The Kingdom of God is Within You

This is the last chapter of The Kingdom of God is Within You, which is Tolstoy's best non-fiction work. This chapter, which is entitled Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand, is one of Tolstoy's most powerful. Tolstoy insists that Christians must aspire to the Kingdom of God, not the kingdoms of the world.


Part One - Chance Meeting with a Train Carrying Soldiers to Restore Order Among the Famishing Peasants - Reason of the Expedition - How the Decisions of the Higher Authorities are Enforced in Cases of Insubordination on Part of the Peasants - What Happened at Orel, as an Example of How the Rights of the Propertied Classes are Maintained by Murder and Torture - All the Privileges of the Wealthy are Based on Similar Acts of Violence.

Part Two - The Elements that Made up the Force Sent to Toula, and the Conduct of the Men Composing it - How these Men Could Carry Out such Acts - The Explanation is Not to be Found in Ignorance, Conviction, Cruelty, Heartlessness, or Want of Moral Sense - They do these Things Because they are Necessary to Support the Existing Order, which they Consider it Every Man's Duty to Support - The Basis of this Conviction that the Existing Order is Necessary and Inevitable - In the Upper Classes this Conviction is Based on the Advantages of the Existing Order for Themselves - But what Forces Men of the Lower Classes to Believe in the Immutability of the Existing Order, from which they Derive no Advantage, and which they Aid in Maintaining, Facts Contrary to their Conscience? - This is the Result of the Lower Classes being Deluded by the Upper, Both as to the Inevitability of the Existing Order and the Lawfulness of the Acts of Violence Needed to Maintain it - Deception in General - Special Form of Deception in Regard to Military Service - Conscription.

Part Three - How can Men Allow that Murder is Permissible while they Preach Principles of Morality, and How can they Allow for the Existence in their Midst of a Military Organization of Physical Force which is a Constant Menace to Public Security? - It is only Allowed by the Upper Classes, who Profit by this Organization, Because their Privileges are Maintained by it - The Upper Classes Allow it, and the Lower Classes Carry it into Effect in Spite of their Consciousness of the Immorality of the Deeds of Violence, the More Readily Because Through the Arrangements of the Government the Moral Responsibility of such Deeds is Divided among a Great Number of Participants in it, and Everyone Throws the Responsibility on Someone Else - Moreover, the Sense of Moral Responsibility is Lost through the Delusion of Inequality, and the Consequent Intoxication of Power on the Part of Superiors, and Servility on the Part of Inferiors - The Condition of these Men, Acting against the Dictates of their Conscience, is Like that of Hypnotized Subjects Acting by Suggestion - The Difference between this Obedience to Government Suggestion, and Obedience to Public Opinion, and to the Guidance of Men of a Higher Moral Sense - The Existing Order of Society, which is the Result of an Extinct Public Opinion and is Inconsistent with the Already Existing Public Opinion of the Future, is only Maintained by the Stupefaction of the Conscience, Produced Spontaneously by Self-interest in the Upper Classes and Through Hypnotizing in the Lower Classes - The Conscience or the Common Sense of such Men may Awaken, and there are Examples of its Sudden Awakening, so that one can Never be Sure of the Deeds of Violence they are Prepared for - It Depends entirely on the Point which the Sense of the Unlawfulness of Acts of Violence has Reached, and this Sense may Spontaneously Awaken in Men, or may be Reawakened by the Influence of Men of more Conscience.

Part Four - Everything Depends on the Strength of the Consciousness of Christian Truths in Each Individual Man - The Leading Men of Modern Times, however, do not Think it Necessary to Preach or Practice the Truths of Christianity, but Regard the Modification of the External Conditions of Existence within the Limit Imposed by Governments as Sufficient to Reform the Life of Humanity - On this Scientific Theory of Hypocrisy, which has Replaced the Hypocrisy of Religion, Men of the Wealthy Classes Base their Justification of their Position by Force and Fraud, and Still Pretend to be Christians to One Another and be Easy in their Minds - This Hypocrisy Allows Men who Preach Christianity to Take Part in Institutions Based on Violence - No External Reformation of Life will Render it Less Miserable - Its Misery the Result of Disunion Caused by Following Lies, not the Truth - Union only Possible in Truth - Hypocrisy Hinders this Union, since Hypocrites Conceal from themselves and Others the Truth they Know - Hypocrisy Turns all Reforms of Life to Evil - Hypocrisy Distorts the Idea of Good and Evil, and so Stands in the Way of the Progress of Men toward Perfection - Undisguised Criminals and Malefactors do Less Harm than those who Live by Legalized violence, Disguised by Hypocrisy - All Men Feel the Iniquity of our Life, and would Long Ago have Transformed it if it had not been Dissimulated by Hypocrisy - But Seem to have Reached the Extreme Limits of Hypocrisy, and we Need only Make an Effort of Conscience to Awaken as from a Nightmare to a Different Reality.

Part Five - Can Man Make this Effort? - According to the Hypocritical Theory of the Day, Man is not Free to Transform his Life - Man is not Free in his Actions, but he is Free to Admit or to Deny the Truth he Knows - When Truth is Once Admitted, it Becomes the Basis of Action - Man's Threefold Relations to Truth - The Reason of the Apparent Insolubility of the Problem of Free Will - Man's Freedom Consists in the Recognition of the Truth Revealed to him. There is no Other Freedom - Recognition of Truth Gives Freedom, and Shows the Path Along which, Willingly or Unwillingly by Mankind, Man Must Advance - The Recognition of Truth and Real Freedom Enables Man to Share in the Work of God, not as the Slave, but as the Creator of Life - Men Need only Make the Effort to Renounce all Thought of Bettering the External Conditions of Life and Bend all their Efforts to Recognizing and Preaching the Truth they Know, to put an End to the Existing Miserable State of Things, and to Enter upon the Kingdom of God so far as it is yet Accessible to Man - All that is Needed is to Make and End of Lying and Hypocrisy - But then what Awaits us in the Future? - What will Happen to Humanity if Men Follow the Dictates of their Conscience, and how can Life go on with the Conditions of Civilized Life to which we are Accustomed? - All Uneasiness on these Points may be Removed by the Reflection that Nothing True and Good can be Destroyed by the Realization of Truth, but will only be Freed from the Alloy of Falsehood.

Part Six - Our Life has Reached the Extreme Limit of Misery and Cannot be Improved by any Systems of Organization - All our Life and all our Institutions are Quite Meaningless - Are we Doing what God Wills of us by Preserving our Privileges and Duties to Government? - We are put in this Position not Because the World is so Made and it is Inevitable, but Because we Wish it to be so, Because it is to the Advantage of Some of us - Our Conscience is in Opposition to our Position and all our Conduct, and the Way Out of the Contradiction is to be Found in the Recognition of the Christian Truth: Do Not unto Others what You Would Not they should Do unto You - As our Duties to Self Must be Subordinated to our Duties to Others, so Must our Duties to Others be Subordinated to our Duties to God - The Only Way Out of our Position Lies, if not in Renouncing our Position and our Privileges, at least in Recognizing our Sin and not Justifying it nor Disguising it - The Only Object of Life is to Learn the Truth and to Act on it - Acceptance of the Position and of State Action Deprives Life of all Object - It is God's Will that we should Serve Him in our Life, that is, that we should Bring About the Greatest Unity of all that has Life, a Unity only Possible in Truth.

Essays by Tolstoy - Anarchist Library - Tolstoy Image Archive