
in order, after staying in it for an instant, to die--_i.e._ to disappear
from it. And, therefore, all those personal, social, and even universal
human aims which I may place before myself and which are placed before me
by men are all insignificant, owing to the shortness of my life as well
as to the infiniteness of the life of the universe, and should be
subordinated to that higher aim for the attainment of which I am sent
into the world. This ultimate aim, owing to my limitations, is
inaccessible to me, but it does exist (as there must be a purpose in all
that exists), and my business is that of being its instrument--_i.e._ my
destiny, my vocation, is that of being a workman of God, of fulfilling
His work." And having understood this destiny, every man of our world and
time, from Emperor to soldier, cannot but regard differently those duties
which he has taken upon himself or other men have imposed upon him.

"Before I was crowned, recognized as Emperor," must the Emperor say to
himself: "before I undertook to fulfil the duties of the head of the
State, I, by the very fact that I live, have promised to fulfil that
which is demanded of me by the Higher Will that sent me into life. These
demands I not only know, but feel in my heart. They consist, as it is
expressed in the Christian law, which I profess, in that I should submit
to the will of God, and fulfil that which it requires of me, that I
should love my neighbor, serve him, and act towards him as I would wish
others to act towards me. Am I doing this?--ruling men, prescribing
violence, executions, and, the most dreadful of all,--wars. Men tell me
that I ought to do this. But God says that I ought to do something quite
different. And, therefore, however much I may be told that, as the head
of the State, I must direct acts of violence, the levying of taxes,
executions and, above all, war, that is, the slaughter of one's neighbor,
I do not wish to and cannot do these things."

So must say to himself the soldier, who is taught that he must kill men,
and the minister, who deemed it his duty to prepare for war, and the
journalist who incited to war, and every man, who puts to himself the
question, Who is he, what is his destination in life? And the moment the
head of the State will cease to direct war, the soldier to fight, the
minister to prepare means for war, the journalist to incite
thereto--then, without any new institutions, adaptations, balance of
power, tribunals, there will of itself be destroyed that hopeless
position in which men have placed themselves, not only in relation to
war, but also to all other calamities which they themselves inflict upon
themselves.

So that, however strange this may appear, the most effective and certain
deliverance of men from all the calamities which they inflict upon
themselves and from the most dreadful of all--war--is attainable, not by
any external general measures, but merely by that simple appeal to the
consciousness of each separate man which, nineteen hundred years ago, was
proposed by Jesus--that every man bethink himself, and ask himself, who
is he, why he lives, and what he should and should not do.



                                  VII


The evil from which men of our time are suffering is produced by the fact
that the majority live without that which alone affords a rational
guidance for human activity--without religion; not that religion which
consists in belief in dogmas, in the fulfilment of rites which afford a
pleasant diversion, consolation, stimulant, but that religion which
establishes the relation of man to the All, to God, and, therefore, gives
a general higher direction to all human activity, and without which
people stand on the plane of animals and even lower than they. This evil
which is leading men to inevitable destruction has manifested itself with
special power in our time, because, having lost all rational guidance in
life, and having directed all efforts to discoveries and improvements
principally in the sphere of technical knowledge, men of our time have
developed in themselves enormous power over the forces of nature; but,
not having any guidance for the rational adaptation of this power, they
naturally have used it for the satisfaction of their lowest and most
animal propensities.

Bereft of religion, men possessing enormous power over the forces of
nature are like children to whom powder or explosive gas has been given
as a plaything. Considering this power which men of our time possess, and
the way they use it, one feels that considering the degree of their moral
development men have no right, not only to the use of railways, steam,
electricity, telephones, photography, wireless telegraphs, but even to
the simple art of manufacturing iron and steel, as all these improvements
and arts they use only for the satisfaction of their lusts, for
amusement, dissipation, and the destruction of each other.

Then, what is to be done? To reject all these improvements of life, all
this power acquired by humanity--to forget that which it has learnt? This
is impossible, however perniciously these mental acquisitions are used;
they still are acquisitions, and men cannot forget them. To alter those
combinations of nations which have been formed during centuries and to
establish new ones? To invent such new institutions as would hinder the
minority from deceiving and exploiting the majority? To disseminate
knowledge? All this has been tried, and is being done with great fervor.
All these imaginary methods of improvement represent the chief methods of
self-oblivion and of diverting one's attention from the consciousness of
inevitable perdition. The boundaries of States are changed, institutions
are altered, knowledge is disseminated; but within other boundaries, with
other organizations, with increased knowledge, men remain the same
beasts, ready any minute to tear each other to pieces, or the same slaves
they have always been, and always will be, while they continue to be
guided, not by religious consciousness, but by passions, theories, and
external influences.

Man has no choice; he must be the slave of the most unscrupulous and
insolent amongst slaves, or else the servant of God, because for man
there is only one way of being free--by uniting his will with the will of
God. People bereft of religion, some repudiating religion itself, others
recognizing as religion those external, monstrous forms which have
superseded it, and guided only by their personal lusts, fear, human laws,
and, above all, by mutual hypnotism, cannot cease to be animals or
slaves, and no external efforts can extricate them from this state; for
only religion makes a man free. And most of the people of our time are
deprived of it.



