Monday, June 22, 2009

Lacarrière on Knowledge from Suffering

Pseudo-knowledge, believed to be gained through suffering, the fallacious redemption gained through ordeal, is nothing then but a lie, a lie that fails to recognize—or pretends not to recognize—the absurd and alienating nature of evil. Gnostic soteriology is quite explicit on this point: evil is never at any moment the outcome of a divine plan; it is not a natural or inherent necessity but the product of an error or misunderstanding. - Jacques Lacarrière

8 comments:

Lent Man said...

Do you agree with this? It seems to me that suffering can alert a person to the illusion that the world in necessarily and always a "good" place.

Troy W. Pierce said...

Yes, suffering is often part of what leads one to such a path, yet all suffer and few follow a path. Suffering is a part of the world, not a part of the process of redemption. We do not suffer in order to attain gnosis, we attain gnosis in order to not suffer.

Essentially this quote is tied into the previous posts on theodicy. It addresses a form of addressing the problem of evil expressed in new age thought—the notion that we suffer in order to learn as part of a larger, possibly divine, plan of progress.

Lent Man said...

So under the "new age" system of soteriology, suffering inevitably leads to salvation as a type of educational process. It may take longer for some than others but the outcome is preordained. However, under the Gnostic system, the outcome is not preordained. One may suffer without ever achieving salvation. Suffering may educate a person but it may not and in this sense suffering is not a prerequisite to salvation.

Is this a correct description of the Gnostic soteriology regarding suffering?

Troy W. Pierce said...

There is much more of a difference, and I am unsure if preordination plays any role. In that form of new age thought, the purpose of suffering is a need to learn from it, and because of that it is part of a larger plan. Whereas in Gnosticism, suffering is neither needed nor a part of any plan. Suffering is not redemptive, it is not part of the method/process of gnosis that can lead to liberation. Rather, it is a part of our lives in the world in which we may pursue such a method/process.

Lent Man said...

Gotcha. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. My experience of gnosis could not have been brought about without the excruciating suffering I experienced.

Fr. Troy Pierce said...

Anonymous, I don't think that we actually disagree. It is not that one cannot derive Gnosis from suffering, it is that suffering isn't the way of Gnosis. I hope that makes sense, and if not that we can dialog and clarify.

Anonymous said...

I do not think this particular notion of suffering and evil is solely linked into New Age thought. I have found that Christianity in general upholds "suffering for Christ" as an ultimate goal in order to become a Saint or Martyr in the eyes of the orthodox church and it's followers. This to me is nonsensical and in fact makes a mockery of Christ as the Logos and also the crucifixtion and the resurrection. Actually I have been reading the orthodox Bible again lately and not just reading it but trying to read and interpret from a Gnostic viewpoint and I have had some fairly profound insights. The inconsistencies/contradictions are staggering. I have come to the conclusion that we need to formulate a gnostic Bible/collected and ordered gnositic scripture as an alternative for the layman to use in personal practice/prayer/worship.