Therefore true life must be lived in the present.
Jesus said: He who is not prepared to suffer all bodily sufferings and deprivations has not understood me. He who obtains all that is best for his bodily life destroys the true life. But he who sacrifices his bodily life in fulfilling my teaching will receive the true life.
And at those words, Peter said to him: See, we have obeyed you, have thrown off all ties and property, and have followed you. What reward shall we receive for this?
Jesus said to him: Everyone who has given up home, sisters, brothers, father, mother, wife, children, or lands, for my teaching, shall receive a hundredfold more than sisters, brothers, and fields, and all that is needful in this life, and besides that obtains also life beyond the bounds of time. There are no rewards in the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of heaven is its own aim and reward. In the kingdom of heaven all are equal, there is neither first nor last. For the kingdom of heaven is like this: The master of a house went in the morning to hire laborers for his garden. He hired them at a penny a day, and set them to work. At midday he went again and hired more laborers and sent them to work in his garden; towards evening he hired some more, and sent them to work.
And he agreed with them all at a penny. When the time came for payment, the master had them all paid alike: first those who were hired last, and afterwards those who had been hired first. When those who had been hired first saw that those hired last received a penny each, they thought they would receive more, but they also were paid a penny. They took it and said: How is it that the others who worked only one shift and we who worked all four shifts receive the same? That is not fair. But the master came and said: Why are you dissatisfied? Have I wronged you? I have given you what we agreed on. Our agreement was for a penny. Take your pay and go. If I give to these last the same as to you, have I not the right to do what I will with my own? Or are you envious because you see that I am good?
In the kingdom of heaven there is no first or last-it is the same for all. After this, two of his pupils, James and John, came to Jesus and said: Teacher, promise us that you will give us what we ask.
He said: What do you want?
They said: That we may be equal with you.
Jesus said to them: You do not know what you are asking. You can live as I do and can cleanse yourselves from the fleshly life like me, but it is not in my power to make you like myself. Each man can by his own efforts enter the kingdom of the Father by submitting to His power and fulfilling His will.
On hearing this the other pupils grew angry with the two brothers for having wished to be equal to their teacher, and chiefs among the pupils.
But Jesus called them, and said: If you brothers, John and James, have asked me to make you such as I am in order to be chief among my pupils, you made a mistake; and it you, my other pupils, were angry with them for wishing to be above you, then you also made a mistake. In the world, kings and governors reckon by seniority, that they may rule the people: but among you there can be neither senior nor junior.
Among you, to be more than another you must be the servant of all. Among you, let him who wishes to be first consider himself last. For the will of the Father is that the son of man should live not to be served but to serve all and give up his bodily life as a ransom for the life of the spirit.
Jesus said to the people: The Father seeks to save that which is perishing, He rejoices over it as a shepherd rejoices when he finds a lost sheep. If one sheep is lost, the shepherd will leave ninety-nine and go to save the lost one. And if a woman loses a penny, she will sweep out the whole hut and seek till she finds it. The Father loves the son and calls him to himself.
And he told them another parable showing that they who live according to God's will must not exalt themselves. He said: If you are invited to a dinner, do not seat yourself in a front place, or someone of more importance than you will come and the host will say to you: 'Leave your place and let someone better than yourself have it', and you will be put to shame. Take the lowest place: the host win then find you and call you to a higher one, and you will be honored.
So also in the kingdom of God there is no room for pride. He who exalts himself, by so doing lowers himself; but he who humbles himself and considers himself unworthy, raises himself in the kingdom of God.
A man had two sons. The younger son said to his father: Father, give me my share of the property.
And the father gave him his share. The younger son took it, went to a far country, squandered it all, and fell into want. In that far country he became a swineherd, and he was so hungry that he ate acorns with the pigs. And he bethought himself of his life, and said: Why did I take my share and leave my father? He had plenty of everything, even his laborers were well fed. But here am I eating the same food as the pigs. I will go to my father, fall at his feet, and say: I have done wrong, father, and am unworthy to be your son. Take me back as a laborer. So he thought, and he went to his father. And as he drew near, his father recognized him at a distance, and ran to meet him and embraced him and began to kiss him. And the son said: Father I am to blame before you, and am unworthy to be your son. But the father did not even listen, and said to the servants: Bring the best clothes and the best boots, quickly, and put them on him. And go and catch a fatted calf and kill it, and we will rejoice because this son of mine was dead and is now alive, was lost and is now found.
Then the elder brother came from the field, and as he drew near he heard sounds of music in the house and called a boy and said: Why are they making merry? And the boy said: Have you not heard that your brother has returned?
Your father is glad, and has had the fatted calf killed for joy that his son has come home. But the elder brother was vexed and did not go into the house. His father came out and called him, but he said to his father: Father, I have worked for you for many years, and have never disobeyed your orders, but you never killed a fatted calf for me. My younger brother left home and has squandered all his property with drunkards, and for him you have had a calf killed. And his father said: You are always with me and all that is mine is yours; you should not be vexed but rejoice that your brother who was dead has become alive again- was lost and is found.
A master planted a garden, cultivated it, and did everything to make it yield as much fruit as possible. And he sent laborers into the garden to work there, pay him for it according to agreement, and gather the fruit.
