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Modern Psychology: C. G. Jung’s Lectures at the ETH Zürich, 1933-1941

Lecture VI 8th December, 1939

We were speaking of the wound in the side of Christ at the end of the last lecture.

We saw that it could be said to be the traditional conception of the feminine side of the corpus Christi.

The feminine side of Christ is much emphasised in Christian iconology, he is usually represented as a very feminine man.

The same characteristic was apparently attributed to his cousin, Mithras.

He also is represented, in the very moment of killing the bull, as exceedingly feminine; in fact Cumont, the greatest authority on Mithraism, says you could call his features directly hysterical.

This bi-sexuality of Christ is called androgynous, from aner (man) and gyne (woman).

This is not only a Christian idea, the gods in most religions have an androgynous nature ascribed to them in some form or other.

I was reading a book by a Catholic author, Koepgen, the other day: “Die Gnosis des Christentum.”

It is a book authorised by the bishop’s Imprimatur.

Koepgen emphasises Christ’s androgynous nature and points out that His voluntary acceptance of a sacrificial death was feminine, and that male and female became an unbroken androgynous unity in him.

The Church, as the mystical body of Christ, is also androgynous and this is manifested in the celibacy of the clergy.

Koepgen says that this celibacy should not be mere bachelor virginity, but the androgynous unity of the soul which Christ Himself achieved.

This point of view is not exactly dogmatic but is tolerated by the Church.

The fact that Christ is regarded as male and female is extremely important, because it lays the foundation for the transcendent function, the reconciliation of the opposites.

The Roman Catholic Church regards Christ as the spouse of its unmarried members.

Therefore he is the bridegroom of women and the bride of men.

I speak, of course, of the conscious of men, to their unconscious He is also the bridegroom.

Przywara emphasises open wounds and says they are open so that we, (the worshippers and contemplators): “should be enclosed in the revealed God.

Those are his actual words.

The suffering of Christ is a going down, which can be compared to a grain of wheat sinking into a furrow of the earth and he continues:

“It is the suffering of a child of tender age that can only take refuge with the mother from whom it once came. Conceal me in Thee.”

It would be impossible to say it more clearly than that.

But such a symbolism is in a way necessary in order to illustrate and explain the interpenetration between the worshipper and Christ.

We find this interpenetration in the Gospels already:

“He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” John VI, 56.) and “I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John XVII. 26.)

Both these texts clearly express the interpenetration between the believer and Christ, but all the accent is on the efficiency of Christ.

This is the natural result of Christ as the divine man, Christianity has attributed absolute autonomy to him, he is the centre of all activity.

As we saw in the course of last Semester, Christ is the western formulation of what the East calls the Self, Atman, the Purusha or Buddha.·

If one may interpret him as a symbol, he symbolises the Self.

The dogma claims that Christ was God who became man.

In psychological language this means that the Self approached the consciousness of man, or that human consciousness began to realise the Self, as a real human fact.

And indeed in a very peculiar form, the Self approached from outside autonomously, not as a human realisation.

Eastern man realizes the Self in himself but it approaches western man from outside, it is even an historical event, the life of Christ.

And thus the divine figure of the Self first became visible to the consciousness of western man, as a figure indescribably and indefinitely greater than man, in which man feels himself contained.

The East, on the contrary, first realizes the Self as the thumbling in man’s heart, as the smaller than small which I contain.

But the Self appears in western psychic experience as a divine figure, as something which contains me and faces me with the infinite power of a god.

We could say that western man became conscious of the fact that this man, this teacher Jesus, was the divine man, whose path had been prepared for thousands of years by Osiris in Egypt and as the idea of the coming of the Messiah in Israel. This was no human conspiracy, probably Christ had a convincing effect, there was something about him which carried the conviction that he was filled with the spirit of God, that he was a prophet.

We know from the gospels that he was first regarded as a prophet but gradually the prophecies of a Messiah gathered round him.

It was an age when the miraculous flourished.

There were other such figures in his immediate neighbourhood and public opinion often fixed on a man and called him a god.

Think of Empedocles who was regarded as a Deity.

He was followed by ten thousand people whenever he moved from town to town, and was received everywhere as a Saviour.

At last, presumably to get some peace, he cast himself into the crater of Etna.

Pythagoras also was considered a divine man.

There was nothing very remarkable about this in antiquity, for the gods were known to visit the earth, so it was by no means impossible to meet one in human form.