                                  VIII


"But, in order to abolish the evil from which we are suffering," those
will say who are preoccupied by various practical activities, "it would
be necessary that not a few men only, but all men, should bethink
themselves, and that, having done so, they should uniformly understand
the destination of their lives, in the fulfilment of the will of God and
in the service of one's neighbor.

"Is this possible?" Not only possible, do I answer, but it is impossible
that this should not take place. It is impossible for men not to bethink
themselves--_i.e._ impossible that each man should not put to himself the
question as to who he is and wherefore he lives; for man, as a rational
being, cannot live without seeking to know why he lives, and he has
always put to himself this question, and always, according to the degree
of his development, has answered it in his religious teaching. In our
time, the inner contradiction in which men feel themselves elicits this
question with special insistence, and demands an answer. It is impossible
for men of our time to answer this question otherwise than by recognizing
the law of life in love to men and in the service of them, this being for
our time the only rational answer as to the meaning of human life; and
this answer nineteen hundred years ago has been expressed in the
Christian religion and is likewise known to the vast majority of all
mankind.

This answer in a latent state lives in the consciousness of all men of
the Christian world of our time; but it does not openly express itself
and serve as guidance for our life, only because, on the one hand, those
who enjoy the greatest authority, so-called scientists, being under the
coarse error that religion is a temporary and outgrown step in the
development of mankind and that men can live without religion, inculcate
this error to those of the masses who are beginning to be educated; and,
on the other hand, because those in power, sometimes consciously, but
often unconsciously (being under the error that the Church faith is
Christian religion), endeavor to support and excite in the people crude
superstitions given out as the Christian religion. If only these two
deceptions were to be destroyed, then true religion, already latent in
men of our time, would become evident and obligatory.

To bring this about it is necessary that, on the one hand, men of science
should understand that the principle of the brotherhood of all men and
the rule of not doing unto others what one does not wish for oneself is
not one casual idea out of a multitude of human theories which can be
subordinated to any other considerations, but is an incontestable
principle, standing higher than the rest, and flowing from the changeless
relation of man to that which is eternal, to God, and is religion, all
religion, and, therefore, always obligatory.

On the other hand, it is necessary that those who consciously or
unconsciously preach crude superstitions under the guise of Christianity
should understand that all these dogmas, sacraments, and rites which they
support and preach are not only, as they think, harmless, but are in the
highest degree pernicious, concealing from men that central religious
truth which is expressed in the fulfilment of God's will, in the service
of men, and that the rule of acting toward others as one would wish
others to act toward oneself is not merely one of the prescriptions of
the Christian religion, but is the whole of practical religion, as indeed
is stated in the Gospels.

To bring about that men of our time should uniformly place before
themselves the question of the meaning of life, and uniformly answer it,
it is only necessary that those who regard themselves as enlightened
should cease to think and to inculcate to other generations that religion
is atavism, the survival of a past wild state, and that for the good life
of men the spreading of education is sufficient--_i.e._ the spread of the
most varied knowledge which is in some way to bring men to justice and to
a moral life. These men should understand instead that for the good life
of humanity religion is vital, and that this religion already exists and
lives in the consciousness of the men of our time. Men who are
intentionally and unintentionally stupefying the people by church
superstitions should cease to do so, and recognize that what is important
and binding in Christianity is not baptism, nor Communion, nor profession
of dogmas, etc., but only love to God and to one's neighbor, and the
fulfilling of the commandment of acting toward others as one wishes
others to act toward oneself--and that in this lies all the law and the
prophets.

If only both pseudo-Christians and men of science understood and preached
to children and to the uneducated these simple, clear, and necessary
truths as they now preach their complicated, confused, and unnecessary
theories, all men would uniformly understand the meaning of their lives
and recognize one and the same duties as flowing from this meaning.



                                   IX


But "How are we to act now, immediately among ourselves, in Russia, at
this moment, when our foes have already attacked us, are killing our
people, and threatening us; what should be the action," I shall be asked,
"of a Russian soldier, officer, general, Tsar, private individual? Are
we, forsooth, to allow our enemies to ruin our possessions, to seize the
productions of our labors, to carry away prisoners, or kill our men? What
are we to do now that this thing has begun?"

But before the work of war was commenced, by whomsoever it was
commenced--every awakened man must answer--before all else the work of my
life was commenced. And the work of my life has nothing in common with
recognition of the rights of the Chinese, Japanese, or Russians to Port
Arthur. The work of my life consists in fulfilling the will of Him who
sent me into this life. This will is known to me. This will is that I
should love my neighbor and serve him. Then why should I, following
temporary, casual, irrational, and cruel demands, deviate from the known
eternal and changeless law of all my life? If there be a God, He will not
ask me when I die (which may happen at any moment) whether I retained
Chi-nam-po with its timber stores, or Port Arthur, or even that
conglomeration which is called the Russian Empire, which He did not
confide to my care; but He will ask me what I have done with that life
which He put at my disposal;--did I use it for the purpose for which it
was predestined, and under the conditions for fulfilling which it was
intrusted to me? Have I fulfilled His law?

