Leo Tolstoy on Revenge

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Best served cold, revenge is the favorite dish of the ego. Its main ingredients include anger, blame, and nonforgiveness — all forms of mental cholesterol that clogs our perception of what is right and wrong. So what can we do about it? The author of War and Peace and one of the greatest international writers who ever lived, Leo Tolstoy (September 9, 1828-November 20, 1920) offers us his timeless wisdom on the subject in his lesser-known work A Calendar of Wisdom.

Leo Tolstoy.

In an entry made on “6th June,” Leo Tolstoy writes:

Do not do evil to your enemies — that is the greatest virtue. Those who contrive to destroy someone else will almost certainly perish themselves. Do not commit evil. [Moral] poverty can never be a justification for an evil act; if you commit evil, you will become even poorer. People can avoid the consequences of acts of malice on the part of their enemies, but they can never escape the consequences of their own evil deeds. The shadow of such deeds will pursue them until it destroys them.

This timeless advice from A Calendar of Wisdom once again reminds us that clear conscience remains one of the best sleeping pills you can take before going to bed. Complement with Love Your Enemies by Sharon Salzberg and then revisit our article on how to practice lovingkindness meditation.

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