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Saturday, 28 February 2009

The bit I was looking for

The bit of Tolstoy I set out to find is in fact a little earlier in that last chapter. It's about letting go of your self-righteousness. Clinging on to 'his conviction that his life had been a good one' was holding him back, and when he could let go, the light came.

For three whole days, during which time did not exist for him, he struggled in that black sack into which he was being thrust by an invisible, resistless force. He struggled as a man condemned to death struggles in the hands of the executioner, knowing that he cannot save himself. And every moment he felt that despite all his efforts he was drawing nearer and nearer to what terrified him. he felt that his agony was due to his being thrust into that black hole and still more to his not being able to get right into it. He was hindered from getting into it by his conviction that his life had been a good one. That very justification of his life held him fast and prevented his moving forward, and it caused him most torment of all.

Suddenly some force struck him in the chest and side, making it still harder to breathe, and he fell through the hole and there at the bottom was a light.

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