I continue to be astonished by the incredible prose of Viktor Frankl in his book \”Man\’s Search for Meaning\”. It is his reflections on life in a Nazi concentration camp during world war II.
Here are some more excerpts on inner freedom, or spiritual freedom.
This one from Page 62 is a comment after Frankl describes those men who comforted others and made sacrifices for them in the concentration camps. He is pointing out that a man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in the most terrible conditions.: \”…they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms–to choose one\’s own attitude in any given set of circumstances…\”
Think about that the next time you want to cheat on something, or live at a lower level of human dignity than you are capable, especially if you are a pampered American.
No one can take your spiritual freedom from you. But you can give it up, and many people do.
Frankl also points out that while some men rose in integrity in the concentration camps, others, most, gave up their humanity and became animals. \”…man\’s inner strength may raise him above his outward fate…\” (page 64).
Then he makes the point about outward great versus inward great. If you are living whatever life you have with courage and dignity, then your life is worth while. \”…a few were given the chance to attain human greatness even through their apparent worldly circumstances…One could make a victory of [bad] circumstances, turning life into an inner triumph, or one could ignore the challenge and simply vegetate…\” (page 68).
\”We have stated that that which was ultimately responsible for the state of the prisoner\’s inner self was not so much the enumerated psychological causes as it was the result of a free decision\” (page 65). This reminds me of a few critical decision points in my own life. To get drunk or get sober. To kill yourself or figure out how to get mentally well. To give up or try again.
A meaningful life is only a meaningful life if it means something to me. The goal is not money or status, it is how well did I live today according to my insides. On the inside, did I have spiritual freedom, human dignity, access to inner strength. What choice did I make? Did I wallow in self pity, and lay about as a vegetable or did I take up my cross and do the best I could?
Well, this blog is not so well organized. I am too excited at Frankl\’s writing.