Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/125

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which led to this belief in immortality were love, self-sacrifice, service to others, to the world, to God—generally, the sacrifice of the ego and devotion to humanity.

These thoughts were rising in his mind at the best moments of his life; his religious ideas were for the first time clearly formulated in the Caucasus, where the beauty of nature invigorated his soul and the doors of eternity seemed to open before him, shedding on him the rays of a heavenly light. But he was not yet ready to receive this light. He had to pass through many years of suffering before the momentary, passing recognition of the futility of worldly interests became a fixed conviction. Internal, secret growth of the spirit had to run parallel with physical development; inevitable conflicts between the physical personality and the religious conscience were necessary to decide once for all which was to predominate and influence his life. In this encounter victory remained with religion, and the power of the physical personality was broken for ever.

No illusion could ever restore the importance of the material side of life. In such a struggle souls often perish, and spiritual death is certainly the worst which may befall a man. Though Tolstoy did not perish spiritually, he lost much strength in