Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/129

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THE CRISIS

91

life, knowing that the jaws of death may close on me at any moment, and I cannot understand why I am in such torture. I am trying to suck the honey which used to comfort me, but now I do not enjoy it. The black and white mice continue day and night to gnaw the branch to which I cling. I clearly see the dragon and the mice, and cannot take my eyes off them. This is not a fable, but a clear, indisputable truth, evident to everybody."

All the wise men of the world whom Tolstoy addressed with the question of the meaning of life answered that life was evil and meaningless; and he decided to quit life, and was near to suicide. But his love for the people, his interest in the life of the workers, who saw a meaning in life, saved him. He put to himself the question: "Is life perhaps evil and meaningless because I am living wrongly? That is to say, is my life evil and meaningless—my life and that of all those of my circle who, like myself, do not see any meaning in life?"

The question so sincerely put to himself brought him salvation. There was only one answer: working people, serving others, learn the meaning of life, love life, and are not afraid to die. This meaning of life for the people has taken the shape of religion. Tolstoy accepted this religion of the