Locus of Control, Viktor Frankl and Meditation

Posted by: Hailing Huang on July 6, 2012 4:00 pm

A Zen practitioner asks his Zen Master: why do I have to meditate? What is the purpose of meditation? How can sitting meditations, quietly without any movement, thinking of nothing, only breathing in and out, lead me out of suffering and becoming wise? It does not make sense to me.

The Zen Master responds to the peaceful practitioner: Go sit, then you will find out.
So the practitioner starts to sit with all kinds of questions in mind. Although initially the student does not understand meditation, he trusts his teacher who has trained for over 40 years, and who is compassionate toward everyone. The student believes that his teacher will do no harm to him, and is giving the advice for the best interest of the practitioner.

So he starts to sit, years in years out, and nothing changes. Till one day, the Student heard about the theory of Locus of control. It can be referred to when a person believes that he/she is the master of his inner life- his feelings, emotions, desires. He is able to control the events that impact on his life situation.

When one’s locus or place is primarily Internal the person feels or believes that he or she can regulate life and stay in control of his/her life and destiny. If one’s locus or place is primarily external the person feels or believes that others, such as fate, or evil forces in the world, determine events and their impact on one’s life.

The student also heard the story of Viktor Frankl, the survivor from the Nazi camp. The student admires the wise old man. Although Viktor Frankl is not a Buddhist, he exhibits exactly a Buddhist’s character: compassion, resilience, and wisdom. He became even more compassionate toward all sentient beings after his brutal inhuman experience.

So the Zen student believes that Viktor Frankl also knows something about locus of control and master of a kind of skill. Viktor Frankl talked about the space between stimuli and reaction, which is the same idea as locus of control. The practice of locus of control is to empower your inner strength. Suddenly, the student gets the point: why meditate. Sitting meditation is for the purpose of empowering our locus of control.
He explains to himself, when we sit, our body is constrained, uncomfortable. When it reaches the stage of being unbearable, we want to adjust our position, or move a bit. But the rules state: no movement. So we turn our attention, energy inwardly. The practice starts with the uncomfortable feeling, it leads toward frustration, and anger. Slowly, the uncomfortable feeling becomes familiar and acceptable, and gradually our physical pain does not bother us anymore. Our thinking, judging, feeling do not rely upon or are not constrained by our physical, external condition. We set ourselves free from the external condition by empowering the locus of control.

The Zen student is very excited to share his insightful discovery with his Master. His master smiled and told him: go sit and you will find out more.

Hailing Huang MTS  CCC-CCPA , Mandarin & English,

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

4 comments on “Locus of Control, Viktor Frankl and Meditation”

  1. cag says:

    so thoughtful. thank you

  2. Linda Thompson says:

    Hi Hailing,

    We all start somewhere and I also stumbled in the fields for 11 years. I began my academic studies in 1985 and completed my PhD 11 years later. However, I started traditional lotus position yoga in 1969, one part – practice of my health/wellness program utilized during my recovery from Influenza A + B. That is another story. I believe the saying, when the student is ready the teacher appears, is true for me and I simply learned to trust in the process, which occurs always with others, in the ebb and flow of my life. For me, I settled on theory grounded in my belief that we are three dimenional beings – mind, body and spirit. I place Buddhist practice in the body spirit dimensions and place psychology in the mind dimension. For me studying Open System Theory – Mind-Body Therapies helped me while I tried to comprehand the incomprehensible complexity of 3 dimensional beings with 2 dimensional vision, who mentally exist in primary (reality) and secondary (fantasy) frameworks on bound in space and time while on planet earth that is historically, culturally, futuristically- infinitately mapped. So, my philosophical anchors in my Master program were wave phenomena, state-dependent memory, learning and behavior plus the state of flow. We all find our connectors embedded across the disciplines/theories/practices which are as varied and vast as humanity itself. Be true to yourself Hailing, find and hold on to your own anchors and the connections will (are) coming to you as we speak.

    Regards Linda.

  3. Linda Thompson says:

    An Enjoyable read, Hailing that got me reminiscing about traditional lotus meditation when I was young and during my PhD internship, my practice was lovingkindness + the Blue Pearl. Concerning Victor FranykI, along with Milton Erikson, both are my hero’s, were beautiful souls/teachers, knew baptism by fire and left with much to reflect upon and aspire to in our becoming.

    I am brand new to Blog life, so when this arrived and I was asked to leave a comment, I believe this was my pleasure to connect with another counsellor who mentioned Victor Frankly. Have a great evening.

    Dr. Linda AK Thompson CCC PsyD, FAAETS Owner, MOT – Senior Consultant

    1. Dr. Thompson,

      Thanks for the comments. I am also new to the blog network as well.
      I have been stumbled around in the field of psychology, spirituality, and Buddhist practice for a while. I wonder if those fields are working toward the same goal, then, somehow there is a way of connecting them all. So this is my first attempt and I am looking forward to hear more about your experience.

      Best wishes,

      Hailing Huang

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