So that to this question as to what is to be done now, when war is
commenced, for me, a man who understands his destiny, whatever position I
may occupy, there can be no other answer than this, whatever be my
circumstances, whether the war be commenced or not, whether thousands of
Russians or Japanese be killed, whether not only Port Arthur be taken,
but St. Petersburg and Moscow--I cannot act otherwise than as God demands
of me, and that therefore I as a man can neither directly nor indirectly,
neither by directing, nor by helping, nor by inciting to it, participate
in war; I cannot, I do not wish to, and I will not. What will happen
immediately or soon, from my ceasing to do that which is contrary to the
will of God, I do not and cannot know; but I believe that from the
fulfilment of the will of God there can follow nothing but that which is
good for me and for all men.

You speak with horror about what might happen if we Russians at this
moment ceased to fight, and surrendered to the Japanese what they desire
from us. But if it be true that the salvation of mankind from
brutalization and self-destruction lies only in the establishment amongst
men of that true religion which demands that we should love our neighbor
and serve him (with which it is impossible to disagree), then every war,
every hour of war, and my participation in it, only renders more
difficult and distant the realization of this only possible salvation.

So that, even if one places oneself on the unstable point of view of
defining actions according to their presumed consequences--even then the
surrender to the Japanese by the Russians of all which the former desire
of us, besides the unquestionable advantage of the cessation of ruin and
slaughter, would be an approach to the only means of the salvation of
mankind from destruction; whereas the continuance of the war, however it
may end, will be a postponement of that only means of salvation.

"Yet even if this be so," it is replied, "wars can cease only when all
men, or the majority, will refuse to participate in them. But the refusal
of one man, whether he be Tsar or soldier, would only, unnecessarily, and
without the slightest profit to any one, ruin his life. If the Russian
Tsar were now to throw up the war, he would be dethroned, perhaps killed,
in order to get rid of him; if an ordinary man were to refuse military
service, he would be sent to a penal battalion and perhaps shot. Why,
then, without the slightest use should one throw away one's life, which
may be profitable to society?" is the common question of those who do not
think of the destination of their life and therefore do not understand
it.

But this is not what is said and felt by any man who understands the
destination of his life--_i.e._ by any religious man. Such a man is
guided in his activity not by the presumed consequences of his action,
but by the consciousness of the destination of his life. A factory
workman goes to his factory and in it accomplishes the work which is
allotted him without considering what will be the consequences of his
labor. In the same way a soldier acts, carrying out the will of his
commanders. So acts a religious man in fulfilling the work prescribed to
him by God, without arguing as to what precisely will come of that work.
Therefore for a religious man there is no question as to whether many or
few men act as he does, or of what may happen to him if he does that
which he should do. He knows that besides life and death nothing can
happen, and that life and death are in the hands of God whom he obeys.

A religious man acts thus and not otherwise, not because he desires to
act thus, nor because it is advantageous to himself or to other men, but
because, believing that his life is in the hands of God, he cannot act
otherwise.

In this lies the distinction of the activity of religious men; and
therefore it is that the salvation of men from the calamities which they
inflict upon themselves can be realized only in that degree in which they
are guided in their lives, not by advantage nor arguments, but by
religious consciousness.



                                   X


"But how about the enemies that attack us?"

"Love your enemies, and ye will have none," is said in the teaching of
the Twelve Apostles. This answer is not merely words, as those may
imagine who are accustomed to think that the recommendation of love to
one's enemies is something hyperbolical, and signifies not that which
expressed, but something else. This answer is the indication of a very
clear and definite activity, and of its consequences.

To love one's enemies--the Japanese, the Chinese, those yellow people
toward whom benighted men are now endeavoring to excite our hatred--to
love them means not to kill them for the purpose of having the right of
poisoning them with opium, as did the English; not to kill them in order
to seize their land, as was done by the French, the Russians, and the
Germans; not to bury them alive in punishment for injuring roads, not to
tie them together by their hair, not to drown them in their river Amur,
as did the Russians.

"A disciple is not above his master.... It is enough for a disciple that
he be as his master."

To love the yellow people, whom we call our foes, means, not to teach
them under the name of Christianity absurd superstitions about the fall
of man, redemption, resurrection, etc., not to teach them the art of
deceiving and killing others, but to teach them justice, unselfishness,
compassion, love--and that not by words, but by the example of our own
good life. And what have we been doing to them, and are still doing?

If we did indeed love our enemies, if even now we began to love our
enemies, the Japanese, we would have no enemy.

Therefore, however strange it may appear to those occupied with military
plans, preparations, diplomatic considerations, administrative,
financial, economical measures, revolutionary, socialistic propaganda,
and various unnecessary sciences, by which they think to save mankind
from its calamities, the deliverance of man, not only from the calamities
of war, but also from all the calamities which men inflict upon
themselves, will take place not through emperors or kings instituting
peace alliances, not through those who would dethrone emperors, kings, or
restrain them by constitutions, or substitute republics for monarchies,
not by peace conferences, not by the realization of socialistic
programmes, not by victories or defeats on land or sea, not by libraries
or universities, nor by those futile mental exercises which are now
called science; but only by there being more and more of those simple men
who, like the Dukhobors, Drojjin, Olkhovik, in Russia, the Nazarenes in
Austria, Condatier in France, Tervey in Holland, and others, having
placed as their object not external alterations of life, but the closest
fulfilment in themselves of the will of Him who has sent them into life,
will direct all their powers to this realization. Only such people
realizing the Kingdom of God in themselves, in their souls, will
establish, without directly aiming at this purpose, that external Kingdom
of God which every human soul is longing for.

