December 1, 2014

excerpts from Man's Search For Meaning

In his book, Man's Search For Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl describes his harrowing years in Nazi prison camps.  In the following excerpt he has been thinking of his wife:

Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers.  The truth -- that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart:  The salvation of man is through love and in love.    (pp.58-59)

Frankl began to observe and listen to the experiences of others in the prison camps, leading him to the following conclusion:    (p. 121)

As we have said before, any attempt to restore a man's inner strength 
in the camp had first to succeed in showing him some future goal.

In Nietzsche's words:  "He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how."