Frankl writes that man cannot access the “super-meaning” of life, or the answer for why man must suffer. Man’s job, Frankl says, is not to endure the void caused by a meaningless life, as some existentialist philosophers believed, but rather to understand that man cannot know the full meaning of life.
Part of living a meaningful life is accepting the fact that man cannot know the full meaning of his life. Instead, he must find as much meaning as he can in specific situations and have faith that a greater meaning exists (or doesn’t).
Frankl encourages logotherapists not to give the super-meaning a more specific name like God, but if they have patients who are religious, they should use their faith as a way to help them accept the unknowability of the super-meaning of life. For example, Frankl once worked with a rabbi who felt that he would never see his children in heaven because his children had died innocent martyrs, and he would not be allowed into such a section of heaven. Frankl suggested that perhaps by enduring so much suffering and grief over the loss of his children, the rabbi was making himself worthy of their place in heaven.
Frankl does not believe that the idea of the super-meaning should be used to convince patients to become religious, but he says that patients who are already religious should be talked to about the super-meaning in religious terms. In the case of the rabbi who already believed in God and heaven, Frankl could use the man’s beliefs about heaven to help him realize that there might be a greater meaning to his suffering of which he was unaware.