How is life in good and bad times different? Viktor Frankl’s books raise hopes. It is about human dignity. Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, was an Auschwitz survivor. His books depict stories of survival in the concentration camp. Many prisoners wanted to commit suicide in the concentration camps, but a few committed suicide. Their strength was their conviction that they are irreplaceable, and if they commit suicide, it will be a loss to humanity. They felt they have a certain responsibility towards fellow humans. They saw light in the future. They saw in their suffering the power of survival. They did not want to disappoint their family, their friends, and even God. They did not want to die for nothing. Frankl believed, if one understands the meaning of life, he can endure anything. His meaning of life was not an academic exercise, or a thought experiment. It was the right conduct of life. Frankl’s fight was against the defeatist mindset and blithe optimism. When everything (money, power, fame, etc) is taken away, when melts down the non-essentials (vanity and ambition), what remains is the essential self, the human.

In his discourse on the meaning of life, Frankl quotes Rabindranath Tagore: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was duty. I worked — and behold, duty was joy.” Life is a duty and it can’t be allowed to be taken away by the self or someone else, until the time duties are over. Life always offers a possibility for the fulfilment of meaning. Frankl says, our imperfections teach us many things; they don’t subtract but add to the meaning of life. Frankl writes, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Man can escape the influence of his surroundings. “Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.”

Frankl believed in the positive role of suffering, not only for existence, but also to understand the meaning of life. He believed that the destiny of one man can’t be compared with any other man. Every situation is unique. Every man is unique. Optimism grows out of hope. Euphoria kills it. We commonly overestimate our future successes. Once in a while, therefore, we need to wash our eyes with our tears so that we can see life with a clearer view again. Often our tears help us to see life more clearly.

No engineering has produced a better product than life. Life is a gift of nature. It evolves. Let man evolve naturally. Let man grow organically, with limitations and fragility.

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