My friends, pray to God for gladness. Be glad as children, as the birds of heaven. And let not the sin of men disturb you in your actions. Fear not that it will wear away your work and hinder you from accomplishing it. Do not say, “Sin is mighty, wickedness is mighty, evil environment is mighty; we are lonely and helpless, and evil environment is wearing us away and hindering our good work from being done.” Fly from that dejection, children! There is only one means of salvation: take yourself and make yourself responsible for all men’ s sins—friends, that is the truth, you know, for as soon as you sincerely make yourself responsible for everything and for all men, you will see at once that it is really so and that you are to blame for everyone and for all things. But by throwing your own indolence and impotence on others you will end up sharing the pride of Satan and murmuring against God.
Of the pride of Satan I think this: it is hard for us on earth to comprehend it, and therefore it is so easy to fall into error and to share it, even imagining that we are doing something grand and fine. Indeed on earth, we cannot comprehend many of the strongest feelings and movements of our nature. Let not that be a stumbling block, and think not that it may serve as a justification to you for anything. For the Eternal Judge asks of you what you can comprehend and not what you cannot. You will know that yourself hereafter, for you will behold all things truly then and will not dispute them. On earth, however, we are, as it were, astray, and if it were not for the precious image of Christ before us, we should be undone and altogether lost, like the human race before the flood. Much on earth is hidden from us, but to make up for that we have been given a mysterious hidden longing for our living bond with the other world, with the higher heavenly world, and the roots of our thoughts and feelings are not here but in other worlds. That is why the philosophers say that we cannot apprehend the reality of things on earth.
God took seeds from different worlds and sowed them on this earth, and His garden grew, and everything came up that could come up, but all growing things live and are alive only through the feeling of their contact with other mysterious worlds. If that feeling grows weak or is destroyed in you, what has grown up in you will die. Then you will become indifferent to life and even grow to hate it. That’s what I think.
This passage from The Brothers Karamazov follows immediately after the biographical notes of the Elder Zossima.
Excerpt from The Gospel in Dostoyevsky.