10.16.2006

Man's search for meaning

I just read Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning," and thought I'd include a few excerpts for a little Monday inspiration. (I usually italicize excerpts, but that is kind of annoying, so I'm just leaving the type roman.)


One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone's task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.

(The self-transcdence of human existence) denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself--be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself--by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love--the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.

There are situations in which one is cut off from the opportunity to do one's work to enjoy one's life; but what never can be ruled out is the unavoidability of suffering. In accepting this challenge to suffer bravely, life has a meaning up to the last moment, and it retains this meaning literally to the end.

...the transitories of our existence in no way make it meaningless. But it does constitute our responsibleness; for everything hinges upon our realizing the essentially transitory possibilities. Man constantly makes his choice concerning the mass of present potentialities; which of these will be condemned to nonbeing and which will be actualized? Which choice will be made an actuality once and forever, an immortal footprint in the sands of time? At any moment, man must decide, for better or for worse, what will be the monument of his existence.

3 comments:

Stefanie said...

I had to read this in 9th grade English. It is a book whose value is wasted on teenagers who have no clue.

Danielle said...

I am at a point in my life where this would probably be a good book to read....!

Dark Orpheus said...

I was reading a little on yoga and Buddhism a while back. When I encountered Viktor Frankl's book, I was intrigued by how the different philosophies overlap with Frankl's ideas.

I always believe that with what he learnt from his own experience, Frankl came onto some universal truth of how to live life.

Thanks for sharing the quotes from the book.