Don’t seek from life, live it through your being
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl aims to leave us with life lessons as learned through the struggle for survival by inmates of the Nazi death camps. Set in the 1940s the lessons learned then hold true even today. Experiences in suffering go a long way in shaping our character. Our worth, purpose, relationships, and everything that we hold dear is questioned. Everything that keeps us sane and humane is tested. How we live during that time is what determines life. Here are some excerpts which I felt will at least make you think if not enrich you :
1. It does not really matter what we expect from life, but rather what life expects from us. What matters is not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment: We need to stop asking the meaning of life and expect from it all the time, instead to think of ourselves as those being questioned by life — every day and every hour. We spend most of our time expecting something from life instead of understanding that life is what we already have and it is we who need to answer it through our actions, words, and thoughts.
2. Emotion which is suffering ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it: Suffering is real. As real as happiness and joy. The unique opportunity lies in how we bear the burden. Treat it as a task. Suffering too can have meaning. For this, it is important to zoom out of the situation and look at it from the outside, not as a person living through it but as someone who has accepted its existence and focuses on learning from it.
3. We can discover meaning in life in three different ways: 1) by creating work or doing a deed 2) by experiencing something or encountering someone 3) by the attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering
4. No one has the right to do wrong, even if wrong has been done to them…freedom is only a part of the story and half of the truth. It is the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsiveness: When freedom is suddenly unleashed on the oppressed, he has the choice to exercise it in the way he chooses to. Responding through revenge owing to one’s own excruciating experiences or through learning from it is a choice he has. Hence with freedom also comes responsibility.
Let us be alert- alert in a twofold sense: Since Auschwitz, we know what man is capable of. And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake- The world has no saints. There a few good men in a gang of crooks and in a group of able people there are few that are corrupt. The world needs decent people, not saints and each of us needs to do our best irrespective of the conditions we live in. We need to respond to life responsibly because therein lies the meaning of our existence.