Book Bites – Brothers Karamazov I


This is my first post with title “Book Bites” where I take sections or quotes from books I read which I think to be worthy of posterity. Sections which contains some wisdom of life or some truth of this world. Food for thought, you know.

I happen to read Brothers Karamazov recently and to be honest, I am deeply in love with it!! I really like the way by which Dostoevsky weave a great narration of human nature through characters which are very original. And he managed to do it through the lens of Russia which as I saw, (in this work and other works) is a very bleak and cold environment. It is certainly is not a good picture of what a good society should be. And yet, through that bleak landscape, many good literatures concerning humanity at its best is told in a very honest and touching way. Name the authors: Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gorky, Pushkin, Turgenev, Gogol, etc. They managed to put a foothold on this world’s literature. Such an accomplishments which perhaps can only be attained by Russians – lending to their unique background.

Anyway, back to the story. I haven’t completed the book – it is voluminous and each chapter really requires a great deal of afterthought in order to extract full meaning from it. But nonetheless I enjoy reading it.

One of the characters which enthralls me is one named Elder Zosima. He is an old monk who happens to live in a nearby monastery where the protagonist, Alyosha spend most of his novice training. Elder Zosima is Alyosha’s mentor and a lot of exchanges between those two seems to be the author’s main message. Elder Zosima embodies that Christian character which people championed in many books but fails to show it in a complete character. He has that godly love, prophetic portents, patience, apostolic offices (particularly the healing), and the like. He is simply a character you can never forget – both from his deeds and his tenets.

In this post, I want to quote some of his teachings which in my opinion really contains some divine universal truth everybody can live with. So I think I should share it. Here are his words:

Above all, avoid lying, especially lying to yourself. Keep watching out for your lies, watch for them every hour, every minute. Also avoid disgust, both for others and for yourself: whatever strikes you as disgusting within yourself is cleansed by the mere fact that you notice it. Avoid fear too, although fear is really only a consequence of lies. Never be afraid of your petty selfishness when you try to achieve love, and don’t be too alarmed if you act badly on occasion. I’m sorry I cannot tell you anything more reassuring. A true act of love, unlike imaginary love, is hard and forbidding. Imaginary love yearns for an immediate heroic act that is achieved quickly and seen by everyone. People may actually reach a point where they are willing to sacrifice their lives, as long as the ordeal doesn’t last too long, is quickly over—just like on the stage, with the public watching and admiring. A true act of love, on the other hand, requires hard work and patience, and, for some, it is a whole way of life. But I predict that at the very moment when you see despairingly that, despite all your efforts, you have not only failed to come closer to your goal but, indeed, seem even farther from it than ever—at that very moment, you will have achieved your goal and will recognize the miraculous power of our Lord, who has always loved you and has secretly guided you all along.

– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Brothers Karamazov, Book 2 Chapter 4.

I need to underline when he said about lying. It really is true. People do lie and when they lie, it’s they themselves whom they lie with the most, not others. Posterity at the expense of identity

I also need to underline when he said about acts of love. He said that most people only dream about instantaneous, Imaginary Love which usually involve sacrificial and heroic acts. Those are good indeed and none should mock it. But those acts are usually impelled by moments. It’s just not as concrete as True Love.

True Love, as I see it reigns more on truthful and patient performance of good deeds over large duration of time. It is persevering. It doesn’t take much posterity. It is there even in the minor actions seen by few (or perhaps even none). It is more of a way of life. It gives you a peace by which no other things in the world can give. It builds up joy which can be shared by all. This love also inherently more selfless – even to the point of death. You can see this kind of love from your parents who consistently love you since your birth, whom you at that time does not even know what love is – only self. You can never repay them.

In a tantamount way, that True Love is even further exemplified in divine perfection from the love of our God. He died for you on that cruel cross. Even when at that time, all you’re after is only yourself. What can be more than that? He loves you even before your birth!! After things in this world pass away His love will still be extant. By now He’s patiently knocking in the door of your heart. Read I Corinthians 13.

I hope that helps you to live more within consistent True  Love regardless of your creed. Love is universal.

So that was what I mean by book bites. Since I am still reading this great book – stay tuned for more book bites!!!

Sapere Aude!!


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