My Favourite Book.

I hope that you enjoy reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where seven of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Shackman. The six other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, gaelikaa, GrannymarMaxi, Paul, Shackman, and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

Shackman’s original suggestion was “Your favourite book. ( Bible excluded )  On the assumption that he would exclude The Bhagwat Geeta for me, I leave that single most important book for me which is not just my favourite book, but also my lifeline to sanity.

mans_search_for_meaningExcluding that, my all time favourite book is Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

Let me explain why it is.  To start with, the story itself is poignant and beautifully told.  Then Frankl moves on to his Logo-therapy which evolved out of his experiences in the concentration camp.

The lessons that stand out from his writings are

1. Looking back to his being sent to Auschwitz, he states, “if someone now asked of us the truth of Dostoevsky’s statements that flatly defines man as a being who can get used to anything, we would reply ‘yes, a man can get used to anything, but do not ask us how'”.  I am sure that all my readers will agree that in retrospect, we find that throughout our lives, we have adjusted to various situations and have successfully survived.

2. I recently saw The Shawshank Redemption on DVD because someone had said something about it and I wanted to go back to see the film in its entirety. In that, two long time prisoners, after release go through difficulty in adjusting to freedom and one, unable to cope, commits suicide whereas the other finds meaning in a promise made to a friend from prison and escapes that end. When liberation came, Frankl writes, “We came to meadows full of flowers. We saw and realized what they were, but had no feelings about them.” The transition from a concentration camp into real life must have been an experience that we would have expected to be joyful . He goes on to explain how prisoners lose the ability to feel joy, and have to relearn the ability slowly.  All of us have also relearned to live in new ways after having some life changing experiences, except that unless we consciously become aware of that, we simply take such relearing for granted.

Between the two, we learn about how it must have been for the prisoners inside those camps as a historical fact. But we also learn that ‘He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how‘.  In retrospect, all of us do find that we have found the whys in our lives despite the many hows being difficult.  In my life, as all my readers know, the whys have been the meaning and purpose of my life.

Leaving that aside, when he moves on to Logo-therapy. I learnt two magnificent things from Logo-therapy.

1. Paradoxical Intention / Dereflection.

2. Tragic Optimism.

My experience as a mentor has been enriched by sharing what I have learnt from Frakl and because I keep referring to this book so much, I have to go back to it again and again to find quotations and references to share with my friends and mentees. Almost all of them have either been gifted a copy by me or have bought their own copies and now, we have a nice group of people who are all Frankl fans.

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