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Excerpted from The Heart of the Mind by Jane Katra and Russell Targ. Copyright 1999 by Jane Katra and Russell Targ. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Frankl discovered that the prisoners who survived transcended their own suffering, shared their meager food, and focused their attention on relieving the misery of prisoners around them."

Jane Katra and Russell Targ
The Heart of the Mind
, Part 1

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from,
and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, Im sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.

- Rumi

The quests for meaning and peace of mind compel us all. These heartfelt desires are the subject of this book. Why do we feel greater peace sitting in a seaside cabin in the midst of a tumultuous thunderstorm than sitting at the dinner table with our loving family in suburban San Francisco? And how was it possible for psychiatrist and writer Viktor Frankl to find meaning and spirit amidst the atrocities and suffering of a Nazi concentration camp? Both of these questions teach us that to experience meaning in our lives, we must focus our attention beyond the consciousness of our separate self.

Clearly, we perceive something greater than ourselves in the power of a raging thunderstorm. Unable to schedule, organize, or control it, we can only surrender to the experience. The storm declares, "Here I am. I'm in control you just let go!" And what we release, if only for a moment, is our usual focus on ourselves: our body, our thoughts, emotions, desires, memories, imagination even our fears. We are given a rare opportunity to stop the continual chatter of our minds. Rather than anguishing about future or past events over which we have no control, we become still and simply experience the present.

During his three years in Auschwitz and other concentration camps, Frankl discovered that the prisoners who survived transcended their own suffering, shared their meager food, and focused their attention on relieving the misery of prisoners around them. Frankl even found kindness among the German guards. Today, as we approach the end of this frantic and materialistic century, Frankl's message is to open our hearts or perish. He wrote that even under the torturous conditions of the death camps people had the spiritual freedom to choose the attitudes they wished to embody. "It is this spiritual freedom which cannot be taken away that makes life meaningful and purposeful," he wrote.

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