Salvation will come to pass only in this one way and not in any other.
Therefore what is now being done by those who, ruling men, inspire them
with religious and patriotic superstitions, exciting in them
exclusiveness, hatred, and murder, as well as by those who, for the
purpose of freeing men from slavery and oppression, invoke them to
violent external revolution, or think that the acquisition by men of very
much incidental and for the most part unnecessary information will of
itself bring them to a good life--all this, by distracting men from what
alone they need, only removes them further from the possibility of
salvation.

The evil from which the men of the Christian world suffer is that they
have temporarily lost religion.

Some people, having come to see the discord between the existing religion
and the degree of mental and scientific development attained by humanity
at the present time, have decided that in general no religion whatever is
necessary. They live without religion and preach the uselessness of any
religion of whatever kind. Others, holding to that distorted form of the
Christian religion which is now preached, likewise live without religion,
professing empty external forms, which cannot serve as guidance for men.

Yet a religion which answers to the demands of our time does exist and is
known to all men, and in a latent state lives in the hearts of men of the
Christian world. Therefore that this religion should become evident to
and binding upon all men, it is only necessary that educated men--the
leaders of the masses--should understand that religion is necessary to
man, that without religion men cannot live a good life, and that what
they call science cannot replace religion; and that those in power and
who support the old empty forms of religion should understand that what
they support and preach under the form of religion is not only not
religion, but is the chief obstacle to men's appropriating the true
religion which they already know, and which can alone deliver them from
their calamities. So that the only certain means of man's salvation
consists merely in ceasing to do that which hinders men from assimilating
the true religion which already lives in their consciousness.



                                   XI


I had finished this writing when news came of the destruction of six
hundred innocent lives opposite Port Arthur. It would seem that the
useless suffering and death of these unfortunate deluded men who have
needlessly and so dreadfully perished ought to disabuse those who were
the cause of this destruction. I am not alluding to Makaroff and other
officers--all these men knew what they were doing, and wherefore, and
they voluntarily, for personal advantage, for ambition, did as they did,
disguising themselves in pretended patriotism, a pretence not condemned
merely because it is universal. I allude rather to those unfortunate men
drawn from all parts of Russia, who, by the help of religious fraud, and
under fear of punishment, have been torn from an honest, reasonable,
useful, laborious family life, driven to the other end of the world,
placed on a cruel, senseless machine for slaughter, and torn to bits,
drowned along with this stupid machine in a distant sea, without any need
or any possibility of advantage from all their privations, efforts, and
sufferings, or from the death which overtook them.

In 1830, during the Polish war, the adjutant Vilijinsky sent to St.
Petersburg by Klopitsky, in a conversation held in French with Dibitch,
in answer to the latter's demand that the Russian troops should enter
Poland, said to him:--

"Monsieur le Maréchal, I think that in that case it will be quite
impossible for the Polish nation to accept this manifesto...."

"Believe me, the Emperor will make no further concessions."

"Then I foresee that, unhappily, there will be war, that much blood will
be shed, there will be many unfortunate victims."

"Do not think so; at most there will be ten thousand who will perish on
both sides, and that is all,"[1] said Dibitch in his German accent, quite
confident that he, together with another man as cruel and foreign to
Russian and Polish life as he was himself,--Nicholas I,--had the right to
condemn or not to condemn to death ten or a hundred thousand Russians and
Poles.

  [1] Vilijinsky adds on his own behalf, "The Field-Marshal did not then
      think that more than sixty thousand Russians alone would perish in
      this war, not so much from the enemy's fire as from disease--nor
      that he would himself be amongst their number."

One hardly believes that this could have been, so senseless and dreadful
is it,--and yet it was; sixty thousand maintainers of their families lost
their lives owing to the will of those men. And now the same thing is
taking place.

In order not to let the Japanese into Manchuria, and to expel them from
Korea, not ten thousand, but fifty and more thousands will, according to
all probability, be necessary. I do not know whether Nicholas II and
Kuropatkin say like Dibitch in so many words that not more than fifty
thousand lives will be necessary for this on the Russian side alone, only
and only that; but they think it--they cannot but think it, because the
work they are doing speaks for itself; that ceaseless stream of
unfortunate, deluded Russian peasants now being transported by thousands
to the Far East--these are those same not more than fifty thousand live
Russian men whom Nicholas Romanoff and Alexis Kuropatkin have decided
they may get killed, and who will be killed, in support of those
stupidities, robberies, and every kind of abomination which were
accomplished in China and Korea by immoral ambitious men now sitting
peacefully in their palaces and expecting new glory and new advantage and
profit from the slaughter of these fifty thousand unfortunate, defrauded
Russian workingmen guilty of nothing and gaining nothing by their
sufferings and death. For other people's land, to which the Russians have
no right, which has been criminally seized from its legitimate owners,
and which, in reality, is not even necessary to the Russians--and also
for certain dark dealings by speculators, who in Korea wished to gain
money out of other people's forests--many millions of money are spent,
_i.e._ a great part of the labor of the whole of the Russian people,
while the future generations of this people are bound by debts, its best
workmen are withdrawn from labor, and scores of thousands of its sons are
mercilessly doomed to death; and the destruction of these unfortunate men
is already begun. More than this: the war is being managed by those who
have hatched it so badly, so negligently, all is so unexpected, so
unprepared, that, as one paper admits, Russia's chief chance of success
lies in the fact that it possesses inexhaustible human material. It is
upon this that those rely who send to death scores of thousands of
Russian men!