When a man had many of the qualities which are regarded as divine, antiquity was in the position to proclaim him a god.

The Christian dogma declares further that Christ, the Saviour, was a suffering figure, he was persecuted, mocked, wounded and finally put to death.

So taking human form is characterised by suffering for a god.

In other words, individuation, becoming conscious of the Self, is divine suffering.

So in Christian meditation, when the Self approaches as the suffering figure of Christ, characterised by his side wound – that is, by the mysterious and secret androgyny – we can see now where it especially wounds western man.

The West has an exquisitely masculine attitude and this must be wounded when, in individuation, the feminine approaches.

This also shows us why we do not find the motif of suffering stressed in the East.

The outer attitude of eastern man is passive and feminine, so it is the masculine which approaches him from the unconscious and he exults instead of suffering and says: I am everything, I create the world.

We find the motif of the wound, of a god becoming feminine or a suffering figure in German mythology.

There is a very characteristic passage in the Edda.


“I know how I hung on the wind swept tree nine eternal nights, wounded by a spear consecrated to Wotan, I myself consecrated to myself, on that tree, which conceals from every one, where it grows from its roots.”

It has been suggested that this was influenced by Christianity, but I do not think this possible because the “I myself consecrated to myself” is not a Christian idea at all.

The whole of Christianity is permeated with “I and thee”, with relationship and a pronounced Eros.

We might expect an eastern god to say: “I myself to myself” but this is impossible in the West.

Nevertheless this is a passage from a western text, but it is a very primitive avowal belonging to olden times before the one-sided differentiation of the western attitude had become accentuated.

We will proceed with the next invocation:

“Never permit me to be separated from Thee”.

The unlimited sovereignty which is ascribed to Christ becomes very clear here:

“Ne permittas”.

There is no question of I could (or could not) be separated from thee but do not allow me.

This is the way one addresses an absolute monarch, the whole power is ascribed to Christ.

Przywara meditates on this and says he is in the house of the Lord who admits and expels, who forbids and permits.

He says further:

“Man seems a god in this world.”

He means that owing to his creative ability man can do a great deal in this world, and that because of technical achievement, for instance, he gets the idea that he is divine.

Przywara continues:

“But he stands in its centre and sees impotently, above and below him, the abyss of the powers: the eternity of the spirit and the incalculability of nature. And that both rage in him as battlefield.”

We must go into this more deeply.

Przywara places man between the opposites, spirit and nature, we could say spirit and matter.

He goes on to say that this is the suffering on the cross, between heaven and hell.

We cannot call spirit heaven or hell, so we must take it as two pairs of opposites:

Then we have a right and a left and an above and below.

This is the real condition of suspension on the Cross.

We see an ancient idea shimmering through this meditation of Przywara’s, namely that the cross is a cosmic symbol.

He sees man as a central point, a meeting place of great cosmic opposites.

Man is in fact a sort of reconciling symbol and Przywara allows that he is a sort of image of God, for in God also the opposites meet and are reconciled.

If we are allowed to understand Christ as a man who became a Self, he, on the cross, is the reconciling symbol, he is himself the cross.

The cross is a symbol for the reconciliation of the opposites and Christ triumphed over the opposites.

We have reached the acme of suffering with this image of suspension, a summit.

We have now spoken of eight invocations.

The first four form a kind of first verse, a praeparatio.

The contemplator is sanctified, saved, made drunk and cleansed.

In the second verse we come to the Passio Christi, to the interpenetration of Christ and the believer.

These are two stages which lead to a summit and form a curious parallel to the Shri-Chakra-Sambhara Tantra where the Thesis fell into two sections, A & B.

The prayer Anima Christi continues:

“From the wicked enemy defend me:”

This is exactly the same motif that we found after the first two sections in the Shri-Chakra-Sambhara Tantra, where there is also an incisive change in the text and the Lama defends himself against destruction.

In Section A the Lama declares his identity with Shri Heruka and the summit of B. is where he absorbs the rays of light into the Self.

That is through his own activity he has become Heruka.

Then comes the Anti-thesis, menace and defence, but in the eastern text it is no “wicked enemy” but a female being, “She, who has the Net of Lotuses”, and causes fall.

This represents Maya, delusion, the illusion of the world: the more one is entangled in this, the further one is from the Self.

It is the senses which entangle one in illusory objects.

