“Between stimulus and response there is a space,” wrote
psychiatrist and neurologist Viktor Frankl in his unforgettable
memoir of his life in a Nazi death camp, Man’s Search for Meaning.
“In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response
lies our growth and our freedom.”
In this Spring 2017 issue
of Parabola, Frankl’s grandson
Alexander Vesely explains how the Holocaust survivor found meaning
in acts of generosity, describing how Frankl once bought a radio
for a stranger because he heard the man say he couldn’t afford to
buy one, telling young Vesely: “Do I need the extra fifty bucks or
would it be more meaningful if this man had those fifty bucks?” In
myriad ways, we explore how loss—through death or theft or failure
or the poverty that can come with being a dedicated artist or
spiritual seeker—can open us to the richness of meaning. As Carl
Jung discovered in his exploration of the I Ching, detailed here in
a essay by analyst Annette Lowe, meaning is opening to
relationships beyond causality, to truths that call us from unknown
The great paradox known by ancient and Aboriginal peoples invoked
in this issue is that this sense of existing in the vast space of
the cosmos can be known in the depths of the human heart.
“Put the mind in the heart,” writes Cynthia Bourgeault here,
drawing from the Philokalia, a revered spiritual
collection from the Christian East. The ancient ones of the East
and the West knew, as the Aboriginal ones still know, that the
heart is an organ of subtle perception, intuition, and feeling.
Few knew the oneness of the heart as well as
long-time Parabola contributor
Huston Smith, who died as this issue was created. “Whether we
realize it or not, simply to be human is to long for release from
mundane existence,” wrote Huston. We
at Parabola mourn his passing.
May this issue help release you from the ordinary workings of
stimulus and response, making space for meaning.