Many people found no compensating good at all in the tragedy of World War II. Most Europeans lost more or less of their possessions, such as money, property, relatives, home, security, even life itself. What was this but a compulsory self-mortification, a forced renunciation of the world, an involuntary detachment from earthly things? The ascetics, would-be saints, and God-seekers of all lands and times have practised a precisely similar renunciation but they did it voluntarily. They gave up the external life in the hope of finding a better one internally. Millions of people during the war who tried to cling to their earthly things and life, as well as the few who did not, were forcibly detached from both. This created the feeling of being tired of living, of the hopelessness of seeking satisfaction in transitory existence, and of the instability of all external situations. Such a drastic experience forced them to think, to wonder at the meaning of it all, and thus, to a microscopic extent, to seek after Truth. And what is one here on this planet for if not for this same purpose? It is humanity's school.
-- Notebooks Category 11: The Negatives > Chapter 3: Their Presence in The World > # 224