(The master is the Father; the garden the world; the laborers men. The Father has sent His son-the son of man-into the world only that men should make return of that-the understanding of life-which He implanted in them.) The time came when the master sent a servant to receive payment. (The Father has always told men that they must fulfill His will.) The laborers drove away the master's servant empty-handed and remained in the garden imagining that it was their own, and that they were settled in it of their own will. (Men reject reminders of' the will of God, and continue to live each one for himself, imagining that the purpose of life is to serve the flesh.) Then the master sent, one after another, his chosen ones and finally his son, to remind the laborers of their debt. But they quite lost their reason and imagined that if they killed the master's son, who reminded them that the garden was not theirs, they would be left alone. So they killed him.
(People do not like even a reminder of the spirit that lives in them and shows them that it is eternal and that they are not so; and as far as they can they have killed their consciousness of the spirit: they have wrapped the talent in a cloth and buried it.)
What then was the master to do? Simply to drive out those laborers and send others.
What is the Father to do? Sow until there is fruit. And this He does. Men have not understood and do not understand that the consciousness of the spirit that is in them, and which they hide because it troubles them, brings life to them. They reject the stone on which everything rests. And they who do not take the life of the spirit as their foundation do not enter the kingdom of heaven and do not receive life. To have faith and to receive life it is necessary to understand your position and not expect rewards.
Then the pupils said to Jesus: Increase our faith in us; tell us what will make us believe more firmly in the life of the spirit, that we may not regret the life of the flesh. See how much has to be sacrificed, and continually sacrificed, for the life of the spirit. Yet you yourself say that there is no reward.
To this Jesus replied: You can readily believe that a great tree grows from a birch seed-if you had as much faith in the seed of the spirit which is within you and whence true life springs, you would not ask me to increase your faith. Faith does not consist in believing something wonderful, but it consists in understanding your position and where salvation lies. If you understand your position you will not expect rewards but will believe in that which has been entrusted to you.
When a master returns from the field with his laborers, he does not seat them at table but bids them see to the cattle, and get his supper ready, and only afterwards says to them: Sit down and eat and drink. The master does not thank the laborer for having done what he ought to do. And the laborer, if he understands that he is a laborer, is not offended but does his work believing that he will receive his due.
So you too should fulfill the will of the Father and remember that we are unprofitable servants who have only done what we ought to, and not expect rewards but be satisfied that you will receive your due. You should not be anxious to believe that there will be a reward and life, that cannot be otherwise, but be careful not to destroy this life and do not forget that it is given us that we may bring forth its fruits and fulfill the will of the Father.
So be always ready, like servants awaiting a master, to answer Him immediately he comes. The servants do not know whether he will come early or late, but they should always be ready. And if they meet their master they have fulfilled his will and it will be well for them.
So it is in life. Always, at every minute of the present, you should live the life of the spirit, not thinking of the past or the future and not saying to yourself then or there I will do this or that.
If a master knew when a thief would come, he would not sleep, so you too should never sleep; because for the life of the son of man time is nothing; he lives only in the present and does not know when his life begins or ends.
Our life is like the life of a slave whom his master has left to manage his household. It is well for that slave if he always does his master's will. But if he says: The master will not return just yet, and neglects his business, his master will come unexpectedly and drive him out.
Do not be downcast, but live always in the present, by the spirit. For the life of the spirit there is no time. Look to it that you do not weigh yourself down with cares, and do not befog yourself with drunkenness or gluttony, and do not let the time for salvation pass. The time for salvation is thrown like a net over all-it is always there. Live therefore always the life of the son of man. We may compare the kingdom of heaven to this: Ten maidens went with lamps to meet a bridegroom. Five of them were wise and five were foolish. The foolish ones took lamps without any extra oil, but the wise ones took lamps and a supply of oil. While they waited for the bridegroom they went to sleep. When the bridegroom was approaching the foolish maidens saw that they had too little oil and went to buy some, but while they were gone the bridegroom came. And the wise maidens who had oil went in with him and the doors were shut. Their business was only this: to meet the bridegroom with lights. But the foolish ones had forgotten that it was important not only that the lights should burn, but that they should burn at the proper time. And in order that they should be alight when the bridegroom came, it was necessary that they should burn all the time.
Life is only for this: to exalt the son of man, and the son of man is always here, he does not belong to some particular time, and so to serve him one must live without time-in the present alone.
Therefore strive to enter into the life of the spirit now. If you do not make efforts you will not enter it. You will say: We said so and so. But there will be no good works to show, and there will be no life. For the son of man-the one true spirit of life-will appear in each man according to his deeds.
Mankind is divided according to the way men serve the son of man. And by their works men will be separated into two groups, as sheep from goats in a flock. The one will live, the other will perish.
They who have served the son of man will receive what has been theirs from the beginning of the world-the life which they have preserved. They have preserved life by serving the son of man. They have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, welcomed strangers, visited those in prison. They have lived by the son of man, felt that he is the same in all men, and have therefore loved their neighbors. Those who have not lived by the son of man, have not served him, have not understood that he is the same in all men and have therefore not united with him, have lost the life they had in him and have perished.
- Full name: Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy
- Russian novelist and philosopher
- Born September 9th, 1828 and died November 20th, 1910
- Best known for War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877)