Through Weal and Woe
Brian E. Denton

This is an interesting chapter with lots of value. I see Tolstoy steering his two principal characters (and us) towards a more spiritual plane. Pierre is still followed by his existential dilemma; why and how to live? Like most of us, he seeks escape from his troubles by some distraction, in this case his study of Freemasonry. But this is not effective and Tolstoy tells us so:

““Ah, it’s you!” said Pierre with a preoccupied, dissatisfied air. “And I, you see, am hard at it.” He pointed to his manuscript book with that air of escaping from the ills of life with which unhappy people look at their work.”

Only when Pierre applies mindfulness (being present in the moment with Andrew) in conjunction with empathy, genuine interest and kindness, does he lighten his own burden:

““Well, go on, go on. I am very glad,” said Pierre, and his face really changed, his brow became smooth, and he listened gladly to Prince Andrew.”

Interesting too, is what is generally absent from Pierre’s emotional response. He really doesn’t approach Andrew from a position of envy or jealousy. He’s learning. And so, hopefully, are we.