Lecture IX 23rd June 1939
I must give you the titles of some books on the Ignatian exercises.
I have used Bernhard HeThe idea that Christianity dropped from Heaven as a direct revelation is an historical forgery. Its essential content is rich in philosophical ideas which reach back beyond Plato and Pythagoras. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, Page 137.gardt: “Religion und Seelentraining”, (Religion and training of the soul.) a study on the spiritual exercises of the Jesuits.
Also a short book by Philipp Funk: “Ignatius von Loyola” (1913) and a Latin book by a Spaniard: Sebastian Iz quierdus on the practice of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius (1695).
The last is an excellent commentary.
There is an enormous amount of literature on the subject, chiefly by the Jesuits themselves, but many Protestants have also been fascinated by this sphere.
I have already mentioned the writings of the Victorines in connection with earlier meditation and also the ” Imitatio Christi” by Thomas a Kempis as giving an excellent picture of the attitude of the Devoti.
The latter is a charming medieval book of devotion, each chapter providing a subject for meditation.
The Protestants adopted these religious practices and such books still flourish.
At the end of the last lecture we were spoke of the methodical sequence of meditations prescribed by Cisneros.
They fall into three parts:
The Way of Purification.
The Way of Illumination.
The Way of Union.
This sequence of steps is very typical, we find it also as the basis of alchemical and Hermetic meditation, but in the latter it was related to the materia and not to a book of devotion.
It is very interesting to compare such things for we find many parallels.
There is a very typical alchemical parallel to the “via purgativa”.
We need only take the subjects for the first week in order to make this clear: sin, death, Hell, the Last Judgement, the sufferings of Christ and Mary and as the counterpoint of all this pain: the Heavenly Glory, with the purpose of emphasizing the darkness by a vivid contrast.
The alchemical parallel is to be found in Hades or Chaos, the nigredo or tenebrositas.
Pain and torture rule in this dark condition, which is a dead, unawakened state; the scintilla, the spark of the soul, is enclosed in a dark, suffering condition, in melancholia.
It is necessary to endure this stage and to overcome it through endless pain and struggle.
It ends at last in the abiutio, the cleansing process which leads on to the next stage, the albedo, the bleaching or whitening.
the alchemists compare the albedo to the rising sun or the first streak of dawn.
It is the moment when the blackness of sin is washed away and the new light comes.
It is also described as the des census animae, the descent of the soul.
The idea is that the soul was first captured in the darkness of the body, then it separated itself from the body, and the body was washed.
When the latter reached the condition of the albedo, the soul entered it once more.
This happens in the second week of Cisneros’ spiritual exercises, when the benefits of the creation, of Grace, of the summons, of justification before God, of His special gifts and His guidance are meditated up on.
All these belong to the albedo, and are a kind of resurrection, a coming to life again.
But something is still missing.
We have had the black and the white, a hopeless condition of sinfulness and a bright light of illumination, but there has been no hint of a new nature, of a reconciliation between the opposites.
For this we need the third week, the way of union, the mystical union, the creation of a unity, a being free from the stain of sin and mortality.
This stage is attained in alchemy through the coniunctio, when two separate natures are unite d in such a way that a complete and incorruptible being is created.
Therefore only God is meditated up on in the third week, God in all His aspects: creator, beauty of the universe, glory and honour of the world, lover, ruler, guide and giver.
This meditation is the union, all God’s aspects are seen as one.
He is the perfect unity.
Man himself remains imperfect, but he is changed into God, into an eternal, spotless and incorruptible being.
We have seen this already in e astern philosophy, the Purusha and Prakriti must continually be re-united, because sattvam, cittam or human consciousness, is forever separating instead of uniting them.
Consciousness is always stepping in with an interpretation or a discrimination.
This splits the Purusha and Prakriti apart and a compensation must set in again.
I will not go into this further at present.
The coniunctio in alchemy is a union of the masculine and feminine, of the spiritual and material principles, from which a perfect body arises, the glorified body after the Last Judgement, the resurrection body.
This means an eternal body, or the subtle body, which is designated in alchemy as the philosopher’s stone, the lapis aethereus or invisibilis.
This stone is also called the Deus terrenus, the earthly god.
Christ is an analogy to the stone and I have brought you a picture from an old alchemical book:
“Symbola Aureae Mensae” where the alchemistic process is represented as a Mass.
The validity of the Mass has been questioned by Protestant circles, they maintain its ritual is not justified by the Gospels.
But the Epistles of St. Paul are known to be older than the Gospels and there is a passage in Ephesians which corresponds to Cisneros’ sequence of meditation and in which we find many of
the symbols of the Mass:
“And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.”
This corresponds to the meditation in the first week on death, sin and Hell.
