Lecture IV 24th November, 1939
We will continue with the prayer Anima Christi.
We spoke of the blood in the last lecture and come now to the line: “Water from the side of Christ, wash me.”
This refers to the passage in St. John’s Gospel: “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side and forthwith came there out blood and water.”
This is why the wine is mixed with water in the Eucharist and in this prayer the blood and water are meditated up on separately because they have different meanings.
Przywara says in his meditation that water has the opposite effect to the blood or wine.
The latter produces intoxication and ecstasy and the former clearness (Klarheit).
This refers naturally to the cleansing effect of the miraculous water which has its source in Christ.
This conception played an important role in the Middle Ages , as you may know from the history of art.
The blood stood for Grace and the water for the ablutio, it cleansed from the blackness of sin.
The ablutio and the miraculous water also play an important role in Hermetic Philosophy.
The alchemists think of the Redeemer as lying hidden or sleeping in the materia, he does not only descend from heaven but comes also from the depths of matter.
The miraculous water is one of the most frequent designations and it is sometimes directly called “sanguis”.
It would lead too far to go into Przywara’s meditation on this invocation, it is exceedingly subtle and not essential for our purpose.
We come now to the further invocation: “Passion of Christ, strengthen me.”
Przywara says that suffering is the real secret of Christ, the suffering of God incarnated in flesh.
This is indeed a central idea in Christianity and has enormous psychological importance for the West.
You do not find the same attitude to suffering in any other of the great religions, not the willingness to suffer, in some cases (such as the martyrs) it amounts to a veritable passion to suffer.
There is indeed a meaning in suffering, it is a sort of divine secret, for it is less the human being and more the divine man that suffers.
God humiliated himself to become man and thus necessarily fell a victim to human suffering.
We saw that Christ is the western parallel to the eastern Atman or Purusha, and the search for both is the search for the Self, though the paths are utterly different.
And here a moment is stressed, which the East apparently overlooks, the moment of suffering.
The West sees suffering as the most intense element in the psychological process of individuation, and formulates it as the suffering of God becoming man, a formulation which you would never find in the East.
The Self grows out of the roots of man, according to the eastern formulation, so man becomes the Self.
He accepts the form of the Self, and finds it as the “smaller than small and greater than great”.
It is a cosmic being and his own innermost kernel.
It is “the person (purusha) not larger than a thumb, dwelling within, always dwelling in the heart of man” who “having compassed the earth on every side, extends beyond it by ten fingers’ breadth.”
Easterners perceive this person by “the heart, the thought, the mind” and it becomes the thinker of their thought and their eyes, their ears and so on. In the West, on the contrary, it is not essentially an inner, but rather an outer, experience.
The Self appears, not as the innermost psychological kernel of man, but as the powerful figure of the historical Jesus.
In Protestant circles particularly the inner mystical Christ is unpopular.
It is the traditional Gospel Christ who is held up to us as an example.
The inner mystical Christ is almost an obsolete idea.
In the Catholic Church Christ is a cosmic figure, an almighty figure, endowed with supreme power.
Man may approach him, but he may never say that Christ has grown out of him, or that he has grown into Christ.
For Christ was always there, from the beginning of time, and man can only hope to spring out of himself, to leave himself behind, and so to reach the Divine Figure.
This is indeed the purpose of the meditations we are studying, to redeem man from his humanity, so that he may reach this Divine Figure and be received by Him and melted into Him as an atom is embedded in a rock.
Christ is the head and we are the members, and He is the vine and we are the branches.
We are an infinitesimal part of a totality.
The East, on the other hand, says: I am the whole, I am Atman, I am Buddha, I am the universe , I am that.
This is incomprehensible and appalling to our Christian understanding.
But it is the exact reversal of our Christian point of view.
Religions are formulations, expressions of a psychological attitude and temperament.
The Christian myth is certainly a suitable expression for our temperament.
It does not matter what people say or think on this subject, the fact that it has been our religion for so many centuries speaks for itself.
But since the Reformation it has been losing ground as an expression of our psychic reality.
We must conclude therefore, that our psychic reality is changing.