It is frankly said that the regrettable reverses of our fleet must be
compensated on the land. In plain language this means that if the
authorities have badly directed things on sea, and by their negligence
have destroyed not only the nation's millions, but thousands of lives, we
can make it up by condemning to death on land several more scores of
thousands!

When crawling locusts cross rivers, it happens that the lower layers are
drowned until from the bodies of the drowned is formed a bridge over
which the upper ranks can pass. In the same way are the Russian people
being disposed of. Thus the first lower layer is already beginning to
drown, indicating the way to other thousands, who will all likewise
perish.

And are the originators, directors, and supporters of this dreadful work
beginning to understand their sin, their crime? Not in the least. They
are quite persuaded that they have fulfilled, and are fulfilling, their
duty, and they are proud of their activity. People speak of the loss of
the brave Makaroff, who, as all agree, was able to kill men very
cleverly; they deplore the loss of a drowned excellent machine of
slaughter which had cost so many millions of roubles; they discuss the
question of how to find another murderer as capable as the poor benighted
Makaroff; they invent new, still more efficacious, tools of slaughter;
and all the guilty men engaged in this dreadful work, from the Tsar to
the humblest journalist, all with one voice call for new insanities, new
cruelties, for the increase of brutality and hatred of one's fellow-men.

"Makaroff is not the only man in Russia, and every admiral placed in his
position will follow in his steps and will continue the plan and the idea
of Makaroff, who has nobly perished in the strife," writes the _Novoe
Vremya_.

"Let us earnestly pray God for those who have laid down their lives for
the sacred Fatherland, without doubting for one moment that the
Fatherland will give us new sons, equally virtuous, for the further
struggle, and will find in them an inexhaustible store of strength for a
worthy completion of the work," writes the St. Petersburg _Viedomosti_.

"A ripe nation will draw no other conclusion from the defeat, however
unprecedented, than that we should continue, develop, and conclude the
strife; therefore let us find in ourselves new strength; new heroes of
the spirit will arise," writes the _Russ_,--and so forth.

So murder and every kind of crime go on with greater fury. People
enthusiastically admire the martial spirit of the volunteers who, having
come unexpectedly upon fifty of their fellow-men, slay all of them, or
take possession of a village and slaughter all its population, or hang or
shoot those accused of being spies--_i.e._ of doing the very same thing
which is regarded as indispensable and is constantly done on our side.
News about these crimes is reported in pompous telegrams to their chief
director, the Tsar, who, in return, sends to his virtuous troops his
blessing on the continuation of such deeds.

Is it not evident that, if there be a salvation from this position, it is
only one: that one which Jesus teaches?--"Seek ye first the Kingdom of
God and His righteousness (that which is within you), and all the
rest--_i.e._ all that practical welfare toward which man is
striving--will of itself be realized."

Such is the law of life: practical welfare is attained not when man
strives toward this practical welfare--such striving, on the contrary,
for the most part removes man from the attainment of what he seeks; but
only when man, without thinking of the attainment of practical welfare,
strives toward the most perfect fulfilment of that which before God,
before the Source and Law of his life, he regards as right. Then only,
incidentally, is practical welfare also attained.

So that the true salvation of men is only one thing: the fulfilment of
the will of God by each individual man within himself--_i.e._ in that
portion of the universe which alone is subject to his power. In this is
the chief, the only, destiny and duty of every individual man, and at the
same time this is the only means by which every individual man can
influence others; and, therefore, to this, and to this only, should all
the efforts of every man be directed.

May 2, 1904.



                                  XII


I had only just despatched the last of the preceding pages of this paper
when the dreadful news came of a new iniquity committed in regard to the
Russian people by those light-minded men who, crazed with power, have
appropriated the right of managing them. Again coarse and servile slaves
of slaves, dressed up in various dazzling attires--varieties of Generals
wishing to distinguish themselves, or to earn the right to add one more
little star, fingle fangle, or scrap of ribbon to their idiotic glaring
get-up, or else from stupidity or carelessness--again these miserable men
have destroyed amid dreadful sufferings thousands of those honorable,
kind, hard-working laborers who feed them. And again this iniquity not
only does not cause those responsible for it to reflect and repent, but
one hears and reads only about its being necessary as speedily as
possible to mutilate and slaughter a greater number of men, and to ruin
still more families, both Russian and Japanese.

More than this, to prepare men for fresh iniquities of this kind, the
perpetrators of these crimes, far from recognizing what is evident to
all--viz. that for the Russians this event, even from their patriotic,
military point of view, was a scandalous defeat--endeavor to assure
credulous people that these unfortunate Russian laboring men--lured into
a trap like cattle into a slaughterhouse, of whom several thousands have
been killed and maimed merely because one General did not understand what
another General had said--have performed an act of heroism because those
who could not run away were killed and those who did run away remained
alive. As to the fact that one of these immoral and cruel men,
distinguished by the titles of Generals, Admirals, drowned a quantity of
peaceful Japanese, this is also described as a great and glorious act of
heroism, which must gladden the hearts of Russians. And in all the papers
are reprinted this awful appeal to murder:--

"Let the two thousand Russian soldiers killed on the Yalu, together with
the maimed _Retvisan_ and her sister ships, with our lost torpedo-boats,
teach our cruisers with what devastation they must break in upon the
shores of base Japan. She has sent her soldiers to shed Russian blood,
and no quarter should be afforded her. Now one cannot--it is sinful--be
sentimental; we must fight; we must direct such heavy blows that the
memory of them shall freeze the treacherous hearts of the Japanese. Now
is the time for the cruisers to go out to sea to reduce to ashes the
towns of Japan, flying as a dreadful calamity along its shores. No more
sentimentality."

