To Live is to Suffer


"To live is to suffer, to survive is to search for a meaning…"

Dr. Viktor Frankl, one of the survivor of German concentration camp, after enduring the tremendous loss of all beloved, the worst conceivable surroundings and continuous depression, has pointed out "we have been questioned by life everyday and every moment: what is the meaning of our life".

Instead of seeking the answer: what is the meaning of life, we are obliged to answer the question. The environment was nothing but a pure reflection of one’s inner personality. Within the notorious Auschwitz camp, everything besides survivorship has been stripped apart. External expectation, humiliation, pride, ethics, whatever psychological barriers cover the true identity of each individual has been torn away. People inside the camp has been left nothing but naked with their timid lives. People generally turned bad, they turned like monsters, blood thirsty, cold blooded. They betrayed friends, morality, loyalty, honesty, everything they once treasured in order to save their very life…

As Dr. Frankl mentioned at the beginning of the book, "all of us who survived knew that, the best of us did not return".

People in Auschwitz were treated like animals and machines,  They were used like all consumable resources in a factory. When the last value has been extracted from their empty hull, they were disposed like garbage. But humanity still remained even in the darkest and daunting period of history. They shined like a diamond, dazzling. However devastating, every individual still preserves its inner freedom, the freedome to make decision. There were prisoners giving away their own little piece of bread to the those who needed it more; There were prisoners encouraging their fellow mates to continue. There were German office who had earned the trust from his fellow Jewish prisoners who even risked their lives to protect him. The extreme environment has not taken away everything from a man rather it served as an opportunity. It was an opportunity for people to demonstrate their true nature and what they truly believe: courage, kind and love. They were like a candle in the dark night, however small and vulnerable, they give others the precious hope.

All the sufferings have a meaning. We may not understand it completely now, but it will be understood in time. Life is more than who we are. The magnitude of our daily life, however trivia behaviors, is far beyond our comprehension. Like what Job Steve said at Stanford, "when we look back, it will be all clear".

Create a meaning for each moment, that is the task of our life.

Another concept in his book attracted me too: Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success. It can not be pursued, it must ensue. It only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the byproduct of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Gut, faith, destiny, karma, there must be something. There must be something that connecting our lives together. We do our best in the process and have faith in whatever the result is.

Actually, his book reminds me much of Buddhism. The passive way of preaching, the passive way of perceiving. Buddhism like most other religions has stated that our life is a test ground of our afterwards life. And most sufferings are results of desires. The only eternal fulfillment and happiness are from within oneself. All the external feelings and perceptions are nothing but illusions. Only after completing the disassociation with one’s feelings and emotions, can one pursue ultimate unification with God spirit.

He has also mentioned the therapeutic method of paradoxical intention. I was using it all the way along, didn’t know it has an official name. Quite effective to cure temporary fears, or obsessive behavior.

After all, a very nice book, rich content with intellectual thought. And it is just barely 200 pages, a must read book.

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