The Kingdom of God Is Within You by Leo Tolstoy

‘The Kingdom of God Is Within You’ is a book that heavily influenced Gandhi in his epic battle for justice and compassion within and, then, against the British Empire.

The Kingdom of God is Within You is a scathing critique of the present evil age, just as applicable now as it was when Tolstoy wrote in the late 1800’s. Don’t come to this book as you might come to War & Peace, expecting a shrill of literary beauty, or you will most certainly be disappointed. This is hard, cold argument, the kind you might expect if you were listening to Tolstoy lecture and persuade a disobedient child, only the child in view here is humanity and our disobedience is the blind allegiance we give to the temporal powers who enslave and rule people by violence and threat of force. The only hope of a better way, Tolstoy argues, is found in the teaching and spirit of Jesus–in particular the nonviolent resistance to evil he spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount. Tolstoy hammers home this point from almost every imaginable angle, and his arguments leave no room for indifference. Make no mistake about it, this book will leave you reeling long after you put it down.

Mhatma Ghandi said of this book, “Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You overwhelmed me. It left an abiding impression on me. Before the independent thinking, profound morality and the truthfulness of this book, all the books given me…seemed to pale into insignificance.” This was lovingly written in the cover of the book when I picked it out of pile of books destined for recycling, where the hard covers would be ripped off and the pages put through the recycling bin. I could not toss this book. My brother (a professor of English studies) pointed out to me the geneology of its publication, how ever year of its reissuing was during a massive era of change (World War II and the civil rights movement.). I do love this book. I am a slow reader. It will be a slow arduous journey through this book, but I am certain it will be worth it.

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