The frightful work commenced is continued. Loot, violence, murder,
hypocrisy, theft, and, above all, the most fearful fraud--the distortion
of religious teachings, both Christian and Buddhistic--continue. The
Tsar, the chief responsible person, continues to review the troops, to
thank, reward, and encourage them; he issues an edict for the calling out
of the reserves; his faithful subjects again and again lay down their
property and lives at the feet of him they call, only with their lips,
their adored Monarch. On the other hand, desiring to distinguish
themselves before each other in deeds and not in words only, they tear
away the fathers and the bread-winners from their orphaned families,
preparing them for slaughter. The worse the position of Russia, the more
recklessly do the journalists lie, transforming shameful defeats into
victories, knowing that no one will contradict them; and they quietly
collect money from subscriptions and sales. The more money and labor of
the people is devoted to the war, the more is grabbed by various
authorities and speculators, who know that no one will convict them
because every one is doing the same. The military, trained for murder,
having passed years in a school of inhumanity, coarseness, and idleness,
rejoice--poor men--because, besides an increase of their salary, the
slaughter of superiors opens vacancies for their promotion. Christian
pastors continue to invite men to the greatest of crimes, continue to
commit sacrilege, praying God to help the work of war; and, instead of
condemning, they justify and praise that pastor who, with the cross in
his hands on the very scene of murder, encouraged men to the crime. The
same thing is going on in Japan. The benighted Japanese go in for murder
with yet greater fervor, owing to their victories; the Mikado also
reviews and rewards his troops; various Generals boast of their bravery,
imagining that, having learned to kill, they have acquired enlightenment.
So, too, groan the unfortunate working people torn from useful labor and
from their families. So their journalists also lie and rejoice over their
gains. Also probably--for where murder is elevated into virtue every kind
of vice is bound to flourish--also probably all kinds of commanders and
speculators earn money; and Japanese theologians and religious teachers
no less than the masters in the techniques of armament do not remain
behind the Europeans in the techniques of religious deceit and sacrilege,
but distort the great Buddhistic teaching by not only permitting but
justifying that murder which Buddha forbade. The Buddhistic scientist,
Soyen-Shaku, ruling over eight hundred monasteries, explains that
although Buddha forbade manslaughter he also said he could never be at
peace until all beings are united in the infinitely loving heart of all
things, and that, therefore, in order to bring into harmony that which is
discordant it is necessary to fight and to kill men.[2]

  [2] In the article it is said: "This triple world is my own possession.
      All the things therein are my own children ... the ten thousand
      things in this world are no more than the reflections of my own
      self. They come from the one source. They partake of the one body.
      Therefore I cannot rest, until every being, even the smallest
      possible fragment of existence, is settled down to its proper
      appointment.... This is the position taken by the Buddha, and we,
      his humble followers, are but to walk in his wake. Why, then, do we
      fight at all? Because we do not find this world as it ought to be.
      Because there are here so many perverted creatures, so many wayward
      thoughts, so many ill-directed hearts, due to ignorant
      subjectivity. For this reason Buddhists are never tired of
      combating all productions of ignorance, and their fight must be to
      the bitter end. They will show no quarter. They will mercilessly
      destroy the very root from which arises the misery of this life. To
      accomplish this end, they will never be afraid of sacrificing their
      lives...." There follow, just as is usual with us, entangled
      arguments about self-sacrifice and kindness, about the
      transmigration of souls and about much else--all this for the sole
      purpose of concealing the simple and clear commandment of Buddha:
      not to kill. Further it is said: "The hand that is raised to strike
      and the eye that is fixed to take aim do not belong to the
      individual, but are the instruments utilized by a principle higher
      than transient existence." ("The Open Court," May, 1904. "Buddhist
      Views of War," by the Right Rev. Soyen-Shaku.)

It is as if there never had existed the Christian and Buddhistic teaching
about the unity of the human spirit, the brotherhood of men, love,
compassion, the sacredness of human life. Men, both Japanese and
Russians, already enlightened by the truth, yet like wild animals, nay,
worse than wild animals, throw themselves upon each other with the sole
desire to destroy as many lives as possible. Thousands of unfortunates
groan and writhe in cruel sufferings and die in agony in Japanese and
Russian field hospitals, asking themselves in bewilderment why this
fearful thing was done with them, while other thousands are already
rotting in the earth or on the earth, or floating in the sea, in swollen
decomposition. And scores of thousands of wives, fathers, mothers,
children, are bemoaning their bread-winners; uselessly destroyed. Yet all
this is still too little; new and newer victims are being prepared. The
chief concern of the Russian organizers of slaughter is that on the
Russian side the stream of food for cannon--three thousand men per day
doomed to destruction--should not be interrupted for one minute. The
Japanese are preoccupied with the same thing. The locusts are incessantly
being driven down into the river in order that the rows behind may pass
over the bodies.

