Selected Writings of Leo Tolstoy: ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’

Leo Tolstoy was a spiritual man of much wisdom and expressed his own version of unorthodox Christianity through his writings, which championed social justice, pacifism and various moral causes in his life.

In a series of posts, I will be hoping to share with you selected writings of Leo Tolstoy which I think will both enlighten you with the true Christian values, and how, most importantly, you can apply these wise teachings in this, seemingly, corrupt world we now find ourselves.

Starting with the Leo Tolstoy essay ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ written in 1900, which argues the case for us all to embrace and uphold the inspirational teachings of Jesus Christ.  This essay was especially directed at two competing powers in Europe at the time; namely, the State and the religion of orthodox Christianity.

The imperative Commandment of ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’, of which Tolstoy’s essay is titled, obviously implies for us in general not to engage in violence and murder in any way shape or form, such as in retribution, revenge and, most heinous of all, war.

Although I myself belong to no particular organised religion, I do appreciate this wonderfully written and persuasive piece from Tolstoy, which is filled with wisdom and common sense, whilst highlighting the hypocrisy and folly of those who supposedly held religious beliefs and professed peace for the people they had power over.

Firstly, we have governments and officials (which Tolstoy mostly criticises in this particular essay) who senselessly use brainwashed soldiers of war to inflict much pain, death and suffering on other human beings, whose only crime was to be seen as foreign and therefore something not human.

Then we have the orthodox Church, whom Tolstoy finds guilty of perverting the teachings of Jesus (more on this to come in a future Tolstoy essay) so to fill the people’s minds with nothing but superstition and a false God of vengeance.  And one should not forget Christianity’s abominable past with the ‘Inquisition’, which was inexplicably used to kill and torture thousands of non-believers and anyone who held an opinion different to their dogma; all in the name of a  loving and beneficent God no less.

Most unfortunately, all this violence and murder was, and still is, mostly done for mere profit and power.  These crimes against humanity, that Tolstoy wrote about in his many essays and letters, goes completely against the true teachings of Christianity which encourages nothing but peace, love and the unity of humankind.

I, being a spiritual being who seeks truth and meaning in my life, agree with him, and can identify with the man called Jesus (if he indeed truly existed) as being a wise and righteous teacher who taught the benficial lessons of moral living; and only through this good conduct with one another can we hope to  grow spiritually, connect with the god within, and make this planet a paradise that it is capable of becoming.

Although in these present and difficult times paradise looks a long way from coming into fruition – if ever.

Here is an excerpt of Leo Tolstoy’s Thou Shalt Not Kill’:

The teaching of Christ repeals the law, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’; but those who have always clung to that law, and still cling to it, and who apply it to a terrible degree-not only claiming åan eye for an eye,’ but without provocation decreeing the slaughter of thousands, as they do when they declare war- have no right to be indignant at the application of that same law to themselves in so small and insignificant a degree that hardly one King or Emperor is killed for each hundred thousand, or perhaps even for each million, who are killed by the order and with the consent of Kings and Emperors. Kings and Emperors not only should not be indignant at such murders as those of Alexander 11. and Humbert, but they should be surprised that such murders are so rare, considering the continual and universal example of murder that they give to mankind.

Read Online: ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ written by Leo Tolstoy

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