1. Discover Your Dharma or How I Quit My Job

    May 26, 2013

    discover your dharma

    by Luba Kholov

    “O Indra, lead us on the path of Rta, on the right path over all evils”

    10th mandala of the Rigveda

    Dharma is an ancient Sanskrit term. It’s literal meaning is “that which upholds, supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe” It sounds a bit New Agey, but in essence it means the purpose of one’s life. It doesn’t mean the final destination, but the path one takes. The Law of Dharma means awakening oneself and using person’s unique talents to serve the humanity.

    How do you discover your Dharma? You don’t have to ask anyone about it, because you already have the answer. All answers are within you. If you are unable to hear your inner voice, that is the problem you have to solve.

    People started thinking about Dharma concept thousands of years ago and still think about it to this day – of course, if they have time. Most of us just don’t have the luxury of free time and thinking of Dharma isn’t our top priority… We don’t think about the meaning of life. We need to pay bills, finish assignments on time, satisfy a lover, build our career or take care of the kids.  By society’s definition, you need to be on top of all of these aspects of life and perform well in every regard in order to be successful, worthy and respected. Yet, as a result, people get sick, depressed and exhausted. Why? If you have ever spent a day commuting via the New York City subway system, you definitely understand what I’m talking about.


  2. On Meaning In Life and Logotherapy – based on “Man’s Search for Meaning”

    May 18, 2013

    meaning in life and logotherapy

    “Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for”. —Viktor Frankl

    by Amanda Greene

    An analysis of Viktor Frankl’s book on meaning of life and Logotherapy style of psychoanalysis.

    Psychiatrist, neurologist and social visionary Viktor Frankl developed Logotherapy/Existential Analysis (LTEA). In this school of thought in psychology, the search for a meaning in life is identified as the primary motivational force in human beings.

    Frankl’s approach is based on three philosophical and psychological concepts:

    • Freedom of Will
    • Will to Meaning
    • Meaning in Life

    The motivation for Frankl’s path in life as a psychiatrist was born of his own struggle and grief. He was imprisoned in four different Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, between 1942 and 1945. He beat some amazing odds and survived the ordeal although his parents, brother, and pregnant wife all fell victim to the horrors. Over three years’ time, with all that he witnessed in the death camps, he was able to turn his awful experience and the observations he made during it into a positive lesson for spiritual survival; he dedicated his life to helping and others through their psychological troubles and inspiring millions through his books.

    His most popular book, a recounting of his experiences during World War II is “Man’s Search for Meaning”.  It is also considered an influential self-help book that illustrates his school of thought, which is prevalent in psychotherapy practices still today.  The book has been translated into twenty four different languages and, at the time of Frankl’s death in 1997, his book had sold over 10 million copies. “Man’s Search for Meaning” is listed among the ten most influential books in America according to a reader survey that asked readers to name a “book that made a difference in your life”.

    A recent Psychology Today  article explains Frankl’s message is “ultimately one of hope: even in the most absurd, painful, and dehumanizing situation, life can be given a meaning, and so too can suffering.” His experiences in the horrendous conditions of a concentration camp were the catalyst of forming his school of thought in psychology that still applies today. What was no doubt some of the worst conditions imposed upon humans brought him to the deduction that human motivation in life is meaning. This was very different than the previous schools of thought from Freud and Adler who were also Viennese psychotherapists. Freud maintained that human motivation was based on pleasure.  Adler’s way of thinking was that power was the basis of human motivation. After his release Frankl founded the school of Logotherapy, which is often referred to as the ‘Third Viennese School of psychotherapy’ because it came after those of Freud and Adler. Logotherapy’s name comes from the Ancient Greek word logos meaning ‘reason’ or ‘principle’. The goal of Logotherapy is to carry out an existential analysis of the person and, in so doing, to help him discover meaning for his life. Frankl, believed that meaning can be found in the following three ways:

    • Creativity or giving something to the world through self- expression,
    • Experiencing the world by interacting authentically with our environment and with others, and
    • Changing our attitude when we are faced with a situation or circumstance that we cannot change.

    Based on his own experience and the experiences of those he treated in his practice, Frankl argues, “we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.” LTEA circles around the idea of the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. He did not question why all of those innocent people died in the concentration camps, but pondered why any lived. It was not a question of wanting to live for many; it was finding meaning and purpose. According to Frankl, “The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in life.” He listed the three ways he believed individuals could achieve this: work (doing something significant), in love (caring for someone), and finding courage in difficult times. He maintained the idea that suffering in itself is meaningless; it is the way in which we respond to suffering that gives it meaning.

    Perhaps the most powerful message from Frankl that we can all learn from and can be applied to all events past, present and future is that forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except for one thing and that is the freedom to choose how you respond to a situation.

