Meaningful Dimension

Dr William House, 2016

Life is never made unbearable by circumstances but only by lack of meaning and purpose.

Viktor Frankl

Meaning and Health

We are coming to understand health not as the absence of disease, but rather as the process by which individuals maintain their sense of coherence…. their sense that life is comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful.

Aaron Antonovsky

Many people live lives that are empty. This emptiness is caused, in some part, by living without meaning, or with meaning that is much too small, too trivial, or too material for the needs of a human being.


.. Our suffering in developed countries is primarily psychological, relational, and addictive: the suffering of people who are comfortable on the outside but oppressed and empty within. It is a crisis of meaninglessness, which leads us to try to find meaning in possessions, perks, prestige, and power, which are always outside of the self. It doesn’t finally work. So we turn to ingesting food, drink, or drugs, and we become addictive consumers to fill the empty hole within us.

From Richard Rohr’s Meditation: Finding Our Real Power

Follow your bliss

The divine manifestation is ubiquitous,
Only our eyes are not open to it.

Awe is what moves us forward.

Live from your own center.
The divine lives within you.
The separateness apparent in the world is secondary.
Beyond the world of opposites is an unseen,
but experienced, unity and identity in us all.

Today the planet is the only proper “in group.”
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows,
but we can choose to live in joy.

You must return with the bliss and integrate it.
The return is seeing the radiance is everywhere.
The world is a match for us.
We are a match for the world.
The spirit is the bouquet of nature.

Sanctify the place you are in.

Follow your bliss. . . .

Joseph Campbell

Medicine tells us as much about the meaningful performance of healing, suffering, and dying as chemical analysis tells us about the aesthetic value of pottery.

Ivan Illich

Meaning in Healthcare

There has been much focus on ‘Evidence Based Medicine’ in recent years sometimes at the expense of seeing the patient as a person and of hearing their ‘story’. However to best help our patients we need both. This is not a new debate – see the Narrative Based Medicine series from 1999 by Trish Greenhalgh in the BMJ.

In this TED talk Dr Rita Charon asks “What might medicine be for?

Also by Dr Charon Narrative evidence based medicine, Rita Charon & Peter Wyer, The Lancet, Jan 2008

We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.

Henry James, The Middle Years


Recovering the sacred is remembering something we’ve forgotten, something we may have hidden from ourselves. It is about uncovering and discovering the innate wholeness in ourselves and in the world.

Dr Rachel Remen

And these books:

The knitted glove
You come into my office wearing a blue
Knitted glove with a ribbon at the wrist.
You remove the glove slowly, painfully
And dump out the contents, a worthless hand.
What a specimen! It looks much like a regular hand,
Warm, pliable, soft. You can move the fingers.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
Last month the fire in your hips had you down,
Or up mincing across the room with a cane.
When I ask about the hips today, you pass them off,
So I can’t tell if only your pain
Or the memory is gone. You knitted hand
Is the long and short of it. Pain doesn’t exist
In the past any more than this morning does.
This thing, the name for your solitary days,
For the hips, the hand, for the walk of your eyes
Away from mind, this thing is coyote, the trickster.
I want to take it by its neck between my hands.
But in this world I don’t know how to find
The bastard, so we sit. We talk about the pain.

Jack Coulehan