Book Notes: Meaning

Meaning rounds out the Book Notes series. This is probably the shortest section, but carriers most of the importance. I do cheat on the book notes in this section and add notes from Jordan Peterson’s Maps of Meaning lectures on YouTube because I felt strongly about what he was saying, and it seemed it could be very true.

The authors in this section are;

  • Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning
  • Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
  • Sebastian Junger, Tribe
  • Jordan Peterson, Maps of Meaning (Lecture Series)

I didn’t feel any need for commentary with the notes below. I hope you follow them in whichever direction they take you.


Other posts in Book Notes Series

Man’s Search For Meaning

Viktor Frankl

“The truth, that love is the ultimate and the highest goal, to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry, human thought and belief have to impart. The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understand that a man who has nothing else in this world still may know bliss, for only a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved […] When his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way, an honorable way, in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his believed, achieve fulfillment.”

Find Meaning By:

  1. Doing or achieving
  2. Experiencing, things or people
  3. Bravely suffering (hero of your story)

Man’s last and true freedom is having to choice to choose his attitude toward his circumstances

“Central theme of existentialism: to live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering. If there is a purpose at all, there must be a purpose in suffering and in duing but no man can tell another what this purpose is. Each must find out for himself and accept the responsibility that his answer prescribes.”

The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.”

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Sebatian Junger

“Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.”

“What would you risk dying for-and for whom-is perhaps the most profound question a person can ask themselves.”

Maps of Meaning (Lectures Series)

Jordan Peterson

“Except responsibility for the catastrophe of your life.”

“That way you transcend it.”

“There’s an unbelievably hopefully message in their..”

“You’re actually strong enough to that. You just don’t know it.. You can’t find out until you do it.”

“But if you did it, you would find out that it was true.”

“It’s the ultimate in risks.”

“You have to be willing to lose your life in order to find it.”

“The fundamental lesson that’s underneath that is don’t let what you are stop you from being what you could be.”

“So then the question is, what do you identify with?”

“Do you identify with what you are? Then you’re a tyrant.

“Do you identify with chaos because then that’s the opposite of order, then you’re nihilistic”

“Well, you don’t identify with either of those. You know that they’re both necessary, you know that you have to live with both of them. But you identify with he capacity to continually transcend what you are. Then you seek out error.”

“That’s what humility is. I’m error ridden, so I want to see, I want to put myself in a situation so I can discover my errors. Hopefully, not a in a way that’s going to knock me completely out of the game. I want to seek out a challenge. I want to find out where my limits are. I want to found out where there is not enough of me yet. And I want to do that in a way that’s engaging. Because you can ware yourself out fighting dragons obviously, you can exhaust yourself completely and that’s not helpful.”

[Coaching lawyers, way more work than they can learn to do. Work less per day. Not happening. So every 3 months block off 4 days and go have a vacation. You need that time. I bet if you take time off you’ll have more billable hours. You’ll actually have you cake and eat it too. That inevitably is what happened.]

“You want to play a game that you can not only play today, but next week and next month.”

“We’re not talking about your career this week. We’re talking about you having a career that lasts 30 years that doesn’t kill you, that doesn’t make you hate yourself for the job. That doesn’t make you bitter and doesn’t make you frazzle. And so then I think you can divide to take on the load that is optimumly meaningful.  If you want, then you get to have your cake and eat it too.”

“To be renewed you have to drink the water of life.”

“And what is water. Water is chaos”

“You have to stay refreshed by the water of life. You have to take on the right amount of chaos to make sure your garden is properly nourished.”

“This is one of the only ideas that I have found that I really believe to be rock solid. I really think that it’s true.”

“And it’s very optimistic. Because it says you can use your sense of meaning to calibrate your progress through life. But there are rules. You have to aim at the highest possible good that you can conceptually conceive.”

“And that’s subject to update because what the hell do you know.”

“But you start by aiming at the star that you can see and not the dimmer one that you can yet hardly perceive.”

“And then decide that you’re going to do that honestly.”

“The first decision I think in some sense is the decision of love.

