Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

If You Don't Go Within, You Simply Go Without

--by Victor Frankl (Jun 27, 2006)

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that 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.

It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life -- daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

When we are no longer able to change a situation -- we are challenged to change ourselves.

A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how."

Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone's task is unique as his specific opportunity.

--Victor Frankl

Add Your Reflection:

Send me an email when another comment is posted on this passage.
Name: Email:

8 Previous Reflections:

On Sep 12, 2017 Dee wrote:

 Nowhere in Victor Frankl's writings can I find "If you don't go within, you simply go without."  He died in 1997, so he couldn't have written the article in 2006.  That quote is being spread throughout the internet and has found its way into published word.  Please tell us the source.  Thank you.

On Sep 1, 2011 jherrell wrote:

what the hell does this mean

On Apr 4, 2009 Glen wrote:

Contact me and I will show you the Creator's answer to the question: "What is the meaning of life?"

On Jun 28, 2006 ashok wrote:
very interesting to read -- what we expect from life Vs what life expect from us -- and meaning of life Vs questioned by life -- i think meditaion is one of peaceful ways to calm the mind and enable one to find the right, throughtful and prudent actions.

On Jun 28, 2006 Shannette H wrote:
Reflections really florishe me.

On Jun 27, 2006 Joy wrote:
I especially like the part:

"He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how."

On Jun 27, 2006 viral wrote:
Great thought.

The word responsibility is an interesting one in this context. Repons-ibility can be thought of as the ability to respond, that is, a proactive and intelligent action that meets the needs of the moment with the resources available to us.

This word response also came up in a thought of the week a while back by M. Scott Peck, in which he refers to a definition of prayer given by Matthew Fox. (see link)

1 reply: Steven | Post Your Reply