It is very difficult to say psychologically why the expression has become insufficient, or in what the insufficiency consists.
To deny the whole thing is worse than useless, yet we hear quite intelligent people saying: “No virgin could have had a son” and such like nonsense.
Such points are of no importance whatever, it is the symbolic truth which matters.
We cannot venture to assert that our great grandfathers were fools, for we should be asserting our own folly.
We must admit that these things were full of symbolic meaning for them, and if there is foolishness in the matter it is ours for no longer understanding.
We should understand how such a symbol as the Trinity arose.
It is not merely Christian, we find it in many places, in Egypt, for instance, and with the primitives.
The question is not why did our Christian ancestors believe things which are absurd, but how is it that humanity knows these things and prizes them so highly?
We find proof everywhere and in all ages of the vital importance of such symbols.
Man is not so crazy that the same thing can be the highest value to one and nonsense to another.
Yet that is the actual state of things today and explains the decay of cultural humanity for the one has ideals and goals and the other can neither understand nor even realise their existence.
We have a modern Tower of Babel and I fear for the same reason.
The confusion arises from a hybris, human consciousness has become arrogant and thinks it can dispense with the task of reflecting on these things.
And by this it has cut itself off from the reasons for its own existence and from all inner experience.
So now we only reflect on outer rational things, on our bank balance and outer position.
But what use is the biggest bank balance or the highest position if we do not feel right in our own skins?
We would gladly give our whole fortune to a doctor who could cure our neurosis or the feeling that our psyche is falling to pieces.
Medieval man was not in our plight, he still knew the way to inner well being.
But when we talk of the dark Middle Ages we generally think of their primitive sanitary arrangements and their defective international communications.
We think with horror of the plagues which swept over the country and of the Inquisition which burnt people alive.
Shall I lay the statistics of the last twenty years before you?
The Middle Ages were harmless compared to what happens now, our time is far more horrible, is it not?
We have no reason to feel superior to the consciousness of medieval man.
We have lost sight of his consciousness and have no idea what was important to him.
But if we read medieval books we see that he really thought about things which had an eternal meaning, and we realise that thus he came into contact with his own totality.
There is a real salvation in these medieval ideas which can free a man and give his existence a meaning far beyond the sacred bank balance and which reaches as far as suffering.
Suffering has become totally meaningless to us.
We regard it as extraneous, something to be avoided and cured, we have no idea of just accepting it.
But medieval man knew that suffering was not only unavoidable but a blessing for it had meaning.
Think of a sick man who could ascertain and accept that his terrible illness had a meaning.
It would be no obvious meaning certainly, but the realisation that God had sent his illness as a gift in order to remind him that suffering has a definite purpose would alter the whole picture.
He could even feel an identity with the suffering God himself.
Such an example shows us how valuable the belief in a suffering God is.
Human suffering becomes the image of God becoming man and the sick man could realise that suffering is the path to finding his Self and that this can never be reached without suffering.
Then he could accept it and directly we can accept something its sting is gone.
For man has always been able to stand anything if he knew its purpose.
But we have lost this purpose entirely and have no reason to feel superior to our ancestors.
Our western formula is the Christian formula which says that the Self can only be reached through suffering.
So accept your suffering and you will be on the way to Christ, to the Self.
The East has, as I have said before, a totally different attitude.
Pleasure and suffering are the same to the Easterner and he seeks to withdraw from both.
He has nothing of the warlike attitude of the West, which is determined to conquer suffering in order to reach pleasure.
The Easterner is woven in the woe and weal of his original, organic existence, and he knows that neither can be avoided and that they eternally balance each other.
He knows that peace lies in freedom from both: nirdvandva, free from the opposites.
This peculiar attitude is based on a totally different temperament.
The West has an essentially warlike attitude, a masculine attitude so to speak.
Happiness must be achieved, and suffering overcome, on a straight path if possible, if not, on a crooked.
But the East is helpless against both; it has a feminine attitude towards the world.
The world is an overwhelming drama and there is nothing the Easterner can do about it.
We know for psychological a that when the outer attitude to the world is feminine and passive, the inward attitude will be masculine and active.
