Friday, November 21, 2014

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

This is, if there ever was one, a story that could excuse someone believing that life is meaningless and suicide a reasonable option. Yet having been lowered into the pits of humanity, Frankl emerged an optimist. His reasoning was that even in the most terrible circumstances, people still have the freedom to choose how they see their circumstances and create meaning out of them.

Sources of meaning
Logotherapy says that mental health arises when we learn how to close the gap between what we are and what we could become. But what if we are yet to identify what we could become? Frankl noted that the modern person has almost too much freedom to deal with. 

We no longer live through instinct, but tradition is no guide either. This is the existential vacuum, in which the frustrated will to meaning is compensated for in the urge for money, sex, entertainment, even violence. 

We are not open to the various sources of meaning, which according to Frankl are:

1 Creating a work or doing a deed.
2 Experiencing something or encountering someone (love).
3 The attitude we take to unavoidable suffering.

In a nutshell
The meaning of life is the meaning that you decide to give it.

Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity. When we discern justice, when we discern truth, we do nothing of ourselves, but allow a passage to its beams.”

For Emerson, self-reliance was more than the image of a family carving out a life on the frontier. Though he admired the do-it-yourself attitude and reveled in nature, Emerson’s frontier, the place of real freedom and opportunity, was a mental landscape free of mediocrity and conformity.

If we could not examine ourselves and identify our calling, we would be of little use. Lack of awareness would see us quickly molded into shape by a society that cared little for the beauty and freedom of the individual.

This is the path most of us take, happy to go along with society’s program in exchange for a level of status and reasonable material circumstances. Though we profess to break away from limitations, the reality is comfort in conformity.

Our primary duty is not ultimately to our family, to our job, to our country, but only that which calls us to do or to be. Too often “duty” hides a lack of responsibility in taking up a unique path. We can push aside a calling for some years, choosing obvious sources of money or satisfaction or a more comfortable situation, but it will eventually make its claims.

In a nutshell
Whatever the pressures, be your own person.

Real Magic: Creating Miracles in Everyday Life

The book takes the “impossibilities” in your life and, instead of suggesting mere goal setting or strong beliefs, shows you how to develop powerful “knowings” about who you are and what you can do. In this state of higher awareness, your purpose in life becomes very clear, relationships become more spiritual, work endeavors begin to “flow,” and decisions are made with ease.

Enlightenment through purpose
The thread running though Real Magic is the need to become aware of our unique purpose in life. People learn or become “enlightened” about life and themselves in three main ways:
  • Enlightenment through suffering. This might also be called the “why me?” path. Events occur, suffering takes place, and something is learned. But when suffering is our only teacher, we shut off the possibility of the miraculous.

  • Enlightenment through outcome. In this path we have goals and ambitions that make sense of life. While superior to enlightenment through suffering, we must still be reactive and struggle, missing out on the higher awareness that creates magic.

  • Enlightenment through purpose. Everything in the universe has a purpose, and by living according to our true purpose we begin to walk in step with it, magically creating what we want instead of battling against life.

In a nutshell
When you are aligned with your higher self and your life purpose,
miraculous things happen.