St. Paul continues:
“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”
The idea here is that the Ephesians had been dead in their sins while under the power of this god.
“Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together withChrist, (by grace ye are saved:)”
This is the idea of purification and illumination and corresponds to the end of the first week and to the second week, and we find these ideas also in the Mass.
In the fourteenth verse of the same chapter St. Paul continues:
“For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments
contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”
This is the reconciliation of both parts in one body on the cross.
This passage was, of course, written before the rites of the Mass had come into being.
These ideas were very important to the early Christians, and occupied their thoughts a great deal and thus were incorporated in the Mass.
St. Paul continues in the 19th verse:
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus
Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God
Through the Spirit.”
This idea of building a spiritual temple had an enormous effect on future generations.
We see the last remnants of this idea in the Freemasons and the Rosicrucians.
One could say that the Freemasons were the last descendants of the alchemists but unfortunately they seldom think of their history and origin, but are occupied with quite different things.
You will remember the spiritual cloister in the eastern series of symbols, where the Vihara was built on the summit and contained the highest Buddha.
This is a complete parallel, for both spiritual temples are built from the union of two.
The two are the spirit and matter.
To return to Cisneros, I will read you a piece of the prescribed form of meditation for the first week, and you will see for yourselves the difference in the eastern and western points of view:
” … Think of thyself as the guilty accused standing before the judgment seat of thy God, awaiting sentence. Recall to thy mind the whole magnitude of a sin! How deeply the All Holy One is offended
by it. Does the recollection of this not fill thy innermost being with awe, does it not shake and stir it and does it not overwhelm it with wholesome regret and sorrow? 0 let the sting of remorse wound
thee, make thee deeply ashamed through the recollection of thy sins and say, in contemplation:
‘0 my soul, dost thou feel how sin displeases God? See, pride once cast Lucifer out of the heavenly heights and disobedience the first parents out of Paradise. Through voluptuousness the
splendour of Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed, yea the whole world was once submerged in the waters of the flood. Consider how the Son of God, thy Redeemer, suffered such an exceeding
bitter death on account of sin, that no sin should remain unpunished and that the divine justice should not remain unreconciled.
. . . Ponder in thy heart the sins thou hast committed before thy conversion, how manifold they are … Alas these are so numerous that, for their very number, thou canst no longer count them … But let
the weight of their heaviness and their humiliation deeply affect thy soul … How little thou hast atoned for thy sins, how little thou hast grieved over them . . . Hast thou, sinful soul, now that thou wishest to
begin thy spiritual life anew, considered all this earnestly, dost thou feel thyself filled with awe and sorrow? Not through fear of hell, which thou deservest, but out of love for thy most benevolent God, whom
thou hast offended? 0 let thy soul become quite small, bow thy face, rest thy head on thy hands and thine elbows on thy knees and consider thyself unworthy to look up to Heaven! But lift up thy heart to
God and, filled with bitter repentance, say: 0 most merciful Father! I am thy prodigal son, who has committed all these misdeeds against Thine Infinite Majesty. Ungrateful I! …
The soul can now turn to the second part of the way which is: contrition . . . Humiliated, heartbroken, ashamed, call upon thy Saviour and Redeemer: 0 Lord, my God, Jesus Christ! I am an unjust, unhappy
sinner, yea of all sinners the most unhappy and execrable, who has committed so many and weighty crimes against Thine Infinite Majesty, I can no longer count them, for they are more countless than
the sand of the sea shore. Pray thus, or as thy heart’s repentance or devotion dictates. Gather all thy strength together and endeavour to draw a sigh from the innermost depth of thy being. And now step
courageously on to the third part of the path of purification : exaltation. Exalt thyself, 0 soul, despair not of the divine mercy! Raise thine eyes hopefully! Boundless must be thy trust ! Lift up thy head
which thou heldest bowed, resting on thy knees, stand upright and pause awhile. Softly, gently, gather thy soul together and let it die away like the sound of a newly tuned harp in confident and joyous praise
of God ! Turn to the mercy of thy God, contemplate His majesty, His might . . . .
Every evening, standing or kneeling, he should make the sign of the cross, gather himself together, and invoke the Holy Ghost, he should also practise self-examination concerning faults, temptations and
sins which he has committed in the course of the day, with regard to duty, desire, pleasure , curiosity, vanity, anger and so on. This examination must be short.”
An investigation of the sins of the day is prescribed for every evening.
It is interesting that it must be short and concentrated, and this gives us a hint about the frame of mind in which these meditations were undertaken.
If you remember the eastern texts which I read you, you will certainly have been impressed with the enormous difference between meditation in East and West.
