Thursday, August 10, 2006

Man's Search for Meaning

Fr Frans has mentioned Viktor Frankl in more than one occasion, and today I finally managed to read Frankl's book called "Man's Search for Meaning". (It is not his only book, and after this I think I will read more of his works on logotherapy!)

A very short introduction on logotherapy set against the backdrop of his first-hand experience surviving not just one, but four, Nazi concentration camps including Dachau and Auschwitz, it makes for a very quick yet significant reading for anyone. In particular, Frankl emphasized on the lack of logos (meaning) as a source of ill in the many groups of patients he encountered (back in the '80s—and truer still today!)

I don't know whether Frankl was a practising Jew or a Christian; what he wrote in Man's Search sounded a lot like coming from a Church father, and echoed what the Church teaches about sanctification of our life, as well as about the incomparable worth and dignity of the human life despite, or in spite, of suffering.

"[It] did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist ... in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual."

I've read the book only once and some of his words are quoteworthy enough to brace myself in times of trials, but not enough to comment on such profound insight. There are many resources out there: this page gives a good round-up of the various ideas he mentioned in this very slim volume (which Frankl supposedly dictated in just nine days!)

Coincidentally—as if there's such a thing as coincidence!—a person I met during a meeting with the Choice group yesterday was reading the exact same book and found good things to recommend about it.

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