The devil which appears in the Buddhist meditation is feminine.

She is a Shakti, the companion of the god it is true, but she builds the phantasmagoric world in which the god shall see himself as in a mirror.

But when man, through his own inner efforts, raises himself to be Heruka or Shiva, he is in danger of falling a victim to the snare of illusion, because he is not yet perfected.

In the West the devil is masculine, he has exaggeratedly male attributes, horns and goat’s feet and behaves, as you know, in an exceedingly masculine way on the Bocksberg.

His form has been largely borrowed from the fauns of antiquity who had a notably bad reputation.

Why should the devil be masculine in the West and feminine in the East?

Mara, who tempted Buddha in the legend, was male, the Lord of the World, of Maya, an exact parallel to Satan in the temptation of Christ, only without the moral flavour.

He was a comparatively conscientious devil and could not understand Buddha wanting to leave the world.

It was Mara’s job to maintain the creation of Maya and he merely wanted to get Buddha back into the world and used a number of charming bayaderes to help him.

But in the Shri-Chakra-Sambhara the deceiver is definitely feminine, a personification of Maya.

This is connected with the peculiar opposition between the eastern and western attitudes.

The conscious attitude of the West is masculine and that of the East feminine.

The world is full of suffering but the Yogin denies the world, he withdraws into himself and develops a powerful masculinity, and rules the world with its sorrows and pleasures, vices and virtues,
temptations and promises.

But when western man develops his unconscious side it is feminine, he subdues his masculine conscious by a yearning surrender to Christ, the male is transformed into the female.

So his devil is masculine, for it is his former masculine attitude which entices him back into the world.

But with eastern man the case is reversed, it is the earlier feminine attitude which lures him back into the snares of the world.

If we want to draw the psychological conclusion we must go further and say that the West has an anima, that is, a feminine unconscious, and that the East has an animus, that is, a masculine unconscious.

And actually the eastern unconscious is exceedingly different to the western.

There is no term in eastern philosophy for the unconscious.

I found this very confusing at first when I was talking to eastern philosophers; I thought, with such an introspective people, there must be some such term.

At last I discovered that they call the unconscious consciousness, indeed enlightenment.

The consciousness of deep sleep, which we call unconsciousness, is to them the highest consciousness.

We can only understand this in connection with the fact that the eastern attitude is the opposite of the western.

The next invocation is:

“At the hour of my death, call me,”

It is not I will come to Thee, but I must be called, and the next invocation carries the same idea further:

“And bid me come unto Thee.”

This is characterised by complete passivity, it is as if man could do nothing out of himself, could only yearningly hope and wish.

Man’s soul looks longingly to the almighty Christ and hopes he may issue the command.

At most man dares to sigh, to pray and to propitiate the great King so that he may call the mortal worm into His Presence.

And the last sentence is:

“That with Thy Saints I may praise Thee, For ever and ever. Amen.”

This is the “laudare dominum”, to praise God is a very old custom in Christianity.

We hear it in some form or other in every service and every sermon.

We are so used to it that we do not hear it any longer and never think what it means.

It is really a court custom, and to get at its real meaning we should think of a Babylonian or Egyptian king surrounded by his court and by people singing his praises with guitars and other musical instruments, propitiating him.

The mighty of this earth are usually very ordinary human beings, no giants in intellect or stature.

Through favourable (or unfavourable) circumstances or just through inheritance, they find themselves on such a pinnacle that they feel exceedingly uncomfortable and get feelings of inferiority.

In every court, even the most primitive, we find people whose business it is to praise the king.

One can never come into the presence of a chief or king without submitting to a great deal of court etiquette.

In Africa, when I saw an African chief, I was introduced as a great European Lord, a Moslem and a Christian (I had read the Koran, which few Europeans have, so the Africans assumed I must be a Mohammedan) and I was informed that I was in the presence of the great King So and So who had six hundred wives, a large army and so on.

That is the laudare dominum, a court custom, which was gradually adopted in the Christian religion, God was honoured in the manner of an oriental prince.

There are many pictures of God surrounded by a multitude with harps who are praising him eternally.

The “laudare dominum” has survived the centuries and become a sort of standing phrase, but it was originally a conscious technique of propitiation, praising the monarch to get him into a good temper.

I am aware that I am saying something heretical but we must become conscious of what these things really are. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, Pages 220-225