You will perhaps object that this is a medieval text, but that was only the day before yesterday in the history of meditation; and the same spirit is still alive today, it is only the outer form which
We are so used to our own frame of mind that we do not realise what it is, but, suppose such a text were a Sanskrit text, what impression would it make upon us and what should we gather about
the people for whom it had been written?
We should certainly say that all this self-abasement, gnashing of teeth and imploring God for mercy must mean that the Indians we’re proud, arrogant brutes and needed to be cut in pieces before they
could be induced to behave at all decently.
We have not enough self-criticism to think this about ourselves, yet it is the truth.
We have no idea how we Europeans look from outside.
I wanted to see how we appeared to black and brown people and this was one of my main reasons for undertaking my journeys after the war.
I went to East Africa and to the Pueblo Indians in America.
That was enough, I knew then how we look from outside.
We look like pirates, birds of prey, wild beasts and brigands , constantly stealing and conquering.
So we all deserve the warnings and moralising discipline which we find in texts such as Cisneros’.
We should not hear so much about morality if we did not need it, it suits us admirably.
Those people, who complain about morality, lay themselves open to the suspicion of needing it particularly badly.
These were the meditations which Ignatius found when he went to the monastery of Montserrat.
I must give you a short biography of him. Don Inigo Lopez de Recalde was born at the Castle of Loyola about 1491 and died in Rome in 1556.
He was a Spanish nobleman and became an officer in the army and was a soldier through and through.
He was in the defending garrison of Pampeluna, when it was besieged by the French, and was badly wounded in the leg.
During his enforced inactivity he read two religious books, a Life of Jesus by Ludolfus of Saxony and the popular “Flowers of the Saints”, a series of biographies of the saints.
The ideas, which he found in these, fascinated him, because he was glad to employ his warlike instincts against the bad in himself: as he could not ride against the outer enemy, he turned against the
He found himself involved in a conflict at once, for he was plighted in knightly fashion to a lady and had sworn to serve her.
And, after reading these books, he discovered that God needed his services Himself.
It was a terrible struggle but at last he had the redeeming idea of founding a spiritual knighthood, he became the Knight of God.
While Ignatius was at the monastery of Montserrat he made a general confession.
He undertook heavy penances and had a great many visions.
It is exceedingly interesting, from a psychological point of view, to put such visions under a modern microscope.
I have already done this with the visions of our Swiss saint, Niklaus von der Fliie, in the “Neue Schweizer Rundschau “.
He was a genuine saint, and has not been canonised only from lack of funds.
Ignatius dictated his visions later to his pupil Gonzales and I quote them from Philipp Funk’s biography:
“While he lived in that hospital, it often happened that he perceived in the air close to him, a certain Something, bright and glowing, which was so exceedingly beautiful that he derived inwardly great
pleasure and abundant comfort from it. He was able to perceive no form, however, and so he did not know what it was or what it consisted of; but sometimes it appeared to him to take the shape
of a serpent which was full of shining eyes, although they were really not eyes. The sight of this vision filled him with the greatest delight, and the oftener it appeared the greater was the comfort
with which he saw it and when it disappeared from before his eyes he was sad.”
There is no interpretation in this vision and only a slight effort at explanation.
As a budding monk Ignatius would naturally have preferred another figure, a guardian angel, Christ or the Virgin Mary but awkwardly enough the actual vision was a snake, full of eyes, a vision which
was not at all orthodox.
There are Biblical analogies, the snake in paradise, for instance, but there the snake is interpreted as the devil.
Another snake is the healing snake of Moses.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up”. (St. John. III :14.)
We sometimes find the symbol of the serpent instead of Christ on the cross in the Middle Ages (and it appears in alchemy) but apparently Ignatius was not acquainted with this fact, or he would certainly
Have claimed the snake as Christ.
But we never hear that the Christ serpent was covered in shining eyes, this is something new, an individual image.
Such individual visions were, however, always made to fit into the dogma of the Church by hook or by crook.
We find the same thing in Niklaus von der Fliie, for these people had no idea that there were any inner contents outside the dogma.
We should fix our attention on the actual content of this vision.
Ignatius had seen a snake covered in shining eyes.
This is no isolated case, many of my patients have seen a similar image, it is an essential symbol for the lower part of the nervous system, for the sphere of the instincts.
This is the root from which the whole psychic life grows.
This is why the serpent is a symbol for healing, as is well known from the example of Aesculapius.
When man is ill he is severed from his instincts and part of the art of healing is to bring him back to them, so that he can grow on his own roots.
Consciousness and ideas, valuable as they are in themselves, cut us away from the essential roots of our being.
Ignatius had surely injured his health with penances and constant prayer, so the healing snake app ears as a compensation in his vision, but he was not in a position to recognise this fact. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, Pages 158-167.