Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

‘While various similar thoughts flowed within me, the old man sat deeply absorbed in thought, and he gave a start when I finally mustered the strength to exclaim: “But who are you, who know me so well?”

‘ “Is it not all the same to you, just now, who I am and what I am?” he replied. “Is there really still alive in you that curiosity which is one of the chief reasons why the labours of your whole life have been without result? And is it really still so strong in you that even at this moment you are ready to give yourself up with your whole being to an analysis of my knowledge of your personality—only in order to explain to yourself who I am and how I know you?”

‘The old man’s reproach hit me in my weakest spot. “Yes, father, you are right,” I said. “Is it not indeed all the same to me what is done and how it is done outside of me? Have I not witnessed many genuine miracles before this, and what understanding have I gained from them all? I only know that now I am empty within and I well know that I need not have been so empty if it had not been, as you say, for my inner enemy, and if, instead of wasting my time in being curious about what went on outside of me, I had struggled with this enemy.

‘ “Yes . . . now it is already too late! I ought to be indifferent to everything that goes on outside me, and therefore I do not wish to know what I just asked you nor do I wish to trouble you any further. I sincerely ask your pardon for the distress you have experienced on my account during these last few minutes.”

‘After this we sat for a long time, each occupied with his own thoughts. At last he broke the silence by saying:

‘ “No, perhaps it is not yet too late. If you feel with all your being that you really are empty, then I advise you to try once more. If you quite clearly feel and recognize without any doubt that everything for which you have striven until now has been a mirage, and if you agree to one condition, I will try to help you. And this condition is that you consciously die to the life you have led until now, that is to say, break away at once from all the automatically established practices of your external life and go where I shall indicate.”