“Life itself is meaningful.”
A conversation between theologist and logotherapist Christoph Schlick and Renata Schmidtkunz.
He has dedicated his life to helping others find their purpose in life. Christoph Schlick is the founder and manager of the “SinnZENTRUM” in Salzburg. Initially, he was supposed to inherit the law office of his father. Schlick was born in 1961 in Graz as the son of a lawyer and a pharmacist. Through his Christian-oriented environment, he grew into a Catholic community. Shortly before he graduated from school, he celebrated Easter at the Benedictine abbey in Seckau together with other adolescents. It was the first time he questioned the plan to follow in his father’s footsteps. He was especially impressed by the order’s credo “pray, work and read”.
Nevertheless, he started to study law in Graz. But also theology. When he was 19 years old, he decided overnight to join the Order of Saint Benedict in the abbey of Seckau and become a monk. After his studies he took over the responsibility for the boarding school and the economic management of the abbey and he therefore was responsible for about 150 employees and 300 students. However, the young monk could not escape the feeling that the community that got presented so vigorously to the outside world did not exist at all. As a result, he asked himself the question why he did all this, and he gave himself the answer. “It is not my purpose in life to preserve the abbey as it is. I want to create something new.” This wish was not easy for him to implement in a community that is skeptical towards innovation.
In 1988, Schlick attended Viktor Frankl’s lecture “from self-actualisation to meaning-actualisation” and once again, he was extremely inspired by his personality. Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist and he was especially interested in depression and suicide. He survived the Holocaust as a prisoner and obtained a reputation for his book “Man’s Search For Meaning”. Frankl is the founder of logotherapy and existential analysis, a meaning-based form of psychotheraphy and he argues that it does not matter which situation we find ourselves in, but it is more about our personal attitude towards a situation.
Christoph Schlick’s doubts about his work in the abbey grew greater and greater. In the 1990’s he began to train in logotherapy and existential analysis, under Elisabeth Lukas, a scholar of Frankl. In 2001, Christoph Schlick founded his own institute in Salzburg, in which he develops Frankl’s teachings further and in which he teaches others and offers therapy sessions. Schlick left the order and married.
Even though he had to encounter serious blows of fate – one daughter died before she was born and the other one was born with severe mental and physical impairments – he nevertheless holds on to his vision that the spirit of every human being in his core is always healthy, even though the mind is sometimes clouded. “Life itself is meaningful” – this is what Christoph Schlick truly believes.
As a therapist and as a business consultant he works in the SinnZENTRUM to help people who are still looking for their purpose in life to find joy and abundance. “When I know who I am and what my purpose is on this earth, then my life is meaningful.”
Birgit Allesch, Clubzeitung Ö1 (slightly modified)