    His theories apply today, especially with the many unfortunate incidents that occur in our daily lives, personal tragedies and national incidents that make most question how and why. Senseless shootings, environmental accidents, threats of war, and depletion of Earth’s resources all contribute to negative thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. Yet people still find meaning in the world and meaning in everyday life. When someone sets up a charity to honor loved ones lost so that others can be helped and when the father of a fallen US Soldier hands out American flags to promote pride of our country, they are doing something significant and not letting the circumstances out of their control interfere with responding in a way that has meaning.

    Born in Vienna in 1905 Viktor E. Frankl earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna. He published more than thirty books on theoretical and clinical psychology and served as a visiting professor and lecturer at Harvard, Stanford, and elsewhere. In 1977 a fellow survivor, Joseph Fabry, founded the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy. Frankl died in 1997.

    His therapeutic techniques are still used by many psychologists and psychiatrists today in an effort to help people help themselves. This is achieved through self-analysis with the help of a psychotherapist and guided self-observation. The therapist revisits the improper behaviors in an exaggerated fashion so that it can be evident to the patient. The goal is to get to the point where patients can distance themselves from situations enough it can help them see the wrong thought patterns and inappropriate behaviors. Patients are then guided to making conscious decisions to find meaning in all situations and restore productive living.

    Image Credit: Sheldon Wood

  3. The #1 Necessity For A Satisfied Life

    April 19, 2013

    Field of Life

    Image Credit: Paul Esson

    by Don Sturgill

    Sigmund Freud’s pioneering work in psychoanalysis was based on the idea that human beings are primarily motivated by the desire for pleasure.

    Freud’s contemporary, Alfred Adler, argued that pleasure isn’t the root of motivation at all—power is what we really seek.

    Then came the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps and a perspective born from the depths of adversity: Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, said Viktor Frankl, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.

    The one thing necessary

    Our most important need, argued Frankl, is not to please ourselves or to rule over others, but to uncover the true meaning of life—to know why we live and what we should do. And the path to discovering that meaning is to listen to what life is asking of us.

    Both pleasure and power lose their grip when one discovers a “reason why.”

    To his Nazi captors, Viktor Frankl was known only as Prisoner #119104. To those who suffered with him in the concentration camps, though, he was a steady source of encouragement and a reassuring voice of wisdom.

    Many of Frankl’s fellow prisoners harbored bitterness and hatred against those who had imprisoned them for the “crime” of being Jews. But Viktor Frankl decided early on to keep his mind off the daily struggles of his untenable situation. Rather, Frankl endeavored to treat his plight as an “interesting psycho-scientific experiment.”

    He determined to view himself, not as an unfortunate victim of circumstance, but as a doctor with a front-row seat to events most people would only hear about after the fact. He was a participant in something incredible and significant.

    How to tell when someone will soon be dead

    “Why is it,” Frankl asked himself, “that one person perseveres and makes it through—despite the indignation and brutality—when a stronger and younger person may not?”

    By observing his fellow prisoners closely, he discovered how to predict who would be the next to die. None of the men were the picture of physical wellness; they all lived hungry and tired—yet there was one thing that distinguished those who would die from those who would live. Frankl saw a common factor emerge in the mindset of the doomed: They abandoned hope and gave in to despair.

    The will to meaning

    In Man’s Search for Meaning, the book he later wrote to chronicle his experiences in the concentration camps, Frankl made a poignant pronouncement:

    In the final analysis, everything can be taken from us—everything—but for one thing … we always retain the right to choose what we think about what is happening. We can never be forced to relinquish the most precious possession of all—our own mental attitude.

    The person who is able to find meaning in life—the person who sees obstacles as an inevitable part of life rather than as an end to life—is able to transcend even the most difficult circumstance to find a reason to go on living.

    Agreeing with an earlier maxim of Fredrich Nietzsche, Frankl wrote, “Those who have a why to live, can bear with almost any how.”

    An attitude of survival

    The original (German) title of Man’s Search For Meaning was Trotzdem ja zum Leben sagen, or “Still say Yes to Life.” When we say “Yes” to life, in spite of what life brings, we affirm that life is worth living, and we affirm that—in the end—the meaning of life trumps the tragedy of life.

    To lose hope is to deny meaning. It is to say the opposite—that life is not worth living—and, according to Frankl’s observations, those who maintain that line of thought are treading a sure path to an early death.

    What about you and me? Are we strong enough to reach down and hold on to the best of life, even during those black times when the worst of life is our portion?

    Trouble comes to all. Struggles come to all. It is our response, rather than the situation, that determines both our present and our future.

    By holding on to meaning, Frankl found a way to benefit from the unthinkable, to make sweet wine from sour grapes and to grow stronger through adversity.

    What is your “Reason why”? What is your “Yes” to life?

    If we don’t know and remember our answers to those questions, we may be hard-pressed to keep going when life seems cruel and unfair.

    And it will. For all of us.