“Les gnostiques” by Jacques Lacarierre, a revised edition from 1973, the reading of which has set my curiosity on fire. I had been uneducated, innocent, unaware of the whereabouts of people during those times around Jesus’ life.
I always thought that this guy Jesus was the only one walking around the Mediterranean basin in Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Alexandria and so on, with his disciples/mates talking to people of love and forgiveness.
The reality was very different. There were so many of these guys, in those days, with a radical view on the creation of the world and how to live, who were walkabouts just like Jesus, with their own followers, and the gnostics were some of them, and far from the most boring ones.
“the Gnose is a Knowledge( not to be mistaken with the Christian Gnose with which it is in total opposition) . It’s on a knowledge and not a belief or a faith that the Gnostics were working with to create their image of the universe and the implications drawn from it: knowledge of the origins of all things, of the real nature of the matter and the flesh, of a becoming world to which mankind inevitably belongs to just as much as the matter it is made of.”
They were rebellious ones with a real serious search for the truth.“Is our universe a failed world? Is Man a complete being? And institutions, laws, traditions that govern us, are they here to liberate us or to maintain humanity under millennial subjection?
Those are the questions the gnostics answered to, eighteen centuries ago. And to their contemporaries they offered an image of the world so new, so libertarian, that immediately they were relegated among the first heretics, the first accursed history philosophers, eventually massacred by the Church and its Orthodox leaders”.
Not that different from ours, the world in which the gnostics lived was a violent world, with slavery, massacres, famine, injustices, miseries of all sizes and shapes. “The gnostics saw rightly when they said that to experience suffering, to have oneself being submerged by its corrosive rust is a completely useless experience. It needs – or had needed – the impudent hypocrisy of the Christian morals to fool the famished and exploited people with the idea that their sufferings were worthy and would open them the doors of another world”
Our lives are absurd. They are riddled with pain and injustice from the moment we’re born.
“Interviewed in 2015 by veteran Irish broadcaster Gay Byrne, Fry was asked what he would say if he came face-to-face with God. Fry said: « Bone cancer in children, what’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world where there is such misery that’s not our fault? It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain? » Within days, the video was viewed over five million times. Fry later stated he did not refer to any specific religion, and said: « I said quite a few things that were angry at this supposed God. I was merely saying things that Bertrand Russell and many finer heads of the mind have said for many thousands of years, going all the way back to the Greeks. Because the God who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac.” Wikkipidia.
We, us, the people of this world, don’t know where we came from, why we’re here or where we’re heading. The Bible has its own interpretation and so has the Quran, the Torah and probably some others too. All interpretations, therefore all stories. And in the name of these stories, fables, we’ve killed tortured and committed the most atrocious violent acts against each other and humanity, and we still do,whatever story we happen to believe is real. It’s insane!
Life is meaningless. The surrealists had got that far, so they abused sex and alcohol. Wouldn’t I do the same, if I really thought I was stuck in a box for eternity with no way out?
But Landmark Education (landmarkeducation.com) goes further and it becomes more interesting then. If life is meaningless, which it is, then what?
I did the Landmark Forum back in 88 in London and I loved it. Two whole week-ends then(a 3-day-weekend + one evening now) rigorously inquiring into what it is to be human and equipping oneself with tools to make one’s life work. It was confronting, intriguing, uncomfortable, exiting, provocative…..new. I had never done anything like it and I woke up to my life, literally, to my life’s potential,to being me with no strings attached. It was the beginning of Thinking for me, not just any thinking but the kind of thinking that makes a real difference and create stuff that works. I recommend it any day. It works.
I am off reading Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens and Homodeus, that my cousin Catherine told me about last week. Apparently that’s exactly what this guy is talking about: Where we come from and where we’re heading.