“You’re going to decide that being is worth while and you’re going to work towards it’s betterment.”

“And the second decision is based on truth. Having made that decision you’re going to play a straight game.”

“Having made those two decisions I think you can allow your sense of meaning to calibrate your pathway”

“What’s so interesting is that you hit a state that is as close to paradisal as you’re going to hit right away because being engaged like that, it’s better to be engaged in the solution of a complex problem then not to have a problem at all. And that’s not different than saying it’s better for there to be being than nonbeing because being is a problem. And so if you want to have no problems then you can have no being. And you can say that being is so miserable that maybe that’s the route we should take and fair enough but maybe you can have your cake and eat it too.

“You can have the problem and be so engaged in solving the problem that maybe that justifies having the problem exist.”

“Then you get to have the problem and the solution at the same time and that’s better than not having the problem at all.”

“And I believe that. Because one of the things I have seen..”

“I’m talking to people a lot about responsibility.”

“It’s young men that respond. Responsibility is what gives your life meaning. Then take on ultimate responsibility, then you have an ultimately meaningful life. Then it doesn’t matter if it’s punctuated on tragedy. It doesn’t matter. It’s worth it. And I think that’s true. Everything I’ve seen indicates that’s true.”

“You can play the game of the seeker, and if you play that game then everybody wins. It’s the best game you can play.”

“The answer of some sense to the tragedy of life, to the fall,  is to adopt the responsibility of mortality that goes along with that. And to play that game maximally and periodixically its in the willingness to do that where the solution is found.”

“Life is suffering. Right. Indisputable. What do you do about that?”

“You voluntary accept that then strive to overcome the suffering that is a consequence of that.”

“You do that for you. And you do that in a way that makes it better for other people. And then, that works. And one question might be, well how well does that work? And the answer is that the only way that you can find out is by trying it. That’s it. That’s the existential element of it.”

“The proof is to be derived from the incarnation in your own life. No one can tell you how it will work for you. It’s the thing that your destiny is to discover that.”

“You can’t do this without commitment. You have to say that I’m going to act as if being is good. I’m going to act as if I’m going to pursue the deepest meaning possible in my life. And there’s reason to do none of those. Real reasons.”

“Maybe you were never married, because the rule is you don’t get to leave and there is a reason for that rule.”

“There’s some games that you don’t get to play unless you’re all in.”

“The other thing that is so interesting about being alive is that you’re all in. No matter what you do you are all in. This is going to kill you. So I think you might as well play the most magnificent game you can while you’re waiting. Because do you have anything better to do. Really?”

“Why not pick the best thing possible that you could do?”

“Maybe you could justify your retched existence to yourself, I think you could.”

“We need our belief systems. They orient us.”

“There will be conflict between belief systems and that can be a catastrophe.”

“What’s the solution? There’s not a solution. There’s just mayhem all the way around. That could be the case.”

“You’re more powerful than you think. Way more powerful then you think.”

“Well if you got your act together it would be better for you. And instantly better for your family, and then it would be better for the community, and it’s like, how far could you take that. If you stopped wasting time, and if you stopped lying, and if you oriented yourself to the highest possible good that you conceive of and you committed yourself to that. How mucch good could you do. Well I would say, why don’t you find out. So, thats what I think you should do. You should find out.”

“Maybe you could sort yourself out so that you wanted nothing but the good so then maybe you could make that manifest itself in the world so then maybe we wouldn’t have all these terrible problems.”

“At least we would have fewer.”

“The answer to the problem of humanity is the integrity of the individual. That’s the answer.”

“The barrier is, are you willing to accept the responsibility. And part of the answer to that is, reduce the responsibility until it’s tolerable. You don’t have to fix everything at once. You can just start by fixing the thing you want to fix.”

“You could start by fixing only the things you want to fix. So do it. See what happens. That’s what you should have been taught in university right at the begining. Aim at the highest good. Tool yourself into something that can attain it. And go out there and manifest it into something in the world. Everything that comes your way will be a blessing.”

“All you have to do is give up your resentment and your hatred and I know that’s a hard thing to give up because I know you have a good reason for it.”

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