Reader comment on Viktor Frankl's passage ...

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    On Jun 26, 2020 rahul wrote:

    Not so long ago, I was struggling with a person who lived near me. Her behavior seemed hostile, selfish, destructive, and obstinate all at once. In the face of directly observable facts-- like those that were recorded on video-- she rejected any notion of an agreed upon reality or set of baseline facts. I was simply flummoxed and at the end of my wits to understand how to deal with this person. Then it just so happened that I became aware of her extreme financial vulnerability. The room spun. Suddenly I understood why she couldn't meet me in 'reality'. My view of her transformed from 'destructive and obstinate' to 'scared and desperate'. I could see both of these views, and knew they were both stories -- two among many that existed simultaneously. This multiplicity of views does not mean that all views are equal, but exposes a nearly universal flaw in our thinking where we simultaneously assume there is only one right view (ours) and also identify with and cling to that view as if the core of our being and the meaning of our life depends upon it.

    Meaning is a story to respond the question of 'why?'. Why me? Why here? Why now? Why this? At first, we're given the stories of our culture, religion, family, and society to answer those questions. Some of those stories cause us pain or make us uncomfortable, especially if we're not the type to be placated with easy answers. Then a few of us learn the art of spinning our own stories. These stories open a new level of power, as we begin to take agency and responsibility in the face of suffering. From this space of choice and activity, yet a smaller number us still sit uncomfortably with the meaning we ourselves spin. If we're courageous enough, we can sit with what is without seeking or clinging to any meaning. Finally one day we may arrive at something beyond meaning on the other side of all our whys. Before that time, each person sits with a unique river of circumstances, questions, and stories which they navigate on an inevitable journey towards the ocean we must all cross.


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    On Jul 1, 2020 Bansi Pandya wrote:



    Very well said Rahul. The life we see reflects our own unexamined, culture-bound assumptions, and expectations. If we see life as a transparent flow of consciousness and do not resist the flow then the story of a character would not start. Resistance is the character itself centered on conflict, comparison, contradiction, and competition, looking for meaning in its own chaotic story.


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