Two of my ex-students came to visit me in the department a few weeks ago. They brought two books with them for me. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl was one and other was The Alchemist. I read The Alchemist during my university second year. But I have no idea why I didn’t read Man’s Search for Meaning. I have made eye contact with the book every time I snaked through Nilkhet bookshops. But it never occurred to me that I should buy the book. Perhaps, I was not searching for meaning, at least at that particular stage of my life. We do not find books, sometimes books do find us. Man’s Search for Meaning found me in my office room after several years of making eye contact with it in Nilkhet.
Dr. Frankl found me at the right time. At that time, I was going through a sense of meaninglessness and hopelessness without any particular reason. It happens to me during winter season especially. Many people call it Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. As I was sad, my sense of direction and discretion got blurry. I was feeling like whatever I will do it will be foolish and whatever I will say it will sound stupid. I avoided social interaction as much as possible and indulged myself either in reading books or sleeping. My students gave me the book in a rather very straightforward way, no fancy wrapping, only the book packaged inside a brown paper bag. I liked it that way, very much. After I got the book out from the packet, I decided to start reading it immediately after my students would leave my room. This is the book I need now the most.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part tells the story of author’s survival experience in various concentration camps during World War II. The second part discusses Dr. Frankl’s theory and philosophy of Logotherpay. “Logos is a Greek word which denotes meaning”. Logotherapy is a psychotherapy which “focuses on the meaning of human existence as well as on man’s search for such a meaning”. According to Logotherpay, “this striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man”. Dr. Frankl forwards the notion of “will to meaning” over “will to pleasure” and “will to power”. He emphasizes that man’s wellbeing depends on “man’s desire for a life that is as meaningful as possible”. Logotherpay also views “responsibleness” as the very essence of human existence. Dr. Frankl quotes, “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now.”
The book worked as an antidote to the predicament I was experiencing. We lose sight of who we actually are when we forget the reason or “why” we should live for. I dipped into the entire philosophy and essence of the book when I had found the words of Nietzsche- “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”. Dr. Frankl survived the worst experience one human being can possibly go through- the Holocaust experience, for he had a “why” to live for.
The book is a classic celebration of hope, freedom to choose, man’s inner strength and human dignity. Seek and you shall find-be it meaning or whatever you are searching. Keep Searching.