When will this cease, and the deceived people at last recover themselves
and say: "Well, go you yourselves, you heartless Tsars, Mikados,
Ministers, Bishops, priests, generals, editors, speculators, or however
you may be called, go you yourselves under these shells and bullets, but
we do not wish to go and we will not go. Leave us in peace, to plough,
and sow, and build,--and also to feed you." It would be so natural to say
this now, when amongst us in Russia resounds the weeping and wailing of
hundreds of thousands of mothers, wives, and children, from whom are
being snatched away their bread-earners, the so-called "reserve." These
same men, the majority of the reserve, are able to read; they know what
the Far East is; they know that war is going on, not for anything which
is in the least necessary to Russia, but for some dealings in strange
land, leased lands, as they themselves call them, on which it seemed
advantageous to some corrupt speculators to build railways and so gain
profit; also they know, or might know, that they will be killed like
sheep in a slaughterhouse, since the Japanese possess the latest
improvements in tools of murder, which we do not, as the Russian
authorities who are sending these people to death had not thought in time
of furnishing themselves with the same weapons as the Japanese. Knowing
all this, it would indeed be so natural to say, "Go you, those who have
brought on this work, all you to whom war is necessary, and who justify
it; go you, and face the Japanese bullets and mines, but we will not go,
because we not only do not need to do this, but we cannot understand how
it can be necessary to any one."

But no, they do not say this; they go, and they will continue to go; they
cannot but go as long as they fear that which ruins the body and not that
which ruins both the body and the soul. "Whether we shall be killed,"
they argue, "or maimed in these chinnampos, or whatever they are called,
whither we are driven, we do not know; it yet may happen that we shall
get through safely, and, moreover, with rewards and glory, like those
sailors who are now being feasted all over Russia because the Japanese
bombs and bullets did not hit them, but somebody else; whereas should we
refuse, we should be certainly sent to prison, starved, beaten, exiled to
the province of Yakoutsk, perhaps even killed immediately." So with
despair in their hearts, leaving behind a good rational life, leaving
their wives and their children,--they go.

Yesterday I met a Reservist soldier accompanied by his mother and wife.
All three were riding in a cart; he had had a drop too much; his wife's
face was swollen with tears. He turned to me:--

"Good-by to thee! Lyof Nikolaevitch, off to the Far East."

"Well, art thou going to fight?"

"Well, some one has to fight!"

"No one need fight!"

He reflected for a moment. "But what is one to do; where can one
escape?"

I saw that he had understood me, had understood that the work to which he
was being sent was an evil work.

"Where can one escape?" That is the precise expression of that mental
condition which in the official and journalistic world is translated into
the words--"For the Faith, the Tsar, and the Fatherland." Those who,
abandoning their hungry families, go to suffering, to death, say as they
feel, "Where can one escape?" Whereas those who sit in safety in their
luxurious palaces say that all Russian men are ready to sacrifice their
lives for their adored Monarch, and for the glory and greatness of
Russia.

Yesterday, from a peasant I know, I received two letters, one after the
other. This is the first:--

"Dear Lyof Nikolaevitch,--Well, to-day I have received the official
announcement of my call to the Service; to-morrow I must present myself
at the headquarters. That is all. And after that--to the Far East to meet
the Japanese bullets. About my own and my household's grief I will not
tell you; it is not you who will fail to understand all the horror of my
position and the horrors of war; all this you have long ago painfully
realized, and you understand it all. How I have longed to visit you, to
have a talk with you! I had written to you a long letter in which I
described the torments of my soul; but I had not had time to copy it,
when I received my summons. What is my wife to do now with her four
children? As an old man, of course, you cannot do anything yourself for
my folks, but you might ask some of your friends in their leisure to
visit my orphaned family. I beg you earnestly that if my wife proves
unable to bear the agony of her helplessness with her burden of children
and makes up her mind to go to you for help and counsel, you will receive
and console her. Although she does not know you personally, she believes
in your word, and that means much. I was not able to resist the summons,
but I say beforehand that through me not one Japanese family shall be
orphaned. My God! how dreadful is all this--how distressing and painful
to abandon all by which one lives and in which one is concerned."

The second letter is as follows: "Kindest Lyof Nikolaevitch, Only one day
of actual service has passed, and I have already lived through an
eternity of most desperate torments. From 8 o'clock in the morning till 9
in the evening we have been crowded and knocked about to and fro in the
barrack yard, like a herd of cattle. The comedy of medical examination
was three times repeated, and those who had reported themselves ill did
not receive even ten minutes' attention before they were marked
'Satisfactory.' When we, these two thousand satisfactory individuals,
were driven from the military commander to the barracks, along the road
spread out for almost a verst stood a crowd of relatives, mothers, and
wives with infants in arms; and if you had only heard and seen how they
clasped their fathers, husbands, sons, and hanging round their necks
wailed hopelessly! Generally I behave in a reserved way and can restrain
my feelings, but I could not hold out, and I also wept. [In journalistic
language this same is expressed thus: "The upheaval of patriotic feeling
is immense."] Where is the standard that can measure all this immensity
of woe now spreading itself over almost one-third of the world? And we,
we are now that food for cannon, which in the near future will be offered
as sacrifice to the God of vengeance and horror. I cannot manage to
establish my inner balance. Oh! how I execrate myself for this
double-mindedness which prevents my serving one Master and God."