And of course vice versa, a belligerent outer attitude means a feminine inner attitude, characterised by a peculiar receptiveness and surrender.
You find this very clearly expressed in western medieval Christianity.
The worshipper resigned himself entirely to the superior figure of Christ, regarded himself in the light of a vessel, meaningless unless filled by Christ.
The East, on the contrary, – and this is obvious in every Easterner – has an inward strength, a belligerent, conquering attitude: I am the world.
That is an illusion.
This explains a great deal about eastern man; he is inwardly masculine, inaccessible to influence.
The eastern eye has the quality of a dark stone, which you cannot penetrate.
Such eyes are a riddle to us, whereas a western eye reveals the inner nature.
It is on account of the inner lack of resistance that western man swallows the East so greedily.
Buddhist and Rama Krishna Temples spring up in the West and we are deeply influenced by eastern literature.
Whereas eastern man goes far when he says: “Oh well yes, your Christ was a nice man, and said some good things. He may even have been an Avatar of Vishnu.”
“The gospels have a lot of good passages. They have things similar to the Upanishads. But of course we have said all that ages ago.”
Easterners a perfectly willing to grant Christ’s merits, but they are not impressed; it does not sink into them as their things sink into us.
The cult of Maria has made some progress in South India.
The virgin goddesses have their temples there and when the Jesuits wanted to found a mission station in that neighbourhood they identified Maria with an Indian Virgin Goddess.
That did penetrate and was a brilliant success.
One could s ay that was a pious fraud; but that does not matter in India, for they deceive and allow themselves to be deceived.
It is a matter of no importance for they are the gods and everything is Maya, illusion, anyway.
You can see by all this how different the eastern and western attitudes are.
The central figure in the West is highly charged with penetrative force.
He is masculine, and we are inwardly feminine, we invoke this central figure and wait and hope for his effect.
This explains our terrible liability to mental epidemics.
The East is not liable to these, it never indulged in our childish crusades.
It deceives and allows itself to be deceived.
There are certain limits which decent people do not go beyond, they are not blatant but deceive with more subtlety.
If you go to the East with “nothing but the truth” standards you will be sadly disappointed for even saints deceive.
Mahatma Gandhi, (who is a saint in India, the great Atman for many people), fasts when he wishes to gain a point with the British Government.
But by eating glucose as a medicine he is able to endure.
We think that an appalling swindle, but it is as broad as it is long in the East, for everything is illusion anyway.
If I had gone to India and said: “I am the God of Europe”, they would simply have said: “Oh really, well there are so many saints and swindlers , why not?”
The Easterner is thus protected against mental epidemics, for he stands on firm ground, the human soil of the man within, of the Self.
We have the Self outside, and when a powerful figure approaches us from outside we are helpless and bow down before him.
He only needs to be a successful man, and we are sure he must be right, in a truly feminine way.
The big strong man comes and will give us everything.
That is the western attitude.
To the Easterners it is clear that we are weak and deceived and hopelessly entangled in the world and its events.
The way out for eastern man is to know he is entangled and through enlightenment to step off the Samsara, the wheel of rebirth, and to say: I know that I am Buddha, that I am the world.
That redeems eastern man, for suffering is not meaningful for him, but is simply the corresponding opposite of pleasure.
Suffering comes at the end of the Chain of Causation of which Buddha says in the Nidana-Samyutta:
“The Blessed One spoke thus: ‘But what, 0 Bhikkhus, is the Law of the Chain of Causation? From Not-knowing as cause comes Impression; from Impression as cause comes Consciousness; from Consciousness as cause come Name and Form; from Name and Form as cause come the Six Senses; from the Six Senses as cause comes Touch ; from Touch as cause comes Sensation; from Sensation as cause comes Thirst; from Thirst as cause comes Desire; from Desire as cause comes Existence; from Existence as cause comes Birth; from Birth as cause come Old Age and Death, Pain, Sorrow, Misfortune, Disappointment and Despair. This is the way in which the whole sum of suffering is caused.”
The abolition of not-knowing brings suffering to an end, knowledge redeems, the knowledge that: I am the Self, the Atman, and the world. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures Pages 189-193.