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Chapter 13


And Levin remembered a scene he had lately witnessed between
Dolly and her children. The children, left to themselves, had
begun cooking raspberries over the candles and squirting milk
into each other's mouths with a syringe. Their mother, catching
them at these pranks, began reminding them in Levin's presence of
the trouble their mischief gave to the grown-up people, and that
this trouble was all for their sake, and that if they smashed the
cups they would have nothing to drink their tea out of, and that
if they wasted the milk, they would have nothing to eat, and die
of hunger.

And Levin had been struck by the passive, weary incredulity with
which the children heard what their mother said to them. They
were simply annoyed that their amusing play had been interrupted,
and did not believe a word of what their mother was saying. They
could not believe it indeed, for they could not take in the
immensity of all they habitually enjoyed, and so could not
conceive that what they were destroying was the very thing they
lived by.

"That all comes of itself," they thought, "and there's nothing
interesting or important about it because it has always been so,
and always will be so. And it's all always the same. We've no
need to think about that, it's all ready. But we want to invent
something of our own, and new. So we thought of putting
raspberries in a cup, and cooking them over a candle, and
squirting milk straight into each other's mouths. That's fun,
and something new, and not a bit worse than drinking out of
cups."

"Isn't it just the same that we do, that I did, searching by the
aid of reason for the significance of the forces of nature and
the meaning of the life of man?" he thought.

"And don't all the theories of philosophy do the same, trying by
the path of thought, which is strange and not natural to man, to
bring him to a knowledge of what he has known long ago, and knows
so certainly that he could not live at all without it? Isn't it
distinctly to be seen in the development of each philosopher's
theory, that he knows what is the chief significance of life
beforehand, just as positively as the peasant Fyodor, and not a
bit more clearly than he, and is simply trying by a dubious
intellectual path to come back to what everyone knows?

"Now then, leave the children to themselves to get things alone
and make their crockery, get the milk from the cows, and so on.
Would they be naughty then? Why, they'd die of hunger! Well,
then, leave us with our passions and thoughts, without any idea
of the one God, of the Creator, or without any idea of what is
right, without any idea of moral evil.

"Just try and build up anything without those ideas!

"We only try to destroy them, because we're spiritually provided
for. Exactly like the children!

"Whence have I that joyful knowledge, shared with the peasant,
that alone gives peace to my soul? Whence did I get it?

"Brought up with an idea of God, a Christian, my whole life
filled with the spiritual blessings Christianity has given me,
full of them, and living on those blessings, like the children I
did not understand them, and destroy, that is try to destroy,
what I live by. And as soon as an important moment of life
comes, like the children when they are cold and hungry, I turn to
Him, and even less than the children when their mother scolds
them for their childish mischief, do I feel that my childish
efforts at wanton madness are reckoned against me.

"Yes, what I know, I know not by reason, but it has been given to
me, revealed to me, and I know it with my heart, by faith in the
chief thing taught by the church.

"The church! the church!" Levin repeated to himself. He turned
over on the other side, and leaning on his elbow, fell to gazing
into the distance at a herd of cattle crossing over to the river.

"But can I believe in all the church teaches?" he thought, trying
himself, and thinking of everything that could destroy his
present peace of mind. Itentionally he recalled all those
doctrines of the church which had always seemed most strange and
had always been a stumbling block to him.

"The Creation? But how did I explain existence? By existence?
By nothing? The devil and sin. But how do I explain evil?...
The atonement?...

"But I know nothing, nothing, and I can know nothing but what has
been told to me and all men."

And it seemed to him that there was not a single article of faith
of the church which could destroy the chief thing--faith in God,
in goodness, as the one goal of man's destiny.

Under every article of faith of the church could be put the faith
in the service of truth instead of one's desires. And each
doctrine did not simply leave that faith unshaken, each doctrine
seemed essential to complete that great miracle, continually
manifest upon earth, that made it possible for each man and
millions of different sorts of men, wise men and imbeciles, old
men and children--all men, peasants, Lvov, Kitty, beggars and
kings to understand perfectly the same one thing, and to build up
thereby that life of the soul which alone is worth living, and
which alone is precious to us.

Lying on his back, he gazed up now into the high, cloudless sky.
"Do I not know that that is infinite space, and that it is not a
round arch? But, however I screw up my eyes and strain my sight,
I cannot see it not round and not bounded, and in spite of my
knowing about infinite space, I am incontestably right when I see
a solid blue dome, and more right than when I strain my eyes to
see beyond it."

Levin ceased thinking, and only, as it were, listened to
mysterious voices that seemed talking joyfully and earnestly
within him.

"Can this be faith?" he thought, afraid to believe in his
happiness. "My God, I thank Thee!" he said, gulping down his
sobs, and with both hands brushing away the tears that filled his
eyes.



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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