This man does not yet sufficiently believe that what destroys the body is
not dreadful, but that which destroys both the body and the soul,
therefore he cannot refuse to go; yet while leaving his own family he
promises beforehand that through him not one Japanese family shall be
orphaned; he believes in the chief law of God, the law of all
religions--to act toward others as one wishes others to act toward
oneself. Of such men more or less consciously recognizing this law, there
are in our time, not in the Christian world alone, but in the Buddhistic,
Mahomedan, Confucian, and Brahminic world, not only thousands but
millions.

There exist true heroes, not those who are now being fêted because,
having wished to kill others, they were not killed themselves, but true
heroes, who are now confined in prisons and in the province of Yakoutsk
for having categorically refused to enter the ranks of murderers, and who
have preferred martyrdom to this departure from the law of Jesus. There
are also such as he who writes to me, who go, but who will not kill. But
also that majority which goes without thinking, and endeavors not to
think of what it is doing, still in the depth of its soul does now
already feel that it is doing an evil deed by obeying authorities who
tear men from labor and from their families and send them to needless
slaughter of men, repugnant to their soul and their faith; and they go
only because they are so entangled on all sides that--"Where can one
escape?"

Meanwhile those who remain at home not only feel this, but know and
express it. Yesterday in the high road I met some peasants returning from
Toula. One of them was reading a leaflet as he walked by the side of his
cart.

I asked, "What is that--a telegram?"

"This is yesterday's,--but here is one of to-day." He took another out of
his pocket. We stopped. I read it.

"You should have seen what took place yesterday at the station," he said;
"it was dreadful. Wives, children, more than a thousand of them, weeping.
They surrounded the train, but were allowed no further. Strangers wept,
looking on. One woman from Toula gasped and fell down dead. Five
children. They have since been placed in various institutions; but the
father was driven away all the same.... What do we want with this
Manchuria, or whatever it is called? There is sufficient land here. And
what a lot of people and of property has been destroyed."

Yes, the relation of men to war is now quite different from that which
formerly existed, even so lately as the year '77. That which is now
taking place never took place before.

The papers set forth that, during the receptions of the Tsar, who is
travelling about Russia for the purpose of hypnotizing the men who are
being sent to murder, indescribable enthusiasm is manifested amongst the
people. As a matter of fact, something quite different is being
manifested. From all sides one hears reports that in one place three
Reservists have hanged themselves; in another spot, two more; in yet
another, about a woman whose husband had been taken away bringing her
children to the conscription committee-room and leaving them there; while
another hanged herself in the yard of the military commander. All are
dissatisfied, gloomy, exasperated. The words, "For the Faith, the King,
and the Fatherland," the National Anthem, and shouts of "Hurrah" no
longer act upon people as they once did. Another warfare of a different
kind--the struggling consciousness of the deceit and sinfulness of the
work to which people are being called--is more and more taking possession
of the people.

Yes, the great strife of our time is not that now taking place between
the Japanese and the Russians, nor that which may blaze up between the
white and yellow races, not that strife which is carried on by mines,
bombs, bullets, but that spiritual strife which without ceasing has gone
on and is now going on between the enlightened consciousness of mankind
now waiting for manifestation and that darkness and that burden which
surrounds and oppresses mankind.

In His own time Jesus yearned in expectation, and said, "I came to cast
fire upon the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindled." Luke
xii. 49.

That which Jesus longed for is being accomplished, the fire is being
kindled. Then do not let us check it, but let us spread and serve it.

13 May, 1904.

I should never finish this paper if I were to continue to add to it all
that corroborates its essential idea. Yesterday the news came in of the
sinking of the Japanese ironclads; and in the so-called higher circles of
Russian fashionable, rich, intellectual society they are, without the
slightest conscientious scruples, rejoicing at the destruction of a
thousand human lives. Yet to-day I have received from a simple seaman, a
man standing on the lowest plane of society, the following letter:[3]

"Much respected Lyof Nikolaevitch, I greet you with a low bow, with love,
much respected Lyof Nikolaevitch. I have read your book. It was very
pleasant reading for me. I have been a great lover of reading your works.
Well, Lyof Nikolaevitch, we are now in a state of war, please write to me
whether it is agreeable to God or not that our commanders compel us to
kill. I beg you, Lyof Nikolaevitch, write to me please whether or not the
truth now exists on earth. Tell me, Lyof Nikolaevitch. In church here a
prayer is being read, the priest mentions the Christ-loving army. Is it
true or not that God loves war? I pray you, Lyof Nikolaevitch, have you
got any books from which I could see whether truth exists on earth or
not? Send me such books. What they cost, I will pay. I beg you, Lyof
Nikolaevitch, do not neglect my request. If there are no books then send
me a letter. I will be very glad when I receive a letter from you. I will
await your letter with impatience. Good-by for the present. I remain
alive and well and wish the same to you from the Lord God. Good health
and good success in your work."


  [3] The letter is written in a most illiterate way, filled with
      mistakes in orthography and punctuation.
                                                              (Trans.)





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