Chapter 12

Levin strode along the highroad, absorbed not so much in his thoughts (he could not yet disentangle them), as in his spiritual condition, unlike anything he had experienced before.

The words uttered by the peasant had acted on his soul like an electric shock, suddenly transforming and combining into a single whole the whole swarm of disjointed, impotent, separate thoughts that incessantly occupied his mind. These thoughts had unconsciously been in his mind even when he was talking about the land.

He was aware of something new in his soul, and joyfully tested this new thing, not yet knowing what it was.

`Not living for his own wants, but for God? For what God? And could one say anything more senseless than what he said? He said that one must not live for one's own wants, that is, that one must not live for what we understand, what we are attracted by, what we desire - but must live for something incomprehensible, for God, whom no one can understand nor even define. What of it? Didn't I understand those senseless words of Fiodor's? And understanding them, did I doubt their truth? Did I think them stupid, obscure, inexact?

`No, I understood him, and exactly as he understands the words. I understood them more fully and clearly than I understand anything in life, and never in my life have I doubted nor can I doubt about them. And not only I, but everyone, the whole world, understands nothing fully but this, and about this only they have no doubt, and are always agreed.

`Fiodor says that Kirillov, the innkeeper, lives for his belly. That's comprehensible and rational. All of us as rational beings can't do anything else but live for our belly. And all of a sudden the same Fiodor says that one mustn't live for one's belly, but must live for truth, for God, and, at a hint, I understand him! And I and millions of men, men who lived ages ago and men living now - peasants, the poor in spirit and the sages, who have thought and written about it, in their obscure words saying the same thing - we are all agreed about this one thing: what we must live for and what is good. I and all men have only one firm, incontestable, clear knowledge, and that knowledge cannot be explained by reason - it is outside it, and has no causes, and can have no effects.

`If goodness has causes, it is not goodness; if it has effects - a reward - it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the chain of cause and effect.

`And yet I know it, and we all know it.

`And I sought miracles, complained that I did not see a miracle which would convince me. And here is a miracle, the sole miracle possible, continually existing, surrounding me on all sides, and I never noticed it!

`What could be a greater miracle than that?

`Can I have found the solution of it all? Can my sufferings be over?' thought Levin, striding along the dusty road, not noticing the heat nor his weariness, and experiencing a sense of relief from prolonged suffering. This feeling was so delicious that it seemed to him incredible. He was breathless with emotion and incapable of going farther; he turned off the road into the forest and lay down in the shade of an aspen on the uncut grass. He took his hat off his hot head and lay propped on his elbow in the lush, feathery, woodland grass.

`Yes, I must make it clear to myself and understand,' he thought, looking intently at the untrampled grass before him, and following the movements of a green beetle, advancing along a blade of couch grass and lifting up in its progress a leaf of goatweed. `Everything from beginning?' he asked himself, bending aside the leaf of goatweed out of the beetle's way and twisting another blade of grass above for the beetle to cross over to. `What is it makes me glad? What have I discovered?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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