Leo Tolstoy Quotations

Leo Tolstoy

All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do.

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. And to act so is immoral.

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

Boredom: the desire for desires.

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

Flesh-eating is simply immoral, as it involves the performance of an act which is contrary to moral feeling -- killing.

Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us.

Governments need armies to protect them from their enslaved and oppressed subjects.

He never chooses an opinion; he just wears whatever happens to be in style.

Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them.

His words and actions flowed from him as smoothly, as inevitably and spontaneously as fragrance exhales from a flower. He could not understand the value or significance of any word or deed taken separately.

If you want to be happy, be.

I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

[I]n former days the free-thinker was a man who had been brought up in ideas of religion, law, and morality, and only through conflict and struggle came to free-thought; but now there has sprung up a new type of born free-thinkers who grow up without even having heard of principles of morality or of religion, of the existence of authorities, who grow up directly in ideas of negation in everything, that is to say, savages.

I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet I 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.

Not our location is important, but the direction in which we move.

Only those live who do good.

Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy.

The Brahmins say that in their books there are many predictions of times in which it will rain. But press those books as strongly as you can, you can not get out of them a drop of water. So you can not get out of all the books that contain the best precepts the smallest good deed.

The means to gain happiness is to throw out from oneself like a spider in all directions an adhesive web of love, and to catch in it all that comes.

The more we live by our intellect, the less we understand the meaning of life.

The older generation almost always fails to understand the younger one -- they think their own immutable values the only ones ... And so the older generation barks like a dog at what they don't understand.

There are people who when they meet a rival, no matter in what, at once shut their eyes to everything good in him and see only the bad. There are others who on the contrary try to discern in a lucky rival the qualities that have enabled him to succeed, and with aching hearts, see only the good in him.

There is only one time that is important -- NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time that we have any power.

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.

To say that a work of art is good, but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good but that most people can't eat it.

To sin is a human business, to justify sins is a devilish business.

True science investigates and brings to human perception such truths and such knowledge as the people of a given time and society consider most important. Art transmits these truths from the region of perception.

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

Was it by reason that I attained the knowledge that I must love my neighbour and not throttle him? They told me so when I was a child, and I gladly believed it, because they told me what was already in my soul. But who discovered it? Not reason! Reason has discovered the struggle for existence and the law that I must throttle all those who hinder the satisfaction of my desires. That is the deduction reason makes. But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.

We lost because we told ourselves we lost.

What a strange illusion it is to suppose that beauty is goodness.

What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.

You see, if you take pains and learn in order to get a reward, the work will seem hard; but when you work... if you love your work, you will find your reward in that.