The Brothers Karamazov
How we cite our quotes:
"Do you think that a simple man will not understand? Try reading to him [...] and you will pierce his heart with these simple tales. [...] Only the people and their future spiritual power will convert our atheists, who have severed themselves from their own land." (6.1.b)
Zosima's theory of reading the Bible here may also apply to what Dostoevsky is trying to do as a novelist. Both believe that stories of religious truth can appeal to all readers, no matter their background or level of education.
"My young brother asked forgiveness of the birds: it seems senseless, yet it is right, for all is like an ocean, all flows and connects; touch it in one place and it echoes at the other end of the world." (6.3.g)
The elder Zosima in his teaching here seems to head toward pantheism, or the belief that God is inseparable from nature. He advocates kissing the ground as a form of prayer, and other characters such as Alyosha and Dmitri have moments of clarity when they are communing with nature.
"Much on earth is concealed from us, but in place of it we have been granted a secret, mysterious sense of 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. [...] God took seeds from other worlds and sowed them on this earth, and raised up his garden; and everything that could sprout sprouted, but it lives and grows only through its sense of being in touch with other mysterious worlds; if this sense is weakened or destroyed in you, that which has grown up in you dies. Then you become indifferent to life, and even come to hate it." (6.3.g)
This passage explains the significance of the epigraph to the entire novel. (For a detailed discussion, see "What's Up With the Epigraph?"). The novel is in some sense a test of what kind of life is possible from the perspective of two opposing world views – faith and skepticism. Only faith "sprouts" a happy life.